The Gemma Ray Ritual, Striker, A Blue Girl

Liam McGrady 02/02/2006

This might seem like a bit of boasting or self importance, but I do see a lot of bands - from what are basically pub gigs to full blown arena shows. I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this but I'm just trying to put this particular gig in some sort of context. It's hard, I think, when you've spent a previous week witnessing Top 40 bands, to then be able to judge newer, less well formed acts on their own merits. And I suppose on a very basic level, it could be argued that how much we like a band is decided by how much better or worse they are than another; be it Radiohead or Dave's classic rock group from down your local. What I'm trying to get at here, in a roundabout, polite sort of way, is that I didn't like either of the first two bands tonight.

So okay, this probably isn't fair or nice but A Blue Girl were really quite good until the singer opened his mouth. The music is big and brash at times - swirling riffs like a muscular Pink Floyd - and serene for the remainder; but the caterwauling that spews forth from the frontman is just plain unnecessary. Whether he's screeching or growling (or a horrifying combination of both at times), it just mar's the impressively free flowing metallic Prog Rock. The drummer could have given it a bit more umph too. Sandwiched between … and The Gemma Ray Ritual are Striker. My notes on this band run like this: vaguely suede-y guitar; a drummer who looks far too pleased with himself; the vocalist can't sing in the same way Souxie of Goth-Punks, Souxie & The Banshee's couldn't; re-hashed Pixies riff. I think that sums them up pretty well, but just to add a little more, the members of Striker seem to be routed in Britpop but desperately trying to get away from the sound by making it a bit more edgy; they should try a different escape plan. I realise I'm being a little harsh here, but if or when the bands read this they'll probably think I'm a shit writer with cloth ears so we'll be equal.

Onto the headliners then - oh but first I've got to say that the lack of “Mayhem” was slightly disappointing, The Gemma Ray Ritual. They sound like a whole load of other bands, but cleverly never so obviously that you can properly point the finger of copyists at them. Like in the film '24hr Party People' where Martin Hannett asks Steven Morris to drum “faster but slower”, TGRR are loose but tight (that comparison has no real connection; I just watched the film again the other day so it's stuck in my head - I highly recommend it by the way). Definite debts to PJ Harvey's gritty, bluesy rock should be paid, but apart from that the music is fresh but cloaked in gloomy glamour; passionate but introspective. Hmm… I'm no Martin Hannett.