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OCTOBER DRIFT – LIVE IN LIVERPOOL! WHAT HAPPENED?

Another Haiku for your consideration:

Liverpool tonight.

Car park’s locked at eight P.M.

We do not notice.

Can you guess what happened, tonight, dear reader? The lesson learned from tonight’s chaotic voyage home that if you DO choose to leave your vehicle in Liverpool’s Mount Pleasant car park after 20.00, don’t expect to be collecting it until the following morning. If, however, your idea of fun is a train ride to Chester followed by a very expensive post-midnight taxi, then knock yourselves out, by all means and drive right in.

Anyhow, tonight sees The Humble Reviewer and his Significant Other heading off to Jimmy’s in Liverpool for the first October Drift gig of the weekend, the second being at the equally wonderful Bootleg Social, up in that there Blackpool two days later. Tonight’s supports come in the form of local band Shefu and Bristol-based The Pleasure Dome – with October Drift originating from Taunton, tonight’s running order is geographically diverse, to say the least.

Shefu

Comprising Rose on vocals, Alice on guitar, Ross (on a different guitar), Shiv on bass and Tom on drums, Shefu are a Liverpool alt-rock band and if you imagine the likes of Hole, The White Stripes, Blur, No Doubt and The Pixies, you’re travelling down the right road. As we see increasingly with the likes of M(h)aol, Sprints and Thus Love to name but a few, there are many messages that still need to be got out about LGBTQ+ issues and Shefu have joined that honourable cause, with their current line-up (which has apparently undergone something of an expansion recently, according to an announcement from Rose) representing the bisexual, non-binary and transgender community.

Interestingly enough, they’re also the first band I’ve come across with a big TikTok presence (or maybe it’s just me who hasn’t been looking hard enough), but nevertheless, it’s a sign of TikTok’s rapidly expanding presence in the social media arena – Insta should be looking over their shoulders with more than a little trepidation. In the meantime, most of Shefu’s young following probably won’t even know what Facebook IS, (and quite right too) and judging by the viewing numbers against  their videos, they’ve chosen their platform well.

There’s a glorious, grungy energy emanating from the stage as the five friends pound out a tight eight song set. Ross and Shiv keep things moving along stage right whilst Alice throws both herself and her guitar around with endless energy at the opposite end of proceedings. Tom is one of the happiest drummers I’ve seen in a while and Rose fronts the ensemble with punky and punchy vocals. They describe themselves as a “Very, very new band”, but on the strength of this performance, you wouldn’t think that was the case at all.

Penultimate song Thumb slows the pace slightly, although Rose’s vocals lose none of their power and grit while the crowd takes time to catch its breath. Sheva are definitely one (or five) to keep an eye on, as well as keeping the other eye out for the pre-save campaign for set closer and fan favourite, Chandler Bing, which to these jaded ears tips more than a wink to Wet Leg, as well as featuring some unexpectedly charming harmonies.

If you’re quick, you can catch Shefu on the 27th of April as part of the 2ube Xtra showcase at the Paul McCartney Auditorium. Tickets are free, the gig starts at 17:00 and concludes at 21:00, but, if you’re planning on staying until the end, you know where NOT to park…

Shefu played: Indoors, Give it to you for Free, Stupid Little Things, Kick my Ass, I got Everything, Fire Baby, Thumb and Chandler Bing.

More information about Shefu can be found here https://www.instagram.com/shefuband/

The Pleasure Dome

Support on this tour for most of the nights (but NOT Blackpool on Sunday as they’re at a festival elsewhere), The Pleasure Dome have not long since completed recording their debut album, but mixing and other associated shenanigans mean that realistically, it won’t be making an appearance until later this year. However, on the strength of tonight’s performance, it’s definitely going to be worth waiting for.

The last time I caught up with Bobby Spender (vocals/guitar), Loz Fancourt (bass) and Bert Elvin (drums) was waaaay back in October at Manchester’s Peer Hat, sharing a bill with the soon to be defunct Byker Grove Fan Club. They made a ferocious racket there and from the start of tonight’s set, it seems that they’re not planning on deviating from that particular path any time soon. Formed in Bristol in July 2019, their reputation precedes them as the purveyors of a hybrid of  punk, grunge and indie, dealing with important themes such as love, addiction, mental health, austerity and the effects of social media. They’re also no strangers to the likes of Radio1 and 6Music, so they’re clearly doing SOMETHING right.

