Perhaps a torrential downpour is not exactly what you would wish for on your way to a gig in a garden! Thankfully the garden in question belongs to The Rainbow pub in Digbeth with its marquee-style courtyard and I am here to see what I would term a line-up of bands with a neo-punk persuasion — not so much emulating the good old punk of yore but certainly a genre of music having its roots firmly planted there.
Opening band Sienna are a Midlands based five-piece with an extremely energetic style – vocalist Sam Duggins demonstrating some sort of physically psychotic episode from the out-set! Moreover I found myself truly taken aback by their distinguished professional sound; ‘Under a Burning Sky’ and ‘Invincible’ are both fantastically full and tight offerings showcasing each band member’s technical talents. Rarely do you find an opening band of this calibre and I think they are well worth checking out on one of their pending tour dates.
Sharks in sharp contrast are old school in comparison and have a distinctly different vibe — these guys from Leamington Spa are much more closely related to those aforementioned punks of yesteryear. Musically they have a concrete solidity and James Mattock’s vocals really aid to capture that traditional punky sound. ‘It Threatens’ in particular is strangely reminiscent of an amalgamation of past punk personified.
At some point mid-set it dawned on me that the odd song or two would not be amiss in a classic John Hughes 80’s film and I could not help feeling that Sharks are not so much revolutionary as a revival band of sorts. I would not want to take anything away from these guys as they are great at what they do — Sharks will appeal to a younger generation who may not remember the likes of the Buzzcocks and for those of us a little older they most certainly provided a touch of nostalgia.
Shifting back to modern day along the evolutionary chain, The Computers burst forth to imprint on our souls their own particular brand of ultra vigorous punky petulance fused with old fashioned rock and roll — ‘Please Drink Responsibly’ and ‘Love the Music, Hate The Kids’ are excellent examples of their work.
Accompanied by the vocalist’s witty banter and propensity for crowd participation, the energy in the room was boundless. The Computers had an all powerful presence and an air of justifiably knowing arrogance, exhibiting palpitating percussion and swelteringly scorching guitar work which sent shivers down my spine…..they really have got that special something about them! Want to find out for yourself? Buy their album ‘You Can’t Hide from The Computers’.
The headliners really had a lot to live up to this evening, each preceding band had done their bit to slowly build up the crowd’s anticipation to a crescendo and in an excessively exuberant fashion The Ghost of a Thousand managed to tip them over the edge. With boundless energy they proved their worth with impressively invigorating renditions of ‘Bright Lights’, ‘Black Art Number One’, ‘One for the Road’ and ‘Running On Empty’, all whilst vocalist Tom Lacey seemingly morphed into Spiderman and started climbing the walls.
The boys from Brighton bravely took on the crowd who had been baying for this new punk blood and were rewarded with circle pit formations throughout most of the set for their efforts. The Ghost of a Thousand were never going to disappoint, there is no doubt in my mind that this band are already tasting the tang of success and have what it takes to go all the way. Have the neo-punk masses found their Mecca?
Review – Amanda Jones
Photos – Steve Gerrard