Sonic A.M., Irene and the Disappointments, The King's Pistol, Echo Beach
77 Renshaw Street, Liverpool
Thursday 28th January 2016
A welcoming atmosphere, good vegetarian food and free live music were
all on the agenda at Maguire's on a rainy night. First on were The King's
Pistol, "seasoned veterans of the Ghost Road," a tight, well-rehearsed
trio whose dramatic narrative songs (a "blend of dark folk and Americana")
were performed with conviction and technical coherence. What I appreciated
about their set was the way they created and sustained a self-contained
world of emotional intensity, with not a breath out of place or a note
wasted. The only time the vocalist stepped out of role was to tell the
audience the name of the band.
Next up were local band Echo Beach whose public debut this was. Cheerfully
under-rehearsed, this band was well supported, willing to show some diversity
and had just enough blague power to get away with things. Some things
anyway - maybe not the vague song endings. You can risk ending a song
half way through if you are definite, I'm told. I liked the jingly, almost
ethereal guitar sounds, their use of various levels on stage and the embryonic
sense of fun.
Another local band, Irene and the Disappointments, who describe themselves
as "a four piece dreampop/psychpop rainbow of a band," were
quirkily confident - you have to be if you choose this as your band name!
Lauren, the lead vocalist had stage presence and no-one was disappointing.
Big on energy - they belted the music out. The vocalist performed with
increasing commitment; the band potency built up and there was good audience
response. I think this momentum is best sustained by cutting out band
banter but that's just my thing. Mesmerising though, was the guitarist
playing his guitar left-handed, upside down and with prominent, edgy use
of tremolo. That and the drummer's unselfconsciously passionate vocals.
The last band, Sonic A.M. gave a virtuoso performance of barely restrained
anger. The music was pervaded by the youthful sounds and rhythms of punk,
a genre characterised by edgy aggressive behaviour and vocal contempt.
"We like the punk ethos - that's why we record ourselves, make our
own CDs and artwork - though we don't associate with Punk that has racist
or sexist content. We try to be as DIY as possible, whilst writing good,
catchy songs. We don't just want to shout," (James Farmer, drummer).There
was enthusiastic audience response and participation and the trio were
dynamic to watch and musically exciting. It takes courage and a feeling
for theatrical display to smash up an instrument as Niall Griffin did
and you risk derision if you don't get it right. Judging by the desire
for souvenirs among the guitar fragments I'd say he got it right.
I have concentrated so much on performance technique because this is
important in live music and like theatre, there are conventions and techniques
to observe, not in the sense of regulation (ugh!) but because they work
to enhance the audience's experience of the music and honour the long
tradition of the troubadour. A tradition still alive - though struggling
- in the surveyed streets of cities.
Comment left by Geoff Edwards on 3rd February, 2016 at 17:55
A good musical evening. Superb venue. Liverpool should be proud of such places. Echo Beach must do more public performances. Irene was not disappointing. Kings Pistol were a solid foundation for the evening. The highlight for me was Sonic AM. Raw emotion and true Punk fervour!