HANDS LIKE HOUSES / NORMANDIE / JULE VERA - The Fleece, Bristol 23.10.18
The Fleece can be found in a tiny cobbled side street and has been operating as a live music venue since 1982, although in recent years has undergone a massive refurbishment and revival. The venue was first used as a sheep trading market in the 1800s, hence the name, and is a grade II listed building. The 500 capacity room has a fairly high stage, the view accessible from anywhere, as long as you dodge one of the numerous slim pillars. The queue is around the block before the doors open, and there’s a definite buzz in the air.
Opening act JULE VERA, which means ‘young truth’, are an energetic alternative rock four-piece from Opelika, Alabama, made up of Ansley Roland (vocals), Jake Roland (guitar), William Stacey (bass) and Kyle ‘Hogarth’ Horvath (drums). Beginning with ‘Can’t Help’, their six-song set is made up of catchy songs taken from their 2017 album ‘Waiting On The Sun’, Ansley strumming a pretty red ukulele for most as she poses a striking figure in the middle of the stage and captivates the audience with her sublime vocals. William on bass is frenetic, swinging his hair with wild abandon as he plays, Hogarth’s a dynamic drummer and the two make up a tight unit and are fantastic to watch as well as talented.
A lovely highlight is ‘Porch Swing’, a slow and easy tune featuring Ansley and her ukulele alone for the first half, as Hogarth puts his feet up on his drum kit and the other lads take a seat. Ansley is then joined by husband Jake and the other half of the band for the more upbeat second half of the song. Ansley’s ukulele perfectly complements Jake’s melodious guitar licks, and the audience are appreciative, swaying and dancing along, heads bopping in time to the beat. JULE VERA finish their fresh and funky set of memorable songs with ‘Bad Company’.
Find out more about JULE VERA here:-
With their second album ‘White Flag’ due to be released in just a few days (26th October 2018), Swedish natives NORMANDIE are understandably on a high and keen to show the crowd that they’re more than worthy of their reputation as an awesome live band.
The upbeat four-piece kick off their set with ‘Awakening’, from debut album ‘Inguz’, before moving on to songs from ‘White Flag’, including ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Enough’. When vocalist Philip Stand takes on the screamed vocal parts in their earlier works, it adds a slight huskiness to his voice which, if anything, just adds to its appeal. The newer tracks have more clean vocals, so you can really hear the rich texture of Philip’s strong range. Håkan Almbladh (guitar) takes stage right and treats the crowd to masterful riffs, together with a smile. Lucas Englund (bass) and Anton Franzon (drums) are self-assured and seamlessly work the powerful backbone to the NORMANDIE beat.
There are more than a smattering of fans amongst the audience, with people already knowing the words to the new material, a fact that vocalist Philip doesn’t let go unnoticed. As he works the whole stage, he says, “Some people here know about us, most don’t! We have an album out in 3 days - have you ever had a baby? An album is harder to get...we’re very proud. I see people singing the new songs from that album already!”, before introducing the titular track from the new album.
The last two songs, Philip tells us are, first, ‘Pay For This’ - to move to, and second, ‘Collide’, from ‘Inguz’ - to sing along to. The crowd certainly felt compelled to do what he had asked. The former has people bouncing, and the second has people singing along everywhere I look. It’s a fantastic reaction for a support band, but NORMANDIE have a strong command of the stage and it is evident that many people present tonight are delighted to see them.
Find out more about NORMANDIE here:-
HANDS LIKE HOUSES are currently touring to promote fourth album ‘Anon’ (released 12th October 2018), and they clearly have a lot of fans here in Bristol. I’m pleased to see that the ‘don’t wear the t-shirt of the band you’re going to see’ rule doesn’t apply here, as there are countless HANDS LIKE HOUSES t-shirts (of numerous design) as far as the eye can see. Luckily, there isn’t too long to wait before the dynamic Australian five-piece take to the stage.
Opening with the uplifting ‘New Romantics’ and ‘Colourblind’ from third album ‘Dissonant’, Trenton Woodley belts out the intense vocals. Woodely is flanked by the lively Joel Tyrrell on bass/backing vocals and Alex Pearson on rhythm guitar/backing vocals, who are like a pair of effervescent Champagne bottles. Joel is wearing the most fantastic bright green socks with pugs wearing Santa hats! Matty Parkitny (drums) knocks out meaty, thundering beats and fills, powering away at the back of the stage and Matt “Coops” Cooper (lead guitar) divides his time between the back and the front; he’s quick- fingered and proficient, throwing out bracing licks with gusto.
The band then play new songs ‘Tilt’ and ‘Sick’ from ‘Anon’ plus a few tracks from their ‘Reimagine’ album, which all go down a storm! Trenton pauses to address the audience at regular intervals, saying “It’s the first International show we’ve played the new tracks at and you guys are singing them back already, it means a lot - the album’s only been out a couple of weeks, so thank you so much!”. Trenton is equally at home singing the more mellow tracks, during which the beautiful clarity and tone in his voice can be heard. ‘Overthinking’, from the new album, goes down a storm, Matty’s thwacking drumming is breathtaking and Joel’s throbbing bass is awesome. Set closer ‘Drift’ is the perfect way to end the night as it’s the first time the song has been played in the UK and the crowd love it! As I look around people are grinning, clapping, dancing, headbanging and having a damn good time.
All three bands put on stellar performances tonight and gave everyone in the room a cracking night of entertainment. Afterwards, everyone that performed is happy to hang out and chat to all the people that are waiting to see them or to buy merchandise and CDs. I’m surprised to find ticket sales were only about two-thirds capacity tonight as it felt really full - that will be all the happy vibes then. It was the first time I’d seen any of the bands live, but it sure as hell won’t be the last!
Find out more about HANDS LIKE HOUSES here:-
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