Lighthouse, Poole

Wait a minute it’s Saturday night and we are at the Lighthouse for a “Live & Unheard” event… it’s normally the last Thursday of the month I hear you regulars all cry!! Ah yes, that is correct…but tonight is a Legend’s special. Hangover Hill have brought back two of the most popular acts for what is to be a great night. As Matt Black is gigging in Wookey Hole with no doubt a few Chewbacca jokes and Si Genaro is in Hazelbury Bryan with Jason & The Alcopops, I am honoured to have been invited to compère and stage manage the event. I have worked with both acts before and predict a particularly brilliant night.

After a round of soundchecks that sees Sound Engineer Josh Ord and Lighting Technician Sam Coombes working their socks off, getting every aspect of the band requirements ready for the night ahead; it must be said that the work that these guys put in before, during and after is so invaluable to these events – they are the reason the technical side always seems to go so smoothly.

This evening, we have an audience of just under a hundred people and for a Saturday night with so much else going on, it’s great that that these folks have selected to spend their evening with these two great original bands.

First up is DD Allen (Drew), a unique singer/songwriter who I have personally seen grow in stature and experience over the last ten years. The latest change sees the band become a four- piece and Drew becoming the sole guitarist. At the time when former accomplished guitarist Christian left it was a bitter blow, however this seems to have changed the whole style of the band for the better. They feature “Live & Unheard” veteran Will Sear (Cee Luna/ Masau’u) on Keyboards, Richard Walker on drums, Alex Reid on bass/vocals, with Drew on electric guitar and lead vocals. Kicking off with “Mr Nice”, a song about Howard Marks the Welsh marijuana smuggler; the band show themselves to be in fine form with the sound and lighting just about perfect.

We are treated to some new tracks from the band’s forthcoming “Rebel Hero” EP including the enchanting “Born to Love You” and “Green Room”; which I feel both shows off the newer elements from the band’s creativity, which gives Drew the chance to show off his guitar skills. With “Green Room” he lets rip with a divine piece of guitar work, I close my eyes and drift off! His left-handed guitar skills are heavily influenced by the likes of some of the greats like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Rory Gallagher. “Double Up the Devil” is a dark, more brooding number that has the vibe of The Doors with the melodic sound of the keys, along with the prominent rhythms and yet another impressive guitar solo.

DD Allen
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Since starting Drew has battled with his confidence on stage and unlike so many frontmen, he was not so comfortable performing on stage in front of an audience. To see how far he has come tonight, he puts down his guitar and along with just keyboard player Will delivers an amazingly emotive performance of “I See You in The Dark”, quite stripped back from the released version. Just seeing Drew somewhat alone standing there under the spotlight just shows how he has blossomed as a performer. As the song nears its conclusion the audience burst into applause showing their appreciation for a fantastic moment, Drew just shyly smiles. After a few more familiar tracks which show some subtle but effective reworkings, the set comes to end with the title track of the new EP. A truly inspiring performance and one that I’m sure both Matt and Si will be frustrated at missing.

Wherever and whenever “Sirpico” are in town there is always plenty of excitement. Whether it’s on a festival stage, in a pub or a theatre, these four guys can deliver – and some. They have a host of original songs that all feel like potential hits and the whole band have an air of confidence that only a band with their firm long-term chemistry can provide. The opening number “Too Much Fun” kicks off with powerhouse drummer Tim Pidgely before Paul Finch on Bass, Dan Mezza on Guitar along with frontman and keyboard player Al Sirpico join in. They work together like a well-oiled machine, creating a momentum that generates a great atmosphere within this studio theatre with tracks like the familiar “Without You”, “The People” and “Everything She Had” getting the crowd singing.

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They even have a brand-new song entitled “Only When I’m Dreaming” and once again the band show there is no stopping their creative abilities. The track features some retro funky guitar riffs via Dan’s wah wah pedal; with some infectious rhythms, along with some cleverly put together lyrics. Al’s Vocalzone-assisted singing is powerful with plenty of vocal textures for us all to enjoy. Their longevity is down to many different aspects of the way that they purvey themselves and a local music scene without “Sirpico” would indeed be a very dull one. When you have a difficult week in your mundane job and you come to your local and see them perform, all your worries are evaporated. As with the previous performance here during the final number the band get the audience up on their feet, singing the words out loud to “Jamie Lee”. The audience member who was singing the loudest and had the biggest smile on her face was Al’s 10-year old daughter who was clearly proud of her Dad’s top draw performance here tonight.

Set Lists
Too Much Fun
Without You
Pink Squirrel
The People
Dance Floor Insomniac
Everything She Had
Only When I’m Dreaming
Digital Me
In The River
One For the Rebel
Jamie Lee

DD Allen
Mr Nice
Paper Masks
Born To Love You
Green Room
American Dream
Rebecca’s Curse
Double Up the Devil
I See You in The Dark
Just a Little More
Show Me a Little Mercy
Rebel Hero





The next “Live & Unheard” event is on Thursday 25th April featuring Kingsfoil, The Raid and Ruffdog Elliott. Tickets can be purchased here.

Words & Media by David Chinery (Chinners)
Photography by Lynn Burt