Review: InMe – The Fleece, Bristol

InMe/Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics/Emp!re – The Fleece, Bristol Monday night never feels like the right night for gig. The weekend has finished, you’re back in work, and suddenly it’s party time again. That didn’t seem to put the good people of Bristol off at all though, and a healthy crowd descended on The Fleece for a chance to see Essex Technical/alternative rockers, InMe on their 20th anniversary tour. Opening tonight were the South West’s Emp!re, with a cracking set of anthemic numbers that went down a storm. At the front, with a vocal range that bought tears to the eyes, Joe Green is a performer with a future. The songs are constructed to give him full reign to let go, and he did just that in great style. Twin guitarists, Dave Thomas and James L’Esteve, swapped riffs and licks at a frantic pace. Sometimes punk hooks, and at others more mainstream, they were never stil,l and created an impressive sound. Backed by the tight rhythm section of Jon Tupper and Freddie Forbes, they certainly registered as a band to keep an ear out for. A quick break, and on to an intriguing prospect. Heaven’s Basement were one of my favourite live bands of recent years, and the announcement that they were to part ways with vocalist Aaron Buchanan came as a surprise. His vocal style and stage presence being a major part of the attraction. After a year or two away, he has returned with a statement, putting his own name at the front of his new band, Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics. Now, to put your own name to a band at a tender age is either brave or precocious. The question was, which would it turn out to be? The band took to the stage, and launched into some new songs, ‘Show Me’, ‘Dancing Down Below’, and ‘The Devil That Needs You’ (all titles may not be exact, as they haven’t actually released the album yet!) This was good stuff! Aaron has lost none of his skill, and looked very at home in front of his new project. The songs have the same brash swagger as many of the songs that marked Heaven’s Basement as one of the best young bands around. A quick nod to the past with a blast through of ‘Fire Fire’, just to remind the audience who they were dealing with, and on to another newbie that I loved, ‘Left Me For Dead’. The band, by then, had gone well past my initial concerns of a group of session musicians supporting a prima donna. Tom McCarthy shredded some seriously raw sounds, and was everywhere on stage, whereas second guitarist Laurie Buchanan (Aaron quipped that they always swore they would never play together) was more content to stand coolly to one side. Bassist, Chris Guyatt, and drummer, Kev Hickman, complete the line up – and a damn fine one it is too. The title track of the new album was up next. This was a bit different. An atonal, almost off-key, intro that was quite haunting, and led into a serious rocker that opened the way for what, for me, is the best taste of what is to come. ‘All The Things You’ve Said And Done’ was a cracker. Everything that worked in his previous life… improved upon, and bettered. The band left us with a bit more of the old stuff, ‘I Am Electric’, and ‘Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch’. To finish off, another newbie, ‘Morals’. In the next few months, the album release, and a tour in their own right, will show whether this was the right decision for Aaron. Anyone who has the balls to put his name front and centre, I’m pretty sure, will make it happen. The lights went down, and it was the turn of tonight’s headliners to arrive in a riot of technical guitar and bass wizardry with ‘Myths And Photographs’. I have no idea how I have managed to miss out on InMe whilst they have carved out their 20 year career, but first impressions were superb. The vocals of Dave McPherson are grittier live than recorded, and delivered with a smile, punctuated with the occasional step back from the mic to join guitarist Gazz Marlow who was playing some joyfully intricate and complex lead guitar. To the other side, bassist Greg McPherson, prowled the stage, laying down some simply breathtaking bass lines, building on the rhythm set by drummer Simon Taylor, cool and almost businesslike at the back. InMe have released six studios albums, and the setlist obviously appealed to the lively, vocal crowd, as they sang along with every chorus. Songs from the latest album, the first part of the trilogy, “Dawn” were limited to “Hymn:Ivory Elder” and, toward the end of the set, “Creation:Amethyst” and “Reverie:Aquarium”, balanced by songs from earlier recordings, “Seven Weeks”, “Safe In A Room”, and the two set closers “Underdose”, and “Faster The Chase”. To hear songs from such a long career being played with such energy and enjoyment was a real treat. Sometimes when a band play early material, it sounds out of place, because they have changed style in the intervening years. Tonight, it sounded like old songs were being evolved and matured to match the current InMe, and it worked brilliantly. The thing that struck me the most was how technically accomplished every single song was. The lyrics were intelligent and challenging, often delving into the darker side of human existence, and the journey through light and shade. The key changes, tempo changes, and dynamic variety were immersive. I went to Bristol to see how an old friend’s new relationship was working out (and I think there could be a perfect match), but along the way, I found new friends that will travel on my playlists for some time. Review and photos: Rob Wilkins [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157672191010863' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='44' layout='random' ]]]>

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