Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bromheads / The Rebelbeats @ The Rainbow, Monday 15th April 2013

Way back in 2006 Bromheads (then trading as Bromheads Jacket) briefly flirted with fame and fortune thanks to a bit of a top 10 single (they provided the B side to The Streets’ When You Wasn’t Famous) and the odd comparison or two to fellow Sheffielders The Arctic Monkeys. A couple of albums followed, spawning some great singles of their own but, as is so often sadly the case, they just didn’t get the recognition or following they deserved. Resisting the temptation to...ahem...’jacket’ in following the loss of bassist Jono in 2010 the remaining duo, Tim and Dan, hunkered down and cranked out an impressive 12 singles in as many months, dropping the Jacket bit of their name  in recognition of their new leaner, meaner incarnation. Then things went quiet. Very quiet. For a good two years in fact the world was a Bromheads free zone. But, like some garage rock chrysalis, they were locked away somewhere, mutating, sprouting hair, growing wings...

First up though local boys and rock‘n’roll revivalists The RebelBeats. Firmly entrenched in the 50s they certainly look the part, all black leather, curled lips and Brylcreemed hair (all but one of them any way...maybe his leathers were being rewaxed or something). Despite being born four decades or so after the birth of rock‘n’roll they manage to capture some of that fizzing electricity that kicked the whole thing off too. Of course it can be fiendishly difficult to avoid turning this sort of material into some kind of musical themepark or karaoke bar crash but, as with most things in life, conviction’s the key and the band’s lead singer certainly attacks the songs with real balls, hollering and growling in all the right places. Impressive lead guitarist too.

Time then for Bromheads' return and just seconds in to opening track The Money (taken from new album Choro) it’s clear that the years away from touring and playing live haven’t been spent watching Bargain Hunt or reorganising their sock drawer. In fact rather than seeming rusty and outta shape...which would be entirely forgivable, after all it’s 5 years since their last major tour...they’re like a pair of wild alley cats suddenly released from a plastic Spar carrier bag (biodegradable, naturally). Dan attacks the drums with such pent up energy that bits fly off them whilst Tim cranks out dirrrrrrttty primal garage rock, spitting lyrics and howling like a macaque monkey on heat. It’s fucking glorious. Any lingering doubts that this is perhaps the last throw of the dice for one of indie’s also rans are instantly dismissed as they go on to breathe new life into old favourite Woolley Bridge, again rabidly attacking the thing with a passion. New single Gonna Let Them Melt slows the pace a little but not the energy. It’s a firecracker, fizzing gently at first as the fuse burns before exploding violently into life. Boom! Garage rock at its very best, raw and gutsy but with that unique British edge that the band bought to the table back in the day.

There’s plenty of between song banter and chat from Tim (now resembling a 70’s rocker rather than the more indie kid look of old) as the night progresses and his self deprecating sense of humour’s worth the price of a ticket alone. Ask him the story of his Gibson ’76 guitar if you get the chance. Sure, this isn’t the biggest venue they’ve played and it’s not a sell out, but screw that, the people that were here were loving every single second of it and that, ultimately, is what makes a great night.

The more reflective Poppy Bird (from 2006’s fine debut album Dits From The Commuter Belt) is lyrically worthy of Sir Billy Bragg whilst the urban meltdown of Trip To The Golden Arches (from the same vintage) is every bit as addictive 7 years on from its first outing. Ending with arguably their biggest track to date, a turbo charged blast through What If’s and Maybe’s, Tim uses the base drum to launch himself dangerously close to The Rainbow’s ceiling, a fitting final act perhaps for a band that – if there’s any justice in this big, bad old world – finally look set to reach the heights they truly deserve.  

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