Diverse Records invited a suitably diverse line-up for a sunny mid-week in Newport. Shame then that UEFA decided to hold their Cup Final on the same night which meant most potential punters seem to decide to stay at home or in the pub to watch televised footie rather than witness live music.
First up were local folk-rockers The Shelley’s. Highly prolific and swapping between male and female vocalists kept the interest level up. Accompanied stage left (and with a big distance between him and the others) by a man dressed as a minstrel playing sax and various ancient instruments! They explained he had to rush off to a medieval banquet to excuse his attire, but it could just be a ploy!
Next on were Gloucester band Earnest Cox. Despite having guys on guitar and bass who looked more like they should be running the door, this five piece of vocal, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums knocked out a tight pop/rock sound. Highly competent and proficient musicians with some clever songs. The return of the Loud Hailer in rock is to be erm, hailed loudly!
Nottinghams Story One started their act as singer/violinist and guitar only. At first we though the singer was Kelly Jones both in the voice and face. When the drummer and bass joined it became apparent this violin-led four piece had been playing together a while and it came as no surprise to hear they’d played Glasgow the night before and had gigs for the rest of the week. Young and committed (but not in a looney way) they could appeal to Keane fans who want to hear violin rather than keyboard- so basically if you like your rock with a bit of a fiddle (oh er misses!) this lot could be your cup of tea..
UK Americana style singer/songwriter Peter Brucknell (billed as Brutenell!) rambled on stage to say “These lights are so bright there could be hundreds of you out there”, unfortunately this was far from the truth. Swapping between two acoustic guitars and the occasional blast on the harmonica, Peter played a selection from his last two albums intersected with insight into the background of a few. One Drink Away, By Time My Head Gets To Phoenix and Here Come the Swells were well received by the small but enthusiastic crowd. New songs Little Lorelei and title of new album Ghost in the Spitfire showed the quality of his workmanship both his guitar playing and vocal delivery (similar to Joe Pernice) were top notch. His tale of a failed and drunken songwriting trip to Cornwall that only recently spawned the Tin Streamers Song was an entertaining sidestep from the music. Taking time mid-set to find that Liverpool had won the UEFA cup, Spurs supporter Brucknell made an attempt to play You’ll Never Walk Alone in tribute. Confessing he’d never played it before, it was abandoned despite some pretty good supporting harmonies from most of the audience. His final song was the magnificent Handful of Stars (having also abandoned a cover of The Smiths - Reel Around the Fountain after two chords!).
Another pleasant night out for those who bothered. For anyone who bemoans the lack of live music in South Wales and watched the football, maybe you should have set the video after all?