It’s a special night for Fiat Lux are making their first live appearance since 1984. I, and the small audience in the beautiful and intimate St Clements are full of anticipation. We’re being cool about it, it wouldn’t be done to show it, but you can feel it in the air.
But before Fiat Lux take the stage, we have a support artist. Sabrina Piggott is someone I’ve heard of, I’ve heard good things, really good things, about but up until that night I’d’d never seen her. I’ve been missing out on something really good.
Sabrina sings accompanied by delicately plucked guitar and atmospheric double bass from her companion on stage. She sings in a beautiful slightly folk-ish sort of way but her songs although slightly folk-ish at times are anything but folk songs. These are songs that demand your attention – musically, vocally and lyrically. They are all mood and atmosphere. And yes, they have a Celtic feel to them. Her songs feel intensely personal and intimate. She lets her songs do the talking.
And sometimes that guitar and double bass are augmented by backing tracks, but these are carefully constructed and add to the atmosphere and mood. And sometimes the songs build to something more powerful. I felt those builds somewhere deep inside me.
I, and the rest of the audience, sat (or stood in my case) mesmerised and captivated by her performance, concentrating on it. She demands that.
Sabrina is someone I want to see again. I want to hear those songs, those crafted songs. To immerse myself in her music, and take in those words. If you are somebody who likes a really great singer/songwriter, who likes songs with words that are important, and music is simply beautiful, Sabrina Piggott is someone who should (or must) be on your ‘must see’ list.
The atmosphere is building, that anticipation becomes more palpable. And then the lights go out, the ‘stage’ lighting comes on, and we hear the sound of an acoustic guitar. And then David Crickmore walks to the front playing that acoustic. He is joined by Steve Wright on vocals. And all is good, Fiat Lux are back.
Before I go on, I’m going to set the scene, my personal scene. Before I knew I could attend this gig I had what I I might call only a broad recollection of Fiat Lux’s music. I really liked them back in the 80s but some of that period isn’t what we might call a ‘good stage’ in my life, and to certain extent I’ve rather fogotten at least some of that time. And there’s been a lot of years, and obviously a lot of music since then. Having had my attendance at the gig confirmed, I did as much research as possible, I listened to as much Fiat Lux music as possible just to try and bring it back to me.
And again, before I go on, I need to decide how I’m going to review this. Many of the people who read this won’t have heard of Fiat Lux before. They won’t have that history. For those people I need to convince them that the present day Fiat Lux is a band worth seeing (the band have some upcoming gigs booked, and I hope more to come after those). For those people who were fans ‘back in the day’ I guess all I need to do is to reassure you that the band are great musically and vocally. That this is band who are not just getting back to live work relying on their past to get them through. Right here, right now, I can offer that reassurance, Fiat Lux are on it, I mean really on it.
Listening back to their music, and very definitely confirmed on the night, is the description of the band as synth pop is somewhat misleading. Yes, there is synth but there is guitar – both acoustic and electric – and there is sax and clarinet. There are some truly extraordinary guitar sounds going on. Their music has a lot more depth than the term ‘synth pop’ might suggest. It’s much more of what I might describe as ‘classic pop’ – carefully crafted, layered, and in the case of Fiat Lux, moody.
Their set includes material from the 80s right up to the present. And yes, there is the odd lighter more synth poppy song but the rest has more depth. I might almost describe it as progressive synth based pop – this is a phrase that flitted through my head at some point, I think about halfway through, during their set. Whether the band would be happy with that I don’t know, probably not on reflection.
Steve is vocally fantastic, and David is all over his guitars, bass, and keyboard, adding vocals. And those times when Steve and David both sang were great. I’m going to take this opportunity to mention sax and clarinet player Will Howard who covered the parts of the late Ian Nelson who was the original third member of the band. His playing was amazing. And yes, there was the odd false start, but you can forgive the band for that.
I couldn’t help it, but it was that sort of special night, and I just let the performance and the music take me. And yes, there was a degree of nostalgia but at some points I found myself listening to them as I might listen to a new band. I forgot that some of this material dates back to my youth, and listened to it as I might listen to a band new to me. And yes, their material doesn’t sound dated, it isn’t just for people who remember it from ‘back in the day’. It’s great great classic pop, classic pop with depth, performed incredibly well.
Towards the end of their set, they played a song (one they’d never performed live before, if I remember that right) that had the most extraordinary guitar sounds, that was almost Gothy in sound, that had something of Bauhaus in there. It was startling and jaw-droppingly good.
The present day Fiat Lux could show some younger bands a thing or two. This was an outstanding performance from a band who haven’t played live since 1984. A band who really put some effort into the performance. A band who play songs written ‘way back when’ but it doesn’t sound dated in the slightest. So I’m going to urge you to go see them if you can, even if you have not the slightest idea who Fiat Lux are.
Stunning simply stunning, is the only way I can sum this gig up.
All photos on this page © Frank Roper Photography