Monday 12th November 2012, 5:00PM GMT.
Local promoters FutureShock teamed up with a band from the UK and two from New York. The result? A night at the Tav last Saturday that had everybody wanting more. Tom Girard was there…
THEIR previous gig in Guernsey had been called off due to fog, so anticipation was clearly high for Jonny Lives!
With that in mind it seemed many were planning on getting their money’s worth last Saturday and the Tav was already filling up nicely as SugarSlam opened the festivities.
Having made a splash with a set of mostly new songs at this summer’s Vale Earth Fair, the band continued their upward trajectory with a performance that set the bar high for those to follow.
Having formed as the grunge wave swept the world, it seems SugarSlam have followed a similar path to many bands in a similar vein. Their new songs have the feel of massive slabs of pop-rock, with an extra edge that on the night reminded me of Foo Fighters, with a hint of my personal favourites The Wildhearts (certainly high praise from me) and a dash of the old grunge sound of the likes of Nirvana.
Closing their set with new song, FUBAR showed the somewhat unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome, power that frontman Plumb has in his vocals and gave that big sound that could see SugarSlam become one of the highlights of Guernsey’s live music (if they aren’t already).
Following them was always going to be a challenge, but Of Empires stepped up to the mark admirably with an energetic performance that put to rest my concerns following their last show at the Tavern.
From the off it was clear that Matthew Berry’s guitar was part of the dual driving force of the band’s blues-rock sound, along with Jack Fletcher’s vocals. On Saturday this was backed up (for the second half of the set at least) by Andy Mason’s blues harp, which added an extra dynamic to the sound and fitted in excellently.
While Of Empires may be playing a form of rock that has been doing the rounds for the best part of four decades, when they are on form – and they were that night – they add a new edge and energy to the old sound, which is highlighted on their set-closer I Am The Night.
The first visiting act of the night, The Inevitable Pinhole Burns, was also something of a homecoming for two of their members and, as frontman Jim Rhesus said, The Fermain Tavern was where he played his first-ever gig.
This being only my second chance to see The Inevitable Pinhole Burns live, I wasn’t sure what to expect and it was a far noisier affair than I anticipated – but that certainly isn’t a criticism.
From the off it was as if The IPHB were walking a razor’s edge between genius and total sonic collapse. It was powerful and energetic and at once baffling and enthralling in equal measure, as it swung from indie-type sounds through to fairly full-on punk across the set.
Our first band of the night from the Big Apple, The Killing Floor, were up next and launched into a set of slightly dark-hued rock ’n’ roll with force and power from the off.
As they took to the stage I was slightly concerned that they may be one of the many bands floating about the rock ’n’ roll world who are all swagger and nothing else, but my fears were allayed as soon as they launched into their first song and continued with a set that ranged from storming and forceful to genuinely emotional on a couple of slower numbers, but retained the same vibe.
Though the crowd remained a little static for The Killing Floor, it was clear that they were getting across and went down a storm.
But static is not the way the crowd could be described for Jonny Lives! Those in the busy Tavern surged forward as the New Yorkers took to the stage.
While their first few songs seemed to lack a bit of the power of The Killing Floor’s set, Jonny Lives! soon hit their stride with a good-time rock music sound that was the perfect complement to the night’s early, darker and more chaotic sounds and provided the perfect upbeat way to round off the night.
Once the band were rolling, frontman Jonny Dubowsky lived up to the previous descriptions I had heard as he seemed to be channelling a combination of Guernsey’s own Mark Le Gallez, Jack White and Ginger Wildheart, all with a unique swagger that saw him end up with his guitar behind his head while he tore through a garage-infused ‘solo’.
Following their set, Jonny Lives! were called back on to the stage for an, if anything, even higher-energy encore. It featured a few more of their own songs alongside a couple of covers of Jim Carroll’s People Who Died and The Ramones’ I Believe In Miracles, and brought the night to an end with style and, seemingly, left everyone who’d come along wanting more.