To say there was a sense of anticipation and expectation at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday night would be an understatement as, for the second time (by their own admission, you can find out about that first launch show here), The Recks were staging a special show to launch their long-awaited debut album, The Beast From The Sea.
With the venue decorated with snippets of the band’s lyrics and the surreal illustrations from their video for Lovers In The Night the place was already busy as The Honest Crooks kicked off proceedings.
The four-piece ska outfit were at the top of their game from the start and, by the time they launched into a cover of Gentlemen’s Dub Club’s High Grade mid-set they had the audience warmed up too.
While they added a new cover of Reel Big Fish’s version of Take On Me to the set other highlights were all their own and, with their slightly scrappy nature being an asset in creating a fun atmosphere, they feel on the verge of doing great things on the island’s scene.
Having played not just the original so-called album launch with The Recks but numerous other shows, including the previous weekend’s trip to Sark, Lord Vapour have a long running association with the headliners, so it was no surprise the audience was up for their heavy, groovy sounds, filling the dancefloor from the start (if not actually dancing much, it’s not really that kind of sound).
When the trio locked in with one another, which happened more often than not, they become one of the highlights of music in Guernsey with all three bringing something different to the performance.
Most impressive for me here was bass player and lead vocalist Joe Le Long who’s presence grows more commanding with each outing.
Their raft of new songs continued to impress as well, particularly their closing epic that brought to mind Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan before going off in its own directions through the psychedelic stars.
If I had one criticism of Lord Vapour’s performance here it would be that they didn’t seem to know what to do between songs starting a trend that sadly continued into The Recks set of guitarist Henry Fears shouting obnoxiously, and often unintelligibly, into the microphone somewhat spoiling the vibe created by the music.
Between the bands, music came from DJ Oneofakind who, as usual, provided a choice selection of suitably groovy vintage sounds in keeping with the atmosphere of the night. It was however a bit of a shame he didn’t get the chance for an extended session with a warmed up crowd due to the timings of the bands.
While the band seemed to take a couple of songs to fully get into their stride once they did they were as good as ever, even playing songs less often heard live these days and slightly different versions of longstanding live favourites (for the record though I prefer the newer extended version of Lights to the album cut).
As the set went on though something strange seemed to happen… while the band did what they do so well, and most of those at the front were eating it up, as soon as you got a few rows back in the venue the atmosphere shifted.
From what I could tell, this section of the audience would have been just as happy, and aware of what was going on, if The Recks had just put the album on and, when they were paying attention to the band, it seemed to have the feel of watching a curiosity rather than any actual engagement with the performance or the music.
Maybe this was just my interpretation of things but this strange atmosphere spoiled the night somewhat and seemed to spread as The Recks’ set went on.
With the set closing on ‘secret track’ Porcupine, featuring Lord Vapour’s Henry Fears guesting on guitar The Recks’ encore consisted of their newer material.
It was here the highlights came for me but, with the whole set over running and ending with a stage invasion, it seemed by that point the crowd were more in it to make their own fun than genuinely revel in the energy provided by the band, leaving a good performance and night of music on a strange note.
Ultimately though maybe this is what suits that most enigmatic of bands that The Recks are, where you never know quite what might happen, and fits with the release of a debut album with nigh on half a decade of anticipation behind it.