Sunday 1 February 2009

The Devotees. Teaspoonriverneck, No Ambition and About An Hour – Fermain Tavern – 30/01/09

The Fermain Tavern tonight welcomed a charity gig mixing musical styles from the rock covers more usually seen at The Doghouse to with The Devotees to the doom rock ‘n’ roll of Teaspoonriverneck.

First up though was About An Hour who tonight featured new bass player Martyn Brown for the first time.

With some new songs in their set the band still musically very good, however tonight they seemed, at times, to lack something of the charisma I know they are capable of.

This though may have had something to do with the audience who, for most of the night, remained distant thanks to the arrangement of seating on the Fermain’s dance floor.

By the end of the set though About An Hour seemed to be hitting their stride with Danny particularly beginning to joke with the audience between songs. I got the impression tonight that with more regular shows under their belt this band may be able to catch the spirit and popularity of past endeavours, which would be a great thing to see.

Second on stage was another group of four young men, No Ambition. Until about a month ago No Ambition were three piece brit-rock covers band Stratosfear, and while their name change, and decision to ditch all the covers, has been somewhat controversial, this didn’t seem to stop them playing a great set.

With a much punkier sound in many places than Stratosfear the band do seem to be developing their own musical identity and the addition of a second guitarist has definitely added the ability for the band to find more texture in their music and seems to have allowed Tyler Edmomds more room to play the front man role.

The set’s highlights remained the older originals such as ‘Wasted Weekend’ and ‘I’ve Got Nothing, And You’ve Got It All’, but the newer material promised No Ambition could become a popular fixture in local music.

The night’s third band were most definitely my highlight of the night.

Teaspoonriverneck hit the stage heavier than a really heavy thing (I’m sure I’ve used that cliché before) and their mix of rock ‘n’ roll, doom and stoner metal once again hit all the right marks.

While not all present seemed to completely appreciate the night’s heaviest band this was still an excellent outing from them.

The most notable thing about tonight’s set though was how free the band seemed on stage, something that seems to have appeared since Teaspoonriverneck lost their ‘uniform’ last summer and is definitely a step in the right direction in my opinion.

Finally on stage came the pop rock covers of The Devotees. Doing what they do very well the dance floor was soon busy with people moving to the sounds of bands like The Small Faces and The Who.

With a good choice of very familiar classics, a few modern numbers and a few lesser known classics The Devotees make a great sound and clearly have fun on stage both playing and talking to the crowd.

The real highlights of the set came at the end with a sing a long run through of The Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’ and Cheap Trick’s ‘I Want You To Want Me’ which both kept the crowd dancing until the evening closed with a run through ‘Rod the Mod’s ‘Maggie May’ which closed a great night of music.

Despite the great tunes I was left thinking that it would be nice to see the Tavern this busy on a more regular basis for more live music events.

Free Range Music – Jamie-Lee, Lucy & Claire, Jamie & Cheese and The Coal Box Generals – Fermain Tavern – 17/10/09

Over the past few months the Free Range Music brand, spear headed by tonight’s headliner Jamie-Lee, has welcomed styles of music crossing all genres to its nights at the Fermain, tonight was no exception, but did feature something a bit different in that it was all almost totally acoustic.

First on stage were the first of the night’s three recently formed duos, The Coal Box Generals. Comprised of General Shack and General Burg (or Tinshack and Lynchburg of the John Wesley Stone) they took the stripped down ‘cowpunk’ of the JWS and stripped it further to just an acoustic guitar and lap steel guitar.

With a basic country sound like no other band on the island it was a treat to see this kind of music being played, and played well.

Though I missed the first half of the set the highlight for me was closer ‘They Burn Angels, Don’t They’, which really demonstrated how two men in Guernsey can evoke the sounds of men like Johnny Cash while still maintaining something of their own in the music.

Second on stage were two more familiar faces in a different combination, Jamie Ellington and Charlie ‘Cheese’ Holmes.

Armed with an acoustic guitar each they played relaxed acoustic rock featuring covers of bands such as Incubus and, the set’s highlight, a run through of Sublime’s ‘Santeria’.

