Carnabells, Stockton on Tees
I was promised a quirky, intimate venue and this place really delivers. In Stockton’s 60 capacity, atmospheric Green Room I’m stood about three feet away from a Carnabell. Maybe two. I’d say hello but I really don’t want to pass on my chest infection. I’ll just hug the wall and admire the signed photo of Danny Goffey behind me instead.
Hailing from Methley, near Leeds, Carnabells join such illustrious exports as Tetley’s (bitter, not tea), Thomas Chippendale (furniture, not strippers. They’re definitely NOT from Leeds - I’ve checked everywhere) and bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs and Pigeon Detectives. Describing their sound as ’coal mine rock’, they’re bringing a breath of (my home county) West Yorkshire air to the North East tonight. So, with a music scene as vibrant as Leeds’, awash with (bloody good) indie/rock bands, what makes them different?
The simple answer is a hefty dose of 50s influence to go with the modern indie/rock base, quiffs and skinny jeans, driving drumbeats and a Wurlitzer-esque melodic kick. It’s music that gets you up and dancing, whatever your age. In an audience with a good mix of ages I didn’t see one person not tapping their foot. Even the support band, Violet Deep (very good, incidentally, especially the drummer with his faultless, almost tribal rhythms), were at the front dancing and singing along -I got some great pictures of the backs of their heads.
From the rousing opener Paper Shaker, a rip-roaring throwback to the 50s complete with nifty keyboard work from Buddy Holly-alike Jack, the mood is set. There is to be no earnest shoe gazing. You’re here to party. Through All I Wanna Do, Rock & Roll Beat and Justyna feet are tapping, guitars are roaring and the beat keeps driving on. It’s more than a little reminiscent of the Beatles with the depth of vocal harmony, a touch of Weezer, what the Libertines could have been like without all the narcotics, what could have become of The Vaccines had they watched Grease instead of lusting after that Norgaard lass. It’s nostalgic but fresh at the same time, a modern sound that borrows from, as my dad would say, proper well-made music with a decent tune. It’s catchy, memorable and makes you smile.
Station Road is a personal highlight, with it’s thumping beat, harmonious vocals, a catchy, shouty chorus of ‘meet me by Station Road, it’ll be like we’re fifteen again, when you were my only friend’ and lyrics reminiscing on teenage love for the slightly nerdy. Taken from the She’s A Rollercoaster EP, it’s wonderfully arranged. Four minutes of genius.
Far from being an anti climax, Life In Pictures and Diggin’ For Gold, both from the newly released EP The Ramshackle Rattle, have more of a modern vibe yet blend in seamlessly. More upbeat, heartfelt lyrics abound and the beat doesn’t let up for a moment. It’s like a whirl of modern dancehall rock and we’re all totally swept up. A triumphant rendition of Stray Cats’ Rock This Town does just that, the place is buzzing and we’ve reached the final song far too soon…but what a song to end on. This is Magazine Dream, and it is magnificent.
L O V E M E. Oh, I do. It was on the strength of this song that I bought a ticket for this gig, and it makes the perfect closer. The crowd are bouncing, Violet Deep are going a bit mental in front of me and I may even have danced along (apologies to anyone within an 8’ radius for the hip shaking. Couldn’t help it). Summery, richly melodic perfection with honest, gritty lyrics and a chorus that stays in your head for days.
Tonight was a swaggering, self assured tour de force by an incredibly talented yet wholly down to earth bunch of lads, updated rockabilly with a Leeds accent, enough angst in the lyrics to make them meaningful but mixed with a sound that makes them memorable and audience-friendly rather than introspective. Though I was looking forward to hearing Runaway Train, and was a little sad at its omission, the other songs more than made up for it.
Luke, Mitch, Tom, Jack and Louis didn’t just nail it - they raised the roof! I look forward to seeing them again