FEED ME MUSIC TAKE OVER AT NORTH GREENWICH
Five in the morning with a banana moon in the clear sky and I set off. Over thirteen hours later, and around three hundred and fifty miles south, I was in the venue, having just met somebody who had travelled even further – Anke’s journey from Germany made a trip from the Scottish border seem as if I had just gone next door! The venue was IndigO2 inside the Dome at North Greenwich and I was back for a second helping of live music courtesy of Feedme Music with six bands on the bill including the main reason for my journey, Kenelis.
First on were three piece Kings And Rogues. Nick Drew led on guitar and vocals, ably backed by a tight rhythm duo of Gary Summers on bass / backing vocals and Wayne Summers on drums. Kenelis aside, I had travelled down to the Dome on faith, having never heard any of the other five bands before. I had been impressed by the previous showcase and by all other acts that Alli Hodge of Feedme Music had brought to my attention in the interim. Kings And Rogues did not disappoint and, despite being the opening act, took to the stage with driving confidence. There were clearly a number of fans that had attended to give support and their loyalty was rewarded by an expertly delivered set of around thirty minutes. Sound systems don’t make gigs but poor ones certainly spoil them; with a system as good as the one here it would definitely be down to the band to spoil things and Kings And Rogues avoided doing that by a country mile and more. The guitar was confident and compelling, the vocals were clear as crystal, the bass tight and crisp, and the drumming like a steamhammer in overdrive. The set comprised an interesting selection of songs in a style clearly influenced by the likes of Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan. One down, five to go – if this was an indicator of things to come I knew I was in for a great night.
Next up was Anaam; Arup, Kan, Shaon and Ricky immediately took things to a much heavier place. Being unfettered by instruments, lead singer Arup left the audience in no doubt about his showmanship credentials as he made full use of the expansive stage. This was another band who have clearly worked hard to perfect their act, and enjoy being on stage; again I was unable to fault their performance. Anybody familiar with my ramblings will be aware that I don’t hold much store in genre classification, but I am willing to admit that I would be inclined to assign the term metal as one to use when describing Anaam. My problem with genres stems from those who claim that they will only listen to one genre and appear to like any artist to which the label seems to apply regardless of ability. I prefer to take things as I hear, and decide whether or not I like it – I most definitely liked this band. I could definitely get used to a Feedme Music diet!
When band number three came on stage and the lead singer began to speak, it felt a bit familiar; they may be billed as being from London, but I’m fairly positive that John Wyse had definite traces of a Scottish accent (west coast?) or maybe age is beginning to take its toll on me. As with Arup previously, John was very definitely a showman who was so clearly at home on stage. The rest of the band comprise Julian Martin-Samos and Ryan Hunt on guitars,Steven Hepburn on bass and Kerry Thompson on drums. Where the two previous bands clearly relished and deserved the opportunity to play in this venue, I couldn’t help visualising Silverbox in some much larger arena, their whole presence and confidence just seemed to demand that. I suppose that this comment simply serves to underscore the diverse nature of the term ‘rock band’; so far the first three had demonstrated their discreet and individual overall sound and stage presence, and I knew that Kenelis would bring a different slant come their turn. John’s confident delivery reached out and engulfed the audience, and the shirt coming off clearly went down well with many, I’m sure!
Half way through already when Darren Robinson and Milky both on vocals and guitar, Charlie Robinson on guitar, J2 on bass and Mike Daines on drums took to the stage but Billy was nowhere to be seen (just couldn’t resist that cheesy reference to the band’s name, Where’s Billy?) They helped to inject some more metal into the mix. Like all the bands on the bill, they seemed to have managed to get a good number of fans to attend and they were obviously thrilled by the high energy set. Their on-line profile describes them as not seeking to create a new genre (there’s that ‘g’ word again) nor are they particularly aiming to adhere to any existing one – I applaud this approach as it indicates a band seeking to make their own individual mark. I was particularly interested in hearing this band so that I could compare them to local band Where’s George? Interesting to hear, but apart from both apparently looking for somebody (I’m not prepared to make any gender assumptions), there is little chance that they are likely to be in direct competition – both excellent, but in completely different ways. Kenelis had yet to take to the stage and I was already in no doubt that my journey had been more than justified.
So now was the time – a year previously I had been entranced by Kenelis, fronted by the charismatic Mel Sanson; now, a year on, Mel was the only constant as all previous band members had gone their own ways for a variety of reasons. Mel has now recruited a new line up with Kai Smith on guitar, Tristan Hall on bass and Ryan Holt on drums. Mel has also developed her own guitar skills and now plays more herself whilst on stage. Although slight in physical stature, Mel has a massive personality and so easily dominated the stage when she took to it – OK, I admit it, I might be biased! Kicking off with the impassioned call against unjustified hateful attitudes, ‘Sick’, I knew I was going to be bowled over. Having recently helped secure support for two charities, Diversity Role Models and Stonewall, as part of The L Project whose single ‘It Does Get Better’ made it to number eleven in the UK charts without any mainstream radio exposure, Mel is a woman who stands by her beliefs. Listening to her latest songs, that were played here, it is clear that she feels there is still a lot of injustice that still requires to be tackled head on. She is a compassionate and committed person, but quite obviously still angry about some things, and is being positive about seeking to use her music to help raise awareness. The power and passion of Mel’s stage presence as she moved around like a tornado was mesmerising; it didn’t, however, stop me from sparing some time to appreciate how well Kai, Tristan and Ryan had taken up the batten handed on by previous band members Andy 1, Andy 2, James and Oli, a hard act to follow. If I have any complaint about the night, it applies to all acts, but especially Kenelis – the sets were too short! Having said that, I know that pragmatically, Alli and Feedme Music had no real option when trying to ensure that all six bands each got a fair hearing. It was also so good to hear that a new recording is in the pipeline. I’m not even going to attempt to write about Kenelis’ music, as far as I’m concerned music is more about listening than reading so if you feel enthused by my endorsement all I will say is to get yourself on-line and listen / download, if you like excellent, hard-hitting and honest rock music, I challenge you to dislike Kenelis!
All too soon, there was only one act left; enter Born Mad, another three piece, Tommy Smith on guitar and vocals, Matt Johnson on bass and Moke Lliyd on drums. Yet another professional rock outfit that seemed so natural on the stage as they belted out a selection of songs that were on a par with all the other evening’s acts, interpreted with an appreciative hint of retro / blues about them. They helped me to recall classic guitar focussed power trios from my youth such as Taste and Cream.
As far as I’m concerned the venue was absolutely perfect for these bands. It gave them an opportunity to showcase their talents in inspirational surroundings whilst retaining the intimacy of close contact with the audience that accompanies smaller venues. It was also so good to be able to chat to various band members around the bar area. Mel was a particular star in this regard as she dedicated herself to a wonderful ‘meet and greet’ session following her performance. From those that I met and spoke with, it is so evident that her respect for her fans is absolutely reciprocated by the those who make the effort to follow her.