A bit of an unusual gig for me this one as it was three bands I barely knew, in a venue I’d somehow never been to before – but for less than eight of your English pounds, it was worth a punt.
Straight off, I ought to say that this won’t be making my gigs of the year list, but I certainly wouldn’t complain about the fare on offer, and had a generally entertaining evening.
There was just time before the first band were due on to head to the Roscoe Head for a decent pint of something I sadly forgot the name of pretty much as soon as I started to sup it.
I got to The Magnet at 8pm, when Bribes were due to take to the stage. Inevitably, things were running a little behind schedule. Not really a problem when the pre-band music being spun by the DJ included prime Jefferson Airplane and Tom Waits, as well as a tune that I was surprised to discover was by Steppenwolf (check it out in the Spotify playlist below).
They came on around 8:15 and presented a united front with all three of them sporting beards to varying degrees (as was a healthy chunk of the suspiciously student-heavy crowd. How times have changed. Having a beard when I was a student marked you out as really somebody very strange indeed).
The bassist, confidently wearing his own band’s t-shirt, was the star of the show musically for me, also displaying his wry sense of humour on occasion, and sporting one of two leather jackets on show.
As they aren’t on Spotify, here’s the video to their new single Wild Creatures, which I think they opened their set with:
The drummer reminded me of a bird for some reason (the type with wings who fly, I mean!). I preferred when he moved away from his default intense thumping and added in a few more interesting fills.
Their rocking, riffing power trio sound got my toes tapping, though it’s not really the type of music I tend to love (especially a number later on that sounded a tad power ballad-esque). I think they’re a band that my mate Kahnee might love, while I’ve seen a couple of comparisons with Royal Blood, which isn’t far off the mark.
I enjoyed the extreme use of the whammy bar in an early song, while one called Hypnotised featured a great off-kilter guitar intro.
Next up was another three piece, The Bay Rays from Kent, whose defining characteristic was lead singer Harry Nicoll, with his slightly strangulated vocals reminding me of Sparks and Alice Cooper to begin with.
Nicoll sounded more like Jello Biafra on New Home, but overall it was only really the vocals that were piquing my interest.
After answering an urgent call of nature, I headed to the bar to get a £4 can of Red Stripe (par for the course I guess), watching the final few songs from this vantage point, including closer Integration.
After an appropriate break, on strode headliners Hidden Charms, whom I had at least heard a few songs by before the gig, unlike the previous two bands, but my knowledge of them was sketchy at best, so I was prepared for pretty much anything.
I wasn’t really expecting to be catapulted back to 1974, with their sound immediately calling to mind the likes of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel with its mildly prog and rather glam overtones, on top of a bluesy base. Others have mentioned Tame Impala as in influence, which I can hear in there somewhere.
Lead singer and Aidan Turner-lookalike Vincent Davies was sporting a glossy Grease-style T-bird jacket (and did some great head shaking), while Ranald Macdonald took over on vocals for a few songs, firstly for the bluesy Long Way Down, when he also traded in his keyboards for guitar.
Two of the band ended up in the crowd during one of the first songs as they thoroughly got into it, while I had a group of extremely enthusiastic older fans right in front of me (older than most of the crowd, but perhaps not as old as me!), who clearly knew all the songs, but were a little selfie mad.
Love You ‘Cause You’re There sounded quite a lot like The Black Keys, but that’s no bad thing, while another number’s slide and opening reminded me of classic George Harrison, although it evolved into much more of a wig out.
In amongst the set was a Captain Beefheart cover, Party Of Special Things To Do from the only original album of his I don’t own, the much maligned Bluejeans & Moonbeams from 1974 (apparently one of Kate Bush’s ten favourite albums!).
They may well know the original, or they might have been covering The White Stripes’ own version of it.
After the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Macdonald, he sang Cannonball, while he took his harmonica into the crowd for another song that featured some nice National Steel guitar.
For some unknown reason, Lewis put on a pointy bird mask for I Don’t Mind, while the show ended with a mass stage invasion during the epic I Just Wanna Be Left Alone, a song that really comes alive on stage compared to the version you can hear in the link below (good though that is).
I have high hopes for a debut album from them at some point this year.
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Here is a lot of the music from the night on Spotify: