News From Nowhere, Memory Camp, Curious Orange, Ben Luc

Cinema & Co 11/01/20

It was a wet and windy January night in Swansea so I was very pleasantly surprised to arrive at Cinema & Co to see a very busy looking bar area, not that I don’t expect this line up to pull a good crowd, but January is traditionally a dead month gig wise. Everyone’s skint after Christmas, the weather is normally pretty cold and miserable and people tend to go in to hiding for the month, at least until pay day weekend anyway, So it says a lot about tonights line up that they managed to pull a good crowd in.

After a trip to the bar and a few of the obligatory “Happy new year, how was your Christmas?” exchanges with people I’d not seen over the holiday period it was time to get the music started and kicking things off tonight was Ben Luc, a favorite of mine for a while now. For those who haven’t seen Ben before he’s a solo artist that uses his guitar, his voice and a loop pedal to great effect, often starting songs by beatboxing a rhythm to set on a loop usually enhanced by a few thumps on the body of his guitar to emphasise the bass and building up layers of guitar to create atmospheric soundscapes for him to layer his expressive voice over. Ben’s improved a lot as a performer since I first saw him play a couple of years back, he now seems happy to ditch the guitar on occasions – once he’s set the loop up of course – to allow him the freedom to move about the stage more, which seeing as he’s on his own up there is definitely not a bad thing. The audience seemed polite but appreciative of Ben’s music, with upcoming single “Irreversible” getting the best response of the night, and I can see why that one will make a good single, its more upbeat, a bit more of a “dance” tune with a bit more energy in it. Anyway in case you hadn’t guessed, Ben Luc is good, keep an eye out for him.

A quick break and the second band of the night is Curious Orange, I’ve seen these boys play a few times before and enjoyed them every time, they always seem like they’re having a great time. They’re a four piece band with 2 guitars, bass, violin and four vocals – still no drummers in this gig yet folks – these boys work that set up really well though, they’ve obviously worked hard on those vocal harmonies and it shows. There’s a lot of humour in their songs, and between the dongs as well, but don’t let that fool you, they’ve written some well crafted catchy tunes and the humour is just the exclamation point that helps you remember them. The crowd love them and everyone’s in on the jokes, they’re a very inclusive band who just want to have a good time, if you can watch this band without a smile on your face you either have no sense of humour or your not paying attention.

Third band of the night are a new one for me in the shape of Memory Camp and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for them in the future, great stuff. Well written well crafted indie rock with a few nice catchy hooks that took me right back to the mid 90’s britpop scene, for those of you old enough to remember, they sounded like all the good bands that were on TFI Friday back in the day or or Saturday night in The Zone – Swansea’s favourite dirty rock club of the time. Throughout the set there were interesting slightly quirky parts that reminded me of bands like Blur, nice indie grooves with hints of the stone Roses and some big choruses that made me think of bands like Weezer, I recon its gonna be worth keeping a eye on what these guys do in 2020.

Finally of course we have our headliners for the night News from Nowhere, another great band that just seems to keep improving every time I see them. Having spoken to Tom (guitarist and singer) earlier in the evening I was informed they were missing their bass player tonight and two other band members were both ill as well, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from their performance this evening, turns out I should never have doubted them for a second. The lack of Bass was never an issue as they’ve added Rhys (who also plays in the excellent bandicoot with Tom and drummer Billy) on keyboards and saxophone which really filled out the space nicely and added some really nice parts to the songs, there was certainly no sign of Illness from either Tom or Billy either, both put in stellar performances. Some of the newer tunes they played tonight had a more laid back feel than I’m used to from News from Nowhere but that may be the only time the missing bass made a difference, the keyboards almost gave a bit of a relaxed doors vibe at points. As the set progressed the songs got more lively powered on by some great dynamic drumming and some really nice guitar parts, Tom is a very underestimated guitarist, not least by himself, he’s really not one to show off, its all for the betterment of the songs, and they have a good collection of tunes. Its energetic indie music and they work the dynamics in the songs really so when they hit a chorus they can really drive it home, they know when to go big and when not to, it gets quite epic sounding at points and generates a great lively atmosphere that’s soaked up by a very appreciative crowd, these boys have gotten better again since the last time I saw them and I’m already looking forward to the next time