Northern Exposure were invited along to an excellent lineup tonight at The Rocking Chair. Corella, an indie-rock band from Manchester, along with three strong supports – Puppet Theory, The Hubbards and Beat the Bandits – gave us the opportunity to sample a number of strong independent northern bands who have been known to a small yet dedicated following for some time. This was evident by their crowd who attended and participated in full!
‘Amber’ gave us gritty indie-rock evoked early ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ tones throughout and the lead singer, Chris Pickering, led the audience shouting ’Leave the Light On!’ at intervals with the lead guitarist, Johnny, commanding the stage.
The rhythm changed to heady and steady with ‘I The King’ and Chris’s vocal blended with gravelly harmonies from Johnny Hearldon and Niall Musa. Their powerful punk vibe bled into the audience.
Their new EP – Room to Breathe – played with contrasting tempos and melodies throughout with high vocals scratching with emotion.
We were treated to energetic use of thudding bass guitar from Niall with ‘Mascara’, catching the audience off guard with skipping rhythms and heavy punk drums and bass.
Buttons and Papillon gave us an almost electronic sound. Buttons has recently been released as a video on their website and Facebook page and is well worth a watch -a celebration of their unique style. Paul’s rattling drum roll in ‘D’You Know?’ was reminiscent of the military and darkened the melody giving the lyrics an even murkier edge.
The next band, The Hubbards – a four piece from Hull gave us a rather Pixie-esque sound from the off with ‘Just Touch’ – high energy drums from Joe Orlowski coupled with a steady bass from Ronan Burns. In ‘Dog Bite’ the rhythm guitarist Alex Green performed a mystical four note melody line repeating delicately throughout which contrasted well with the heavy vocals from Reuben Driver and bass. Reminded me a little of 21 Pilots.
Playing a song from their EP, ‘Merve’, they showcased further strong repetitive vocals over gentle melody and strong bass. Syncopated heavy drums with the soft coo-ing call of -Oo-oo-oo-oo’ from lead singer Reuben Driver contrasted to produce a unique and energetic song.
Reuben rocked a young punky, Pete Townsend, as he sang ‘Born to Fly’ – this time a fast tripping drum beat behind a slow heavy swinging melody. These contrasts give them a truly memorable signature sound.
This thudding indie-rock sound coupled with the lead singer’s unique vocals are memorable and will take these boys a long way. I look forward to hearing how their journey continues and will look forward to hearing of their future successes.
BEAT THE BANDIT
Beat the Bandit were well attended at their final gig and any talk of this being the end was met with loud protests from the audience. The boys are all moving on to other musical ventures and felt this band had run its course. Their psychedelic sound, sometimes evoking the later Beatles, took us through their favourite creations over the last three years and treated us to a powerful set. Their influences include The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys and The Kinks and this is evident in certain songs, yet they have managed to blend and balance this 1960s sound with a modern edge.
With a paisley-clad Jon Wright on vocals, his lively performance on Winter’s Coat was great fun and their vocal with accompanying guitar echoes complemented this completely. In Star Swimmer, with the thudding buzz from Dav Hutt on bass and Jimmy Hartnett and Dan Jenkinson on guitar, they gradually took us from reggae rhythm to indie, then to psychedelic rock. I was reminded of early Ocean Colour Scene at times.
High octane ‘Lion’s Roar’ boasted punchy psychedelic indie-rock and had the audience shouting and singing along.
Their style was eclectic and fresh, sometimes descending into heavy rock then out into a lilting ska beat with occasional nods to The Doors and The Rolling Stones. Their drummer, Dan Jenkinson, with an open white shirt and black trouser braces, was no wallflower and his enthusiasm, charisma and rapport with the audience ensured his stage presence was earned and upheld.
‘Little Bit of Interest’ slowed the pace and allowed the audience to catch their breath after what had been a high energy set thus far. A gentler drumming this time but still a fast tripping rhythm and high psychedelic-indie vocals again from Jon.
Their final song, ‘Wait’, could have been from the ‘Easy Rider’ soundtrack, evoking Californian road sound throwing out occasional Persian and Middle Eastern melodies here and there. Crashing cymbals and a heady final drumroll sent the audience into a spin and their mob-shout of ‘Beat the Bandit! Beat the Bandit!’ continued until the band conceded to an encore – a cover of Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics, in their own unique style with a nod to White Stripes on their bass line.
They have grown a successful fan base over their time together and rightly so. A talented bunch. I’ll be keeping in touch to report back through Northern Exposure of their new and exciting endeavours. Jon, Dav and Dan plan to go on and form a new band in Sheffield whilst Jimmy is moving on to new ventures further up North. If you want to catch them – and I recommend highly that you do – they’ve got one last gig as ‘Beat the Bandit’ on June 3rd in Grimsby with their good pals ‘Just Mammals’ as part of a day fest called ‘The Gig Lebowski’.
The headliners for the evening were Corella from Manchester, a band described on their website as a ‘fresh indie-pop four piece’. They got together in January 2016 and have been very busy creating memorable tracks and having a number of successes born out of moments when sheer graft and opportunity have collided.
Their style of dreamy melodies over low thudding drums from James Fawcett were reminiscent of Big Country at times particularly through sounds in their first song tonight, ‘I Wanna Know’ like the repetitive: ‘Say if you love me /Just like the old days /Oh-oh-oh-oh’ along with a funky guitar.
Their second song of the evening is also their second single. ‘ See the Day’ gave us a swaying melody with a 1960s sound. Their charismatic lead singer, Joel Smith, governed the stage and captivated the audience throughout.
‘Lights’ in contrast showcased the drummer again with improvised rolls of drums and open guitar from Ben Henderson. A Californian sound which led into rock and out again.
‘I Can See Her’ was hugely energetic while harnessing the song through the dreamy guitar melody line from Joel Smith. The lead singer, Joel, encouraged more with ‘Right everyone – start bouncing!’ And the audience obliged. The floor moved as one.
‘Fever’ gave us their equally dreamy sound of playful lyrics and the rise and fall of the melody before the drop into heavy full-on indie rock.
‘Barca’ sent the audience into a spin and they began dancing feverishly to the ska beat. In this cellar bar, the Northern Soul vibe played out with the same energy as back in the day and I would imagine the band increased their following that night, perhaps even in the moment of that one song, by the response of the audience.
Corella finished the night with their debut single, ‘Waterfall’ and the crowd screamed their approval. This was featured on an LA shot promo for international BMX brand ‘Mongoose’ last year and was aided by ‘BBC Supporting 2016’ which promotes new bands. It will be so exciting to hear what happens next for this band who have already made such an impact in a relatively short space of time.
‘Tipped as being the next big Manchester band’ -Imagine FM Their sound has a positive vibe with powerful vocals, funky guitars and energetic drums containing elements of funk and pop. Their explosive live show is not to be missed.
“The city’s biggest Indie Rock band” – Hull Daily Mail
BEAT THE BANDIT
‘The band fire out anthemic stabs of catchy indie pop, ferocious rock riffage and psychedelic dreaminess in rapid succession.” – Bitter Sweet Symphonies
I guarantee you’ll be singing and tapping to this EP before it’s over”. 9/10 Jordan Rafferty
KATE ‘O BRIEN
PHOTOS: MAL WHICHELOW