Concert Review: The Wave Pictures at the Vagabond, March 12

Categories: Concert Review
The Wave Pictures
The Vagabond, Miami
Friday, March 12, 2010

Photo by Michael Maryanoff
The Wave Pictures
Better Than: Having to hear about your own lost loves.

The Review:

When I heard word Sweat Records and the Vagabond were bringing the Wave Pictures to town, I must admit that I got a little giddy. Not fan-boy giddy, mind you, but the kind of giddy you get when one of your best kept secrets is about to be shared with the world at large.

See, for the past month or so I'd been alternately sending out two of the band's songs -- "I Thought of You Again" and "I Love You Like a Madman" -- to a small slew of very fetching chicks, and I didn't think many folks this side of the pond even knew about the band. Further giddifying the whole notion was how keen I figured it would be to catch in person the act that had been speaking so eloquently on my behalf.

If you read my quickie preview of Friday night's show you'll know that the Wave Pictures are masters of the sentimental. They sometimes sing sad songs, yes. But they're more like revelatory declarations of love even as it's lost. And I'd used that mastery to express sentiments I was either too reticent to express myself or had expressed -- albeit a bit differently -- at one time or another in my life.

Perhaps I got giddy too quickly, because I went all thumbs explaining just how much I dug these sentimental songs, especially "I Thought of You Again." And get this: The Wave Pictures didn't even play it.

The Wave Pictures did, however, sing "I Love You Like a Madman," and it was brilliant to stand five feet away from the stage and hear the words I'd so often said in some form or another for pretty much my whole life. And despite the band's rather unassuming presence, there was a decided surge as the song played on.

There was an equal undercurrent of sly and subtle electricity throughout what I caught of the band's too-short set, from "Friday Night in Loughborough" to the closing "Kittens." Some of that surge came from some added riffing; some of it came from the simple spark inherent in a song sung well. But mostly the buzz was due to the sting and the singe of the songs themselves, which have a subtle scald, especially when they wax poetic.

Indeed, there's a depth to the Wave Pictures that at first glance might not be very apparent. And as I've said, there's a courage that's head-and-shoulders above what most pop bands proffer these days. Live, all that they are becomes quite clear. What's less clear is what they will be to a world absorbed more with gloss than guts. But if there's any justice, the Wave Pictures will go beyond being one of my supposed best-kept secrets, and instead become the secret that everybody just has to share.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias:
As I said, I've had occasion to use the Wave Pictures to say what I dare not. And if you know me and my big mouth, then you'll know how rare it is for me to allow anyone even to get a word in edgewise, let alone to speak on my behalf. That's saying something.

Random Detail: At one point singer/guitarist David Tattersall got so riffed he inspired some punter to jump up on the dance box and play air guitar. Talk about an incongruity.

By the Way:
The Wave Pictures' last two LPs -- Instant Coffee Baby and If You Leave it Alone -- have just been released stateside by Moshi Moshi in one nifty package. You would do well to seek it out.

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