Nancy Hogg reports on The Morning People and Vile Bodies at The Globe Ale House, 6 September 2008

Morning People
Moving Tone

We all know the morning people. Those annoying types who leap out of bed in the morning ready to seize the day, as opposed to the rest of us who pull the covers over our heads and arrive for work late and bleary-eyed. It is a clever irony then that The Morning People (pictured) sing songs about the annoying absurdities of life and celebrate and commiserate on the failings of the human condition.  But don't get me wrong, there are no Morrissey-style histrionics here but instead an incisive and humorous take on the affairs of man.

The Globe seems a fitting environment for The Morning People to play: situated close to the train station it is a starting point for a night out and a last chance saloon for those returning and as the evening darkens the eager youngsters trail past the pub into town hotly pursued by the wail of sirens. And so as the pub begins to fill The Morning People bid us good evening. Coming across like a less posturing Jarvis Cocker and a more informed John Shuttleworth, Sam Inglis is the perfect guide for this journey into the paisley heart of man. 

Even without their second guitarist The Morning People are on fine form tonight. The Story Of My Life is a wonderful song about the film rights of someone's life being sold only to be returned by the studio for lack of sex and drugs and ‘too much of the nine to five'. Inglis is a talented songwriter with the enviable ability of being able to write deceptively simple lyrics which, upon closer scrutiny, function on a much deeper level.  Elsewhere he regales how he wrote a poem for a girl only to remember that she doesn't read poetry. This romantic non-starter is not only funny but moving in its familiar representation of broken hearts and non-communication.  It would be tempting to carry on quoting Inglis' lyrics: suffice to say there are more nuggets in this set than many songwriters manage in an entire career.

The excellent Older Women sings the praises of the mature woman, with the opener ‘older women are all the rage'. It is a clever mix of celebration and send-up, and the one track that would fit well into a set by John Shuttleworth. Cherchez La Femme is another clever and catchy song with a jolly sing-a-long a chorus. However, the upbeat tempo distracts from the lyrics, which tread a thin line between tired pathos and blokiness (come on lads not all birds wanna break up the band!). However, as Inglis says later ‘you should always write about what you know', which is an especially excellent comment as it precedes the introduction to a song about the man who guards the gates of heaven. Again, with St.Peter, Inglis manages to mix the grandiose with the everyday, but does it without resorting to the hackneyed approach of Alan Bennett.

The set tonight also features two excellent cover versions: one by Donovan and one by The Only Ones: a diverse selection that somehow manages to fit like a glove. A brilliant gig: my only complaint the omission of the excellent Guilty Pleasures. I recommend you see this band whilst they still play venues as small as The Globe, as from the evidence of tonight The Morning People are set to rise and rise.


Next up tonight are the excellent but misleadingly named Vile Bodies; being named after an Evelyn Waugh novel would hint at an altogether different fare to what is on offer tonight. Described to me as ‘dark folk', Vile Bodies are a Cambridge duo distilling a heady concoction of hypnotic blues-tinged folk. Their My Space page describes their influences as ranging from Fairport Convention to Nirvana and Martin Amis. Sounds intriguing... and they are.

Vile Bodies are an unusual folk act as they employ a 12-string electric guitar; they also describe one of their songs as being about internet porn (which isn't very folky at all - besides, isn't it usually referred to as a ‘cuckoo's nest'?). However, they create a powerful and impressive wall of sound and make other duos, such as The White Stripes, sound positively tame.

Their set is intense and melodic with stand-out track Rolling sounding like Captain Beefheart at his raucous best. The mixture of heady electric guitar and powerful vocals creates an atmospheric mood. However, at times this also becomes lacking in variety and I begin to long for a change in tempo. They didn't talk much between songs, which is fine, except in that a non-folk-fan such as me would have liked to understand better the inspiration behind some of their lyrics. Vile Bodies sound a bit Grateful Dead, a tad Richard Thompson, a wee bit John Martyn, but all-in-all very much their own. If you like folk (or even if you don't) Vile Bodies are a talented and interesting animal and well worth a listen.

Writer: Nancy Hogg