Music reviewing can be quite a lonely business - especially when you take on both the writing and photography aspects, but I was lucky enough tonight to meet up with Tim from The Blue Walrus and Saam from Faded Glamour, which provided a welcome change, and almost made it seem as though this was a gig I and my friends had bought tickets for. I haven't been to the Barfly very much - in fact the only band I've seen there before have been Fight Like Apes, who are so fast and furious and downright insane that you're not really in a position to assess the sound quality of the venue. Tonight, though, I did have that chance and it seemed to me as though the soundman had been told "Whatever else you do, up the bass. We want the whole room to quake." And quake it did - something which complemented tonight's acts very well indeed. First up - Paper Crows - a vocal and keys duo full of dark, atmospheric sounds and breathy singing. I didn't really take to their first song, although I'd be at a bit of a loss to tell you why, but as their set progressed their sound drew me in and by the end I was a stanch fan. With a sound reminiscent of Esben and the Witch, but with enough originality to avoid direct (or unflattering) comparisons, I imagine this band will go far. Clock Opera were next up - a surprising choice given that they were tonight's headliners. They certainly pulled in the crowds though - by the time they came on stage the Barfly was packed; the biggest crowd I've ever seen them play to. They played - as usual - a blinding set, sounding possibly the best I've ever heard them; a combination of the amped-up bass, sound-system in general and the appreciation of the crowd. Starting with White Noise, which is now definitively my favourite song of theirs, they moved through A Piece Of String, Alouette and finished with a poundingly furious version of Lesson #7. New single Once And For All got a fantastic reception - I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes their most successful single to date, as it's slightly more 'accessible' (much as I hate that word. Why should music have to be accessible?!) than some of their other offerings. It's fantastic to see this band starting to get the appreciation they deserve, and I can't wait for the album - here's hoping a deal gets signed soon! The final act tonight were Tall Ships, and it was a great shame that more of the crowd didn't stick around, as this up and coming band played a blinding set. Using multiple time signatures per song, swapping instruments when they felt like it and using a loop pedal to build up guitar riffs, this band definitely have a fresh sound, and a very exciting one at that. They were possibly least suited to the heavy bass sound out of all the bands tonight, and if I had to criticise I'd say they weren't quite as tight as they could have been, but that's nothing to be ashamed of when your music is this ambitious. Another fantastic choice by Big Scary Monsters Records, I'm definitely keeping an eye on these guys.