Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dirty Rapture / Dale Tomkins / The Dirty Knecks / All The More @ The Actress & Bishop, Friday 28th August 2009

By a strange quirk of fate tonight’s gig coincided with the 3rd anniversary of The Hearing Aid. Yes, Bearwood’s number one music related website is 3 years old. Whooop! Yeah! Party time…oh, alright then, suit yourselves.

Fittingly, given the fact that one of the ‘aims’ (no, I know there’s no real point to this but I can pretend can’t I?) of the site is to ‘big up’ local bands, the Aid’s birthday coincides with one of the many local band showcases that go on in our fair city every week. Up and down the country there are loads of gigs like this. On the one hand they’re the breeding ground for a handful of our future stars and, on the other, they’re a chance for people who just love playing music to get up and do their thang. I’ve long since given up trying to predict the bands that will make it, the odds are so small and the influencing factors so random these days that it’s impossible to tell, but that’s not really the point is it? There are few things better than live music and I can guarantee that, unless you’re not really out to enjoy yourself, you’ll always find something worthwhile. Tonight’s voyage into the unknown (unusually for me I’d not seen any of the bands of the bill) kicked off in fine style with All The More. Cleverly fusing some classic rock sounds and vocals with a nu metal feel The More were also blessed with a bass player that fizzed (literally…I’m sure I saw him foaming at the mouth at one point) with energy. Bare footed and sporting a mess of blond hair flecked with bluey green he leapt around the stage, off the stage, up the walls, on the ceiling…I’m knackered just thinking about it. Bass players aside the band had some really good numbers including ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Remembering Jane’ plus a solid cover of the Foo Fighters classic ‘Everlong’. NB: For some reason I can’t find a MySpace page for them. Is there one? Answers on a postcard…

Next up The Dirty Knecks. Yes I know that’s knot how you spell ‘knecks’ but since when has rock n’roll been about spelling eh? Just cast your minds back to the golden days of Slade. Couldn’t spell a thing that lot and look where that got ‘em. Exactly. They too had a particularly impressive guitarist, this time it was the lead, who showed some Hendrix-esque flashes of brilliance…and you really can’t get better than that. The lead vocalist was hugely entertaining too. Imagine a cross between Jim Morrison and Keith Moon and you’ll get the picture. There was muchos rock posing and a strange kind of limbo dance sort of thing where he went back on his heels until his head was almost touching the floor. A couple of covers in the set, The Clash classic ‘London’s Calling’ and AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff’ will give you some idea of their sound. “I hope we entertained you” enquired Mr Morrison / Moon as he left the stage. Yes. Yes, you did. Job done. NB: Can’t find a MySpace page for them either but there is one for their previous incarnation as The Wild Ones featuring one of the picks of their set ‘Grind Stone Oppression’.

Penultimate act Dale Tomkins was up next. One man (joined a couple of times by another man) and his guitar. Strange billing for Dale amongst the rock bands and, putting him on after 10pm when the club downstairs was just getting into full swing, probably wasn’t the best setting for him. Nevertheless he put on an impressive showing, teasing a surprisingly powerful sound out of his guitar. Something in my head prompted me to tag Dale ‘Acoustic Emo’, which is a fair description as his voice and lyrics have that kind of feel. It neatly sets him apart from a lot of singer songwriters out there. The addition of another (unnamed) vocalist for a couple of tracks worked really well, his slightly softer voice acting as a nice counterpoint to Dale’s more powerful vocal dynamics. I particularly liked ‘New York’ and the NME baiting track featuring the chorus ‘Fuck you and your shitty magazine’ sung over and over again with increasing bile. Quite right. NME, once a glorious piece of music journalism, is now a tired comic obsessed with hyping anything and everything in a desperate attempt to create a new movement to sustain it for another year. Whilst it has no future I’m pretty sure Dale does.

Finally, headliners Dirty Rapture. Formed from the smouldering ashes of another band, Riot Night, this was Dirty Rapture’s maiden gig and it showcased a fine album’s worth of self penned songs. Following 12 months or so of rehearsals the set was as tight a band with loads of gigs under their belt and, if there were any nerves, they didn’t show. Whereas Riot Night took their starting point from the sound and style of Oasis, Dirty Rapture has a heavier rock edge taking in everything from The Rolling Stones to The Sex Pistols. The set was book-ended with two of their best tracks ‘The Last of The English Roses’ and ‘Shot In The Arm’ but in between were numerous highlights showing that they can do melody and emotion every bit as well as full on rock n’roll. ‘Sunrise’ (sung by Chris, one of the guitarists in the band) and ‘Don’t Let The World Get You Down’ in particular provided refreshing interludes. Whilst lead singer Will still embraces his inner Gallagher (ironically Oasis were just in the middle of splitting up during Dirty Rapture’s set) there’s a touch of Johnny Rotten in there too, hanging off the microphone and studying the crowd with a nonchalant glare. His voice is far stronger than in his Riot Night days too, evidence no doubt that both he and the rest of the band have really put the effort in behind the scenes. An impressive debut performance all round and, as the last track of their set put it, a real ‘Shot In The Arm’ for lovers of raw rock n’roll.

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