Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Nine Black Alps

Once again on a wet windswept December evening we find ourselves venturing up to Portsmouth for the latest leg of Nine Black Alps winter tour.

Again due to some shocking conditions on the roads we arrive mid-set during openers Is Bliss performance. Immediately I’m drawn to their music, it’s got all the influences that excited me back in the early 90’s. Their dreamy/shoegazy/grungey sound works well, despite the vocal being somewhat unintelligable in the main. However,I feel it’s a wall of sound they’re attempting to create, which they achieve. If Jimmy (vox) worked on the vocals a little more and Dean (bass) and Max (drums/guitars) took a little off the overall sound then they could be on to something. With the burgeoning Neu-Goth “scene” in full flow I feel Is Bliss could slot in comfortably within. Only time will tell.

Next up are Pompey 3 piece Factory Dolls. They waste no time in delivering their anthemic Garage/Punk/Rock upon us. There’s elements of many bands but they have a unique sound and a clutch of songs that they deliver in their own unique style. Bouyed by a decent following in the room they get the crowd moving early on. Sam (drums/vox) fullfils that difficult role of singing while pounding his skins. Jordan (guitar) is animated in both style and delivery while Viss (bass) adds some backing vocals. The one standout influence to me is Kurt Cobain in the vocals. Factory Dolls however are no Nirvana tribute despite throwing in what sounds like a Nirvana cover late on. Once again the big wall of sound kicks in during the latter part of the set but they don’t disappoint.

Factory Dolls

Factory Dolls 12

Penultimate act Kill Kasper take to the stage. Jamie (vox/guitar) tells us how honoured they are to be supporting Nine Black Alps,so much so he’s sporting one of their tour t-shirts. For this reviewer it’s not hard to notice their most obvious influence-QOTSA! Kill Kasper are not a band lacking in confidence,they have by far the best sound of the 3 supports. Once again that wall of sound comes through but Sean (drums) can be heard the clearest. Paul (lead) and Matt (bass) equally contribute but in places it comes across a tad self-indulgent. That said they deliver a clean,clear hard-edged set of Rock numbers and leave the stage to good applause.

Kill Kasper

Kill Kasper 1234

And so to tonight’s headliners. Nine Black Alps need no introduction around these parts – it’s their fifth visit to the Wedge. Showcasing material from their brilliant new LP ‘Sirens’ they launch into classic old song “Get Your Guns”. Back on the circuit and the second leg of their Winter Tour NBA mix it up with songs from the back catalogue. “Not Everyone” gets a few punters moving but it’s the faster new tracks that get us in the spirit. The excellent “My One And Only” and “Don’t Forget To Breathe” are greeted by random beer throwing – the pit area is now saturated! Tried and tested live fave ‘Unsatisfied’ compliments Dave (guitars) intricate picking and Sam’s subtle vocal. New bassist Karl is doing his very best William Reid (JAMC) impressions all night long, which works for me. James (drums) meanwhile is supplying the power which is reduced on latest single “Phosphoressence”. Sam laments their “5 year absence writing their next big album” before launching into now live favourite “Be My Girl”. Sam then “instructs us” to dance to the next song “Just Friends” to which we duly oblige. Once again it’s criminal that the venue is less than half full,yet this ‘hometown’ crowd respond kindly to this still great band. With a 5th LP in the offing and an understanding record label (Brew) compromising and not controlling, it’s easy to see why NBA haven’t thrown in the towel. They end on two fast tracks, “Ironside” and “Shot Down” and we mosh like crazy. While NBA never actually went away it’s almost been the “comeback” of the year, and on this evidence long may it continue.

Nine Black Alps

Nine Black Alps 1234

Setlist: Nine Black Alps
Get Your Guns
Buy Nothing
Not Everyone
My One And Only
Don’t Forget To Breathe
Vampire In The Sun
Heavier Than Water
Llana Song
Burn Faster
Be My Girl
Just Friends
Along For The Ride
Shot Down
Just Friends

Band Links

Review by Ross A.Ferrone
Pictures by Ross “snappy” Ferrone and George “snapper” Fullerton

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to MySpace