Phonotonal
Pleasant Sounds

Pleasant Sounds
Live (The Tulips / Young Lust / Benhill / Temper Fire)

Turning up at tonight’s five-band show ever so slightly late, I just manage to catch the end of The Tulips’ set. There are only two of them, a cute blonde female strumming an acoustic whilst exercising her vocal chords and some long-haired bloke helping her out in ways that seem unnecessary with an electric guitar.

She makes the odd mistake that every male in the audience forgives her for, a stark contrast to the totally irrelevant distortion sound emanating from her backing band’s amplifier. If I were her I’d ditch that zero and get myself a hero, to coin a phrase.

However I am not her, and neither are Young Lust. In fact I have my doubts as to whether or not Young Lust know who they are, as they seem to have gotten slightly confused at some point in their history.

The first line of the first song goes ‘take me down to the banks of the river’, in much the same style as the G’n’R tune that begins with almost the exact same line. Do they think nobody will notice or do they not really care so long as they get to strut their sleazy stuff for half an hour?

The lead guitarist (who is immensely talented) is totally deluded into thinking that he is Slash to the point where I am convinced that he believes this is Wembley Stadium and I am 50,000 adoring fans (which, by the way, I am not). I laugh quite a lot during their set, and then even more at a mate’s ‘I’m going for a Slash’ pun. Give that guy a job at the Sun.

Two down, three to go. Next up are Benny Hill, sorry, Benhill! An acoustically tinged rock band with a fair amount of cheeky banter attached. These guys have ‘pub rock’ tattooed on their foreheads (not literally) and they play up to this particular section of the crowd which just so happens to be rife tonight.

Playing flute, Lucy gives an extra dimension to the usual rock set-up, providing an occasional Zeppelin-esque extra edge that demonstrates each individual member’s musical capabilities. Judging by the number of people crammed up front and the collection of Bez impersonators circling the crowd, Benhill are an unprecedented hit tonight and are cheered until they reach the bar after their set. A hard act to follow.

Regardless, Temper Fire do follow, not only chronologically but also in their musical style. More inoffensive lite-rock but now in a more poppy style that incorporates the same dual vocals practiced by the irritatingly catchy Maroon 5; perhaps you can guess that this is not my cup of tea.

It’s all a bit too ‘happy go lucky’ for my own personal taste, but the rest of the crowd warm to the Geordie boys up until the point where a fight breaks out by the front of the stage. I miss the initial bust-up but manage to get back from the bar in time to try and split up the fight in my drunken idiocy. It spills outside along with most people’s attention, leaving Temper Fire to cheese it up to the remaining half of the crowd. Fun, but almost instantly forgettable.

So it’s down to Pleasant Sounds to restore order following the recent impromptu schoolyard scrap, and with a name like that, they sound like just the ticket to calm things down. Thankfully most of the crowd return for this spectacle and the blues-funk sound is well received by the tipsy Friday night audience.

With their waistcoat, bellbottoms, and classic rock jams they harness the 70s spirit in much the same way as Led Zep or Cream, feeding off the crowd’s hippy-inspired freak outs with their own seemingly improvised grooves that reek unashamedly of their influences. The front man looks like Noddy Holder and sounds like David Coverdale, demonstrating how the Darkness could have shadowed their idols whilst actually retaining their dignity.

All in all this is an enjoyable night in which to let your hair down, only to be topped off by the celebrity appearance of local lass Lydia from the current series of Brat Camp. I leave with so much adrenaline I follow it up with poker and whisky until four in the morning. How’s that for classic rock spirit!

Guest article from Matt S.

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