The Winchester, Bournemouth

The Cramatics

On a night of diverse talent Drew Allen opened up with a solo set that deserved more than the indifference of the slowly growing crowd at The Winchester. With his big mop of curly hair and checked shirt with sleeves rolled up he proved to be a bundle of energy as he worked through his roots influenced set. His sound is reminiscent of early Bob Dylan, and as the set moved on he showed off his guitar playing as he moved from acoustic to electric on the balladeering “Angie”. You can tell he plays close attention to his lyrics and has an ability to deliver sharp lines that cut right to the point. It would be interesting to hear him with a band to flesh out his sound and bring more texture and atmosphere to his storytelling.

“We’re coming out all guns blazing”. True to frontman Ricky Barton’s words, that’s what Neon Dawn did next up, sending a sharp shot of heavy blues tinged rock to the beckoning ears of the audience. With a transatlantic influence taking in Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon, they make good noise. The soundman had to get to grips with their powerhouse of a drummer, bouncing round the kit like Keith Moon on too much orange juice. His energy and technical skill was excellent throughout the set. Covering Pixies “Where is my Mind” was the best hint as to the distinctive direction they could take their original material, and they followed it up with the most impressive of their own songs “World on Fire”. Closer “Homegrown” added an atmosphere and emotion that proved their soundscape to be broader than I first expected.

The Cramatics

With all the lights out, The Cramatics began their headline set with the intro music from their recent “Big Machine” EP playing through the speakers. They went straight into “Summertime in June”, cool blue lights in the background while frontman Chris delivered a tight vocal performance. Their poppy blend of indie, soul and funk makes them an increasingly popular live act and lyrics like “now we’re ready for summertime in June” are a happy reminder that the nights are just about to begin getting lighter again. Hook-laden tracks like “Spaceman” went rapturously received by a near sell out crowd who had bunched up front of stage and on “Puzzles” (Take it or leave it)í they showcased their two equally soulful singers in Chris and Max.

A medley of pop songs finishing on “Merry Christmas Everyone” provoked a singalong that broke up their trail through the “Big Machine” EP. While their style may be too poppy for some, they succeed in creating very well crafted pop songs with catchiness aplenty. The foray into new song “Insight” was a bold and welcome move proving they’re interested in the boundaries of chart show territory. Beats from the electronic drum kit boosted the sound, but while giving off a moodier feel you can’t keep these guys from smiling for long. The highlight of the set was “New Feel”, not only for the anthemic strength of the song but of the crowd’s enjoyment as they took up the invitation to clap and dance. In this moment, it was clear to see how far they can go and how unsurprising it would be to hear their songs on Radio One.

Set List
Summetime in June
Puzzles (Take it or leave it)
Pop Song Medley
New Feel
Like Gold


Words By Tom Whitman.

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