They made the NME want to “wear a mini-skirt & backcomb their hair“, while Drowninsound rushed “down to Saville Row for a new suit“, and last Saturday The Bishops made a surprise visit to Walthamstow for a low key warm up to their 26 date UK tour.
With the New Labour council intent on achieving the impressive feat of both bemoaning the lack of a “night time economy” in the Stow while at the same time presiding over the closure of much of it, it was a treat to see a heavily touted band like The Bishops in town. The Cinema has been closed for years, the dog track’s threatened, and the latest plans are to demolish The Standard to make way for a roundabout, and yet more new housing.
East 17 needs all the entertainment it can get… fortunately twin brothers Mike & Pete Bishop (not forgetting rogue non-sibling Chris on drums) are just the group to provide it.
Unfortunately the majority of the crowd seems to be made up of support act Grasp’s fans, and initially they react to The Bishops mixture of sharp suits and even sharper tunes with a mixture of a little disdain and much bewilderment. The Bishops specialise in providing quick fire salvo’s of two and a half minute guitar pop gem’s, and thankfully it doesn’t take them long to win over the crowd.
Their influences are declared before they even strike a chord, its plain to see in the mop tops and tailored suits… this is a band firmly under the spell of the swinging sixties Mersey sound. Some in the music press have used this to dismiss them as little more than a parody of that scene, but there’s no arguing with the quality of the best of the songs on display tonight.
In honour of their esteemed guests, the Standard management had clearly chucked a few extra logs on the smoke machines fire, prompting Mike to jokingly respond with a feigned choking fit. A fairly short but song packed set followed, with highlights including the tight harmonies, and chugging riff of “The Only Place I Can Look Is Down“, closely followed by “I Don’t Know What To Say“, and last months single “Higher Now“. To blank looks from most, they further proved their credentials as 60’s connoisseurs, throwing in a cover of Dutch beat band, The Outsiders 1965 debut “Sun’s Going Down“.
Last time I saw The Bishops back in February (supporting The Rumble Strips), Mike Bishop ended the night in full axemeister mode right in the middle of the audience. For a while it looked like The Standard’s long stage would be enough to contain his theatrical tendencies, and he seemed content to merely teeter in front of the monitors working the crowd. By the last number however he could hold back no longer and leapt off the stage to continue his guitar work on the dance floor.
With those assembled duly won over, The Bishops departed The Standard stage (most likely never to return) with thanks to all, and a promise to “see you all at the bar“. With luck, and some decent airplay we might just see The Bishops in the charts.
An album recorded with producer Liam Watson in the famously luddite Toe Rag studios is expected sometime in early 2007. In the meantime they’re on tour throughout the UK for the rest of the year.
The Bishops @ The Standard Music Venue, Walthamstow 21/10/06 Flickr set