Pop-punk cover bands are not hard to come by these days. Still, the sing-a-long value of the songs and gimmicky outfits do make for a good fun show and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are no exception to this.
The show kicked off in a different gear, however, with Northampton-based glam-punk group Dead Frequency [6/10] opening. Showcasing their recently launched EP, Desire For Fire, lead vocalist Matti Fantasi was certainly ready and raring to go! As is always the case with small, local bands opening shows, there was a lack of audience involvement as they played their own less well known tracks. Yet an exciting rendition of The Ballroom Blitz was all it took to engage the crowd and they were soon up for anything. Not one to miss out on the opportunity, Fantasi made sure we all knew to keep an eye out for his band in the future.
As the room filled to capacity, the arrival of a double bass (apparently made from an old tin bathtub) heralded the entrance of Old Man Markley [8/10]. The assortment of instruments which then followed were not necessarily those you might expect after Dead Frequency, but, if Fat Mike (Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, Fat Wreck Chords, NOFX) is a fan, then you’ve gotta give them a listen. And, boy, was I glad! The craziness which ensued can hardly be put into words. There were beautiful vocal harmonies between vocalists John Carey and Annie DeTemple, impressive banjo and fiddle solos from John Rosen and Katie Weed respectively and an excitable bassist (Joey Garibaldi) who reminded me of Andrew Scott (Jim Moriarty in Sherlock). Rounding off their set with a punk-bluegrass version of Forgot About Dre not only left Garibaldi breathless, in fact the whole crowd were pretty knackered, but still hyped for The Gimmes.
After a long and energetic build up, we were all expecting great things from the headliners. Sadly, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes [6/10] didn’t quite live up to the hype, in my opinion. The absence of Fat Mike was noticed, though Jay Bentley (Bad Religion) and his moustache didn’t do a bad job of covering for him on bass. They played a wide variety of their biggest hits including Jolene, Rocket Man and I Believe I Can Fly, though a stand out, steal-the-show track was lacking, unfortunately. Whilst it was an enjoyable set, too many in-jokes aimed (I have to assume) at the hardcore fans of the band left the rest of us feeling a little unloved.
Overall, the gig made for a great night out! I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for both Dead Frequency and Old Man Markley. As for The Gimmes, they were enjoyable but the set left me missing something.