Johnny Foreigner @ Banquet Records 10th January 2013

Currently signed to Alcopop! Records are Indie Rock 4 piece band Johnny Foreigner. This talented British based band hail from Birmingham. This was the first time I had witnessed them live and from what I heard I was left rather impressed. I would describe them as The Joy Formidable meets The Wombats. This 4 piece band consist of Alexei Berrow, Junior Elvis Washington Laidley, Lewes Herriot and bassist Kelly Southern. Banquet Records played host to this popular instore. Johnny Foreigner were set to play at McClusky’s later that night as part of New Slang. A little after 6pm the store opened and Banquet Records started to fill up. The band started almost straight away and opened up with Johnny Foreigner Vs You which was taken from the 2011 LP Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything. Alexei and Lewis were playing acoustic guitars, Junior was playing a keyboard and Kelly had a purple star shaped tambourine. The vocals for Johnny Foreigner Vs You were shared between both Alexei and Ruth. I found this to be completely enchanting and had well crafted infectious lyrics which resulted in plenty of singing along. The combination of Berrow’s and Southern’s vocals worked wonders. I actually found Ruth’s vocals to be extremely soft.

 So lets not get ourselves into romance,
I knew this would end without fireworks and futures,
Just schedules refuting, forced into fact,
And it’s lights out where your at

 “Thank you for coming everyone” Kelly Southern then said to the intimate audience. “I told my house mate that we’re doing like a instore and he was like oh do you have a record out. And then I realise that’s when bands do instores. We just kind of thought this would be fun” lead singer Alexei Berrow mentioned before going on to thank everyone for coming. It was then straight onto Eyes Wide Terrified which featured on the debut album Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light. This was a bright and breezy infectious song which was delivered to perfection. Eyes Wide Terrified was very pacey and Berrow slightly altered a lyric in this fantastic tune.

“There are men in this shop, who would pay for this”

“I’m sorry we kept everyone waiting ‘cos we were late. But the upside is we got to rehearse this in the van. People that are coming tonight are getting exactly the same stage banter” Alexei said before Ruth launched herself into Sofacore. This was taken from EP Arcs Across The City which was released before Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light. I found this to be mellowing and slightly uptempo as well. This gem was spectacularly delivered.  After plenty of applause it was then onto I’llchoosemysideandshutup, Alright which was taken from the sophomore album Grace And The Bigger Picture. Junior and Lewis switched so Lewis was on the Keyboard and Junior was on acoustic guitar. This spellbinding song was faultlessly delivered by Kelly Southern. The vocals were sheer perfection and mellowing at the same time. I’llchoosemysideandshutup, Alright was an incredibly short song which was delivered with plenty of gusto. “We’re going to do a famous song now” Berrow said before Southern replied with “Smells Like Teen Spirit LOL, ROFL”. Alexei then went onto say “If you can possibly restrain yourself from singing until like it all comes in, because we don’t have any drums” . It was then onto Salt, Peppa And Spinderella. I was completely captivated by this infectious tune. It was really hard not to sing along to it.  Hulk Hoegaarden, Gin Kinsella, David Duvodkany, Etc was the penultimate tune of the evening. I have not heard the full blown version but the stripped back acoustic version I was witnessing was amazing. The harmonies were tight and plenty of energy oozed from this tune which had been stripped back.  “This was way less scary than we were expecting” Berrow said before Johnny Foreigner signed off with A Kings Heath Story which they blitzed through. Again this was an enchanting track which doesn’t feature on any Johnny Foreigner album (it did appear on a compilation CD though).

And we’ll make the best with the heat that’s left,
We should shut ourselves in, I can’t stay, I can’t stay awake,
And we’ll make the best with the heat that’s left,
We should cover our tracks but the snow’s covered everything,
Blanketed, glistening, is this heaven for you?

SET LIST

 Johnny Foreigner Vs You
Eyes Wide Terrified
Sofacore
I’llchoosemysideandshutup, Alright
Salt, Peppa And Spinderella
Hulk Hoegaarden, Gin Kinsella, David Duvodkany, Etc
A Kings Heath Story

OVERALL: This was the first time I had witnessed Johnny Foreigner live and based on this I would most definitely see them live again. They are too amazing for words and the style of the music that they sing is right up my street. I feel rather lucky having witnessed them play a stripped back set.

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