The Rushes, Jack McManus

Paul Cook 26/03/2008

A full capacity crowd tucked nicely into the Water Rats 'theatre' (although it shares more similarities with a cupboard than a theatre) out of the British springtime's woes and wet weather were treated to a night of promising new music from Bromley-born singer-songwriter Jack McManus and London pop-rockers The Rushes.

Jack McManus gives an encapsulating performance with his precise piano melodies and melancholic yet powerful voice. With the likes of One Republic, David Jordan (whom Jack is supporting for a gig or two) and dozens more piano-based singer-songwriters on the scene at the moment, Jack McManus has a tough task ahead to establish himself amongst already established artists but with performances like this he will almost certainly capture the hearts and minds of enough people who appreciate good music. The lyrics are somewhat weaker than that of his counterparts in some songs and far stronger in others. Sigle 'Bang on the Piano', due for release on the 21st April, is somewhere in between with a catchy chorus and melody but nothing that's going to have you rushing out to buy it. 'Not the Hardest Part' is a slightly stronger song and was performed solidly on the night, complimenting the rest of the set-list. Overall, a promising performance.

The headliners of the night are The Rushes. The Rushes are a London-based band claiming to, “like songs more than scenes” - they strike you as a generally understated and committed band. If someone was to describe them they might say they are like an edgier James Blunt with a proper band behind him. Whilst this may seem seriously off-putting, on stage and on record it works well with emotive, passionate lyrics sung with conviction and energy. The instrumentals are also surprisingly exciting and the guitar riffs and lines are on-the-nose throughout. 'Corners' is a catchy, vocally-led, well structured song and was probably the strongest track both vocally and instrumentally. 'To The Surface' is less refreshing, nonetheless performed with style and prowess.

The Rushes, a boy band with instruments at heart, will excite many a crowd and have the potential, with bigger, more ambitious songs, to make it into the charts to rival the handfuls of nonsensical, pop bands out there. But, even James Blunt would admit that the genre is becoming significantly worn.