Gig Review and Photography by John Bentley

Palma Violets

Palma Violets emerged as candidates for the next great indie guitar band back in 2012 on the strength of their incendiary live performances and their thumping great single ‘Best of Friends’. Now they’ve an album out (‘180’) and they’re on the road to promote it and, hopefully, gain lots of new fans.

Baby Strange

First we’ve got two other young bands to sample. Glaswegian trio Baby Strange, are apparently named after a track on a T-Rex album. They have the difficult task of kicking-off the evening before most people have arrived. However, with their enthusiastic full-on garage-punk they pull this off with ease.

Childhood

Next up are a contrasting band, Childhood. Their music is jangly, dreamy melodic pop stuff. The single ‘Solemn Skies’ has a Stone Roses feel about it, tinged with psychedelia, which is not a bad thing. I was also struck with how lead singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft bears a very striking resemblance to the late Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. They’ve had some positive reviews and an album is due soon, which on the basis of tonight’s show, will be worth looking out for.

Palma Violets

Although they’ve only been around for a couple of years and have just one album worth of songs, Palma Violets take the stage with real swagger and confidence, knowing that their stage act is unbeatable. They’re a sort of young version of The Jim Jones Revue, with the same sort of manic energy, delivering fast and ragged rock ‘n’ roll. They open with ‘Deanna’, their (similar) version of the Nick Cave song. Mr Cave is the master of stage performance and they’ve obviously paid considerable attention to all he can teach them.

Palma Violets

Live the main attraction is the frantic on-stage interaction of guitarist Sam Fryer and bassist Chilli Jesson. Fryer is a good vocalist, with a deep Jim Morrison style voice, but he can also really holla when required. Meanwhile keyboard player Jeffrey Mayhew sits impassive and smartly dressed in jacket and tie, and drummer William Doyle just gets on with his job. Although most obviously a guitar band, the keyboards provide a distinctive and subtle role in defining the band’s sound.

Palma Violets

Jesson really likes climbing into the audience. The trouble is that crowd surfing is difficult, as The Slade Rooms have a low ceiling and it’s a bit of an obstacle course getting there over the safety barrier. So security men and roadies are in close attendance, which rather ruins the effect. This sets-off a bout of crowd surfing, with young men being lifted and booted out of the pit by security staff. It all maintains the frantic pace and keeps the adrenalin flowing. By the time of the encore there’s mayhem on stage. There’s a sweating Jesson, stripped to the waist, and a guy (who I gather may be one of the crew) ‘guesting’ (if that is the term for what appears to be a free for all) on vocals for the closing song, ‘Invasion of the Tribbles’.

Palma Violets

The set lasts just over an hour, which is what it takes to deliver the album and singles. ‘180’ has received mixed reviews, but with a live gig it all seems to make sense. Highlight is probably the ever-catchy ‘Best of Friends’, but in the live context, songs seem to blend together. On the basis of tonight’s gig, Palma Violets have certainly got what it takes to draw in bigger and bigger crowds and will continue to be a ‘must-see’ on the live circuit. However, for longevity they need to be turning out some good albums and singles in the months and years ahead.

Palma Violets

Palma Violets Setlist: Deanna; Rattlesnake Highway; All the Garden Birds; Last of the Summer Wine; Tom the Drum; Chichen Dippers; Best of Friends; Step Up for the Cool Cats; Gout! Gang! Go! ; We Found Love; Johnny Bagga’ Donuts; 14. Encore; Scandal; Invasion of the Tribbles

Palma Violets

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