Slow Readers Club + Sad Boys Club 10.11.21 Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, Portsmouth
My third gig in three days. Making up for lost Lockdown months. It’s a great period for live music.
Sunday night gigs can be a tricky one – a bit quiet – work tommorrow. I booked Monday off to soften that potential blow and a hotel overlooking Southsea Common to enhance the trip. Well worth it as Southsea is a great place to wander – good pubs and restaurants.
Here we are. 500 standing capacity in a square shaped room; bars off both sides, one just bar and a queueing area to the left of the stage and a smaller room and bar with a few seats off the other side (Fightback IPA on tap and draught Guiness).
The merch area on the way in is really good… a permanent feature almost like a shop.
Sad Boys Club – the support band – have just started and we’re in. Plently in without being full – it’s a Sunday after all.
This lot are instantly interesting. I can hear bits of Siousxie and tbe Banshees, and The Cure in there, which eminates from the guitar echo style but this is all placed in a more indie electro-pop rock context. My wife Sally mentioned The 1975..yes hints of them too.
A good set. They seem to have a string of singles available so far. They’re from London. I return from the bar in the break to find Sally chatting with lead singer Jacob – he’s from NW London and it transpires two of the band are Cure obsessives. Definately one for the bands to keep an eye on file.
Sad Boys Club – a taste on YouTube.
Slow Readers Club first attracted me, us, after being tipped off (thanks Ann P) to go see them at the 2016 Victorious Festival, a stone’s throw away (ok with a very strong arm) on Southsea Common at the Seaside Stage. Two years later and with the second album, Cavalcade, now familiar we saw both of their sets at Victorious 2017, noted here in an early blog.
We followed this with a trip to Glasgow School of Art to see them in December 2018 – an exotic trip I know – and here at the Wedgewood Rooms in March 2018. Always enjoyed the gigs a lot. Uplifting, bouncy indie rock and up the pop end.
The Wedgewood Rooms offers a good opportunity to stand in different places and snap a decent pic with my trusty pocket zoom. I particularly like leaning against the far left wall where you can get a good view of the stage and not be in anyone’s way….maybe with one ear plug in to prevent being blasted out by the speakers. Hence this piece is more of a photo gallery of my night than some, especially recently with some camera bans and gloomy light.
The band – from Manchester – are Aaron Starkie (lead vocals); Kurtis Starkie (brother on guitar); James Ryan (bass) and David Whitworth (Drums).
Formed in 2011 makes it sound like they are not new but it’s all relative when you’ve been gig going for over 40 years and I still see them as a new band. Four albums released in 2011, 2015, 2018 and the 2020 Joy of the Return and then a Lockdown special mini album 91 Days in Isolation.
This is the first tour since Lockdown and the 2020 Joy of the Return release so unfortunate timing and title, to which is added the fact that the band had not long given up their day jobs to give this rock’n’roll thing a real go.
The set is a mix heavier on the 2018 and 2020 studio albums with at least five from Joy of the Return – full set list picked up at the end. My favourite from that album is this one: Paris .
Build a Tower from 2018 remains my favourite album and as more familiar tracks they make a crowd pleasing end to the set with On the TV and Lunatic to finish. (The YouTube links to these are with a big home town crowd – tops).
The audience tonight has a good feel – a more mature leaning than for some newer bands – and plenty of ‘Readers’ t-shirts on parade so some loyalty in the room and a typically friendly Southsea crowd who are here for the music. I guess everyone’s a bit more focused on the band on a Sunday rather than shouting into each others’ ears.
Lead man Starkie’s high notes bring the band its distintive sound and I can’t help but be reminded of The Communards/Bronski Beat at the high bits. He’s very visual with trademark arm gestures chopping the air and carving patterns against the very atmospheric lighting and he likes a statuesque pose, eyes shut, head back.
Once again a great gig in this small venue. Originally this Covid induced postponed gig was to be at Portsmouth Pyramids but that is off the circuit now. It’s undergoing redevelopment with a large soft play area so maybe that’s the lot for gigs (?)…. an old punk band in a soft play area could be a goer.
That’s the three gig weekend over. Top entertainment from six bands in three cities. Just time for Sally to retreive a set list and buy a signed single from support band Sad Boys Club.
Time for a last pint on the way back to the hotel and we stumbled upon The Pheonix. Great little homely pub on a corner of residential streets. Some further gems to try next time.