Thursday, 17 May 2012

Saturday's Alright For Continuing

Just to add to the confusion of Power Pop Review's arse about tit presentation, we now finish our Saturday night review from 2011 with three bands we enjoyed immensely but left out from the main review yesterday for no good reason other than we thought the post was long enough. Included is both one of ours and IPO head honcho David Bash's perennial favourites The
for which we wanted to make this separate post.


Saturday Part 2

When seeing Radio Days, for the first time, it's their visual impact which makes an impression: - four skinny guys, skinny ties, head to toe in black threads topped off with a line of three white guitars – it's impressive. We'd seen the band before but that image from seeing them the first time remains with you for future encounters and psychologically nails the brand as I'm sure they absolutely aware.

The band from Milan (Italy) are a heady mix of The Nerves, The Romantics, and 'Wicked' era Jeff Dahl. In fact they touch all the crunchy Power Pop bases from yesteryear and add a few of their own. Every song is chock full of clean rich harmonies and sharply tailored beginnings, middles and ends. Indeed such is the exactitude of the way these guys play and deliver their material, that for those of us who remember the Prog era with affection, appreciate the rhythmical underlining, criss-cross interplay, false endings and shear precision that you'd be forgiven for imagining you were hearing 'Yes' finishing 'Yours Is No Disgrace' rather than a bunch of pop upstarts from Italy making sure that you'd not forget them.

Always cool with their choice of appropriate powerpop covers, Radio Days this time did a great turn with Elvis Costello's 'Pump It Up' which is tailor made for their urgent exasperating delivery. We were most taken with own song 'My Little Baby' which evokes a 50's throwback more than any other song I've seen them do before.

Lastly, getting close to drummer Paco Orsi for a photo maybe is not for the faint-heated as this powerhouse is maybe the loudest percussionist I've heard on a Matthew Street house kit – phenomenal.

We've seen The Mellowmen every year since their debut at IPO in 2007. Consistently they have been our favourite artists at the festival for each year for a number of good reasons:

1) In Andreas Nyberg the band possess a remarkably gifted singer/songwriter who although takes his lead from 60's/70's songwriting, it's only because this period represents pop songwriting at its very pinnacle and sets the bar by which all others are measured – he and the band are far from derivative though and very much make the Mellowmen sound unique.

2) They put every ounce of their skill and sweat into each performance – never once producing a lackluster saunter when a frantic gallop is the order of the day.

3) There's no doubt that every member loves what they do and enjoys it at a level I've seen few other artists achieve in performance. Often they seem almost trancelike taking themselves and us to a different place.

4) Their material and rendition of the same is impeccably written and performed but they never lose sight that this is serious fun – they always bring a smile and delight to the faces of their audience and leave you with a show to remember.

On this occasion it was unfortunate but it seemed the band were only in town for one night and had to leave straight after their performance owing to commitments back home in Sweden. This doesn't show in performance nor in the excellent new material they are airing tonight for the first time: 'There Will Be Rain' is a particularly strong contender in its lilting and soaring beauty.

The band haven't released a new record since 2006's superb 'Tomorrow's Sound Today' (revamped in 2007 with 2 extra tracks for the US market). They also left Rainbow Quartz Records in recent years as the label didn't appear to be doing a heck of a lot for them. Meanwhile Andreas Nyberg has been involved with other musical ventures back home. Whilst it's great to see them back at the IPO doing what they do superbly well, we can't help but feel a certain frustration for the guys as somebody seems to applying the brake and it's not the band. You can't blame the public, but somehow you want to get hold of the world at large and say stop listening to that karaoke drivel and cop an ear of this – it's proper music – and you'd love it if only there was the kind of exposure that these chaps deserve!

It was a complete chance thing. I was trying to get a picture of the Mellowmen, but somebody kept obscuring my view. As they moved out of the way I couldn't help but readjust my focus as I noticed sat down in front was IPO organiser David Bash and his partner Rina Barfield sharing an intimate moment whilst his particular favourites,  The Mellowmen, launched into another scintilating number.
OK, that's the rant over, meanwhile the Mellowmen deliver two exceptional sets this day, just as if everything in the world is fair and lovely and really we shouldn't get so upset – this is only music we are talking about – nothing too important eh people ;)

Deb was overjoyed to receive a new promo from the band in the shape of a two tracker sampling both the aforementioned 'There Will Be Rain' and the groovy 'Driving on 5' as guitarist Johan kindly jumped off the stage and thrust the prize in her hand. We look forward to when these and other new songs form the backbone of their next record, as would the rest of the world, if they only knew it!!
Spanish pop band Octubre had brought along a legion of loyal fans from their homeland and sharing the performance of the band in their company certainly heightened the experience more than it would otherwise be.

Often when we've seen a Spanish audience at the IPO in May in previous years they are bundled up in wintertime clothing, but this season's unprecedented warm spell saw them suitably attired like the rest of us in teeshirts and shorts. In fact the band's lead singer/guitarist was uncharacteristically literally dripping from every pore – but then that's the Cavern's deserved sweat drenched reputation for you.

Most songs are sung in Octubre's native language and addressed their loyal supporters in the same, eliciting plenty of cries of approval and recognition from those in the know.

Much of what Octubre present is of the medium-paced pleasant pop/rock variety, but title track from their latest album 'Todo se lo lleva el viento' seemed to stand out with its rising melody and excellent strong block harmonies.

Despite the heat the band put on a good fun show with plenty mock Status Quo guitar pose formations. We purchased 3 CD's and look forward to getting them home for the recorded appreciation of what Octubre are about in the studio.

For your Your Further Appreciation:

Radio Days - and

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