by Craig S#arp-Weir
Local popular singer songwriter Stacey McMullen opened the proceedings with some classic original blues, and very tasty finger picking and fret work that he credits to his banjo playing roots. He quickly then showed his versatility with a predominant flamenco flavour in his next few compositions that demonstrated how adept his is on a six string. Some of his songs blend Morrissey type tones with the less comedic side of Mike Harding style storytelling, if anyone remembers one of the masters of 70’s folk. Stacey has a very pleasant and competent vocal range and is a very proficient player. it’s hard to get your head around the fact that he has only been playing live for a couple of years when you witness how confident, witty and charming he is with an audience. A particular tune that stayed in my mind had the words ‘Where do you go when the bombs fall’ and had a Gogol bordello feel to it. After professionally and tactfully stretching the set to after the watershed, he was comfortable to perform an acoustic cover of Rage against the Machine’s ‘killing in the name of’, though he smiled when I suggested that it would have been apt to change the words to ‘Folk you’ I won’t do what you tell me’ for future matinee performances.
The next act up, Adam Kenny’s Attitude, reminded me of the type of RnB that Dr feelgood used to win over punk/new wave crowds with. AKA do foot tapping edgy 12 bar originals with the odd Power ballad thrown in and when the keyboard player adds backing vocals in, it seems to add a whole new feel to the band, something they told me afterwards that they were working on. Their new bass player, Jake Hampson has only gigged twice with the band having been with them just 3 weeks, but he locked in with the drummer perfectly allowing Adam to freestyle some tasty Wilko Johnson influenced solos and deliver 999 style vocals.
At around 10.15, Headliners Studs took position. Though I’m old enough to be their dad/grandad, as soon as they struck the first power chord, I found myself thrown back in time to the ‘garageland’ of 1977, when I and many other frustrated teenagers, went out and bought a secondhand Les Paul copy for £50, a practice amp and transported our gear to the gig in a stolen shopping trolley. There was no ego with this punk duo, just lots of integrity oozing from the sweat generated from just shy of an hour of sheer foot to the floor homemade punk/indie rock n roll!
Peter Dean, the drummer, beat every single skin in every song like his life depended on it, and front man and guitarist Josh Stevenson gave me the impression that if they were to become the next ‘White Stripes’ or ‘Slaves’, it would just be a bonus that he could give up his/their day job, cos he clearly writes and performs for himself and if others like it, all well and good, and if they don’t…….er, all well and good! There’s no pretence with Studs, what you see is what you get, like it or lump it. If I had just walked in and heard them, I would have presumed they were Adam Kenny’s ‘Attitude’, having plenty of it, as well as humour! When asked why they didn’t have a bass player, I was amused with Josh’s reply…’ it seems to work as it is, and one less musician to fall out with’. He then said, ‘besides, I have this!’ at which point he pulled out his secret weapon, a ‘Big Muff’ guitar pedal. They played just one cover in their set, surprisingly not a Pixies or Nirvana tune, which their were overtones of in their own material, but a Studs version of Molly’s Chambers, played how the Kings of Leon should have performed it in my opinion, with pure grit! My favourite track was their last one ‘Their World’, which reminded me of the melodic vibe of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones but minus the brass. Pete’s use of busy hi hat work during the 45 min explosion were reminiscent of the Buzzcocks and Joy Division, and stylish accents and flare had early Damned stamped all over it!
Studs are a band that believe in themselves and are in control of what they deliver, right down to the DIY of their logo on the bass drum, made from piecing together lengths of masking tape!
They definitely are in ‘their own World’ and very pleased with it, genuinely just hoping others enjoy it as much as they do.