A ridiculously overdue review, but better late than never as they say! A momentous evening this one as it was my last gig of the year and final ever trip to the wonderful Kazimier, this time to see local-boys-done-good Hooton Tennis Club.
However, first up was a trip to the Philharmonic pub for my first ever Getintothis team meeting. I shan’t be the one to reveal all the exciting details of what goes on in these shady events, so I’ll leave it at that. It was good to put a few faces to names, though some have already got lost…
Some of the GiT crew went on somewhere to eat, so I took advantage of a brief lull before the scheduled arrival of the first support act to get a pint in the Roscoe Head, one of the city’s smallest and finest pubs. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a note of what the pint I had was, but I recall it being rather nice.
I got into the Kaz in time for a few tunes being spun by Bill Ryder-Jones, former member of The Coral and now highly acclaimed solo performer and producer – one of his charges in the studio having been HTC.
He was in full scouse classic mode when I arrived, as we had Echo & The Bunnymen’s Silver followed by Ha Ha I’m Drowning by The Teardrop Explodes. There was then a burst of The Smiths’ somewhat forgotten What She Said, that I first heard in a live version on a free NME single in 1985, prior to falling for the band.
They are a three-piece, all (I think still) teenagers, hailing originally from Halifax, with guitarist Henry Carlyle Ward joining two sisters – rock solid drummer Sidonie Hand-Halford (the oldest at nineteen) and singer/bassist Esme.
Henry reminded me of a very young Miles Hunt, but is surely far too young to have ever heard of The Wonder Stuff, being born around five years after they last troubled the charts. He was doing a lot of slightly unnecessary headbanging while mixing up a storm on his guitar.
In fact, they looked like they came out of three different bands, visually. Henry from second division shoegazers Chapterhouse, Sid from a Sarah Records band like Blueboy, and the grungier look of Esme.
I heard less of the surf and garage in their music, and more of the twee, calling to mind the classic likes of The Pastels. One song was introduced as “a jam”, which it was, and they then played new single Joey Says We Got It.
Space Doubt had some ringing Television guitar, but was obviously not quite in that rarefied league. While there was much to enjoy in their set, unusually I found that the better numbers were at the start of the set and things went downhill slightly as they went on. Still, a band I’d be happy to catch again to see how they’ve progressed.
They are another three piece, fronted by guitarist Oliver Taylor, although all three sang. He was a quirky stage presence, in the intense mould of David Byrne, Elvis Costello or Ian Curtis, with the looks of Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos meets Peter Noone.
He was ably backed by Lewis Rollinson on bass and drummer Brad Mullins. Soundwise, I was most reminded of Postcard Records bands, Billy Childish and Wreckless Eric, while others have mentioned The Cramps, Chuck Berry, doo wop and surf pop.
There was some curious DIY-vibrato singing on one song called Melanie, while the music hall-esque All My Love had some interesting guitar work, not just the basic strumming. They were a really engaging band who just seem to be lacking a couple of killer tunes to really set things alight, but definitely a band to watch out for.
Then it was time for the headliners, who took to the stage to a bit of a heroes’ welcome. They proceeded to get the practically sold-out crowd up for it straight away with Up In The Air as they worked their way through the entirety of the debut album (not in order) across the course of the evening.
Twin singer/guitarists Ryan Murphy and James Madden were friends from before secondary school, when they met bassist Callum McFadden and drummer Harry Chalmers, explaining their real gang mentality. The two singers were on either side of the stage, with McFadden stealing the show somewhat in the centre, as he did when I’d seen them before, though he seemed a little chunkier now…
The album Highest Point In Cliff Town is a consistently good piece of work, so it was great to hear it all performed live, with Something Much Quicker Than Anyone But Jennifer Could Ever Imagine an early highlight. Their song titles are often a real wordy treat, with many of them referencing women’s names.
My favourite song of theirs remains Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair, which was wah wah-ed up a little. After new song Meet Me At The Molly Gate they held a minute’s silence for the Kaz, with some technical guru digitally mapping the venue for posterity.
Jasper was another high point, as was the thrashier Spokes. Following P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E. (that made my best of the year compilation CD), Bill Ryder-Jones joined his production charges on stage on tambourine and backing vocals for the Velvet Underground-influenced Always Coming Back 2 You, and that was that for the night. The band went off and did not reappear.
So, the end of the Kaz for me (and nearly its end for everyone). Probably my favourite ever venue, only challenged by The Leadmill in Sheffield and The Borderline and maybe Bush Hall in London. HTC were a great send-off for the venue, providing a top evening’s entertainment.
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Here is some of the music from the night on Spotify: