The Millionaires' Lament
Pete Fij and Terry Bickers

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers

Rialto Theatre, Brighton - 13th July 2015
Just how do you feel when you've finally got the monkey off your back? Former Adorable mainman Pete Fij carried Broken Heart Surgery around for so long it must have felt like an essential part of his being, and it took the help of the inimitable Terry Bickers to get the songs finally polished up, made palatable for human consumption, and released into the community. Though the album met with considerable and deserved appreciation, was it a relief for Pete to have it dragged kicking and screaming from its hidey-hole in the drawer, or does the room seem empty now without the elephant for company? Is it a sprightly singer who now saunters along the road, weight lifted from his shoulders, or does the heavy burden of sorrow press down upon him?

The truth, we guess, will be found in what lies ahead and the first airing of new songs from the duo takes place at the lovely Grade II listed Rialto Theatre in Brighton. Hosted by The Bleeding Hearts Club, the evening is a showcase for different aspects of the arts, with Fij and Bickers the third act of the night, following on from a poetry recital and a singing cellist. A bit of a world away from the nineties' heyday of The House of Love and Adorable, perhaps, but a setting that fits in beautifully with the gentle melancholia the pair now embrace.

This is not a major show and just six songs are played, four of which are new ones being given their first public outing. It's a familiar opening, with 'The Queen Of Stuff' from Broken Heart Surgery preceding a number Pete declares to be "a love song to Terry Bickers". Titled 'Let's Get Lost', it's as cleverly worded as any of the duo's previous outings, but clearly demonstrates the bond between the pair as they sing the outro in harmony. The following number 'Millionaires' again deals with the relationship between the two, lamenting that Broken Heart Surgery is never going to make them rich. Of course, if it had done so this duo would have found some way of buggering it up, so immersed are they in their downbeat world of missed opportunity and regret.

It's interesting that the first two new songs should both have a similar theme and it all hints that this pairing is likely to be an enduring one which is good news for everybody. And lyrically, the songs hit the nail on the head, Pete singing "I am the 'I' in egotist and you are the 'Y' in 'Why are you doing that, Terry?' " Great stuff and, as ever, matched by some sublime contributions from one of the indie world's greatest ever guitarists, Terry carrying the songs along rather than just offering flickering contributions.

Next up is an even better offering, titled (possibly) 'World', which precedes the old Adorable favourite 'A To Fade In' which is intensely moving as Pete sings with breaking emotion. It's in a truly uplifting atmosphere, then, that the duo conclude the night with another new song. Pete declares it was his intention to write some happier lyrics following the downbeat nature of their last outing and Terry had suggested composing a song entitled 'I Love You'. Pete has duly done the honours, but of course totally fails to find any positivity, with the resultant lyric making it clear these words are spoken only in pretence on both sides.

An evening with Pete and Terry is always outstanding; it is so great to watch musicians with such intelligence, talent and wit at work, though there may be a little feeling of guilt at seeing them flounder so hopelessly in a morass of misery. The touching thing is that it is only half-pretence and that makes the songs so much more affecting. Genuine artists, occasionally troubled, but always spellbinding. Don't miss out on them, they're a rare breed.

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers live at the Rialto
Words and Pictures by Adam Hammond
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