Market Square, Salisbury, Wiltshire


After a tip-off from a very good friend, I discovered this great little “all day festival” (if you will), showcasing the finest young talent from within this market town. Today’s line-up is multi-genre and there really is something for everyone. The forecasted thunderstorms never materialised (save for a brief shower around 5pm), and this audience of mainly locals stayed dry most of the day. Set in the Market Square it is in a prime location, what with the glut of lovely pubs and restaurants just yards away. In fact; one could plot up in any one of a number of these hostelries and observe from the comfort of their table, such is the proximity of the stage to these establishments. Anyway, I digress, Salisbury Live…

I arrive late while searching for the free parking and miss opener ‘Brodie Risby’. Having parked up I take early refreshment in the Ox Row Inn with today’s headliners and proceed to enjoy the dulcet tones of one Katy Neve. There’s a hint of Country/MOR in her delivery and she is not unpleasant on the ear. With refreshment consumed I head nearer the stage to catch the interestingly monikered Tikkerz (ft. Guannie), who we later find out is his producer no less. Tikkerz confidence and overall delivery is infectious and one can’t help but love his enthusiasm. Lyrically taking in all manner of socio/political subjects, no stone is left unturned. I’m no Rap expert but this guy really has a unique talent for which I applaud him.

A late lunch means we only get to see ‘Echoes’ from afar, but they manage to entertain this ever-growing crowd with their Pop/Rock set of largely original songs. We return for The Facillitators who I can’t decide are either Pop or Experimental? Their attire would suggest Hippy/Bohemia – it’s not so much that they don’t have the songs, it’s just the ramshackle delivery I can’t get my head around? Either way, they hold this young crowd’s attention and leave to good applause.

Next up, and quite a departure from the previous couple of acts, come the interestingly monikered “Anseonglas”, an Acid Jazz/Funk ensemble who really bring the party to the occasion with some wonderful instrumentation and stage presence – these guys really can play, and deliver. Info is thin on the ground but their main rabble-rouser/toastmaster, call him what you will, has a confident patter and gets the crowd involved. They depart on the biggest cheer of the day so far, which is fully deserved.

Now I’ve been told there’s a BritPop band on the bill, so I make my way to near the front for the rather excellent Signature Vision – with a name like that a band needs to stand out, and this trio certainly do. They deliver a high-energy set, chock full of swagger & a clutch of largely original songs. To my 50 something ears their output isn’t so much BritPop, more Brit Rock with more than a smattering of Mod Revival (think Weller/The Rifles). They open confidently with “Tapestry” before their excellent recent single “Out to Sea”. “Alfie” (guitar/vox) has clearly studied early Jam footage, such is his stage presence and shapeshifting. Dan (bass) dons a more statuesque stance yet is no less important. James (drums) in the engine room keeps a tidy beat. “Tomorrow Never Knows” is another highlight and they have the confidence to make a decent stab at the Arctics “Mardy Bum”, which I was especially pleased about considering they might have chosen a more obvious cover?! They leave us confidently on “Is Life An Answer”, departing to great applause.

And so to tonight’s headliners, Nerve Agent are no strangers to any stage in this town and are slowly building some strong momentum with shows outside of Salisbury. Tonight they sport a stand-in guitarist (Matt) but are no less efficient as they open in explosive fashion with “I Don’t Remember (Feeling Like This)” with its Screamcore chorus – cue the moshpit! They follow this with the brilliant ‘What You Mean to Me’ and settle into their set. Jude (lead vox/rhythm guitar) settles into his stride vocally, often gravel-throated with an honest and passionate energy. Kyle (bass) needs to wear his instrument lower-slung (IMO) but is no less important. With regular lead guitarist Oakley absent through work commitments Matt steps in on lead guitar with a style reminiscent of early 80’s Banshees! Charlie (drums), nestled at the back is a big hitter and keeps a constant beat. The great songs keep coming with some rather interesting titles – “Beat Up Jackets” (self-explanatory I guess). They air their first cover after this, a more than decent take on Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory which gets this crowd moving again. Nerve Agent appear to have moved clear of their early Pop/Punk leanings for a harder-edged Punk/Indie sound which is serving them well on tonight’s evidence. Jude’s confidence grows vocally as he growls occasionally, doffing his cap to Dave Macpherson (InMe) occasionally, but when he sings in a more melodic style I feel it suits their overall sound better.

Nerve Agent
Nerve Agent 1

How he keeps a straight face when announcing the number “Your Crippling Need for an External Enemy to Avoid Going Down a Path of Self Discovery” is anyone’s guess? Phew, even I’m exhausted!! I’m less impressed with a half-arsed rendition of Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love…”, this needs work. I would suggest Symposium’s “Drink the Sunshine” or “The Answer To Why I Hate You” would suit their sound, but what do I know? Anyway, I digress! Recent single “Blossom” comes next before they depart on “A Girl Like You”.

They do the standard promo bit at the end before thanking the organisers, staff, sound etc. but the cries of “one more song!” don’t go unnoticed as they encore a song called “Another Night” before departing to huge applause. The headline slot might be daunting to some, but Nerve Agent takes it in their stride. They have not been afraid to put in the hard yards, even playing ‘up in the smoke’. Experiences like this will only make them stronger as they carve out a niche all of their own.

Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to the young man (whose name escapes me) who organised the whole event, even gaining sponsorship to get the go-ahead (despite the obvious weather risks). I’d say he made the right call. Roll on Salisbury Live 2022!

Set Lists
Signature Vision
Tapestry
Out To Sea
Tomorrow Never Knows
C’est La Vie
Better Off at Home
Hideaway
Mardy Bum (Arctic Monkeys cover)
Is Life an Answer

Nerve Agent
I Don’t Remember Feeling Like This
What You Mean to Me
Heart Out
C U
Monsters
Beat Up Jackets
(What’s The Story) Morning Glory (Oasis cover)
Sparrow Talk
Your Crippling Need for an External Enemy to Avoid Going Down a Path of Self Discovery
You Made Me Feel
Something Isn’t Right
Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone you Shouldn’t Have) – (Buzzcocks cover)
Blossom
A Girl Like You

Encore
Another Night

Links
https://facebook.com/echoes
https://facebook.com/thefacillitators
https://facebook.com/signaturevision
https://www.nerveagent.co.uk

Review by Ross A. Ferrone

Salisbury Life 2021

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