Last Chance Saloon

This year’s semi-final saw some shockingly good bands competing for what turned our, for some at least, to be a bit of a shocking result, as old stalwarts of the competition Club Silencio progressed to take their place in the final, hoping to have gained from playing more gigs in the Union than the other finalists to win this year’s top prize.

First up, however, were arguably the best band this year’s competition has seen, Lead Resonance. They once again combined badass riffs and an amazing vocalist with an interesting bass line and super solid drums to amazing effect, and despite them being on first, they were more than willing to give it loads for the crowd. Many thought that this blistering performance would have been easily enough to earn them a place in the final, and I would tend to agree with them, as their set was varied and confident, with nice lows and rocket highs. They may not have made it to the final this year but I hope they try again next time round, as I’m sure everyone who saw them at this year’s competition will agree that they were absolutely superb.

Bravely following them came the eventual winners, Club Silencio, the band who showed most improvement from their heat. This is a possible factor in their victory, as they seemed a far more cohesive and tight outfit, with guitar and bass working brilliantly together under some heartfelt vocals. Their bright, poppy but not excessively so sound was well balanced, and all three members seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. Both the bass player and guitarist were interacting with the crowd, which apart from looking very professional also simply made them more entertaining. Perhaps they weren’t musically as good as Lead Resonance, but they did seem to have a great vibe about them on stage, which must have been enough to give them the edge in the end.

Next up were Gold Line, whom the MC and former judge appeared to absolutely love. However, once again, their singer’s voice just didn’t live up to the build up or his impeccable stage presence, and as the band behind him banged out some excellent tunes, his limited range detracted from their overall sound. I must say, though, that the only reason I am being so critical of the voice is that, with better vocals, I think Gold Line would be fantastic. It’s frustrating to see a band who could do so well not quite reaching that potential, but with a bit of work, time and effort, I’m sure they could pull it up and make some real quality music.

After them came The Black Dogs, who I had missed in the heats but heard were excellent, and I must say I was sorry to have missed them before. The singer’s amazing country rock vocals were the stand-out aspect of the band, along with the drummer who was enjoying himself so much he hit the spring off his snare! As a band they were tight and confident and are another example of a group who will be brilliant with a little more time, however perhaps they should be wary of introducing their next song as “a good’un,” as this can tend to alienate the people who actually decide that.

The last act, Robert and the Naylors, had a hell of a task to bring the night to a close, but from seeing them in the heats, I had no doubt that the front man would be up to it. Despite some kick pedal malfunction, they played a storming set, and the singer covered the repair time like a pro, continuing his story of the evil crab to the delight of the crowd, some of whom looked to be in desperate danger of pissing themselves. While they’re not musically great and their guitarist was at times barely audible, their sense of hilarity and charisma was massively entertaining, sounding like a break-your-knees-funny cross between Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Art Brut, and I have to say that I absolutely loved them.

Congratulations must go to both Club Silencio and Bandsoc for a super evening’s entertainment, with Tempo again surprisingly full despite having to move the semi-final to a Sunday, a day on which for some unknown, bizarre and slightly abhorrent reason the last bus back to Leamington is at 10.30, meaning that many who would otherwise have come did not, as no sober person wants to have to fork out the £20 taxi fare home. We’ll see Club Silencio again in what looks to be an exciting final, but congratulations to the other bands too for making it this far.


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