It’s been a busy week, so now I am trying to catch up with these latest blogs, and there has been some excellent music to talk about. I went over to Birmingham on Wednesday – Black Stone Cherry and Stone Gods were playing the Academy, but I was not there to see them (I see them tonight in Oxford) because I had gone over to the smaller Bar Academy to see Island Three. Being presented by The Catapult Club it was 4 bands and a fiver to get in.
First up were Wiseacre, and I understand this was only their fourth gig – it did not show as they blazed through a set of well crafted songs with a tight sound and a controlled drive which was surely beyond their experience together. You can hear the tracks they played on their MySpace page, and it’s interesting to see their influences, because for me there is a touch of some of the harder Rush sound in there. Excellent guitar based rock, and well worth going to see – I will certainly be looking out for them in the future.
Next came The Great Plain, who seemed to be living their evening through the midst of chaos at times – they had forgotten to bring their cds, and appeared uncertain about what was coming next within their set – but this did not detract from a fine performance of light, bouncy indie numbers – quite an eclectic sound – easy to tap your foot too, and some lovely melodies. They had recently added a bassist and drummer, and this certainly gives them a fuller sound – and the drumming was being done with almost voilent precision at times, which was fine to observe. They are playing the Walnut Tree Inn in Blisworth, Northampton in January and I am planning to go along…and get one of those cds this time.
So Called Enemy consisted of one guy on vocals and guitar, and one guy on drums for this performance. It still sounded good, and I have no idea what future plans are, but the sounds need a full band around them. They list themselves as pop punk on My Space, and there is an edge to the music, but I think they are closer to hard rock than punk. It was a big drum sound, aggressive at times – great in this venue. Perfect vocals for this type of music as well.
I had come across Island Three while searching for Porcupine Tree items on eBay – they had cleverly included a reference to the band in their listing, so I bought their ep. It is a good ep, but for me it had more of a Red Hot Chilli Peppers feel than Porcupine Tree – but I had been waiting for a chance to see them live, and when this gig was moved forward a day it became perfect for me. And the first two tracks up were the biggest slices of what seems to be termed nu-prog that you could ask for ! What a difference from the ep – here WAS the Porcupine Tree sound, heavy, hard, sharp edge, guitar driven with great keyboards combining – and a huge hint towards Oceansize as well. They played just two tracks off the ep, and for me they were easily in the shadow of the new material. Here you have intelligent rock, complex beats, stages to each track – I cannot wait to hear it recorded, which they are planning to do in March. But if you get a chance to go and see them live then take it, and enjoy this direction they are taking.