Reverend and the Makers
Ever had one of those nights where you feel like you will never reach you’re destination? I was late to meet photographer Kat, the road we wanted was closed, we spent 20 minutes getting stuck in a one way system that we couldn’t fathom! We knew where we wanted to be, just couldn’t bloody get there! Then we couldn’t find a space to park and then we had no change for parking! So we finally arrive and pulled the classic at a gig – moan you ain’t getting anywhere fast then on arrival go straight to the bar -wherein you spend another 15 minutes queuing for a drink ha! But oh once we got there it all melted away.

The assembly is a wicked venue. Dating back to 1926 it was originally Bath Assembly Hall: home to many shenanigans that mainly included the foxtrot, the quickstep and the waltz. Thoughts to revamp and reopen the venue from its previous use as a gala bingo hall came in 2006. And with a little help from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen it underwent a lovely makeover that has retained a sense of its art deco roots but now boasts a contemporary style. It really is a stunning venue that opened its doors to the public in august 2008 and has a standing capacity of 1000. It’s small enough to maintain a cosy intimate atmosphere yet large enough to give you a sense of space in which to ‘dad-dance’ (and we saw plenty of that up on the balcony).
Reverend and the Makers
The support band (Yves Klein Blue) were rocking out on our arrival. Yves Klein Blue comprise of four lads from Brisbane Australia. They are a poetic bunch, with songs to match. They have a philosophical relaxed attitude to life mingled with a hint of teenage angst and noise. Their debut album ‘Ragged & Ecstatic’ was released in June 2009. The boys describe their sound as ‘skewed and playful pop hooks, refreshing rhythms and timeless classicism mixed with youthful vigour’. I agree entirely with these sentiments having seen them and really enjoyed what I saw of their set. I have since visited their innovative funky website (yveskleinblue.com). I have found myself repeatedly listening to ‘Getting wise’ and ‘Polka’ (one of their first songs to get them noticed as teens fresh out of school). I also really like ‘digital love’ purely for the full on punkish guitar jamming that kicks it off. Ah screw it I like them all and the album is on order!

The album title (ragged & ecstatic) is taken from Jack Kerouac’s famous quote ‘it’s the ragged and ecstatic joy of pure being’. This simple quote compartmentalises the bands attitude – to enjoy life purely for the experience of experiences (good and bad). Though something tells me this band are leading a charmed life purely by coming together with their combined talents for singing, song writing and realising/ chasing a dream from an early age.
Reverend and the Makers
I was unsure of what to expect from Reverend and the Makers as I have not seen them before but I need not have worried- it was awesome! As we waited for the band to enter and I looked round at the crowd, what stunned me was the sheer age range they draw. Easily teens to mid forties and that’s impressive to reach out to such a myriad of generations. The band hail from Sheffield and since they first came together in 2006 have had tight links with the arctic monkeys (whom they supported back in April 2006) and the infamous ‘plug’ in Sheffield where they previously hosted a monthly club night ‘reverend sound system’.

The band took to the stage following a storming few moments of heady music and effervescent sign glowing madness! As the band took to the stage, our main man Jon ‘the reverend’ McClure stuck out like a nun in a brothel. He cuts an impressive figure at 6ft 4 and holds himself in a no-nonsense posture. He appeared mean and moody on arrival wearing rancid old jeans and a shocking 80s leather jacket and for a split second I wondered if he would deliver. He is well known for being outspoken and at times unpredictable with his views.
Reverend and the Makers
They kicked off proceedings with the superb ‘Silence is talking’ and we all knew we were in for a good night as the fans at the front began moshing like loonies. This followed seamlessly into ‘The state of things’ a stark reminder of the passion McClure has for all things political. He also made reference to the BNP – forcibly stating what they could do and we all cheered in agreement. McClure recently stated in an interview that bands needed to stop writing about girls at bus stops and start focusing on more important things going on in the world (he was talking about the Iraq war at the time).

I was chuffed when next they played ‘Heavyweight champion of the world’. This is a classic song that really showcases his northern drawl. John was a man intent on crowd pleasing. The audience were very receptive to his hard work in ‘getting them all revved up’. This is a man well documented for his passion for audience involvement stating early on ‘If you’re having it – get in at the front – don’t stand at the back with your arms crossed’. Just awesome. Mid set we were treated to ‘Bandits’ followed by ‘Mermaids’ and straight into ‘Hard times for dreamers’. But my favourite song remains ‘Open your window’. It sounded a tad slower than on the album which worked well. It has a deep pulsing bass line that blends well with McClure’s deep northern sound. Yet it builds into an almost anthemic chorus punctuated only by the drums.
Reverend and the Makers
The token lady in the band Laura Manuel (playing organ) looked stunning in red and played up to the crowd eloquently. Her vocals gave an unusual and exotic twist to the set equalled only by the thrilling jazz sound of the trumpet player. The evening showcased her strong voice perhaps most notably in ‘He said he loved me’. It was an exhaustive set that encompassed most of their songs off the two albums and finished in superb style with ‘Armchair Detective’. The band left the stage to a rousing chorus of cheers and woops and McClure headed for the smoking section readily followed by half the crowd.

What I didn’t realise at this point was that he has a little signature move at most gigs whereby he wanders out front of the venue and gives an intimate and impromptu jamming session. So imagine my surprise when I wandered outside to see just that on the steps of the building across the road flanked by 2 burly bouncers and with guitar in hand. He happily carried on for another 20 minutes urging the crowd to join him in song renditions that included ‘jammin’ and ‘revolution’! And just as the police were starting to get annoyed by the 300+ people hanging out in the middle of the road in sleepy Leamington, he was gone into the night. His passion for all things intelligent, musical and political is both intoxicating and contagious!
Reverend and the Makers
Awesome gig, Awesome venue…Awesome band…….to be repeated someday soon- well just as soon as they come around this way again……
Words by Sammy Allen
Photography by Kat Page

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