Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Situation First Birthday all-dayer@ The Central Club, Leek 27th May 2012

Review by Charlotte Lunt
Photo by Robert Egan

There aren’t many things that could drag me to Leek of a sunny evening; however The Situation celebrating their first birthday with an all dayer has proved to be one of those things, at least for a couple of hours.

Arriving just in time to catch the last couple of songs from Cherry Lightening, I was honestly disappointed to see how few folks had made the effort to come down to the Central Club to support the event. But nevertheless this didn’t seem to have put the band off their stride as they finished their set with a high speed cover of The Wombats ‘Let’s dance to Joy Division’. This provided the opportunity to speak to one of the organisers, Simon Edwards, who was brimming with enthusiasm and clearly enjoying the evening.

He explained that The Situation run 2 monthly nights in Leek, usually hosted at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, and that over the year they’ve been able to spread their wings and have been attracting acts of great calibre not only from the local area, but also the wider environs.

The first full set I saw was from The Taskers, who did a stripped down session for the radio show earlier this month, so this proved to be an ideal opportunity to hear their ‘plugged in’ sound.  I wasn’t prepared for the rawness in both sound and delivery, and always liking it when a band surprises me, this was a good thing. Tearing through a set of clever melodies and syncopation that were coupled with prophesising and contemplative lyrics they provided a solid set of quality tuneage.

It’s refreshing to see a band that rely solely on the quality of their song writing rather than persona – perhaps this unassuming approach is because as a two piece they are quite exposed, with little to hide behind.
In addition to the Pearl Jam influences they cited on the show, I’m hearing a tad of Frank Black, and a trace of Eric Clapton amongst others, which in combination work well and provide a swath of different approaches and delivery from the band. My favourite song of the set was ‘Itch’- which features on their brand new album – full of juxtaposition, contradiction and friction, it keeps you on the edge of your seat like a good psychological thriller.

Next up were the recommended Gravity Dave, who started out on a set of solid rock. At this point I must confess that I was having reservations about them, that is until they threw out ‘Let’s pretend’, which tore along at a cracking pace with vocals and lead guitar challenging each other for the spotlight. Moving swiftly into ‘Romantic Comedy’ I’m more than pleasantly surprised as having judged this book by its cover, this was a more edgy, contemporary composition than I’d expected, so apologies to the band and hats off for keeping me on my toes.

I have to say that whilst this was not a visually dynamic performance, it was slick and they consistently delivered solid well crafted songs, and anyone who can write a song called ‘Cattle’, can’t be doing too much wrong in my book. The ‘Steps of Heathrow’ was reminiscent of the erstwhile Red Wedge movement in its social commentary and edginess, and that drew their set to a close.

Although, I was only able to stay for a short while, this showed that the hard work that The Situation are doing to bring quality artists to Leek, is paying off. I’d really recommend having a trip out to some of their forthcoming gigs – which having had a sneaky look at the rosta – will be well worth it.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Way / Likely Lads / Translucid @ The Sugarmill April 28th 2012

Review by Kirsty Underwood 

Any half decent music fan knows that we owe a lot to the 1950’s and this shouldn’t just be from watching the odd rock-umentary. Stoke’s The Way revel in this musical past and wear it on their sleeves, which happen to belong to T-bird style leather jackets. Their influences read like a school of rock history lesson, checking off the best genres to have popped out of each decade from the fifties onwards. As the first band to take to the stage on a Saturday night at The Sugarmill, The Way began educating the audience by smashing together old and new. Not to be ignored by those for whom this may have been wasted on, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Stef Smith requested enthusiasm with a few simple words; “Come on you f***ers!”. Single One Time Round harked back to the heyday of The Jam and no doubt touched a chord with more than a few audience members with its down-to-earth lyrics “I only work because they tell me to…you shelf stacker…you only get one time round”. The realism almost hurts. Cracking on through a set encompassing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s The A Team and something that sounded suspiciously like a Ramones mash up, The Way’s unique energy visibly spread across the room. 

York based band Likely Lads were the northern filling in this Stoke sandwich of a gig. They may have only been together a relatively short time, little over a year, but time wasting has not been on the agenda. September 2011 saw the release of Likely Lads first untitled EP which was followed up in February of this year with an album entitled Melrose Yard Demos. Their debut single Observations is due for release on May 7th on Right Track Records and the band has supported Chingford’s best output of late The Rifles. Good effort! Likely Lads set comprised a reel of tracks that told it like it is, and they certainly had a lot to say about the need to get away from a mundane existence in “a little city”. Their upbeat indie rhythms, not a million miles away from that of The Kooks, coupled with insightful lyrics were received with more than ample appreciation from an audience potentially hearing these tracks for the first time. Get yer sens back to Stoke soon boys! 

Translucid, a mysterious name suggesting everything is not quite as it seems and they were just that. Their talent spoke for itself from the beginning. Formerly known as The Riots, who have seen a few line up changes since their creation in 2007, the band on the stage were electrifying. Front man Dan Watkin, with his Parka and tambourine, was completely at home giving us all something to marvel at. Guitarist Steve Pye was implausibly mind blowing and let’s be honest, with a Hendrix tattoo and a Dylan t-shirt he would have been taking the Michael just a smidge if he hadn’t have been. Translucid’s classic rock influences showed through in Pye’s bluesy strings and you can’t say no to a bit of wa-wa. There was so much going on in terms of influences from classic rock right up to Kasabian in the present that their set, including tracks Tripping Lilly, The Mind is a Temple and personal favourite Blow Out, was impossible not to appeal on some level. The band also had excellent support from what were assumed to be family members; you don’t see enough air guitaring these days. All in all, a delectable array of talent and style; definitely worth witnessing at The Full Moon on May 11th if you had the misfortune to miss this gig.