June. It's bloody June already. Glastonbury month (not that I'm going this year). Speaking of which, did you know that you could go to almost every 444 club gig for a whole year for the price of getting pissed on in a field? No? Well you do now. Banishing any more talk of being pissed on in fields (or anywhere for that matter) let's get on with the show. First up Laredo. It's always tricky coming on first and, being a semi-outdoors kinda venue, it was still 'daylight' when they started playing. But they put their heart and soul into it, spinning out a fine Pearl Jam/Foo Fighters tinged set of rock gritty rock. Lead Laredo, Rush, has an earthy voice perfectly suited to the material and the whole band seemed to gel really well on stage. Take a listen to Hexen on their My Space thingy for a good idea of their sound.
Next up Rase. At first I was a little confused by them. They play a lighter form of rock with more introspective, socially aware lyrics than perhaps you'd expect from a band of this type (just listen to Fingers Burnt for example). Actually it made quite a refreshing change. Lead Rase, Dan, has strong, emotive voice and sitting there nursing my vodka and coke I thought I could see him doing the whole singer/songwriter thing. Lo and behold I've just discovered (who says I don't do my reaserch) that he's a solo artist in his own right too. Check him out here. The meeting of the two - singer/songwriter and rock band - works well, with Dan capable of adding a touch of menace to his voice on some of the harder tracks. Some rather impressive guitar solos in there too.
Band number three, All Your Peers. I've seen this lot before. They've got one of the catchiest riffs in rock (the slighty Arabian bit in their standout track All Fours...I can see John Lydon covering this track for some reason). There's a strong new wavey element to All Your Peers (evident on tracks like Don't Look Down), shades of Joe Jackson in places perhaps? Good stuff. They seemed to pull the biggest crowd of the night too so they're clearly winning a strong, loyal fanbase.
Last, but by no means...oh you get it...This Love Affair. Their influences are clear (U2 and The Police just leap out at you), but, and this is a big but, they actually pull it off really well. In fact, shut your eyes and you can imagine 30,000 people in ruddy great arena bouncing up and down and singing every word. Just listen to Brothers and Sisters. It's a pure U2 anthemic rock classic. This ain't a criticism by the way. All bands have influences. It's how well you use them that counts and This Love Affair use them quite brilliantly. I'd seen them before a while back and a number of tracks had lodged firmly in the nether regions of my brain. She's My Enemy in particular stood out (a fine use of the words 'effigy', 'key' and 'geography'), but pretty much every track has that certain something. It seems that they have a couple of gigs in the 'smoke' coming up, let's hope the A&R bods are listening...