With Jamie getting to show a different side of his voice than with emo-rockers FireFly and Cheese showing off his skill with the guitar more than his previous outings a metal bassist allowed, the duo’s music was simple but effective and it would be good to see them perform more often.

The evening’s third duo featured another couple of familiar faces in Lucy Hill and Claire Mockett of No Paparazzi, but here Claire was freed from being hidden behind her drum kit to take on acoustic guitar duties.

Before the set Claire told me that she was nervous about tonight’s performance as she had only played guitar in public a few times, but, it transpired that nerves weren’t necessary as she provided some excellent accompaniment to Lucy’s voice.

Though No Paparazzi are a great covers band, and Lucy sounds good with them, tonight’s stripped back acoustic style really allowed her voice to come to the fore and that it did with great success.

Playing more pop/rock covers Lucy and Claire kept the relaxed atmosphere of the night up while demonstrating their joint talents very well.

Finally on stage was event instigator Jamie-Lee. Though I have seen Jamie play on several occasions now his unique guitar playing remains fascinating and his music seems to get more varied with every show.

While all he does on stage is sit and play his music this is enough to grab the attention and keep it for extended periods and with encores demanded I clearly wasn’t the only person who thought so tonight.

Blues Cruise – Rawcuz Crowzz and The Fuzzey Group – Fermain Tavern – 10/01/09

Though tonight was dubbed the Blues Cruise, traditional blues wasn’t really order of the day as we were treated to an appearance by alternative noise makers The Fuzzey Group and Alderney’s Rawcuz Crowzz.

The Fuzzey Group kicked off the evening’s live music with their unique blend of sounds. The band’s epic instrumentation was once again almost impossible to classify with rock, jazz and even dance beats fusing together to make a fascinating whole.

Each tune seemed to start out with Brett Stewart, for want of a better word, messing about on the drums. Over this came the keyboards and occasional saxophone of Colin Falla and the guitar of Martin Purvis.

All three performer’s instruments took turns coming to the top of the mix and I was left thinking any of them would have been fascinating solo but the combination of all three worked to create something even better.

The band seemed to be linked almost telepathically as they seamlessly moved from one passage of music to another with even the dropping of drumsticks being worked into the tunes.

The thing that really struck me about The Fuzzey Group’s performance is how they manage to keep a room of people interested without the need for lyrics or familiar tunes and that no matter how many times I see them I continue to find different fascinating things in their sounds.

Hot off the heels of a successful outing at the Mermaid Tavern in Sark the night before Alderney’s nu-blues pioneers Rawcuz Crowzz took to the stage as headliners tonight.

Combining punk and blues the band have in the past put in successful and popular performances in Guernsey, tonight however their set seemed destined to not hit such previous heights.

From the off the band were contending with sound issues which effected both the sound on stage for the band and off for the crowd, also throughout the set the amount of distortion on the guitar sound often left it causing confusion among many in attendance.

Despite these issues the band did their best with Derrick Williams harmonica playing remaining the band’s greatest asset as was shown by the highlight of their set, ‘Train Song’.

Despite this the bands style and spirit seemed to be successful tonight, I heard one member of the audience describe them as sounding like “Crass trying to play the blues”.

While this may have not been the Crowzz best outing, it was attended by representatives of both the Greenman Chaos Weekend and Vale Earth Fair who were scouting for bands to play their festivals over the summer, so hopefully this won’t be the last we see of the Crowzz on our shores.

Rock of Ages 2 – Performing Arts Centre – 02/10/09

Following on from the moderately successful Rock Of Ages mini festival in October the Christmas holidays once again saw the Princess Royal Centre For The Performing Arts transformed into a gig venue for Rock Of Ages 2.

While this version of the event featured only younger, heavier bands it still provided something for everyone who has a love of the heavier side of music.

First up were newcomers Murder For 10 playing their first ever public gig.

While the bands death metalcore style didn’t break any new boundaries it was clear the band were putting their all into the show, but at some points it did feel like we’d walked in on a rehearsal as the band often seemed unsure how to fill the large stage and ended up standing around watching one another.

