It was a cold dark evening in 2013 when we last saw The Computers take to the stage at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre to play in front of a capacity crowd, the gig was SO good, they decided to create a live CD/LP called ‘Live and Inconsolable’, this was released as a limited Record Store Day exclusive in April 2014, I was lucky enough to bag a copy of the (now) very hard to find double LP which came pressed on coloured vinyl, the CD is still available HERE, so, back to the story….
Fast forward 2 years and here we are again, packed into the Exeter Phoenix main auditorium, ready for a night filled with quality music and choice entertainment from 3 local Exeter bands and one from Chorley in Lancashire who had been supporting The Computers on the UK dates of their recent tour. I chatted to Aidan whilst he was ‘relaxing’ in an Amsterdam coffee shop (enjoying a coffee I will add!), to see exactly WHAT we chatted about, click HERE.
The venue had a certain buzz about it, excitement, expectation and as it was a Friday night near Christmas, a bunch of people who were out to let their hair down and have a kick ass time watching one of Exeter’s finest bands, are they STILL the heavyweight kings of rock n’ roll? well you’d best read on to find out….
Opening up the proceedings was Exeter 3 piece The Mocking Birds, I knew little about these guys before the show and I was immediately impressed by their output, their music being a nod to the late 60’s Mod scene through to present day and just about everything in between. They looked sharp, they had a certain swagger about themselves, not so much cocky but confident, which is great to see. The drummer reminded me of Keith Moon with his arms flailing about like ‘Animal’ from The Muppet Show but did a sterling job of keeping the back line in order. Their debut release ‘Choose Life’ is available to buy HERE for the paltry sum of £2.99, what’s even better is that it comes signed by all 3 band members….
Up next were another local bunch called Black Foxxes, I’ve had the pleasure of these guys on more than one occasion in the past but tonight, they ROCKED, seriously, they were tight when I saw them a year or so ago play at The White Rabbit in Plymouth at an all day music festival, fast forward 18 months or so and they were amazing. Each note played, lyric sung and beat hit was perfect. Their set consisted of a whirlwind of energy and noise, not nasty noise, the type that you wanted to hear much more of, so much so, once their time was up, I was willing them back for just one more song, difficult to do when there are 4 acts on the same bill and they are already running a little behind schedule.
I loved the way that Mark (Vocals/Guitar) smashes out some of the heaviest riffs known to man then breaks it down to a gentle, melodic, almost soothing mid section prior to crashing back into the foray with more screaming vocals and ear splitting guitar work, amazing stuff! These guys ALWAYS give 110% and I was stoked to see that they have bagged a slot at the 2016 DOWNLOAD Festival, they’re gonna fuckin’ kill it on that stage. If you haven’t heard of these guys before, go check them out….
The penultimate act of the evening was Chorley (Lancashire) based band Then Thickens who had the envious task of supporting The Computers at their 4 UK dates. Again, I admit to not knowing anything of these guys prior to the show and what I found out whilst stood side of stage impressed me. Starting out as a solo project by vocalist/guitarist Jon-Lee Martin, he formed the group in 2011 after spending time in a band called Kong who’s sound I can only describe as infectious and contagious with a nod to the darker side of rock music, tonight, the darkside was left way behind as their charming, honest and very delightful blend of lo-fi indie rock drifted through the speakers. Their set consisted of tracks from both their debut and their new long player ‘Colic’ which was released in October. ‘Colic’ is their sophomore release which follows the success of their debut offering ‘Death Cap At Anglezarke’. If you love big guitars, drums and anthemic choruses, then you need look no further as these guys have the lot!
Onto the main act of tonight’s show, having seen The Computers a number of times since their early days, it’s been interesting watching how they have morphed from a raw, screamo styled white clad ensemble into a more mature act that has widened its net to allow a greater shoal of fishy fans to get caught up in their music. Looking back to early tracks such as ‘Teenage Tourettes Camp’, it’s a wonder that Al actually has any vocal chords left let alone the ability to knock out such rock n’ roll driven soulful vocals as he does these days.
