Words and Photography by Shirin Hodgson-Watt
Attending a gig at the New Inn is a bit like going to a show at your nan’s house, what with the faded patterned carpet, pub mirrors, and general sense of easy familiarity. This is all ideal so far as I’m concerned, as I miss my nan and the cocooning comfort and safety of her house desperately, and I can’t help but think that she would have secretly loved to have hosted just this sort of loud, raucous bash in her lounge, such was her delight both for parties and music. When she reached her 90s, staff in her care home would put my then-band’s demo on to play for her, making her possibly the only resident to be lulled to sleep by lo fi garage goth blues. There was even a New Inn close to where she lived in Kent that we used to occasionally visit for lunch when I was a kid, so, you know, serendipity (or some such).
I’m not a local to this particular New Inn, sadly, but you’re never made to feel like an outsider and I love the concept of a typical country village pub, with its hip little on-site bistro to one side and classic snug to another, regulars lining up comfortably along the bar, also possessing this unexpected hub of all things rock, punk and metal and anything else besides that takes their fancy. And a garden, because everyone loves a pub garden, right? How fantastic is it that Cornish bands have this kind of space available to them? Venues like this are rare enough in larger towns and cities, let alone in the bucolic splendid rural isolation of Tywardreath.
Bastard make me very, very happy. It’s a sensation that doesn’t always sit easily with me, it’s true, but on occasion I’m willing to go with the flow. This evening, they were on glorious, chaotic form, with bass goddess Ele as usual an exhilarating force of nature, her leathery catsuit paired with flip flops to honour both the balmy spring evening and the ever present lava flow of pure rock n’ roll spirit that the woman clearly bathes in daily. Whatever it is she’s got, I want it bottled. I might wincingly have to admit to having more than a decade on her, but I still want to be Ele when I grow up. Front man Dick Porter is more than able to wrestle the spotlight his way, however, bringing a lizard-like stillness that contrasts starkly with the technicolour maelstrom firing off around him, the small performance area highlighting the obvious protective ease all four band members have for each other as they deftly wed their priceless, sleazy, gutter-dwelling lyrical gems with the unexpectedly wholesome glee of pure, unadulterated fun. A short, sharp shot of dirty joy that ought to be available on prescription.
The Viewers are a new entity for me, and while I can’t claim to be expert when it comes to their brand of hook-heavy jangly retro mod sounds, it was clear from the outset that they not only look the part, but that they’re also sincere and driven and genuinely inhabit the songs that they play. Following Bastard takes a fair bit of nerve, as that kind of eruptive energy can be tough to compete with, but to their credit The Viewers didn’t try; they well know what they’re doing, and so instead they skilfully worked the potentially jarring switch from scarcely controlled lunacy to their own upbeat, familiar, nostalgic shimmer to their advantage, their mix of original (yet easily assimilated) material, laced with the occasional crowd pleasing cover, swiftly enhancing the already good natured Saturday night vibe. If, however, they found the constant calls for other bands’ songs from one section of the room an irritation, their professionalism never gave them away (I, sadly, am less adept at preventing my face from showing how I really feel).
Cornish festival-goers will be able to catch The Viewers at this year’s Looe Music Festival in September, and my gut instinct is that they’ll find it a snug fit, ideal as they are for a laid back (hopefully sun drenched) seaside audience with sand between their collective toes. Tragically, Bastard won’t be joining them. A trick missed, indeed.
By Shirin Hodgson-Watt Photography