Saturday night was a very different Planetmosh experience. Quite often we go to gigs alone, as photographers or reviewers, and don’t have anyone with us to share the experience of a gig with, to review it with over a drink afterwards, and to remember it with later on. This time however, I was joined by a group of friends, who’ve all seen The Graveltones before in support slots for Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement. I turned up early for a 6pm interview slot only to discover support band Tax The Heat still manhandling their kit into the smallest lift I’ve ever seen. Inside, Graveltones Jimmy and Mikey were setting up, so I settled in to enjoy soundcheck and soon wished I’d remembered my earplugs. There’s two of them, but I’ve heard brass bands that make less noise! I was joined by local six year old fan Robbie, who’d heard the previous day was Mikey’s birthday and turned up with his dad and uncle to hand over a homemade birthday card. He went away having had a go of Mikey’s drums, learned how to work the smoke machine and with some signed merch in his wee hand and some memories he’ll have for a long time. Anyone who says rock stars forget the little people has clearly never met The Graveltones! Robbie has promised me I can review his gig when he’s a star and I’ll be holding him to it!
Soundcheck over and I was ushered into the smallest dressing room in the world for our interview, which you can listen to in the “Audio Interviews” section. “Beer or whisky,” asked Mikey, and what followed was one of the most surreal and funny interviews I’ve ever been a part of. It’s worth a listen for their thoughts on Doctor Who, limericks, body milk and beards. Amongst other things!
So, to the gig itself. Back out of the dressing room and into the front row. Stereo is a café/bar with a basement used for hosting gigs. Said basement is undecorated, aging and in dire need of a lick of paint. There’s no photo pit, so luckily my friends were arriving and taking up most of the front row, from where I could try to shoot some images. Support band Tax The Heat had been a bit rushed, with the doors opening while they were still soundchecking, but you’d never have known. You really get the whole package with them, it’s not a case of bumbling onto stage in a tshirt and jeans, they’re suited and booted and have clearly thought through the image they want to project very carefully. The crowd liked them right from the start. Most people probably weren’t familiar with them until they got to their biggest hit to date, Fed to the Lions, which has had a lot of radio play, but by that point the crowd were firmly onside and cheering everything they did. Frontman Alex, resplendent in a tartan suit has a great voice and stage presence, but also did a good job of bringing the crowd into the performance. I’ll look forward to seeing them do a headline set in Glasgow sometime soon.
Next came the main event, and it was so worth the wait. People have been telling me I have to see The Graveltones for the last year, that they’re so original, so loud, so catchy. I was at the point I wondered if it didn’t sound too good to be true! In all honestly though, I really, really enjoyed the gig. Like I said before, there’s only two of them! Jimmy sings, and beats the absolute life out of his guitars, which are unsurprisingly chipped and battered looking, but what a sound he produces! Mikey plays drums in the most original way I’ve ever seen. He gets so much sound, and such a variety of sound out of them. Throughout the gig he used variously one pair of drumsticks, two drumsticks in each hand, no sticks at all so he could hit the drums with his hands like bongos, he had a tambourine on top of his cymbals to generate extra sound, and sometimes he just ran his finger across the diameter of a cymbal. He hits hard, but the imagination and originality in his playing and what he does with his kit is what’s so striking. He was also in charge of the smoke machine, occasionally bellowing, “more smoke!” before activating it, and encouraging the crowd to remind him to do it by shouting the same, which they happily did!
The set list on stage was basically a list of every song in their repertoire and they just chatted their way through the gig, playing whatever they fancied. With the absence of a show set list, each gig is guaranteed to be a one off. The reaction from the crowd on Saturday night, and on social media ever since proves that this is a good way to go. Play it different every night and you never get bored, or run the risk of transferring that boredom to the crowd. Most of the crowd seemed to be pretty familiar with debut album Don’t Wait Down, singing along through such highlights as Catch Me on the Fly and Bang Bang, which has recently been playlisted on Planet Rock, which should lead to some more well-deserved recognition for The Graveltones. Another highlight was Sullen Blue from The Graveltones EP. So as Planetmosh gigs go, this might be the one I’ve enjoyed the most, as us girls danced, the boys played air guitar and The Graveltones entertained the life out of us. Can’t wait for the next time!
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