With Christmas party season continuing in earnest on the Friday before the big day, Guernsey’s mod rock heroes The Risk staged one of their own at The Fermain Tavern celebrating, not only the season, but 30 years together as a band, the release of the Millions Like Us box-set (on which they feature along with more than 100 other mod revival bands) and guitarist Colin Leach’s birthday.
Before they took to the stage we were treated to two eclectic support acts made up of people who have played with the band in one form or another in the past, and first up was folk duo Blue Mountains.
Featuring Coleen Irven (who once shared a stage with Mark Le Gallez and Colin in The Sacred Hearts) along with Mike Bonsall, the duo kept things simple tonight with the whole set being based around an acoustic guitar and vocals, save for an opening, and impressively delivered, a cappella number.
This was the most relaxed I have seen Blue Mountains on stage and that seemed to lead to the most soulful delivery I have heard from them as they journeyed through a selection of typically bleak but toe-tapping folk, bluegrass and Appalachian songs and ‘murder ballads’ highlighted by renditions of Henry Lee and Little Sadie.
From vintage folk we took a step into a potential future with Guernsey’s own musical iPad warrior, Citizen-X – whose previous band had supported The Risk in their early days.
Performing live on just the aforementioned tablet device can lead to a situation where there isn’t a lot to catch the eye about the good Citizen’s sets, but tonight he took the opportunity of a projector being set up to add a visual edge to things with some videos made to synchronise with the sounds.
Citizen-X’s music combines soundscapes with low-key beats to create atmospheres, which is certainly different to pretty much anything else on offer over here at the moment, and it was clear, was totally alien to many in attendance. None-the-less the tracks seemed to go down well and were generally greeted with appreciative applause.
High points in the set came with the tracks that best mixed the visual side with the music in the form of Stormborn, Apollo, Spock and a track inspired by Jacques Cousteau and, while the set felt a little long in the context of this gig, Citizen-X is clearly developing something of his own that contains some great sounds.
It was clear as The Risk took to the stage that they were who everyone was really here to see as the entirety of the sadly small crowd made their way onto the dancefloor as the band opened up with psyche epic Twilight Zone, played in full with extra added vocal samples for good measure.
From there the band took us through the gamut of their 30 years with songs from their mid-80s heyday rubbing shoulders with new numbers, as yet unrecorded, all of which came with the same spirit that drew Mark and Colin together when they were first starting out.
The set was divided in two, starting out with the power-trio line up of the band, completed by Stuart ‘Ozzy’ Austin on the drums, before they were joined by Andy Coleman and Garrick Jones adding their brass to proceedings and bringing a hint of soul to the mod.
Mid-way through the set the band’s energy and performance did seem to dip for a couple of songs, but this didn’t last long and the crowd didn’t really seem to care and with Work and Good Together The Risk were really flying again until they rounded off with State Of The Union and Good Times.
They weren’t gone for long though as Mark, Colin and Ozzy returned with rock ‘n’ roller Closing Time which had the crowd bouncing before the whole line up was back for the obligatory closer of their modded take on Born To Be Wild (“Get your scooter running…”) which left the audience still calling for more as DJ SilverVespa gave the Tav something of a Northern Soul club vibe with his choice of tunes.
With 30 years under their belts it didn’t seem as if The Risk had missed a step as, across 17 songs, they did exactly what you’d expect from a mod-revival band and provided a high energy way to spend a Friday night and, while we may not get to see them as often as we’d like, it makes shows like this all the more special.