The Factory is situated on an industrial estate on the outskirts on Barnstaple and from the outside looks like just another warehouse. What lurks inside, however, is an 800 capacity music venue with a high ceiling and a light, airy feel. This modern facility in the heart of North Devon also boasts a recording studio and soundproofed rehearsal spaces.

There is a bar at the back of the hall, festooned with ghostly Jägermeister bunting to mark both Halloween next week and the event sponsors.

First of four bands tonight is FALLING APART from nearby Ilfracombe, a punk ‘n' roll band who have been around since 2004. On first glance, they appear like a slightly mismatched bunch, whose styles and ages vary wildly. Noel Grummit on keys is dressed in red, with an eye-catching hat festooned with lights, whilst singer/guitarist Greg Schofield opts for newsprint trousers and a plain black top; drummer Andy Argyle sports a Star Wars t-shirt whilst younger bassist Jacob Terry chooses a skull printed shirt and has fantastic blue hair. 

The band start their set with their rendition of Tim Smith’s classic ‘Lord’s Prayer’, and then a couple of their own, ‘Trouble and Strife’ and ‘I Wanna Go’. The sound is great, these musicians are obviously experienced and look as though they are enjoying themselves; plenty of people in the audience are bopping their heads along. Noel explains that the next song, ‘Killing’, is about police brutality, not that they don’t love the police, they are a band that want to spread positivity. Each subsequent song gets a slightly louder cheer and the set closer is a cover of Beastie Boys ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’, with Jacob taking the lead vocal. It gets a great reaction from the crowd and really gets them fired up for the next band. FALLING APART have done exactly what a first support act should do - warm the crowd up ready for what is to come.

FALLING APART are playing live at pubs/clubs locally and further afield, details at the sites below.

Barnstaple four-piece pop/punk outfit STAY LATE has been around for almost two years and has to date released debut EP ‘Fix Myself’, with a second EP, ‘Faking Smiles’, due imminently. Joe Hicks (vocals/guitar), Billy Bailey (guitar), who also works at the venue, Conal Jefferies (bass) and Jamie Harding (drums) are Barnstaple locals and evidently have some hometown fans as the hall has filled up a bit more and the crowd are enthusiastic, whistling and cheering. 

The band play a mixture of songs from both EPs, beginning with the incredibly catchy ‘Growing Up’, plus ‘Kids’ from their debut, and ‘Second Best’ and ‘Anniversary’ from the new EP. After the second song, the band are obviously feeling pretty comfortable on the stage as drummer Jamie removes his top and Conal’s hat also comes off. STAY LATE write boppy pop/punk tunes that work their way into your brain and then refuse to budge! Joe’s voice is clear and confident, and each plays their instruments with obvious talent and skill. Also in the set that had the crowd whooping it up was the band’s last single ‘Drop Out’. The last song of the set, ‘Lonely’, which will be the lead single from the new EP, saw Billy and Conal jump off the stage and play in the photo pit, which received a rapturous reaction from the crowd, particularly the front few rows. An assured set from the confident quartet.

BLACK ANCHORS have been together for a year and haven’t let the grass grown under their feet in that time. Scott Xander Linn (vocals, guitar), James Fidge (bass) and Billy Hammett (drums) have had a pretty intensive gigging schedule in support of their eponymous EP (released April 2018) and tonight we’re treated to a few songs from that EP, namely ‘Favourite Records’, ‘Me, Tom Waits and An Empty Bottle Of Rum’ and the impossibly danceable ‘Resurrection Summer’, plus some newer songs. ‘Heart Attack’, to finish the set, hits you right in the chest as it’s meant to and really gets the audience headbanging. 

These guys throw out bangin’ punky pop-tinged tracks and make it sound like there’s way more than three of them onstage. They are energetic and sound fantastic, James on bass hardly standing still, Billy hammering away on his kit and Scott meaning every word as he sings, the middle section of the crowd is on their side from the off, singing along and dancing enthusiastically, as Scott says “Let’s all crash together and have a boogie. We’ve got new merch - you can buy James’ underwear - as worn tonight!”. The new merch (long sleeved tops) look great, I didn’t enquire about the underwear!

Catch BLACK ANCHORS live:-

04.11.18 - Underground, Plymouth (with BLOOD COMMAND)

THE FALLEN STATE have been relentlessly busy of late, beavering away recording their debut album and also playing live with hard hitters such as TREMONTI and SEETHER. By the time you read this they will be out on tour with New Zealand rockers DEVILSKIN (dates below), so the boys from Barnstaple are evidently making waves across the rock ocean. For this, their hometown show, there is a real buzz about the place and the sense of anticipation has only been growing as the evening. 

The band emerge in a cloud of dry ice to the intro of ‘Hope in Revival’ and the sheer wall of sound grabs you by the throat. ‘Lost Cause’ and ‘Sinner’ send the crowd into full-on, all singing, rocking out mode. Vocalist Ben Stenning is one of the most ebullient frontmen I have ever seen using every inch of the stage, spinning around like a headbanging tornado. He pauses for a beat to say, “It’s fucking amazing to play here again…we’ve not played here for so long. We’ve been off writing and recording an album - you guys wanna hear something from that album? If you like us when we’re good and heavy, I wanna see you go crazy. This is ‘Torn’”. Oh, it’s heavy; Greg Butler on powerfully executed throbbing bass and Rich Walker on thwacking drums drive out the almost hypnotic beat of the song and the crowd are lapping it up. Ben flaps the shirt he’s wearing over his t-shirt and asks, “Are you guys nice and sweaty yet? Because I am!” It’s definitely getting hot in here! 

With a couple more tracks from the ‘Crown Your Shadows’ EP, namely ‘Sons of Avarice’ and ‘Send Up The World’, we get a chance to see the complexity in Jon Price’s swaggering killer riffs and Dan Oke’s melodious soaring rhythm guitar licks as they blend perfectly. Ben then addresses the crowd once more, “We’ve not played this venue for two years since we released ‘The View From Ruin’. This was the last single from it; it would mean a lot to us if you could sing along, if you know the words”, before singing the opening line to ‘Nova’. I can barely hear Ben, as the volume of the people around me singing along is so loud, they almost drown him out. This is such an emotive song, and to hear it live it is just something else, it gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes like no other song. 

As the event is being sponsored by Jägermeister, the band had been given a bottle with their name on, which they now open to celebrate THE FALLEN STATE being together for five years, and they all have a hearty swig. The bottle is then offered out into the audience, which is a lovely gesture and typical of these friendly, down to earth guys. Greg tells us that Ben has been waiting to get that bottle out all night! The band then perform another new track from the album, and as the audience demand, there’s even a chance for Rich ‘Fucking’ Walker to perform a quick drum solo before ‘You Want It’. The band disappear off stage, but we’re not quite ready for them to go just yet. They return and although it’s not on the set list, they perform what will eventually be their new single. It’s a song full of light and shade, tension and atmospheric interludes and passionate vocals. With the new material, I can definitely hear a maturity and progression from their older songs. I for one can’t wait for THE FALLEN STATE to release their album, and I reckon there are several hundred euphoric people here tonight who feel exactly the same! 

THE FALLEN state are on tour with DEVILSKIN, catch them here:-

02.11.18 - Think Tank, Newcastle

03.11.18 - Cathouse, Glasgow

04.11.18 - The Live Rooms, Chester

05.11.18 - O2 Academy, Birmingham

06.11.18 - Rebellion, Manchester

07.11.18 - Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes

08.11.18 - Corporation, Sheffield

11.11.18 - Old Fire Station, Bournemouth