On Friday the 6th of October I was fortunate enough to attend the sell out show celebrating the release of Michael Kilbey’s debut EP, ‘I Was Waiting’. Standing in the crowd listening to Michael perform, you got the feeling that this was not only the culmination of months of rehearsals and preparations, but of a personal journey dating back numerous years.
The gig, held at the intimate but surprisingly sizable back room of The Water Rats pub near King’s Cross, was kicked off by Indie-Pop singer/songwriter Jack Lloyd. The young lad succeeded in charming the audience with some cheeky quips, and galvanised the crowd well as the venue began to fill out. He played a lively set which included mostly his own work, but also an enjoyable cover of Bastille’s 2013 hit Pompeii. Lloyd, who regularly busks in Leicester Square on weekends, demonstrated a very impressive vocal range and has crafted some infectious melodies.
Jack Lloyd opening the show at Water Rats
The one improvement Jack could make in my opinion would be to potentially add a little bit more variety to his lyrics; I felt there was ever so slightly too much repetition on a couple of his tracks. Other than that though, I found his songs in general struck a great balance – managing to be catchy, but still resonate with authenticity.
The task of picking up where Jack’s acoustic riffs left off was taken up by Norwegian alt-rockers No Mind State; who had come over from Oslo especially for the gig. The band, made up of frontman and rythm guitarist Henrik Posébo, Verthe Berthelsen on lead guitar, Vegard Tveito on bass and Christian Gathe (who was part of one of Michael Kilbey’s previous bands, Harrison Hope) on drums, provided big volume, and in front man Henrik’s case even bigger hair!
Norwegian rockers No Mind State
They started off slightly shakily, almost seeming a little unsure about how they’d be received by a crowd, but by the middle of their second track – the appropriately named ‘Didn’t Give a Damn’ – they’d broken free from the shackles and really began to thrive in their performance. The decibel level was certainly raised significantly; with bassist Vegard joking that it was definitely ‘loud enough’ for some of the more mature members of the audience who, with the greatest of respect, probably weren’t expecting such a swift change of pace after an acoustic opening act! I felt that the guys really injected some vibrancy into the evening in preparation for the main man, with their high octane style a welcome surprise.
And so, after a longer intermission, on came Michael Kilbey; with his band in tow, an excited grin on his face and an anticipating crowd lying in wait. You could tell he was desperate to deliver on his milestone night. This enthusiasm served him well, as his set was varied, emotive, delivered with passion and generally very well paced.
There were clear glimpses of his various influences in his pieces. Elements were drawn from the melancholy sound of The Smiths and Nick Drake in ‘If I was your Only Man’ and ‘Lucid Dream’, as well as a touch of Pink Floyd being evident in his closer, ‘The Wild’. A personal highlight was his Killers-esque penultimate track ‘Your Light’, which channelled the American group’s anthemic Indie-rock style brilliantly.
There were a couple of times, though, when Michael would seemingly begin to converse with the audience, but then for whatever reason he’d drift off into more of a quiet monologue. This led to the crowd becoming a little disengaged in the lengthier breaks between songs. It wasn’t enough to detract noticeably from the atmosphere, but I just felt Michael could have controlled the crowd a little bit better in these moments given that it was his night. Generally though, he let his music do the talking which worked well. And when he did properly let his guard down and fully engage the audience, he did so to good effect; coming off as warm, genuine and grateful to his fans.
As the curtain fell on what was a successful launch event for ‘I Was Waiting’, which is available to download/stream on October 20th, Michael now turns his attentions to crowd-funding his first professional music video and preparing for more shows in the New Year at some even bigger venues. With any luck for Michael, his EP’s title will prove to be prophetic; he’ll be hoping the wait for success is now over.