The day before the Vale Castle became the venue for Jonah Beats, an all day music event raising money for the charity appeal ‘Helping Jonah – Helping Others’, some of the artists playing the mini-fesitval appeared at The Golden Lion to ‘warm up’ and help launch the Jonah Beats compilation album.
The album collects 26 tracks by Guernsey artists and was funded by the pub helping lead to the £14,000 raised so far by the Jonah Beats event and all four acts playing here feature on the double CD set.
First on the Lion’s modest stage (its hard to believe I once saw metallers Choke fit their drums, two Marshall stacks and more on this stage) was Blue Mountains. Newly expanded to a four-piece line up with founders Colleen Irven and Mike Bonsall joined by Andrew Degnen (fiddle) and James Le Huray (mandolin) the band’s sound was deeper and more an emulation of their debut album than previously.
While this expansion may have removed a little of the effective simplicity of their sound it certainly gives them more options which were demonstrated on the new original songs in the set.
Unfortunately it was hard to get too much of a good idea of the new sound here as there seemed to be a volume war going on between the band and those drinking in the pub who, at this early stage of the evening didn’t seem too interested in Appalachian murder ballads and Americana style folk.
By the end of the set the audience did begin to quieten down but it made for a challenging performance both for us watching and listening and, I would imagine, the band on stage – though a new original song about a souls being sold to the devil of the Coupee stood out from the pack.
Static Alice did something a bit different next by turning their energetic pop-rock down to fit the smaller venue. At first I wondered how this would work as, although I’ve heard them play successful acoustic sets, this kind of half and half, quiet electric, approach was a new one to me – but in the end the four-piece pulled it off.
While Dominique Ogier’s vocals were a little over powering at times with the more restrained backing it was interesting to hear a less overdriven guitar from Luis (though he still managed to dance around his extensive pedal board of effects).
The ska-punk trio took their performance up a level once again tonight and it wasn’t long until the crowd in the pub were packed up to the front like gigs here of old, giving it the feel of shows at the old Lion, but in much more pleasant surroundings.
While they played a few of their own songs, they said that as it was a gig in a pub they’d add some extra covers to the set.
It was these that got the crowd involved with their take on All About That Bass, Reel Big Fish’s Beer, Gentleman’s Dub Club’s High Grade and Sublime’s Date Rape and What I Got getting the crowd singing along and made for a special set.
Following Honest Crooks tonight wasn’t going to be easy for anyone and, for Citizen-X this was compounded by what seemed to be technical difficulties with the visual side of his show. Despite this his chilled out soundscapes were well delivered but didn’t seem to translate to the audience here.
No matter though the evening showcased a selection of the music on offer on the Jonah Beats compilation while helping raise some money for the charity and showing that, while it’s a bit different, The Golden Lion can also be an atmospheric small venue for live music.