Anvil + Sixty Million Postcards


When I found out we at RR were heavily involved in this years Oxjam I felt it only right to go and support the event in a couple of venues. While I would have been just happy to go along as a punter I felt obliged to “make notes”. After leaving the football early I caught the earliest available bus and headed to The Anvil. I knew Suburban Cult were 1st on through a work colleague. This 4 piece are playing their 1st ever gig and while the elements are all there, I feel the singer is nervous. The Indie/Rock quartet have a decent enough sound but the wailing and the “flat” vocals in the most part don’t do their songs justice. 5 songs in the singer opens his lungs and they start to deliver but I feel their whole sound needs beefing up. That said they leave to good applause and I head for the stellar line-up on at 60 Million Postcards.

Suburban Cult
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Postcards is only half full as I arrive but with punters arriving all the time a decent crowd await Beartown Zodiac. This quintet have a great all round sound and I very quickly ‘become a fan’! Their echoey snare-driven sound is complimented by a great vocal, particularly on “Wait and See”. On the slower “Broken I-pod Shuffle” however I’m reminded of Jake Shillingford (My Life Story) in the vocal. There really is nothing more to say about this band other than that they entertain greatly and I for one look forward to catching them live again.

Beartown Zodiac
Beartown Zodiac 123

Up next are Aaron Gregory and The Vacant Stares. While this 4 piece are known to me their all round sound tonight is bigger while carrying a slight “Yank” influence. They open with “Wishing Well” followed by the excellent “Pull The Trigger”. Gone it seems is the Jesus And Mary Chain vibe, replaced by a fuller, big bassy wall of sound. “The Last Dance To The Carousel” preceeds “Hostage” while Aaron (vox/acoustic guitar) is finding every corner of this tiny stage. They save the best til’ last with “Heart Attack/Midnight is Closing In”. It’s a stomper of a song that Aaron and band appear at their most animated. At one point as Aaron takes off his guitar and he looks like he’s going to trash it. Instead he places it dead centre of the stage before dancing around it! Midnight… reminds this reviewer of Indie underachievers “A House” and their seminal cut “Endless Art”, while their set ending is shambolic in its beauty it’s a huge finish and leaves us only wanting more. Aaron does return to the stage-but only to announce the next act; being as he is, tonight’s compere.

Aaron Gregory And The Vacant Stares
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Xander and The Keys are up next. This 4 piece quite simply deliver! Impeccably attired in white shirts and black ties they announce themselves upon us with power drums and swirly, clangy guitars; complimented by a confident vocal. They open with “Cigarette Blues”, followed by ‘Different Lies’; yet when they play the opening bars of Echo and The Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon” my ears prick up. Xander puts an echoey slant on the vocal, accompanied by the searing guitar chords; yet it works. They continue with a great set of originals of which “Lean On James” is a highlight. It’s a clangy guitar number with a noticeable 60’s beat. I shall make a point of catching these guys next time they play my local. A polished set by a ‘polished’ band-excellent!

Xander And The Keys
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Penultimate band of the night Empire Affair need no introduction. Well known around these parts and gaining a reputation further afield they once again open with songs from their recent 5 track EP “Pangs”. They open with “Press Reset”, a feisty little number that one wouldn’t forget in a hurry! Neil (vox) is hitting his drum frenetically as the whole band (and audience) join in. Once again I’m finding it hard to write anything derogatory about this band, it really is a faultless set. Neil is as energetic as ever while the band deliver the usual wholesome sound. He sings “Don’t Let Me Down” with real emotion while the energy continues with the ever popular “Can You Feel It” and this crowd once again sing along. Tonight they play a cover that absolutely deserves to grace their set on a regular basis – The Ronettes “Be My Baby”. Neil cant help but smile as he sings but they absolutely nail it! “End of Disco” follows before they leave us with the Indie/Electro majesty of “DNA Code”. Surely it’s only a matter of time before these guys are signed-they cannot be ignored by A&R forever. With gigs in far flung destinations like London and Croatia their stock can only be rising. I for one feel it’s time Empire Affair “took the next step”! We shall see.

Empire Affair
Empire Affair 

Last up are another band well known around these parts, Peace, Love and Gloves. Missing tonight it seems are the “Gloves and Glovettes” (PL&G fans) in favour of a more mature crowd. They open with “Bang, Bang, Bang” to a now packed house. Mark (vox/guitar) takes an interesting way of finding out the set order, pulling out a tiny piece of paper from his pocket with the songs on! It’s unorthodox but he’s grinning-when PLG are in this mood we know we’re in for a good gig. The set has a few new songs (to me) amongst their more well known numbers. Mark praises Empire Affair for their preperation, noting that they themselves (PLG) had only ever spent about 30 minutes in a studio! Rikki (guitar/vox) is wearing his trademark ‘cheshire cat smile’ throughout as they deliver a tight set of simple songs with Rikki’s intricate picking. Jason (drums) is really hitting the symbols tonight and the snare is huge while Bradley (bass) as ever is shoegazing all night long. “Hold On” sees Mark’s spoken word delivery in full flow tonight before the ever popular “I F*ck City”. They end with “Monster” which we all singalong to and once again I’m left pondering? Why aren’t this band bigger. They have it all-songs,stagecraft,confidence and above all else a huge local following. Only time will tell but PLG should be dining at the top table.

Peace Love And Gloves
Peace Love And Gloves 1

Let’s not forget though folks why we were here. Oxjam, the musical ‘wing’ of Oxfam raises vital funds for charity. If the event raises as much as last year then we’ve done well so hopefully those buckets will be heavy with coins and notes. The team, the bands, the venues and you the punters for supporting deserve a huge pat on the back for their efforts. Lets hope its all been worthwile.

Review & Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone

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