On the night that nostalgic affection saved The Social from redevelopment, Scala turned twenty. And like any twenty-year-old, Scala are milking the celebrations, mercifully, tonight, with drinks priced as if it’s 1999. And in that atmosphere of Y2K headiness, The Orielles step up with their anachronistic party agenda.
With recently-added member Al Morgan adding synth ’n’ keys like his life depends on it, Esme, Sidonie and Henry make a Haçienda of Scala with their funky influence smoothie. Passed along like a baton by Henry’s irresistible patter, the band dive into a full and unrelenting discography, boasting of some of the more inventive gems made by a ‘guitar’ band in recent times.
Buoyed tonally and in experimental confidence by the brilliant Marta Sologni’s direction in the studio for debut album Silver Dollar Moment, The Orielles have emerged from the creative process, if possible, an even more extraordinary live spectacle than before.
‘I Only Bought It For The Bottle’ and ‘Sunflower Seeds’ are particularly popular moments in the hour-long set, which is framed by Henry and Al’s synchronised two-foot jump - impressive considering the complexity of some of the music they’re playing. Esme’s voice is thrillingly rare tonight, while Sidonie’s drumming is name-making, as it so unfailingly tends to be.
The quartet end on ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’, an eight-plus minute opus which bears many of the signs of one of the best songs in recent years, in part because it’s a favourite of mine, though mostly because it’s a totally unique party starter with myriad layers to be discovered anew each time it’s played. The most enthusiastic mosh pit of the night breaks out to this closer, as Henry juggles guitar and cow bell, and Esme whistle, egg shaker and bass.
With an enduring party vibe built on musical chemistry and creative chutzpah, The Orielles shine for Scala’s twentieth birthday. Their ever-reliable back-catalogue continues to swell with new crowd-pleasing curveballs, and their glowing experimentalism and infectious personality continues to set the bar for new bands looking to play the iconic Scala next.