I recently saw Eighties Matchbox at the Guildhall in Gloucester, supported by Gag Reflex, and another band whose name I forget, but was something like The James Something or Other Project – I will refer to them as such from now on. I usually have a good memory for band names, so I feel bad for this lapse – I put it down to how awful the rest of my day had been, up until the point when my lovely husband came home; but that’s a story that I won’t bore you with now.
So, I’ll start with Gag Reflex. When they first came on stage, I was surprised to see a two piece band consisting of bass and drums. I have to admit, I was a little cynical at the start, but after a few songs I was diggin‘ it! The bassist/vocalist had a nice stage presence, and despite the crowd being small, they made a connection with the audience, which really, is the most important thing. Strong songs, interesting lyrics (from what I could make out; they were a bit shouty, but that’s not a complaint!) and some awesome bass playing.
The James Something or Other Project were up next – a more traditional line-up of guitar, bass, drums, vocals and a keyboard. Weirdly, the keyboardist stood off stage (looking a bit embarrassed from where I stood), and it was about halfway through their set, Jon and I realised we’d only heard him play about four notes through the whole lot. Otherwise, I thought these guys were a little over-confident in their performance. They came across as a little cocky, quite spitty (personal preference here – I don’t like bands who spit. Spitting is gross; it’s not rock.) and just a bit, well, bland – in a noisy kind of way… I just couldn’t hear any kind of hook in the songs. I might be getting old here, but I just didn’t get it.
And so, on to our headliners – Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster! I really enjoyed them, and I think everyone else did too… but it was fairly clear that the band didn’t enjoy us. For the size of the space, there weren’t that many people – a few, but not many, more came in as I think there were people holed up in the bar until the headliners came on (I’ve never understood that – by missing support acts, you might be missing awesomeness, you never know!), and so it seemed that in terms of adoration and making enough noise to make the band feel welcome, we could only disappoint.
This aside, Eighties Matchbox still put everything into every song, played brilliantly and played an encore to our little group of fans, despite a barbed comment the this was our last chance to ‘do something!’ on the last song. And so I left the gig with mixed feelings – I enjoyed the music, couldn’t fault it in its power and majesty, and most of all it was awesomely loud (Rock hands!), but there was a nagging feeling that the band didn’t enjoy it as much as we did, which kind of tainted the experience a little. It was not enough though, to diminish my liking of the band, nor to put me off from seeing them again – in fact both Jon and I want to look more into their releases, as we realised that we didn’t know as many of the songs as we expected to. So, all in all, a mixed experience, but definitely a good one.