Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Cartellos / Borders / Carnation / O.K. Corral @ The Underground 25th March 2011

Review by Jake Carter

The first band to take to the stage on Friday and play to an unfortunately bare room were The Cartellos, who had a lively, but pretty standard sound. There was really nothing wrong with their performance and they did have some rather nice, catchy riffs, although it did have me thinking about where to draw the line between your usual pub rock band and The Cartellos. That being said, it didn’t help that The Underground was pretty barren at the time, and I’d like to see these lads playing to more people with a healthy rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere, which is what they needed on Friday night.

Borders were the next band up and were for me, musically, the best band of the night. Lead singer Greg Poole is one of the coolest, laid back and most nonchalant front-men I’ve ever seen. Performing with one hand in pocket and the other grasping mic, he had the perfect vocal style to suit the music amazingly and had a certain way with words that is hard to describe. His words seemed to float above the music in a gracious way similar to that of Morrissey/The Smiths and never took the obvious root. The band knew their dynamics well and I really loved the sudden change of direction during songs that kept me constantly engaged with the music. I realise that every other band around here are ‘ones to watch’, but trust me on this one, these boys are definitely, definitely ones to watch.

The third band up were Carnation, who stated their set off with a mighty powerful riff and not before long the place was bouncing with lots of super ecstatic young ‘uns jumping all over the show. The lads from the band were also very enthusiastic, and as far as I could tell were putting as much effort into their performance as possible. This effort paid off and resulted in a great energy which both band and audience were feeding off. Song of the set had to have been ‘Too Cool For The Dancefloor’ and pretty much summed up the band’s overall sound and vibe.

By the time headliners O.K. Corral took to the stage The Underground was truly abuzz and you could just tell that everyone was ready for the lads to tear things apart. I was curious myself to hear what they sounded like live, after hearing them play a nice acoustic session on Six Towns Radio last Monday evening, and also because they describe themselves as ‘Stoke blues’. So after kicking into their set with confidence and swagger it was clear that these boys were certainly up to the task of tearing things apart, and the frenzied audience were there to help.

Musically the lads did a great job, with the guitar and bass playing off of each other creating a sturdy, robust sound. They were certainly the most powerful and controlling band of the night and it’s easy to see why they were the headliners. For a band with just three instruments, they did a grand job of being as loud and in you face as possible. Lead singer Jack Veltom was very confident and unafraid to strut his stuff onstage, and had a powerful voice with just enough dirt and grit behind it to complement their ballsy sound.

‘Butterfly’ was the closing song and highlight of the night, and was a great song for O.K. Corral to wrap things up with. It had a great vibe, good energy and lots of presence. I also have to mention their amazing cover of ‘Black Betty’ which was a nice surprise and was the perfect choice for a cover song. All in all, O.K. Corral did a great job of headlining The Underground on Friday, and did so with a vast amount of energy and rock ‘n’ roll style.

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