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General Fiasco - Notting Hill Arts Club, London

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ATL | 17:06 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2012

General Fiasco poster


General Fiasco, The Wholls, The Savage Nomads
Notting Hill Arts Club, London
Wednesday 30th May

The sun is once again beating down on the city this evening and what better way to celebrate this fine weather and the end of exams than hitting the town with your friends? In our opinion, none! So we’re off on the tube to check out the latest instalment of the alternative ‘Death2Disco’ nights at Notting Hill Arts Club.

Somewhat bizarrely, having headlined ‘Club NME’ at KOKO just last week, General Fiasco open the night to a muggy room that’s still looking a little empty. Yet, despite the underwhelming crowd, the boys from Bellaghy get stuck in right from the off - they don’t seem to have much to say tonight, but there is a definite self-assuredness in the way they perform that serves to emphasise each euphoric chorus and every swaggering hook.

Their set is nicely balanced, with choice older tunes and fan-favourites interspersed amongst a good number of songs taken from the band’s forthcoming record ‘Unfaithfully Yours’. Stephen Leacock is positively pummelling his kit throughout the set, and during a charged rendition of ‘Dancing With Girls’, part of a stick goes flying but he doesn’t drop a beat. Owen Strathern is also in fine form tonight, looking like he means every word; then steps out by himself to perform ‘Sinking Ships’ with his voice even more compelling in this stripped-back context. They close the set with the angsty and anthemic ‘The Age That You Start Losing Friends’. The only slight detracting factor in what is altogether a good set is the fact that the boys never look like they’re really enjoying themselves...Maybe it’s the heat?

Next up are The Wholls, and as soon as they start into their twelve-bar blues intro one can’t help but feel another interesting decision has been made tonight. Originally from Bedford, they get things rolling properly with ‘Under My Hat', a song that lays bear influences such as the Artic Monkeys and Jamie T. What follows is a slightly disjointed set that features a cover of Maverick Sabre’s ‘I Need’, and a ‘Garage influenced’ original B-Man that does little to inspire the lukewarm crowd. Comedy track ‘Emily’ does get a few cheers at the end of the set, but all in all it feels like The Wholls are a band who still haven’t perfected their sound and perhaps aren’t ready for the tough reality of gigging on the London circuit.

South London’s young contenders The Savage Nomads, regulars at Death2Disco, top the bill. With new EP ‘Tension In The Middle’ enjoying high-praise from Art Rocker Magazine and Tom Robinson at BBC Radio 6 Music, this is a band with something to prove. Tonight, the single ‘Tension In The Middle’ impresses and shows a band that are maturing musically. It’s cleverly followed by a jam around ‘Mister Magic’, originally by Grover Washington Jr, which allows for some instrumental inter-play and gives the bustling audience an excuse to get moving and have some fun.

Their alternative sound is characterised by idiosyncratic low-key vocal styling, and Joe Gillick’s eclectic command of the electric guitar. The more recent inclusion of Aviram Barath on Trumpets and Synths has also seen the band further expand their sonic palette to interesting effect. In what is a solid performance, the highlight proves to be ‘Subside The Shakes’, and though there are a few small mistakes and miscommunications on show, The Nomads carry the night off in a confident style.


Keian Roohipour


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