It must have been quite some time since a band less trendy than The Wave Pictures frequented Dalston’s Kingsland Road. Although after what was a surprisingly packed crowd for up-and-coming support act Rose Elinor Dougall, I was filled with hope that, for once, the crowd swooning to David Tattersall’s so-so vocals may have been sizeable enough to overwhelm their usual compromising silences. However, this particular dream was swiftly shot to pieces when it became apparent that not only was the bar to be found at the top of the stairs inside the Servant Jazz Quarters, but so too the exit.
As per usual, this was a staggeringly candid set from the Leicestershire trio. They evoked the gentle highs and vague lows of emotion anticipated of a Wave Pictures show, with tracks such as Spaghetti offering up a taste of their unique wit, while often begging the question, “Is this meant to be ironic?” Nonetheless, when it comes to drummer Jonny “Huddersfield” Helm’s turn to take to the microphone for Sleepy Eye, it feels as though we’re gazing into the past, present, and with that future of the band all at once. As Helm awkwardly grasps one red wine-laden arm with the other, Tattersall rocks back on the balls of his feet while bassist Franic Rozycki stares off toward the back of the largely empty room. There’s a latent, indeed saddening sense of realisation that this may yet be it.
But The Wave Pictures’ almost total lack of appeal to a more general public – one due to their very niche sound and eccentric lyrics, and that’s not mentioning the band’s outré aesthetic – is bizarrely also their beautiful charm. It’s one that gets to me every time I see them, and this is increasingly true. So while they probably won’t ever escape any which basement jazz bar scene in wholly inappropriate neighbourhoods, I sincerely hope they’re playing for many years to come, as they remain one of Britain’s greatest, if largely unheralded live bands, and are likely the source of the most genuine music I’ve yet heard.