Sunday, 27 March 2011

Road Trip to Whitmore Reunion.

4pm and my phone rang. I didn't answer it, I was asleep. When I finally realised I should be answering it there's a message from Chaz. His dad had wandered off with the satnav.

A while later, panic over and we were off (with the satnav) on a near 200 mile round-trip to Salisbury to see a band that last played back in 2005 - Whitmore.

The car journey was fairly uninspiring and I won't bore you with details about what we talked about (women and music to be fair) but I will tell you that driving music was supplied by the awesome Truebeat album that Chaz picked up from them at Ska Wars! (There will be a post about that soon, too) the night before.

We arrived in Salisbury a little earlier than expected despite the haggard weather and found the venue with relative ease. The venue looked suspiciously like a church so we did what anyone would do in the circumstances and went to find a suitable pub to mull this turn of events over until doors at 7.30.

Our watering hole selected based on it being the only one with more than one person in, we got drinks in. A quick note here to anyone complaining often about London prices - those are not 'London prices' they are simply 'prices' as the cost of our beverages was as much, if not more, than they are in town.

Pints drunk, ciggies smoked and more conversation about women and music (it's generally all we talk about) and it was off to the venue for the gig. Once we arrived we found out that we were correct in our original assumption and that it was, in actual fact, a converted church. A very strange venue indeed. Not unpleasant but certainly weird, Salisbury Arts Centre is by far the least Punk Rock venue I've ever been to a Punk Rock show at - for starters there's the big, illuminated stone cross outside. And then there were the electric doors, a foyer and a selection of rather lovely looking snacks slightly taking away from the Punk Rock vibe. Amazing place though and an amazing set-up. Great sound system, theatre lights and a projector screen with the bands logo's on made this a very special gig indeed.

So, first up was Salisbury's own Dirty Skankin' Love Hornets - pretty straightforward Ska Punk stuff. We missed a bit of their set thanks to having to get more ciggies but it seemed solid enough and a good start to the proceedings.

Next band up was a real treat for me as I've been after seeing them for a while. The Junk are balls out Ska-Core. The crowd were a little bit unsure of what to make of them and the casuals amongst the crowd seemed a little put off by the harder songs. I loved it though and made a point of buying their CD and having a chat with front man Jake afterwards. Expect them at an ICM show soon!

After the carnage that was The Junk came the chilled out reggae and trad. Ska sounds of Captain Accident and the Disasters. As the tempo dropped, so did our mood and so a trip to the bar and outside for a ciggie became the next on our agenda. It sounded alright but I'd have opened with them to be honest. The buzz created by The Junk was lost during their set - don't get me wrong though, the band were blinding and you couldn't fault their laid back tunes or how they played them... Just when they were playing them in relation to everything else.

Finally, and the room went bezerk for the headliners. After a lengthy absence the guys launched straight into their uniquely flavoured Ska-tinged Pop-Punk as if they'd never been away. Energetic, although clearly a little older, and full of gratitude to those that were singing along with every word - the set was filled with every tune the hardcore Whitmore fans at the front were calling out for.

Admittedly, I wasn't a huge fan of Whitmore first time around. Back in the days when they were getting played on P-Rock the Punk wasn't Punk enough for me and the Ska seemed a half-hearted effort but I was into it the second the started playing. Was every song a winner? No. Some songs left me not only dry but completely baffled. The tempo changed in the set so many times it was sometimes hard to stay completely with the band and not zone out for a look around the room at the crowd to gauge their reaction.

The only real down point for me was the lead singer, Robb Blake's insistence at berating all the people that weren't at the show - despite it being sold out. I couldn't help but think he was maybe talking about someone specific and it seemed to put a slight downer on what was clearly an amazing re-union.

Overall though, a top night. Well worth the drive (because Chaz drove) and we met some good people. It was nice to see a band sell out a 500 capacity show after so long away and even better to see they still had what made them popular in the first place.