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LibRock 2017 – Albert Pier, St Peter Port – 09/05/17

The Recks

The Recks

Once again live music was at the core of the Liberation Day celebrations for 2017.

As well as events all over the island the ‘official’ part came with Centre Stage Guernsey’s LibRock 2017 on the Albert Pier on the St Peter Port seafront with music from The Devotees, The Recks, Clameur De Haro, The Silverados, Problematic and Unclassified.

My review of the show was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 13th May, you can read it below with an extended version underneath that, and you can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

Liberation Day press cutting 13/05/17

Full Review

The Devotees

The Devotees

Liberation Day has changed.

I remember a day of the St. Peter Port seafront being packed with people, plenty for everyone to do (yes including the controversial ‘fun’ fair) and a real atmosphere and feeling that ‘everyone was here’.

As I made my way along the seafront from North Beach this year though this was not the case. All there seemed to be as an ‘attraction’ were a series of stalls selling locally made gifts and novelties, most of which you can see any given Sunday in the same place over the summer.

Unclassified

Unclassified

Thankfully though something else existed behind this celebration of arts and crafts mediocrity – on the arm of the Albert Pier there was the chance of something genuinely celebratory…

As with last year Centre Stage kicked off their LibRock event with a pair of younger bands.

Unclassified were making their first foray into the world of big public performances and, with their harmonies and varied instrumentation gained the attention of those gathering on the pier.

Though it seemed a little masked by nerves, singer Louise Madden had a good sense of stage presence that grew as the set went on ending on a high point medley of songs including Blondie’s Call Me and Queen’s We Will Rock You.

Problematic

Problematic

Still young but more experienced, Problematic continue to come on in leaps and bounds and demonstrated that again.

Frontman and bass player Harvey Falla showed a nice streak of presence and performance which was excellently counterpointed by guitarist Harvey Page looking aloof and cool behind his shades, in just the way a teen rock ‘n’ roller should.

With original songs standing up along side covers of the likes of Slaves and Royal Blood the trio made a big sound with some great raucous moments and hints of real power.

The rock n roll continued, in a slightly different vein, with The Silverados slick, fun, rockabilly-pop.

Monty McMonagle of The Silverados

Monty of The Silverados

While they took a couple of songs to warm up (both literally and figuratively I imagine given the north-east wind) they were soon rolling along well and started to get the first few memebers of the crowd dancing.

Their best moments came with excellently reworked versions of Eurythmics Sweet Dreams and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars before climaxing with The Stray Cats Rumble In Brighton which always suits a sunny seaside show (though I didn’t see any actual rumbling tonight) and as ever guitarist Monty McMonagle’s was a twang-tastic highlight.

With the beer tent finally open and the crowd starting to ‘warm up’ a little, Clameur De Haro brought their eccentric brand of hillbilly rock to the stage.

It didn’t take long for the growing crowd to start filling the space in front of the stage and for more to get dancing, with many singing along not only to the classic rock covers from the likes of Queen, Black Sabbath and Van Halen, but the band’s own songs too which they seem to have custom-built for a fun and rowdy singalong.

Bob and Rich Klein of Clameur De Haro

Bob and Rich of Clameur De Haro

Clameur De Haro are perfect for a day like this and, in their own slightly ramshackle way, provided one of the two highlight sets.

Since their return at the end of last year The Recks had struggled somewhat to rediscover what I can only describe as their ‘mojo’ but tonight, following an outing at the Reasons festival in Jersey a couple of weekend’s ago, it was all back.

The five piece meandered their way through their set of typically ‘schizophrenic psychedelic’ sounds that spanned everything from indie rock to latin rhythms.

Lovers In The Night started it out and got the audience dancing and singing and that only grew more as they played through both well-known songs like recent single Low Life and In The Garden and brand new songs She Ain’t No Revelator and Parisian Stupor.

Richey Powers of The Recks

Richey Powers of The Recks

The new songs managed to catch the imagination right away with Parisian Stupor bringing those latin rhythms to the fore in a way that at once sounded like one of guitarist/banjo player Gregory Harrison’s solo songs and a Recks song rolled into one in the best of ways.

While the cold weather may have removed a bit of the sweaty, visceral thrill The Recks have often brought to The Fermain Tavern, they reached a crescendo with Train Wreck, Valentine and Lights re-staking their claim as one of the best bands the islands have to offer.

After the traditional fireworks veteran favourites The Devotees hit the stage with a bang!

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Chris Dean of The Devotees

Unfortunately the bang was one of the stage amps blowing a fuse, but, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing from the crew (who did a great job all day), things were soon back up and running and Chris Dean and his band treated us to a rousing set of songs spanning from The Who to Pulp and back again.

