Leeds - Sounds (19/02/83) by Helen Fitzgerald

Loving the deceptively understated ambiance of the Fiat Lux single (Feels Like Winter Again), I was anticipating this chance to sample a wider, cross-section of their wares.

Too often, a new band can disappoint by relying on the prop of technical sophistication to carry them through one single - even two - and then fall flat on their faces as their lack of genuine substance or individuality becomes apparent. But Fiat Lux won't be included in this basket of failures ... nor anywhere near it.

This gig, recorded for the BBC, displayed them as authors of a lot more than a one 'hit' wonder. Their material has a strong, lucid and imaginative feel and a compulsive low-key propulsion that's almost addictive.

The gig proper doesn't get the smoothest of starts; the PA's head for the first two songs and the poor lads are up there singing away to a crowd who are boxed in by the TV cameras and trying to look delirious, but unable to hear a thing!

But, booming back to life, the amassed marionettes

come alive as the band slide into 'This Illness', the current single's b-side and a subtle down-tempo song with spidery sub-funk overtones. It's followed by the demanding percussive beat of 'Winter', a song with beautiful clarity of intent, a simple lyric, fluid melody and lots of intricate fiddly bits in the background.

Then a complete change of tactics with 'Hold Me', a riotously funny duet with Steve and Dave crooning into the mikes in a complete pisstake of all those Forties film soundtracks, a parody of how 'passionate' love used to be in the good old days.

And then a dose of truly modern passion, 'Photography'. Somehow singer/songwriter Steve (aka Sebastian ... how would you like to live with the name Steve Wright?) translates emotion without being twee, naivety without being gormless, Sincerity without being insipid, and love without being wet. Ian's sax infuses this gentle song with a stamp of something special, without being intrusive as sax is wont to be.

Fiat Lux seem always to strike the perfect balance of fluent simplicity, with a subtle tangent of intricacy to add spice to the pudding.

'Photography' is provisionally penned as the next single but, for me, it's eclipsed by the last song 'Aqua Vitae You' which is again a love song but in a vibrant and beaty mood as essential as its name. Pumping energy and oxygen into the veins, it ends the set with the one single emotion that Fiat Lux display up front: Optimism.

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