I’ve been following the musical incarnations of Ben Fox Smith for more years than I care to count, and tonight is my first encounter with the former Stony Sleep, Serafin and First frontman’s new project Young Sawbones, who tonight play within the crypt-like basement of Farringdon institution The Betsey Trotwood.
Following an opening acoustic set from Eran Karniel which ended with an extended cover of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Hurt’, we’re confronted by Tom Moody‘s solo set. A former bandmate of Smith’s, Moody belts out a broken blues with a voice like Ray Winstone crunching the still bloody bones of a recently dismembered Tom Waits and plays the guitar like he’s just found out it’s been sleeping with his girlfriend.
Headliners Young Sawbones’ Band are playing only their second show, having grown from Smith’s solo recordings into a five piece live outfit. Their origins as a solo project are borne out in the more personal, gentler tone of the music than some of his previous bands’ buzzy punk energy. Tracks like ‘Blind Man Comes’ and ‘You Do Then You Don’t’ drift along on a hazy psychedelic guitar pop current, with Smith’s distinctive vocal backed up by mellow harmonies. That’s not to say that YSB’B don’t know how to kick it up a gear when required, and their closing track, provisionally titled ‘I Want a Girl, I Want a Boy’, joyrides along on a thrumming garage rock bassline.
It’s early days, but there’s plenty tonight to suggest that Young Saw Bones’ Band’s debut album Taciturn Lanzarac, due out later this year, will be well worth seeking out.
Words and photos by Paul Maps