Set opener Have You Ever Been In Love may well pose that question, but it does so whilst channelling the likes of Lice or IDLES at their shoutiest. Mr Spender is shirtless early into the set and screams ferociously from stage left as Loz pounds his bass furiously over at my end of operations. There are a good few cameras in evidence tonight too (the togs are DEFINITELY back in town) and both an interestingly lit stage and good sound make for an excellent way in which to spend 25 minutes in The Pleasure Dome’s company. There are elements of The White Stripes lurking in here too (well, for me at least) – the sound is grungy, stripped back and minimalistic, and delivers a punch that leaves you breathless.

Pass the Parcel has a scary refrain with Bobby switching between a worryingly scary whisper and an outright scream with seemingly little effort. Passing swiftly through the shout of At Dawn, Bobby thanks the crowd for their applause and launches into Vampire of the Night by announcing that “Vampires are real” – I for one am going to be the last person to take issue with him as his guitar squelches evilly, Bert batters his kit for all he’s worth and Loz leaps around energetically. If you could channel this energy, I could recharge my camera battery which is already looking worryingly depleted. Psychodrama is definitely the illegitimate offspring of Joe Talbot and Adam Devonshire with a sprinkling of The Jesus and Mary Chain thrown in for good measure. If Meaning is announced as being a single that came out in 1982 (this may NOT be correct) but its energy sounds like it’s been trapped in a box since then, waiting to be unleashed on a woefully unprepared world. Where on EARTH do these fellas get their strength from? Everything batters along at a hundred miles an hour, but the three of them look like they’re enjoying every minute.

The set nears its end with the slower Love Is Dead after which Bobby thanks the crowd, announces that this is their first gig in Liverpool and shouts “Up the fcuking Toffees”  before cheekily launching into the refrain from “Z Cars” (for those of you not enmeshed in old age as Your Humble reviewer, a BBC police drama from the 60s and 70s, whose theme tune is played at the start of Everton games, though sadly, the energy from the stage didn’t warp back through time and energise Everton as they lost 3-1 to Fulham a few hours earlier). The set closes, but the tempo picks up again with Down The Alley and some unashamedly flamboyant guitar solo work from Mr Spender, before proceedings end abruptly.

Grab yourselves an earful of these lads should the opportunity present itself and make sure to extend a Welcome to The Pleasure Dome (groan)

The Pleasure Dome played: Have You Ever Been In Love, Pass The Parcel, At Dawn, Vampire Of The Night, Psychodrama, if Meaning, Love Is Dead, and Down The Alley

More information about The Pleasure Dome can be found here https://www.instagram.com/thepleasuredomeband/

October Drift

It’s a good day for October Drift to be playing a gig as today coincides with the release of the deluxe version of their second album “I Don’t Belong Anywhere” containing four additional tracks (although only in digital format at the moment). It’s WELL worth a listen, as is 2020’s debut Forever Whatever . As a band, they officially launched in 2015, although they’d been playing together for a good while at high school in Taunton prior to that. Kiran Roy (vocals & guitar), Daniel Young (guitar), Alex Bispham (bass)  and Chris Holmes (drums) really DID choose to go via the DIY route, at least initially, avoiding the traditional social media outlets and preferring to let their music speak for itself, so much so that their first tour sold out before they’d even released a single.

Unfortunately for me, they’re another of those bands who are difficult to pigeonhole, precisely because they’re so very different from anyone else, thus there’s no real written way to convey who they are and what they do – you just need to see them

They have a ferociously loyal fanbase who wear their merchandise as a badge of honour, and, to be fair, it’s glorious, just as it was the last time I saw them back in (appropriately) October at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. Regular readers of my reviews will recall my love of merch and I can feel the siren call of the stand before they’ve even taken to the stage, as familiar faces pop up in the crowd to say hello.

The level of anticipation is high as a member of the audience starts a New Year’s Eve style countdown from 10 in the hopes that this will precipitate the start of the gig, which amazingly it does, as Kiran walks from the dressing room into the crowd, guitar in hand, dressed in his signature white tee and trousers and red Doc Martens, singing set opener Forever out into the darkness (darkness will be an important theme in this gig, but more of that later)

Tonight’s set is mostly taken from I Don’t Belong Anywhere and with Lost Without You being a song powerful enough to close out a set, let alone start one, Kiran, Daniel, Alex and Chris hit the ground running and follow up with Losing My Touch from 2020’s debut album Forever Whatever. As long-standing fans will vouch, when Kiran isn’t busy hurling himself into the crowd, he’s also a great fan of putting his life in danger by climbing onto any pipework, ceiling or balcony that presents itself and tonight is no exception.

