With a new record and a GIT Award 2015 nomination already under their belt for the year, there was a lot for Getintothis’ Zach Jones to get excited about as The Sundowners sucked The Kazimier into their world.
It’s often said, that all it takes is for one band to break out from the immediate scene, and then offer a hand back to the rest, for the world to take note of a city.
The Sundowners are one of those bands. Just as many of their peers in Liverpool have done, The Sundowners have earned their reputation. Tonight it is the final night of their tour and they are set to show everybody what the hype is about. It easy to get lost in the ‘CV’ of a band, you can hear about Kasabian support slots and Glastonbury performances without actually getting acquainted with the music. Our excitement for tonight wasn’t so much The Sundowners‘ rise, but more their musical metamorphosis.
However, we were going to have to wait. Evol had lined up three support acts for the night, so we got settled in and got ready to blow the winter blues away, with actual blues. First up was Marvin Powell, a kinda Jesus look-a-like but with better vocal talent. The folk troubadour took us back to the ’70s with folk harmonies reminiscent of Moby Grape or Graham Nash.
Powell’s stage presence was quiet and understated, something that definitely worked in his favour as a palatable easy-going acoustic opener. Making up for the lack of instrumentation, Powell brings forth honesty and purity, and from start to finish he had the crowd ensnared.
After an incredibly short break, She Drew the Gun take to the stage. There’s no acoustics, but also no drummers, instead wielding clean electric guitar patterns and effect pedal sound-scaping.
There is an ambience to their music that shifts with every lead in essence of Japanese post-rockers Mono or Iceland’s Sigur Ros. Vocally impressive, the haunting hollowness of Louisa Roach’s effortless intonation beautifully rises above the obscure chord work. As she speaks over the mic about writing songs about being ‘a bit fucked off’ we’re launched into tune after tune about broken hearts and shitty days.
Again, we have little time to draw breath before the garage rock anthems of Sankofa start to ring out. The band have changed since I last saw them, they play with more bite. Not necessarily heavier, but with the fuzz pedals in full flow, heads start to nod as for the first time in the night a band is conceivably loud. This is a band with incredible song-writing ability, they move with ease throughout the set, equal parts indie pop and early black rebel motorcycle club. Drummer Josh Perry’s stick work is incredibly impressive as the quartet, burned through the set.
As vocalist Stephen Walls sister joins them onstage for the final few tracks of the night, they close with another array of guitar pop mastery set to make them firm favourites for everyone in attendance. It felt like the set was over far to quick as they took little time to rest or recover, don’t blink or you’ll have missed your favourite song, don’t pop outside or the set will be over. An insanely powerful punk rock work ethic displayed by such an incredible emerging artist.
Finally we are treated to our headliners themselves, a band who have grown from murmurs in the underground to sirens across mainstream. Skeleton Records have come out on top with noosing Merseyside’s own masters of Psychedelia.
Liverpool as a city radiates psychedelic music, to the point the Mersey itself may as well be coloured with a kaleidoscope. Whether it’s the Beatles experimentations, Mugstar’s growing popularity or to Clinics affirmative grip on the windpipe of acid rock, Liverpool is Europe’s Capital of Psychedelia. Tonight The Sundowners proved themselves as the new godfathers (and mothers) of that title.
As the blues ridden guitar riffs start to ring out, a whirlwind of effects pour into the sea of nodding heads before them. The audience are sucked into the cosmic cataclysm that The Sundowners paint. An audience, who if sober before definitely don’t feel so clear headed now, are drugged with the entrancing vocals of Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly.
The set itself feels like a trip, as songs slip from one into another with a professionalism that only experience can bring. New and older songs sit together, and as cheers from the crowd ring out, both are well received. Don’t under estimate the reach this band will achieve. However don’t lump them in with the new psych rock explosion spreading like a virus across the world. This isn’t a carbon copy band with a Rickenbacker and reverb pedal, the material is unmatched from any of their Liverpool peers and their potential endless.
Getintothis may have gone in excited to see a metamorphosis from indie rockers to purveyors of the psychedelic but left feeling that if the band is this good now, what will the next record be like?
Photos by Getintothis’ Martin Waters.