Always going to be tough when youre competing with Sod and his law. Tonight it dictates that VooDooGlooSkoools, or something very similar, are playing at the Future Club in Derby, SugarPlumFairies are playing Rock City in Nottingham, and Eddie Izzard is playing the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. Which means that the chances of there being a crowd are somewhere around the zilch mark. If youre lucky. Mind you, the fact that even if Sod and his law hadnt been playing all those other gigs tonight means, er, sod all. Cos unless you are an American Ska Punk band, you dont get a crowd anyway.
And so it is that Huge Baby start out to, well, the other bands and a couple of us really. Shame given the fact that over the next 25 minutes or so they were quite outstanding. Featuring new boy Paul on vocals, in only his second gig, the guitarist Kay stands, puffing out his cheeks, playing like hes in slow motion, yet these huge slabs of riffage emerge from the guitars. Then Voodoo is unleashed, it shimmers, tribal sounding, but resisting the urge to just break out into big meaningless powerchords. Everything lifts a notch, new singer Paul bravely goes topless, giving that its not exactly scorching in here. Another song features sitar sounds emerging from the guitar, and the band look like theyre truly locking into the groove now. Course, not having heard much of the material before, its hard to describe it all and remember. But its very cool. Even when the cord falls out of the microphone, its retreived in a stylish manner. During the final track, Paul runs around the venue, trying to encourage the people that are here to stand and get more involved, and the guitarist takes to the middle of the venue and proceeds to stand on his guitar to play it. On a concrete floor. Twisting and grinding it in to the ground. Russ, the Dai Lo guitarist, cant bear to watch, and hides his head in his top, distraught. Ah, guitarists, sensitive souls, whod have thought it. Im sure the Glowing Foo Skulls are going well at the moment, but Huge Baby are being huge. Mind you, an interview took place afterwards. Yeah, Ill see if I can pick the bones off it and get something together. Interesting. But Az, playing a headless bass, nooooooo. Remember, shaped basses are evil and corrupt the youth. So do headless basses. Well I've got to have a complaint in there somewhere haven't I?
So follow that one then.
Ah, but its Dai Lo. Follow it? Well, they proceed to play a six song set that features only one song that I know, and thats one of their old Mangacide tracks. Even when Mr Sod intervenes after the first song, which is a surprisingly mellow choice, Cold Harsh Truth, and, as Shaun describes it our bass has died Dai Lo can do little wrong tonight. Well, with the exception of the big rock endings which need some work. And Shaun telling jokes. Ive only got room for one joke up here he points to his head, and the one thats there really is bad, very bad. Its all new material that shows the band evolving from those demo tracks that still find themselves being played nearly 11 months after I first heard them. The music feels like its an extension to what theyve been doing, in a way its even more grand through the likes of Transmission, Warhead, and the final track, so new that it's called New. Well it is at the moment. Methinks the title may change.. Theres more of an epic feel going on, which normally means you need time to accustomise yourself. But even here on first listen it sounds right, it sounds good. There was even a little bit of spanish flamenco style in one song I couldve sworn. Though of course, I reserve the right to be completely wrong. Thanks to everyone for coming over, thanks to the bands for driving miles, thanks for letting us play here, but man it fucking stinks up here says Shaun, referring of course to the fact that les toilettes are directly behind the stage, and apparently it, er, stinks. The band appear well up for it tonight, the lack of a real crowd matters little. The old Mangacide track, This Is Your Day is thrown in for good measure. The stage is small but Shaun still manages to cover most of it, crouching and leaping, and Jonn is stomping away with his bass like someone stomping away with his bass. Si meanwhile is refusing to do a big rock ending, no matter what. At the end theres a few cries for more, dont youre toying with my emotions pleads Shaun. Shame, Dai Lo are turning essential.
Me and Hangnail havent really clicked yet. I cant decide about them. Good, but cheesy. But tonight it finally clicks for me. Nothing has changed with the music, its just tonight after whats gone before them theyre going to have to raise their game to match Dai Lo and Huge Baby. And they do. Its probably Harry the vocalist, who is looking and behaving like James Hetfield all those years ago, tossing the mane, headbanging for the UK, and extolling the virtues of alcohol. Its like hes living his dreams. There may only be a handful of people down there, but hes headlinging Donington. Its great to be on tour and play places weve never played before. Like Derby. This placing is cool as fuck. You cringe and grin at the same time cos its said with such meaning and enjoyment you cant help but grin. Its a shortened set tonight, but the likes of Overhang, Side/Slide and Summer Rain suddenly hit home, and mean that I think I should give that CD a listen again.
Storming night really, three good bands. And you know what, something weird happened. You had 3 vocalists who actually sung. Each different, each their own personality. But how often do you see that on a bill these days. Or evenings.