After circling Bristol about forty times in search for the Thekla, we
eventually arrive at a small boat on the water, and a static queue which
showed no signs of moving, despite the fact doors were advertised as opening
half an hour ago. When I say small boat, I actually mean, deceptively
small. From the outside, it really doesn't look very big, but inside,
it boasts three levels. The band play on the lowest level in a spacious
room, the second level has some seating and a balcony looking over the
stage, and the third level has a bar and the deck. First impressions?
This is awesome.
The first band on were Cat The Dog. They had groupies wandering around
outside getting people to sign up to their mailing list, and interestingly,
nobody did. The group came on stage in skinny jeans and hoodies, and so
an educated guess sussed out what was coming. In all honesty, they weren't
that bad. I'd probably liken them to a heavier version of the Vines. But
the Vines had their moment and now you rarely hear of them, which might
explain why these guys didn't get a single clap after their first few
songs. I didn't think they were that bad, maybe the Thekla crowd are hard
to please, but still I think every band should at least get a small applause.
The hard-nut at the head of the band said something along the lines of
"if you don't like it then fuck off." And that's when I changed
my opinion and decided that they didn't deserve applause. Everyone has
some to see the Bravery, and they were invited here. So they can't expect
people to have come for them, and to leave if they don't like it. Other
way around perhaps? Anyway. They played through a half hour set of songs
that had some good elements, but were executed in quite a predictable
and generic way. By the end of the set they were getting some applause,
which I suppose mean that either they'd got better, or everyone was feeling
guilty after the "fuck off" comment. They could have been a
lot worse, let's put it that way.
The next band on were a pleasant surprise, The Cinematics. Smartly-dressed
indie-rock from Glasgow city, catchy riffs and beats topped off with BoyKillBoy
meets Editors vocals and an incredible ability to wail with passion. I
bloody love it, I won't lie. Showcasing their new album "Strange
Education," then definitely won the crowd over virtually instantly,
especially one afro'd guy at the front, who was constantly jumping up
and down. Everyone else just chose to nod and appreciate. One of the highlight
songs would undoubtedly be the title track from their album. "Strange
Education" is a good one. There were others such as "Break"
and "Human," and another, probably my favourite of the set,
was "Sunday Sun," with it's fantastic vocal wailing chorus that
sends shivers down your spine. Just simply fantastic. What a disappointingly
small amount to write about such a great set. I guess I'm just not out
to repeat myself, the bottom line is these guys are incredible. Go and
buy the album.
And then for the headlining act, The Bravery.
"Oh, the one who wants to be Morrissey?"
Well, I'd have said yes until I saw them. He looks nothing like Morrissey.
And they're better.
A backing track kicked in. Some organ notes. "Fearless" was
on its way, without a doubt. Everyone was loving it, and so they should
too. For such an unusual venue, the Thekla boasts an awesome sound. The
new album had been released in America, but I'm not sure it was out here.
I had however, heard it. I'm not sure everyone else had, and thus it was
clear which songs were going to go down particularly well. A new synth
intro was added to one of my favourites "Public Service Announcement,"
and favourites such as "Unconditional" and "Honest Mistake"
were put in, much to the crowd's delight as the vocalist offered the microphone
out to the crowd to sing along. It's quite surprising how many Bravery
songs you find you know. Even their new stuff sounds familiar. Maybe it's
just such fantastic song-writing, such catchy melodies, that make you
think it's so good you must have heard it before. Highlight songs of the
new album "The Sun and the Moon," are "Time Won't Let Me
Go" and "This Is Not The End," as well as "Every Word
That You Say Is A Knife In My Ear," apparently written about the
'fucked up' state of affairs in politics over in the US. Another song
with a meaning, is "Bad Sun," with a whistling melody that is
both corny and brilliant at the same time. It's about a girl the singer
used to date who kept going back and forth between him and some other
psycho from the Russian maffia, who tapped her phone and knifed her. Interesting.
But it's bloody good. I thought the new album was s grower but after seeing
it performed live there's no doubt it's just amazing.
The whole band were pretty static really except the vocalist skipping
around and kneeling down occasionally; also contemplating getting the
crowd to run from side to side of the room to try and tip the boat over.
But no, bad timing, that fantastic idea came before "more of a jogging
song than a running song." I can't remember what followed but they
were right. "Tyrant" was also included in the set, and finally
they ended with "No Brakes," before leaving the stage, the drummer
hurling his drum-sticks into someone's face at the front. Whoops.
All in all it was bloody good, and if I'm honest, a surprise. A perfectly
chosen set that sustained interest throughout.
Review By Thom