If there is better way to spend a Friday night than in a pub with friends watching local bands, I need to be informed what it is. This is exactly how I spent last night. Ealing is most famous for the film industry, but if it wasn’t for Ealing then rock and roll would have turned out differently. It’s in the boroughs DNA. The Rolling Stones met at the Ealing Jazz Club. Jim Marshall had a little shop and redefined the amplifier. Led Zeppelin used to rehearse in Ealing (well, Hanwell). Over recent years the live scene has floundered under the hipness of East London, but this is starting to change now. There appears to be a shift and people are looking West to the home of rock!
Last night three brightest lights in this new wave of bands took to the stage at the Drapers Arms. First up was the Chris Sagan Project. Last year Sagan released the excellent This Machine EP. It was chocked full of gems, so I was interested to see how these songs would translate to live. The set was stripped down to the basics, guitar, drums and vocals. As it was an intimate venue, the songs took on a personal vibe. Special credit has to be given to the clarity and power of Sagan’s voice and how he is able to sustain a note perfectly.
Next up was Jacob and Goliath. This trio (although only two performed) have been making waves over the last few months. They took part in Burberry’s acoustic series and their Eyes Conveyed single in June further showcased their talents and sound. Last night was no exception. Sounding somewhere between Mumford and Sons and the XX, they showcased their ability in song writing and musicality. One of the highlights of their set was their cover of the Johnny Cash classic Folsom Prison Blues.
The last band to perform was the Francis Gahan Band. This five piece band play a version of the blues that is influenced by the delta bluesmen of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Opening with a version of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night, they showed that not only could they match his playing, but the intensity of his vocals. Next up they tackled St. James Infirmary. This is another blues standard, but they nailed it too. After two powerful songs like this, the rest of the set seemed a bit flat. I’m not saying that their own songs are bad, far from it, but compared to these incredible songs it didn’t live up to the initial blast. The crowd didn’t seem to mind as they were going mental for the whole set. I’d like to see them tackle some Son House, Pink Anderson or, dare I say, some Gomez, as I feel they could breathe some new life into old songs. Special mention should be given to the sound man Martin Bonner (of another West London band the Chairs). After some initial teething problems he managed to kerb his inner Kevin Shields and pulled a great job!
If this is the state of the West London scene, then over the next few months and years we should be in for a treat. If you get the chance to see any of these bands I whole heartedly recommend that you take up the chance.