Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth

San Marlo

On a freezing cold Thursday evening I arrive early to catch the last ‘We Broke Free’ live show of the year. Initial headliners Drug Store Romeos have decided to become the “support act”, enabling them to make the last train home. A first for me tonight is to witness a band playing whilst sat down on the stage on cushions. Whether planned or not it lends itself well to their overall sound, which is dreamy throughout. Only two-thirds of the band are here to entertain us tonight so percussion at least goes out the window. So; this 2 piece guitar, bass, keys, flute combo entertain us with their dreamy, shoegaze-inspired pop. Sarah’s soft sultry vocals match the intricate picking style of Charlie(?), whose own vocal style is somewhat huskier. I’m reminded of Tanya Donnelly (Belly) at her mellow best and the set I feel is hugely experimental, while centered mainly on Sarah’s vocal. Instrument swapping is taken halfway through but this doesn’t detract from their overall sound. At exactly 30 minutes their set is short but sweet, however, their melancholy I’m sure will have garnered one or two new fans.

Drug Store Romeos
Drug Store Romeos 12

And so San Marlo rightfully (IMO) take the headline slot. The numbers have grown somewhat and some amusing howling/heckling from one punter takes place almost throughout. But even at this early stage in their career, they take it in their stride. They open with their new single “Honey”, then promptly play the B-side “Veins”. Their Grunge-inspired songs are powerful throughout while in Connor Fox they have a vocalist with huge range and a measured stagecraft. His smiling/gurning expressions are matched by shapeshifting on a sixpence, so small is the space they are afforded. To his left Aaron (bass) casually swigs at a can of beer when not needed mid song! Jack (guitar/b. vox) handles the intricacies of their songs and never stays still for a second, at one point wandering into the unclaimed pit area. Tucked away at the back is Matt (drums), whose snare is huge throughout yet his hitting seems effortless.

San Marlo
San Marlo 123

“Know Her Name” is an early highlight as they slowly build their set up, layer upon layer. Connor’s vocal in the main is Cobain-esque, but this is no cheap imitation – he has a unique style quite his own. From what I can gather there are no covers in their set and for this they can only be applauded this early in their fledgling career. There’s a certain carefree element to Connor’s stagecraft with his mannerisms and languid style, both with his guitar and approach to singing. And while Aaron seems happy to occupy the tiny space afforded him Jack chooses to venture out and be more animated. The songs ebb and flow; ‘Dreaming’ has echoes of Nirvana while ‘Drop D’ has a more Lemonheads sound, poppier and commercial sounding. They slowly build to two final biggies. Penultimate track ‘Changing’ is simply a great prelude to the brilliant set closer “Breathe Out”. San Marlo do the big feedback-driven finish then nonchalantly walk off stage one by one, not before Jack offers us free 8 track CD’s.

With most bands emulating the past in some way or another it’s refreshing to see a band choosing to represent this genre. And with only one other band (to my knowledge) occupying the space in this town, there’s clearly room for competition. With the “We Broke Free” mini-tour just around the corner this is their time. And with Nine Black Alps dropping hints on facebook of material to come San Marlo could do worse than secure a support with them or like-minded bands within the genre.

San Marlo
Not Enough
Know Her Name
Drop D
Breathe Out



Review, Pictures and Videos by Ross A. Ferrone.

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