Big thanks to The Cavern for daring to host an Underground event. Your venue & your staff rocks!! Thanks to everyone who turned up, to Willem for the photos, to Zoot for the reviews and to Manek for manning the doors!
love Chris B xx
Jane Eliz (Australia 澳洲)
A mellow start to the evening in the form of Jane Eliz. She has an excellent and distinctive voice with a little edge to it and her guitar playing is tight, as you might expect from someone who does this sort of thing professionally. The first couple of songs dealt with the ever-fertile theme of broken and failing relationships and the message was clearly “leave me alone, you loser”. The third song was aptly entitled “All alone”. After that she dug into the past a bit, and came up with a couple more up-tempo numbers, including “Misty Lands” which you can listen to on her website. She kept the best track until last, and went out on a high.
In short it was pretty much what you might expect from a girl toting an acoustic guitar. At times it got a bit samey, and I’d have liked to hear more variation in the strumming, or maybe a couple of numbers done through an electric guitar or effects pedals to vary and colour the sound a little. However nothing to really complain about.
Fantastic Day are a hard one to categorise. I saw them first at one of the early Rockit concerts and I thought they were a real standout act. Since then they’ve gone through a few changes, but they still have an interesting and varied sound.
The band set up and launched into the first number in an amazingly short space of time, although they didn’t announce any of the song titles, so I’ll do my best to describe them musically. The first was a guitarry wash of a pop tune which made you feel like a sunny Sunday afternoon. There were shades of Boo Radleys and Dream Parade in there. Switching to the synth, and setting it to wurlitzer mode for the second track, the sound changed a bit but still retained the sunny pop vibe. Although the sound was good, the vocals weren’t too hot on these first two tracks which spoilt them a bit. I found out later that this was the one band who hadn’t bothered with a soundcheck. Do one next time guys!
A change of style brought the third song in a menacing, grinding tone, and a small keyboard malfunction at the end was taken in good humour. Then back to an ambitiously uptempo fourth number which sounded a bit like the Housemartins. By the fifth and sixth tracks the vocals were sounding a lot better, and these were the strongest songs of the set. The last track had a New Ordery buzz about it — mainly due to the bassline — and the sweeping keyboards. A great finish. A couple of the tracks can be found on the band’s website.
The Yours turned up dressed to impress. Crazy oversized sunglasses, an amazing technicolour dreamcoat and fresh coiffures: the hair salons in Central must have been busy that afternoon. They launched into the set with two numbers based around keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, fast and bouncy. The first was something about mobile phones as far as I could tell, the second was like the B52s on crack. Really.
Time for the secret weapon. The singer and keyboard player switched to guitar, and the guitar player wearing the dreamcoat picked up the microphone and did a very plausible imitation of Robert Smith (The Cure).
The set continued in this vein, switching between the two styles of song, some crazy dancing, all of it on stage, despite the exhortations of the band to the crowd “please dance, please dance, please dance”. The sunglasses got sweaty and slipped off on the floor. Some members of the public were abused. Pure rock and roll, I thought, although in the exciting smashing up hotel rooms sense, rather than in the overweight Elvis eating hamburgers on the toilet sense. A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining set, and one I’ll go to see again. Catch some of their music, minus the performance antics here.
I really want to like Spodac. They have a lot going for them: they’re very good musicians, and they play on time and in tune. They clearly practice a lot. They write their own songs. They have enthusiasm and commitment.
So what’s the problem? Maybe it was because I enjoyed the preceding band so much? Whereas The Yours were anarchic and fun, Spodac seem a bit stiff and formulaic. The singer was earnest — maybe too earnest — but couldn’t really seem to drag his lyrics away from agonizing rock and roll cliches “I got a feelin / Deep down in my soul”. Yes sure hundreds of bands have got away with it in the past, but that’s kind of the point. I didn’t really feel like I was listening to anything inspired, fresh or new.
Possibly the best moments were when the guitar and bass meandered off on their own solos, held together by the rock solid drumming. But ultimately, for me, the sum of the parts was less than the whole, and I just can’t get into them. There were a lot of people in the Cavern who were enjoying them, and maybe that’s what counts rather than the opinion of a jaded and hungover reviewer. Check them out for yourself at their website, or go to the next gig.
Above photos © Copyright 2007 by Willem Van Der Merwe
Poster by Sheli