My Life Story’s ‘baroque pop’ meshes perfectly with the lush architecture of the Islington Assembly Hall. After a nineteen year wait for the new album, ‘World Citizen’, there’s anticipation in the air and its clear this is a big event for the faithful crowd gathered in front of the stage.
New song, ‘The Rose the Sun’ is the perhaps initially unusual choice of opening track, but it builds the anticipation nicely. Singer Jake Shillingford channels a boho-gypsy-James Bond look – sporting the challenging stage attire of a heavy looking suit, black polo neck and white boots. Somehow, he pulls it off.
By the time fan favourite, ‘King of Kissingdom’ kicks off, the audience are bouncing up and down merrily, the band follow it up with a storming version of ‘If You Can’t Live Without Me Why Aren’t You Dead Yet’ – its just another of My Life Story’s songs that sound like they should have been giant hits. Clever, engaging song writing has always been the beating heart of My Life Story, and the new tracks continue this tradition, especially the euphoric ‘Taking On The World’ and the ultimately joyous & hook-laden earworm, ‘World Citizen’ (cue globe beach balls being tossed into the audience and hollers of "f**k Brexit").
Tonight, to add to the excitement, sax player Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet) joins MLS for a few songs. Norman is immaculate, with an infectious smile, his exquisite playing taking songs including ‘Girl A, Girl B, Boy C’ to another level. The banter between him and Shillingford is gold (sorry- couldn’t resist!) and pleasure to see & hear.
The return of Jake’s legendary ‘tinfoil’ jacket (it still fits – respect!) accompanies MLS classics including ‘Strumpet’, ‘Penthouse in the Basement’ and ‘Sparkle’. ’12 Reasons Why’ see’s the crowd erupt into an ear-splitting, pogoing singalong. Shillingford is as lithe as a cat, balancing on amps with feline grace, now and always one of music’s most engaging front men.
The show wraps with a simply beautiful track from the new album, #NoFilter, and there’s not a face in the house that doesn’t have a smile plastered all over it.