Tag Archives: power-pop

The Sacred Hearts and SugarSlam – The Fermain Tavern – 11/03/17

The Sacred Hearts at The Fermain Tavern

The Sacred Hearts

After four years away early 1990s Guernsey music legends The Sacred Hearts made a rare appearance at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday 11th March 2017.

Alongside fellow 90s rockers SugarSlam the band were not only celebrating a major birthday for one of their number but also helped raise money for the Helping Jonah – Helping Others charity as something of a follow-up to last year’s Jonah Beats event.

My review of the show was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 18th March 2017 and you can read it below. You can also see a full gallery of my photos from the event on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Sacred Hearts and SugarSlam review 18-03-17

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Lifejacket, SugarSlam and Granite Wolf – The Fermain Tavern – 24/09/16

Granite Wolf

Granite Wolf

After a summer packed with festivals and outdoor music events around the islands live music headed back indoors on the last weekend of September 2016 as The Fermain Tavern kicked off its ‘Awesome Autumn’ with the first Sound Guernsey gig of the new school year for under-18s on the Friday and Lifejacket, SugarSlam and new band Granite Wolf on Saturday 24th.

Starting the season with a new band seemed particularly fitting and as soon as Granite Wolf hit the stage it was clear we were in for a treat. Comprised of former members of Brutus Stonefist, She Haunts The Roads and To The Woods there was a fair suspicion of what we could expect and no one was let done as the five-piece delivered a collection of punishing hardcore driven metal.

Granite Wolf’s short but intense set was perfect for the style of music that, if you’re not a fan, can be somewhat repetitive, though the grooves in the heaviness kept me engaged throughout.

James and Robert of Granite Wolf

James and Robert of Granite Wolf

While frontman Tom Domaille wasn’t quite as upfront as he was in his Brutus Stonefist days his voice was exactly we’ve come to expect while his brother Robert on bass and drummer Dan Garnham provided a visual focus as well as that groove. Mark Mercier and James Ogier on guitars delivered riff after riff in the manner that was always this troupe’s trademark in their past incarnations.

There may still be work to be done with the ‘performance’ aspect, but, for a debut outing, Granite Wolf put on a fine show and kicked off the night with a real blast in every sense.

After high-profile sets at Chaos and The Gathering the more intimate confines of The Fermain Tavern brought out a different aspect of SugarSlam with a more relaxed and fun feeling to their performance but all the while, of course, led by their excellently pitched grunge flavoured power-pop rock.

They kicked off their set in high gear and, despite a bit of a mid-set guitar problem, didn’t look back.

SugarSlam

SugarSlam

Drawing on a collection of songs that spans more than 20 years they all sounded fresh from the likes of Crank and Psychobabble from their mid-90s debut to State (released earlier this year), it all fell together seamlessly and the band were as tight as they come.

There was some brand new material in the set tonight as well, and mention of a new EP in the (hopefully) near future, and that fitted in just as well. SugarSlam certainly fall into the top bracket of bands gigging in Guernsey and certainly deserve a far bigger audience (though there was a decent crowd for them tonight).

Rounding off the set with crowd pleasing covers of Guns ’n’ Roses It’s So Easy and The Sacred Hearts Adorable (a song The Slams seem to have adopted) closed their already very good set on a high.

Lifejacket

Lifejacket

After more choice, if slightly incongruous, pop selections from DJ Vauvert Underground, Lifejacket took to the stage and delivered the most engaging and enthusiastic set I’ve seen from them in a while.

The band have spent the last few years slowly building a dedicated fan base and that was in evidence tonight as it was clear most in attendance were totally engaged giving the band a kind of cult flavour that fits well with their general demeanour.

With new twists on older songs and some brand new material alongside Andy Sauvage (guitar, vocals), John McCarthy (bass) and Claire Moxie (drums) had the sense of a band in the midst of an evolution taking the best of what’s come before and building on it.

Claire and John of Lifejacket

Claire and John of Lifejacket

While clearly still very much Lifejacket, the new songs added more dynamic to the set and alongside a frantically paced take of crowd favourite Brains made for a hugely satisfying experience that left the crowd calling for more.

