Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Flying Colours/The Sliphouse Fairys/Modey Lemon @ The Sugarmill, Hanley. September 7th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photos by Leo Mazzocchio

First on the bill and apparently the latest of many incarnations, The Flying Colours set a fine standard for the evening with a half-hour set full of engaging and well-delivered songs in the semi-commercial soft rock vein, although Danny Whitehouse’s solid drumming hardens things off from time to time. Paul Macdonald on acoustic and lead vocals puts his melodic point across very well and their first jangling composition, 'People Walking', proved to be a powerfully engrossing song, the repetitious chord sequence only adding to the overall drive of the number. I’ve always liked semi-acoustic 335s and guitarist Rob Sherlock played some restrained, but cool lead on a nice blonde one throughout the set, ably supported by a coated and buttoned Andy Macdonald on his Rickenbacker bass. I’ve always had a partiality for those as well, but I digress…Of incidentals, I especially liked the pounding drum beat in a new song called ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and the slow overall build-up of ‘There’s Not a Lot of Love’ from just a lone acoustic chord sequence to a full-bodied crescendo was perfectly executed. An entertaining set from a very promising band

Some bands seem to have a certain something about them that sets them apart and The Sliphouse Fairys are one of them. The ‘something’ is hard to define. The great violinist Isaac Stern once said that after learning how to play a musical instrument, one must then learn how to play music. It is a moot point, but it gets us nearer an answer. It is certainly to do with the ability to put across emotion. The Sliphouse Fairys; James Fitchford/guitar and main vocals; Elliot Porter/lead guitar and Tom Green and Matt Andrew on bass and drums respectively, have an atmospheric sound, heard at its most haunting in their final number, ‘So Called Friends’. James has an excellent voice, sounding much better live than on record and it seems to come easy to him; Tom’s accompanying vocals giving a dual voice as good as anything the legendary Byrds ever came up with. The tempo change for the solo in ‘How Many Times?’ was cool and the more chunkier sounding ‘Small’ is a good strong song with some nicely building leadwork. I liked the vaguely Turkish-sounding guitar and the arrangement in ‘Nothing’ as well. This is a seriously good band with bags of potential. Give them a good producer and they could go places, no problem.

Paul Quattrone of Modey Lemon of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is without a doubt the most unrestrained, ferocious drummer I've ever heard. I'm surprised his kit lasted the night; such was the almost rabid clobbering he gave it. The drums were being hit so forcefully and with such natural volume it was almost impossible to tell accurately what guitarist and vocalist Phil Boyd was playing or singing. Apart from the odd quieter part, Jason Kirker’s synth and basswork at times sounded awash as if it were striving to stay afloat in a raging sea of incredibly pounding, crashing drumbeat. Watching him play, one becomes aware that the kit, complete with metal hub cap tied to the bass drum, is not so much sitting in front of him, but appears to have actually become a part of him; a channelling for an acute understanding of the effect of rhythm on the human psyche rendered back to its most base primeval level; and sounding absolutely fantastic. This was rock ‘n’ roll deep within its essence. To me, it didn’t seem to matter what the songs were called or what they were about. Watching Modey Lemon enjoying themselves immensely as they tossed their heads, jumped around and generally lost themselves in the raw and thunderous tribal beat, I became vaguely aware of some sudden deep grasp of the very roots of rhythm and what it all really stems from. Halfway through their 45-minute set, my colleague Bamf turned to me and shouted, "Christ! What an unholy racket - they're fucking great!!"

Quite so.

Modey Lemon

The Sliphouse Fairys

The Flying Colours: No website at present

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