Review by Charlotte Lunt
Photo's by Robert Egan
Opening with their current single, The English are instantly reminiscent of Echo and the Bunnymen, whether this is just an influence of theirs or a deliberate move, in my book it isn't a bad thing.
As their set progresses it is a little pedestrian in places but as the lads have clearly put the hours in to produce a solid performance this could easily be attributed to nerves.
I have to admit that I'm not as familiar with The English's music as perhaps I should be, and in fact was looking forward to their set tonight on the basis of their current single alone. They don't follow the well trodden route of so many bands in Stoke and they clearly know what they're about, confidently striding in to a Ramones-esque cover of 'Be my Baby' which has saw a number of the audience prick up their ears.
Clearly there is much use of effects pedals, but there is an over arching simplicity to their approach and this shines through on a 'take it or leave it' kind of way rather than with an arrogance that is oft' too familiar.
Admittedly I'd not heard great things about this band before tonight, but there is something about their music and approach that really appeals to me - even if I can't quite put my finger on it.
Holy-esque, a four piece from Glasgow have come hotly tipped for this evenings show. Again (a small cheer here) they have a slightly retro sound, this time bringing us closer to the end of the 80's with leads from both synth and drums. There is a familiarity to their music, perhaps the obvious Glaswegan link to Glasvegas, although I'm inclined to believe it is something more subtle.
For me, their set never quite took off, which was a shame, however this isn't to say they'll disappear from my radar.
The headline tonight was the first performance from the hugely anticipated Camp Stag. Benefiting from having a number of members who have already made their names on the local scene, the troops were out in force to support Dan, Rich Chris and Ade.
Instantly bringing us crashing into the 21st Century, not only with their sound but with their political observations, they introduced their third number as 'Big Society' - with tongue firmly in cheek. Punchy delivery and swaths of synth and guitars is definitely what Camp Stag are all about, as they move effortlessly to their current single Sirens. This has a more moody and driven sound than previous songs, and coupled with a understated desperation really has a strength about it.
Introducing their last track, which came far too quickly, the keys lift a song that lyrically comes from a far darker place. Looking round the assembled audience they really have people in the palm of their hands, and hopefully this is just a taste of things to come.
This is definitely a muso's crowd here tonight, which is hopefully a reflection of Camp Stags promise of things to come. This was a brief set that left you wanting more.
Catching up with the band after the set, they said that tonight was about keeping it simple, and following a recent line up change was about powering through their set with confidence, which they undoubtedly did.