Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Writer Myglobalmind Webzine)
Almost one year to the day on from their fantastic show at the same venue (see our review here) The Brew return to London’s famous 100 Club to bring their own blend of blues and rock ‘n roll to an eager crowd ready for more.
The line up tonight consists of 4 bands. A bonus in some ways in that variety is indeed the spice of life, a downside in others as it means set times are always shorter than one would hope for and it often impacts the headline act the most as they seem to hit the curfew time a lot sooner than the crowd would wish.
Hands off Gretel
Hands Off Gretel are a 4-piece female fronted grunge band, formed late 2014 in South Yorkshire, UK. Their début gig was early in 2015 so the set tonight is refreshing as it shows a band right at the beginning of their career, working hard to cement their spot in the music business.
Formed in the most unlikely of ways (check their website for info) they play an interesting mix of 90s inspired grunge / alt rock. Singer/songwriter Lauren Tate looks and certainly sounds the part. An ideal front woman for a band with a striking image as the gallery pics below will attest to. She’s ably supported by guitarist Sean McAvinue and Laura Moakes on drums whose interplay and on-stage chemistry see the rhythm and tempo of the tracks working in perfect harmony.
You do however have to feel for poor Danny Pollard on bass as the busy stage, decked out with material for the other bands this evening prevents him actually being able to perform on it. Instead he’s relegated to the darkness of the floor with the crowd to play his part in the proceedings.
Lauren, a blaze of colour and energy provides a great focal point for the band and tracks like ‘Other Town’, ‘Be Mine’ and ‘In the Eyes‘ showcase the angry, angsty approach of the musical style they represent. They’re an interesting addition given it’s a predominantly blues-infused bill but it works and they get a good response from the small assembled crowd.
The Black Circles
Next up, three piece The Black Circles, playing classic blues rock that could have seen them playing with the like of Cream back in the day. Their short set is dominated by guitarist & vocalist Sam Bratley. His voice and playing style has seen him compared to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Albert & Freddie King to name a few and rightly so. He’s got a deep tone and can reel off some fantastic licks on tracks like ‘I’m Leavin’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Gypsy Girl’ the latter definitely being the highlight of the night.
The curve ball that they throw to the crowd and one that helps them as the band immediately following Hands Off Gretel is that there are elements of bands like Pearl Jam in their music as well. Certainly if they and Eddie ever part ways, there’s a space for Sam in the band.
Josh Winter’s drumming is exemplary and his 50s almost teddy boy look compliments the retro feel of the band. Martin Saunders on bass is fortunate enough to be able to fit on stage for the duration, making the set look slightly more cohesive. (Check them out in more detail here)
And so to the final support of the night. Lost Minute are a five piece rock act fronted by Ruby Lewis whose dark, crisp, brooding vocals present a unique band capable of making the jump into the next league before too long. They play a tight, again short, set that sees really tight musicianship delivering some truly memorable songs.
I’m a huge fan of melody in a song and as friends and colleagues will confirm, I can quickly lose interest if a song is lacking in this key ingredient. Thankfully, songwriter Danny West helps the band deliver this in spades. Catchy melodic hooks keep me and the rest of gradually swelling crowd engaged with the band.
Thanks to their emotional performance, driven by the melody and certainly Ruby’s voice, they keep the crowd warmed up ready for The Brew. Set highlights include ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Ride With The Devil’ and I draw on these two for one reason. If I could offer one piece of advice to the band, it’s that Ruby needs to lose the microphone stand and just hold the mic when performing. The stand seems to be a comfort zone for her and she holds on to it at times as if her whole being depended on it. The last two songs in the set saw her move away, hold the mic and boy, what a difference it makes. The energy and passion flowed out of her and the performance at that moment was captivating. It’s a small thing but those last two songs still sit in my head a week or so after the gig. Proof positive that Lost Minute should go places.
Too Late / Anymore / Reason For Love / Closer To Me / Rescue Me / Ride With The Devil
Ruby Lewis: Vocals
Danny West: Guitars, backing vocals
Ashton Gardner: Guitars, backing vocals
Adam Green: Drums
Alex Chadwick: Bass
Hands off Gretel / The Black Circles / Lost Minute – Gallery
And so, finally, to the main attraction. The Brew deliver one of the best live performances you are likely to see from a band any time soon. Their mix of energy, musicianship and quality of songs blows everything else out of the water.
Latest album ‘Control’ forms the bulk of the set as expected and as they arrive on stage, lead vocalist and guitarist Jason Barwick visibly winds himself up and then like a coiled spring bursts into life as the band run through ‘Repeat’, ‘Pause’, ‘Mute’ and ‘Skip’ in quick succession.
The banter with the crowd, which has now increased considerably compared to the earlier part of the evening, is warm and heartfelt. The desire to crack the UK is apparent in the eyes of all members of the band and is delivered in a show that leaves the crowd breathless let alone the three guys on stage.
If you’ve seen The Brew live before, you’ll know that Barwick is incapable of staying still for a moment and he bounces, twirls, and runs the length of the stage throughout the entire set. Tim Smith helps drive the groove and as the main songwriter in the band, his vision and dreams of emulating the impact that a live band like The Who have on stage is often realised.
Kurtis Smith, “thumping the biscuit tins” as bass player Tim Smith explains at one point in the proceedings, has clearly been putting some serious practice into his art. His skill behind the drumkit is up there at ‘Whiplash’ like levels that would even see J.K.Simmons character Fletcher approving. Very few drum solos engage a crowd these days but tonight, Kurtis just nails it. At one point he looks across at Barwick with a look of almost total exhaustion on his face and then digs deep, continues and just nails it. Stunning work!
If you’ve never seen The Brew live, make it a priority on your future gig list. Already huge in mainland Europe, the band are playing in front of thousands on a regular basis yet struggle to pull more than a few hundred to a gig in the UK thanks to the fickle British musical tastes and press and media outlets that change their focus like the wind. Britain has some of the best home grown talent in rock music. We need to support our own!
Repeat / Mute / Pause / Skip / Fast Forward / Shuffle / KAM / Every Gig Has A Neighbour / Six Dead
Drum Solo / Encore
Jason Barwick (Guitar, Vocals)
Kurtis Smith (Loud Drums)
Tim Smith (Bass, Vocals)