Be One Percent Sessions: Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band, The Sundowners, The Gramotones: Leaf, Liverpool

Mick Head and the Red Elastic Band

Mick Head and the Red Elastic Band

As something new, charitable and blue hits Leaf, Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare throws a pound in the bucket.

Be One Percent, the charity fronted by Scouse drummer Steve Pilgrim, took over Leaf on Bold Street last week for an evening of Merseyside music – past, present and future. The gig raised over £2,000 and was a roaring success for a first attempt (ish) – Paul Weller played an intimate gig for the group in Liverpool last summer.

First up in front of a packed house – a packed, chatty house – were the evening’s cuckoos (from Oldham), The Gramotones. Turning people’s attention away from the bar, the band rocked up and done the business. As their social media tells you, they’ve supported Weller and various The Coral alumni, so you know how they sound. The punchline is that this lot do it with songs. A cracking start.

Next up, were Wirral’s The Sundowners. With a debut record about to drop on Skeleton Key, a lot is expected of the five-piece. Previous single Hummingbird – coming on like The Pierces on acid and listening to Fleetwood Mac records – is still the standout and gets Leaf moving. But The Sundowners‘ set doesn’t build on it.

The Sundowners

The Sundowners

It could be that the blokey’ crowd are waiting for their hero Head, but the music doesn’t seem to leave the stage. Alfie Skelly’s meaty guitar riffs are great (particuarly on the monstrous Soul Responding), vocalist Niamh Rowe sings brilliantly and Jim Sharrock is possibly the best young drummer around, however it just doesn’t happen for them on the night. The sound they make bodes well for that self-titled debut album, though.

Michael Head is the main event tonight and the crowd are here for him. The rejuvenated ex-Shack man is on a roll right now and gets off to a great start with a lovely Hocken’s Hey. At turns joined by understated electric guitar, wandering flute and a soulful trumpet, Head sticks to six and twelve string acoustic guitars and his melodic laments slip from breath-taking to vulnerable often within the same song.

The artist has his followers on a tightrope and it’s a wonderful place to be when he nails what’s in the air with brilliant versions of Emergency and Undecided. New tunes Cadiz and Newby Street sound great too, with a more unplugged sound than on latest EP Artorious Revisited. Fan favourites Daniella – sung heartbreakingly on the night by his sister Joanne (Sense of Sound) – and Meant To Be leave the crowd whooping and hollering, while Michael’s between song chitchat lends a sense of one-night-only to the proceedings also (“Why don’t they do Live Aid every six months?”).

For the faithful, brand new tunes Velvets In The Dark and Working Family hint at more melodic belters to come from the Scouse hero, but he sends them home happy with a reprise of the trumpet-led, Meant To Be.

It was that kind of night. Let’s hope this was the first of many.

For further information, visit Be One Percent.

Pictures by Getintothis’ John Johnson.