The music being pumped into the Waiting Room’s wondrous log cabin suddenly stops. A howl from behind us: MONEY’s lead singer Jamie Lee is perched atop the bar. He strides out into the crowd, reciting an a cappella poem on Paradise. He flirts with the gathering, making some uncomfortable while kissing others; he stamps his feet, spilling his Fosters, while reciting words in the manner of only the greatest raconteurs.
He stops. He sinks. The rest of the group appear, and the first song begins.
Clearly, MONEY do nothing by the book. Selling out shows across the land with nary a charted single to their name, it’s obvious that there must be something rather special about this Bella Union-signed Manchester band (think more WU LYF than Oasis) for Live Nation to be presenting it from the depths of Dalston for a handful of people.
If the opening performance hadn’t drawn you in already, So Long (GODISDEAD) envelops you completely – whether it’s the enclosed space or the reverb, it isn’t long before you’re utterly drowned in Lee’s ethereal vocal. This is a band that know and have honed their craft; these are unimpeachably good tunes married with performance art from a lot that know the meaning of the words (cf. their videos, interviews, even that ‘lonely sexy death’ Twitter handle).
While it all flows effortlessly, seamlessly, the standout has to be Bluebell Fields (below). It’s the essence of MONEY – dream-like layers, aching vox, and lyrics as thought-provoking as they are accessible. It’s hard to fight back any emotion during this marvel, something we never thought we’d say for an all-male guitar-driven five-piece.
If it does sound a bit too serious, too worthy or too cool for school, then Lee’s cheeky responses to microphone feedback stems that idea – a quick wink to the crowd, a small but charming gesture and perhaps an admission that even their tightly-controlled performance can have cracks. But it’s the cracks that make it special; for the closing Who’s Going To Love You Now?, Lee plants his mic out into the front rows and gives us a (literally) naked performance for music that certainly deserves one.
It’s rare to see a band pour so much belief and so much effort into their live act. Indeed, MONEY deliver the most stunning 45-minute set you’ll have seen in an age, allowing you to be privy to something so special it defies description. Do yourself a favour: catch them live before you expire. We can’t recommend this enough.