Last friday I caught the Nightingales play at Asterisk Gallery in Bushwick with Imaginary Icons. I have to admit I was a bit worried because the last few times they came over they had teen guitar sensation Matt Wood playing with them, who was, as his name says, truly a guitar sensation. He’s been replaced by Christy Edwards of Christy and Emily. Her sound is different than Matt’s, but what the band loses in skronk they make up in punk energy. They are also joined by a bass player they picked up while recording at Faust’s studio in Germany. And of course, the amazing Darren Garratt ex of Pram and original Prefects guitarist Alan Apperly round out the line-up, backing up the one and only Robert Lloyd. They played for like 5 hours, they covered the Troggs, they rarely stopped between songs, and seriously, for the last 3 times I’ve seen them, they’ve consistently been the best live band I’ve seen in years.
The Nightingales played their hearts out. Daren on the drums is a sight (he now has a cup holder that attaches to the hardware). Top drummer…madman extraordinaire. No one plays like him. Andi is the German bass player they picked up at Faust. He is truly a Nightingale, they found the right fit for the job, feels complete. Christy was a charm. I was hesitant/skeptical because I thought I was going to miss Matt Wood. I didn’t. Not because I don’t miss Matt, but her presence with the band was natural, and she can play! Emily also joined them on stage to sing a bit and play kazoo. Clara Kebabian showed up with her violin and joined the band for about half the set. Wonderful to hear and meet her as well. Robert and Alan were solid. Robert was on. His voice was perfect, and he seemed at ease.
The Nightingales new record is superb. Every song. The mesmerizing accordion (played by Daren) opens the record, there are some brilliantly improvised pieces, a couple rockers, and a beautiful open tuning acoustic piece written by Alan. I cannot express enough my respect and admiration for this band.
But perhaps the Nightingales earned the evening’s highest score for sheer intensity. Frontman Robert Lloyd cast a hulking, glowering, swaggering presence as he dispensed his nervy, occasionally histrionic rants to the Echo crowd. The Fall? Yes. Lloyd has discarded and reconfigured the Nightingales several times, but this incarnation packs a lot of punch thanks the dual guitar attack from veteran Alan Apperley and newbie Christine Edwards.
Some longtime fans were there too. When, during one pause, an audience member blurted out the next lyric, Lloyd glared. “Shut the [heck] up,” he said, then mocked, “And by the way, don’t take a photograph of me ever again when I’m holding a Bud Light.”