Rhian Daly reports on Mumm-Ra – Soul Tree, Cambridge, 23 April 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Tonight's gig is set to be an intimate affair, with the lowest stage known to man and less than a couple of feet between crowd and band (plus a conveniently placed barrier, of course). Amps and instruments are squashed on to the stage, leaving little room for anyone to actually get to play them. As Mumm-Ra's lead singer Noo later remarks, it's very cosy, indeed.

But before we can witness the greatness of the headlining band, first we must let our ears be pleasured by the two other acts on the bill. First, Youngplan, a fine indie group from Hastings and later, the hotly tipped Ripchord get proceedings off to a great start with some foot-tappingly ace melodies and beats, warming the crowd up nicely for the evening's main attraction.

With their debut album These Things Move In Threes out next month, this is the first chance many will have had to hear unreleased tracks from the aforementioned LP, such as set opener Now Or Never. You'd be forgiven for thinking tonight's audience is one of those calm, polite crowds - until Song B kicks in, that is. The lead track from Mumm-Ra's debut EP, Black Hurts Day and the Night Rolls On, it's now a firm fan favourite and a definite highlight of the live set. Last single What Would Steve Do? follows shortly after, provoking the second biggest crowd reaction of the night with dancing and jolting, singing and cheering. Then, things come to a halt and it's time to see how these six boys from Bexhill cope when it all goes wrong. There's a problem with guitarist Ollie's amp, and one that seems to be taking quite a while to fix. Thankfully, we're not left waiting for too long as Noo initiates what he later calls 'An Audience With Mumm-Ra', followed by a bluesy jam with the remaining working instruments. As the amp trouble persists, we're treated to a beautiful rendition of Light Up This Room, another track from the debut EP, with just Noo on acoustic guitar. By the end of this impromptu addition to the setlist, the problem seems to have been resolved and it's back to a full electric set for the remainder of the show.

The Sick Deal, Song E and These Things Move In Threes come in quick succession, the band obviously not wanting to keep the crowd waiting any longer than necessary after the previous delay, before the standout, unreleased song of the night is unveiled. Starlight is typical Mumm-Ra fare, all melodic guitars and lyrics to fall in love to, but of a higher standard than most of the other songs played tonight. It ends too soon, leaving you wanting more, but brings a smile to your face just by thinking about the way it twists and soars into the most uplifting chorus. But end it must, as we're only half way through the set and still have a handful of tracks to get through before the night is done, and we can step outside to see the starlight for ourselves. This Is Easy kicks in next, with Cute As following. A b-side to What Would Steve Do?, it's easy to see this fitting in nicely on the album, but alas, a b-side it shall remain. The next song, and indeed next single, She's Got You High, returns us to that elevating feeling of flying before leading into the slightly ominous sounding Clocks Tick Louder At The Dead Of Night. Whipped into a frenzy by the previous songs, the crowd are going mental, a reaction which is only heightened by the last song of the night, Out Of The Question, during which the fans sing so loudly, the band are barely audible. Much like Starlight, it's over too soon and signals the end of a very good night out, watching one of the most exciting bands around right now. And if tonight's show is anything to go by, they won't be playing in cosy venues for much longer.

Writer/photographer: Rhian Daly