The gigs are coming thick and fast this month, it is almost as busy a time as autumn tends to be in this country. Third gig already in March for me and it sees a triple bill head into Liverpool, headlined by Sweden’s Bonafide. I’ll confess I knew little to nothing of this band until recently, when a track of theirs was played on the Sunday night rock show on a local radio station airing in the Merseyside region. Even in this time of social media, there’s a lot to be said for a bit of good old-fashioned radio airplay and when I found that this band were coming to Liverpool, I decided to go along.
I since learned that they had performed at Hard Rock Hell last winter and reportedly went down very well; celebrating their tenth year as a band in 2017 Bonafide are supporting their latest album ‘Flames’ with this tour, taking in quite a few British towns and cities. The other bands on the bill were openers and fellow Swedes Killer Bee, and Aussie all-girl trio Tequila Mockingbyrd. Killer Bee came on early, to only a couple of people on the barrier (one of whom was your correspondent!), the bar staff and a handful of die-hards. Giving a short set of Saxon-flavoured Metal, they gave a good account of themselves and performed with commendable enthusiasm, considering they have probably rehearsed to more people than were here at that time! Next band up did draw a few more people to the floor, as the girls (grrrls?) of Tequila Mockingbyrd took to the stage. Singer/guitarist Estelle informed us early on that their regular bassist Jess was unable to take her place on this tour, before introducing us to stand-in four stringer Keira. The stunningly attractive Keira had only learned the set in around two days, yet sounded like she had been part of this band all along. The band were a hard-hitting, hard rocking power trio with emphasis on ‘power’ – lots of meaty guitar riffs from Estelle, slamming drums from Josie and nifty fills from Keira. They reminded me somewhat of fellow all-girl trio iDestroy, perhaps a lazy comparison but they are similarly uncompromising in their approach.
The girls drew a crowd at the merch table immediately afterwards, as drummer Josie told us that they’d sold all their initial stocks of their CD album ‘Fight and Flight’ but that her brother was driving up all the way from Buckinghamshire (?!) just to bring further supplies. He must have been lucky on the M6 heading North, as there were CDs available at the stand and I bagged myself one just as Bonafide hit the stage. Although more people had arrived by this time, there was still plenty of room in the venue as I headed straight back to the barrier to see these guys go through their paces. Their influences are clear for all to see (and hear); frontman Pontus Snibb wields a Gibson SG with menace, while fellow guitarist Anders Rosell might wear a Francis Rossi-approved waistcoat, and play a Telecaster but is a solid, dependable rhythm guitarist. The rhythm section of this band was its strength I thought, I found myself thumping the barrier in time with drummer Niklas Matsson and even when Snibb took a lead guitar solo, the head was still bobbing along to the relentless rhythms. They played a selection of songs from their back catalogue as well as some from ‘Flames’, as stated I am not familiar with their songs, but am definitely familiar with their style – it was a fine display of old-school hard rock, not showy, not trying to push any one member to the fore, just a hard-driving unit.
The gig, coming on a Monday night, was far from packed out (for three obscure bands, they probably did well to get anybody along considering the tour wasn’t that well publicised) but those that came enjoyed a great night of rock and I for one intend to look out for any of these bands when they come around again. As a side note, stand-in Tequila Mockingbyrd bassist Keira’s regular gig is with Syteria, and they are scheduled to play in Chester in early April. Time and money permitting, I will go along.