One of the questions I’m often asked by visitors is ‘Where on earth do all these talented musicians come from on such a small island?’
The answer to that is they don’t simply grow on trees or are gathered up from bus shelters and outside chip shops.
Just as in sport, the Manx have quietly developed a system to encourage and develop talent to enable us to punch well above our weight. That system is called Soundcheck.
Tuesday saw one of the events Soundcheck (part of the IoM Youth Service) holds throughout the year for the Big Things Of A Few Years’ Time to both play live and show the rest of us what the future has in store. So let’s peer into the crystal ball...
Anne Dudley follows a classic template of mysterious girl with guitar and long dark hair. You get an idea though she should perhaps be seated at a piano. With a voice reminiscent of Birdy, she can keep her composure whilst competing with a chattering audience. That’s a skill every solo performer needs and takes some mastering.
Mae Challis may also be a girl with a guitar but there the similarity ends. Opting more for power than delicacy, she certainly knows how to project her performance. Sometimes sounding like P J Harvey, at others more like Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, I’d be interested to see her with a band of her own.
Azariah complements her guitar with a fetching hat (on her head that is, not on the guitar). Think of Amy Winehouse before the wine took hold and you get an idea of her potential. Indeed, her cover of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ very much mirrored a Winehouse performance just before stardom broke. Like Mae though, a band would bring out even more.
Paranoia are the first band and first lads on stage. Anyone that can make goofing up the start of the song part of the act gets my vote..’Do you know the words?’ being my particular favourite. When they get going though they’re not half bad. They range in style from very early Black Sabbath to the Cure with drumming from the Banshees. Intriguing.
Zac Phillips is the sole guy with guitar. He has glasses though, for that hipster look. He has a good voice but perhaps models himself too much at present on the likes of Ed Sheeran. When he discovers John Martyn and Jon Gomm though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives us all a big surprise.
Too Many Words are our next beat combo and with a girl singer too. Classic post-punk, if you shut your eyes you could almost be listening to Blondie at CBGBs! If the young lady was perhaps a little less demure then they could really start to kick songs out of the park. That’ll all come with the confidence that gigging gives you though.
The Same have a fair bit of gigging experience and it shows. Cracking through ‘Hound Dog’ with young Callum Rowe showing how loud a wee lad can be on a guitar, they have the makings of a very good band. They’re at the stage where they need to make their first steps into songwriting. I look forward to hearing the result.
Naked are an all girl band with the emphasis on Grrrrl. Sounding like PJ Harvey colliding with early 80s pop faves The Go-Gos, comparison with the Twisted Angels is inevitable but these girls are just going to get even noisier and more grrrrly. And that’s no bad thing!
And to show them all just what can be achieved, Soundcheck old boys Post War Stories
round things off. Probably the best live band on the island at the moment, I could write lots about them. That’s for another time though.
Tonight was about seeing the diamonds in the rough and we Manxies just keep mining them. Long may we do so.