The Frowning Clouds played an opening set that would surely have won them a barrel of new fans with a sound rooted in 60s beat and garage rock. They’re only a young band with one album under their belt yet their air of self-assurance and equally self-deprecating nonchalance perfectly suited their melody-rich guitar pop. They were a near-perfect package both visually and sonically with the primitive and catchy hooks of ‘Shoe Suede Blues’ a particular highlight.
The Stems were contemporaries of Sunnyboys at their peak in the early ‘80s, making them a perfect act on the bill and no doubt evoking strong memories for many of the 40+ vintage crowd. They’re still a mighty strong band live with the added guitar work of Ash Naylor (Even). The riffs were both tough and shimmering as required with favourites like ‘Sad Girl’ and especially the chorused jangle of ‘At First Sight’ causing swaying and dancing throughout the theatre.
Sunnyboys entrance was prefaced by a short montage film of the band in the ‘80s and it was a wonderful introduction, creating emotion and context for the current reformation. Things got off to a shaky start with ‘As I Walk‘, probably due to the song being one of their lesser popular tracks and early nerves making their playing tentative. As soon as they segued into ‘Love To Rule’ they quickly hit their groove and went on to sustain it for over ninety minutes with single after single drawing cheers, raised arms and possibly tears for a few fans bathing in the musical memories of their formative years. The whole band was rock solid and reveling in the music as they surged through ‘Happy Man’, ‘What You Need’, ‘Let You Go’, ‘You Need A Friend’, ‘Show Me Some Discipline’, ‘Alone With You‘ and more. Guitarist Richard Burgman was a kid in a candy store, bouncing and grinning throughout while Jeremy Oxley was cheeky, his playing full of spark and vigour. This was a triumphant night built partly on nostalgia but overwhelmingly on clever and emotionally-connective guitar pop songs.
this review was first published in The Music