YONAKA + Valeras + Method Actress
Green Door Store, Brighton
January 17 2018
Words/Pictures: Steve Willcox
My first review of the year takes me to Brighton where money is riding on the main act becoming the next big thing. As I take my place to see local band Method Actress, I find myself surrounded by 70 people which is a good sign that I'm about to witness something special.
Their opening number ‘Private View’ sets the ball rolling with their distinct dreamy guitar-based pop sound. Vocalist and guitarist Milo McNulty’s voice has an upbeat Morrissey edge to it, and along with Max Wright’s synth and guitar riffs it works the room into a swaying audience. ‘Mistress’ their debut single from last November, has such a catchy hook to it that it keeps on playing on an endless loop in this reviewer's brain. Kit Wharton's bass and Ben Lippett's drums are strong throughout the set and perfectly in sync for ‘Point of View’.
Closing number ‘Fall’ is well received, and it's not suprising, coming as it does with great flamboyant lyrics, such as: "ripping up roses and tearing the seeds / and putting them back / to where they were meant to be." Since these guys moved away from the more grungey sound in Milo and Max's former incarnation as Morning Smoke, and introduced a more pop influenced vibe, it will hopefully see them attract the wider audience they deserve.
Next up are Valeras, a five-piece from Reading who mix an indie pop vibe with Americana and grunge-punk - all fused perfectly together. I found that they were strangely recognisable; it wasn’t until I looked back into the Little Indie archives and found that I had reviewed them at Camden Rocks last year with much praise.
First song, the self-titled ‘Valeras’, ramps up the evening along with Max Sealy’s continuous drumbeats and the band's fast paced delivery. This soon gets the crowd in from the bar and the floor starting to fill, as they watch Rose Yagmur and her gang deliver some awesome tunes. Rose's voice is quite understated with that kind of bluesy quality to it that grabs the attention. This group is guitar heaven and has some good heady fretwork from Cat, George and Kate who also provide some nice backing harmonies.
‘Painkiller’ was probably my personal favourite of the set as it shows real depth and attitude from the band, along with deep hooks and beats. ‘Knives and Flowers’ (from their debut EP) has lost none of its magic played live, and along with Rose's angst-ridden lyrics, it blends well with Cat’s lead guitar as the perfect sparring partner. Last song ‘Colour Me’ perfectly sums up this band’s ability to connect with the crowd and to get them perfectly wound up for the main event.
Finally, it's time for headliners Yonaka to alight the stage and really get the room filled to capacity and the action started. Much has been said of them over the last 12 months and there can't be many 2018 Ones To Watch lists that they don't figure on.
YONAKA's Theresa Jarvis
They blast off with ‘Hurricane’, with Theresa Jarvis’s stunning sharp vocals playing against the heavy drums of Robert Mason, Alex Crosby’s superb bass lines, and the frenetic guitar work of George Edwards (who is sporting a massive black eye courtesy of an over eager Reading gig last week; Theresa claims it was her handywork due to a few missed chords.)
It’s a big setlist tonight for their homecoming gig, 11 songs of pure exhilarating joy all packed inside this railway shed under the railway station. Theresa certainly knows how to entertain the audience as she throws shapes, dances and struts across the stage like a cat on a proverbial hot tin roof. The crowd loves the energy this band provides and shows their adulation with plenty of spontaneous moshing and singing towards the stage. 2016 breakthrough song ‘Drongo’ sets the crowd appreciation up a further notch, as its dark guitars and thundering bass hit off the walls, before new song ‘Loner’, segues into the soulful and downbeat ‘All In My Head’ seamlessly.
‘Fucking With The Boss’ - brought out live for just the second time here - is a fun hip-hop, guitar-based song, ideal for the last part of the show, and brings the crowd surging forward with hands in the air, as the beats went down. Fellow Brighton locals The RPMs are also spied loving this, showing support tonight for their local brethren, before both head to Texas in March to play SXSW.
‘Bubblegum’, their latest single and taken from last year's 'Heavy' debut EP, is the closing song of the evening, so the band brought their biggest guns out onto the floor and totally ripped up the stage. I’ve seen energy before, but this is something in a different scale entirely; by the time the song finished I was already in the mosh area and along with people's arms round my shoulders, was to be found jumping up and down with the best of them. Phenomenal!