The Bowery became a gleaming pool of acoustic rhapsodies and mindful pop sonnets Friday night as South unraveled its warm invitation to New York. I arrived during set-up as the UK band, according to the door person, were about to start at "any minute." A group of five eventually entered the stage, three of whom compile the band's core members - Brett Shaw, Jamie McDonald and lead vocalist, Joel Cadbury, the latter of which charmingly sported jeans and a white tee.
Throughout the night, Cadbury alternated between electric and acoustic guitars, reveling in teeter motions and emotive gestures, which the crowd reciprocated to a mutual pulp. The band delivered a sweet oscillation between the coolly progressive "A Place In Displacement," from their recently-released Adventures In The Underground Journey To The Stars LP, and the melodic thrash of "Colours In Waves," off of their 2003 With The Tides album.
The night also found Cadbury down-to-earth and seated with a guitar over his knees, picking resonations of roots blues slide guitar/lap steel. With a free nature for experimentation and genuine air for the music they made, South projected the purity and imagination found within the sheer energy of a skillful rookie. Shaw, McDonald and Cadbury were some of the most honest-to-goodness indie kids I'd ever meet stage-side - initially grateful for their current pedestal and intuitively serving everything they had to their instrumental babies.
An encore became definite as Cadbury re-entered to serenade the crowd to the thoughtful "Flesh And Bone." Shaw and McDonald later emerged on a keyboard in the corner, dually pounding in a twinkling unison that prompted memories to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." "Every time I think of you/I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue/It's no problem of mine but it's a problem I find/Living a life that I can't leave behind..." The crowd went crazy. With their uplifting mercurial topics, South blended a fresh batch of Britpop that was smoothly rewarding in its sincerity and provided the perfect jump-off to a busy weekend.