Tag Archives: rock ‘n’ roll

A Stray Cat Struts: My Life as a Rockabilly Rebel by Slim Jim Phantom

A Stray Cat Struts by Slim Jim PhantomWhen I look at musical biographies I’ve read in the past, from Laura Jane Grace to Tony Iommi to Ginger Wildheart to Frank Turner amongst others, it’s fairly obvious that most have focussed on frontmen or band leaders.

This seems to be a fairly standard trend so, coming to the autobiography of Slim Jim Phantom, most famously the drummer from The Stray Cats, I expected something a bit different, and that’s just what I got.

From the start Phantom makes it clear that his book won’t be a mudslinging ‘needless to say I got the last laugh’ type affair but a look at the positives that his life as a rockabilly musician of note has brought him.

That isn’t to say that it’s all saccharine sweet though as he and his various band members go through their share of problems but, for the most part, Slim Jim finds the good in all the situations, one way or another.

With this approach he makes it clear early on that he won’t engage with the potential fallout of the split of The Stray Cats, so when that comes it’s not a surprise (though later he sheds a little light on the relationships between himself and fellow Cats, Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker).

The Stray Cats

The Stray Cats

Up to the split of that band the book moves in, largely, chronological order tracing Phantom’s life from Massapequa, Long Island, New York to London where the Cats first found fame, through meetings and tours with The Rolling Stones and the kind of encounters and happenings that are genuinely amazing to hear given the speed with which they occur following the trio’s arrival in the UK.

In this we begin to meet some of Slim Jim’s ‘true pals’ who become a major feature of many of the stories and many are household names from the world of rock ‘n’ roll. While this could easily feel like name dropping par excellence, it actually comes across as if our humble narrator is as surprised by many of these encounters and friendships as we might be, including his marriage in the mid-1980s to Britt Ekland!

As the book goes on the stories focus more on specific subjects so there are chapters on Lemmy, ‘The Killer’ Jerry Lee Lewis, George Harrison and other rock ‘n’ roll heroes as well as Phantom’s endeavours in film acting, nightclub ownership and life on and around the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

HeadCat and Jerry Lee Lewis

HeadCat and Jerry Lee Lewis

Through all of these what makes the book so engaging is the manner in which Phantom writes. It’s as if he is telling you these stories one-to-one, and his enthusiasm for his music and extraordinary comes through strongly in every passage regardless of what he’s recounting.

As the book goes on he becomes more reflective as his hard partying days subside to watching game shows while on the phone with Harry Dean Stanton, spending time with his, evidently equally rock ‘n’ roll, son TJ and later charity mountaineering trips to Kilimanjaro and Everest.

Rockabilly music is never far away though and it’s clear this remains what makes his heart beat and its worth having YouTube handy to look up some of the Stray Cats performances he mentions just to revel in the same things he is.

Slim Jim Phantom up Kilimanjaro

Slim Jim Phantom up Kilimanjaro

What I think this accessibility and enthusiasm stems from is something he highlights and I’ve noticed in my own life that, in a majority of cases, drummers are the members of the band most happy to let down the facade of rock ‘n’ roll life, connect with others and generally are more open and sharing.

Using this Slim Jim lets us into his world in a far less self-conscious way than many other musicians making for a fascinating and easy read that may have a few rough edges tidied but feels honest and true in the way that the best things in rock ‘n’ roll should be.

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The Silverados – The Vault – 24/02/17

The Silverados

The Silverados

While I usually focus on bands playing original music in Guernsey, the island also has another side to its music scene, like most towns, with a vibrant set of cover bands playing in the pubs around the island.

These range from the likes of Stuck to the Ceiling and Day Release who emphasise the rock in their pop to Element 6 who are upbeat pop hits through and through and The Laird’s Chair who do their own traditional folk thing in the same spaces. Within this scene, comparatively recently formed four-piece The Silverados, have created their own rock ‘n’ roll flavoured niche.

Made up of four well-known faces from past bands, The Silverados are Susann Hatcher (vocals), Monty McMonagle (guitar), Dave Hatcher (bass and vocals) and Darran James (drums), so even before they started there was a certain expectation for those who know King Rat & The Soul Cats, The Johndoes, Nemesis and others.

Monty McMonagle of The Silverados

Monty McMonagle

Launching into a spot on version of Dick Dale’s Misirlou (or ‘the theme song to Pulp Fiction‘ to many) set the tone well as they delivered two hours of tunes with a strong rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly vibe to them.

