‘Twas four nights before Christmas, and in Aldershot, not a creature was stirring, except for this lot. The rocking was done at the Westie with flair, and it’s all thanks to Jamie Lenman we were there.
Ex-Reuben mainman and all round dapper chap, Mr. Lenman has been tearing up stages in support of last year’s solo debut double album Muscle Memory. For a special Christmas spectacular, he bought with him three of his favourite acts from the current UK live scene for an eclectic mix of big riffs and good cheer.
First up, songstress CeCe eschews more contemporary leanings to produce timeless, melancholic indie-pop that has a charming fragility about it. Her voice is clear and vulnerable, rising above the tight, focused but restrained notes of her backing group. Things venture very tentatively into post-rock territory with some of the guitar effects, but otherwise it’s very light and shimmering. Her slightly awkward between song ‘banter’ is endearing, and she manages to rouse a slightly hesitant crowd into a a sing-along of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’.
Brighton’s Black Peaks are a different kettle of fish entirely. Although their first song comes off a little shaky, they quickly settle into a commanding prog laced post-metal groove. Frontman Will Gardner sports the second best mustache of the evening, and belts out some seriously impressive high-range screams. They showcase a lot of hungry, vital energy, flicking between soaring and crushing at whim. There’s shades of Lazer/Wulf and Mastodon in Joe Gosney’s guitar work, and of Karnivool in the vocal arrangements on ‘Closer To The Sun’. Keep an eye on the horizon for these guys on the rise.
Singing comedian Elliot Mason caps off this very eclectic trio of support acts. From his delightfully off-beat sound check, it’s immediately clear he’s something a bit different. His musical brand of clever genre parody and surreal themes is the perfect fusion of Bill Bailey and Noel Fielding. Between his acrobatic eye movements, his songs about his “recent trip to the chip shop” and the hardships of having an eyeball knee, and his on-point pastiches of ballads and acoustic rock, he has the audience in stitches. It’s fantastically fresh and utterly hi-larious.
But there’s only one reason why this ‘home-town’ show sold out in under 40 minutes. Jamie Lenman and his Heavy Mellow Band take to the stage to a hero’s welcome. They open with an absolutely savage ‘Christmas Is Awesome’, a track that they’re almost contractually obligated to play by the sheer weight of fan expectation. They hammer out some of Muscle Memory’s heavier offerings, an earth shattering ‘All The Things You Hate About Me, I Hate Them Too’ shaking the foundations of the venue, before progressing into some of it’s lighter moments; a fantastically swinging ‘Pretty Please’ and CeCe returning to the stage for a duet on ‘I Ain’t Your Boy’.
They then Lenmanise some covers, including an absolutely massive Nirvana worshipping ‘Aneurysm’, and a version of Green Day’s ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ that has almost everyone jumping and bopping. To the sheer pants-jizzing delight of many, Jamie manages to coax former Reuben sitcksman Guy Davis out of the audience (where he’d had to pay for a ticket, can you believe it) to perform a rousing ‘Moving To Blackwater’ – probably the closest we’ll ever get to a full blow reunion. It’s ballsy, bombastic, and bloody brilliant.
In a fitting Christmas stylee, Katie Lenman dressed as Mrs.Santa Claus takes to the stage to perform a lovely ‘Fairytale Of New York’, bringing to a close what has been an eclectic, eccentric but absolutely enjoyable night of festive fun. Merry riffmas to all, and to all a good night.