I mentioned above that they used to take to the stage dressed all in white, this soon turned into black and then into burgundy, nowadays, the band look cooler than ever wearing matching floral print jackets with Al donning a red flower print shirt which complimented his penny loafers and white socks. Also gone is his trademark quiff, a style retained by the one and only super cool beat machine AKA Aidan Sinn who must be half man and half machine owing to his metronomic output!
They took to the stage bang on schedule and launched straight into their latest single ‘Want The News? Here’s The Blues’ which was received really well by the near capacity audience, the front 3 rows singing along word for word. From here on in, they mixed up the next 60 minutes with tracks from their back catalogue, mainly spanning the most recently released ‘Love Triangles, Hate Squares’ long player which was released back in 2013 (I remember THAT boat party well…many won’t!)
This was the first show I had witnessed where Al Kershaw wasn’t wearing a guitar on stage, I feared that this might affect the sound as he always did such a grand job of playing some killer guitar riffs and keeping it all together, instead, he had spawned into a rock n’ roll superstar, ever the charismatic frontman, he now had more freedom than ever before to dance around the stage, straddle the security pit with one foot on the stage and the other teetering on the barrier, using a member of the front row to support him whilst he knocked the audience for six with his amazing vocal skills.
It was also good to see that he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to engaging with the masses, from chatting to individual people to falling onto them from the barrier and being carried across the room before being (safely) deposited back over the barrier so he could carry on his duties from the stage. I lost count of the amount of times that he launched himself into the crowd and on more than one occasion, I feared for his safety as it was getting pretty lively in there!
Stand out tracks for me included the now legendary tones of ‘Mr Saturday Night’, ‘Disco Sucks’ and ‘Love Triangles, Hate Squares’, there were a few new tracks played this evening including ‘Weighed Down’, ‘God Only Knows’ and Bad Wolf’ which I hope will ALL be included on the new album which is due to land in Spring 2016.
Al explained that after the last song, they were going to leave the stage for a couple of minutes and the audience would shout, holler and scream for more, once the atmosphere had reach fever pitch, they would come bounding back onto the stage to play another couple of songs, this being a new idea that they had invented and were keen to see if it would work….
After their last track, they left the stage to rapturous applause, waiting in the wings until the noise had reached deafening levels before all piling back onto the stage for the encore. I saw Sonny (previous guitarist) in the crowd and it was a real treat when Al invited him up onto the stage to play guitar on ‘Music is Dead’, during the song, Al decided he was going to try out a ‘Wall of Death’ at the Phoenix, I was worried....very worried, as there were a lot of larger looking scary gentlemen in the audience who looked like they’d be up for a good ruck. Al then explained the rules, pick a side, wait for the music to kick in and then everyone runs at each other, but wait….rather than battering the hell out of each other, he wanted the people to meet in the middle and ‘love’ each other, more of a ‘Wall of Love’ rather than the previous mention of death. I was relieved and it was great to see the event taking place without any casualties (I have seen other WOD’s take place where the St John Ambulance crew have been tending to the injured for some time!). Sonny left the stage and they launched into their final track C.R.U.E.L. which was the perfect way to end their first homecoming show in 2 years, it was also a fab way of celebrating Christmas (well, nearly…)
So, back to a question I posed above, are they STILL the heavyweight kings of rock n’ roll? after tonights performance their crowns are still firmly attached to their heads, long live The Computers!
We look forward to seeing them in 2016 when they’ll no doubt be touring the fuck out of the new album in a town or city near YOU, keep your eyes peeled as tickets will be selling FAST!
Want The News? Here's The Blues
This Ain't Alright
Mr. Saturday Night
Nothing To Say
God Only Knows
Call On You!
Love Triangles, Hate Squares
Music Is Dead
For more pics of each band that played, see below;
Words - Steve Muscutt
Pictures - Julian Baird