Band leader Jamie Lee starts solo and is a spellbinding presence from the outset, holding the room’s gaze as he spews world-weary truths like a fervent street preacher from behind his battered six-string.
Amid the Brighton venue’s pinkish glow, his vehement voice reaches new intensity with full band in tow; ‘You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky’ sees him battle the swirling, orchestral ambience with barbed yowls, a choirboy-ish coo and some fiercely emotive Richard Ashcroft-aping.
Then comes the ethereal grandiosity of first album cuts ‘Bluebell Fields’ and ‘Letter To Yesterday’ which still incite a subtle shiver, but it’s the alternative Christmas carol that follows them which shows a startling and scintillating new side to the band. Cupping the dethroned and untwined mic, Lee stands bare like a bingo caller for ‘A Cocaine Christmas and An Alcoholic’s New Year’ and transforms into a poet for beery-eyed barflys, hollering out its broken, Pogues-esque balladry at brash volume.
Finishing as they started, with Lee once again solo, stumbling through a beautiful off-the-cuff ‘Black’ for the heckling front row, MONEY is undoubtedly Lee’s vehicle; a vehicle for dark comedy delivered in a baccy-glazed croak, for stellar and complex personal lyrics and for an unpredictable multi-faceted voice. The nature of his art makes this miles from mindless mid-week escapism, but in the flesh MONEY are grave fun.