Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Lungs/Party Fire and Theft/Screwloose @ The Band Stand, Hanley. May 12th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Leo

Having risen from the ashes of The Flight, I gather that this is Lungs' first gig since. They did very well. Sporting a new suit-wearing, but still casual image, they kicked in with a raunchy cover of Placebo’s ‘Nancy Boy’; giving a fair taste of what to expect from thence onwards. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Moreton announcing that most of their set would consist of covers until they had had more time to get organised, they continued with self-penned tunes ‘River Town’ and the appealingly chaotic ‘Orange Pizza’. It was remarked that they are reminiscent of the Ramones in some ways and I readily agree with such a comment.

They are a lively band, their music having strong punk overtones and diminutive female singer/guitarist Hollie Lucas adds a valuable dimension to their overall sound and presentation. They put on a good show and their leaping up and down during ‘City of Angels’ inspired members of the audience to bound around a bit themselves. Drummer Danny Beardmore drives the band along very nicely and I had to grin when bassist Scott Walton apologised for any mistakes before they’d even tackled Rancid’s ‘Maxwell Murder’; the song’s bass solo being being an integral part of the tune. He needn’t have worried, he did fine.

With Hollie going offstage while the rest of band continued with P.I.G., the audience was invited to dance; my bemused mind boggling a tad as one of their number performed a manoeuvre apparently called ‘teddy bear rolls’. He summed up the fun of the event nicely though. Leaving a solo Hollie to finish off, she closed the set to enthusiastic applause from an audience that had obviously enjoyed them immensely. Not bad for a first gig. In fact, not bad at all.

Reading up on Party Fire and Theft on their Myspace profile, they seem to have had a fairly convoluted history involving several incarnations, but it is enough to say that how they stand at present adds up to being about right. Having an excellent drummer in James Rathmell, also of Everything on Red, his technical expertise played a great part in ensuring a set that was tight, gutsy, and never less than interesting to listen to; despite Guitarist and singer Mart’s (I’m unable to find a surname) confession that over-refreshment had left he and the first rate 5-string bass player Andy (ditto, regarding surname) a little worse for wear. I must say it didn’t seem to effect their playing though. Their songs are all their own compositions and beginning with ‘Stop and Deactivate Robots’, they shone with a blinding set put across with dexterity and plenty of energetic panache. Main vocalist Mart has a strongly melodic voice, putting me in mind of celebrated 60s band Cream’s Jack Bruce in his heyday and James joining in for some choice harmonies really added that extra spice. I particularly liked second number ‘Deleted Scenes’, with it’s descending chords and James’ vocal interjections, and also the final composition ‘Driving me Away’ made a fitting end to a fine set.

Having reviewed Screwloose’s new EP ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Life’ not too long ago, I was very much looking forward to hearing the numbers actually played live. I was not disappointed. Screwloose, comprising lead vocalist Matt Brown and Andy Winstanley on guitars, Rob Tooth on bass and Chris Burgess on drums put across their songs just as well live as they do on CD; except with that extra bit of raw power that live playing always adds . First number ‘Out on Friday’, track one on the EP, set the scene for a very entertaining half-hour as the band strove to pack in as many songs as possible before the law of the land demanded that they finish, due to a late start earlier causing them to run over. The second number, ‘A Matter of Affinity’, boasted some nice guitar exchanges in the middle part and I loved the tight reggae-ish interlude within third song ‘The Magic That I feel’. Two other numbers from the EP, title track ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Life’ and the bouncy ‘So you Call this a Setback’ were also included and the extra live fire brought out the true appeal of this band’s earnest interpretations of some thoughtful lyrics. Linking up the last three compositions, Screwloose managed to fit everything in and finished to well-deserved and appreciative applause.

The Band Stand may be a small gig, but it puts on some big talent. I say “well done” once again.

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