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MARBELLAS

THE MARBELLAS LIVE IN MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?

The last time we crossed paths with The Marbellas (pronounced “Mar-bellas”, NOT “Mar-bay-as”, just so you know), we were rushing furiously between AATMA and The Peer Hat back in May during the After All Festival – the big problem was that we only really managed to catch about 15 minutes of any band, which didn’t give us much scope to sit down and actually LISTEN.

Since then, we’ve thankfully caught up with The Information Highway, Violet Club, Stepford Wives and of course The Battery Farm in their own right, but until tonight, we’ve been unable to tick off The Marbellas and it is at the kind invitation of their manager Owen-Meikle Williams that we take our place up front in the basement of Retro Bar and wait for the fun to begin.

Comprising Brish Harvey (vocals/acoustic), Jordan Ames (rhythm/backing vocals), Adrian Knowles (lead/backing vocals), Matty Cassidy (bass) and Joe Deegan (drums) and formed late 2019 in Manchester, UK, The Marbellas describe themselves as, “A band that embodies a deep appreciation for all things Northern”, so they’re clearly off to a cracking start, Gromit. Release-wise, they first came to our attention with their first full EP, ‘Chains’ in June 2021, followed by “Rosé” in 2022 and the ‘Live at Gullivers’ EP, in March 2023.

Set opener “Makers Arms” gets proceedings going at a blistering pace, as though someone had taken Oasis and stuck their collective fingers (or worse) in the mains to speed them up a bit. Definitely no slow buildup for these fellas. After making sure we know how to pronounce their name, we’re straight into “Rosé” which tips its hat to The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” and takes the DNA from The Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet” and some skin cells from Buzzcocks’ “Promises” to deliver a heady brew of straight up Rock ‘n’ Roll that blows your socks off.

Whilst it’s easy to make the obvious (and probably lazy) Liam Gallagher vocal comparisons, Brish brings much more to the table than that – with a powerful range, he gives it all he’s got, much to the delight of his gang of mates who have come along for the gig.

“Is everyone having a good night?”, he asks us. “It’s only going to get worse from here on in”. A tenner says it doesn’t. Next up is new song, “The One I Call”. Panning left to right, Jordan and Matty (sporting an excellent bucket hat) concentrate on the business of delivering a solid rhythm over which Brish’s vocals soar effortlessly, while over on the right, Adrian’s lead delivers a hit to the mainline that takes you straight back to the 90s.

Glorious stuff. Not forgetting the man at the back, of course, Joe’s drums underpin it all as Brish steps into the audience and pauses to take a swig from a bottle of water whilst he watches his bandmates with an obvious degree of satisfaction before returning to the stage for the last verse. It’s a beautifully crafted song, both uncomplicated and optimistic – a Waterfall Supernova, if you will.

For “Arrows”, the first of tonight’s songs from the “Chains” EP, Brish grabs his acoustic, announcing, “This is where the sh*t REALLY hits the fan now”. But unsurprisingly, “Arrows” is right at on target (aha, see what I did there? – You’re fired – Ed.), pulling a gorgeous pint of Oasis IPA with a Stone Roses chaser. If I’m not The Resurrection, then Brish and the gang surely must be.

“Loud” is dedicated to “Anyone here who might be feeling sh*t” (not that there’s ANY evidence of that at the moment) and dips a careful toe into Charlatans territory, as Brish, Jordan and Adrian deliver some excellently-executed harmonies and we drift effortlessly back to Madchester once again. Some good-natured banter between Brish and his mates leads us nicely into the acoustic-led “Dead Behind the Eyes”.

Although The Marbellas are very much a band of their time, their influences come flying at you like a driverless bus from the past, so I just close my eyes and drift back to a happy time that I just about remember. There’s an earnestness to Brish’s delivery, that just draws you in and the obvious camaraderie between the five of them is both honest and endearing – all the young dudes, indeed.

Next up is “Alright”, is the first song that The Marbellas recorded and which features in demo form on the “Chains” EP. It kicks off with Brish on his own with his acoustic, and clearly the fans in the audience have long memories, as they sing along, hands in the air.

I’d defy anyone not to be having a good time tonight as the well-crafted harmonies kick in again – this wouldn’t sound at all out of place at a festival. Much to our disappointment, Brish announces, “We’ve three left”, before they launch into “Offswitch”, a straight up rock ‘n’ roll number that you’d expect to see at the same festival as the light started to fall, with each Marbella giving it all he’s got.

By this point, we’re all bouncing – yes, even me, but sadly, NOBODY wants to see unrestrained dad dancing, however brief. “Wings” is definitely maybe another banger that keeps up the momentum and before we know where we are, it’s time for tonight’s activities to draw to a close. Brish thanks us for coming down before launching into set closer and the title track from the “Chains” EP – unsurprisingly also called “Chains”.

We’re treated to a final few minutes of rock-y baggy big-flared goodness and you know what – if my synapses want to suggest the chord progression from The Pistols’ “Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle”, to me, then who am I to argue? It’s certainly Rock ‘n’ Roll and the only people who were swindled were the ones who didn’t turn up.

Five bandmates living their best life with a world full of potential ready to be grabbed, and an appreciative audience who are hollering their approval – it really doesn’t get much better than this.

If you like your music more rock ‘n’ roll than post punk, more Madchester than Mantovani, if you like catchy melodies, snappy lyrics that make you stop and think, “Hang on a minute…”, if you like your choons somewhere between The Charlatans and Oasis, between the Stone Roses and the Stereophonics with a light dusting of Ocean Colour Scene sprinkled across the top just for good measure, then The Marbellas (but absolutely NOT the May-bay-as) are purveyors of fine sounds and should be hunted down with all haste, Dear Reader.

If you’re quick, you can see The Marbellas at Bolton Food and Drink Fest on Friday 25th of August then at Owen’s latest incarnation of his After All Festival at Wigan Independence on October the 21st. In the meantime, September will see them test driving some new material (with a view to recording a new 4 track EP towards the end of the month), with the odd gig hopefully thrown in to keep us all happy and finally.

From October, we can expect to see more of them in Manchester, Wigan, Liverpool and the like, so keep your eyes peeled!

I sense that The Marbellas are hovering on the edge of something very big and I hope that their next steps will bring them success – nobody should be allowed to dole out feelgood like this without a prescription.

Marbellas played: Makers Arms, Rosé, The One I Call, Arrows, Loud, Dead Behind the Eyes, Alright, Offswitch, Wings and  Chains.

For more information about The Marbellas click HERE.

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