The late May bank holiday weekend last year was one that saw Leeds band Eureka Machines play to a small crowd at The Fermain Tavern and, unfortunately, this year saw another small audience for three Guernsey acts, in this case based (loosely) around blues.
Ramblin’ Nick Mann started things off in his usual lo-fi, DIY blues kind of way. Balancing the sound of his homemade guitar is often a challenge and it was clear the soundman was having a bit of trouble with that here, but that didn’t really spoil things as the Ramblin’ one’s performance is as much about the complete product as the individual songs.
Added to his repertoire tonight was some fuzz noises which lifted some passages of the music adding a nice extra variety (though not helping with the sound balance) and a few new songs including a nicely sparse and atmospheric one a bout a ship wreck.
With one audience member describing the sounds as something like a country Frank Zappa the set went down well with the small audience.
After a number of years together The OK continued to be the island’s primary self-reviewing band by living up their name. While their performance still feels a bit stilted and frontman Joe comes across as surprisingly uncomfortable on stage despite many shows its clear all four are having a good time, as were their small crop of fans.
Their choice of songs remains a bit hit and miss – I don’t think I’m ever going to warm to The OK’s take on Electric Six’s Gay Bar – but they had a few highlight moments with Free’s Wishing Well and Andrew WK’s Party Hard which is always good fun and seems up to sum up the energy the band are after, even if they didn’t quite get there tonight.
With a few more arriving (seemingly having recovered from the previous night’s end of school prom) The Elliot Falla Trio (often oddly abbreviated to The EF Trio) took to the stage and proceeded to groove their way through a set of loosely bluesy rock.
Falla himself comes across something like Robert J. Hunter did a few years ago, but with a slightly less intense vibe to his mannerisms and more of a pop sensibility to the music, though he’s still got somewhere to go on the stagecraft side of things as the quiet bits between the songs showed. He was accompanied by a rhythm section (Elizabeth Beacom on drums and Ben Roussel on bass) who bring a nice swing to the sound adding a jazzy element to the bluesy sounds, but more than capable of rocking when necessary.
Along with a selection of original songs that have a real strength to them, particularly coming from such a young writer (not wishing to be patronising), some of which were showcased on Falla’s EP of last year, the trio also included a selection of covers to which they’d added their own twist. Notable among them were versions of TLC’s No Scrubs, Busted’s Year 3000 and a smoothly jazzy Valerie.
With set closer, and probably Falla’s best original to date, You’re All Gone, getting a few dancing in the shadows an encore was called for and delivered in the form of reprise of folk number Wagon Wheel all of which went down very well and rounded the slightly musically all over the place night well, marking The EF Trio as ones to watch going forward, though I have a feeling university commitments may see the band dissolve at the end of the summer.