Gig Review

Austin Lucas
Apologies, I Have None, Three Pairs Of Shoes, Great Cynics
Bristol, Croft
1st March 2012

Austin Lucas         Apologies, I Have None      Three Pairs Of Shoes    Great Cynics


Photo Of Great Cynics © Copyright Neil OliverTonight was set to be a busy mash up of bands, one after the other with only five minute gaps. My main aim was to hang around drinking until "Apologies, I Have None" and "Austin Lucas & The Bold Party". Before I had time to buy a drink the sound of the Great Cynics came from the main stage in a small room at the back of the venue. The mix of punk-rock, pop and indie was quite chilled, with a pretty good overall sound. Giles's vocals added a bit of roughness to the music with a shouty scream reminiscent of Anthony Raneri from Bayside which paired well with the occasional female vocals of bassist Iona. The overall sound and music was good, with the room gradually filling throughout the set. The band were fairly entertaining to watch and seemed to be having a good time on stage, with Bob singing along behind the drums, and Giles with a Rivers Cuomo esc bounce. There was a little bit of chat on stage among the members even spilling into the crowd at one point, and a few mocking comments from Giles about the lyrics to "All The Time Every Time" off the band's new album "Don't Need Much" but they stuck predominantly to playing. There were a few negative points but all in all I enjoyed their set, and they kept me from the bar, can you ask any more from an opening act?

Photo Of Three Pairs Of Shoes © Copyright Neil OliverAfter catching one good support act I thought that was it for tonight's unexpected gem's, until walking into the second room and catching Three Pairs of Shoes. A Folk band from Cardiff, the band featured a flute, cello, acoustic guitar, violin, Mandolin and even an Irish whistle within the line up of multi talented musicians. The lack of drums and the relaxed nature of the music threw my mind to "Mumford And Sons". They were clearly talented with Iain Birkett and Matt Tilling swapping the guitar and mandolin between themselves from time to time. With only microphones to up the vocals there was nowhere for this band to hide any mistakes or shortcomings and nor did they need too, with each member looking so comfortable on stage and even amongst the crowd at one point, in the case of the confident lead singer. Luckily the band needed no Photo Of Three Pairs Of Shoes © Copyright Neil Oliveramplification to overcome a crowd, as everyone was in shear awe and mesmerization with the only noise being a small applause between tracks. There was definitely some air of importance coming from the stage and Matt Tilling was providing some of the best live vocals I think I've ever heard. There were some fantastic female harmonies as well, and an all round fantastic performance. I wouldn't say they were the most exciting band, but that's the nature of the music they play and whilst I wouldn't rush to see them again I could happily leave their CD on repeat all day. They filled the second room and had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand, not a bad Bristol debut and not a bad way to carry on the evening.

Photo Of Apologies, I Have None © Copyright Neil OliverFrom the chilled set of "Three Pairs of Shoes" it was time for the energetic punk sound of "Apologies, I have None". After the first song lead singer Dan Bond tried to drag the crowd closer, with some degree of success, before breaking into the next track. The rough raw sound that comes from any performance at "The Croft" suited this style of music well. Another point to note about "The Croft" is the only entertainment comes from the band, not the venue. With about four working lights there's nothing else to watch, although once again this wasn't an issue for these boys. With Joe Watson bobbing along while he pounded the drums and PJ Shepherd having the time of his life jumping around playing bass. You could feel the energy and the sound of the rhythm section at work. As the band played through tracks "60 Miles" and "Sat In Vicky Park" off their soon to be released album "London", I half drifted off in a nostalgic state, whilst I can't claim to be remembering discovering Apologies as a teen, there was clearly a lot of emotion in the songs and the performance, which reminded me of going to see mates play, or finding Photo Of Apologies, I Have None © Copyright Neil Oliverthat song that fits how you feel. Whilst the vocals where slightly monotone, the volume was good and the shouting from Dan and Josh Mckenzie was raw with emotion. These songs clearly mean a lot to the band and given the grins on their faces while they jump around on stage, so does getting on stage and playing them. They managed to sneak in another older track, "Joiners And Windmills" off the 7" EP they released. The emotion and energy continued right up to the last track "Clapton Pond". Though the band left the stage I overheard a few people talking about buying the album with little understanding why they enjoyed it so much. The easiest way to describe the show is like the venue it's self, it's a little rough around the edges, it's far from perfect, it's a lot easier to pick faults than praise, but through all that it has this incredible charm that makes you love it. They definitely held their own after two good support acts and the pressure "Austin Lucas" and "Crazy Arm" to follow.

Photo Of Austin Lucas © Copyright Neil OliverOnce again the show was taking a more relaxed tone as Austin Lucas took to the stage for what would surely be the best performance of the night so far. Austin opened up with "Sun Or Snow" from the 2008 album "Bristle Ridge". For the first time of many occurrences in the night, Austin asked the crowd if they had any request's, which led to him to play "Man Alive". "There's Always Someone Tougher And Meaner" quickly followed. More chat and banter with the crowd helped reinforce the intimacy of the gig, which now seemed more like a group of friends hanging out drinking whilst one played the guitar. With the main room at The Croft filled, Austin was really showing his amazing talents and skill of playing the acoustic guitar, singing and engaging the crowd song after song. After performing "Shoulder" he was to be reinforced on stage by Darren Johns of Crazy Arm on the banjo for "Wash My Sins Away". Darren played the Banjo well in a seamless rendition of the song as if they'd played it together a hundred times, and the same could be said of the Photo Of Austin Lucas © Copyright Neil Olivernext song "Somebody Loves You" with Vicky Butterfield throwing in some exceptional harmonies. With all of Crazy arm taking the stage the sound went from mellow to a bulky, strong, rock sound, with the band's slight folk sound it fit together perfectly with Austin. However with the added volume of the electric guitars and Simon Marsh's heavy drumming the vocals were for the first time in the set slightly drowned out. For the final track Crazy Arm Left the stage, and so did Austin Lucas who entered the centre of the room, insisting that everyone remained quiet. Encircled by his fan's, Austin performed "Go West" with no mic and only the singing along of the crowd during the chorus, to back him up. That final song summed up his set perfectly with a strong voice, flawless guitar playing a joke or too about the crowds singing between verses and incredible intimacy. As corny as it may sound Austin Lucas made friends with everyone in the room. Playing songs from a wide range of his albums there was something for old fans, new fans and to be completely honest anyone else that happened to be present, whether you've heard of him before or not.

Great Cynics 3/5
Three Pairs Of Shoes 3/5
apologies, I Have None 4/5
Austin Lucas 4/5

Review By Marc Rich
Photos By Neil Oliver

 Austin Lucas

Austin Lucas

 Apologies, I Have None

Dan Bond
Josh Mckenzie
PJ Shepherd
Joe Watson

 Three Pairs Of Shoes

Matt Tilling
Iain Birkett
Livi Sinclair
Tom Stephenson
Katie Tilling
Katherine Evans

 Great Cynics


 Band Related Links
Austin Lucas Facebook
Apologies, I Have None Facebook
Three Pairs Of Shoes Facebook
Great Cynics Facebook
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?