As a lead up to the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend event that's taking place within the grounds of Powderham Castle over the May Bank Holiday weekend, various venues throughout the county are hosting events covering a multitude of activities including social media training, live photography and a bunch of 'Live Lounge' gigs featuring some amazing acts such as Tom Odell, Laura Mvula and Jake Bugg that are sure to impress anyone lucky enough to obtain a ticket.
One of these events was a local gig in Teignmouth, showcasing some of Devon and Cornwall's finest talent. This was a show that we’d been looking forward to for a while, not only was it put together by the BBC Introducing team in conjunction with regional DJ’s who do such a great job of championing bands and artists in their respective areas, it was also the very first time that I had stepped foot in the newly opened ‘Pavilions’ which was born out of the ashes of the legendary Carlton Theatre (R.I.P) which once stood (not so grandly) set back from Teignmouth’s promenade.
I was fortunate enough to be allowed into the venue earlier in the afternoon to sneak a peek at Reigning Days sound-checking, this was going very well and after catching up with their Manager (who was suffering with a headache), I left for food prior to heading back down later that evening for the festivities that lay ahead.
The sleepy seaside town of Teignmouth has had a strong music scene for some time now, whilst there haven’t been an outpouring of acts that have gone on to achieve mega stardom (okay, MUSE…..) there HAS been a steady flow of quality acts that demand your attention, if I had to name a few, I would happily recommend the likes of Tiny Folds, Moriaty and Assmunch that you should already be aware of, if not, go check them out on social media NOW, they’re all stunning!
So, onto the BBC Introducing event…..
James Santer (BBC Introducing Devon) and Abbie McCarthy (BBC Introducing Kent) took to the stage to warm the crowd in readiness for the first act, they didn’t need much warming and as soon as Auction For The Promise Club strapped on their instruments, the place was rocking.
AFTPC are a 3 piece synth rock act who hail from Cornwall, we saw them in Exeter last year and it was a real treat to see them again and recall just HOW good they are!
Their music is a melee of stabbing, angular, crunchy guitar riffs complimented by synth backing and pounding drums. The trio put on a really tight performance, delivering each track perfectly and proving once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Their set list was full of heavy breakdowns adorned with lighter, Coldplay friendly guitar noodlings which provided an added layer of content to their sound.
Female fronted rock acts are seldom of a quality that I enjoy but AFTPC delivered from every angle, Zoe’s strong and powerful vocals ringing out above Perran’s melodic guitar offerings which were gift wrapped in Toby’s tight drumming, this is DEFINITELY a band to watch!
Their set ended far too prematurely, I would have easily listened to another set from them all over again. Great stuff!
Up next was a female singer songwriter called Robyn Sherwell who had travelled down from London alongside her talented backing band, made up of keys, drums, guitar and bass. Her opening track sounded almost tribal with the addition of a second floor tom, beaten within an inch of its life by its owner who turned out to be a very proficient bass guitar player from track 2 onwards.
Robyn dazzled the room with some amazing vocal harmonies, demonstrating her ability to deliver both strong and delicate when called upon in equal measure.
Her debut album landed in march and from it, she played some stunning tracks such as ‘My Hand’ and ‘Tightropes’ which she proudly announced has now passed the 1 million streaming landmark on Spotify. This track opened with a lush glockenspiel sound emanating from the keyboard, accompanied by Robyn’s heartfelt lyrics and delicate backing, resulting in a very rich and rewarding track. I for one will DEFINITELY be tracking down her album shortly and giving it some quality time, it deserves no less!
Onto the final act of the evening, James Santer strode on stage, flung his prompt card into the audience where it promptly hit one of his colleagues in the head and gave a very heartfelt speech about how he has been working with alt-rock trio Reigning Days for the past few years, this prompted a thumbs up from Jonny on bass and a peck on the cheek from Dan Steer, the old romantic!
From the off, they made a point of putting sleepy old Teignmouth back on the map! Dan Steer looking every bit the frontman that he deserves to be, Jonny Finnis’s solid bass playing and the metronomic perfection of Joe Sansome made for an invigorating and very loud set.
The music was as tight as ever, proper ‘four to the floor’ balls out Rock n’ roll embellished with some proper heavy breakdowns which left you breathless but gasping for more. Their latest single ‘Empire’ was really well received, demonstrating that these guys had the local audience well on side.
I did see Eliot from Tiny Folds bobbing about in the front section of the crowd, stirring the front rows into life! Throughout their set, Jonny’s bass sounded punchy and clean, Dan’s guitar providing some killer riffs whilst the drummer held it all together like super-glue! If you love your music with more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box and more meat than Lloyd Maunders, you should check out Reigning Days as they tick every box!
During the last song, Jonny took to the floor (avec bass), had a good walkabout prior to joining Dan onstage, the pair of them on their knees, wringing out the remaining notes from their respective instruments and thoroughly rocking out like only this incredible three piece know how…...an epic end to a superb night of music from 3 amazingly talented bands.
The guys are releasing a new EP in early June and keep your eyes peeled for news of their follow up long player to 2014's Opera of Love later on in the year.
A HUGE thank you to BBC Introducing for putting on such a terrific lineup, I for one am certainly excited about the Radio 1 Big Weekend which is to become one of the largest events that Exeter has seen for a long time and is surely going to take some beating!
Words by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Rhodri Cooper