I often have to start a review with a little apology.  Today I need to say sorry to Jimmy’s.  One of Liverpool’s newer live music venues, this small, dark L-shaped cellar, with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems is an intimate venue.  It’s been open since August, and it has taken me until now to give it a visit.  But what a first gig to attend.  Playing tonight are local new boys The Merchants, Cardiff glam re-imaginers Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, and finally, Wirral’s grungy, rock masters, The Mysterines.

First up tonight on the little triangular stage are The Merchants.  A traditional indie style four-piece of singer/guitar, guitar, bass and drums, they play an energetic, varied set of songs that showcased their talents brilliantly.  They appear to have the full repertoire of material.  There’s the slower, almost ballad-like Forbidden Fruit through to Castro, which sounds like a more danceable version of The Jam’s A bomb in Wardour Street.  Lead singer Harry Bowness has a natural reverby voice, a-la Kelly Jones, and delivers his lyrics with feeling.  He also has the engaging habit of actually talking to the crowd, telling you something about the next song, or about the band.  Much nicer than the usual ‘Ta’ or ‘Nice one’ in-between song response you get from most bands.  I liked The Merchants a lot, and so did the ever-swelling Jimmy’s crowd.

Next up were four out of six of my favourite Welshmen, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard (the other two are Aneurin Bevan and Neville Southall).  Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard bring a vibrancy and real sense of fun to the performance of their glam infused rock songs.  They are a joy to behold and have an ideal front man in Tom Rees, a hybrid mixture of Jagger, Bolan, Mercury and Elton John.  Extravagant vocals and extravagant moves.

There’s an interesting start to their set as Tom has to gently lead away a drunken stage invader, who had knocked over his guitar.  He didn’t quite get the message and returned to knock over guitarist Zac White’s mic stand during the opening of Midnight City.  Highlights of their set were last single Love Forever, Double Denim Hop and the crowd- pleasing John Lennon is My Jesus Christ.  The latter was preceded by an emotive speech imploring the now packed venue to ’Vote Labour’.  A ripple of Oh Jeremy Corbyn flowed through the place.  Tom Rees knows how to work a room.  I’ve taken to checking out the venue when Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard play.  Those that have seen them before, start off with a smile on their face.  Those that are seeing them for the first time, finish off with a smile on their face.  Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard leave the stage to the universal approval of a now packed venue.  

Tonight’s headliners, The Mysterines are Lia Metcalfe (vocals/guitar), George Favager (bass) and Chrissy Moore (drums). They’ve had quite a year.  BBC Introducing sessions, supporting The Amazons on a nationwide tour, and Paul Weller Black Barn Sessions are just a snippet of their highlights.  Wearing corresponding black T-shirts (George’s is the classic ‘Nirvana Smiley’, Lia’s carries the legend ‘Sinners are Winners’ and Chrissy’s isn’t on long enough to make out!), they enter the stage to The Beastie Boys Sabotage.  The mayhem is about to be unleashed.

The Mysterines open up, to a crammed, sweaty, overexcited Jimmy’s, with their latest single Who’s Ur Girl.  The opening notes sound like someone is playing a tuned Harley Davidson rather than a guitar.  It’s loud and gnarly, and the place is bouncing.  Singer Lia Metcalfe is an aggressive ball of energy.  There’s not an inch of the tiny stage she doesn’t touch, or item she doesn’t climb on, including monitors and at one-point Chrissy Moore’s kick drum.  She delivers her savage, raspy vocals with real passion.  She reminds me a little of Delila Paz from The Last Internationale.  Not to be outdone, George Favager and Chrissy Moore give it all they’ve got too, combining to provide a barrage of relentless rhythm.   By the middle of the third song, the blistering Take Control, George does exactly the opposite.  He loses it completely.  There’s a loud ‘What the fuck!’ from Lia as George launches himself into the audience and indulges in a spot of frenzied crowd surfing.  A brave move in the low-hung ceiling cellar that is Jimmy’s.  After a quick lap of the venue, he returns safely to continue the set.  Every song is a well delivered, banging, grungy winner. The whole set is a highlight, Bet Your Pretty Face, Gasoline with it’s I Fought the Law style galloping rhythm, and the driving, dramatic epic that is Hormone. 

You get the feeling that this is going to be one of those ’I was there’ gigs.  The Mysteries are destined for bigger things in 2020.  There was no way the crowd were going to let the band leave the stage without an encore, and they had something a bit different planned.  ‘Can anyone play guitar?’ asks Lia.  Up go a flurry of hands, and Lia selects a girl from the crowd.  ‘Can anyone sing?’ enquiries Lia. Even more hands, and a curly haired guy is selected.  Now a newly expanded five-piece, Lia says to the crowd, ‘We wanted to do something special for Liverpool.  Have you all seen the end of School of Rock?’.  The crowd are then treated to a raucous version of the final song from that film.  It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll and The Mysterines are in the ascendency.  

Ian Dunphy