As storm Dennis began to give the island a battering Havoc Events took over The Fermain Tavern for the first time this year for a genuinely varied night of live music with The Crowband, Kings, Lifejacket and Terrible Stuntman.
While the storm (and no doubt other less obvious factors) seemed to be keeping people away The Crowband took to the stage at full strength and carried on regardless.
While they were, by their own admission, a little ragged in places and quite a lot of the set was, maybe, a little on the melancholy side to warm up an audience on a Saturday night, there was no denying that some of their songs are terrific.
Stand out moments tonight particularly came when ‘Fiddling Pixie’ Emma joined The Crowman on vocals with their voices working really well together and, while their selection of instruments is certainly unconventional in any field they sounded great together here.
New song Always Seeing Ghosts provided a highlight while closer Isambard Kingdom Brunel upped the energy somewhat even if the audience remained frustratingly (evidently for the band as well) distant.
As Kings took to the stage the audience did make their way closer to the stage and, as expected, the band put in their usual super tight performance, aside from a couple of issues with the backing tracks they utilise (to be clear backing tracks to augment the sound not the sort an act might mime along to).
While being technically as proficient as they come the first half of the set felt like something of a slog, never quite capturing the upbeat feel they display at their best.
Half way through the set though this changed as they played an older, more pop punk influenced, track before heading into Enemy that is a legit banger of a song and then a new one from their upcoming new EP that’s due out in March and was another great slice of powerful pop.
Their final song was derailed slightly by some more MacBook related issues but the energy they’d built up leading to meant it didn’t hamper things too much, but it did leave me wondering if their live shows, particularly at events like this, would be more satisfying if they stripped back the often problematic technical aspects thats sound great on record and went for a more straight forward approach.
Having last played at the Vale Earth Fair last summer Lifejacket were clearly raring to go as they took to the stage with a host of new material starting with a highlight from that last set, Pre Planned Heart Attack which started them off strong.
From there they mixed tracks from Let’s Get This Out Of Our System And Move On such as Soul Drain, Merrick and a slightly reworked version of Brains with new ones like Esoteric Love, Talk Torture Tell and the fabulously angular You Want More.
A highlight of the new material came with the slower and more classic indie feeling Antarctic Homesick Blues, but as a whole the performance was less raucous and more considered than they often have been in the past.
In part this allowed more of the complexity in the songs to come out, previously only heard in the recordings, while it made the aggressive moments stand out too, however there was also something of a feeling that the band were struggling with the lack of energy coming from the small audience which meant that while the new songs sounded good it wasn’t the level of performance the band have delivered at their best in the past.
With a few more audience members having made their way out of the woodwork the sonic assault that is Terrible Stuntman began.
This was only my second time seeing the band at full force, this time with Last Of The Light Brigade’s Tyler Edmonds filling in on bass, but once again it was clear, even through the sheer volume, that there’s a lot going on in their mix of indie rock and 90s grunge.
While the audience did keep their distance their heads did get nodding to Terrible Stuntman’s gritty, down and dirty take on the sound as frontman Bobby Battle, more measured than in past guises but still a force to be reckoned with, led the band while the guitar of Liam Bewey added the extra depth to the songs — building on the often bludgeoning force of Battle and drummer Dan Garnham’s past work in To The Woods.
It’s hard to avoid the fact that the small turn out did leave things feeling a little flat but Terrible Stuntman certainly did their utmost to close the night on a highpoint while the other three band’s also gave their all making for a musically great night, once again demonstrating just a small part of the range of sounds on offer in the island for those willing to seek it out.