Syd Arthur @ Komedia, Brighton 29.09.14

Modern day heirs to the Canterbury Scene continue their ascent with a sold-out Komedia show

Sep 29th, 2014 at Komedia, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Syd Arthur Older folk and young 'uns with an interest in musical history (which surely applies to all Bearded readers) will know that once upon a time Canterbury was cutting edge hipster heaven courtesy of a late 1960s/early '70s psychfolk/prog scene that saw the university town spawn the likes of Caravan, Soft Machine, Egg, Camel and Steve Hillage.

Syd Arthur are modern-day heirs, a four-piece of Liam Magill (guitar, vocals) and brother Joel (bass, vocals), wonderfully-named Raven Bush (violin, keyboards, mandolin) – and Kate Bush's nephew if the trivia fairy is right – plus ace drummer Fred Rother.

The name, by the way, is an upfront nod to their influences, with the "Syd" bit referring to Floyd's Crazy Diamond Mr Barrett and the "Arthur" nodding to the eponymous Kinks' 1969 album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Though literary sorts will probably point out the neat pun on the title of Hermann Hesse's hippy favourite novel Siddhartha.

At Brighton's heaving Komedia, they let rip with a tight display of a sound they describe as "psychedelic funk rock", fusing proggy shifting time signatures, free-flowing jazz noodling and infectious riddums built on Joel's Rickenbacker bass licks and Rother's kick-ass stick work. It goes down a jiggy storm with an audience pleasingly running the age range from 16 to 60.

They cherry-pick well from their two albums – 2012 debut On And On and the latest, Sound Mirror – kicking off with crowd-pleaser ‘Garden Of Time’. The funk levels go up for ‘Hometown Blues’ before a stonking ‘Edge Of The Earth’ highlighted by Bush's fiddling.

‘Autograph’ and ‘Sink Hole’ get roars amid a sea of nodding heads, while the trippy wonder of ‘Chariots’ is another standout, followed by a fine down-and-dirty take on ‘Singularity’. We get just one song as an encore but as it's the brilliant ‘Ode to the Summer’ everyone leaves happy, with another fond memory to add to the gig collection of a balmy Brighton September.