Sad Lovers and Giants occupy a strange place in the musical firmament, loosely described as post punk and often mentioned in the same breath as The Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Sound etc, really they’ve never quite slotted into any convenient category. Which of course is an excellent place to be, but makes life difficult when it comes to gaining wider recognition.
Interestingly vocalist Garce probably sums it up best in the liner notes to Feeding the Flame, “The name always opened doors for me into a personal inner space of lawns and clocktowers, topiary, croquet and tea but it’s also faintly Kafkaesque in that I don’t quite fit in and fail to understand why”. If ever a singer was able to encapsulate their band succinctly, Garce for me manages it perfectly here. When I first came across Sad Lovers and Giants, the imagery described by Garce was almost exactly what was conjured up, with just a suggestion of unease in the long shadows cast across the aforementioned lawns…
Which brings us of course to the Purple Turtle in dark, dank Camden Town on an early December night for a very rare sighting of the band.
The level of excitement amongst the Italian, Spanish, Greek and British fans must have seemed curious to the young fans of the first support act, but of course Sad Lovers and Giants are one of those rare acts whose music inspires the devotion needed to draw people on journeys of many miles.
The devotion was rewarded generously with a set list filled with some of the band’s best songs. It was a joy to stand and feel Ian Gibson’s deep, nimble bass mesh perfectly with Nigel Pollard’s light, detailed but powerful drumming with Tony McGuinness providing layers of richly expressive but powerfully rhythmic guitar over the top, relative newcomer Will Hicks pulling off that rare trick of ensuring keyboards integrate perfectly rather than smothering or simply being lost. The sheer musicality of the songs was a wonder to behold. Amongst them all stands Garce, a quiet, modest figure, but whose vocals provide the band’s unique heart.
Alaska was an early highlight, as was a tense In Flux, but really picking highlights from such a strong set is relatively pointless, two encores were bayed for and received rapturously and then it was back out into the Camden night with just time to shake hands with a happy Tony McGuinness and to hope this is the beginning of a more active Sad Lovers and Giants.
Garce seems to be very good at defining his band’s music, as well as the comments mentioned above a further couple of lines seem to really capture the strange beauty on display tonight, “Keep listening to the music, because that is where you will find the still quiet place at the centre of things, that is where you will find Sad Lovers and Giants”.