At the risk of being called a groupie (in mind only, of course), I have
to confess that Ive seen the Superheroes twice in the past week;
once at the Hand and Heart on Saturday 20 February and again on Thursday
At the first gig, I was fairly sure that Id seen the future of ska music,
(and Ive seen a lot of so-called third wave ska over
the past few years in Europe and America), but after the second gig at the Colin
Campbell - Im sure.
This energetic, talented 6 piece band roar onto the stage and sweep the audience into
their musical embrace. Yes, its slightly derivative, on some numbers, of the Specials,
but all musicians have to take their influences from somewhere and you might as well start
with the best. But their songwriting skills have not been neglected and the set fair bristles
with excellent, big, bouncy, hummable pop tunes; something that the
current crop of American bands of the ska genre are sadly lacking.
Vocalists Kendall and Neil are perfect foils for each
other; reminiscent of the heyday of the Neville Staples / Terry
Hall partnership. Neil has Terry Halls high-pitched
(without Terrys characteristic whine, thank-goodness!), throw away vocal style,
which cuts through the music like a knife. Kendall keeps the general proceedings going
with his gruff MC style and general boundless energy. I dont know
what Kendall runs on, but whatever it is, its full on.
The rhythm section lay down a powerful funky beat
that underpins the songs to danceable effect. Matt, the bass player, in
particular, negotiates his difficult-to-play, five string bass with real
panache and flair, while J cockily poses on guitar, providing good rhythm
and juicy little lead licks. But the cherry on the cake is Bert, who
provides the clubby breakbeats and scratch mixing, something that catapults The
Superheroes sound into a whole different league.
The Hand and Heart was heaving with people, who were all up for a good
night out. The crowd at the Colin Campbell was sparser, so the band had
to work harder to get this lot going. But they did it.
At the Campbell, the band leapt on stage and Kendall voiced over the mike, Lets
get on with it! and they did. They didnt let up pace all through the
ten song set, except for a technical hitch, when the power cut out.
Stand out songs are, Superheroes, She Said,
I Said, and Animal. I particularly like the
almost Beastie Boy style of their fourth song, which may or may not be called Let
It Go Now, which proved that they can tackle different styles, but still
put their own inimitable spin on it.
Their main foray into The Specials territory was an upbeat version of Message
To You Rudy, which brought Berts skills to their full glory. A very
heavy beat track was laid down and this got everybody on their feet,
clubbers and mainstreamers alike, grooving to the sheer power and inventiveness
of the band.
Back for a well deserved encore and the satisfied crowd, after showing their
appreciation, slipped seamlessly into the club disco, dancing to The Specials Gangsters.
I wobbled out into the night thinking ... yeah, this band are going to give the ska
world a well deserved kick up the arse!
The Superheroes are:
If you havent seen them yet then they play The Planet, Cox
Street on 4 March, before embarking on a nine-date tour of Scotland.
Alternatively, if you are planning a trip to London soon, then The Superheroes are
playing the Camden Underworld on 20 March.
Also check out the audio interview I did with Kendall, Neil and J over a cup of coffee
round at Js house.
Friday 19 February at the Hand and Heart, Far Gosford Street
Okay the crowd was small and the band came on stage to absolutely no atmosphere. But
they played a good tight set, even though the mix wasnt wonderful, so a lot of the
vocals were drowned out by over heavy guitar.
Rising above all this, the songwriting sisters Shelley and Natasha Trevellyan, who
front the band and have apparently created quite a buzz in their home-town of Leicester,
provided some good tuneful vocal interplay ideas and they look great. Definitely worth a
E-mail me on email@example.com with your
opinions and questions, which will be answered on these pages.
Next week watch out for an interview with Dennis Lahoorier, the voice
of Dr Hook, as he likes to be known and a review of their gig at Bedworth
Civic Hall. Plus more local bands and the Selecters exploits in Paris,
for Behind The Scenes.