Image: Jill Lupupa

Bassist to frontman: Ed Nash’s Toothless at the O2 Institute

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Following the hiatus of Bombay Bicycle Club, the band’s bassist Ed Nash has brought his own songs to life with his solo project Toothless. The newly-made alternative group includes fellow Bombay drummer Suren de Saram, Bombay collaborator Liz Lawrence, keyboardist Rosa Brook with additional vocals, and David Naftalin on bass.

Toothless took to the Digbeth stage at the O2 Institute in Birmingham on Saturday 4 March. The set was beautifully cropped to perform the ten songs on the band’s debut album, The Pace of the Passing; although this did leave the humble-sized crowd wanting more. The album’s sound was curated within the walls of Nash’s living room before he went on to co-produce it with Bombay frontman Jack Steadman in his studio.

The set was beautifully cropped to perform the ten songs on the band’s debut album, The Pace of the Passing; although this did leave the humble-sized crowd wanting more.

The third room in the Institute brought a smaller, more subtle gathering on the night, consisting of a mix of young and mature, although slightly reserved audience. Soon after nine p.m., a mellow, yet poetic atmosphere ensued with the band’s opening song ‘Charon’. Soothing undertones and light harmonies of the song instantly threw listeners into a trance like state. The equally dreamy and inventive ‘Terra’ captivated the crowd’s ears with a suspense building drum roll, focalised breathing and heavy beat drops that truly felt like you are being submerged into an ocean.

Image: Jill Lupupa

In between songs, Ed thanked the audience for watching the band play, revealing his worry that people would only go to the other two gigs simultaneously happening at the Institute that night. Meanwhile, ‘Sisyphus’ was a stand-out high energy performance in contrast to the band’s other material. Despite the hair shaking from Ed and Rosa’s ecstatic jumping with tambourine in hand, it remained difficult to bolster a pumped-up atmosphere with Saturday’s calmer audience. The singer even had to tell the crowd not to be scared to move closer towards the barrier at the beginning of the gig. The five-piece band never let their energy falter, despite a tamer atmosphere to which they might be used to during gigs.

The Birmingham crowd reciprocated well to this one, with everyone noticeably moving their bodies as the beat saw fit with the rhythmic, repetitive chorus lines.

‘Palm’s Backside’ was performed with Liz Lawrence’s effortless folk pop vocals to cover for Marika Hackman who features in the upbeat single. The whole performance came to a progressive climax with the penultimate song and new single ‘Party For Two’ which features Lawrence. The Birmingham crowd reciprocated well to this one, with everyone noticeably moving their bodies as the beat saw fit with the rhythmic, repetitive chorus lines.

It was incredibly refreshing to see the band hang back after their set to speak directly to fans whilst selling, and even signing, merchandise. Ed Nash, in a mustard yellow shirt and drink in hand, came down and soon after, a queue of older fans waiting to chat with him began to form. Meeting performers that we would watch on a screen is always a humbling experience realising that they are people just like everyone else. Ed was rosy-cheeked, grinning, long-haired with tiny hoops earrings and ever so friendly. The singer confirmed that “smaller venues have charm because it’s more intimate”, as he clearly enjoyed getting to know the fans of his new project. Digressing, he reminisced on playing at Warwick University. As I met the other members of the group I discover bass player David Naftalin studied Philosophy at university, and as they wave goodbye, I realise the band all share a pure interest in knowing their fans. Toothless – a down-to-earth band that is genuine at heart.

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