28 January 2008: The Red Stripe Music Awards – Falmouth, England, UK

The West Briton announced the event as “The Best of Cornish Music” so it was time to see if the eclectic line up lived up to the hype…

With the venue still filling, first up were The Underground Press Syndicate, a band that hadn’t appeared on my radar before. Their set was a stop start affair, with a promising, if not very original, sound. Think all that NME tells us is cool right now, with jabbing guitars and Kate Nash style affected vocals, and your almost there. It wasn’t particularly tight, or inspiring, but wasn’t bad. They lost the crowd a little with their uninspired chatter in between songs, preferring to shift the focus onto their t-shirt sales and sunglasses, rather than concentrate on the job at hand.

Something the next band, Nervosa most certainly did do. There were no awkward pauses or jokes without punch lines, and they were tighter than an emo’s jeans. Interesting instrument selection, with an old 80’s organ, mandolin and dj decks, and songs that defy the current trends, opting for the anthemic over the endemic. Not necessarily the band that would get you dancing round the room like a deranged monkey, but quite possibly the band whose infectious riffs and hooks would loop round your brain for days on end.

A change of pace with Andrew Bate. Wildly hyped as the Cornish Jeff Buckley, I was intrigued. Then a little disappointed. I’m all for falsetto, but there was something in his vocal performance that just made me feel slightly uncomfortable, and the crowd’s chatter was more audible than him at times. Maybe that’s the problem with being compared to someone so great, it just makes you want to reach for the original.

Next up, the new Marvin and the Gayes/I Say Marvin, Discopip, who sound, well, just like I Say Marvin. An energetic performance, which encouraged a handful of drunken dancers to spasm all over the place to the amusement of the rest of the crowd. They had a couple of great tunes, but you had to wait for them. With a set that seemed twice the length of any that had gone before, maybe this was indicative of the amount of filler they had shoehorned in.

The Pitts, (Tom Pitt) proved to be far from it. Banging on his guitar as if it were a drum kit, and encouraging the crowd into a stamping/shouting along routine, his lyrics of sweaty genitalia and songs about “that pregnant dog from Leeds” brought smiles and cheers from the crowd. His brand of genre defying, self depreciating musicianship was a breath of fresh air.

The whole night, however, seemed to have been set up for one purpose, for the benefit of My Elvis Blackout, although it remains to be seen whether the alleged rigging of the competition rumours prove to be true. Much has been written, glowingly, about them, but this had obviously escaped the attention of the crowd who had dwindled to half the size before MEB took to the stage. They know how to put on a performance, but it’s all meat and no sandwich, and after a few numbers, it started to wear a little thin. I could go on, but I’m sure a glowing review will appear in the West Briton this week, so why not subscribe to the hype instead?

So Red Stripe, it’s over to you.

© Melanie Banks