The Lathums at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London on 18.3.2023 with Ruby J supporting

Here we are again at the architectural dream that is The Roundhouse. The 21st Century arts centre upgrade to the venue where in 1977 The Stranglers recorded much of their Live X-Cert album and that was once a shed to turn train engines around in. The building is a beauty and the inside is illustrated here in an earlier Sisters of Mercy blog from a few years ago.

The Roundhouse peeps out on to Chalk Farm Road

My last trip here was to see Sparks (April 2022) and before that The Rifles (October 2019), recorded and released as a live album. Blog on The Rifles (What I didn’t mention in that was I proposed to my now wife Sally during that one.😁)

Plaque on the outside of
The Roundhouse

Pre-gig options

Camden is your oyster… and The Roundhouse is just north-west of it. So many options. As you come up from around Camden Town tube there are so many good pubs; there are the food stalls in the market and the Vietnamese restaurant Thanh Binh just north of the bridge. Further up, or if coming out of the tube at Chalk Farm station, there is The Pembroke Castle, with decent outside space, just out of the way over the main railway line. The Muang Thai restaurant on the main drag opposite the venue is another great spot to eat and wait for doors to open or queues to subside.

The Roundhouse viewed from Regent’s Park Road Railway bridge

I used to aim for Joe’s Bar on the main drag but it’s all closed up, making The Enterprise even more rammed than it might be on a gig night, good boozer though it is. On this trip we were a bit early so stopped in Powerplant in the afternoon: vegan heaven, with some decent canned ales in the fridge. (The ales in The Roundhouse are pretty good mind and service works.)

Near and Far, back down across the junction from Morrisons, was a new place we tried later and sat watching the busy street from the big front window. More sparkly and cocktails but different and there was room early on.

Tonight’s support – Ruby J

Ruby J – pocket zoom shot at The Roundhouse

I was keen to get in on time to see Ruby J again after her Southampton support slot with Red Rum Club. (My blog here.) She’s good, really good, but her brilliant voice was a little bit masked rather than enhanced by the band here at The Roundhouse. It’s a big space. Maybe I should have gone down the front – we were downstairs standing by the mixing desk – but it felt distant.

Ruby J and band – supporting

Some songs more soulful and some more bluesy – “who wants to hear some blues?” she asks. Pleased to see her on this bigger stage but you could not appreciate her voice so well I didn’t think.

The Lathums

Indie rock popsters The Lathums are one of the top bands out there in recent years in my book. I first saw them in 2021 at Victorious Festival on the Castle Stage. The air of casual brilliance created by frontman Alex Moore and the band, made for such a friendly feel. They just seemed instantly likeable.

The Lathums’ Alex Moore
on the Castle Stage
at Victorious Festival 2021

From Wigan, and they are very Wigan: the vocals doing for Wigan what Arctic Monkeys did for Sheffield. The band met at music college and were thrown together for a college piece of work, to be a band and make some music. They just clicked and carried on. The one change in the four-piece line up since 2018 is Matty Murphy joining on bass this year.

I bought their Live at Blackpool Tower album after that and later that year their debut album How Beautiful Life Can Be went straight in at number one in the album chart. The title sums the sound up and attitude….positive. The jingle jangle guitar, soft sounding vocals and poetic lyrics bring inevitable thoughts of The Smiths.

Their second album From Nothing to a Little Bit More came out earlier this year – I had it on pre-order. Another cracker and the self-effacing title sums up the image they project.

The Lathums – tonight at The Roundhouse

The crowd are singing along with 80s indie classics. It’s a sell-out. It’s a Saturday night. It’s a big one. This is what it’s all about.  On come The Lathums. No punching the air; no pomp; no rock’n’roll build up. They breeze in, relaxed: the set has almost a 50s lounge feel with a few large plants and a yellowy light.

Alex Moore – The Lathums

Alex Moore greets the excited crowded like a smooth northern game show host – I’m waiting for a ‘great, smashing, super’ – this musical anti-hero is dressed in the height of anti-fashion. Look at that shirt collar. Has he been plundering his grandad’s wardrobe or has a fashion designer got to him. Perfect. I think of Jarvis Cocker and of seeing Morrissey with his NHS specs and hearing aid for the first time.

Saturday night at The Roundhouse

Say My Name, a single from the new album, opens the set – distinctive Strokes-like guitar scratching start.  It’s one of those albums we’ve all waited for and digested quickly on arrival, so it’s familiar and the crowd join in.

Alex Moore, from Wigan

Top songs appear early on: Fight On, a 2020 single which is on the first album, followed by the title track of the How Beautiful Life Can Be album. This must be their anthem now – sums them up.

Alex politely and calmly introduces the songs, including ‘a new song we’ve been working on’ but before everyone calms themselves, the opening bars of perhaps their best track from the first album: The Great Escape. Light sparkles around the ornate ironwork and domed roof.

The inclusion of John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over was a surprise… I think to most of the audience. Did they know it? We wondered.

Nearing the end of the main set – the end of a beautiful hour – was Rise and Fall, from the new album and captured here on my YouTube channel with a crowd view.

The Lathums – mutual appreciation at The Roundhouse

They return for three more songs, ending with Artificial Screens from the first album. Another melodic fuzzy guitar opening, Alex’s vocal range exhibited, lyrics clear and audible and the lead guitar goes off meandering behind before taking over. Have a listen: Artificial Screens on YouTube.

Gigs don’t get much better. The Lathums are a lovely big noise right now.

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

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