If you said Indonesian music to me my first thought would have been the Gamelan, it’s not a country I really associate with rock music. A fortnight ago I had never even heard of the band Speaker First, that was until I got a press release through announcing their debut UK single Break My Soul, and three shows. I watched the video and on the strength of that video I wanted to see them. Luckily for me one of those shows was in Manchester, where I live. Hence I headed to The Ruby Lounge, a small basement venue, conveniently situated on the edge of Manchester’s vibrant Northern Quarter opposite the Arndale Centre entrance on High Street. I had to miss my regular Tuesday night yoga class so were they worth it?
Opening act tonight came in the form of Bones Shake, from Manchester and, even though they are a local band, I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of them before either. They describe themselves as Scuzz Blues, a ‘scuzzed, buzzed blues three piece’ which turned out to be a vocalist, guitarist and drummer although when they took to the stage front-man David was holding a megaphone. Unfortunately the audience was sparse at this stage so he didn’t need to yell, but five people or five thousand people the show must go on, and he proceeded to shout about how fucking gorgeous he was in the opening song. He then asked members of the audience ‘Are you having a good time?’ including me. I was actually, which was a good job because fixed with his malicious glare, I wouldn’t have dared to say no I wasn’t!
Bones Shake reminded me of bands like The Cramps and The Strokes although much angrier and more shouty in their delivery. David was flailing his arms, tapping his head and sneering and at one point he collapsed to the floor, and I just hoped it was part of act, as no one rushed to help, my prayers were answered when he arose ‘from the dead’ and seemed to be thanking his god that he had survived as the lyrics included ‘Oh My Lord’ he then jumped off the stage and was singing up close and personal to members of the audience in turn. If you like hard angry music and an impassioned performance then go and get your bones shaken, if not stirred!
Find out more about Bones Shake: –
I didn’t have to wait long for my first taste of Indonesian rock n roll. All the way from Bandung, Indonesia as Speaker First took to the stage. A burst of rapid fire drumming then their set got underway with Angels Robe, Devils Cape and a twin guitar attack, literally, from twins Beny and Bony with Mahattir on lead vocals and bass guitar. Despite my best endeavours I haven’t been able to find out the drummer’s name so can only refer to him as ‘The Drummer’ and as he often stood up to beat those skins I think he went to the Slim Jim Phantom school of drumming!
After the first song Mahattir announced ‘We are Speaker First from Indonesia. Thank you for coming. Long live rock n roll’ and they rocked and rolled through a short but sweet set. I picked up a Quireboys This is Rock n Roll vibe with one of the twins was using a slide. The Anthem reminded me of Muse’s Knights of Cydonia. Break My Soul reminiscent of Woman by Wolfmother. When Mahattir said ‘Let me see your hands in the air’ we were clapping along. With hard hitting drums, and the band covering the stage well, Bony coming forward to use Mahattir’s microphone for backing vocals at times, it was an entertaining set. Near the end the band thanked us for coming out and then the main set finished with a drum roll, and Mahattir kneeling before the drummer pushed the bass drum over. Those of us who were there shouted for more and the band obliged coming back for two encore songs. The last one going out to all the Manchester rock n rollers.
Before today I knew Bandung more for it’s coffee than it’s rock n roll. I now know it has also produced another fine blend in Speaker First and yes it was worth missing yoga for! I may well tie in a trip to one of Indonesia’s yoga retreats to tie in with a trip to see Speaker First in their home country! It is a shame there weren’t more people there, but I first heard of Speaker First only two weeks before the show and asking around friends none of them seem to have heard of them. I shall spread the word and hope they see many more friendly faces next time they venture over to the UK.
Mahattir Alkatiry – Vocal,Bass
Beny Barnady – Guitar
Bony Barnaby – Guitar
Find out more about Speaker First: –
PlanetMosh chatted to the band after the show see our interview here