Canadian three-piece Plants and Animals indeed prove themselves to be chameleons of sorts in their ability to cross genres with little to no flicker of discomfort or hesitation. Melding post-punk, psychedelia, folk, and classic 70s rock; their compositions are as adaptable in style as the chameleon to his surroundings – and are commanded with a complete sense of authenticity.
While their live shows are hailed across the small board of almost cult-status followers with commendable praise: superb, lively, raucous and heartfelt; they don’t divert too much from the studio recordings. Certainly with a lot of bands this can prove to be their downfall but for Plants and Animals, and the small but cramped crowd at the Brixton Windmill on Friday, this was an energetic and impassioned performance with the setting; amongst a backdrop of clinking bottles in this colourfully grotty bar, a perfect match for their precisely executed yet thrashy post-punk leanings.
Despite getting off to a bit of a slow start with minutes of silence between the opening few tracks, as mics were changed, guitars tuned, they picked up rapidly over the generous 75 minute set which gave a nod to Eddy Grant and Electric Avenue; which they confessed to iPhoning the details of earlier that day – glad to know they were in once-famous territory.
Comprised of guitarist-vocalists Warren Spicer and Nic Basque; and drummer Matthew Woody Woodley, Plants and Animals have two albums, Parc Avenue and most recently La La Land. The latter is to be released in the UK in September, when they return for more shows, and was prominent in a set of tracks just as translatable in a larger setting as on disc. Something about the distilled performance made this more compelling to the eye and ear however.
New tracks such as “Jeans Jeans Jeans” were immediate and urgent both instrumentally and lyrically, while others interluded, faded in and out, meandering around 70s harmonies and brushed drums, seemingly going nowhere but drawing an attentive ear all the same. Set highlights included “Tom Cruz”, “Swinging Bells”, “Undone Melody”, “Game Shows” and debut standout “Good Friend”.
La La Land track “Celebration” somewhat encapsulated the modern work-a-days and drink it all away at the weekend Friday night mentality with lyrics such as “we celebrate our weakness and take it out on the weekend“, but the band suggesting it didn’t seem too weak. What you hear in the sticky floored pub might be of little variation from the recorded tracks, but they are infectious and powerful in themselves, and that’s exactly what we asked for, and what we got.
Photo: Caroline Desilets