A couple of Stray Cats numbers followed before things diverted and we were treated to covers as varied as Snow Patrol, Elle King and Soft Cell but all with the same rockabilly twang and rhythm shaking their way through.

Although The Vault wasn’t that busy a few made it onto the dancefloor and it was clear that though many present hadn’t seen the band before (myself included) we were all highly impressed.

As anyone who’s knows them might expect while all four members of the band put on a good show it was Monty’s guitar work that was the highlight. He absolutely nailed the rockabilly riffs of Brian Setzer and Dick Dale on his Gretsch guitar and expertly converted the sounds of the poppier tracks into swinging blues and rock ‘n’ roll tones that made them sound like they’d always been played that way.

The Silverados

The Silverados

After a short break The Silverados second set took a similar format, this time starting with The Surfaris’ Wipeout before a few more Stray Cats tracks. This set had something of a looser feel to it as we got versions of Aerosmith, The Eurythmics and The Beastie Boys songs amongst others.

Closing on a reprise of Misirlou ended things on a high and, while this band certainly deserve a bigger and more energetic audience than the one they had tonight, they bring something different to Guernsey’s cover band scene that has potential to do that now rare thing of crossing over with some of the bands playing their own stuff on the island – and this will only be developed when Dave gets into the swing on his double bass!

Silverados press clipping 04-03-17

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Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons – Dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons - Dirty Rock 'n' RollIf you asked a cartoonist to draw a punky, rock n roll trio there’s a fair chance that, in the best of ways, they’d come up with something thing like Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons.

Fronted by the enigmatic human-cat girl Puss, with be-quiffed greaser Dirty Jake on guitar and old school rocker Filfy Antz on drums, before you even press play on the newly released digital edition of their Dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll album on Dirty Water Records, they are captivating.

From opener Burying The Bodies all the tropes of Cramps style proto-psychobilly are present with a definite taste for the macabre running across the record while Jake’s guitars, as they do live, combine low-end rumbling rhythms with classic rock n roll lead, with a bit of slide thrown in for good measure to create something very much of his own.

As the record rolls on things vary with Puss’ lyrics bringing up everything from adolescent romance (of a sort) to antidepressants to the kind of less glamorous ladies that prowl British town centres of a weekend on the appropriately titled and raging album closer, Hideous.

pussycat and the dirty johnsons

Antz, Puss and Jake

Throughout Puss’s vocals combine aspects of Johnny Rotten, Poly Styrene and Little Richard. Much like Jake’s guitar this makes for something all her own that more than stands up without her on stage antics, while still evoking her feline side.

As well as the core trio two tracks on the album also feature the double bass work of Phil Polecat, while not essential thanks to Jake’s unique guitar style they do make for the stand out tracks on the record in ‘lead single’ Get Outta My Face and Dirty L’il Dog, though Mirtazapine and the opening trio of Burying The Bodies, Hell Bent and Living With  Mum And Dad all come a close second.

While Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons are undeniably a band with a strong visual style, Dirty Rock ‘N’ Roll shows that they more than hold their own when that’s removed and their mix of punk and rock ‘n’ roll is allowed to speak for itself.

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Tiger Army and Nervous Twitch – Sound Control, Manchester – 19/11/16

Tiger Army at Sound Control

Tiger Army

Heading to a new venue is always interesting and Sound Control in Manchester is one I had no prior knowledge of before heading north. From the outside it looked suitably like many other venues; dark, with a group of rocker looking types heading inside and somehow off the beaten path despite being right next to a main street.

Inside things continued well with a main live room upstairs with room for around 300 people all of whom must have had at least a decent view and a stage big enough to be something but without creating too much separation between the crowd and the band – spot on for a gig like this.

Before the night’s headliners hit the stage a last-minute addition to the bill came in the form of Leed’s trio Nervous Twitch. Made up of Erin Van Rumble (bass and vocals), Jay Churchley (guitar) and Ashley Goodall (drums and backing vocals) they set the tone right away with a mix of poppy punk with surfy guitars and hints of bubblegum and 60s pop echoing The Runaways, The Ramones and The Undertones with suggestions of The B-52s thrown in.

Erin Van Rumble of Nervous Twitch

Erin Van Rumble

While they came across as a bit nervous at first Van Rumble was soon throwing shapes with her Danelectro Longhorn bass while Churchley’s understated stage presence was more than made up for by some top-notch, reverb heavy, guitar work.

