Tea Street Band, Mark Frith, Sankofa, Sugarmen: Zanzibar, Liverpool


Tea Street Band are on the home straight ahead of the release of their debut album, Getintothis’ John Gibbons caught them in a sweltering Zanzibar.

With music venues becoming ever more varied and gigs popping up all over the place in the city, from churches to skate ramps, it is somewhat refreshing that bands fall back to the familiar and warm (and tonight it is very warm) surroundings of the Zanzibar.
The night after Rachael Wright and the Good Sons launched their third album here, The Tea Street Band are the headliners just before launching their first.
The Tea Street Band are privately very bullish about the forthcoming album. They are walking with even more swagger than normal, and the fact that many were turned away from the Zanzibar that night shows that there is plenty of excitement for it in the city too.
But before The Tea’s take to the stage there are plenty of other musical treats to enjoy for those willing to get down a little earlier.
Sugarmen get all sweet at the Zanzibar
Unfortunately not enough people do for the start of Sugarmen’s set. They were probably not helped by the all too rare beautiful Friday evening in Liverpool that night, which may have persuaded those with tickets to have one more drink outside.
However, Sugarmen rip through an impressive set regardless, proving that they more than justify the current buzz around them.
First single Circuit Queen has plenty of heads in the room nodding. The tempo increases with Fast Food Law, a fantastic riposte to the self proclaimed music experts in the city and Slow Road, sounding like an early Stooges song, is delivered with suitable venom.
By the time Sankofa come to the stage, the venue is more suitably filled.
Since the last time Getintothis caught them they have added a keyboard player, whose sounds help to add to the feeling of a psychedelic dream the band are trying to create.
Siren Song and Maker’s Mark in particular stand out, but the whole set is impressive and the band look as great as they sound.
They have the coolest bass player in town, and guitarist Joel Whitehead is so laid back you worry how he is pressing the frets hard enough to make the right sounds. We are very much looking forward to seeing how the band’s sound develops with the addition of their newest member.
After two great bands have warmed the crowd up nicely, you’d be forgiven for being slightly concerned how a change of pace to a solo act will go down.
Luckily, Mark Frith is practically a one man band now anyway, and as always he has the stage presence and charm to pull it off.
He starts with Scene of the City, his love letter to Liverpool, and finishes with a neat version of Waterfall by The Stone Roses; a tune that gets the now capacity crowd dancing for the first time.
In between he performs old and new numbers to demonstrate why he is still one of the most respected songwriters we have. Not sure about the reggae version of Gimme Love though!
Mark Frith live at the Zanzibar
But everyone is here to see The Tea Street Band, and it’s not long before we get them.
From the first note of the first song the band sound on top, the crowd are moving, and you can tell it is going to be a special night. By the time Push the Feeling On starts up, the dancing is right to the back of the venue and even the coolest of Liverpool music fans are getting involved.
The band have had many highs over the last 12 months, but even they seem genuinely taken aback by the reaction they are getting from the crowd and it pushes them on even more; drummer Dominic Allen unfazed by the sweltering heat and relentlessly driving the band on.
It’s a shame we didn’t get a taste of more of the songs from the album that we haven’t heard yet, but in front of a hometown sold out crowd, it is understanding that they stuck to familiar tunes like Disco Lights. Looks like we’ll just have to wait a little longer for any new gems.
Tea Street Band bring out the silver service at the Zanzibar
For the first time in a while, The Tea Street Band perform an encore; they just can’t tear themselves away from the stage.
It would have been a travesty not to have done Summer Dreaming on a night like tonight.
With Liverpool baked in its own summer dream, surely the next dream to become a reality is that of five lads from Kensington. As they left to another rapturous ovation, you felt it wasn’t far away.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Chris Everett.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Getintothis on The Tea Street Band at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
The Tea Street Band: Disco Lights and The Zanzibar – picture gallery and live video
GIT AWARD 2012: Artist nominee profile – The Tea Street Band
Getintothis on The Sugarmen: Circuit Queen.
Getintothis on Mark Frith.
Getintothis on Sankofa and Eighties Vinyl Records.