Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, The Skints and New Riot – The Ironworks, Inverness – 21/02/11
I’d kept an eye on this gig for ages beforehand. Inverness, in February, only one of two Scottish dates. With the potential of bad weather, cancellations, rank roads, and on a Monday night. So much could go wrong but thankfully didn’t. Another problem has since arisen though, just how to express in limited words just how good the night turned out to be. I’m regularly envious of other review writers as they can dip into their almost encyclopedic knowledge of albums and name drop which tracks came from which albums (New York Johnny) or which member used to play in The Bluegrass Dustbin Lid Band (Godzilla Blues). I love these guys writing when they’re on form, but I merely say how it was for me on the night without any additional info I’m afraid. The links to all the bands webpages are at the bottom of this page though, be sure to check them out.
Doors open just after 7.30 and we’re quickly scuttling to the front as we discover the first band is to get the show under way at quarter to eight. I fully expected The Skints to give us a groovy warm up to the more energetic sounds of the evening but no, it was New Riot that appeared first and moved that benchmark right up to maximum for the others to match. The song titles have since become a blur in the audio orgy of what the world would probably call ska-pop-punk these days, or something like that anyway. Its fast, its catchy, and the band members are covering every inch of the front of the stage. Guitars, trumpet and sax, whats not to like? One thing is for sure, this is no warm up act, this is picking up your £200 without passing Go. One thing strikes me in hindsight, just how likeable these guys were, its busy, its frantic but there’s smiles everywhere. It’s a stunning start (in my opinion).
I’ve known of The Skints for a while and often noticed their name as a support band on a number of occasions but never seen them live myself. I guess that coming from London it sadly limits their visits to the North of Scotland. Their sound is largely based on reggae but with the influences of dub and maybe something a bit harder (totally unconvinced that harder is the word to use here), and perhaps more uptempo at times as well. I just love the laaaazzzyyy sound of the old school Jamaican sound but there are upbeat numbers thrown in here as well. Guitarist and vocalist Josh is totally complimented by the vocals from drummer Jamie and the lovely tones of multi-instrument front person Marcia Richards. Were they a step down from New Riot? Absolutely not at all, and the crowd were well into their more rhythmic sound by the time they’d finished. The East London Reggae t-shirt purchased on the night was just the icing on the proverbial cake for me.
Another quick change over and it’s the turn of unknown (to me) and from the Orange County, Us of A, its the Suburban Legends. How can I put this, maybe something like watching a film whilst needing to go to the toilet but not going in case you miss something? Man, this is ENERGY. We have a trumpet, trombone, guitars and a livewire vocalist cooking up a sound that is perhaps divided between pop and ska. What I can’t replicate on here is the choreography that goes on, both subliminal and otherwise. The two brass players are like an act on their own. Much as I like the sincerity (at times) of say Marcia from The Skints performance, I also like the `always something to look at` feeling of the Legends set and the happy, popy sounds ain’t too bad either. Certainly the surprise of the night for me.
I have loads of Reel Big Fish stuff so at last I had something that I was familiar with to enjoy without any surprises, one can only take so many of them at one gig. Vocalist Aaron Barrett is the main man as always and maybe for the first time tonight in this set its the songs that take over. RBF are probably the typical ska-punk band these days, they use the brass section well but also have this tongue in cheek humour that laces many of their songs. The multi-aged crowd dance to their songs from the word go with the highlights for me being the legendary Monkey Man and the all too familiar Take On Me. What an end to the evening.
I have to give a bit of praise to whoever put this gig on, I don’t know the ins and outs that promoters have to deal with but I’d imagine that putting this gig on wasn’t too cheap so well done taking a chance and doing so. I’d also add that I thought the sound was as good as I’ve heard in The Ironworks so a well done to the sound and lighting people too. The merch stalls seemed to be busy throughout the evening so hopefully the bands did well out of their trip to Inverness.
Gig of the Year? Too early to say of course… but I think it’ll be in the mix at December. Still Burning.
Reel Big Fish
Pics by Still Burning.
Reel Big Fish Website
Suburban Legends Website
The Skints MySpace
New Riot Facebook