Friday 15th June 2018, The Live Room, Saltaire. Orphan Colours with Benjamin William Pike opening the show.
There have been quite a few sell out shows at The Live Room this year. This one had a good crowd but really should have been sold out way in advance. Some reviewers hint that Orphan Colours are the neighbourhood super group that few know about. A few more at Saltaire know about them now.
The night’s opener was Lincoln born, Leeds resident Benjamin William Pike. So far two albums to his name Being & Nothingness (2013) and Burdensome Year (2017). Both have been highly praised and rightly so. Burdensome Year details a traumatic time before, during and after a recent life saving kidney transplant. Benjamin opened with an intricate, beautifully played and sung Skip James song “Hard Time Killing Floor”. This gave the audience a taste of the quality in store as the night unwound. Well crafted and executed songs with husky vocals reminiscent of early John Martyn at his best and a cascading guitar that brought Martin Simpson to mind. Influences are listed as Django Reinhardt, Davey Graham , Kelly Joe Phelps as well as Martin Simpson. Benjamin performed material from Burdensome Year as well as two unreleased songs. His great set closed with “City Living”.
Orphan Colours are London based and have been together for about 3 years. Two CD EPs and a full debut album to date. They comprise Steven Llewellyn , Dave Burn and bassist Graham Knight, all ex Ahab. Lead guitarist Fred Abbott from Noah and The Whale and drummer Steve Brookes from Danny & The Champions of The World. For those needing labels then probably British Americana with a good dollop of soul and West Coast. Gambling seems a strong element in the band, the CD EP “High Hopes” and the album “All On The Red” reflecting the gambles taken with the band. This was high octane Americana rock from the opening soaring guitar notes of “Free” segueing into “Start of Something”.
Superb tightness in song construction and delivery, excellent harmonies and at times triple guitar interplay in the best Eagles/Byrds style, all backed by brilliant bass and drums. Still not allowing the audience to catch their breath a slick intro to “Renegade” and on the pace relentlessly continued. Eventually the audience got breathing time with a more laid back “Lonely Lately”. The night whistled past with an occasional trip into Ahab’s back catalogue . There was some seriously blistering Paul Kossoff style guitar from Fred during “Sun Is Rising” as well as a potentially anthemic “High Hopes” with a lot of audience participation, just so suitable for festivals. Final song proper before the encore pantomime was a tip to their West Coast influences with the very popular “Goodnight California”, echoes of The Eagles were very evident.
The inevitable encore paid homage to another influence with a very Tom Petty-esque “Won’t Let You Down”. All too quickly the show was over. I said earlier the show should have been sold out. I seriously hope the Live Room gets another chance to sell out but I strongly suspect that this band could be playing far larger venues in the near future. They certainly have the songs, musicianship, sound and the potential. A great night was had by all.
Words and photos by Keith Belcher