Sonic A.M., Irene and the Disappointments, The King's Pistol, Echo Beach

Live Music at Maguire's Pizza Bar
77 Renshaw Street, Liverpool
Thursday 28th January 2016
Free entry

Reviewed by Sandra Gibson

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.

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Sorry Comments Closed

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!