A highlight came with an instrumental surfy number, though elsewhere Van Rumble’s vocals were excellently balanced between sweet pop and biting punk. With this Nervous Twitch more than held the crowd’s attention and I’m sure won over some new fans – at the very least two in the form of me and my gig-going friend.

As a fine selection of choice rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly, psychobilly and garage weirdness (including songs from The Cramps and Screaming Lord Sutch) played through the in-house sound system there was a clear sense of anticipation for Tiger Army. Having not toured the UK in nearly a decade this was unsurprising and, despite having seen their 2015 Octoberflame show, I was equally as swept along, so, as the strains of Hank William’s Angel of Death emerged from the PA the mood was high, despite the melancholy tone of the intro tape.

Tiger Army at Sound Control

Tiger Army

After a customary live intro the band launched into Firefall from new album V… and never really looked back delivering a set spanning their entire career, quite impressively going right back to their first EP with Jungle Cat and their take on Eddie Cochran’s 20 Flight Rock which really getting the crowd going.

While the whole set was well delivered it was clear that there are some songs which the audience really connected with, so the likes of Ghostfire, Cupid’s Victim, Pain and FTW were instant highlights (a nice touch was Nick 13’s subtle but telling intro to FTW).

As band leader Nick 13 (guitar and lead vocals) is a mesmerising presence; energetic and open throughout, connecting with the audience through an amazing pair of eyes and with a voice that has an immense power while rarely resorting to shouting, except when appropriate. With him drummer Mike Fasano was a dynamic powerhouse getting the spirit of punk rock mixed with rockabilly to a tee while Djordje Stijepovic’s upright bass work was truly excellent and the band as a whole gelled very well, particularly considering Tiger Army has often been a rotating cast around 13 they still felt like a cohesive unit.

Nick 13 of Tiger Army

Nick 13

While the ‘big songs’ went down well there were moments where the energy dipped, particularly on the slower tracks from V… but 13 worked the crowd excellently to overcome this as much as possible. The band’s sound has changed so much since their youthful rage fuelled songs the dynamic conflict was inevitable and, in a way, made the show allowing different aspects of all three members playing and personality to come out.

Rounding the main part of the set off on their anthem, Never Die, quickly had the audience calling them back up for an encore that culminated in an extended Sea Of Fire to a rapturous reception and closing out a show that, while not as instantly powerful as Octoberflame (how could it be?) was still excellent and a fine example of a band working together and with the audience to create something special and memorable.

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Tiger Army – V…-

Tiger Army V coverIn their near 20 years as a band Tiger Army have continually defied the generic stereotypes of their chosen style, while none the less continuing, in many ways, to be impossible to describe as anything but a psychobilly band.

While their first two albums certainly fell into this category the third and fourth began to stray and now, with V…- they have taken things yet another step beyond to create what could be a soundtrack to a film noir while packing in some great punk power as well.

As has become traditional the record (and I feel I certainly can call it that as it is available not only as CD and digital but also on vinyl with a great looking gatefold sleeve) begins with a short instrumental opening that merges into first track proper, Firefall, that shows while Nick 13 has evolved both his own and his bands sound punk rock ’n’ roll and pyschobilly is still a strong part of Tiger Army’s make up.

From there the album weaves in a vaguely laconic fashion through what feels like a dark night of rock ’n’ roll drenched in the Americana and 1950s obsessions of the band’s leader while maintaining the idea of this being created by a gang of Orange County vampires akin to antagonists of seminal 1980s movie The Lost Boys.

Tiger Army in 2016

Tiger Army in 2016

Lead single Prisoner of the Night (debuted at last year’s Octoberflame shows) sets a tone for the film noir-ish quality of what is to come and really this link between the sense of visuals and the music is something that defines the album throughout leading to something of a concept album feel – albeit nothing like the proggy self-indulgence that might suggest.

As well as the ever-present thrum and thwack of the double bass and Nick 13’s Gretsch guitars (both in overdriven and more melodic style) the album features a host of new sounds growing on the developments seen on 2008’s Music From Regions Beyond.

So we get pianos, strings, organs, pedal steel guitars and, possibly most notably, brass, that gives a slightly mariachi or Mexican feel to some of the songs and adding a western movie vibe to the noir.

While World Without The Moon and Devil Lurks On The Road are fairly typical of what we’re used to from Tiger Army, Dark And Lonely Night really highlights the 1950s sounds coming in the form of something that, in a different context, could be mistaken for being from an easy listening crooner and shows Nick 13 has grown into a confident singer and frontman from the howls and screams of the band’s early days.