As a way to kick off the new season at the Tav I would be hard pressed to find a better choice for Guernsey’s premier music venue celebrating three rather different but complimentary rock bands that highlight the diversity of new, live music available on the island.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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SugarSlam and The Crowman – De La Rue – 12/12/14

The Crowman, Mark Le Gallez, and Plumb of SugarSlam

The Crowman (Mark Le Gallez) and Plumb of SugarSlam

After the Chaos Christmas Party gig the weekend before SugarSlam continued the 2014 series of musical festive bashes as they took to the stage at the De La Rue in St Peter Port with support coming from The Crowman.

As well as the music the night saw Christmas crackers dished out to the assembled throng and, with tinsel and decorations adorning Brett Stewart’s drums, the holiday mood was set.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and my review was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 20th December 2014:

SugarSlam and The Crowman review scan - 20:12:14

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Ginger Wildheart – Albion (Pledge Edition)

Ginger Wildheart BandHaving released the Mutation double album, Hey!Hello! single album and touring with his own and Courtney Love’s bands in 2013 you might have thought that would be enough for anyone making music this year, well, two days before Christmas, Ginger Wildheart released Albion, the latest record released under his own name, and therefore the follow-up to 555%, through Pledgemusic.

Before I go any further my usual caveat on Ginger’s stuff that I am a long time fan and have pledged on this project so I guess that may add a bit of bias in my review, but, I have tried to look on this as evenly as I do any record (see my review of Mutation for proof that I don’t unconditionally love his entire oeuvre). Ginger Wildheart Band

So onto Albion (Pledge Edition) which, at 15 tracks, is five longer than the one that will eventually be released commercially. From the start this album is clearly the follow-up to 555% in every sense and, while it has elements that reflect Ginger’s other output, it is very much the next in the line that began, in full album terms, on Valor Del Corazon.

Albion starts off in typically schizophrenic power-pop/rock style and opener, Drive, had me singing along by the half way point with its catchy hooks which were abruptly thrown into a vicious contrast by the storming blast beats of Cambria.

Victoria Liedtke

Victoria Liedtke

Across the record its clear that, while the songs are all the product of Ginger’s mind, the rest of the band he has put together over the last few years have all had their own input and impact on the record.

This is most notable in the vocals of Victoria Liedtke (the other half of Hey!Hello!), that counterpoint the frontman’s own voice excellently, and Chris Catalyst who’s input has led to a few songs having a strong sense of his song writing in Eureka Machines, this being particularly noticeable on Burn This City Down and adds an extra dynamic to the album’s sound.

Chris Catalyst

Chris Catalyst

This band feel also comes across in the increased presence of the piano and organ on Albion and this adds a real rock ‘n’ roll feeling in places. The Wildhearts had, at times, shown a similar feel, but it is something often missing from modern records and this made me realise what a strong part of rock ‘n’ roll the piano can be.

Amongst the 15 tracks there are certainly a few highlights. First is Chill Motherfucker, Chill which, with the line “Sometimes you’re the shit, other times you’re the pan” shows Ginger still has a unique way with words that, out of context or in the wrong hands, could be laughable but somehow works in his songs. Other highlights are Body Parts, which is an upbeat track that is probably the closest the album comes to a lead single and Beat Goes On, which comes close behind.

Across Albion the production is the best on any Ginger Wildheart album so far and at times the sound is huge with the title track in particular sounding like it’s designed for stadiums, although its acoustic coda shows where the heart and soul of all these songs comes from.

Ginger Wildheart

Ginger Wildheart

As with all albums from Ginger there are tracks which, to some, might be overlong, but as a fan they never out stayed their welcome for me and, compared to all of Ginger’s other ‘solo’ albums, this stands above for being generally more controlled, in terms of song and album length, which I think can only be a good thing as it retains its complex moments but in a much more digestible form.

Along with that the album has a much more upbeat feel than many of Ginger’s others which sits better with the pop element of the sound, though that’s not to say there isn’t still an angry streak here which Capital Anxiety shows off in fine form.

In the end, I doubt Albion will win over many new fans, as he seems to be a polarizing musical force at times, but it is the strongest selection released under the Ginger Wildheart moniker to date and, if you like power-pop/rock type sounds I’d strongly advise you to give it a go.

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