Hope and Social
The Victoria Inn, Derby
14 November 2012

Live review

With their fourth studio album riding high in the Bandcamp download chart just a couple of days after release, Hope and Social are at the start of a UK tour. We caught one of folkpop’s best kept live secrets on their Derby stop. 

Hope and Social are a wonderful secret. They’ve just released their fourth studio album and are prolific giggers yet outside of a few dispersed but passionate pods of fans their name is usually met with a shrug. This album, this tour, could very well start to change that.

The band has a varying number of members but last night nine of them crammed onto the small, low-ceilinged stage in their matching blue blazers carrying the Hope and Social crest. This uniform sets them apart straight away but rather than making it an us-and-them divide it just highlights them, linking them together as the leaders of the fun which is about to be had. For this band don’t play to you, oh no, at Hope and Social gigs if you’re watching you’re going to get involved.

They’re short on space as they, each a multi-instrumentalist, swaps around during the set and they spill on and off the stage into the small space between it and the first line of the crowd. At one point the stage is abandoned by lead singer Simon Wainwright and he weaves between onlookers strumming an acoustic guitar before performing from the middle of the dark floorspace, circling slowly on the spot, surrounded by smiling faces.

This ‘in the round’ performance brims with the static of excitement  of something taking an unexpected turn, the air humming with the thrill of being ‘within’ the gig. With a skilful but nonchalant manner we’re encouraged to sing along with the backing line. There is no band and audience now – just loads of people in a dark back room, singing together and feeling better for it.

Back on the stage there is banter a-plenty between the band and with those of us still out front. There are deferential lines thrown out about not being as young as they once were and this is very much reflected in the subject of many of their songs; that time moves on, people grown up.

This is the most playful of performances, sheer joy and enthusiasm exuded in every note. The jams between songs break down into relaxed homages including call and response Can I Kick It from A Tribe Called Quest and the theme from the Pink Panther seamlessly flowing into Blue Pearl’s Naked In the Rain. This band are passionate not only for putting their own material out there but also indulging in the songs they love.

We get songs from the new album – title track All Our Dancing Days, Saints Alive and One Way Home – as well as older material including the shivers-up-the-spine Family Man and audience-requested encore of Eurospin.

Hope and Social make luscious, accomplished grown-up pop. It perfectly captures living in the musical moment and embracing the changes to body, mind and situation as time cracks on. As a band, they’re an anachronism – everyone who hears them or sees them play spills over with enthusiasm and yet they remain a best-kept-secret outside of the folkpop scene.

But spread the word as Hope and Social won’t spoil for being better known, the more the merrier at their magical, musical party.

You can pay what you like for Hope and Social’s latest release, All Our Dancing Days, on their website. 

Tour dates:

  • Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, November 17
  • Blues Bar, Harrogate, November 18
  • The Lexington, London (with Scanners) November 23
  • Winchester, Bournemouth, Bournemouth, November 24
  • The Brunswick, Hove, November 25
  • Arden Road Social Club, Halifax, November 30
  • The Yorkshire House, Lancaster, December 4
  • Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, December 5
  • Fibbers, York, December 7
  • Otley Courthouse, Otley, December 14

All words by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on LTW here or follow her on Twitter.

Images by Lawrence de Gruchy - www.lawrencedegruchy.com.

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.

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