Live at Duchess on Friday, 13th August 1999
Friday night comes around again and the Duchess plays host to another trio of local bands. Well, I say local, but we really have to go as far as York for the first band on tonight, Baggy Blue Sky, and as far as Sheffield for a selection of the main band, Tenbob Swerver. The band separating those two tonight, in as replacements for the advertised Motive, are Leeds 5-piece Runston Parva.
The audience is only just building up when tonight's openers take to the stage. York's Baggy Blue Sky are a five piece, with occasional keyboards thrown in for good luck. Technically, this band are quite competent and the lead singer has all of the antics that go with the position he holds - a cocky attitude and the ability to dance around aimlessly in that strange way that only singers can do. Their sound can only be described as being 'Indie' or dare I say it, 'Britpop', but they will have to work a lot harder if they want to capture the foreign audience which greeted them after their thirty mile journey along the A64. All in all, a good band, good musically and a good stage presence, just a little lacking in originality and that all important tune. Give it time.
The next band up tonight are the band that I felt took the night away. Runston Parva were only added to the lists late, but proved a worthy substitute. A very energetic band with another lively singer, though this time the vocals and presence were awesome. I remember seeing this band before, but I don't remember them being this good. Perhaps time does great things. It became obvious during this set that the lighting engineer knew their songs too - it was the only band of the night that had a light show accompanying the music and that just completed a splendid set. Up-beat, lively, a vocalist you just couldn't stop watching for wonder of what he was going to do next, lyrics you could sing along to and quality music to go with it ... what else was needed? Very good. Best band tonight.
Finally, up come the headliners, Tenbob Swerver, who unfortunately I was not very impressed with. I can say that they had their sound, and they did it very well, but coming after two very livley acts, Tenbob Swerver were not really the act you expected to be headlining. Their sound is very moody, sometimes veering onto Joy Division, but mainly the songs seemed like they came out of a Stone Roses back-catalogue. The difference with the earlier bands was that you never knew what was coming next, whether we'd be laughing at the on-stage antics of the singers, the wonder at 'strange' lyrics or just listening to the variety of music that was being produced. Unfortunately, Tenbob Swerver did not give us any of that. We knew exactly what was coming next: the same as we just had - we knew exactly what was going to be going on on-stage: nothing, still, motionless - and there was no variety in their music. I'd like to point out that this band were very good at the sound they wanted to create and created their atmosphere with ease - it just wasn't what the vaste number of us expected ... or wanted.