Real Estate


Well… it was certainly a set! Hello, I’m Connor Ryan and today I’m going to talk about how one band so chilled and sunny on record, can in the flesh become a different beast entirely.

I’ve had mixed feelings on Real Estate ever since I was notified of their existence and material a year or so ago. Their most recent album In Mind (2017) is good in places, however I usually find myself falling asleep as the album goes on. Luckily, this sleepy state was nowhere to be seen as the American dreampop outfit weave jangly yarns upon the Ritz stage all night long (unnecessarily pompous line).

After the recent departure of founding member Matt Mondanile, who according to reports is focusing his energy on the musical project Ducktails, Real Estate could have been forgiven for calling it day. I’m delighted to say however, his replacement in Julian Lynch was in fantastic form as the spectacle-wearing, rather tall fellow quietly got on with his work. Simultaneously staring off into the distance in a moody fashion, I enjoy his glum presence. This mood is odd though considering that everyone else in the band seems to be having a whale of a time. Bass player Alex Bleeker is chatting furiously with the crowd and with conversations of mixing up days and the addition of free bananas to merchandise transactions, the energy and interaction is lapped up contently.

Starting off with the very relaxed ‘Serve The Song’, the five piece play a wealth of tunes from their most recent record, as well as cuts from arguably their best album Atlas (2014). Throughout the show I start to notice more and more how they’re not a band to furiously shake your body too, or use as an excuse to smash into people. It’s a still vibe, appropriate for quiet admiration of the soft as silk sound and excellent musicianship. Real Estate are definitely easygoing and frontman Martin Courtney epitomises this with his gentle voice, very reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. ‘Stained Glass’ in particular rises me to a state of happiness and joy through the relaxed words and real power pop vibe, with acts like Jon Brion and Jason Falkner coming to the front of my mind.

I’m certainly no expert on their back catalogue, and have probably been guilty of glossing over their material without much thought in the past. My friend and HUGE music nerd Dan Saleh however, has assured me their albums DO get better on repeated listens and even though we’re only 4 or 5 songs in, I fucking believe him. Reeling off tracks like ‘Darling’ and ‘Suburban Dogs’ with an ease similar to making cheese on toast, the crowd grow livelier with every vamped up song. Instead of a young contingent jacked up on cheap lager and donning turn up jeans, what we get tonight is a pool of bald heads and “proper” music fans. The support band Spinning Coin in particular summed up this vibe with their Glaswegian attitude and accents giving off strong feels of early Teenage Fanclub, a group many tonight would have no doubt seen in their younger days.

The highlights of the evening for me are renditions of ‘The Bend’, ‘Same Sun’ and the wonderful ‘Talking Backwards’, which receives an almighty ovation with its opening chimes. In the show’s very early stages, I was concerned I would be bored as familiarity of a band is often half the battle when enjoying gigs. I will say however, I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun I had, despite not knowing most of their songs.

Overall, Real Estate at the Ritz on a Wednesday afternoon was probably one of the best times I’ve had in recent gig going experiences. I’ve seen many a wild and mad set at this great venue, the likes of The Fall and Fat White Family springing to mind immediately, but tonight was more immersive. Constantly a wash under driving rhythms and gorgeous melodies, Real Estate really put on a spectacular set, the encore in particular featuring ‘Two Arrows’ and the brilliant ‘It’s Real’, bringing a perfect end to a delightful course of live music.

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC