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Let’s kick off the blackroom this week with:

Bands2C : The Superheroes

At the risk of being called a ‘groupie’ (in mind only, of course), I have to confess that I’ve seen the Superheroes twice in the past week; once at the Hand and Heart on Saturday 20 February and again on Thursday 25 February.

At the first gig, I was fairly sure that I’d seen the future of ska music, (and I’ve 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 - I’m sure.

This energetic, talented 6 piece band roar onto the stage and sweep the audience into their musical embrace. Yes, it’s 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 Hall’s high-pitched (without Terry’s 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 don’t know what Kendall runs on, but whatever it is, it’s ‘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, ‘Let’s get on with it!’ and they did. They didn’t 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 Bert’s 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:

Kendall: vox

Neil: vox

Matt: bass

J: guitar

Bert: mixerman

James: drums

If you haven’t 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 J’s house.

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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 wasn’t 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 look.

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E-mail me on 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 Selecter’s exploits in Paris, for Behind The Scenes.


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INTERVIEW [17:30min]

SUPERHERO  [4:30min]
28K  56K

ANIMALS  [3:30min]
28K  56K


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CWN / the blackroom / 2 Mar 99

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM