Monday, May 09, 2016

Live Review :: Hello Operator + Paves + SONS + Thoughts :: Hope & Ruin, Brighton - May 7 2016

Live Review

Hello Operator + Paves + SONS + Thoughts

Hope & Ruin, Brighton

May 7 2016

Words/Photos: Lucy Menzies

The Brighton leg of promoters' This Feeling - "The UK's most rock n roll night out" - tour, held upstairs in the cosy, funky, and dare it be said, hipster-y, venue of The Hope and Ruin, was a rip-roaring night of live music, filled with fun, fresh tunes, and free JD & coke for the first 50 entrants.

The evening kicked off with SONS, a sibling two-piece of Lee and Nick Meldrum. Hailing from Brighton, they launched the evening with a frenetic, energetic sound. A couple of false-starts couldn't mar their performance: thrashy grunge guitars with Lee's fuzzy vocals, accompanied by Nick's relentless drum wailing on his kit for the entirety of their set. Each song was a hit with the crowd, with hook-line-and-sinker choruses and pounding drums. Even for so early in to the night, the crowd was revelling in the garage-rock atmosphere as the pair engaged in playful exchanges - at one point, frontman Lee addressed shy movers-and-shakers at the back, requesting that they step up to the front to mosh. This duo is definitely one to keep an eye on, as no question that they will appear higher on the bill in the very near future.

Next up Paves, who, by three songs in, were really hitting their stride. The stand-out was 'Get That Girl (Away From Me)' - think dreamy guitars, juxtaposed with jolts of juddering vocals. Not much chat from the London four-piece, it was straight to business, though some rapport to keep the crowd warm may have been wise. Perhaps the lack of audience-engagement was designed to give a sense of enigmatic mystery to the proceedings. Nonetheless, their progressive, even at times blues-ey, style of rock and roll was dynamic and truly captivating. With their set-finishing 'Get Out', they totally commanded the stage and ended in a guitar-swingin', head-bangin', all-out rock-out.

Hello Operator were the real people-pleaser of the night, and by rights the headliner. By the time they took to the stage, the room was buzzing and packed-out with punters. From the get-go, their stage presence was arresting. Lead vocalist Max Dalton seemed right at home on the mic, with his hoarse, throaty raspings and tales of mischief - his shirt was ripped from an escapade whilst in Brighton for the gig. Soon enough, the guitars were shredded just like his clothing, as they launched into a set packed with slick, stomping tunes. Effortlessly playful, with a tight, punchy sound, the audience was invited into their world. 'Oosh', with its sleazy riffs, gravelly vocals and catchy chorus, is a tune destined for radio play, whilst 'Stephanie', a lusty ode with a killer solo gave Wolfmother vibes in waves. The Yorkshire lads were having fun and this reverberated out into the audience. By the time it came for them to bow out, the rowdy revellers were dancing in the glow of the gilded glitter ball, crying out in vain for 'one more tune'.

A change of pace came as the evening was played out by Brighton-based Thoughts, the final group of the night (though billed as though were to be the first act of the evening). Careful and controlled, their self-assured style of rhythmic nerd-rock channelled elements of The XX, crossed with Two Door Cinema Club. Unafraid to slow it down with mellow tunes, the dreamy 'I Drew Blood' was a sleepy-yet-slick melody. No doubt that Thoughts had the most emotionally-rousing songs of the evening, though it left me wondering whether or not the crowd, rallied and riled following the buzz of the three frantic, frenzied acts that preceded, appreciated the slow jams. It should be understated, though, that Thoughts are a thoroughly enjoyable ensemble. Once the slow songs had settled, they dusted us down and picked us back up for the last song, 'Handle'. Rejoicing and rhythmic, it was their most funky track, and the group looked like they were enjoying themselves as they ended the evening, bathed in purple light.

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