The Wave Pictures

The Wave Pictures


It’s Friday night and what better way to start the weekend than visiting a sold-out Deaf Institute for some live music? Tonight’s visitors are The Wave Pictures, touring on the back of new album release Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon. The album was co-written and produced by Billy Childish. I love the album, which means I’m heading out to the show tonight expecting big things.

As the room nears capacity, the three members of The Wave Pictures stride out a full ten minutes before their advertised start time and kick off the set with ‘The West Country’ from 2012 album Long Black Cars. Following the song, frontman David Tattersall announces his delight at being back at the Deaf Institute, declaring it the venue with “the best wallpaper in the country”. Drummer Jonny Helm follows the statement with a comedy rimshot, “it wasn’t a joke” responds Tattersall.

Second up is the night’s first song from the latest album, and its the first that the band wrote with Billy Childish last year, ‘Pea Green Coat’. Immediately followed by ‘I Can Hear The Telephone (3 Floors Above Me)’, that’s the two singles from the new album both played as part of the opening three songs of the set. An indication, if one was needed, that the band have full confidence in their 16 years of back-catalogue.

“Jonny’s going to sing a tender love song” is the introduction to next track ‘Now You Are Pregnant’ as Helm comes from behind the drums to take centre stage. Tattersall’s guitar part comes with a small but noticeable mistake in the song. Such is the positive mood in the room, it feels like a joke we’re all in on, even before we’re told “there we’re no wrong notes, only jazz notes”.

The Wave Pictures with Billy Childish

The Wave Pictures with Billy Childish

Two covers come next, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 track ‘Sinister Purpose’, one of two Creedence Clearwater Revival covers recorded for the latest album, followed by ‘I Killed The Monster’ originally by Daniel Johnston. The Wave Pictures toured as Daniel Johnston’s backing band back in 2009. Following that experience, last year they recorded a whole album of Daniel Johnston songs, including this one.

Looking around the room during next song ‘Before This Day’ I can see some pockets of dancing and a mass of smiling faces. It seems everyone is having a good time. A version of Neil Young’s ‘Don’t Cry No Tears’ comes next before a third track from the latest album. We’re offered a choice, do we want “rocking or hard rocking”, the crowd seem undecided, so Tattersall says “let’s just play them both”. I’m still not sure which was “rocking” and which was “hard rocking”, but they play ‘Frogs Sing Loudly In The Ditches’ followed by the album’s title track ‘Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon’.

The fluent nature of the setlist seems now to be set in the minds of the crowd. Lots of requests are now being called for between songs. ‘Long Black Cars’ is up before the setlist starts to feel like its audience driven. ‘Spaghetti’ is the first accepted request, in which we’re prompted to “watch out for for a sensational bass solo from our tour manager”, otherwise known as bassist Franic Rozycki. ‘Hoops’, a song written for snooker player Stephen Hendry, is next. Apparently “he never responded”.

Songs keep coming thick and fast ‘Tiny Craters In The Sand’ reminds us “there always has to be the same amount of hair in the world”. Next is ‘Eskimo Kiss’, then a scream of ‘Atlanta’ from the crowd is greeted only by a Tattersall thumbs up before the band go straight into it. ‘The Woods’ and ‘Red Cloud Road (Part 2)’ bring the set to a close and the band leave the stage.

Reappearing barely a minute later amidst many more shouted requests, Helm remarks “this is an exciting encore, it’s like you actually want us to keep playing”. ‘Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens’ opens the encore, before ‘The Easter Parade’, two more songs from the new album, ‘The Fire Alarm’ and ‘Katie’ and finally ‘Friday Night In Loughborough’ and ‘Leave The Scene Behind’ bring the band right up to the curfew.

Following their early arrival, they managed 100 minutes of stage time and I don’t think there was a weak song in their 23 song set. The absurdly low £9 entry fee must be the bargain of the year. Not just some great songs, but a great performance from a very entertaining bunch.

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The  Wave Pictures were guests on the Silent Radio show back in October. Listen here from 52 minutes.

Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.