Reverend And The Makers
Oct 14th 2012
It’s totally packed in here. 1250 people crammed in on a Sunday night and everyone is bouncing. You can feel the Venue’s famous sprung dance floor move and the building is shaking in a way that very few gigs do.
Reverend And The Makers are in the middle of a triumphant tour supporting their recently released album which we gave 9/10 to when it came out. The place is packed making a mockery of the mainstream media’s idea that this a band that is, at the best, trapped in cult status and at the very worst on a downward spiral. If either of these scenarios were the case then then it would be half full in here like it is for many of the media pets when they arrive in town. Instead it feels like a triumph, a band on the way up, about to kick open the doors. The mood is very up and the crowd is fantastically buoyant and packed full of the young, fresh faces of people who have not read the rule book.
Even before the band hit the stage the sense of anticipation can be cut with a knife. Reverend And The Makers have had some ride since they burst out of Sheffield with the Arctic Monkeys a few years ago. They could have had everything if they were spineless but frontman Jon Mclure knows what he wants and his impassioned, heart on the sleeve people political edge added to his quest for new sounds and a genuine interest in the outlaw music of the British streets and council estates sent him on very different path. Like a 21st century Joe Strummer, this wilful interest in the real world has made him swim against the tide in the increasingly straightjacket world of what an indie band is. This straightjacket world of sanitised guitar music sold as alternative, watered down guitar music favoured by ‘alternative’ radio stains that has turned a once vibrant form into a Scouting For Girls mush.
Mclure could have gone Oasis and had it large or he could have gone for the respectable indie guitar ‘alternative’ music favoured by those radio planners. Instead he mashed his music up with the boom of the bass and the mental dance cultures that exist at the edges of our cities and has created a hybrid that maybe misfit but is so potent that it can get a venue as hot as this. I love the way they do the euphoria celebration thing but tempered with the dark, melancholic crone in the background to all their songs. That innate darkness is always there in northern music and is always so compulsive.
When the band enter the stage for recent single Bassline the place goes crazy, everyone is jumping and the song sounds fantastic. It’s big, huge enveloping bass end warmth and powerful dynamic make it sound all at once modern and timeless. It’s like an anthem to the afformentioned dance cultures that have been soaked up by the band’s music but has been translated into a hit song.
It’s utterly infectious and comes armed, like all their songs. with an anthemic chorus that is built for the singalong. it’s also typical of their newer material in that it lays off the direct politics and sings about the concerns of life. Like a 21st century Ray Davies, Mclure has got an eye for this elite things that make people tick and if he doesn’t utilise the Kinks guitar template he clicks into that eye for small detail that is in many ways far more political singing about fcebook pages or noisy neighbours and creating vignettes of modern British life- a life that is a long way from Ray Davies brilliant old songs.
The set never lets up from here and the charismatic McLure has the audience in the palm of his hand. He is part gang leader, part gang member and he speaks the language and he knows how to throw a party. His ad libs between the songs are as good as the songs themselves as he talks to the crowd on their own terms- this connection iS so key to the band and a long way away from the so called ‘indie cool’ of the affected modern indie clown prince.
The band are razor tight and they can work up a great funky groove that has plenty of sharp edges in it. They look like a team and play like one and the songs are seamless and brilliant. For well over an hour they create a soundtrack that has the place pumping as Mclure delivers his sermons over the top. This is a joyful, celebratory evening with a real sense of justice.
Of course a band like this should be top 5 and there have been frustrations voiced by Mclure when ‘DJs’ like the now moved on Chris Moyles won’t play his music. Getting ignored by the radio is frustrating for any artist but when a song as good as Bassline gets the thumbs down from someone with lots of power and no interest in music therefor stopping it being the hit hit it should have been it’s fucking ridiculous.
Bassline should have been on time radio all the time. It’s these brick walls of perception that are ruining UK music- this idea of ‘good taste’ and ‘knowing what the public wants’ decision shade by spineless cowards who I doubt even listen to music away from their day job let along go to gigs like this. We need a drastic rethink of the way we promote our culture. We need bands like this with their innovation tempered with a sense of the shared communal experience, their sharp intelligent lyrics and their reflection of a vastly ignored culture of the non hipster areas of our cities to be recognised.
The Mercury awards are fine for the Hoxton hipsters and Guardian writers, the radio is great for traffic news and time checks but we can’t go on editing out music that doesn’t first into our dull sense of ‘good taste’. Especially when it is as good as this.
A gig like this is proof that there is huge sprawling alternative to the alternative. Reverend And The Makers should be treasured for their innovation and their sense of knowing the pulse and they should also be treasured for packing venues out on a Sunday night and bringing the party to town and becoming a very big band way beyond any cult status because they are actually really fucking great and connect with a huge audience on their own terms.
Tonight was like the Stone Roses just before they broke big- a huge sprawling, devoted audience and a media totally unaware- that sense of community and anticipation- it’s unbeatable.