Caught Live: The SoapGirls, Percy’s Whitchurch 27th April 2018

Domestic duty called on this night and so I wasn’t expecting to be able to attend this gig by South African punk chicks The SoapGirls, but as it turned out I was able to escape later in the evening. Whitchurch, a market town just inside Shropshire and quite close to Wrexham, is about an hour away from me and I reckoned I’d make their set if I set out sharpish. As it turned out, I did (just) although my tardy arrival meant I’d missed Midlands metallers The Loved And Lost who were also on the bill. There’ll be more chances to see them soon, though and I was just pleased to make it here in time for the SoapGirls’ first gig of 2018 back in the UK.

I first discovered the SoapGirls in 2015 as openers for another band; two blonde sisters in matching outfits and blessed with supermodel good looks, they surprised many that night with a set comprised of hard riffing numbers and outrageous stage patter. delivered with both passion and humour. They also made use of props such as dolls, and audience participation challenges such as getting a punter to drink their ‘voodoo’ concoctions of various alcoholic drinks, or even challenging them to eat raw fish! I’d not seen anything like that since W.A.S.P. were around in the 1980s and certainly not from two young women, and having somewhat upstaged the act they supported that night, they won a lot of new fans – myself included.

The sisters – bass player Camille (‘Mille’) and guitarist Noemie (‘Mie’) Debray share lead vocal, with contrasting styles. Mille’s delivery is a powerful roar reminiscent of Lzzy Hale, while Mie’s gentler vocal style is at odds with the buzzing riffs she blasts out with her Ibanez guitar.  Originally a dance/pop act signed to a major label, they changed tack quite abruptly after their first album, in order to take more control of both their image and their musical direction. They have since released two more albums (‘Calls For Rebellion’ and ‘Society’s Rejects’) independently in their current punk rock style and they have been working on material for a fourth record, scheduled to be released late 2018. They’re backed by a male drummer, recruited whenever they are in the UK (they spend the summer months based in this country while playing here and in continental Europe, returning to South Africa each autumn), and the current incumbent behind the kit is Stoke-on-Trent sticksman Sam Ogden.

Percy’s is an unconventional café/bar which once also sold antiques, hence the place has many unusual artefacts around the bar and stage area. The stage is set in a courtyard and has its own weird and wonderful décor. There was already a pretty large crowd gathered there as I got in (the band have played here on several previous occasions, and consider it one of their favourite venues) and the girls kicked off their set. This being their first gig of the year they focused more on the playing than the usual Soap tomfoolery, the set also included a substantial amount of new songs. The new stuff is in keeping with their current style, but they’re unknown yet even to some of the dedicated ‘Soap Suds’ in the audience so it was when they played more familiar songs such as ‘Bad Bitch’ or ‘Voodoo Child’ (not the Hendrix song!) they got the crowd cheering loudly. They did get a few of their fans to join them on the stage too, but on this occasion they were just dancing or headbanging along rather than eating any dubious foodstuffs! Many of their songs deal with serious topics such as the situation in their native South Africa, but they also have light-hearted numbers such as closer ‘Champagne Cocaine’ – a party anthem that Mötley Crüe must surely wish they’d written!

Following their set both Mille and Mie always are prepared to meet, greet and mingle with their followers, chatting or posing for photos.  They have got to know many of their fans who travel the country following them, and after they’ve been seen once they usually get people coming back for more. As said earlier the show this evening was lighter on slapstick than is usually the case and more focused on the music, but as the tour progresses no doubt the ‘Tiswas’ element to their show will be back with a vengeance! This is their third year of playing up and down Britain and their hard work is beginning to pay off – they have already been featured in Classic Rock magazine this year and have had airplay on radio station Planet Rock. Having seen them on many occasions before now, but only just getting around to doing a blog post on their live show, I intend to see several more of their gigs while they are in the country this summer!

4 – Deserving

Advertisements

The 27 Club: A new and much-needed Liverpool venue

I found myself in the centre of Liverpool last night after finding out about not only a new venue, but that it was launching (officially) that evening with four bands, headlined by Glam Skanks, a Californian all-girl quartet about whom I knew little. However judging by the name and that at least two people in my Facebook list had already checked them out, it looked like it would be a good night out.

