It’s Monday night, so it’s obviously time for some ska and punk. Plus, heading to SWG3 and piling into a medium sized venue was bound to be warmer than sitting in a cold flat, and cheaper than putting the heating on. Bonus.
I dodged in out of the nippy weather just in time to catch madcap seven-some Lightyear who somehow managed to squeeze onto the stage and bounce around for half an hour or so without any major injuries. With a decent sized audience, they bopped and bounded and played as if they’d already warmed up with an earlier gig. I swear they were sweaty from the moment they walked on stage!
Definitely fitting in with the headliners in terms of musical style, where Lightyear shone was with their sense of humour. They’re a band that don’t just know how to chuck out some decent tunes, they know how to entertain. They have their own line of schtick which only comes from practice and familiarity amongst the band members, and this washed over the crowd ensuring that everyone there had a good time. A non-musical highlight was the drum…stick solo. Imagine four grown men mixing Morris dancing with oversized novelty drumsticks and you’re some way to imagining the kind of muppetry on display.
Playing to fans old and new, they are a band I have already looked up since getting home – and I rarely bother to do this! Great entertainment and ones to catch if they play a show near you.
[spunge] (I never know whether to include the brackets or not) have been on the go for 25 years now, and I actually remember getting their first album when I was working at the student radio station in Bradford. I loved it. At the time, they were something new and tonight they brought back one major memory, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Their music is more of a punk style than either of the other two bands on the bill, but with enough in common not to be jarring. It’s nice to mix things up, and they really got the crowd going throughout their thirty-minute set.
As they themselves admitted, they usually have a lot more “stuff” in their set but the thirty-minute limit they had necessitated dumping a lot of it to make way for the tunes. There was still time for bassist Chris Murphy to make a tit of himself on his birthday, as is tradition with most musical performers. And also for them to reel off a decent number of songs culminating in “Kicking Pigeons”, a song I still remember from 1999 debut Pedigree Chump. I wasn’t the only one who loved it, and it was great to see fans younger than the actual song dancing to it.
Oh, and they have a new video out now!
Headliners Reel Big Fish were somewhere in between their supports in terms of size with a three-part brass section (OK, so a sax is technically a woodwind), drums, guitar and bass. The ideal ska lineup in other words. Blasting through a setlist of almost 20 songs, there wasn’t much time for chat but what we did get was amusing and/or “This is a ska song!”.
Many fan favourites were in there along with new numbers from brilliant recent release Life Sucks…Let’s Dance. Oh, and the statutory covers for which the band are well known. The audience were well and truly part of the show, singing along with the brass instruments from the off. Though, let’s face it, it’s hard to not to join in at a ska gig. If the rhythm don’t get you, you’re probably dead. “In The Pit”, “Your Guts”, “Everything Sucks”, “Asshole”… what a set.
Credit to the band for managing 5-part harmonies throughout, as well as playing their instruments. And to Suburban Legends’ Brian Robertson on trombone who fit in so well that I honestly wasn’t certain it was him until he was introduced.
If there was one disappointment in the evening (other than that it had to finish), it was the sound for the supports. Lightyear didn’t have the best quality vocals, and [spunge] were very tinny with little bass. The settings were nailed for RBF, though. All three bands brought their A-game and, frankly, could have played through a portable practice amp and still had the crowd raging.
To top the night off, several hundred people spilling into the street singing “Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world…” at the tops of their voices as the PA kicked in post-gig had the hairs going up on the back of my neck. Yeah, Mondays don’t suck so much after all.
Photos by Watchmaker Studios