For the crowd who stayed out braving the cold it may as well have been a festival as they jumped around and sang along with glee.

For the final salvo the band were joined on stage by Sons of the Desert’s brass section for some expanded tracks including a great take on The Who’s 5:15 from Quadrophenia, Chelsea Dagger and Parklife while The Jam’s Town Called Malice brought Liberation Day 2017 to an upbeat close that almost made you forget the disappointment of the rest of the official ‘celebrations’.

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Chris Dean’s swansong packs out the Tav and interview in Gallery magazine

Tempus at The Fermain Tavern by Tom Girard (C) BBC Guernsey

I was at the gig on the 27th and wrote the following review, as well as getting photos for BBC Guernsey Introducing (which you can see here). In the week after I spoke to Chris Dean for Gallery Magazine which you can read online here (pages 108 and 109) or following the review:

In a ‘career’ on Guernsey’s music scene spanning almost 40 years Chris Dean has come to be regarded by many as one of the best frontmen and performers on the island, so, it’s not surprising that his pair of ‘retirement’ gigs at The Fermain Tavern were sold out weeks in advance.

If I’m honest I didn’t really know what to expect from the night as I arrived at the Tav. Sure I’d enjoyed the performances I’d seen from The Devotees in the past and I was aware of Chris’s history in local bands, but could one man fronting the whole night and two bands who hadn’t played together in well over 20 years really pull off a fully entertaining evening?

Well I needn’t have worried because by Tempus’ second song, a storming rendition of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Don’t Believe A Word’, the bar was set high and it never faltered across more three hours of music.

Tempus, consisting of Chris on lead vox and rhythm guitar flanked by Jim Delbridge on bass, the ever-present Savs Russo on drums and Geoff Le Friec on lead guitar, were Chris’s first band back in the mid 70s and tonight they delivered a storming set of 70s rock featuring the likes of the aforementioned Thin Lizzy, Bad Company and Smokie.

Between the songs Chris shared stories of the band’s exploits, including gigs at many venues which no longer exist on the island, from Delancey Hotel to The Hermitage, and gave us a little bit of history of the players – most impressively that this was Geoff’s first gig in more than 30 years!

The history lesson continued next as Chris’ first band to play all original material, The Pulse, took to the stage, accompanied by “The Blue Vein Shuffle” brass section. This band comprised Chris, Jim and Savs once again, along with Nick Creed on keyboards completing The Pulse’s particularly 80s sound.

Despite the fact they clearly came from the 1980s The Pulse’s “punk-funk and speed-soul” sounded surprisingly fresh, maybe this is down to the 80s revival movement of a couple of years ago which was strongly influenced by similar sounds?

Either way The Pulse were brilliantly entertaining tonight with Chris switching from guitar to bass to keyboards for a few songs and he, Jim and Nick all sharing the space at the front of the stage and proving themselves consummate entertainers.

Once again between songs Chris gave us a bit of the story of the band, but never so much as to break the pace of the set and with the level of good will in the packed venue I got the impression the crowd would have been content listening to these stories all night.

By the time The Pulse left the stage they had drawn a few of the more eager members of the crowd forward to dance and this trend was only going to continue as the night went on.

Between the bands the sounds continued with DJ SilverVespa who’s mix of 60s soul and funk sounds and 80s new wave kept many dancers on the floor while the night’s headliners, The Devotees, set themselves up on stage.

Once The Devotees took to the stage it didn’t take long for the lower area of the Tavern to fill up with moving bodies as the band launched into their now well-known, and clearly much-loved, set of power pop indie rock.

Once again backed by Savs on the drums, Chris was now joined onstage by Alan Foss on bass and Colin Leach on guitar for a set which took in everything from The Faces and The Who to Pulp and Kings of Leon and kept the crowd dancing for over an hour.

The Devotees at the Fermain Tavern by Tom Girard (C) BBC Guernsey

The night’s one misstep, in my opinion, came towards the end of The Devotees set as they wheeled out Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire, but that’s one song I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of.

With ten years together under their belt The Devotees’ tightness and confidence together on stage really shone through and as they ended their encore on a rendition of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ the crowd continued to clamor for more.

Those in attendance on the second night would get more, but for the last time, before a remarkable career in local music, which included many bands beyond the three who took to the stage here, came to an end.

As always with musical retirements there was already talk of when the reunion of any of these bands might occur, with some predicting it would be before the end of the year, but, whether that happens or not, this weekend will remain a special one for many people in music in Guernsey and, historically significant or not, what it really came down to was that it was a great gig in a packed venue and a lot of people had a really good time.

Interview with Chris about his career in Gallery Magazine’s Organic issue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos by francis5018 on YouTube and photos belong to BBC Guernsey but were taken by me.

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