The Venue has been hosting the best, and worst, new bands for over 30 years. Blur, Suede, Manics, Pulp and Coldplay are just a few of the bands that have made appearances on the breeze block stage in this temple of music. So, dear reader, it is with heavy heart that I tell you that The Bull & Gate/The Venue will soon be closing to become a “gastro pup” otherwise known as “Wetherspoons”. Now I could go into a tirade about history and the death of live music, the continued slow, painful passing of the pub in general, but I won’t, you know all that already, so I’ll just say it’s a shame because The Venue is a really nice erm…..venue.
So to the matter in hand, and unfortunately carrying on in a somewhat negative frame, the bands that were playing, arriving fashionably late,as is my want, I missed Pete Kosanovich so I can’t report anything on him at all. The first act witnessed were Colour Clouds, well I witnessed some of the first song, Native American shamanistic wailing that dissolved into a Reverend & The Makers style pseudo funk with ridiculous dancing by the singer. That was enough for me, back to the bar.
Next up were The Hummingbirds from Liverpool, they certainly pulled a few more people in than the previous band, including Gary Lightbody (of sNOw patrol) which I should have taken as a warning. Looking like Mumfords and peddling a whole new genre, Country and Scousestern, what they did they did very well, the playing was assured and tight but really not my bag baby, back to the bar.
It became obvious that the majority had come to see The Broxton Hundred and the small room soon began to fill up with a mix of indie kids, mods and hipsters who knew the score. The Broxtons took the stage and opened with new track Here It Comes, described as their most modern song, and it certainly hit the right spot for me, slightly quicker than their other tracks, a real dancer for the future with the trademark mahoosive chorus. In a futile attempt to curry favour with your humble reviewer, Higher Surroundings was dedicated to yours truly *blush*, this is where I started to realise that the sound in The Venue was BAD, far too loud for such a small space, I think I listened to most of the set through the stage monitors, and poor Rich O on a dead house drumkit with no resonance at all, that said they played well and Run was getting the crowd moving with some people jiving down the front. Who Put The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders was followed by another new song, Minds Revolution, starting with a perfect 3 part harmony and building, in true Broxton Style, to a big, big chorus, that got a quite qiuet crowd moving. She Brings The Light was a highlight for me conjuring up visions of the ‘80s with its hybrid Marr/Squire guitar riff and the wah wah guitar chorus that never fails to grab me. The last song was so new it doesn’t even have a name, a Fools Gold inspired dance workout, Rich O’s Reni style drumming, and I must just say I’ve never seen such a laid back drummer, Rich L’s funk pop bassline and soul filled voice married with Gaz’s angular style, that belies his fluid playing made for a great closer.
The crowd cried for more but with the drumkit literally falling to pieces during the last number it was really not a possibility. Considering they were let down by the soundsystem and the kit, they played with verve and soul. Solid, tight and technically brilliant, my only criticism would be that they sounded a bit thin, maybe that was down to the venue, but more I think that they could do with another body on the stage, some parts crying out for a rhythm guitar or some keys to keep the sound flowing. This is a constructive criticism and takes nothing away from the songs, which to my mind are some of the best new sounds around at the minute and there is a definite “Broxton” sound that doesn’t fit into any current category, but it’s good!
I’ll definitely be catching them again, and so should you, either at The Birds Nest in Deptford on the 15th of February or at The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden on the 15th of March for Cool Brittannia.
The EP Higher Surroundings is available from www.thebroxtonhundred.com
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