There is definitely something in the water, over the water. The quality of the bands currently coming coming out of Ireland is first rate. Inhaler are a band whose name is on the lips of many. Fontaines D.C. album Dogrel was on countless album of the year lists. The Murder Capital are playing to larger and larger crowds. Well to that impressive list add The Clockworks.
One of my London spies, that’s where the band are now based, got on to me and said ‘you have to see theses boys’. So that was how I found myself on a very wet and windy Saturday night, in the basement of Liverpool’s Jacaranda Club.
There was a big line-up of bands, and first up were Liverpool trio Incipio. They kicked the evening off with a cover of The Beatles Come Together. Can’t go wrong with a Beatles cover in Liverpool. Intriguingly this band seemed have three lead singers as lead vocal duties swapped between member on a song-by-song basis. The bass player was tall, skinny and wearing a US cavalry style cowboy hat. Very Lemmy. I wondered what Mr Kilmister would have made of his emulator’s fingerless gloves?
Next on the bill were Chester fourpiece The Kendos. They are amazingly young and remarkably talented. I had seen these guys before when the supported The Kairos at Jimmy’s, Liverpool. Their evolution is astonishing. They played a great set of their own indie inspired material; battled manfully with equipment problems during new song I Can’t See; and produced a stomping version of The Libertines Don’t Look Back into the Sun. I was particularly taken with the ability of lead guitarist Isaac Grover. I was lucky enough to see The Lathums a couple of weeks ago, and witness a stunning performance from Scott Concepcion, who is being hailed as the Johnny Marr of his generation. Given time, and a good head wind, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that similar plaudits could be heading Isaac Grover’s way. I understand that The Kendos will be be playing Kendal Calling in the summer. If you’re in the fields go and see for yourself.
Final Support for this evening were Stoke-on-Trent outfit, Jupiter’s Beard. They opened their set with the catchy Robot Soul. They put me in mind of some of the mid-nineties’ brit-pop outsiders Ocean Colour Scene or even local favourites Cast, melodic vocals and layered guitars with indie rhythms. It was the rhythm section that most interested me. They weren’t there just to provide a foundation for lead guitar and vocals to show-off, they were given their own space to express themselves. Judging by the mix of beats and drops used by drummer Simon Lowe, Reni must have been an influence on his style. He doesn’t bang the drums, he caresses them. Best example of this would be with their wonderful track Vicar’s Daughter which teems with Stone Roses influences. Sexy Lookin’ Loser allows the band to flex their heavier muscles and brought me a more up to date reference point, with a nod to Dirty Laces, another band who see all instruments as equal. New song Stella has a similar shouty, sing-along feel to the Jordan Allen track R.O.S.I.E. Ones to watch.
Our headliners walked out on to the small stage of The Jacaranda to an excited, if not packed crowd. The Clockworks have conquered the capital and are moving out into the provinces. Signed to Creation23, Alan McGee has said of the band, ‘The Clockworks are the best band to come out of Ireland since My Bloody Valentine…thank god I signed them.’. Big words from the Big Man.
Well McGee’s hype is to be believed. From the first bars of Future, to the dying echoes of Can I Speak To A Manager I’m transported into a post-punk, New Wave heaven. Short, sharp, energetic, spikey, angular tunes with lyrics tackling subjects that mean something. My reference point bucket runs over. Bass player Tom Freeman with his long, flowing, curly locks and bass strung high across his chest, has the energetic style of a modern Norman Watt-Roy from The Blockheads. Guitarist Sean Connelly paces aggressively across the small stage like an Airwair shod Wilco Johnson. Singer James McGregor angrily spits his lyrics like a more coherent Mark E. Smith. Musically I’m getting the pace, power and aggression of The Wedding Present. I can even relate to some of the lyrics, which doesn’t happen often these days. During the frantic Stranded at Stansted, I can see myself, ‘There’s the dad that brags that he’s calm and collected, losing his rag when his bag is inspected,’. That’s me that is.
The only problem with fast-paced spikey tunes is that the sets seem to be over before they’ve begun. They say that time flies when you’re having fun. The Clockworks set flew by in the blink of an eye. They saved the most recognised songs until the end, Bills and Pills, a pounding indictment of the twin nightmares of debt and drug abuse, is followed by one of the songs of last year, the tribute to poor consumer service that is Can I Speak to A Manager.
I can’t wait to see The Clockworks play Liverpool again. And just like their compatriots mentioned earlier, they will be back, playing bigger venues to larger crowds.