The Nightingales in New York

Robert Lloyd, singer and lyricist for the Nightingales, always sounded like a middle aged man, so their reunion fifteen years after breakup seemed more tenable than most. Sure enough, Lloyd seemed absolutely apropos moaning his despondent/sarcastic lyrics while half bent over the microphone. It didn’t seem silly that a man of 45 or so would be singing the tract of The Crunch or the slogans of Blood for Dirt.

Lloyd’s voice has actually improved in the intervening years; now it’s less whinnying and deeper.

They opened with ten minutes of “Going Through the Motions,” backed by an off-putting drone that sent the punters running. It’s one of many songs about performers being obliged to perform over and over for audiences (“performance is deformance”), but Lloyd’s visible joy at separating the believers from the detractors (listen to a recent performance of Going Through the Motions)–halfway across the world, no less–turned it from a bored complaint into an idealistic invocation. The implication being that if you last through this and like it, he and his band will give themselves over to you fully and gladly for an hour.

And they did. By the time the inevitable How to Age came around at the end of the show, Lloyd was strutting with the visible satisfaction of the cynic who, with the Bush and Blair administrations and lord knows what personal crises, has been proved utterly right. (Steve remembers the song here.) It was as though he’d grown up into the words that were too large for him.

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