21 March 2009: Re-Play Music Festival – The Grove Tavern, Wimbledon, London, England, UK

Some days are better than others and last Saturday was one of the better days. I’d go as far as to quote Lou Reed “Just a perfect day, problems all left alone”.

That bright and warm thing in the sky that you kids call the sun was beaming down relentlessly which is most unusual but very welcome after months of simply miserable weather. The only problem with these early sunny days is the pasty white legs and spare tires on show. Although this is a small problem, catching a sight of the offending body parts can be blinding if the sun reflects from them at a particular angle.

So, after deciding not to venture outside preferring the comfort of my friends sofa, I settled down for a 7hrs non stop Rugby. Yes folks, I am one of those people who howl at the TV set.

Sun gone, Rugby over, yours truly well satisfied with the results, it was time to put on some slap and go out. The Idea was to go to this gig at a pub not far from my friend’s gaff, where I spend most of my weekends. I only intended to see one band, Eastroad, however, once I got there and realized it was a mini music festival in aid of a worthwhile cause I decided to stay.

The venue was The Grove Tavern, conveniently located straight across the road from South Wimbledon Tube. For many years it was nothing but a run down pub badly managed which attracted the lower echelons of south London. Glad to say those days are well and truly over. From the large comfy sofas to the semi secluded good size beer garden, from the well dressed hunky door staff to the young, cute and friendly bad staff and with a good size stage with pretty good acoustics, The Grove has had a face lift and reinvented itself.

I got there kind of late and there was a small queue to get in. There was also a symbolic 1 Pound charge to enter. That said, the 1 Pound included you in a raffle draw for which the prize was a guitar. All the proceedings of the night went straight to Re-Play Music Festival which is an initiative where people donate their old, broken and/or unwanted musical instruments, they are refurbished and donated to schools, prisons and/or individuals who can’t afford to buy one. I think it’s a great idea and worthy cause. They have my full support and I’d like to think that all of you reading this will also try to help by means of donations, spreading the word or making The Grove your preferred booza.

The first band I saw was Mary Jane Burning. By the time I got there they were mid set so perhaps my review of them should be limited to an “ok performance but nothing special” because I might have missed out on some brilliant song or fireworks display. But from the 3 songs I got to hear nothing but second guitarist sticks to mind. Err…I lie. I vividly remember everything but to go any further would be unkind. Just one question: What was that girl doing onstage?

The following act was Eastroad. Well, what can I say about Eastroad which I haven’t already said in several reviews of their gigs? Not much. Taking away the technical difficulty they had during performing the first song, their act was delivered just fine. I did have a feeling, for the first time, that maybe the bass player should be the front man. He certainly has more of an onstage presence, more rock `n roll. Food for thought.

Time for Action. No need to be alarmed or get up. This is the actual name of the band that proceeded. I must say that I had no great expectations of this band. I have never heard of them, they looked young enough to not be allowed in a pub and I’m no great lover of ska. But the truth must be said: Time for Action rocked my socks! The music was a fusion of several genres: ska, punk, reggae, hard rock…all topped up with a perfect dose of irreverence and rebellion. The kids, I mean, the musicians were well rehearsed and as tight as a rats arse! I loved every minute of it! Meg, the lead singer/guitar/harmonic has a huge onstage presence. His energy was immeasurable and his political speeches took me back to a time where people gave a damn about politics instead of this herd of sheep of today. I wish Time for Action all the very best and urge you to try catch one of their shows.

Now then, from a never heard of band to the winners of last year Indie Awards: The Penny Black Remedy. It is easy to see why they were the winners. They are obviously natural born, professional musicians. Every song played was delivered flawlessly. Not one single note out. It was like listening to a mastered album. Their stage presence was pretty good too. They looked comfortable and seemed to be having fun with each other. Its not easy trying to describe the genre they fit in to. They say its Balkan alternative country rock…err…I suppose I’d buy that….whatever that means. If I was asked to describe their style I would have to say I heard something similar at the last BarMitzva I attended…just a hell of a lot better. They were the only band to get just about everybody dancing, including yours truly which is unheard of. My only fear is that due to the genre they get pigeonholed as world music. They have a new album out now, so don’t take my word for it, just go get the album and make your own mind up.

A heartfelt thanks The Grove staff, new and old customers, all the artists and Bob the organizer for supporting this cracking initiative. Also worth mentioning that Green Futures Festival Radio was broadcasting this event live. Green Futures has a stage at Glastonbury festival so be sure to go check them out!

© ASG @AndreaUrbanFox

Author: limur

Generally not interested...

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