Harvest Sun @ Leaf 6/6/16

It has, to say the least, been a tumultuous year in the life of Brian Christinzio. Having released his breakthrough LP, How To Die In The North, under the moniker of BC CAMPLIGHT, he was deported from his adopted Mancunian homeland and forced to cancel his well-earned UK victory lap. With those circumstances in mind, tonight has the feeling of both vindication and much-prolonged anticipation and there is the sense in the room that something truly special may well be in the offing.

Christinzio’s terminal bad luck, however, is clearly far from waning as we are informed that his late arrival is due to being involved in a car accident on the M6. Luckily, fate has failed to seal the deal this time and the band ease into a long-overdue rendition of single You Should’ve Gone To School. Backed by an impressive five-piece group, Christinzio is seated at a keyboard emblazoned with his initials. This may seem of little relevance musically but actually embodies the dynamic of the set-up pretty well, with Christinzio emerging as a relaxed yet charismatic leader.

Though at first the sound levels are a little ropey this does little to mask the sheer brilliance of the songs themselves, and the exquisite power-pop of Grim Cinema emphasises both the band’s cohesiveness and the excellent craftsmanship on display. Each new track breathlessly jumps between genre-bending influences and refusing to stagnate. To my mind there are few artists currently writing who can do this with such ease and fluidity.

Perhaps the most enthralling element of the show is Christinzio’s remarkable vocal ability, and as the other members of the band leave the stage midway through the set there is a chance to witness this in its purest form. A solo rendition of Atom Bomb has the sizeable audience in awe and a performer who seemed incredibly talented before now appears tinged with virtuosity.

Having made up for lost time in the showcasing of tracks from the last LP, we are now treated to a couple from the upcoming record. Though not introduced by name, they linger in the memory due in part to the contrast between them and the other material. A beguiling mix of dark funk and feathery piano melodies that reflect the soul-searching Christinzio has undergone in the past year, they are something truly unique, imaginative and puzzling.

For those of us who loved the last album and were sorely disappointed not to see it performed live upon its initial release, tonight has been somewhat of a reminiscence but mainly a long-awaited experience. All there is to do now is await the next record and pray that the immigration office has learned its lesson.

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