Photo by Simon Bamford
As I arrived at the venue on Saturday eveningthere were just the last few chords ringng out from tonights openers - so apologies all round for missing them. However, as I stepped out of the drizzle into the familiar surroundings of the mill it was clear that the majority of tonight’s audience were also unfortunately running late, with the 50 or so assembled audience being firmly glued to the walls or hiding behind the sound desk.
Nevertheless, Cut out Dreamers took to the stage to deliver their bass heavy melodic to the assembled few. I was struck initially by the brevity of their songs, and also by the slurred vocals, which made a couple of the tracks difficult listening. This was short lived however, as their third song ‘Changes’ really raised the bar. This is a strong song musically echoing the indie-guitar vibe of 5 years ago, and the delivery of the vocals was far more confident.
I was beginning to see that Cut out Dreamers, have specialised in a very simple formula, and this is not intended as a criticism. They are clearly driving their music and there is plenty of variety in their set with their influences showing in very subtle ways rather than wearing them on their sleeves like so many bands do. There is also a marvellous feeling of summer about their melodies, which on a rainy Autumn evening in Stoke is not a bad thing at all.
Heading full tilt into their final two songs, the lads gave us a glimpse of their inner punks, and front-man Eddy Hollinshead released his inner Dave Grohl, before covering a particularly U2-esque version of ‘Helter Skelter’. If these two songs indicate the bands aspirations then they have drawn their line in the sand, however a word to the wise, don’t show your hand too soon. There is definitely a strong bond within this trio and as their steady progress over the last two years has shown and it will be interesting to see where they take it.
The main event tonight was Faux Feet, who I first saw playing in Fat Cats as part of the Oxjam Festival, and I was mightily impressed so this gig had been firmly in the diary since then.
It was clear that I wasn’t the only person anticipating the performance as the audience gravitated to the front of the stage and within the first 10 seconds of the opening number people were dancing. Frontwoman Sian Matthews plays a good game on stage, appearing coy whilst maintaining full control and being a natural performer. Perhaps let down a little by the PA this evening, her vocals were not as crisp as when I saw her last which is a shame as for me it is Sian’s voice that makes this group stand out.
The most commercial song of their set was ‘Don’t look back’ which for me is a song that seems to capture the band at their best, with solid playing from Ben Carl and Jamie creating a bedrock platform which allows Sian’s precise vocals to add another ethereal dimension to their music.
What I find striking about Faux Feet is not only Sian’s vocals and stage presence, but their entirely unassuming nature; these guys all appear to have their feet firmly on the ground and it is difficult to identify an ego between them. While the lads seem almost ambivalent to the audience, Sian interacts almost at an individual level with the first few rows, and relays her stories to them through song, making her performance more of a shared experience.
Finishing the evening with ‘Circles’, a definite crowd pleaser, Faux Feet have shown again that they have a spark about them that is not often seen. For my money they are definitely one to watch.