“You can tell Glastonbury has started,” Boss Caine said to me when I bumped into him sheltering just outside the marquee, having a quick smoke before his set started. A few minutes later, soundchecked and having grabbed a last minute pint he kicked off his set with Lady MacBeth, once more made to sound better than ever by Martin, the event’s master soundman. “This is a bit early for me. I’m usually a bit of a night time creature,” he intoned before continuing with Ghosts And Drunks, the lyrics of which, appropriately, seemed to confirm that fact. For the most part, his set was familiar – the downbeat covered by Streetlights And Stars and Sweet Sorrow Surrender and the more lively by Dead Man’s Suit, Truckstop Jukebox and a version of Kind Of Loving that seemed a little slower than usual and with a more fiddly introduction. However, like Dream Of Apollo last night, he also managed to drop in an old song that I hadn’t heard before. 666, he told me later, isn’t a song he usually performs as Boss Caine, but often has outings at open mic nights. Most people who know me know that Boss Caine is one of my favourite local acts. With his liquor-and-tobacco-soaked vocals and unassuming, laid-back performances of Yorkshire Americana are always worth taking in and today was no exception.
Everlate is the new band name of an act I have seen a couple of times before as Andy Doonan. The new, I assume stable, line-up of Andy on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Sam Smith on lead guitar, James Rogers on bass and Si Humphries on drums (with all three providing backing vocals) tonight gave us a soft-rock/pop set of their own material and covers. The Killers’ Mr Brightside, Stereophonics’ Dakota and Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes, dotted throughout the set, gave an idea of what Everlate were about but, even then, they put their own spin on those songs. Their own material, such as the lively, jangly rock of the opener (Electricity?) and the slower, more atmospheric Dancing With Ghosts saw Andy’s vocals complemented by the three part backing vocals and never swamped by the guitar. Sam’s lead guitar was often subtle and sometimes seemed to take second place behind the rhythm guitar. During Ferris Wheel Feeling, Sam came more to the fore but, even then, it was still more subtle than most. This was gentle rock, rather than anywhere near heavy. Andy introduced I Miss as “one of our chilled out ones.” The powerful drum introduction seemed to belie that, although the song did soon calm down before leading out with more power. One song, whose name I didn’t hear, was performed almost solo by Andy, breaking the set up in a different way. Great vocals, for the most part subtle music and, let’s be honest, something for the ladies. No wonder these guys went down so well.
Every so often I somehow get the wrong impression of a band in my head and am proved wrong the next time I see them. I last saw Barcode Zebra back in 2012 and, in the intervening time had somehow remembered them as being very funky. There may have been a slight tinge of funk, especially during Lead The Way, whose lively opening came just after frontwoman Jessica Gardham had heaped expectations onto Ruth Wilde (drums) and Emma Whitehead (bass) by telling us that they were the best rhythm section anywhere. To be fair, their reverberating bass and military-style drum line during Who’s There For You? had already been impressive. Overall, though, the set was more soul/pop with Jessica’s vocals providing the former and the music the latter, with Charlie Daykin’s keyboards providing an extra level behind Jessica’s guitar. Most of the set was original material, taken from the band’s first and upcoming second EPs, but it also included a nice cover of Christina Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, after which a change of instrument was necessary due to broken string. Swapping her intricately decorated guitar for a dazzling white one – “It matches my trainers. Some would say it matches my teeth…”, Jessica explained that it made her feel more girly. Not that you would have known it from the anthemic pop of Hold On that came immediately afterwards. The set, which was getting a great reception from the crowd, was brought to a close with the more soulful Caught Out, leaving the audience shouting for an encore that, sadly, due to time constraints, we didn’t get.
I had been told to expect good things from Surf Sluts, but I wasn’t prepared for their set tonight. Opening as a four piece, replete with vintage-looking guitars and matching, decorated denim shirts, they kicked things off with a Shadows-like, but louder and slightly punkier, instrumental before being joined on stage by a fifth member who, as well as looking like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne and Rick Wakeman and seemingly camera-shy, had not only apparently not got the memo about the band’s dress code but spent quite a bit of time taking the mickey out of them for it, describing them at one point as looking like “Johnny Cash’s bitches”. Explaining that he had been in the pub since leaving work at three o’clock, and looking very much in danger of toppling off stage every time he bent forward to pick up or put down his drink, he still managed to perform vocal gymnastics (and banter) during a set that was lively, very entertaining and filled with songs about surfing – Creature Stole My Surfboard and, I think, Can’t Stop Surfing – picking up hitchhikers – You’re Never Gonna See Your Mama Again – and, ahem, necrophilia – lyrics along the lines of “I’m gonna dig her up, gonna make her mine”. Musical influences seemed to run the gamut of The Beach Boys, Country and traditional Rock and Roll, all given a heavier or punkier spin, while the vocals, at times, reminded me of The Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture show. Despite being warned beforehand, a few swear words slipped in between songs, but it hardly seemed to matter, especially given the close-to-the knuckle nature of some of the material. It was all performed with good-humour and the crowd loved it, as did many of the passers-by who could be see dancing outside the marquee. After a surprise cover of Madonna’s Material Girl, done in the band’s unique style, the crowd were eager for more and, after a lot of discussion on stage – the drummer was sulking, apparently, and wouldn’t play what the rest of the band wanted – they regaled us with Surfing On Heroin, a track “from our last album, that Minster FM won’t play” and perhaps the least family-friendly song of the night but no less appreciated for it. Absolutely brilliant.