For a first show though this is an understandable issue and with more live experience Murder For 10 could become a solid addition to Guernsey’s seemingly shrinking live metal scene.

Second on stage was another band making their debut, Elmer Henley.

Comprised of former members of Astral Casket and Dangerous Kids And Machine Gun Antics they delivered exactly what was expected, slamming death metalcore with synthesiser and keyboard interludes.

This however wasn’t a disappointed as the band executed their unique (for Guernsey) mix of sounds well and Tom Berry particularly anchored this as guitarist and synth controller.

As in Astral Casket Tom and bassist Scott were balls of energy who rarely stopped moving and with the high energy dual vocal assault of Clinton Millard and Ben Lickley Elmer Henley’s first performance was something to make Guernsey metal fans sit up and take note.

The only criticism I could find for the band was that their songs could be more focused, as, on occasion, they seemed to go on a little longer than necessary which lessened their impact.

Next up came one of Guernsey’s more experience metal acts in the form of Maiden Guernsey, and soon people were asking ‘who let Stace have a wireless mic?’ as soon after their first number (a sadly plodding run through of Wicker Man) Stace had vanished into the buildings balconies, where he stayed, sporadically appearing in spotlight for a good chunk of the set.

After the slow start the band soon hit their stride with their covers of Iron Maiden classics drawing the growing crowd forward, if not making many of them move.

As ever once they found their groove the band combined a real sense of fun with great musicianship, especially from guitarist Scorch who did his best to single handedly mimic the three guitar assault of the original Maiden and with the crowd still wanting more Maiden Guernsey left the stage highly successful.

Finally on stage tonight were uncomplicated modern metallers Brutus Stonefist who despite a couple of unsure moments early on played the set of the night.

The band seem to keep gaining confidence with every performance and have come on in leaps and bounds yet again since I last saw them play in the summer. Guitarist Murky continues to add a real sense of fun to proceedings on stage and Tom ‘Shinfo’ Domaille’s confidence is continually growing as he settles into the role of frontman.

Tonight’s set featured something a bit special as Brutus Stonefist were joined on stage by My Last Victory’s Jack Fletcher for a number which had a feeling of a torch being passed as Jack and co try and make their way in the UK and Brutus Stonefist become their natural replacements on our shores.

On the strength of this performance the bands upcoming debut album will be something interesting, and I think we’re all hoping for a Brutus/MLV double header some point in the future.

With more people in attendance than last time Rock Of Ages 2 seems to have been even more of a success and with talk of another Rock Of Ages in the not too distant future it seems Guernsey may be on the brink of having something that could genuinely be called ‘a venue’ (even if it is only a part time one)!

Spoonful – The Doghouse – 09/01/09

It was with some sense of trepidation and nervousness I entered The Doghouse tonight, and for two reasons.

One was that this may well be the last time I attend a show within the walls of this establishment before it is turned into yet another restaurant (as if Guernsey doesn’t have enough of them already – at least the music is moving to The Rockmount)

The other reason for my apprehension was that this would be the first time I would have the opportunity to see one of my favourite acts in Guernsey, Spoonful, with their new line up.

Since the departure of guitarist and singer Joe Corbin for university the band have recruited the more the much discussed Alan Palziard (sorry for the spelling) on guitar and the former singer from 10-piece funksters Project EMU, Graham Dawson, as lead vocalist and while both are renowned and capable musicians, I had fears they would have trouble filling the space left by the young guitarist.

Well to start the evening I had nothing to fear as Spoonful 'mark 1' took to the stage and while they took a few songs to hit their groove they were soon on top form blasting out their southern blues style featuring numbers by the likes of Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Cocker.

As ever Joe Corbin’s voice sounded like gravel being rubbed on the mic as he attacked his battered Fender Stratocaster as only he can, but it wasn’t long before the band took a break and I felt a little under whelmed due to the short set.

The band were soon back onstage in their 'mark 2' formation however and I needn’t have feared as Alan and Graham sounded great alongside Paul, Nigel and Andy and it didn’t take long for their slightly altered Chicago blues and funk sound to get the audience moving.

