Just a regular Tuesday night in Exeter, Fresher's month (or however long it lasts these days) had come to an end, students were preparing for 3 years of 'Blockbusters' and 'Jeremy Kyle' with the odd lecture thrown in to break the monotony and everyone else was curled up in front of the television watching 'The Great British X Factor on Ice' apart from a few folk who instead thought it would be a jolly good idea to congregate at The Phoenix to watch a trio of quality bands rustle up some good old fashioned kick ass rock n' roll. The lineup tonight looked interesting, local alt rock trio Dead Ground followed by a heavyweight bluesy beef-mongers Moriaty, finishing up with a Bristol based post punk quintet IDLES, yes folks, we were in for a treat!
The gig was meant to take place at The Cavern but owing to a recent fire, it was moved to The Phoenix nearby. We arrived early, caught up with some friends and enjoyed a beer in the bar before shuffling into the main auditorium in time to watch the opening act.
Dead Ground are an alternative rock act from the Exeter area, I've seen these guys MANY times before and as well as a loyal local following, they do a great job of converting anyone who have never seen them before (my two friends will happily agree).
Ollie Harris (Guitar/Vox) performs like a man possessed, his guitar doing things that border on what can only be described as 'unnatural', you can easily draw comparisons to the likes of Matt Bellamy from MUSE as his guitar/vocal style do mimmic him very well but hey, if someone can deliver as Ollie does, who cares WHO he sounds like.
The backline are solid, I mean REALLY solid, Ed on bass provides some of the most elastic grooves I have heard in a long time and Jake on drums is a total powerhouse of rhythm, no wonder they're so bloody popular!
Up next was Devon based duo MORIATY, fresh from releasing their latest EP ‘Pure Filth’, they took to the stage, cool as cucumbers and for the next 30 minutes, mesmerised the audience with a jaw dropping display of the filthiest of blues coupled with some killer beats.
The beauty of these guys is that they share vocal duties, allowing each to focus solely on their instruments, Jordan West (guitar/Vox) jumping from the stage and setting up his stall right in the middle of the mosh pit whilst the audience mobbed him, climbing back onstage a few moments later looking somewhat dishevelled! Standout tracks for me included two from the new EP, West’s slick vocals and classic licks on ’Pulp Fiction’, the pounding beats of ’Pure Filth’ & the super sleazy tones of ’Garage of Sin’ which as Matt Partridge (drums/Vox) delicately explained was all about ‘Pusssaaaayyyy’.
They even managed to squeeze in ‘Think You’re Hard?’ which is all about them urban upstarts 'SLAVES'. Come the end of their performance, I was hot and bothered, to think I hadn’t been anywhere near the mosh pit but I was snapping away during the set and that my friends is a very hot and sweaty job indeed!
By the time IDLES took up their positions, I was literally ready for bed, I don’t think I had enjoyed a gig so much and we were only two thirds of the way through the evening!
I admit, I knew very little about the band before the show but I soon learned that big beards, moustaches, amusing, sometimes violent stage antics and a general unhinged approach to their music won the audience over from the get go. The music was brash, the beats driving, the guitars creating a crunchy, urgent soundscape for Joe Talbot to splutter his angry, vitriolic ramblings over, their set took you kicking and screaming back to the Thatcher years, the pent up frustration of late 70’s youth, the despair of dole queues and hard knocks really coming at you full force through their frantic set.
Tracks such as ‘Date Night’, ‘Alcohol’ and ‘Well Done’ “even Mary Berry has a job…” kept enthusiasm levels high and when they dropped their penultimate track ‘Exeter’, I though the room was gonna lose it’s load! Come the end of the set, there were more band members on their knees, ringing out the final breath of life from guitars and lungs alike, the audience were as spent as they were, in a way, I was glad it was all over, cos I was destroyed!
It’s bands like these that make you thankful that you bothered to get your scrawny ass out of your armchair and head down to your local live music venue on a Tuesday night, thanks go out The Phoenix in Exeter for hosting the show, thanks to Lemonfest for putting the show on in the first place and lastly, a HUGE thank you to the amazing bands that did what they do so well and made me (and the rest of the room) feel alive again, here’s to the future!
Words by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Rhodri Cooper
For more quality images from each of the three bands, please click on the links below;