Turncoat are a band who know how to make an entrance. Unassuming and refreshingly unpretentious – there isn’t a scarf in sight – they announce their presence with building guitars and soaring keyboards. The lead singer’s fresh-faced boyish good looks belie the belting sincerity that’s quickly released as they launch into an impressive set list.
Turncoat’s songs are so far from formulaic that they’re almost disorientating. Gone is any semblance of the usual verse/chorus format, yet it’s impossible not to find your toe tapping. The lyrics are repetitive at times, but it doesn’t seem to matter as the music commands your attention gloriously – perhaps best demonstrated in the track ‘Hang On’. Lead singer Adrian Imms’ voice is clear, articulate, and stretches confidently over several octaves.
Rising and falling, the songs incorporate everything – from stonking guitar riffs to beautiful keyboard interludes – with variations reminiscent of Muse in places. Between songs, the band are mild mannered and somewhat self-deprecating. Obviously keen to be taken seriously, they let the music speak for itself. Even the mellow Monday night crowd couldn’t refrain sedately moshing along with the floppy-haired keyboard player. Turncoat’s spiky and exuberant style is clearly infectious.
Following the heartfelt applause at the end of a polished and dramatic set, the imminent success of this Brighton-based band was predicted by speed of the CDs being snapped up.
Hot on the heels of Turncoat came the headline act of the night – Stout. Loud, aggressive, and in your face, this hard-rocking adrenaline-pumped five piece unleashed a deafening introduction on a quietly milling audience who seemed a little taken aback. But with the lead singer’s Chandler-style dancing and werewolf howls, Stout didn’t take long to grab our attention!
However, for all their stomping energy, Stout failed to take off. Though carried by some excellent drumming, the guitars are too heavy to hold the melody and one song merges into another. The lead singer’s self-styled vocal synths are impressive and refreshingly original, but I found myself wondering if it’s English he’s singing in.
Given the right occasion, the ruggedly sexy singer and rival lead guitarist would need a leash to restrain them. But tonight the frenzied hardcore riffs were unfortunately lost on the crowd.