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24 September 2014
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Music Reviews

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox

Bedouin Soundclash, Beat Union & Zox

Review by Zoe C. Photos Simon White, site users
Rock reggae band Bedouin Soundclash, plus Beat Union and Zox at the Barfly Birmingham.

Bedouin Soundclash + Beat Union + ZOX - Thu 24th Aug 2006 - Barfly - Birmingham

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

Often people ask whether there is anything new or original in music. Beyond a rather superficial answer it can be interesting to look at current bands and try to identify their roots.

Bands of course have ideas of their own as tonight's line-up demonstrates perfectly. Bedouin Soundclash are "a rock reggae outfit who could lazily be called a mixture of Sublime, The Police and Bob Marley, met in Kingston."

Beat Union are "late seventies, early eighties punk and new wave band" mixed with "contemporary rock music and production" while openers ZOX are "violin laced rock reggae punk". So, the art of creative self-promotion is not dead!

Bedouin Soundclash

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

The audience of mainly 20 and 30 - something young adults certainly went for it during Bedouin Soundclash and needed very little encouragement from the stage to move to their music, but what the crowd and the band seemed to lack was a focus.

Their hybrid style of rock and reggae sounded like it was influenced more by Paul Simon and popular-safe-World Music than anything cutting edge and passionate.

The crowd seemed to want to play it very safe – and that was just what they got – though with a confident and friendly stage presence that came across as effortless.

Beat Union

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

The second band of the evening was Beat Union, local boys from Birmingham who have been on tour with Bedouin Soundclash and ZOX.

They were quite enthusiastic and up for a good time, but while the music had the effort – there was limited real engagement with the crowd.

Everything seemed a little rushed, a little forced – perhaps a little nervous. Maybe playing to the home crowd can work against rather than for a band? Musically there was a strong West-Coast Punk influence.

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

Of course, this has very little to do with the original UK punk of the Sex Pistols and much more with the slightly-edgy rock of Good Charlotte, blink 182 and Sum 41.

The crowd wasn't wholly convinced and neither was I – but they may be one to watch on music television in the future.

ZOX

First on stage was ZOX. It was almost possible to close your eyes when listening to ZOX and become confused as to which of the many MySpace generation of bands were playing – but they were saved from this rather ignominious fate by employing a rather stock approach – the novelty instrument.

Ok, so a violin isn't that novelty but it's enough to give a twist to an otherwise competent but only mildly exciting sound.

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

The other thing they had in spades was an enthusiasm to play the gig and effort made in working the audience. This could just make them an effective warm-up band but they delivered a whole lot more.

The music was very much getting there – not perfect, a bit too formulaic despite what they may claim - and definitely better in the upbeat, energetic tracks rather than the slower more introspective and frankly emo songs.

You got the impression they all really wanted a nice cup of tea and were safe to be introduced to your mother; but were trying on occasion (most unsuccessfully) to make you wonder if they have ASBOs.

Overall it wasn't a bad evening – the Barfly is a relatively spacious and friendly venue that often gets unfairly shunned by gig-goers because it's that little further away from the centre of Birmingham.

Zox photo: Simon White
Zox photo: Simon White

The crowd numbers were healthy and for a quite reasonable £3.33 per band it was still good value.

The line-up didn't push any boundaries or try and tell you anything you didn’t know – but that seemed to suit a relatively conservative crowd quite well – thank you very much.

last updated: 25/08/06
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