Live review: New Years Resolution with Honeyblood, Secret Motorbikes, Baby Strange, The Reverse Cowgirls at Tut’s, 10/1/13

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Thanks to its legendary status as a cradle of great bands, in the last decades Tut’s has started to feature more and more touring acts eager to tread the boards rather than acting as a proving ground for home-grown talent.

To rectify the situation in recent times, the venue showcase almost 50 of the best around in a now bi-annual 14-day event, this time under the banner of New Year’s Revolution.

First up on tonight are The Reverse Cowgirls, a four piece who appear to be going for the vibe of The Clash with a touch of country rock.

Given that their trilby-clad frontman bares a passing resemblance to Clash bassist Paul Simonon and the third song of the set borrows the riff to ‘Clash City Rockers’ it’s safe to say they’ll probably find this description a compliment.

For the opening couple of tracks the volume is punishingly loud and the crowd somewhat sparse as punters finish their drinks in the bar downstairs but the quartet toss out a couple of neat country-ish riffs matched to catchy rock and roll and their frontman’s wracked vocals and by the end of the set they’ve managed to get a couple of feet tapping.

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Next up is Baby Strange, the only act on tonight who look as if they have a genuine chance of being removed from the venue for being underage.

Their charismatic frontman demands the audience move forward and there’s a marked increase in intensity as the trio power through a set of high-velocity pop punk with a surfy Californian twist.

There’s nothing much more complex than punchy power chords but their drummer pounds his kit until it shakes and their young frontman is a rare talent, refusing to relinquish the limelight for a second.

The only sign of nerves is when he introduces the band for the fourth time of the evening eliciting a few smirks from the audience but for the most part this is a confident display from a very young band who look like they have every chance of following the Vaccines up the indie rock ranks.

An attempt at louche gothic drama on ‘Violate Me’ seems a little silly but with catchier songs like the danceable surf-rock of ‘Pure Evil’ they’re definitely ones to watch.

Looking slightly less like a whirlwind in Topman, Secret Motorbikes look to revive the spirit of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, even down to the Paisley shirts and Fender Jaguar guitars.

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The vocals take a little acclimatising too but there are some fantastic lead guitar lines that make their songs soar even when the vocals are somewhat hit or miss.

One of their later tracks in particular climaxes in a beautiful sweeping riff that sounds like it could have been crafted by any one of their heroes.

As a duo who rely on some pretty simple instrumentation Honeyblood are a slightly awkward choice to top the bill, especially compared to the loudness of Secret Motorbikes, but helped by a vastly better sound system than the one they were burdened with last time this writer caught them, the pair pull it off with aplomb and leave to the largest cheers of the night.

Honeyblood’s kiwi drummer, Rah has perfected Meg White’s bored thud and adds great harmonies to the set opener and though vocalist/guitarist Stina’s girlish stage moves clash with the fierceness of stinging single ‘Biro’, while tracks like ‘Killer Bangs’ sounds like a Celtic take on Best Coast’s punk girl-group vibes.

One particularly impressive track opens with the line “you are the smartest rat in the sewer” as the duo fire through a set that’s heavy on the accusatory tales of romance gone wrong.

It’s definitely something special for a band to headline such a famous venue but Honeyblood take it in their stride, joking with one another and teasing the audience between tracks.

Leaving us with the promise of recorded material arriving soon, the New Year’s Revolution is definitely in full swing.

Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Beth Chalmers

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