Saturday, 1 March 2008

Yoz/Hips Like Cinderella/The Fears @ The Fat Cat Bar, Hanley. 29th. Feb.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

As a venue, Hanley’s Fat Cats bar offers a great atmosphere and it was good to see a fair crowd in for the evening’s entertainment. Yoz and his acoustic guitar taking the stage first, he took us through a selection of his self-penned songs; kicking off with the poignant ‘Son of a Mother’, through ‘I don’t mind’, ‘Fantasmagoria’ and ‘So What?’; finally concluding his spot with ‘Atlantic Waves’; a song about the pain of saying goodbye. He sings with sincere conviction and his compositions are imaginative, thoughtful and the lyrics have just a touch of the world-weary about them; in some ways bringing an early Van Morrison to mind. They are not without a little humour here and there either and Yoz’s set made for an excellent half-hour’s entertainment. I look forward to catching him again.

Hailing from Stafford, Hips Like Cinderella sound like an amalgamation of every top 80s pop act I can think of; although Ad Price’s vocals bring to mind Brian Molko of Placebo at times. The Smiths and Spandau Ballet influences were very prominent in the mix, but this isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. They have some excellent songs and the well thought out arrangements are spot-on. Price sings with much passion and the rest of the band - drummer Andy Todd, bassist Larry Moore and Paul Walker and Graham Salt on guitars - are accomplished musicians, although they don’t appear to enjoy themselves very much; unsmiling, they spend a great deal of time glumly looking at the floor. Perhaps it’s part of a cultivated ‘moody image’. If it is, I tentatively suggest it would be a good idea to drop it. On the whole though, they put on a very good show.

The Fears are rooted firmly in the 80s retro slot as well; but there the comparison ends. Fiercely dynamic, The Fears are excitement defined. Using tonal light and shade to shrewd effect, their powerful songs build into great pounding creations that stir the blood and rouse the soul. Appearing somewhat bemused at their rapturous reception, singer Oliver Davies’ impassioned and sometimes plaintive vocals swooped and soared as the band whipped up a musical storm. Bassist Andrew Redfern keeps things simple, but along with lively drummer Daniel Finn, they supply an upliftingly vital heartbeat on which the other members flesh out their scintillating soundscapes, and they do not fail or dip for a second. Obviously enjoying themselves, guitarists Alex Coleman on lead and Craig Parr on rhythm and synth, spread their solos and refrains across the musical surface like icing over a very rich cake. Although it has to be said that numerous influences are present, and at times The Fears bring to mind U2 at their very best; I can also report enough individuality to take this band a very long way indeed. A great show. Marvellous.

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