First challenge was to find the place: I knew it was on Victoria Street, but not exactly whereabouts. I actually walked the whole length of the street, going past it before retracing my steps and discovering that the venue was actually in the former L1 KTV karaoke bar on the corner of Peter Street; it even had the old sign outside still. Only on closer inspection did I spot the small ‘The 27 Club’ sign in the window. Having found the venue and furthermore, discovering it was free entry (!) I entered to find a small, dimly-lit room with the bar to the right as you go in, and the stage area (such as it was) to the left. A band was already on, it turned out to be a four-band bill. The main lighting was behind the performers – an array of multicoloured flourescent tubes. I suspect that this is a remnant from the place’s previous life, and the whole set up looked like it had only just been put together. I had no idea at the time, that it had!

The band playing were called Figures, formed in Liverpool but with personnel hailing from the Preston area. The set was grunge-inspired hard rock, their chief asset was singer Carrie who had a powerful voice. The next band up were St Helens crew Last Reserves, who were energetic with powerful bass lines and some enthusiastic jumping about from frontwoman Alice Nancy, not really my cup of tea to be completely honest. Following this came Novacrow, the only band on the bill I had prior knowledge of, having seen them last year also in Liverpool. A four-piece fronted by the purple-tressed Kitty, they’re a lively bunch. Kitty is singer/guitarist, something along the lines of Lzzy Hale but with a more expressive performance; when she puts the guitar down for a series of numbers mid-set she is all over the stage, occasionally off it and into the audience! Not to be outdone, bassist Federico ‘Freddy’ Spera is leaping about the place, all over the fittings,  out on the floor, and memorably running out into the street mid-song while continuing to play! His radio link makes that possible of course, he is totally untamed. Next to this, guitarist Jonyx’s own ventures off the stage seem gentle by comparison! The liveliest of live bands you’ll see, they are well worth checking out and play regularly in the area, as they are based in Merseyside.

I found out while the other bands were playing that Glam Skanks were actually playing a double-header this night; when doors opened at the 27 Club the girls were actually 35 miles up the road in Manchester, opening for veteran punkers The Skids at the o2 Ritz. They must have packed up in record time and shot down the M62 then, as they arrived just before Novacrow started their set. I’d not heard a note from them prior to their arrival on this stage, but they were exactly what I expected. Introduced by an older guy in a trilby (presumably their manager) they looked as expected too, glittery costumes and guitars aplenty. They opened with ‘G.L.A.M.’, with singer Ali Cat looking like a cheerleader, the song is a definite nod to that and got the punters in the mood. They beckoned us up to the stage and ran through a short set of hard rocking glam punk, played with humour. One of their songs, whose title is direct and to the point, shall we say (!) is a more profane take on the Beatles ‘Please Please Me’. (Get their album, you’ll soon identify the track in question!)

It was an enjoyable set of riff-heavy glam rock, watching them reminded me a little of London combo The Featherz but with a more Hollywood twist. I was amused to find their bassist was called Millie, and they have a song called ‘Bad Bitch’ – but the links to The SoapGirls (a South African sister act I have seen on several occasions, whose bassist is also called Mille) ended there. Ali Cat was an endearing frontwoman, easily getting this crowd clapping and singing along. Following their set, their manager was hawking their CD ‘Glitter City’ (featuring many of the songs played in the set) and so I treated myself to a copy.

All in all this was a successful launch night for a venue that this city has needed for some time. The people who run the place also offer rehearsal space for bands, and live music will be on offer most nights. I often travel even to see small gigs in venues such as this, and this place looks ideal for several bands from other parts of the country that I know. Only thing was, with the lighting minimal to non-existent, I didn’t take any pics of the proceedings so you’ll just have to content yourself with this snap of yours truly with three of the Glam Skanks! 🙂

glamskanksme

I wish the 27 Club every success with this venture and look forward to seeing many more up-and-coming bands play here.

4 - deserving

4 – Deserving

Facebook Pages:

The 27 Club

The Glam Skanks

Novacrow

Last Reserves

Figures