The Bonnevilles - The Retro, Portrush
The Bonnevilles, The Wood Burning Savages, Troublesome Bucks
The Retro, Portrush
Friday 16th November 2012
This evening is the first of a run of album launches for The Bonnevilles. Having just released their second studio album, “Folk Art & The Death of Electric Jesus”, the duo are travelling across the province to introduce new ears to their retro inspired fusion of blues and punk.
But first, they don’t come more classic rock’n’roll than the Troublesome Bucks. The songs are pretty much standard fare with no frills attached, but this allows the skill of the musicians to stand out. These guys like a good guitar solo and aren’t afraid of a middle eight either. Fans of Rory Gallager won’t be disappointed by their sound, which is clearly influenced by his music. “Midnight Train” is the highlight of a tight set, showcasing a band of accomplished performers.
The Wood Burning Savages open with the dark, slighty eccentric chant of “High Rise” over the thrum of a six string bass. It’s a mixed bag; bright bouncy pop-worthy numbers, such as “Venus”, contrast with almost tribal driven beats. Thankfully the vocals of unlikely frontman Paul Connolly prevent it from getting a bit too bipolar. Don’t be fooled by his slight stature; jittering on his tiptoes, Connolly’s voice commands attention and stands out with an ethereal, quivering quality. There’s a moment when his guitar string breaks and he almost sends his mic stand careening offstage, but he battles on with the same momentum, unphased. “Goose” stands out for its splendid three part harmonies, whilst closing track “Thoughts of You” defines the stomping and impatient theme that runs through most of their music.
The Bonnevilles stage is already dressed and waiting. Complete with their dripping heart banner and kitsch light-up icon of Jesus, they need no introduction. Uniformed in their customary white shirt/skinny black tie combo, the duo jump straight into their performance. They’re here first and foremost to showcase their new material, so the set consists mainly of tracks from their new album “Electric Jesus”.
“Hell” is one of the first to be aired, provoking positive yowls from the audience. “10,000” in the meantime sees frontman Andy McGibbon get so het up his guitar strap breaks. A two second pause and they’re back again, this time even attracting a middle aged man with the bizarre tendency of baring his belly for the band. The pace slackens a little for the soulful “Kneel At the Altar Parts 1&2”, but it‘s a brief hiatus for drummer Chris McMullan amongst predominantly fast-paced tracks.
Album opener “You’re Not Alone” is introduced with the tag that we’re “legally obliged to buy the new C.D.”. By the time they reach “Good Suits and Fightin’ Boots” from their first release, the band have worked up quite a sweat. The crowd is shy tonight but they’re prompted to come forward by McGibbon; “Hardtale Lurgan Blues” - “dedicated to anyone who lives in a s***hole” - even gets the front row a little rowdy.
Swift delivery and sharp wit from The Bonnevilles this evening will surely see them making waves in the far reaches of the country. It may not have been the biggest turn out, but as far as the music was concerned, it didn’t matter. You can bet the word will get out that these two don’t stint on their live shows.