Record Junkee’s snug first floor venue is the perfect spot for those bands on the verge of breaking into the big time and for those with loyal fanbases to comfortably sell out and create an electric atmosphere. The place is full early on and the inevitable surge forwards as the headliners come out only serves to crank up the feeling of anticipation. Headliners are the superb Red Rum Club – more on them later – but I’m not here to review them; it’s local band Idle Ross who have piqued my interest.
Before them, another local band, the up and coming Lucid Dreams who play earnestly and juggle a number of well-known covers of suitably appealing bands alongside some intriguing future hits of their own. Lead singer Edward Sweeney belts out their set and despite the crowd-pleasing hits, it is their own material which sounds most comfortable with him and most appealing to this reviewer. They sadly run out of time all too soon, but I look forward to seeing them again on the live scene. Check them out on Facebook.
The main act for me are Sheffield band Idle Ross, formed of school friends and new acquaintances and straddling the cool Britannia vibe of the 1990s with more recent shuffling indie fayre as Kasabian and the Arctic Monkeys. They have a strong set of songs under their belt in their short time together and whilst they are brilliantly produced and sound fantastic in the studio, it is something to see them performed live.
I’ve reviewed the band before on a slightly larger stage, but here in this more intimate venue, they feel more electrified and the audience even more responsive, hooked immediately despite many of them being here for the following band. Lead singer Ross has a rawness in his vocals which calls to mind early Liam Gallagher and no doubt many fans of Oasis, the Stone Roses and the Charlatans will see the appeal in this band who bring the indie rock ‘n’ roll to the stage and sharp modish fashion sense to their social media pages. However, there’s something far sharper, more incisive and witty about Idle Ross’ lyrics than many of the big happy clappy crowd pleasers by the aforementioned mega-groups. This is why comparisons with Kasabian, the Arctic Monkeys, Reverend and the Makers and the Verve are more apposite: there is wit and often social commentary in the lyrics which goes beyond easy rhyming and obvious metaphors. Hearing Idle Ross’ lyrics actually gives you something to think about, makes you smile.
Tracks like “Sleeptalking”, “Circle of Squares” and “Feel” are instantly catchy and service the various members of the band well. The audience are seemingly hooked from the off. As drummer Joel delivers a crashing solo merely in the few minutes of soundcheck the band take advantage of before starting, it is clear his energetic playing is often the linchpin of their heavy rock sound. Guitarist Spen often channels the likes of Slash when he launches into insanely intricate guitar solos and Charlie on bass adds a thrumming insistence which is cool, retro and though I hate to use the word, funky. The banter between Ross, Charlie and the audience between songs is also another amusing element, particularly when Ross asks us to check out their new song, play it on Spotify and even if we don’t like it, leave it on repeat. He quickly adds that of course, we are going to like it anyway, so no problem!
The grand finale is the band’s debut single “Into the Thick of it” which I’ve always thought of as a grand statement of intent for the group. I previously described it as “a cocky, swaggering, hypnotic three minutes of swirling classic rock guitar riffs and shuffling Kasabian-esque hip hop beats” and it’s easily another highlight of the night. The band return to the prime support slot in just a few weeks when they’ll share the bill with the legendary Black Grape and based on tonight, they’re more than ready for it.
• Leave it Out
• Stop Letting Me Down
• Circles of Squares
• Into the Thick of it
Check out the rather hypnotic debut single “Into the Thick of it” (reviewed here). My interview with frontman Ross is here. Why not follow the boys across social media on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.? Look out for more of their forthcoming live dates too.
Finally, I must mention headliners Red Rum Club, a thoroughly rambunctious Liverpool band who play indie rock and roll as if every track is a lost Sergio Leone track from an unmade Tarantino western bursting with Latin energy, sensational trumpet work and sweaty, infectious charm. The tracks which aren’t quite as infused with Americana spice are lovely jangly little indie pop songs with extra bite in the lyrics like “TV Said So”. The audience are superbly hooked and throw themselves into every track almost as much as the band do. I came knowing perhaps one or two tracks in passing, but leave not only knowing and humming several, but clutching a copy of their brilliant debut album, Matador. Songs like “Would You Rather Be Lonely” and “Calexico” are insanely catchy and earlier track “Alone Together” is a flawless gem of a song. I came for Idle Ross and stayed for Red Rum Club.