I’d been trying to see The New Pagans live since their inception late last year, and this week my dreams finally came true. Heading out on a Wednesday night felt different to my customary end-of-week venture to the pub for a gig, but going to the show was a fun break in a busy week. Spectrum is a relaxed venue, and it was nice to grab a beer, chill, dance (as usual I was the only one dancing) and listen to some great music. It’s truly a pleasure to see young local bands and surprisingly, it was the support acts that were particularly impressive.
First up was Eye to Eye, a four-piece rock band who were really lovely to listen to. They had a melodious rock sound, and their talent deserved more than the small audience that had bothered turning up early to the show. The four boys had great guitar lines and melodies which they played with feeling and a slight melancholy. I especially liked one of their songs – I think it was called ‘The Storm’ – which was moving and engrossing. With more exposure, encouragement and experience, these guys could really get somewhere.
The Kicks comprised of two hot girls rocking their electric guitars. Okay, there was actually a male drummer and guitarist too, but it was the girls in the band (the lead singer and the guitarist) who owned the stage. They had a bad-ass attitude that perfectly complemented their energetic rock sound. Do you remember Letters To Cleo, the female-fronted rock-band that played that ’90s song ‘Sunshine On My Window’? The Kicks reminded me of that, only with a heavier sound.
The stand-out of the night was definitely The Former Love Pirates. Though by this time the beer had kicked in, I distinctly recall turning to my friend and saying something along the lines of, “they have a sound that could get a lot of attention and sell a lot of records”. Now that I think about it, there was something very Arcade Fire-like about the six member band. They played melodious tunes with an energy and presence that grabbed my attention and emotions, but were catchy enough to dance to as well. They also get bonus points for playing the banjo.
The New Pagans are a very young band, and I was probably one of the minority at the gig who didn’t actually know one of the band members personally. Despite their youth – both on the music scene and in reality – the three boys entered the stage with the kind of confidence that comes from being the headline act.
What proceeded was a good dose of subdued, rough rock with simple melodies. They played six songs including ‘Shades Of Grey’, the track that had planted those first seeds of desire in me to see them live. The New Pagans had good musicality, with enthralling electric guitar lines and excellent drumming by Spencer Morrow.
What was lacking was solid vocals – I could hardly hear them at times. I know understated vocals are Tom Davidson’s characteristic approach; they’re trying to do the whole nonchalant male vocals thing. But with an already subdued sound it got a little tedious after several songs. Sharpening the vocals and giving them a more prominent role would add a real flavour to their music. With some fine-tuning these guys have the potential for greater things, and I look forward to more mid-week nights spent dancing to The New Pagans.