What’s this – a free to enter gig at Waterloo Music Bar over in Blackpool? Too good to pass up, even on a rainy Thursday night which made the M6/M55 somewhat ‘challenging’ to drive up. On offer were two female-fronted outfits, Bastette (who impressed me hugely when support to DORJA a few weeks ago) and Reading-based rockers Marisa And The Moths. The latter I confess are a fairly new name to me, although they have had some good reports, and include in their ranks guitarist Sophie Lloyd, a virtuoso player whose Facebook page has plenty of followers, this one included.
Bastette was up first, and this time I had a better idea of what to expect. Though you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s the name of this seven-strong ensemble, it is actually the stage name of singer/songwriter Caroline Eve Kenyon. She probably doesn’t mind if the live band as a whole is referred to as ‘Bastette’ by fans, but this is absolutely her project. Her band has keytar player Callum Dalloway, guitarist Chris Hunt, drummer Ryan Hunt and keyboardist Martin Hunt as core members, with a second guitarist (Sam Millar) and a bassist whose name I didn’t catch completing the line-up on the night. I bought the EP at the previous gig, which gave me knowledge of five of the eight tracks performed on the night plus recent single ‘Lover’, but what was clear from the off was that this material, which can vary from pop to rock is delivered with far more wallop live by this band. Opening with ‘Faultline’ from the EP, the guitars are much more upfront, Chris Hunt’s lead solos far more prominent and Sam Millar’s rhythm guitar slamming. Basically this track is turned into a hard rock performance! Even songs which aren’t on record yet such as ‘Trainwreck’ became earworms after one play, while ‘Lover’ and ‘Hunter’ (getting airplay on Primordial Radio currently) were delivered with suitable punch and panache. Bastette herself was in scintillating form, swaying those hips and singing with either a sultry, seductive style or a powerful rock delivery depending on the song. She has the voice, the looks and most importantly the songs to be playing before a lot more people on a lot bigger stages before much longer; the songs are hard-hitting live but have that pop catchiness to them which means they lodge in the mind. Remember that name, if she isn’t playing before a couple of thousand by this time next year instead of around thirty or forty people then there really is no justice. For the second time in just over a month, Bastette hit me for six.
Marisa and the Moths were a bit of an unknown quantity to me much as Bastette were last month, I had only one song to go off (‘Skin’) prior to this set. They’re a hard rock band built around the powerful voice of singer Marisa Rodriguez, with a dual guitar line-up including Chris Merton alongside the aforementioned Sophie Lloyd. On occasion Marisa herself picks up a guitar and turns this into a triple guitar attack, going full Skynyrd (!) They’re certainly a lively lot, bassist Liam Barnes acts as the foil to Marisa with his extrovert antics, while it is Sophie Lloyd who takes most (not all) of the lead guitar duties, giving us the full repertoire of hammer-ons and finger tapping in her intricate solos. What stood out for me though was what a powerful voice Marisa has – being stood at the front of the stage the mix is rarely the best, but her voice cut through the din, she’s a blues shouter fronting a heavy rock band. Their album is not yet ready for release so most of this material was completely unfamiliar to me, but there’s no doubt they’re a force to be reckoned with. They did joke about being Southerners braving things up North, in fact there was a lot of humour on the stage during their set but they did go over well with the punters who showed on this rainy week night.
If I’m being honest I’d say Bastette just edged it on the night, though that might have something to do with having previous (and recent) experience of their live set. I’ll definitely look out for both bands in 2020 however, and for a freebie this was excellent value!