It feels like an age since I last ventured up to The Fermain Tavern as, for a number of reasons, it seems bands have been focussing on shows in and around town more over the last few months (though the Tav is hardly a great distance out-of-town, but that’s a whole other discussion).
This event was a fundraiser for The Eleanor Foundation charity and, even from looking at the line up on paper, had the feeling of being two rather different gigs colliding headlong and that certainly carried over at the actual event.
With the Tav already getting busy early on the live music began with Nick Coleman.
Nick is probably a familiar face to many for regular appearances in the town pubs but this is the first time I remember seeing him at the Tav (though he has impressed at Guernsey Gigs Unplugged Club events in the past).
With a mix of original songs and covers it was clear that there’s an underlying heart to Nick’s performance, though tonight it never quite broke through. A part of this may we’ll be down to the fact that he was battling against the general hubbub of chat coming from the bar and the back of the room with only a dedicated few actually listening to the music.
Despite this he seemed unfazed and carried on regardless with an interesting version of Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out before the highlight of the set, a song that Nick introduced as being ‘about alcohol addiction’ that came the closest to revealing the heart and soul behind the usual solo acoustic singer songwriter stuff.
Standing out from the pack of the function and party ‘cover’ bands in Guernsey is no mean feat given the longevity and quality of some on the scene, but that’s what relative newcomers Episode2 have set out to, and based on this performance they are doing a decent job of it.
With a slightly different set list to many, drawing strongly on the music of the 90s along with a few other classics, it was certainly a playlist that would appeal to my generation rather than the often more dated material of others.
While the band are fine and nailed their chosen material well vocalist Jodie Webber was the highlight and did a great job of keeping the energy of the performance up before a few ventured onto the dancefloor and they brought their set to a close on a high.
It was after a brief speech from one of the foundation’s leaders about their work that the duality of the night became rather obvious as there was a noticeable shift in the audience on the dancefloor seemingly all but swapping with those hanging back as The Cor Damme Lars took to the stage.
Fresh from spending two weeks on and off in the studio (or bunker) recording their debut album, the klezmer inspired five piece were at once the tightest and most relaxed I’ve seen them.
While there were a few points where the sounds maybe got a little too same-y I’ll happily put this down to still finding the familiarity of their songs and, as the set went on, more got dancing to the undeniably infectious sounds highlighted by closing duo Balkan Beast and Whiskey Smile.
Now up to speed the, by my reckoning, fourth line up of the band wasted no time in showing that it was business as usual for their psychedelic indie folk as they got underway with Lovers In The Night featuring an added instrumental section to highlight their latest member.
Unsurprisingly Joe brings something of his Lord Vapour bass sound to the band adding a louder and thicker low-end to proceedings, along with some additional backing vocals, but clearly fitting into the overall vibe from the off.
An occasionally teased new track Red Rocking Chair was added to the set in a more complete and satisfying form, along with a further new number that brought out the band’s funkier side – something that, it’s no surprise, the onside ‘home venue’ crowd were loving.
There were a couple of moments where things seemed to get a little wobbly, and particularly past single Low Life seemed to lack its usual energy, but I’m sure that was a blip that will be remedied as the slightly altered line up beds in.
It was all highlighted but a final run of tracks that showed The Recks at their best mixing energy and groove on Trainwreck, She Ain’t No Revelator and seasonally suitable Valentine.
An encore was called for and granted with an epic rendition of Spanish Relations that seemed even more trippily groovy than usual (though it seems many will have to wait until The Recks’ next show for the song they really wanted to hear, Porcupine).
Despite the slight imbalance between the first and second halves of the night it presented a great cross-section of some of the island’s music, and I think introduced some new acts to everyone, while also having a great busy atmosphere which is always good to see at the Tav and hopefully this sees the venue revived following a quiet autumn and early winter.