It only feels like five minutes since I was at the The Senior Service single launch gig in London. What a night that was, you can read about that here. Graham Day and Wolf Howard are back again, this time with accomplice and bassist Allan Crockford. I digress; this is a different town, different venue, and indeed a different band.
As I get myself ready for a pre-gig tipple, a pretty little bird messaged me to say that support act, King Mojo, are sounding fab at the sound check, so I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer having not been acquainted with them previously.
Also having never visited Stockton-on-Tees I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's a fair sized venue; very busy, and as expected the show has pretty much sold out. The crowd is predictably full of excitable over 30's (possibly older, but looking youthful), with a strong mod presence.
King Mojo I'm guessing, being a local Middlesbrough band, have lots of family and friends in the audience spurring them on. This retro four piece have charisma; with no small help from a Roland VK-7 which is switched on to Hammond mode. They belt out a souped-up cover of The Small Faces 'Get Yourself Together', and continue their set with '60s British psych rock sounds and mod power pop; not forgetting a few mellow instrumentals to boot. One cannot help but draw comparisons to the headliners previous incarnations; they even finish their set (and encore) with a cover of The Primemovers' 'Crystalline' (with the blessing of the band I'm reliably informed), which was a brave and touching gesture, and luckily for them, it paid off.
There's a queue out of the door for the bar, and if you're lucky you might get a refill before the main act. The prices of drinks here are ridiculously cheap compared to the prices down south, as of course this is The Forefathers first gig up north. A fellow gig-goer, who like me has travelled from further afield, commented on the fact that it's too expensive to get drunk in venues like the Half Moon.
There's a warm and welcoming atmosphere as The Forefathers literally leap into action with 'Good Things'; obviously glad to be here, and ready to entertain. It's full steam ahead into what seems like much more Solarflares numbers than I've heard them play previously (always delighted with that!) particularly the electrifying 'Open Your Eyes' which is like a breath of fresh air, and sounds better every time I hear it.
With the customary shouts for Prisoners songs, the band were in obliging mood and performed old favourites such as 'Be On Your Way' 'Love Me Lies' and 'Reaching My Head', and encouraged the crowd to sing along. Crockford, always the one with the cheeky banter, said something along the lines of "this next one is a real killer" possibly referring to the velocity at which they had all been performing up until that point; and with no sarcasm intended (I'm sure) they launch into 'I Am The Fisherman'. There's a couple of Gaolers numbers in there too; the rousing 'Sitar Spangled Banner' is always good value, and executed by Day with the usual scraping of the guitar neck on the monitors.
A guy behind me has been shouting for 'Hush' all night, and at the very end his wish is granted as the band return to the stage for a second encore with 'I Drink The Ocean' which blends seamlessly into 'Hush'. I wish I could have bottled that moment for him.
Rewinding slightly, the last time I saw The Forefathers play was at the Cosmic Trip Festival in Bourges, France in May 2015. It was most unfortunate that they, and other bands, such as The Baron Four, were playing on the main stage. It was far too big, the sound was all wrong, and there was little to no atmosphere… it was a shame. We knew it, they knew it; so it's great to see them tonight, back on form, and more importantly, enjoying themselves.
I can only echo what I've said before. That The Forefathers are even more dynamic now, and gave a relentless and gratifying performance. Proving once again that they are a band at the top of their game. Should there be any doubt about this; check out the photos, the camera doesn't lie...
The Forefathers will be appearing at Le Beat Bespoke on Thursday 24th March details for that can be found here, and the the Medway Legends Weekender in San Sebastian, Spain details of which are here. The Senior Service will be launching their debut LP The Girl In The Glass Case on 18th June at The Lexington in London, details to follow.
Photographs courtesy of PJFImages.