Lighthouse , Poole

Featuring: Before We Wake (The Aaron O’Shea Band), Quorum & Mairena

Here we are once again and we are back at Lighthouse, Poole in the Sheiling studio for May’s “Live & Unheard”. If you have been living under a rock for the past 2 years you won’t know that this is one of the best local live music events in the whole of the south of England. It is curated by Matt Black and Mel Berkhauer of Hangover Hill Records who scour the area to bring their audiences the best in original music. With tickets at just over a tenner and three quality acts for your evening’s entertainment, surely it’s a no-brainer to get down here to enjoy all the event has to offer.

The first act of the evening is soloist Mairena aka Matthew James Day, who is a producer as well as a creative singer/songwriter from Sao Paulo, Portugal he moved to London in 2019. He was abandoned by his biological parents at the age of 3 and adopted by a loving family of which he is the only musician. This shaped his whole approach to life and the people he encountered within it, which helped build the foundations of his artistic quest, with music playing a crucial role in coping as a child and teenager. He is a self-taught artist and his music features freedom of expression gained from finding his own way in life. He has released a string of singles over the last couple of years showing a diverse set of musical characteristics. Kicking off with a tune called “Weird All the Time”; Mairena shows a few slight nerves and this is not helped by the failure of some of his equipment.

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After a quick check from the venue’s sound tech, the problem is found and things can get underway properly. It is then we can hear the full majestic strength of his powerful voice along with his considerable skills with a loop pedal. This enables him to harmonize with himself and layer different guitar sounds over the top of one another to create something quite unique. One of the highlights of the set is the penultimate track “Undeniably Mad”, a beautifully melodic gem that shows off his substantial creative abilities. For the final number “Sunshine Carpet Cleaners’; Mariena invites local celebrity Si Genaro to the stage to add some impromptu harmonica to proceedings. This song is more of a straightforward number with just Mariena’s voice along with his acoustic guitar and the two really compliment each other ending the set off in fine style.

Next up for their second trip to Live & Unheard are Devon’s Quorum, they last came here in February 2020, leaving a lasting impression on everyone in the audience. Tonight they return having released their 2nd EP “The Death of Intellectual Success”, as well as a UK tour and some decent support slots/festival appearances in the Devon and Cornwall areas. Kicking off with “Could We Be Different” from the new EP, the band shows themselves to be brighter and fitter than before with frontman Jordan showing a completely new look. His energy and determination to win over the audience are commendable, showing no restraint he has grown into quite a formidable frontman. The band is also a force to be reckoned with, with Noah’s fine basslines coupled with Mack’s powerfully creative drumming and Jake’s wonderfully melodic guitar. They create a sound that is on the poppier side of the rock spectrum, which has a wide demographic appeal.

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Their music is infectious and with tracks like “Boyfriend” along with the epic “You Said”, which is an incredibly personal song that Jordan sings from the heart. “Go” is a track about living in a place that you hate and tonight it’s dedicated to Huddersfield after some light-hearted audience interactions. After an incredibly hard-hitting version of Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer”, where Jordan performs like a man possessed. The band arrives at their final song “Still Can’t See” and you can tell by the excited atmosphere in the place that the band has delivered one hell of a great set here tonight. You cannot fault their energy, performance, creativity, and the chemistry within the band along with the considerable improvements from the last time. The audience goes wild at the end of the last song giving the band the adulation they deserve.

Tonight’s headliner has quite a back story and thankfully I have had my own small part to play in this. Aaron O’Shea entered Hangover Hill studios to record his debut album “Devil Lost His Way” with Matt Black and after its successful release Matt recommended that he enter a music competition I was putting on. After blowing mine and the other judge’s socks off in the heats with a stunning solo performance Aaron made it through to the final and eventually won first prize. This was the start of a music career that has gone from strength to strength (in just over a year) with a feast of solo gigs along with playing with various bands with a lifelong ambition forming his own band Before We Wake.

Tonight is the very debut gig of his own originals band, who are to perform songs from that very debut album. The line-up features Sam Hurst on drums, Ben Sidaway on bass, and Dylan Coyne on electric guitar. As it’s the first-ever gig, it is clear there are going to be a few nerves beforehand from all players, and being on home turf many members of the band members family are here to show their support.

Kicking off with “Devil Lost His Way” the band finds their stride pretty quickly and Aaron in his cut-down Iron Maiden t-shirt stands at the front with a grin a wide as Poole Bridge. He is so excited to be here and is loving every minute of being able to showcase his original songs to an audience who clearly want to attentively listen. The sound is big and bold with Aaron showing off his considerable skills on his guitar while young Dylan(Who has Aaron as his Guitar Teacher) shows what an upcoming strings man is giving some fine backing to the tracks.

A surprise cover of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” is dedicated to the late Taylor Hawkins and is played in the style of Foo Fighters as a heartfelt tribute to the late great drummer. Tracks including “Runaway”, “I’m in Love with You” and “Don’t Seem Pretty” see the band delivering in all areas, despite only being their first outing, there is very little that they can improve on, except confidence. This shows itself and the audience shows these four guys lots of support, giving the band the validation they need to show they are more than capable of putting on a great show.

Before We Wake
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One of the stand-out tracks on the album “This is For You “, rock legend Matt Black is invited to the stage to add some keys to the track, as with his previous guest performances he has of course dressed for the occasion. Trying his best to look like the rock god he has dreamed of being, he looks more though like the big cuddly cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz, but boy can that lion play!!. I personally have dreamt of hearing this track live ever since hearing it for the first time on the album and it certainly does not disappoint. This atmospheric room does the song real credit and still, Aaron’s grin continues to grow as he leans back playing the immense solo on his guitar. The whole evening has been a rollercoaster of emotions for this band and as they finish their last track and take all the applause, their nerves all but disappear. Keep an eye out on the local scene for these guys and remember their name “Before We Wake”, make the effort to go and see them, you won’t be disappointed.

Set Lists
Before We Wake
Devil Lost His Way
Just For a While
Been Here Before
Never Gonna Give You Up (Rick Astley Cover)
I’m In Love With You
Don’t Seem Pretty
This is For You (Featuring Matt Black)
Time On The Line
No Going Back

Could We Be Different
The Death of Intellectual Success
Sea Breeze
You Said
Psycho Killer (Talking Heads Cover)
Still Can’t See

Weird All The Time
Before The Sun
Peace Love Apocalypse
Make Samsara Empty Again
Undeniably Mad
(Featuring Si Genaro)



In June there are two “Live & Unheard” events at Poole Lighthouse:

Thursday 9th June Featuring The Passenger Club, Lost at Sea & Sammy Milton, check here.

Thursday 23rd June featuring two rockers Chris Payn & Danny Adams, check here.

Words & Media by David Chinery (Chinners).