Although by no means as scary as his excursion along the bar at the Deaf Institute last year, his spider-like adherence to the ceiling front stage, whilst providing me with the opportunity to grab some half-decent pictures is also terrifying as I have visions of him losing his grip and plunging to his (and possibly causing MY) doom on the floor below.

However, thankfully no such misfortune befalls him during climbing OR hurling, and the crowd happily carry him aloft from front to rear and back again. The set returns to the present for Webcam Funerals with a mournful message, “You’re up all night, you know the course – can’t help feel like you backed the horse that’s only fit for glue.” Yet there’s no mourning going on with this crowd – it’s the polar opposite of a funeral, in fact. Friends hug the barrier and each other (and if one of The Drift nips into the crowd, they hug THEM too) – there’s a real sense of belonging almost to the point of family. Everybody knows the words to the songs, which tells you everything you need to know.

The pounding intro to Just Got Caught reminds me a bit of The Chameleons’ “In Shreds”, which is obviously no bad thing and everyone joins in happily. Don’t Give Me Hope drifts into Robots which originates from as far back as 2015, but is also one of the additional tracks on the expanded version of I Don’t Belong Anywhere, so it’s a nice addition for those who might not have heard it previously. It’s introduced as “An old one that’s now a new one”, which makes perfect sense, but it’s delayed while Alex attends to the small matter of no less than TWO broken bass strings.

The motorik drumbeat is reminiscent of Joy Division’s Stephen Morris at his most intense before we return to the present with five from  I Don’t Belong Anywhere, starting with Waltzer, with its mournful refrain of “But I don’t think I’m coming back”. Happy or sad, it doesn’t really matter, matter, tonight October Drift are amongst friends. Bleed doesn’t let up either – “So take what you want, I don’t need that much of anything”

If you’re looking for contemporary comparisons, you could maybe consider the intensity of IST IST and The Murder Capital or the metronomic beat of Deja Vega, but at their core, October Drift are quite unique. Daniel mouths all the words and you KNOW he’s singing out loud, even though he doesn’t have a mic. Alex throws his bass (AND his hair, which is both plentiful and photgenic) around manically, Chris pounds away furiously at the rear, never missing a beat, keeping it all hanging together whilst up front, Kiran stares happily out at the crowd, genuinely thankful for each and every one of us.

Insects, with its anthemic chorus of “We’re still insects pinned to the walls – Trying to crawl, trying to crawl” gets the crowd punching the air all over again and Airborne Panic attack with its plaintive refrain of, “But what about us now?” draws us in even further. Come And Find Me takes the die-hard fans back to 2018, after which we’re reminded of the magnificence of Forever Whatever, before the evening takes on a bizarre twist as all the light fail. Kiran announces that they’re happy to carry on in the dark as long as we are. Which we are, obviously, and MORE than happy to take direction to hold our phone torches steady in the verses and move them around in the choruses, and it is in the bizarre Manilowesque glow of a hundred phones (go on, you find another review that uses that phrase – I dare you). In which Oh The Silence is performed. Eventually, someone finds 50p for the meter and the lights are back, but it was good while it lasted.

Kiran thanks us all for coming out and states that, “It means the world”, but these are no empty platitudes – it’s clear that it really does – to all of them. As this part of set show draws to an end, Daniel and Alex leave the stage leaving Kiran and Chris to perform the traditional show closer, as they descend into the crowd for one last time, facing each other, armed only with  Kiran’s guitar, Chris’s tambourine and two beautifully complementing voices. Like The Snow We Fall is an achingly beautiful piece – partners hold partners, mates grab mates, as we clap, stamp and sway together in an attempt to forget the world outside for five precious minutes.

October Drift are one of those bands who I honestly wish I’d encountered a long time before I did, so I’m grateful to the friends who brought them to my attention. Much as I loathe the use of the phrase at work, I can at least reach out tonight as I’m finally one of The Drifters.

October Drift played: Everafter (intro), Lost Without You, Losing My Touch, Webcam funerals, Just Got Caught, Don’t Give Me Hope, Robots, Waltzer, Bleed, Insects, Airborne Panic Attack, Come And Find Me (2018), Forever Whatever, Oh The Silence and Like The Snow We Fall.

More information about October Drift can be found here https://www.instagram.com/octoberdrift/

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