I bought the tickets as soon as I could for the venue closest to me, which happened to be The Cellars at Eastney (near Southsea)- a venue I hadn’t been to before, which is always nice, and was the first date of the tour proper (they had supported Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and The Zombies[!] in recent weeks).
The venue is a pub on the corner of a street of houses and is very much a traditional pub- a dying breed, I fear. Selling Ringwood at under £3 a pint was an added bonus. It also looked like a good crowd for a Wednesday night.
The first band were already on stage when we got there, pints purchased and a brief push through the crowd, and the pub opened out to a small stage in the corner, a small seating area, the merchandise area at the back leading out to the garden, which tonight was the bands back stage area.
The band on stage were Guilded Youth, a (I later discovered) local three piece. Fronted by two brothers, their naturally sounding harmonies, along with their self-penned songs- taking their lead from Britain’s heritage of 60’s inspired mod/soul sounds- led to a great, confident set- indeed lead singer Harry’s tongue-tied introductions sounded funny, not awkward. I wish the boys well, and hope to see them again soon. More info can be found here.
When the band had finished, off I wandered to the merchandising stall(?), a white 7″ had caught my eye. I had a chat with Adam (bass player of The Moons), following up our chat from the 100 Club gig in December. The 7″ was the first Moons single, released by Andy Crofts (head Moon) through an independent before they were signed by Acid Jazz. Adam offered to sign the record, which pleased me, he then got the rest of the band to sign. Then they signed Claire’s (my gig buddy) record. Then there was a flurry of people getting things signed. This interaction with a band that you get at smaller gigs is one of the things I love, it also means the band can generate a special loyalty from ‘the fans’, so it works both ways.
The next band to grace the stage were another local outfit called The Hype. Similarly young and a three piece, their influences were from the same stable as Guilded Youth’s, but with more of a ‘Mod’ centered feel- a bit more power in their delivery- think The Creation or The Action or even the mod revivalist sound of Secret Affair. Their attire was impeccable too- Button down shirts, blazer, tight jeans and Chelsea Boots. Largely playing their own material, they did, however, finish with a cover of The Beatles’ Come Together, delivered in their own style. A great end to an accomplished set. More of them here.
These two bands lead me to believe that there is something of a ‘mod’ scene in south Hampshire, so I may have to ‘venture West’ more often.
The third of the supports came from Night of Treason. Not as young as the previous bands, their material was influenced by the sounds with which they grew up through- late 70’s early 80’s punk/new wave/ two tone/ mod stuff. The hardest hitting of the bands tonight, they reminded me somewhat of Gang Of Four [although not quite as angular], but a fellow punter hit the nail on the head when he suggested 9 Below Zero, yes! That’s it, I thought- working lad rhythm and blues leaning toward punk- a slightly different feel to the first two bands- but clearly borrowing from the excellent British heritage of mod/soul/R’n’B- which although lacking from the hit parade, has an increasingly healthy presence on the live circuit- other bands to check out- Connett, The Sons, The Janice Graham Band, Illegal Notes and The Smokestax (born out of the break up of the excellent Shelta).
[PLEASE NOTE:- I’m not pigeonholing any of the above, it’s just the feeel they give me, so to speak…]
Within their set was a great cover of ‘Pressure Drop’- more The Specials than Toots and the Maytals, and again they made it their own.
The main event hadn’t yet happened, and I’d already had a great time!
How The Moons were going to fit on the small stage was something that had worried me all night- Thomas’ organ is quite big (fnarr, fnarr!), but not to worry, it all worked out fine- Adam on Bass was at the back next to Ben on drums- riddim seckshahn! James and Andy stage front, with Thomas middle stage, to the right (not politically, I don’t think).
Andy informed us that as it was the tour to promote the new album- there would be new stuff being played- furry muff.
They started with a new track- Forever Came Today, it wasn’t too far from the ‘Life On Earth’ stuff, but I guess that’s more to do with ‘The Moons’ sound that is stamped all over their material- it’s just so damn good!
The 15 track set was a great mixture of old and new, which was a relief, as I had the experience of The Wonderstuff playing new material at Reading back in ’89- and even though the stuff they were playing- which was released later in the year as ‘Hup!’- was all very good, people wanted to hear recognisable, old ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ material too.
This venue gets very hot- what it’s like in the summer I’d hate to guess. And this heat was causing Andy some concern with the performance of his guitar- a few side glances to James and mutterings (almost) under his breath confirmed he wasn’t too happy with the sound- guess what? it made no difference to the people listening, it all sounded fantastic. I think it kept going out of tune *shrugs* after pursuing with the guitar for a few tracks, Andy switched guitars to the familiar Rickenbacker.
The tracks which struck me as being the biggest diversion from the former album were the James Bagshaw written tracks ‘Double Vision Love’ and ‘Be Not Me’- this boy’s been listening to some Sonics! There is a dirtier guitar sound, and a more garage beat.
One of the things about following bands like this, via outlets such as Facebook, is that often they’ll post works in progress or demos, one of these being ‘English Summer’ (which I have featured here) which they played tonight. A classic slice of English guitar pop reminding me of ‘Village Green…’ era Kinks.
The first set was finished with the Life On Earth duo of The Ragman and Don’t Go Changing which are segued together so beautifully that it was meant to be- like Marmite on toast.
The ‘play’ of an encore was scrapped, as I guess walking off stage, through the crowd, only to return a minute or so later, and then possibly re-tune the guitar would have been largely farcical. Indeed, this is so much the norm with live acts that I reckon they should scrap the idea- unless it is earned! I saw a band once who did their set, were encouraged to do ‘one more tune!’, only to re-play one of their tunes from the original set- as that’s all they had! Brilliant!
The Moons ‘returned’ to play the ‘It’s Taking Over’ the b-side off their next single, which I knew [and felt a little geeky for doing so!] and finishing with ‘ Nightmare Day’, The Moons third single.
This band are really tight and Crofts ‘wears’ his band well, there is a comfort and ease to their playing, and allowing James to write some tracks shows Andy has faith in his talent around him. They’re a great bunch, and I am looking forward to going to see them at The Borderline, in that London, for the album release party.
See this band, people, they are phenomenal- as the saying goes- aim for the stars, and you may just hit The Moon(s). (photos of the night can be found there.)
Can’t find any videos of the night, so here’s a recording of ‘Double Vision Love’ they did at The Gibson Studio in London in April.