Patrick Widdess reports on Moth Conspiracy, The Pixiphones, Nathan Octavia, Chris Free - Cambridge May 11, 2008

A Quality Night Of Ambient Alternative Music
Tom Adams aka Toma is surely one of the youngest and most impressive performers on the local circuit. Whether playing solo, in a band or accompanying other musicians on the fly his playing is always flawless and encompasses a wealth of musical influences. For this final Cambridge show before an extended period of travel he brought together a diverse line-up of acts proving he is not only a great performer but an astute promoter.

Nothing but the weather could ruin a show like this and numbers were thin on the ground for opening act Chris Free. Those who could drag themselves indoors on a perfect summer evening were treated to a fine set of acoustic pop with a distinct local bent. London based Nathan Octavia followed on in equally top form with haunting, melodic vocals and spine tingling slide guitar.

The Pixiphones followed, led by Tom. This group featured an extensive and ever-changing line-up. Each song saw members joining or leaving the stage and instruments being exchanged. Styles ranged from slow and ambient to anthemic indy pop. Good morning Jupiter sounds like a lyric Lennon and McCartney never got round to writing. Change Your Heart by Baby D is an unlikely but entirely successful cover of a song found on a Now That's What I Call Music compilation and taken to greater heights of musical excellence.

Headliners Moth Conspiracy had a hard act to follow but with an extensive back catalogue and the flambouyant multi-instrumentalist Patrick Sheil fronting the group they were well up to the job. They played a strong set of guitar-based indy pop in all its glorious forms. Moth Conspiracy are quite long in the tooth as local bands go but have been largely inactive in recent years. The current line-up of members old and new is breathing life back into the work of one of the most talented and eclectic singer-song writers in the city and the band look set to re-establish themselves on the local scene. It's a welcome return and their tight dynamic sound should win them many new fans.

Toma and the Pixiphones will be appearing on Headstand on 209 Radio, 9-11pm, 28th May.

Writer: Patrick Widdess