You could walk into any independent record shop in the country and chances are you would find Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 album ‘In the Aeroplane Over The Sea’ in the top 20 list of recommendations.
The album was the culmination of singer and guitarist Jeff Mangum’s obsession with holocaust victim Anne Frank.
It was written in the midst of night-terrors and performed initially to the ghost in his haunted wardrobe.
Since that landmark the American ban began an indefinite hiatus and live performances have been rare.
No surprise then that the band’s appearance this week at the De la Warr attracted an enthusiastic audience from far afield with the theatre again beating fashionable Brighton to must-see bands and artists.
The band were on good form ripping through standards with an energy that made them sound as if they had been written yesterday rather than more than 15 years ago.
Against a back-drop of thundering percussion, guitar and Mangum’s powerfully unrefined vocals, band members switch effortlessly between accordion and bowed banjo while a horn section imbue the songs with a sort of ragged, swaggering majesty.
The performance was another indication, if any were needed, of the De La Warr’s ongoing emergence as one of the most important and cutting edge venues in the south of England.