fij and bickers

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers

Bom-Bane's, Brighton – 29th September 2013

Though those who champion them may bristle and bridle, or, alternatively, take a perverse pride in possessing rare taste from the road less travelled, the reality is that Pete Fij and Terry Bickers are footnotes in the foothills of the story of what used to be called college rock. The former Adorable frontman and House Of Love and Levitation guitarist tend to be mentioned in parentheses rather than headlines. Much of the immense joy that circulates between act and performers at this beautiful and tiny venue, a bonsai Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, comes from the little details in brackets, the just discernible gestures, the glimpses. A cover of a Cinerama song is introduced by Fij with a reference to David Gedge (Cinerama mainman) once ‘nicking my girlfriend’. After the song, he says, "People ask me whether it’s true, about David Gedge nicking my girlfriend". He then nods. Then does a slight shake of his head. Then nods again, less intensely. Back and forth, to fade. A sad subject, done with a smile.

If The Beatles had used parentheses more, they might have done a song called ‘And I Love Her (But She No Longer Loves Me, And Quite Possibly Never Did)'. Several of Fij and Bickers’ songs sound like ‘And I Love Her (But She No Longer etc etc..)’ might have been, and several others take the aesthetic of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and shoot it through with the awkward Englishness of TS Eliot’s ‘Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock’. And it all works so well, so very well, as I imagine the other 24 people crammed into the sold out space would agree. The nuts and bolts are this: Fij sings and plays acoustic guitar, Bickers plays his quiet electric guitar and sings harmonies. Introverts showing off just a little.

The songs are from the imminent album, Broken Heart Surgery, stand-outs being ‘Queen Of Stuff’, ‘I Don’t Give A Shit About You', ‘Lost Property’, ‘Downsizing’, ‘Betty Ford’. That latter song has a line "Hope….it’s more addictive than….coke" which works brilliantly. Lesser writers would have rhymed ‘hope’ with ‘dope’, rather than opting for the far more effective assonance.

When we say Bickers plays his quiet electric guitar, what we mean is Bickers plays a few notes perfectly, unlike many rock guitarists who hurriedly play many notes so that the wrong ones are forgotten. Nothing’s spare here, nothing’s wasted. Perhaps we’re talking guitar haiku here, every syllable spot-on. It’s not just that it’s the right number of syllables, of course. As Robert Bly wrote, "American haiku poets don’t grasp the idea that the shadow has to have risen up and invaded the haiku poem, otherwise it’s not a haiku. The least important thing about it is the 17 syllables or the nature scene." And so it is with Bickers’ playing, infused as it is with stuff from elsewhere. Let’s end, keeping the Eng Lit theme going, with the aforementioned ‘Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock':

"No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two"

What a scene, though, what a fucking scene.

Words Andy, Photos Richard

set list
pete and terry

Isolation on Facebook. Like us.

Isolation contact

fij and bickers prince albert