MONEY | Village Underground | 22 February 2016
Jamie Lee steps onto the stage, alone. Admitting MONEY have had a rough time of it, he sincerely thanks those people who’ve helped him through before dedicating a song to one in particular. A piece of fragile beauty, performed solo on an acoustic guitar, it’s so new there’s not even a title yet.
It’s a ballsy way to open a gig, but immediately bonds performer and punter, with the created intimacy unaffected by the full band’s arrival. Complemented by a cellist and violinist, they sensitively fill out Lee’s heartfelt take on the equally delicate, equally haunting ‘You Look Like a Sad Painting on Both Sides of the Sky’.
Despite its title and the forlorn delivery of lines like “please don’t mistake me for someone I am not”, ‘Hopeless World’ lifts the tempo and mood (a little), before ‘I’ll Be The Night’ shimmers to life. Musically uplifting, its buoyant melody (underpinned by guitarist Charlie Cocksedge’s chiming chords) is accompanied by a positively rousing vocal that only flirts with the darkness.
So too the woozy ‘Bluebell Fields’, just one of three songs not taken from new album ‘Suicide Songs’, is more dream than nightmare, while the ebb and flow of ‘Night Came’ is the musical equivalent of the sea at night, initially calm and inviting before knocking you sideways with a sudden swell. Repeatedly. An emotional maelstrom, it’s complemented by the starker ‘Suicide Song’, where the tension between surface beauty and painful undercurrents feels even more immediate.
The hymnal ‘All My Life’ overflows with yearning, from the sweeping string arrangement and Lee’s pained falsetto to the soaring chorus. The sparse ‘Letter To Yesterday’ pares the music back, leaving that impassioned voice fully exposed once more, especially during the visceral, climactic refrain of “all this blood”.
When Lee extends his genuine gratitude to the fans, he brings the evening full circle before diving head-first into the bleary eyed carol ‘A Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic’s New Year’. The night’s last song, it’s not followed by the charade of an encore — only reinforcing the fact that MONEY are doing this on their own terms. Even if that means they briefly lose themselves midway through a song, or Lee fumbles the first line of another. Raw emotion can be messy and the band are here to express theirs, not sell T-shirts.