Friday, 31 October 2008

The Elastics / Ryan Whitmore Band / The Research @ the Sugarmill, Hanley. October 29th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

Arriving halfway through their first number, I picked up an enthusiastic vibe emanating from band and audience alike the moment I entered the venue. The Elastics, comprising of Jack Bloor on vocals; Sam Parker on lead; Will Sutherland on trumpet and keyboards and Joe Cool and Jake Briand on bass and drums respectively are a young outfit with a distinctly different sound from what is the current norm. Their music is drawn from many influences, but mainly put me in mind of various ska bands over the past decades; purveyors of a type of music that never really goes away. That isn’t to say that they don’t rock though - far from it. Although all members are competent on their instruments and contribute more or less equally; it is Will’s trumpet that supplies the definitive ingredient to their overall sound. Also playing occasional keyboards, his brass gives them that kind of tight but loose sound favoured by originals as timeless as Prince Buster and the All-Stars. A kind of Madness even, but perhaps a little more berserk. Their energetic set was packed with interesting ideas and they have some excellent dance tunes. I particularly liked ‘Countdown’ with its nifty opening riff and ‘Abbreviation’ put me in mind of the early Kinks. With time and experience, this band could have much success ahead.

Only very recently formed, the Ryan Whitmore Band does not yet even have a myspace profile, although Ryan himself has one; but from what I heard this evening, they sound very promising indeed. Singer/songwriter Ryan has been on the scene for a few years now, playing bass with numerous bands including the Mayhem Effect and Scott Ashley band as well as doing the odd acoustic solo performance. He is playing lead with this eponymous four-piece; backed by a second acoustic/electric guitar, bass and drums. He has a fine mature singing voice and puts his melodic songs across very well. Slowly building to a climax, his opening number ‘Again’ set the pace for a selection of Ryan’s generally soft-rock numbers, although he does crank it up from time to time. Of the set, ‘Foolish Boy’ and ‘Sightseeing Woman’ seemed to stick firmest in my mind and my only real criticism is that his nifty lead guitarwork was sometimes drowned by the backing, only really cutting through at the end as he rocked out with some choice soloing. An impressive half-hour from a band that has really only just taken shape.

Casually setting their gear up as if they were at home in their front room, the three members of The Research; guitarist and vocalist Russell L Disastro (spelt in various forms on their profile), bassist Georgia Lashbrook and drummer Sarah Williams appeared to feel as comfortable is if that is where they actually were. Although there was a vague air of resignedness about them at the start, but this could be very feasibly put down to mid-tour weariness.

Chatty Mr Disastro comes across as a very friendly, likeable bloke and this amicability seems to permeate their entire show. How can a person help but like them? All that aside though, they write some very good pop music. The sort of fine compositions David Bowie wrote in his Hunky Dory period; and I mean that good. I didn’t catch the titles of some of the songs, but their new single, ‘I Think She’s the One I love’ must have the one of the most commercial hook-lines I’ve ever heard. Russell sings most of the numbers while Georgia and Sarah provide Corrs-like backing vocals. However, there was one number, its title I alas know not, which Georgia sung which had the most fascinatingly paced melody I’ve heard in a fair while. Other highlights included ‘Anytime Babe’, a song about Russell’s house, ‘True Love Weighs a Ton’ (great title) with its neat rhythm change in the middle and a bouncy rocker about Wakefield prison; its title being another I didn’t catch. Pop/rock of a high quality indeed. They deserve a wider audience and with music of this calibre, I don’t think it’ll be long before they get it.


The Elastics
Ryan Whitmore
The Research

Comment from 'William': The song Georgia sings is called Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same. It was a single a couple of years ago and the video is on Youtube.

1 comment:

William said...

The song Georgia sings is called Lonely Hearts Still Beat The Same. It was a single a couple of years ago and the video is on Youtube.