Words & Photography by Shirin Hodgson-Watt
Highlighting the value of small live venues across the country at a time that so many are sadly falling by the wayside, Independent Venue Week directs an invaluable spotlight onto gems of the live music scene that lie in hidden pockets of the country, including those well off the regularly beaten touring track. Getting people out on a cold February night is no mean feat, but Old Bakery Studios in Truro is steadily building a reputation that is proving to possess an irresistible pull, offering a proper old school crypt of a space, its dark, rustic interior contrasting sharply with the rather genteel, historic waterside location. A hive of creative businesses, the Studios occupy a gap that some may not have realised even required filling, a genuine local hub with a palpable buzz about it. For all the DIY charm, everything runs like clockwork, a perfectly oiled machine with smooth changeovers between the bands, decent sound, and newly excellent lighting (gratefully noted, from a photographer’s perspective).
“Getting people out on a cold February night is no mean feat, but Old Bakery Studios in Truro is steadily building a reputation that is proving to possess an irresistible pull”
Proceedings were kicked enthusiastically underway by Plymouthians No-Robell, robustly reminding some of us of what it felt like to be young and optimistic, in a take-down-the-system kind of a way. Nothing cynical about this, trust me, it’s heartening to be reminded that these feelings still exist, and this kind of energy is mercifully infectious. A new discovery for me musically, but an ideal way to fire up the evening and a band I’ll keep a beady eye on in future.
Swansong have blossomed since I last saw them some months ago. They always had the music, their solid, dark, grungy punch just as much in evidence before as now, but the guarded shell that seemed present in the past is splintering, and this was a whole new animal. I longed previously to see Nat embrace the spit, snarl and swagger the songs deserved, and now it’s coming to the fore, and it’s exciting to witness. A bigger stage gave them room to flex their collective muscle and the growing confidence is crystal clear.
I do so unapologetically love The Eyelids. From the first note there’s just such a blast of positive enthusiasm about them, their trademark tribal psychobilly rumblings giving off an electric wake up call across the room. Most noticeable to me were the smiles, both on stage and throughout the crowd; The Eyelids just spread happy, albeit in a gratifyingly insistent pummelling kind of a way. Throw in the trademark theremin and double bass, plus an honorary Eyelid while Michelle is on maternity leave, and you’ve a uniquely spiky voodoo brew, intoxicating and thrillingly addictive.
To be truthful, I can’t remember much about Bastard’s set. From the off it was a delicious morass, a maelstrom of overwhelming waves of rhythmic pounding, a blur from the stage and a swirl of don’t-care-who’s-watching dancing (not from me, alas) from the crowd, Dick Porter’s snake-like centre stage focus a slinky foil for Ele’s exhausting tsunami of rampaging enthusiasm, a one woman hurricane in a shiny catsuit that single handedly justified the almost comical number of photographers in attendance. Pure fun, no ego, just an unadulterated love for what they do and a maniacal delight in pulling as many people as possible along for the chaotic ride.
Live music in Cornwall is at a strikingly vibrant point right now, with a broad and ever-increasing range of exciting bands popping up all over the place, some passionate venues, and, as I’ve mentioned before, an encouraging and genuine sense of supportive camaraderie amongst all involved, from the musicians to the technicians, and those of us that just like to document the beauty that’s unfolding. Here’s to the next instalment.