PETE SPIBY & THE BEAT ALLS / ALPHA MALE / STEEL TREES - Cavern, Exeter 08.12.18
PHOTO CREDITS: CLAIRE HILL
PETE SPIBY is probably best known for being the frontman of the formidable BLACK SPIDERS, and also for fronting GROOP DOGDRILL and FUTURE EX WIFE. Pete has recently run a successful Pledge campaign for his ‘Failed Magician’ album, and THE BEAT ALLS are some of the musicians who played on that album. The Cavern is a fantastic small venue and the ideal platform for independent bands.
Doncaster locals STEEL TREES are first up tonight, having released their single ‘Deaf in One Eye’ yesterday. Tom Hannon (vocals/guitar), ex- BLACK SPIDERS Adam ‘Fox’ Irwin (bass) and Lee ‘Dog’ Sanderson (drums/vocals) describe themselves as ‘pure fuckin’ fuzz filth’ and that’s a pretty accurate description! Tom’s raw, almost guttural vocals on ‘Deathbed’ accompany his heavy guitar riffs, while Irwin hardly keeps still as his abrasive bass notes accompany Dog’s thrashing drumming. The audience are thin in numbers during the set, but many I think just came to see what all the noise is about.
Highlights include ‘Stoner Zombie, ‘Naked Mudbath’ and the new single (that the band had posted about on Facebook yesterday to coincide with its release) before the guys finish their set with ‘Womb Raider’.
Applause was polite with a couple of cheers and there were a few people getting into the music but unfortunately overall the handful of people there didn’t seem overly enthused.
Next on to the stage are Torbay natives, alternative rock band ALPHA TIDE, who are here to promote their album ‘Time & Tide’, which was released yesterday. The musically adept four piece, made up of Tom Hayes (vocals/guitar), Mark Durber (guitar), Mattie James (bass) and Joel Heathcote (drums) run through their five song set without a hitch and look totally at ease on the stage. ‘Boy & A Girl’, ‘Wheels’, ‘Edge of Time’ and latest single ‘Little Bluebird’ are well performed and the band are cohesive and confidently laid back. It’s likeable, easy-going and harmonious. Tom is self-assured and humorous as he takes the time to introduce the band, and his voice is strong and clear as he sings. The audience seem to warm to the band and the interaction feels good despite the small crowd. Set closer ‘Cherrypicker’ is one of those songs that sticks in your head. ALPHA TIDE’s music is definitely worth checking out.
By the time headliners PETE SPIBY & THE BEAT ALLS take to the stage after spending the earlier part of the evening watching the other bands, the audience has swelled slightly in numbers. They kick off their set in swaggering style with ‘Lightning Bolt’ and ‘Bible Studies’ from the recent, Pledge funded 'Failed Magician’ album. It’s clear the four guys are accomplished musicians with a wealth of experience between them. Pete is a consummate professional, and the Beat Alls (Luke Athiko (guitar, backing vocals), Simon Bismarck (bass, backing vocals), and Louie Look (drums) are dynamic in their performance, with great chemistry. Running through their set, the guys work together like a well-oiled machine. Simon’s chuggy bass and Louie’s thwacking drums providing a solid backbeat for the dual bluesy guitars provided by Pete and Luke. Simon and Luke’s backing vocals provide the perfect melodic backdrop for Pete’s gravelly, whisky-soaked vocals.
Pete calls for Tom from STEEL TREES to join the band onstage to play guitar for ‘Friday Night (Just Died in Saturday Morning’s Arms)’, and it’s great to see the five of them all having fun up there together. Pete then asks the audience if anyone has the album, which gets a cheer and show of hands, and a quip from Pete, “We’d better not make any more mistakes then! This is Simon on bass, this song’s about him, it’s called ‘Guiding Light’”. ‘Working for MaryJane’ is a particular highlight; the clarity in the top notes of Pete’s vocals is exquisite and you could’ve heard a pin drop in the room. Throughout, the audience are enthralled at the very intimate performance. While there may not be that many people there, the band give it their all and play as if the room is packed.
“This song is about my struggles with alcohol”, says Pete, as he sips from a can of Fosters, by way of introducing the reflective ‘We Used to be Friends’. Another highlight is ‘Why Not Let Them Come’, with the fantastic lyric “All you need is the power of one. Used to have one fuck to give, but now that fuck is gone”. Following set closer ‘Thrown to the Wolves’, in his own inimitable style, Pete had one last thing to say, “Please buy our merch, our children need to eat for Christmas!”.
Invigorating, captivating and melancholic yet uplifting in equal measures; the set seemed far too short, I think that says it all.
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