I arrived to a large friendly crowd at Bleach just as a band started playing, they didn't introduce themselves – actually they didn't say much at all throughout, presumably preferring to concentrate on their musical performance. I thought, from the stage times posted online, that they must have been main support Gang but later realised they were a new group called Big Society and the entire evening was running almost an hour behind schedule.
Big Society were loud (actually the whole night was loud – my ears were ringing despite the ear plugs I was wearing) and quite grungy, with lots of delayed guitars. They had some interesting songs and musical arrangements, at times I found it a little reminiscent of Bends era Radiohead only they tended to play things heavier. Unfortunately I found the often high-pitched lead vocals to be a bit of an acquired taste. Having said that I thought it complemented the bands sound quite well with a delivery that was certainly passionate. The vocals really became problematic when the band sang vocal harmonies, to my ears they were just not in tune and this turned me off what was otherwise a very promising group. Perhaps they were just having trouble with monitoring, as the vocal arrangements seemed like good ideas, so I shall give them the benefit of the doubt and try to catch them live at another show a little further down the line.
Next up were Gang, a three piece who also had a grunge rock sound who reminded me a little of Nirvana, although they certainly felt a bit more British in terms of influences. Weirdly the lead singer/guitarist had a voice that had a tiny touch of early Liam Gallagher about it, which I found an odd connection to make – I promise I'm not just in the habit of exclusively comparing bands to acts from the mid 90's! There were a lot of things I liked about Gang, not least being their energetic performance, particularly the bassist who threw himself about the place in a trance-like state. Unfortunately there was something that didn't quite click and I think it may have been the bass sound. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of massive distorted bass guitar, but for Gang the bass was so sludgey the notes and lines he was playing became indistinct which had the effect of making it sound like the drums and bass were out of time with each other and the guitarist, which had some great tones, became a bit lost trying to figure out where to fit. I think they were a good band although at this point I was starting to question whether they were all suffering from monitoring issues and poor sound.
When Demob Happy got on stage though any sense of this was dispelled. These guys were celebrating a homecoming show after a UK tour and were suitably tour tight. They had a great sound too, lots of well placed, well sung backing and unison vocals, two guitarists whose tones worked beautifully together and a solid, driving drummer and bassist glueing it all together. It was just such a shame they arrived on stage 50 minutes after the advertised time as I had a prior arrangement I couldn't afford to miss. I may be wrong here, but I suspect that sometimes people give you a wrong impression of stage times to make sure you catch the supports or more of the bill they've put together. From an audience point of view this is frustrating, especially if you've travelled and end up missing the band you came to see in order to get home, or you deliberately arrive late to avoid seeing supports you've been unimpressed with in the past! 10:50pm just seems a late call to me: when Justin Beiber goes on that late he gets death threats! Demob Happy seemed to be playing to a friendly home crowd tonight and you got the impression that most people there were old friends and they were in for a long haul and a good night’s partying.
They opened the set with an immaculate performance of recent single "Suffer You" and then played solidly until I couldn't stay any longer. I left after their version of Technoheads 1995 single 'I Wanna Be A Hippy' presented in their own vibey hard rock style. I had stayed twenty minutes longer than planned because it was not easy to pull myself away. This is a great band so you should go and see them, just make sure you've got the whole night clear and don't be a granddad like me!