The Lighthouse, Poole

Hangover Hill’s “Live & Unheard” returns to the Lighthouse in Poole the day before the majority of the local scene are to head down to Blandford for the much-loved, award-winning Teddy Rocks festival. I am personally quite partial to lots of different genres of music, however, undoubtedly my first love is Rock music and as I arrive in the Sheiling Studio I am greeted by the beautiful sight of a row of guitar amps. This can only mean one thing, Matt and Mel have compiled a three-band Rock night for our musical pleasure. For this event tonight, every ticket has been sold and these three strong line-ups have clearly piqued the curiosity of this audience.

Tonight’s first band are introduced by Matt Black as our usual host Si Genaro is otherwise engaged, which is a shame as his Dad Jokes and zany words always add some sparkle to these evenings. Three-piece “Reddle” from just down the A35 in Dorchester take to the stage. These guys are just seventeen years old and only recently released their debut single in December of last year. Opening with a tune called “Hold Your Gun” these three show a maturity beyond their years.

The band are made up of Ralph Bishop (Vocals/Guitar), Lenny Francis-Ellam (Drums) and Joe Powney (Bass). The band are quite unique for a young outfit as their influences seem to derive from 60’s Psychedelia and Progressive Rock, with a large helping of Bowie and a scattering of the Blues. They do seem a little nervous and my only gripe is that they could address the audience a little more and introduce their songs. However, this is possibly the biggest gig that they have played and they have more than a right to be a little apprehensive.

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Their musical skills are a joy to watch, Ralph covers every inch of his Fender Stratocaster with some joyous prowess and features some awe-inspiring guitar solo’s. Joe’s nifty fretwork on the bass along with Lenny’s impressive drum skills show that the band are really well rehearsed and the trio have created great chemistry amongst themselves. With tracks like the epic progressive “Walls Of Sadness”, their Blues-inspired debut single “In My Mind” and the final number “Wisened Eyes” they transfixed the crowd with the significant mastery.

Reddle is a band that shows lots of potential for the future; if they can provide music like this at 17, just imagine what they will be able to achieve with a few more years under their belt.

Next up are Dorset-based band Hightown Parade, a project that is the brainchild of local hero Chris Payn. Chris has spent his life performing in various projects over the years and this one is now his main outlet for his original musical creations. Matt looks particularly proud to be introducing these guys tonight, clearly as the frontman is one of his offspring. Chris’s hand-picked band feature the ultra-talented Sam Churches on guitar, with the rock-solid Duncan Petrus on bass and the area’s most sought-after drummer Zoot Hill-Valler taking his rightful place on the stool. This is a formidable line-up and I’ve seen them each excel in other bands and these guys are the right type of musicians to get the best out of Chris’s material.

Chris starts off on the piano and like his Father, has significant knowledge of how to get the best out of it. The opening tune is like a smoulderingly epic Bond score with some really powerful vocals; which leads into a new tune called “Breakfast” featuring some pre-programmed synth backing and some creative rhythms melded with the two guitars as the tracks’ intense backbone.

As I said, long before Chris was able to purchase alcohol legally; he has an air about him as someone that has graduated from the School of Rock with a distinction. There are always plenty of projects going on and I have over the years expected big things from him. He has not had that big break yet that everyone around him has predicted; there is still time and with his constant striving for the right type/style of music, who knows – anything could be possible.

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He is notably a fan of artists that are big songwriters and has a distinctive sound like The Darkness, Queen and Prince to name a few. The songs echo this constant striving to create that next big tune that will immortalize its writer. Of the newer tracks ‘Wild Wild Wish’ has quality like this; a track with a harder edge with some impressive, atmospheric guitar work and once again more of that powerful vocal delivery. One of my favourite tracks “We Are Monarchy” elegantly closes the band set with big choruses and monumental instrumentation that leaves the crowd wanting more. This band have a great following locally and all of us want to see them succeed with their quest for success and no one deserves it more than Chris Payn.

Tonight’s final band have spent most of the day in a van travelling on a motorway heading down from their hometowns in South Wales. The Now are a four-piece modern Rock band featuring Shane Callaghan (Rhythm Guitar & Lead Vocals), Will Scott (Drums), Callum Bromage (Guitar & Vocals) and Jay Evans (Bass Guitar). Matt & Mel of Hangover Hill (More Mel to be honest) work really hard to bring us some of the most happening acts and this one I’ve been promised is something special.

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From their opening number “Holy” they show plenty of Rock n’ Roll swagger; dressed in their biker jackets, (except Will who looks like he’s going clubbing afterwards)! The guitars radiate a host of beautifully creative melodic riffs, while the rock-solid rhythm section ably backs it with some infectious foot-tapping fashioning. I’m actually sitting here with a huge smile on my face as these guys have everything I want in a Rock band. Most of the audience is not au fait with the band’s material as of yet, however, the nature of some of the tracks has the ability to really make their mark on the first listen. The band have a real energy and while the fact that the venue is all seated, you can tell that the audience’s enthusiasm is increasing with each number they play.

Tracks like the cliché “Rockstar” and a great composition about a trip to Glasgow called “Mr Jones” and a real uplifter called “Special Kind Of Stupid”. Ok, so Mel was right; these guys really have a je ne sais quoi. This venue allows one the ability to listen and take in the music. I am though imagining these guys in a festival setting with a big crowd and these songs, that would just let everyone feverishly let off steam. They end with their single “Friendly Fires”; which shows yet more of their abilities in creation, the song is just so catchy with its melodic hooks and foot-tapping rhythms, along with the ‘Woa Woa Woa’s’. The audience instinctively joined in and the band finished off their set on a real high…I just may have found my new favourite band…….

Set Lists
Hold Your Gun
Trash Society
Million Dollar
Walls Of Sadness
Weary Night
In My Mind
Cat’s Eyes
It’s Not Too Late
Wisened Eyes

Hightown Parade
Wild Wild Wish
Mental Combat
Pow Pow Pow Pow
We Are Monarchy

The Now
Girl You Got Me
Devil Inside Me
This Town
Dr Jones
His Last Dimension
Wind Up
Special Kind of Stupid
Loosen Up
Friendly Fire


Next Month’s “Live & Unheard” features three eclectic acts including Piano maestro Marky Dawson, tunesmith & storyteller Jinder (Phil Dewhurst) + with their infectious grooves and jazzy beats The Midnight Alliance. All tickets for April’s event sold out in advance so I suggest you purchase your tickets in advance here.


Words & Media David Chinery.

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