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Stanley Brinks & Freschard Live At the Well

Stanley Brinks and Freschard – Bristol Live Review

At The Well, Stokes Croft, Bristol
11th April 2016

Anyone walking past and looking in through the window of At the Well on Stokes Croft tonight would think: “Well that looks a whole lot of twee.”

They’d be right of course.

Packed in amongst the washing machines, beneath the vintage cameras safely tucked up in their tan-leather cases and the rust-bitten signs, stand two performers. The songs they sing are simple, romantic and contain sentiments and gestures that don’t really belong in a cynical world.

But then this delightful little laundrette café isn’t the real world and the pretty girls with fringes and frills and awkward men-children with errant limbs, facial fur and Converse are not real-world inhabitants. We sit happily together on the floor, sup elderflower pressé, tea from china teacups and bottles of craft IPA. We sing, we clap, we whoop politely because we get it.

One of the performers, the immensely talented Stanley Brinks aka Andre Herman Dune, spends some of the evening alternating between a ukulele and a whistle. Despite wielding them with great skill, these are not the weapons of choice to do battle with the evils of world. He has dyed his beard blue and painted his nails too. And we, inside this room, still get it. Stanley shares songs from his prolific back catalogue, drawing on his new Strikes album as well as his excellent work with the Wave Pictures on tracks like Berlin, Wakefield and End of the World.

The other performer, Freschard, is a French singer who stands demurely in a Peter Pan shift dress and sings songs about sunshine and boys and books. With Francoise Hardy inflections and oodles of anti-folk naivety, she would certainly set the twee Richter scale twitching, yet her innocence and warmth is refreshing, in particular on Boom Biddy Boom and Tweet Tweet.

Each performer manages that rare feat of being both enduring and gently enthralling. Their musings on alcohol, love, friendship and hope are laid out in charming refrains, playful couplets and wry one-liners. The contradictions and catch-22isms of the everyday are packaged in ways that make you smile and, before you know it, laugh. There are heart-warming sing-alongs, with harmonies dispersing like miniature bubbles across the laundrette.

I sit cross-legged and stare up at the two of them and I smile, nay beam for two hours. Twee – you bet. Needed – absolutely. The world is a messed up place. Its problems won’t resolve themselves in the course of a two minute pop song, wounds will not be sutured by a ukulele solo and hope for mankind will not be carried on the shoulders of a catchy melody, but without nights like this, we would surely all be doomed.

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Tom Spooner

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