Live (Black Andrew / Shindig / My Mantra / Murmur / Rival Joustas)

Black Andrew started this epic six band night with a display of raw potential that may or may not come to fruition. The problem isn’t with the way the songs are put together, in fact they had all the right ideas, but they aren’t yet a finished product.

The main point on the checklist for this band is to get the execution of the songs nailed. There might have been some great tracks in the set, but they didn’t get a chance to shine because the band weren’t quite together when the sound needed that punchy tightness.

Following on from Black Andrew with an ultra-tidy three-piece sound, Shindig were a rock band with just a hint of punk-revival coming in waves of subliminal suggestion from the bass and drums. There was a moment of sheer brilliance with a guitar to drums to bass break that, although lasting about two seconds, demanded the ear of the crowd.

The freestyle soloing was a bit sparse sounding, but the rest of the guitar work made an excellent overlay to the rhythm section. There were three or four songs that embedded themselves in the skull, though the brain never manages to perform them quite as well as the real thing.

Shindig did a good job of their time on stage and they are the kind of band you would want to see again.

My Mantra were a professional sounding outfit with a performance to match. Playing a rock sound initially with two guitars and then one less when the front man ditched his axe to go all-out on the vocals.

Almost all of the ear-catching moments came from the guitars with the bass and drums remaining, for the most part, in the background. The presence of the singer improved significantly without the guitar to worry about and with the freedom of the stage. My Mantra were all-rounders with ability, songs and performance in equal shares.

Relying heavily on hooks from the telecaster, Murmur had a radio-worthy collection of pop-rock tunes. The singer had plenty to say in-between the music and did a good job of the vocals, even though they could have been a little gutsier. The songs as a whole weren’t entirely memorable, mainly because the individual riffs stood out beyond each track as a whole, but this is probably due to the songs being that stealthy kind that grows on you over time.

The Rival Joustas are widely recognised on the local scene and beyond. They have a couple of absolute gems in their set and the ability to perform them. This wasn’t their best night, with some of the usual tightness missing from the set. However, a bad day for the Joustas is a great day for most of us; anyone not comparing them to previous gigs would have been really impressed by the band and their music – and they gave as much energy as ever.

The slight dip in performance is almost certainly something to do with the almost non-stop schedule of gigs that the RJs have been playing, which could become unsustainable if they don’t reign in the momentum they have gathered over the past few months. Some rest and some practice behind closed doors will soon stick them back on track and there is nothing wrong with playing less gigs, as it’ll make sure the fans don’t take them for granted!

When people talk about Toupe, they rarely get past the novelty of a band with no guitars. A duet of six-string and four-string bass is backed up by punchy drumming to create a massive groove with Primus-esque moments.

What you are not being told is that this band also have great songs, with as many hooks, breaks, and solo’s as any guitar-based rock band. They also shove as much energy and movement in to the performance and write lyrics about the same things other people write about… well – kinda.

The other mistake people make is that they believe that Toupe sound different because the guitar has been removed. Au contraire! It is the addition of more funk, percussion, and rhythm than any other band that creates their trademark stampede.

It’s about time people see past the obvious and start to recognise the quality of this band.

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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