Monday, 21 January 2008

Ryan Dooley & Coda at the Old Brown Jug

Review by Steve Dean

The cosy Old Brown Jug in Newcastle makes for a fine midweek venue to view local musical talent and it was here that we sat down to watch the acoustic and vocal prowess of Ryan Dooley, followed by Coda, a five-piece outfit with an entirely instrumental set.

The enthusiastic audience behind him from the start, the likeable Dooley gave a confidently professional performance throughout his set. The tunes are mainly his own well-crafted compositions and his catchy opening number 'Dayshift' is very much a potential chart song. Following the demise of his old band 5th Action Shelter, he is now lead singer with soon-to-gig New Education. Having mentioned that though, tinged with Dylan and Billy Bragg, he is an able performer in his own right; the thunderous applause at the end of his performance supplying more than enough evidence to that.

Coda, with three lead guitars, produce involved and interesting soundscapes; bringing to mind Statesiders Explosions in the Sky in places, but not discreditably. Able Drummer Tom Wood lays down some intricate and dextrous rhythms whilst guitarists Craig Hawkes, Luke McPeake, David Rafferty and Lewis Shenton on Bass, add light and shade as they build their refrains layer upon melodic layer, producing some tasty musical concoctions indeed. Maintaining a similar tempo throughout their half-hour set, which contained but four songs; Y-3, Give it 99 Years, Thank You and Trust Your Instincts, I couldn't help but wonder how such compositions would bear up in an hour or hour-and-a-half set; but then again very short sets seem the norm nowadays, so I don't suppose it really matters. Interesting to note the use of Fender Jaguar and Mustang guitars, as opposed to the more popular Strats and Telecasters.

Some fine musicianship and tunes I'd like to hear again. A good gig all round.

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