The Miserable Rich with Alabaster DePlume
St Philip's Church, Salford
Thursday November 3, 2011
I’m tiptoeing towards a seat in the pews as darkness seeps through the windows of the imposing hall of Salford’s hidden treasure of a venue. The room is hushed as a man going by the wonderfully insane moniker of Alabaster DePlume is midway through his act. It’s a mixture of fingerpicked folk songs laced with amusing stories and anecdotes across history, and rambling spoken work poetry with the content along similar lines, examples include the lifespan of a pair of shoes, and the set closer 'The Ghost of Anne Boleyn'.
This proves significant because he’s back twenty minutes later with tonight’s main event in tow, to complement the supernatural content of recent album Miss You In The Days. Fiercely proud of the new material, it’s not long before the soaring chorus of 'Honesty' takes centre stage, with the slightly off-kilter cello and violin melodies ringing true behind it. It’s a striking statement as James de Malplaquet’s voice reverberates across the hall.
The man himself is as witty and charming as ever between songs, inviting sympathy for his dwindling instrumental role, sharing amusing tales of the band's career to date and the influences behind the new material they are showcasing tonight. The rest of the band are content to sit or stand behind their instruments providing melodies that reverberate around this wonderful venue - melodies that sit together oh so well.
DePlume returns for another collaborative effort based around the tale of the night hitchhiker, a grisly tale indeed, before the band play us out with a rendition of heart rendering waltz 'Ringing the Changes' that has loved up couples dancing in the aisles. Finally the band move forward out of the pulpit for some sublime renditions of older tunes Boat Song and Pisshead. As de Malplaquet’s voice projects acapella around the room, you realise this has been a real feast of the senses, with the dark of the lovely church hall, the melodious tones of this original collection of instruments, and the poignant stories of the songwriting. A truly unique combination.
words: Steve Welch