Photos: Nick Miners

Oh Ruin stumbled onto the stage, announced that the previously announced support act would not be appearing, and that he would be playing! I was immediately pleased with this turn of events, because Oh Ruin turned out to be a very strong performer. Firstly, he played his guitar with a passion and a skill that is rarely seen. Some of this passion may have been fuelled by his drunken state, but it's rare that you see somebody break the string on two guitars because they are playing with such force. Underpinning Oh Ruin is a high level of ability at playing his guitar; and while not quite a virtuoso, lacking the raw manual skill, he still manages to produce an excellent tone, and puts so much into his performance.

However the main reason Oh Ruin was quite so enjoyable was the strength of his voice. It rare to find a voice that has such a distinct quality to it, but which doesn't verge over into the 'odd' category. It almost appears as if he is mumbling his words, but he still manages to project them remarkably well. The result of this is an earthy, wholesome voice that warms the heart while holding enough of a tune to remain remarkably pretty. For the end of his set Andy and Jess from She Keeps Bees joined him on stage, leaving triumphantly.


Twenty minutes later the three of them returned. Oh Ruin had joined She Keeps Bees in order to flesh out their sound, as the duo had believed that their second album, on which he had featured, sounded much less sparse and stripped down. An interesting decision, and one I wasn't entirely happy with. Part of the appeal of She Keeps Bees is their minimal nature, as Jessica Larrabe has one of the best voices in modern music, and having such a sparse backing helps accentuate that. In reality the new arrangement works remarkably well. The sound is simply strengthened, and made all the better. Jess is a strong enough vocalist to be able to rise above it. By the third album the She Keeps Bees sound had become slightly tired, and the added variety will help with future projects.


Certainly on their old material She Keeps Bees were as good as they've ever been. Jess is a wonderful front woman, managing to hold the stage, and moving in an ungainly but still somehow graceful manner. She's also very funny, which helps give a good feeling to the whole show. However, my misgivings with the new album very much turned the gig from excellent to just OK. Simply put, it's not good enough. Each older song sounded brilliant, showing the band's strengths and causing the entire room to sway happily to the music. However, while the newer songs were enjoyed they were definitely enjoyed significantly less. While remaining in exactly the same style, and really doing little different, on a basic level, they just aren't as good. While the band put on a good performance ultimately they were let down by the weaknesses in their material. A shame maybe.