The Doghouse was packed tonight and there were people on the dancefloor throughout the second half of the evening as the music became increasingly funky and soulful with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers featuring in the set list.

While this new line up has a different sound, especially vocally as Graham has a smoother more powerful voice, and Alan a more mellow less attacking guitar sound, they were musically, the equal of the old line up.

The only thing that seemed somewhat lacking was the raw and vital energy and presence that Joe brings to the stage on his best nights.

After Spoonful came to the end of their second set of the evening the crowd wouldn’t let the band leave the stage and soon Joe Corbin joined the new line up for five or six encore numbers ranging from funk to blues to rock and showing off the talents of all six men on stage.

Following the set the crowd were still calling out for more but being already 15 minutes over curfew the band had to call it a night and I could leave The Doghouse mush less nervous than when I entered and happy in the knowledge that Spoonful Mk 2 can continue in the original line ups footsteps with admirable style.

(Of course since i wrote this it's been announced the Doghouse is staying open, so i needn't have been quite so fearful!)

I'm back (hopefully more regularly)

Hello, it's been a while since i posted i know, sorry about that, but if i have a new years resolution its to keep this updated a bit more - so i will stop waffling and start doing that!

Saturday 25 October 2008

Rock Of Ages 1: Part 1 - 24/10/08

So the first night of the first Rock Of Ages has happened and a mixed bag it was – but not when it came to the quality of the bands!

First on the bill were new band About An Hour, playing only their second public show.

After last Sunday’s great set at Barbados, the band fired on all cylinders from the start tonight with their cover of ‘Maniac’ from the film Flashdance starting the night on an upbeat bang.

Unfortunately the crowd were less energetic with only a few getting moving, and all sticking to the shadows, surely giving the band the impression they were playing to no one!

Despite this About An Hour played a great set of their unique mix of pop, rock and punk, with the whole band working very well together and clearly enjoying themselves, and front man Danny Pheonix was on the best form I’ve seen since the Third Time Lucky come back show over a year ago.

Second up were Brit-rockers Stratosfear who had drawn a few extra into the venue, but still the audience remained firmly in the shadows around the side of the room.

The band played on undeterred and launched through a mix of covers and original tunes taken from their forthcoming CD. As ever the band sounded like a slice of 90s British rock with more than a hint of the 1960s and 70s sound that inspired them.

With their originals standing out over the covers I got the distinct impression they should do what a lot of local bands do and focus on the original material as once again ‘Waste Of A Good Weekend’ and ‘I’ve Got Nothing, You’ve Got It All’ really stood out as the sets highlights – and the addition of a second guitarist has really developed their sound in a good way.

The punk spirit continued next but with more of an American influence with 2 Minutes 2 Late who, much like Stratosfear, mixed up covers and originals and again sounded better on the original tunes than the covers.

The main problem 2 Minutes 2 Late had tonight, and that they often have at shows, is their over apologetic nature, which, while very polite, gives the impression that they are less than confident in their abilities – something they should not be, as they uniformly play entertaining sets of dance and sing-a-long pop punk.

Again though during 2 Minutes 2 Late, despite a decent crowd having now showed up they still remained firmly toward the back and sides of the room for the most part causing the band to clearly have difficulty connecting to their audience.

This all changed though when Teaspoonriverneck took to the stage as suddenly there was a line of people ready to rock out along the front of the stage.

Starting out with now minor-classic ‘Thanatoid Ripsnorter’ they had the crowd with them all the way with most singing along to the band’s older material and clearly getting into the new stuff.

The band debuted several new numbers tonight which showed that once again they are refusing to stand still with ‘Saw The Low’ and ‘Sundial’ increasing the bands psychedelic rock edge and ‘Hunting’ turning things on there head and almost sounding like an indie-rock song – albeit still with that unique Teaspoonriverneck something.

With two encores of ‘Eaten By The Devil’ and the seldom played ‘Blonde Witch’ whipping the crowd into a moshing, headbanging frenzy they closed the night on a real high and set a standard for the second night's bands.