The Old Number 7 Band at the Railway InnReview
What a great way to start off 2020. The Old Number 7 Band gig at the Railway Inn in Leamington has set a very high bar already in so many respects.
I salute the venue (which I believe is part of a newly acquired & expanding chain which will host similar events in its other pubs) for putting on this excellent band. I had intended to see the Voodoo Kings there the previous week but had been diverted by health issues so am delighted to post my first review of an event here.
The band are powerful & frankly loud: a lot of other venues are not suitable & it would divest the TON7B of much of their essence to go acoustic, so it's great news that places can accommodate that thing that they do so well.
Which is you ask? Well the group, (Ritchie Hunt-King on vocals, Sam Smith on lead guitar, Rob Nixon on drums, Tim Healey on bass and Sean Pearce on rhythm guitar) are perhaps best described by how they do music rather than what they do. They play (superbly) high energy music which you can apply labels to if you want: garage, punk, rockabilly, R&B, reggae for some numbers etc: just pure excitement & total commitment to the material & their performance.
Setting out their manifesto by opening with "Misirlou" and "Brand New Cadillac", it is a bit misleading to define their set by the covers within it (though an honourable mention perhaps for Joe Ely's "Boxcars" which appears on their album ‘All Pretty Real') as one of the many glories of this band is their capacity for writing originals of the highest quality: all falling within the ambit of their various enthusiasms & influences but none sounding like each other nor being just stylish pastiches. Some are really fast (though none as rapid as their version of Elvis' "Mystery Dance") and others slow burning scorchers. "Indiana Jane" implanted itself in my brain from the first time I heard it, I suppose about eighteen months ago & was a fixture on my car mixtape.
The sound was immaculate: remarkable for what is effectively a bar with no dedicated stage area & a limited space: again a great harbinger for gigs there. I could hear all elements crystal clear, which again considering the volume & attack was commendable. The twin (tremolo arm) guitar sound was exhilarating and although I have long admired Sam's playing, which I had always thought of as a rockabilly centred one, I am deeply indebted to Tim & to band manager Helen Howard who pointed out the comparison of his playing to Daniel Ash of Bauhaus: not one I'd ever remotely made but it's down to tritones apparently.
Although clearly the guitar playing & Ritchie's charismatic lead vocals catch the immediate attention, I was struck by the excellence of the rhythm section. Not only was it as tight as you can imagine, providing a solid underscore of the whole sound, again you could distinctly hear the drum tones which provided another texture in the mix & even more so Tim's superb pulsing basslines which wove through the arrangements with agile fluidity & again a perfectly judged tone.
Above all, what made the gig one of the most exciting & adrenaline pumping I've attended in a long while was the sheer panache of the playing & the enjoyment the band exhibited: it really communicate itself to the audience. Their commitment is also to be applauded: Sean had rushed from an international flight straight up the motorway to be there, must have been tired but you really couldn't tell.
If you & I see a more exciting band in 2020 (unless we see TON7B again of course), we'll be doing extremely well.
In the meantime, watch out please for my belated review of ‘All Pretty Real@ coming to "Hot Music Live" soon...