This bar and restaurant, sited next to Liverpool’s fabled Philharmonic pub on Hope Street, is not renowned for hosting rock gigs, looking a little too ‘upmarket’ for this kind of raucous music that was on offer tonight. I’d come along mainly to check out Indigo Moon, a band I had missed when they opened for Swedish retro-rockers Blues Pills when they came to Liverpool in 2015. I’d heard good reports about them and had been meaning to get along to one of their gigs since then.
The entrance fee was a pocket-friendly £3, which got you into the back room of this somewhat plush venue, where about 30 or 40 had already arrived when I entered. I felt a little out of place, if the truth be told, since the crowd here was clearly a student-orientated one, but soon put that out of my mind when the opening act were ready to start things off. The success of Royal Blood has clearly inspired other duos to take a similar path and this is what was served up first with Dangerously Canadian. Exactly what it says on the tin, just a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist (Joel, I found out afterwards) served up a mighty racket during their short set. The setup was appealingly low-key, as Joel explained that he had just the one guitar to work with this evening while frantically downtuning for their next number. It wasn’t a slick performance, but it was loud and powerful with plenty of oomph. Speaking to Joel afterwards, it turned out that they were actually studying at LIPA and many present tonight were known to all three acts, which explained the feeling I got of being a gatecrasher at a party. I’d like to see these guys again, they stormed this small room.
Next up were the band I’d come to see; Indigo Moon are a mixed-gender quintet comprising three girls and two guys. The girls were on bass and drums (and of course, lead vocals) while the two fellas took up guitar and keyboards respectively. It was easy to see why they were selected to open for Blues Pills that time, as their material was rooted in psychedelia with more than a hint of progressive rock to their sound too. I was directly in front of singer Ash, but at first found it difficult to hear her, the mix soon settled though and she began to cut through. She did remark that she ‘knew’ people were there for closing act Big Bear, well maybe with the exception of your correspondent (!) and I was impressed with their performance, They sound quite unlike anybody else I know of currently out there, and by rights will be playing to many more people before much longer.
I did stick around for Big Bear, who turned out to be yet another duo. It was clear they had brought along a following as the front soon filled up with what I assume were many of their friends. Once again the setup wasn’t the slickest, effects pedals casually strewn across the floor, but once again the duo brought a massive sound. The most impressive performance for me was their drummer, he hit so hard he was having to retrieve his bass drum after every number as it slid across the floor! I’d go as far as to say his playing was Tichy-esque, he definitely hits for keeps! Mid-way through their set he left the stage to the guitarist/vocalist, who spent several minutes trying to get a loop pedal functioning. Eventually and with the help of one of the organisers (I don’t think the budget for the night stretched to actual techs!) it sprang to life and he performed a solo vocal/rap number, built up in KT Tunstall-style using the loop. That was actually enjoyable in itself, he put real feeling into it and the departure from their regular set was welcome. Towards the end, they actually became a quartet as another guitarist and a bassist joined them for their closing number, a ramshackle and rowdy cover of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’.
All in all an enjoyable evening watching three up-and-coming acts I knew little or nothing about beforehand; as stated earlier the atmosphere felt as though it was a private party that I’d gatecrashed but nobody seemed to mind the guy stood amongst them who was old enough to be their dad (!) Any of these are worth seeing but I will be looking out for both Dangerously Canadian and Indigo Moon on future bills like this.