Following The Recks’ mini-tour of the Channel Islands last summer, Stoked Music once again organised a series of events last weekend to help Jersey’s Tadhg Daly promote the release of his and his bands debut EP, Taghazout, and give Robert J. Hunter and his band a chance to make their Jersey debut and play an (almost) hometown show.
After packing out the Havanna in Jersey on Friday with support from Kilig & Fernweh, Robert and Tadhg’s bands made their way over to The Fermain Tavern in Guernsey on Saturday with Gregory Harrison opening the show.
Throughout his performance Harrison seemed more relaxed than I have previously seen which made for a much more engaging performance of his already great songs. While still not a gregarious stage presence he engaged most in the small audience who had turned out early purely through his music which built more and more as the set went on.
Demons, the lead track from his recently released EP, rounded off the set and was, if anything, even more impressive than in the past with its mix of dark, enthralling lyrics delivered in Greg’s signature rich tone, and some astonishing acoustic guitar playing.
Reversing the line up from the previous night Tadhg Daly and his band were up next and started out with a few of the more alternative-acoustic songs that first made their mark on local audiences. Highlight amongst these was the comparatively sprawling single, Learn To Live, that is an impressive piece of work, particularly live.
The rest of the set drew on newer material that has a more indie blues vibe with hints of 70s rock thrown in. Highlights of this include lead track from the Taghazout EP, Control Yourself, and the set closer that saw the band let loose somewhat and play with a real passion and conviction.
Elsewhere, though the songs and playing was certainly all good, a combination of distant delivery, repeated pleas for the growing audience to dance and lengthy breaks between tracks, sapped the set of the energy it really needed.
As the Robert J. Hunter band took to the stage, the now reasonable (if not huge) audience came forward and it was clear who they’d come to see, and thankfully the band didn’t disappoint.
From the off they played with a real power and vitality that has, if anything, grown even more since I last saw them combining great playing and some cracking songs with a real sense of performance and some snappy outfits.
While James Le Huray and Greg Sheffield (on bass and drums respectively) certainly play and perform well, Hunter himself has really come into his own as a frontman, aping the likes of Wilko Johnson with his moves, while his voice is better than ever and his playing is just flat-out impressive.
Across the set the band’s songs had a real dynamic so there were rhythm and blues stompers, ballads, funk and some really deep and dark stuff on offer that kept the crowd interested and involved throughout and packed to the front by the end.
Rounding off the set with a storming encore and with the crowd still calling for more if this turns out to be the band’s only performance in the islands this year (as they suggested it might) it was certainly one worth seeing and demonstrated their continued growth that surely is going to be hard to ignore as they continue to spread their wings.