The Sugermen : Liverpool : live reviewSugarmen,

359 @ District

Liverpool. 4/10/13
Generally this time of year catalyses a host of new club nights to pop up and fall to the way side, especially in Liverpool. But in 359 (One Degree Before Revolution) 90’s Britpop Impresario Alan McGee is looking to keep it all guns blazing and feels Liverpool is the place to do it!

With a musical legacy that includes the obviously huge Oasis, Primal Scream, The Libertines and many more the man’s ear and eye must be noted. His current tout to back this new venture “There’s more talent in Huyton than Hoxton”, however PR aware it may be, is still refreshing for all Scouse patriots. The current Liverpool music scene is thriving. With a multitude of great new bands crossing genres, promoters, fanzines/bloggers, artists and indeed venues all getting their hands dirty and making it happen for themselves in a quite collaborative and excited community.

This is none better exemplified by the Venue itself “District” (Formerly the Picket) and a great new band riding high ‘SUGARMEN’ Having been instantly impressed by this energetic Rock and Roll quartet supporting ‘Strypes’ in only their second gig six months ago (, I was eager to see how the band have developed.

The band stepped onto the stage displaying enthusiasm and confidence, marauding around as if knowing we would all dig what they where about to unleash. Everybody’s attention was well and truly grabbed.

The opening two tracks, fast paced and less than 3 minutes, grabbed everyone’s attention. One of which, “Nothing But Respect”, encapsulated a punkish attitude without ever discarding that inherent Liverpool attention to a great melody. The energy from the stage, now had spilled over and into the crowd, with the young and rowdy audience beginning to bounce in unison.

Pulling the reigns back slightly with the slower more astutely arranged “Circuit Queen”, lead singer Luke Fenlon substituted his Gretsch for an acoustic approach and calmly delivered a rather beautiful pop/ballad. If I’m to be a little critical I prefer the dynamic of the band without the acoustic. The tune obviously warrants the change but I feel the band as a whole lose something of their character by doing so. Regardless though its still laden with excellent well thought out melodic riffs from their lead guitarist, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Joe Strummer & Edwyn Collins all rolled into one, albeit with a far healthier head of hair! Post-Punk/Cure-esqe guitar patterns shimmer and float above our head rather sweetly.

Moving on the band displayed their democratic side with bass player Ali Horn exchanging roles with Fenlon, fronting a brand new never played before song. Their over all physical interaction on stage is lively and unrestricted. Expression was at the forefront of an obviously enjoyable performance. At times the relationship between the lads evoked memories of an early ‘Libertines’, unashamed bravado and desire to let it all out in any way they can but always looking to each other in acknowledgement and celebration.

Song of the set for me had to be the epic ‘Rabbit Hole’, delivering a massive dynamic. Ranging from a quite personal, enticing low octave vocal to a massive exclamatory chorus. The overall arrangement, vivid and quite ambitious, with swirling floor tom beats and crashing guitars that really matched well with the story telling from within the song. A massive sign of the development of the band and a great insight into their potential once they get going in a studio to lay down an album which must surely be on the cards in ’14.

Moving towards the end of the set, the band maintained the tempo, but reserved a little extra for their crescendo “This is my life (and it’s alright). Raising the bar in many ways, this track represents the band perfectly. Extremely Energetic and up beat, Rock and Roll yet melodic and ultimately a good time, this is what its all about for me when watching a new up and coming band. ‘Sugarmen’ held this end of the bargain up and had the whole venue buzzing in unison, until the final clap of hands fell. They left the stage; sweat dripping, beaming and all smiles with congratulatory slaps on the back. Rightly so, as the work they have obviously put in rehearsing over summer is evident and beaten out a real identity and character which they now wear as comfortably as a well worn in leather jacket!

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Mr. McGee sees them as a perfect fit for 359 Records. That is indeed if he truly wishes to put his money where his mouth is and celebrate what is all good about Liverpool music at the moment.



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