Posted by Sarah Colwill-Brown.
Reviewed on 22nd April 2010.
Live at The Library on Friday, 5th March 2010
First up at the 360 Club tonight and undaunted by a sparse early crowd, Tom Bradley has our attention the second he opens his mouth, revealing the kind of voice every aspiring singer-songwriter wishes they had. Smooth, controlled, with just the right amount of gravel, Bradley's tone sets him apart from most 'bloke-with-acoustic-guitar' set ups you see on unsigned stages. With an off-beat laid back lilt, there is something Jack Johnson about certain songs like 'Slow', which is refreshing, complimenting the soul influences that underpin many of the tracks. The guitar accompaniment itself seems more of an after-thought, the simple strummed rhythms a platform for the voice. That is until he cunningly switches it up with some finger picking mid-set, adding the colour and texture the music needed to come to the fore, indicating that there could be real potential here.
Although two men took to the stage, it rapidly became clear that The Blonde's acoustic set was really a one man show. Facing a now packed venue, front man Holoman is very adept getting the audience on side; the question 'is everyone feeling good tonight' was not met with the usual grunts and jeers, but an actual whoop, those present totally sold on the singer's dynamic performance. Holoman delivered soaring, effortless vocals, whose soulful, impassioned resonances were off-set by the jangling of a jaunty star-shaped tambourine. This took the edge off The Blonde's suave smooth appeal, coming across as two likeable guys who don't take themselves too seriously, and are 'both single and ready to mingle', apparently. A pared back acoustic version of 'Billie Jean' showcased impressive falsetto, and the last song 'Today' hinted at a more sensitive side to The Blonde, contrasting the intensity of earlier tracks. Definitely one to watch.
If the name Time Of Hibu seems intriguing, the band certainly lives up to it, with distinctive staccato vocals, electro-acoustic guitar and a powerful driving rhythm section, they are the kind of band you could get really excited about. What stood out about this set was the delicate spiralling style of front man Luke's guitar pushing through rolling drum rhythms and pounding bass lines. Unusual, yes. Do we want more? Absolutely. This was a very sure footed debut gig for Time of Hibu, who are well aware of what kind of band they want to be, and whilst the set may have lacked a little variety of pace, their up-beat sound definitely made you want to 'meet someone new, shake your ass, do what you need', as Luke wisely suggested.
Caterpillar's combination of old-blues style organ and slap bass generated a funk vibe that was a great way to end the gig. The running theme of the night seemed to be mad vocal skills and influences rooted in soul. This band's sultry front woman wasn't an exception, belting out a powerful voice that was controlled, sustained, and just downright impressive. The show stealer though, had to be the life-size cut out of absent guitarist Tom. Grafted onto Slash's body and complete with moustache disguise (because why not), Cardboard Man stared out at you, daring you not to enjoy Caterpillar's infectious dance beats and energetic performance, and who were we to disagree?