Tiger Army live by Samantha Madnick

Tiger Army live by Samantha Madnick

Culminating with the feel of a south-west US sunrise on In The Morning Light, V…- completes what feels like a long hot night on a lower key note. After spanning everything you’d expect from Tiger Army and more the album shows a band confidently treading their own path regardless of what some other parts of their subculture may think of them to create a great record that continues to show extra levels listen after listen.

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The Electric Shakes – Stereotypical Girls

The Electric Shakes - Stereotypical GirlsThere are some bands for whom the expression ‘more of the same’ would be a bad thing, then there are bands like Motorhead, AC/DC and, you can add to that list, The Electric Shakes as they release the follow-up to their self-titled debut album, three track single, Stereotypical Girls.

Ok, so it’s not entirely true that it’s exactly more of the same but, much like the other bands mentioned above, The Electric Shakes deliver straight forward rock ‘n’ roll with their own spin, in this case a 60s garage vibe tinged with a 70s punk spirit.

Lead track Stereotypical Girls takes a knowing look at the sort of young ladies you see out on the town of a weekend and rings remarkably true. Really though, like all three tracks, what really makes the song is the driving garage rock that is full of groove and beat and I would defy anyone to not, at the very least, nod their head as it plays.

All three tracks are staples of the band’s live set but on record They Won’t Believe Us and Turn It Over Now do feel strongly like B-sides, though they keep the head nodding action going strong even if they are slightly less engaging than the opener.

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

Recorded by Ed Deegan at Gizzard Studios, his classic vintage style suits the band’s sound and manages to evoke the same styles as their music while capturing a hint of their live energy.

While Stereotypical Girls isn’t quite as strong a release as their debut it shows The Electric Shakes doing what they do best and if you even get a vague idea that this might be for you after a listen, I’d recommend catching the band live as that is where they really excel and you can hear these songs as they were meant to be.

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Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons, Thee Jenerators and The Phantom Cosmonaut – The Fermain Tavern – 27/02/16

Puss Johnson

Puss Johnson

After their annual Unplugged night kicked off the year the Vale Earth Fair Collective continued their 40th anniversary year with the return of one of the bands who highlighted their 2015 festival, Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons.

As well as the dirty rock ‘n’ roll three-piece the night featured Guernsey’s own garage godfathers, Thee Jenerators, with something a return to form set, while The Phantom Cosmonaut opened the show playing his first set since last summer’s Chaos weekend.

My review of the Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons and Thee Jenerators was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 5th March 2016 (and there was also a review of The Phantom Cosmonaut by Claire Menzies which you can see further down the page).

Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons and Thee Jenerators review scan - 05:03:16

and here’s that review of my alter-ego:

The Phantom Cosmonaut review scan - 05:03:16

And finally a taste of Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons in their latest video:

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Tiger Army – Prisoner of the Night

Tiger Army - Prisoner of the NightAs they approach their 20th anniversary, it could be said Tiger Army haven’t ever rushed at releasing new material with just four full-length albums in that time and their last, Music From Regions Beyond, coming in 2007. Since then the band have been quiet with occasional live shows and leader Nick 13 concentrating on his solo, country and western, side project.

Over Halloween weekend 2015 though the band, currently comprising 13 (guitar and vocals), James Meza (drums) and Djordje Stijepovic (bull fiddle/upright bass), made a live return with their Octoberflame VII shows including new song Prisoner of the Night and the announcement that a new album would be following in the New Year.

Stemming from the punk rock scene of California in the mid-90s the band have, over the years, worn their influences on their sleeve combining aspects of punk, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, goth pop and country to create (amidst some debate) their own form of psychobilly and Prisoner of the Night continues this trend.

With their trademark dark hued, but never miserablist, vibe clearly evident from the start the first thing that really strikes here is the addition to the mix of a piano/organ and trumpet that gives the song a bit more of a leaning towards the frontman’s country and early rock ‘n’ roll influences.

Nick 13 of Tiger Army (photo by Casey Curry)

Nick 13 of Tiger Army (photo by Casey Curry)

With this though 13’s Gretsch guitar maintains a suitable overdriven tone beneath and, while his Davey Havok like vocals seem long banished to the past, the more tuneful, reverb drenched voice gives the song a haunting quality.

A big part of the sound of psychobilly, and what really makes the argument for Tiger Army’s inclusion in the genre, comes from the rhythm section, and Meza and Stijepovic deliver in great fashion. Though somewhat muted in the retro-styled recording, Meza’s drums have the appropriate snap to keep the beat insistent and penetrating while the classic rockabilly slap of the Bull Fiddle Cat himself complete the package.

The chorus, as evidenced on its live debut, provides some great sing-along material while the remainder of the lyrics paint a particularly evocative picture that has a tone of film noir and vintage mystery to it, giving Prisoner of the Night an enigmatic quality that sums up a lot of the band’s spirit.

This all suggests that they have continued in the directions hinted at by Music From Regions Beyond and that not rushing into new material for the sake of it may have served them very well and bodes well for the upcoming fifth album to be released through their own LunaTone Records and Rise Records.

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Highly Suspect, Of Empires, Critics – The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch – 27/01/16

Highly Suspect, Of Empires, Critics - posterHeading out to The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch on a Wednesday night I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Despite having been to plenty of shows at bigger venues, from the Mean Fiddler (under the old Astoria) to the O2 arena, I had never been to a London pub gig.

Upon arriving I found a surprisingly authentic, old-fashioned looking pub, that despite the overly trendy looking clientele, looked like it had been there for decades (if not more) and it was instantly obvious the night’s live music would be taking place in a separate room upstairs.

Heading up the narrow old staircase I emerged into a dark room packed with, at a guess, just over a hundred people, stood watching and listening to Critics who were midway through their set. The London-based band, who are set to support Theory of a Deadman in the near future, delivered a selection of bass and groove driven pop-rock with a good layer of synth included.

Frontman, Lynn Paignton, displayed a friendly charisma in his performance that was confident but not over bearing while bass player Carl Warren delivered the grooves with an admirable cool, smoothness. This all combined into something the crowd in the busy venue really seemed to be enjoying.

Critics

Critics

As the bands switched over, not an easy task with the only way on and off the stage being off the front into the crowd, it was interesting to see many of the audience stay put, waiting expectantly for the next band to start, not something commonly seen at pub gigs in Guernsey where drawing the audience away from the bar is often a big challenge.

Having seen them many times on their home turf, I was interested to see Of Empires in front of a less familiar crowd, and it was clear from the start that this wasn’t phasing the four-piece at all as they launched into a set made up almost entirely of new material. The new songs continued the band’s development with their cool, slick, rock ‘n’ roll swagger now being matched entirely by the music.

Liam Bewey and George Le Page, as the engine room-like rhythm section, may have provided the power but much of the essence of what makes Of Empires sound came from Matthew Berry’s dexterous, reverb laden, vintage guitar sounds that bring to mind a slowed down version of classic rock ‘n’ roll mixed with something of The Doors and 60s counter-culture vibes.

Of Empires

Of Empires

As always their stage presence is focused and transmitted through frontman Jack Fletcher, who, despite the small stage had all the stances, shapes and poses you’d expect to see from someone like Bono in a stadium, but in this case all driven with a barely contained frantic feel that proved infectious.

While the audience’s response to Of Empires started positive but polite it grew as the set went on and by the time it came to middle-eight of Carla Jack had many singing back to him, ending the set on a high, suggesting this could be a band on the brink of taking the next step.

Despite the positive reception afforded the two opening acts it was clear, as the already busy and hot venue, filled up even more, that many had come out to see the headliners, Brooklyn three-piece, Highly Suspect.

From the start the trio came on with a soulful power in their mix of blues, garage and rock ‘n’ roll, tinged with the infectious energy of punk. Even though this marked their first appearance in London the crowd were clearly already familiar with the band and this gave guitarist/lead vocalist Johnny Stevens already positive stage presence an extra boost.

Highly Suspect

Highly Suspect

Stevens’ jagged and fractured punk-blues guitar brought to mind the likes of Jack White but with an extra speed and intensity which was nicely offset by Rich Meyer’s smooth, progressive bass lines all backed by the strong, thundering drums of Ryan Meyer that brought to mind Teaspoonriverneck’s Brett Stewart.

As the set went on Highly Suspect showed a real dynamic sense to their music with more traditional power trio blues (featuring a lead vocal turn from bassist Meyer) along with a semi-solo track from Stevens that showed a dark side within the band’s positive presence driving home their already honest and authentic feeling.

Having been unsure what to expect at the start of the night I headed back to the tube station having seen three good bands and two stand out performances and, while I assume not every pub gig in London is of such a high-caliber, it certainly was a good one to start of with.

See a few more photos from the show on Facebook

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The Graveltones, SugarSlam, Tadhg Daly and Chloe Le Page – The Fermain Tavern – 13/11/15

The Graveltones

The Graveltones

Friday 13th November 2015 will go down in history as a tragic day, and one that hit home to the international music community, following events at the Bataclan in Paris (and elsewhere around the city).

While that was happening though the music continued, and will continue, in many places and one such was The Fermain Tavern where (an admittedly slightly small) crowd had gathered to catch garage-blues two-piece The Graveltones along with Guernsey’s SugarSlam and Chloe Le Page and Jersey boys Tadhg Daly.

Chloe was first on stage with a set of acoustic pop with a bit of blues, a bit of country and a bit of rock thrown in to give it a nice edge. Following time gigging in the UK in recent months Chloe’s performance here had grown hugely in confidence with a more measured delivery allowing the real feeling to come through in her original songs – particularly Oblivion and Heartbreaker.

Chloe Le Page

Chloe Le Page

With a few covers to end some of her previous nerves clearly came back but she carried an acoustic take on AC/DC’s Highway To Hell well to finish Chloe delivered probably the best performance I’ve seen from her yet that was very well received by the audience.

After a slightly lengthy break (it transpired the frontman had misplaced his capo) Tadhg Daly and his band took to the stage. Being relatively regular visitors to the island each show has seen them develop and build their sound from a relaxed kind of acoustic driven alternative rock to, now, something much more grunge influenced. Within that here they still retained the relaxed and ‘loose’ personality they’ve always had, just with a much louder backing with Tadhg now armed with a Telecaster rather than an acoustic.

Tadhg Daly

Tadhg Daly

During the songs themselves though the band were musically tight and Tadhg displayed some great impassioned delivery of his vocals as well as really working his guitar while both he and guitarist Zach Pygott rode waves of feedback to create a kind of dark summer night grunge pop.

With a small audience who were largely new to the band, they went down well even if the crowd were largely happy to be curious observers rather than invested interactors, which at points seemed to frustrate Daly. But none the less it was a good set even if the loud sounds did lack a certain edge they seemed to be calling out for.

Following what all accounts suggest was a great return on Halloween, SugarSlam were back and loud here. Though the audience remained fairly low energy the band did their best with the atmosphere in the room with frontman Plumb really putting on a great show regardless as Brett Stewart’s manic drums powered things forward.

SugarSlam

SugarSlam

With a lot of new material, alongside songs from both their previous albums (Crank was a particular highlight for me), SugarSlam showed they aren’t resting on their previous work and are continually moving forward and appeared determined about that and just as full of piss and vinegar as ever.

Ending their set with Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, dedicated to the late Philthy Animal Taylor, SugarSlam played a set of grungey power pop designed to tear the house down, though they maybe only cracked the walls and smashed the windows tonight.

It was clear as soon as The Graveltones took to the stage that they were who everyone had come out to see as the dancefloor area was soon busy. Having gained a reputation in the Channel Islands following a couple of appearances at Jersey Live this was my first chance to catch them and, from the start, they came across like the bastard offspring of Heave and The Black Keys delivering sweaty, loud, energetic, glitchy, blues driven rock ‘n’ roll.

Both members of the band brought an unorthodox style to their performance. Jimmy O was seemingly one with his guitar as he writhed his body back and forth across the stage and howled into the mic. Meanwhile Mikey Sorbello thundered on the drums with an amazingly deft touch for such a huge sound and all delivered with a contrasting sense of serene contentment.

The Graveltones

The Graveltones

The first half of the set was all loud, over driven, blues rock that really connected with the audience who, though not up for moving around a lot, were clearly really into it, as the songs flowed one into the other like some kind of spiky disjointed yet perfectly formed stream of sonically abused consciousness.

For a time things took on a more boogie rock ‘n’ roll flavour before returning to the blues but, by this point, I have to admit my interest began to wane somewhat. The Graveltones may be the perfect band for a half hour festival set or in a packed and sweaty club, but tonight it just felt like they went on a little too long and as their set past the hour mark I began to wonder if they were nothing more than a fairly standard blues band with a relatively flimsy gimmick…

The Graveltones

Despite that their performance really couldn’t be faulted and in light of other events taking place as they blasted their music forth from guitars and amps and speakers and drums the duo summed up something of the strength, power and vitality of live music that must be celebrated and experienced now more than ever.

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