Boldre Club, Pilley

Tonight we head over the Hampshire border deep into the depths of the New Forest to Pilley, the home of the infamous Boldre Club. There is a charity night on this evening in aid of the Campaign against Living Miserably aka “CALM”. The charity tells us that 125 people a week die by committing suicide, the charity exists to change that. They have been shouting about suicide prevention since 1997; when their life-saving helpline launched they originally set up as an NHS pilot, the helpline started out in Merseyside and became a national charity in 2006.

This means they are able to support people who needed us across the whole of the country. The number to ring if you feel you need help is 0800 585858. It’s clearly a worthy cause and here tonight are people whose lives have been shattered by losing a loved one. Tonight the event is just a fiver on the door with a raffle to help raise much needed funds and those who have turned up to support this charity are rewarded with three great live acts.

The first of these are local guys Clockwork Carousel, though normally a five-piece tonight they ease us in gently with an acoustic set with three members of the band; Martin Gregory (Lead Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), Ben “Garth” Finlay (Mandolin/Acoustic Guitar) and Steve Dyer (Acoustic Guitar). It’s been quite a while since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys play, they have a vein of Americana influences; however there is something distinctly British about their styles. It’s not easy performing acoustically in a noisy club like this, these guys command attention with some skilful strings work and delightful harmonies.

Clockwork Carousel
Clockwork Carousel 1

We are treated to some material from the band’s debut self-titled album including the rocking “Heat Seeking Missile”. There is a emotive new song dedicated to Martin’s late Grandfather featuring some touching heartfelt lyrics and just for good measure we get an Allman Brothers cover too. A great start to the evening in this friendly place full of familiar faces from the music scene.

And so to the returning sons – albeit with a new line-up, returning son then!! Local legend Shaun Morris (The Cropdusters/Peeping Toms) has put together a new Vipers line-up with four erstwhile musicians from Kingston (near London), where the band also rehearse and record. This has seen a rather prolific flurry of output songs wise with Shaun teasing us every now and then with new releases. Well what about their live output you ask? Well, tonight Mathew is their comeback!

Bamboo Vipers
Bamboo Vipers 12

The band open unsurprisingly with “Lymington Lounge Lizard” which to my ears sounds like the Happy Mondays on crack! Dare I suggest they have gone experimental? Normal service is resumed with ‘Runt of the Litter’ driven by huge snare pounding and Shaun’s defined vocal. It’s bass-heavy but they have managed to maintain the classic Vipers sound of old while making obvious tweaks here and there. Fairly recent single, the affectionately titled “Andrew Ridgeley Moment” doesn’t disappoint while “Champagne Socialist” reminds me of ‘Silly Thing-era’ Pistols.

Staying with the ’70’s theme “Jobs For The Boys” evokes memories of early Cocksparrer with its anthemic, singalong chorus. The vipers are really hitting their stride now, song after song sees them growing in confidence. Shaun’s familiar fist pump and Strummer-inspired leg-jerks see him right in the moment on “Democratic Kampuchea” while “Punk in the Provinces” seems rather apt with its Clash-esque vibe. They end with little fuss on “Boredom the Silent Killer” with its huge, drum-filled wall of sound and big anthemic vocal. And that my friends was that, a triumphant return to form with shades of “working class 70’s first wave Punk”.

One last big push and shout out for the raffle precedes the set by tonight’s headliners ‘The Surge’. The Surge remain in a similar vein with their Punk Rock/New Wave (old wave) sound. They open with “Sometimes” which shows Kat’s vocal confidence early on and driven by a fierce, snare-driven rhythm section. “In Love With Yourself” follows with its clicky-basslines but the general all round sound is clear and unfussy. The chord changes and intricacies on “Good Looking” stand out amid the heavy bass and drums, which are a main staple of most of their set. And while I cannot sight any obvious influences, vocally “All Gone” reminds me of Nina Courson (Healthy Junkies) with its layered vocalising.

The Surge
The Surge 12

“Tomorrow Never Knows” is thankfully not a Beatles cover while “Rise Above You” sees dual vocals with bassist Pete coming to the fore with a confident vocal addition. “Fair Trade Cocaine” continues with Martin’s guitar intricacies, Marcus’s huge drum pounding and Pete’s thudding bass. While I thought that the first five or six songs were following a similar pattern, they are now really hitting their stride. As they near the latter stage of the set a large group of young chaps appear at the bar – the Rugby must have finished!!

“Rich Girl” is described as a dancing song and these young bucks need no encouragement as they dance away right up until last song “Amped”. Tonight’s set seems a far cry from being first on at a showcase gig at Boscombe’s Cellar Bar last month. Clearly confidence is growing and a prestigious slot at this year’s Fazza Fest Charity Festival will do them no harm.

Set Lists
The Surge
In Love With Yourself
Good Looking
All Gone
Tomorrow Never Knows
I Gave You
Rise Above You
Fair Trade Cocaine
Lost and Drowned
England’s Dreaming
Rich Girl
Pretty Smile

Bamboo Vipers
Lymington Lounge Lizard
Runt of The Litter
Andrew Ridgeley Moment
Champagne Socialist
Jobs For The Boys
Democratic Kampuchea
New Kinky Dimension
Punk in the Provinces
Boredom the Silent Killer




Words By Ross A. Ferrone
Media by David Chinery (Chinners)

The Surge