Read and Shout 2011: 'We are tired of getting dicked around!'
By: Jeane Mowatt
I can't remember the last time I went to a library. I tend to buy ratty cornered novels from charity shops and swap books with friends. It's a likely story that once my seminal university years were over, late night liaisons with the Dewey decimal system were essentially over.
Matt Stead, the creater of Read and Shout, has a different idea of a community library. Not only is it a blissful place to work but a place that needs to be celebrated, respected and most importantly sustained. It's hard not to be impressed by his enthusiasm. In three months Stead mustered a delightful collection of indie-pop acts, headlined by Swedish pop troubadour, Jens Lekman.
Nestled above the West Norwood library, Nettelford Hall was full with like-minded bookworms frustrated by the public sector cuts, but more specifically the library cuts. A testament to the acts and the cause, tickets sold out in minutes. They came together on stage as whimsical and charming musical treats of library love and books lost.
The appropriately named Leaf Library ushered us in to the Nettelford Hall which drew similarities to story time at your local book store. Cross-legged and attentive, the five-piece took us on a dreamy underwater journey, splashed with endearing key changes and unassuming stage presence. ‘Library Museum' was a standout with its heavy bass line, drawing Beach House comparisons. While the upbeat ‘The Greater Good' proved they are clearly capable of a good toe tapper.
After quickly popping to the brightly lit foyer for a bargain £2.50 white wine, we returned, assuming the cross-legged uniform. Ex-Hefner, Darren Hayman is dressed the part, head to toe in tweed, leather patches and bantering with enough enthusiasm to get kicked out of a library quick smart. Joining him on stage, the welcoming accompaniment of a violist that coloured Hayman's library themed set list. Earnest and reminiscent of Atlas Sound, Hayman wooed with unpolished vocals and witty lyrics - "I want to run my finger, softly down the spines. They're broken but I don't mind, the books work fine". Subsequently, rousing the audience to sing along to "We are tired of getting dicked around". Seemingly, Stead's inspiration for the event.
Hayman was followed by an impressive 12 piece - A Little Orchestra. Unusually, four punters choose to stand directly in front of the crowd early in their set which rattled the otherwise tame crowd. A few cranky remarks sent them on their way, and what remained was an enjoyable random arrangement of violin, viola, bassoon, trombone, trumpet, clarinet and flute. Hayman joined the collective on stage for a teen love story number ‘Out of My League'. Followed by a lovely duet sung by Pete Green from The Sweet Nothings and Emma Hall from The Pocketbooks. However, the standout was un-doubtingly the rendition of Laura Palmer's Theme from Twin Peaks.
Animated and emotional, when Stead's own band A Fine Day For Sailing took to the stage he was clearly impressed by the crowd and the success of the night. He went on to thank the artists for waiving their fees, the supporters and volunteers while proclaiming his love for the library.
The arrival of Jens Lekman catapulted the crowd into hysteria, well, librarian levels of excitement. More wide smiles and complimentary rile. I am a big Jens fan. I was fortunate to catch him once before in Auckland and just as he did then, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, a tambourine and an occasional backing track, he was simply remarkable. Performing favourites that showcased his stunning vocal talent ‘Black Cab', ‘And I Remember Every Kiss', ‘Pocketful of Money', ‘Your Arms Around Me', ‘A Sweet Summers Night On Hammer Hill' and ‘Shirin'.
Recollecting the inspiration behind new song ‘Waiting for Kirsten' was entertaining to say the least. Apparently Kirsten Dunst name dropped Lekman in an interview, and when Dunst randomly made an appearance in his home town of Gothenberg, he proceeded to stalk her. "So what is a suburban potato chips factory boy like me supposed to do when Kirsten comes to my home town except obsessively stalk her all night?" This plus the debut of the lovely ‘Every Little Hair Knows Your Name' proves we will be very pleased when he releases his third LP.
With two encores and an hour long set, the pinnacle was ‘Into Eternity' flawlessly leading into ‘Sipping On The Sweet Nectar' accompanied by Lekman's erratic dancing, to the crowd's encouragement.
The tagline states Libraries for all. Forever. But if this isn't the case Stead and many other passionate librarians may be jobless. If nothing else, Read and Shout succeeded in reminding bookworms and indie-pop lovers alike, the importance of the community library, while having good old fashioned knees-up. Don't forget the cause though people. Recently, Lewisham announced the closure of five treasured local libraries, so head here to sign the petition to ensure libraries will be around for all, forever.
Video: “Into Eternity/Sipping on The Sweet Nectar“ by Jens Lekman