Fresh Jam at The Storey – 02/10/09
Reviewed by Reza Mills
Tonight’s event promised to be an exciting prospect with no less than 6 yes 6! artists performing, as well as a raffle, alcohol and some bloke called Silent Mark comparing.
Although the doors opened at 7:30, I arrived slightly late having done a gruelling shift out in the sticks, otherwise known as Carnforth. Luckily I didn’t arrive too late as the first act Morecambe outfit Liar, Liar, (or at least front man David Murdoch and lead guitarist Charlie Kondras) kicked off proceedings with a collection of jaunty, upbeat indie-pop. The band list their influences on their MySpace page as The Jam, The Smiths, Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Billy Bragg to name a few. This was combined with the contemporary sound of outfits such as The Cribs. David had a pleasant enough voice and the band performed a bracing set to a room that was only half-full (or at least filling up). A nice start to the evening.
Next up was Nancy Kent who the Silent one has featured on his breakfast show. Nancy is a young singer-songwriter from Lancaster with a very sweet voice, kind of in the Jo Gillot vein. She had what can only be described as a collection of genteel indie-folk-pop tunes. Nancy was understandably a little nervous, considering the fact that the room by this stage was starting to swell in numbers. But despite that she bravely soldiered on and pulled off a cracking set that had everyone whooping like a crowd of Americans. In fact an encore was demanded and a song titled ‘Rainy Day’ was requested despite Nancy’s protestations that it ‘wasn’t very good’. She seemed a little embarrassed by the song though its’ difficult to see why. Nancy is a promising talent and one to watch in the future.
Here is where my memory starts to get a little hazy, (could have been the cider). I am pretty certain up next was my main man Tom Bramhall aka Ponies. When people go on about ‘The Lancaster scene’, they’ll often mention Uncle Jeff, Kriss Foster and Dan Haywood. As great as those cats are, in my opinion Ponies are one of the best and most under-rated outfits to come out of the area. Every time I have seen him perform, I have never failed to be anything but impressed and blown-away by the heart, passion and soul Tom puts into each and every performance, even when he sometimes modestly claims to be having an ‘off-night’. Tonight was definitely not one of those nights. Tom seemed relaxed and was cracking jokes with the audience. Those who are familiar with Ponies’ work will know that Tom is not a man to do things by half measures. He puts his all into the performances and tonight was no exception. He managed to balance beauty and rawness to brilliant effect. The new Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Warren Zevon? Who cares? Its’ just great music.
Next act up tonight was Mike Dignum who came all the way from London to perform at tonight’s’ event. Mike is an 18 year old singer-songwriter originally from Preston who moved to London to ‘make it’. What is quite surprising is how professional Mike sounds at such a tender young age. He’s confident with a fine set of pipes. To compare him with anyone, you could say there were hints of Jack Johnson or Finlay Quaye present in his sound. His music has a slight reggae tinge to them. What you get is a nice collection of upbeat slick indie-pop. While Mike is very good at what he does, his music is a little too polished for its’ own good and by the 3rd or 4th song things are starting to sound a little samey. A little of Ponies’ raw attitude wouldn’t have gone amiss, if anything to counter-balance the beautifully crafted indie-pop that Mike is so adept at. At the moment things sound a little ‘too nice’ and dare I say a little bland? However clearly I was in a minority as Mike seemed to attract his fair share of young ladies and was soon selling and autographing CD’s – even Diversity FM’s super fan Dave the Listener was up there, £5 at the ready. Kudos must go to Mike for coming all this way to perform at Fresh Jam. I think we shall be hearing big things from this young man in the years to come.
The Idol Minds are a young quartet from Morecambe who play a mixture of indie-rock, ska-punk and new wave. They list their influences as The Police, Blondie and Third Wave Ska. They have in the past supported Andy Rourke (The Smiths), Reemer, Team Waterpolo and The Troubadours. At first I was a little sceptical as to whether this would be ‘my cup of tea’. However my fears were soon allayed as the boys really put on an energetic, fun-filled set with a selection of tunes that wouldn’t have gone amiss on any of the American Pie soundtracks. They were a very tight, engaging live act who played with a lot of spirit and heart. These guys were a lot of fun without being too whacky and silly. I’ll admit to not being the biggest fan of this kind of music, but even I came away satisfied with what I’d witnessed. As long as you take the music for what it is, ‘a bit of fun’ and leave your prejudices at the door, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy The Idol Minds. In fact you can do this when they perform at The Stonewell Tavern on the 29th October.
Sadly the effects of the booze were starting to take their toll and bed was increasingly looking like a tempting option. I must apologize to Wonderlust and Simon ‘Monkey Boy’ Rothwell for not sticking around for their set. However I have it on good authority (well Chris Brookbanks) that they put on a cracking performance. Thanks and praises must be extended out to Chris Brookbanks and Kara Pirttijarvi for all the hard work and effort they put in. It was in short a resounding success and hopefully more events of this nature will be scheduled in the future to help showcase what a brilliant job Diversity FM does.