So last Thursday approximately three and a half years after I first stumbled across the mellow, idiosyncratic tunes of French Wives in the shape of their first song ‘Your Friends and Mine’, I finally got around to seeing them live. Given that they were every bit as excellent live as they are on record, it’s rather a shame that this was also their last ever gig.
It was a frankly miserable night, and Kings Court where Mono lurks is not the most promising of locations on a cold, wet and windy night, so I worried the turn out wouldn’t be massive. But thankfully a decent throng appeared to give them a good send off and take one last opportunity to snap up some merchandise or a wee record to remember them by.
From the uplifting opening chords of Younger, during their sound check, I knew it would be an excellent gig. They certainly made it a set to remember, and while the support act Poor Things aren’t quite living up to their own potential yet, the special guests proved just as special as promised in the form of friends of the band, Admiral Fallow – even if the sound mix let them down a bit, my companion mocked me gently for the way my hands twitched to have a go at the sound desk. I reckon its been a fair while since they played before rather than after French Wives on a gig line up, but nonetheless, it was good to hear to some new stuff from them too. French Wives themselves, stuck to familiar ground, playing favourites new and old – to the varied delight of different parts of the crowd – and a special outing for a song that should have graced the album they never finished dedicated to the couple at the table next to me.
They ended their set with Hallowe’en and the reminder that they’d been together for 5 and a half years, and would cease to be in about 5 and a half minutes. As the tiny venue, packed to the gunnels, echoed with the crowd singing the refrain of the song back to the band the importance of chance and luck in a band’s career struck me hard. The charts are filled with dross that got signed and managed to find formula that lets them churn out uninspired drivel, while a wonderful little band like this was allowed to drift away to nothing, loved by those who knew of them, but unknown by millions who might have loved them.
They released one last song, before they went their separate ways, appropriately titled If I Could Disappear which is available for free on their soundcloud page, so if you’ve read my affectionate ramblings about them over the years but never got round to checking them out, here’s one last chance for you.