A stones throw away from the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Stadium lay the Newhampton Arts Centre, a full house in a comfortable seated surrounding. Rock n Roll? No, beautifully written and entertaining indie, yes, we were here for an acoustic treat and we were not to leave unsatisfied.....
I've been listening to Under a Banner for some time now, introduced to me by a talent scout, Tracey Barker. I was always interested in the unplugged, back to the drawing board kind of songwriting but when I did listen to them the first time around I can honestly say that I fell in love again with the music of the storyteller, so much so I wrote a blog on it some time ago. Under a Banner to me are indie but with folk sensibilities and style. If you're thinking "ugh, folk music" well think again, these songs have a heartbeat, an energy and a story to tell.
When we arrived at the door we really didn't know what to expect about the venue, turned out to be quite small in capacity, however, easily fitting a couple of hundred people. It was a full house shortly after we arrived and many people had to stand at the back (near the bar, sensible choice) as the lucky ones, including myself, helped ourselves to a table.
We were first introduced to a singer/songwriter, Alex Vann who did a short set of his own, original material, even using an acompliment from an Ipad during one song. I found this to be a little "gimmicky" and slightly unessecary, it kind of took the emphasis away from the song and made it more about "ooh, he's using an ipad, cool". The song itself was really well written and very catchy, sometimes you just have to strip it back and play in the way it should be, taking nothing away from the performance. I spoke to Alex after his set out in the reception area, an interesting and delightful person to talk to, friendly and enthusiastic about his music and the craft of the songwriting process. His album Silhouettes and Pirouettes is out now, available on Facebook, Myspace and You Tube.
Another band which I can still hear the enthusiastic musings of Tracey to take a look at is One Cure for Man. For tonights performance only two members of the band came along, including soon to be departed Jeremy. A truly captivating and magical performance, full of angst, heartache and melodic charm One Cure for Man were nothing short of amazing. At one point it felt like I was in the presence of a true musical master, smouldering looks and a whimpering shrill to his singing voice it was like being in the presence of Jeff Buckley. Catching a quick word with Jeremy after the show he was reluctant to discuss the reasons for his departure after only one year, OCFM vowing to continue after, I feel this will be a tough pair of shoes to fill, I hope I am wrong for the sake of the band. I was dissapointed in the decision to go into a covers band for a while, asking Jeremy to keep in touch with us and let us know what he gets up to. I have this underlining feeling we will be hearing a lot more from this man.
It was subject of debate whether UAB would actually perform tonight after hearing that Adam, lead vocalist and guitarist had been suffering with a chest infection only a week prior to this gig, but as they say in show business "the show must go on". The audience tonight were not to be dissapointed. I always hope that when I get to see bands live that at least some of the energy from the recording is actually present at the performance, 10 out of 10 chaps, you nailed it. Slightly breathier than usual, Adam belted out the songs as good as he did on the recordings, some would say even better. I was expecting great things from this gig but what i wasnt expecting was to be suprised yet again by this band. If you buy the CD or Download, you have to see them live. Entertaining, whitty, tight and an electric performance. I will certainly be going to the next one and so should you.