Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Capellas/ Johny Wood/ The Black Apples @ The Sugarmill, Hanley. December 19th.

Review by Danny Hill

Photo by The Shadow

The Capellas are the latest local band to sign to the SONS record label, but given their MySpace profile page offers no band member names, the only one I can offer you is lead-singer’s Oliver Hawthorne. Starting proceedings early on is never an easy task, with so few people around to entertain, but The Capellas did an alright job of it. They have a rich, melodic, meaty sound coming from their five-piece section. The lead-guitarist, equipped with a Fender Telecaster, did well merging some well-timed riffs along with the rhythm player’s classic cherry-top Gibson Les Paul. 'Take A Walk' is a superb example of their indie/rock heritage, drawing obvious comparisons with some of the genres earlier pioneers such as Oasis and Jesus and the Mary Chain. There are some impressive Page-inspired solos and riffery in 'Another Big Star', whereas 'The City Lies' displays the sheer excellence of the bass player. The five lads spent a great deal of energy in their set and it translated well to their audience, some of which were obviously staunch followers. They left the stage in The Sugarmill to great applause.

Johny Wood (that’s right, one N) you could be forgiven for thinking is the name of one band member. Not so. Johny Wood’s name is taken from singer Jan Rodziewicz’s neighbour, a refined English gent. Music-wise, Johny Wood offer something a little different to The Sugarmill, the awesome lead-guitar work of Jay Heath presenting influences from ‘60s bands like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Dave Wood on bass guitar and Ben Cooper on drums complete the line-up. 'Poker Face' had flashes of Lenny Kravitz springing to mind, although Liam Gallagher seeped in too, but only with regards to singer Jan’s menacing, rasping vocal and haughty stage presence. The band took the audience through a collection of fine songs - 'Dancing', 'Keep The Faith' and 'It’s Not Over' earned almighty cheers from the appreciative crowd. And again, like their predecessors The Capellas, the band had more than their fair share of support on the night. With gigs approaching in the new year at The Norfolk Inn and the Old Brown Jug, it may be worth catching them.

I’ve probably seen The Black Apples perform on more occasions that I dare remember. What strikes me is that they’re either sometimes distinctly average, or they’re very good. Last night it was the latter. As soon as lead-guitarist/singer Musso wailed into the opening bars of 'Consider This', you knew it was going to be a good show. The energy and passion that goes into The Apples shows are seemingly relentless. With the second number, 'Leave Before My Time' melding so flawlessly from the last it was a job to hear the link. As the night progresses, with any Apples gig, the audience not only gets the treat of hearing their substantial collection of foot-tappingly good material, but they are also taken along a journey of Musso’s obvious infatuation with the Blues too, throwing in the occasional cover from the likes of Robert Johnson or Muddy Walters. The Apples’ ability to brand this old material with their own distorted, eclectic style is commendable given the multitude of bands and artists that have tried and failed in a similar field before.

Always one to get the crowd on their feet and on to the dance floor, 'Hypnotise' started its familiar riff, earning great cheers. It’s also with this great song that The Apples epitomise what they’re about, bass player Jamie and drummer Joe flowing fiercely and purposely in harmony. 'Buy Me A Ticket' and 'Rollin Tumble' follow shortly after, and The Apples are cheered on for two encores, finishing with their catchy anthem, '1,2,3'.

All in all, another great night in the Sugarmill.

The Capellas
Johny Wood
The Black Apples

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