“This is our third Brighton gig in two weeks, I’m glad that so many people have turned up,” says the seated, suited, floppy fringed, quietly spoken Nick Hemming. Hemming really shouldn’t be that surprised, after all his song The Last Of The Melting Snow was recently nominated for an Ivor Novello award alongside heavyweights such as Elbow and Coldplay. It wouldn’t be against the odds if his band also pick up a Mercury nomination later this year. Describing the award ceremony as a “terrifying experience” it is probably just as well that Hemming didn’t win the thing, the exposure may have just been too much.
Tonight Hemming and his band The Leisure Society do what any musician worth their salt craves to do; they play their beguiling and emotionally raw songs to a packed audience who have fallen in love with their sound and are prepared to listen intently. The Leisure Society make perfect pastoral folk pop with hints of American influence. It is gracefully subtle and lovingly crafted even when stripped of the string section that usually accompanies them. With hints of Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian and Nick Drake, The Leisure Society melt hearts through the simple application of perfect instrumentation; piano, flute, acoustic guitar and bass combine to produce soft harmonious melodies. The Last Of The Melting Snow is of course a highlight, but there are many other songs here that are just as touching. There’s the sublime medieval guitar and simple piano on We Were Wasted and the closing power of Matter Of Time, which Hemming explains was written just a few feet away on Brighton beach. The Leisure Society are blessed with talent and produce a live sound that is magically tender. At the moment Hemming may still be working in a fabric warehouse, but on the basis of this show, surely it can’t be long before The Leisure Society becomes a full time occupation.