In recent years at least, mid-week in Guernsey has, when it comes to music, largely been reserved for more low-key events like acoustic showcases or open mic nights.
So, when St James announced a show with Newcastle’s Baghdaddies along with perennial party starters The Recks and relative newcomers The Cor Damme Lars, it certainly felt like something different, but a good continuation of the work being done to make the island’s main concert hall a more varied venue, following a recent appearance by The Mouse Outfit and the Sound At St James music festival.
The Cor Damme Lars kicked things off and, with their new rhythm section now firmly installed, sounded tighter and bigger than ever as they delivered a set of mid-European influenced folk with hints of ska and more thrown in.
The band seemed more comfortable and playful on stage than ever and this enthusiastic energy was infectious and I couldn’t help but think that once their songs become a little more well-known they’ll have a room a like this jumping with ease.
The highlight of their set tonight came wing their second track Endless Days, but the whole thing was hugely enjoyable and, I’m not ashamed to admit, after a bit of a struggle I think I finally ‘get’ what they are doing.
Still riding a wave of momentum that began over the summer with a performance at Latitude festival and the release of their debut album, and having recently played at and attended BBC Introducing Live, this marked something of a moment for The Recks as it was their last show with bass player Nathan Le Forestier who has been a part of the band for a little over two years.
As we’ve come to expect the psychedelic folk five-piece delivered a tight and slick set of their now hugely popular favourites, from well-known singles Lovers In The Night and Train Wreck to newer numbers She Ain’t No Revelator and Parisian Stupor and all went down very well with the crowd.
Despite this something of their usual energy seemed to be missing here.
I suspect this might be down to the fact that, being a midweek show, the Guernsey audience weren’t as ‘up for it’ as they are on a Friday or Saturday and the flow of energy between the dance floor and the band that usually feeds their performance wasn’t as strong as usual while it was also the Sark originated five piece who suffered most from the venues sometimes challenging acoustics
None-the-less they did their best to keep the energy up and this was far from a failure in that regard, it just slightly lacked the usual power that The Recks reputation promises.
That wasn’t an issue that faced Geordie quintet the Baghdaddies who got the audience down the front and dancing from the off and instantly seemed to have a link with the crowd despite not really being known to the majority of them.
With a mix of Balkan, Latin and folk sounds with hints of jazz and ska, along with a strong streak of eccentric British humour, they were undeniably infectious and above all great fun.
As the set went on they got a conga going around the hall and armed with an array of brass (including a sousaphone!) headed out into the audience for the first, but not the last, time.
Later in the set a couple of tracks suggested the band have a nicely subversive undercurrent but never so much as to undercut the sheer exuberance.
This all led to them getting called back for an encore that saw them head back out into the audience before a final encore back on stage which all went down a storm.
While it might be somewhat uncommon in the island, the combination of lively music made for a great midweek night out that almost made you forget it wasn’t the weekend and once again St James showed a different side of itself as a venue.