Six By Seven
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I hope I'm wrong but the signs look ominous.
Having been dropped by their record label and then seeing bass player Paul Douglas depart a matter of just a few weeks later, most cynics would be sounding the death knell for Six By Seven.
Add to that the fact that the merchandise stall is awash with T-Shirts and CDs underneath a sign stating 'last few - £5 each' suggests that tonight is merely an exercise in discovering whether or not the band still have a fan base who care, which will ultimately decide the long term fate of Six By Seven.
It’s also quite ironic that standing amongst the crowd is the familiar face of Sam Hempton, one of the founder members of the band who upped his belongings and left many moons ago.
Not that any of this apparent doom and gloom seems to phase support act FACE.
The first time I ever saw this band play live, some 18 months ago in front of about 20 people in Rock City’s basement, they struck me as being stuck in between two chasms, one marked 'Greenwood' and the other 'McCabe', kind of like a celebratory sermon worshipping at the desolate landscape of Britpop.
Since then, Face have steadily evolved into a four man plethora of nihilistic sound that pukes blood over And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s tombstone and simply reduces the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club into the Mary Chain tribute band you always knew they were.
Aside from turning the amps up to 11, Face eschew a demeanour that rivals My Bloody Valentine for cathartic six string excess, particularly on ‘Wellness’, ‘Bring Up The Phlegm’ and the closing epic ‘You Don’t Have To Tell Me’, which still rings around the venue some twenty minutes after they’ve left the stage.
If tonight is to be Six By Seven’s swansong, Face prove tonight that they are more than ready to step into the breach.
You have been warned…
“And then there were three…” announces a solemn looking Chris Olley before launching into ‘Another Love Song’ as though his life, or more realistically, the future of his band, depended on it. It doesn’t take long however - about 87 seconds to be precise - before the crescendo of sound emanating from the trio onstage causes appreciative heads to nod in unison, acknowledging the fact that despite all the upheaval in the band's camp, it's business as usual, even if Paul Douglas’ old bass parts now come in the form of DAT recordings.
‘So Close’ and ‘European Me’ sound more dynamic and impulsive than ever, while ‘American Beer’ never sounded so poignant, an almost apologetic Olley insisting “No one ever told me it would be like this…”.
We also get to hear three new songs tonight for the first time - ‘Bovril’, which could be the surrogate daughter of ‘Ten Places To Die’ (sadly missing tonight), the delicate, almost symphonic ‘Ocean’, and best of all, ‘The Reason It’s You’, a simple four chord mantra not unlike Spaceman 3’s ‘Sound Of Confusion’ which suggests Six By Seven are far from ready to call it a day just yet.
The fact that so many old favourites weren’t aired tonight reaffirms the fact that this was no farewell party in honour of the Association Of Greatest Hits That Should've Been (TM)
Never mind the new rock revolution, Six By Seven create their own whenever they feel like it, and to lose a band of that magnitude now would be akin to grinding the crown jewels down into tiny particles of sand.
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