Gig Review: Jordan Allen, SHEAFS, Real Life Entertainment & Fosseway at Think Tank

Hailing from Bolton, Jordan Allen were halfway through an extensive first ever UK tour and arrived at Think Tank for what would be a night of great music.

The first support band were Fosseway, an indie four-piece from Newcastle. They provided some solid songs to start the night, with ‘Dance in the Dark’ being the pick of the bunch. It’s opening bass line was punchy, grabbing the attention of those in attendance and giving way to a song with a much more mature sound than those there may have expected. Their frontman exuded confidence even though the crowd was paltry, and his lyrics about disengagement coupled with a rousing guitar solo left the people who had arrived early enough to see Fosseway suitably impressed.

Next on the bill were Real Life Entertainment, coming down from Perth in Scotland. Now, the phrase ‘all over the shop’ is very rarely used to describe something positive, but when I say RLE were all over the shop I couldn’t be any more complimentary. Their performance was chaotic but gripping, channelling what seemed to be a myriad of musical influences throughout their set. At times they sounded like Cabbage, and at others the almost rapped lyrics were reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine. ‘Crieff Road Blues’ and ‘Here It Comes Again’ showcased the bands ability to switch between styles with a more relaxed sound, ensuring they did not rely solely on their punk sounding material. The antics of the frontman deserve a mention, with his using the microphone stand like a walking stick and smacking the microphone off his forehead to create a bass drum sound helping the band live up to their name.

Their performance was chaotic but gripping, channelling what seemed to be a myriad of musical influences throughout their set.

Following on from RLE were the main support act, SHEAFS. They brought their heavy indie-rock sound from Sheffield, and were not at all dissuaded by the still small crowd. The frontman undertook a herculean effort to invigorate the crowd, jumping from the stage on several occasions to invite the audience to sing down the mic, to pose for photos with Jordan Allen himself, and to wield a bottle of Buckfast in one hand and a drumstick in the other and smash the cymbals himself. ‘Nobody’s Watching’ was powered by manic drumming, frenetic riffs and lyrics that were delivered with a real sense of aggression, and ‘Mind Pollution’ was another highlight of their set, with a similarly cutting sound that was delivered with style. However, their concluding song ‘This Is Not a Protest’ was without a doubt the best song they played in their half an hour on stage. The nature of the track seems to contradict its title, with typically antagonistic lyrics that were well suited to the dynamic tones of the guitars. SHEAFS did their best to energise a crowd that didn’t seem to want to be energised, and their commendable attempts will have done no harm to an increasingly positive reputation.

He wielded a bottle of Buckfast in one hand and a drumstick in the other

After the support acts, the crowd did grow yet was still somewhat underwhelming by the time Jordan Allen made their way on stage. They opened with the rousing ‘Imperial Leather Drama’, a song about the negativity of romance that had befittingly dark sound. Jordan declared that it didn’t matter how many people turned up, and that the band would still put on “the gig of their lives”, and they obliged with the following track ‘Dancing in the Dark’, which was similar in sound and lyrics and equally as exhilarating as the first song.

‘Wasted Generation’ saw Jordan Allen jump into the crowd as his predecessor had, continually interacting with the crowd with all the confidence you would expect of a band embarking on their 10th tour rather than their first. ‘110 Ways to Make Things Better’ was a heartfelt tribute to Jordan’s father who had suffered from a brain tumour, yet in spite of the sombre subject matter, the song still had the upbeat vibe that made their performance so enjoyable.

He continually interacted with the crowd with all the confidence you would expect of a band embarking on their 10th tour rather than their first

‘White Lines’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ were further examples of the heavier sang with an air of cynicism. The guitar solos delivered by Nathan were pulsating, driving the songs forward with a real sense of power that would have received a much better reaction with a different crowd. The night was concluded with R.O.S.I.E, the bands newly released single, which had many of the crowd singing along. The song has an air of The Fratellis about it, with each instrument providing an energetic contribution that culminates in a supremely catchy and infectious chorus. The refrain saw Jordan ask SHEAFS to take to the stage, an offer that was then extended to anyone in the room, and soon there was absolute pandemonium on the stage as chants of “R O S I E” rang out across the room, before one last chorus saw the crowd finally react with the same kind of energy that each band has exuded throughout the night.

The final song perhaps ought to serve as a taster of what is to come for Jordan Allen as they continue to grow as a band and as their support increases too. Such a dynamic sound and willingness to interact with the crowd are sure to elicit that kind of response throughout their gigs in the future, rather than for the last song alone, and having seen Jordan Allen perform with such an accomplishment and polish on their first UK tour, the next is bound to only be an improvement on tonight’s impressive offering.

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