Monday, 16 June 2008

Tom Lockett/Paul Maddock/The Control/Seers @ The Norfolk Inn, Shelton. June 14th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Leo Mazzocchio

I always appreciate the arrival of a new venue and this being my first visit to the Norfolk Inn, a pub of the traditional type down a quiet Shelton sideroad, I was very much looking forward to the evening ahead.

With Rickenbacker in hand and admirable self-assurance, 16-year-old Tom Lockett opened the evening, and the time he had finished, proved himself to be a competent guitarist and singer with the potential to make a career out of this sort of thing. Beginning with a self-penned number called ‘Why My Friend?’, he took us through a selection of more of his own numbers plus an addition from the Smiths and also a spirited version of the Kinks classic ‘Til the End of the Day’. The Kinks’ version having plenty of backing vocals in the mix, it is a rather adventurous song to attempt solo, but by keeping the melody line loose, Tom put across a very creditable version indeed. A visit to his myspace profile shows that he is also a member of a duo called ‘That Girl I Think Her Name is Collin’. I shall keep a lookout for any gigs they may be intending to play, with a title that striking, they shouldn’t be too hard to spot.

By comparison, Paul Maddock is a guitarist who has been around a great deal longer. More well known as a bassist, his more recent musical adventures include a three-year contract playing in the house band of the Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow TV series and a stint as Chesney Hawkes’ bass player at Live in the City 2005. A likeable bloke, we had a brief chat before he played his set and the both of us having been around the music scene for a lot of years, we were amused to find we had much in common. Although he played a purely acoustic set here tonight, a visit to his myspace profile demonstrates that he has a lot more to offer besides that. His songwriting formula tipping more then a nod to the 70s/80s, his composing is strong and his undoubted musical ability is impressively displayed. Kicking in with Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’, Paul demonstrated a cool strumming technique and a fine singing voice as he took through a repertoire containing a mixed bag of his own numbers and covers. Highlights being his own compositions ‘Heart of Stone’ and a song dedicated to a friend who had tragically committed suicide. Penultimately giving a rather shaky, but forgivable version of ‘Mustang Sally’, he finished with a catchy blues by the name of ‘Ice Cream Man’. A fine set played with style.

Having seen The Control only a few weeks ago and being very much impressed, I was looking forward to catching them again in a different setting. I wasn’t disappointed. Opening their set with the enormously catchy ‘Crimes of Love Dance Music’, they set a cracking pace that didn’t let up for a second. Great drums and bass from Greg Butler and John Burgess respectively while nifty guitarist Rich Bratt spreads the most sublime Hendrix sound over each composition like gleaming icing on a rich cake. Joe Brennan Hulme’s excellent vocals easily match the instrumentalists and is a classy and confident frontman, despite being only being in his middle-teens. All four of them worked very hard to put on a fine show and after what I saw tonight, I happily stick my neck out and say that this band will be world-class in a very short space of time. Go see ‘em, you’ll understand what I mean.

Coming on exuding plenty of confidence and bonhomie, Seers took us through a playlist comprised of a roughly half and half mix of their own compositions and various cover numbers. I didn’t catch the titles of the first two songs, rockers both, but the second number put me a little in mind of Ocean Colour Scene in style. Punchy power pop/rock is what Seers do, and they do it well. Rip-roaring versions of the Ramones’ ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ and the Clash’s ‘Career Opportunities’ went down a treat, as did guitarist Mike Barker’s Pete Townshend-like leaps around the stage. Of Seers song titles I did catch, ‘Stained Glass Girl’ was one, and proved very popular with the audience packed into the average-sized bar. Towards the end of the act, vocalist Lee Bell announced the departure of the drummer, whose name I can find no trace of on their myspace profile and stated that this was to be his last performance with them, leaving he and Mike, along with bassist Mark Bayliss as a temporary trio. Shame, he’s a good drummer; and Seers are a good band. Rocking out with a storming 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', they rounded off the evening very nicely.

An enjoyable night at the Norfolk Inn, I thought. I’ll certainly come again.

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