Can You Smell Spotted Dick?
Marsicans + Ambershift + Josh Newell-Brown, KU, 8.05.15
Whoever declared the 8th of May as Motorhead Day (go on, sing it to the tune of Ace Of Spades) is a frigging GENIUS – though after a day of very bad singing and some questionable air guitar, my colleagues probably think otherwise. But with a trip to Ku looming and one of my favourite bands headlining I think I can get away with a bit of excited, tone-deaf, Lemmy-based lunacy.
Turns out there were plenty of people in the same mindset after a Boro win that would ultimately take them to Wembley, heroically pissed and trying their damndest to hold a conversation, stay upright or wee successfully. Thankfully I didn't witness the latter, though I was asked if I could smell spotted dick and whether the bands were eating it. And no, it wasn't a euphemism. Hopefully.
Tonight's acts had a fair way to go to stand out above this kind of randomness, whether they had traditional sponge puddings on their riders or not – first up, Saltburn-based Josh Newell-Brown got it spot on.
Accompanied by a backing band, Josh won the crowd over quickly with his banter between songs – comparing Marsicans to choirboys was particularly giggle-worthy - and soulful, gravelly voice reminiscent of Paolo Nutini. Songs such as the one inspired by his travels in New Zealand are deeply written and artfully performed, the more uptempo Move Your Body made the crowd do just that, and Shine finished off a set that grew stronger all the way through. A talented songwriter and performer with an impressive falsetto given the depth of his voice, Josh's Ku debut could well be the first of many appearances here. He had everyone captivated all the way through his set and laughing at his chat in between songs – including admitting to being a Man Utd fan. The audience didn't seem to mind too much though, the bloke next to me expressed sympathy for him 'cos they've been shit the past two seasons'. An entertaining, accomplished opening performance.
Hailing from Durham, Ambershift brought a hefty dose of power rock to proceedings. With big riffs, strong vocals and long, lingering synth notes, they channelled that classic U2-before-they-disappeared-up-their-own-backsides vibe with flashes of Foo Fighters and classic 80s stadium bands, interwoven with their own unique, modern style. Songs such as Fall Back, Hold The Line and my personal favourite, closing tune Russian Doll, were well written and brilliantly arranged. Plus, they bloody LOVE a power stance - I couldn't take my eyes off the guitarist for half the set. With a smooth, polished sound and a flawless performance that never lost momentum all the way through, Ambershift had the crowd hyped up, hollering in appreciation and ready for the headliners.
With songs that scream summer and the skinniest jeans known to mankind (sorry, Carnabells' Luke, they've taken your title), Marsicans have that happy, August party vibe with some seriously catchy melodies and perky rhythms, Opening with my favourite track, Terrapin, the mood is set and the crowd are bouncing, on a high with music, beer and a football win. The party atmosphere continues with songs such as Chivalry, a fab cover of Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True. Imagine a Beach Boys/Kaiser Chiefs hybrid with a thwack of proper dancehall rock'n'roll stirred in and you're not far off. New song Gone In A Second really picks up the retro vibe, like a musical Fab lolly with an arsekicking beat. The set flashes by all too quickly. It's been a phenomenal night.
I won't be back at Ku for a while now, with an imminent move to Somerset and new job to contend with – but I will be back. Ku is a gem, a local star and incessant supporter of a fantastic music scene. Si works tirelessly to promote these events and bring you great bands, get yourselves along one Friday, find a new favourite group, tell your friends – bring your friends. Cracking independent venues like this need your support.
Please don't let the music stop.