I’d heard good things on the Manchester music grapevine about two of the four bands on the bill – the headliners, Superkings and main support, Brides of Neptune, so I approached the gig with a greater sense of anticipation than is usually the case. However, reviewing so-called up-and-coming artists can often be a let-down, so I was wearing my sceptical head especially for the occasion. Thankfully, my fears were only half-realised, but more on that later.

Baxter Trappe (not his real name, by the way) opened the evening with an interesting acoustic set. Baxter cut a gaunt shadow of a human being who looked akin to at worse, an Aids victim or, at best someone who’d just woken up from behind the drum kit and crawled onto his chair. Visual aesthetics aside, though, his songs were powerful and interesting, aided by both a strange falsetto delivery that gave them a haunting quality, and an above-average lyrical content.

The less said about Fultons Point the better. Brits trying to be Americans is an unseemly sight at the best of times, but when all the band can muster is bland MOR Americana/R & B, then it’s doubly painful. Competent, but still utterly dreadful, Fultons Point should remain firmly on the pub circuit.

And so to the first of my ‘recommended’ bands. Unfortunately, the ‘Hey, look! I can do ‘American’’ theme continued with Brides of Neptune. Things started brightly enough when I caught sight of a violin as the band took to the stage. But it was to be a false dawn. The question that sprung to my mind during the set was: Why have such an expressive instrument onstage if you’re going to do bugger all with it? Seriously, the violinist looked bored out of her mind playing rudimentary noodlings to what were decidedly average compositions. She was clearly there to add some female glamour, but little else. This ‘band’ is simply a vehicle for the lead singer – who clearly looks in the mirror each day and sees Jack Johnson – to croon his undoubtedly heartfelt, yet sadly mediocre songs.

And so to the headline act, Superkings. Would they have the necessary to deliver us from the depths of blandness? The first thing to say about Superkings, and one that can rarely be said about many bands, is that the quieter, introspective moments are as equal in power and tension as those that precipitate when the members really let rip. Many acts shy away from allowing the audience the opportunity to shatter their world through impertinent conversation, preferring to continually fill the space to avoid the uncomfortable silence. However, Superkings seem to revel in exploiting the potential of the relationship and the audience responded in kind by giving it the room to breathe musically once it realised the strength of songwriting and performance on display.

This is a band with a myriad of moods, splashed, daubed and stroked across a wide musical canvass. Mini-tragedies come alive within the intense, playful, and intriguing vignettes delivered through the warm, honest northern tones of the unassuming, yet charismatic lead singer; a welcome antidote to the ham-fisted affectations that had gone before. Add to this the crucial fact that they have some fantastic songs with beautifully constructed arrangements and immediate, clever, melodies, and you have a band that has the potential to go a long way. Definitely one to watch.

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Commenting On: Dry Bar, Manchester, 9/11/2006 - Superkings, Brides of Neptune, Fultons Point and Baxter Trappe

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392 Posted By: Paul ()

I bet Emma Dawson doesn't give us anymore nice reviews :(

389 Posted By: ()

Heh... ignore my bass playing buddy, as he is a cock.

To clarify, *yawn*, I wish I'd never said anything now... I didn't mean about you personally, Jack, I meant that on stage you look like a man so impressed with himself and his songs that it's possibly kinda tempting to review your band on the wrong side of nicely.

I'm sure that offstage you're the picture of humility.

388 Posted By: Paul ()

Please be aware that Dave's definition of 'unbearably smug', actually translates into anyone 'better looking' than him.

387 Posted By: jack johnson ()

hi djw
Everyone seems to have had their say on this so i may as well have mine.. as far as the review goes, i'm not responsible for other people's feelings on it, or what they may write.

You seem to have passed personal judgement on me by saying i possess an "unbearably smug pressence".As you dont know me and i do not recall ever meeting you or your 'pressence' i'm at a loss to your conclusion.Perhaps the chords i played were too smug? or our songs? or maybe it was while our band quietly sat, stage front, and lent our support as you played your set, as did we, to a very small audience, or maybe it was just me, whichever, i do appologise....

This isnt the forum for expressing an uninformed opinion about me personaly, and is,i feel,unfair.
I could do the same but that would also be unfair, and spineless...

If you wish to respond, please do via our myspace, as i said, this isnt the place for it.

jj,brides of neptune

385 Posted By: DJW SK ()

Likely... I mean, it's not like anyone else ever undertakes that particular task, is it?

Superkings: Lowering the interest value of internet message boards since 2003.

384 Posted By: Paul ()

Interestingly, myself, Will, Cat and Pete all saw Fulton's Point. Perhaps you were trying to negotiate a parking space in Manchester.

383 Posted By: DJW SK ()

oops... apparently FP were on first that night. So I correct myself... we did only see Brides Of Neptune.

However, that doesn't really alter the point of that last message.

Also, where I have put "har", I obviously meant "hat"

382 Posted By: DJW Superkings ()


As it happens all of us were present for both opening acts... a rarity, I'll admit, as we live all over the place. The singer was over on the left with a guitar and some kind of a wooly/beanie hat on, the violinist was in the middle, playing a reddy-coloured electric violin, the bass player was on the right (shaved head?), and the rather groovy looking drummer at the back had a wide-brimmed har on and smoked rollies all the way through the set.

We didn't watch Fulton's Point, though, as we were packing up.

I'm not trying to have an argument here at all... I thought BoN sounded good. The playing from all concerned was well thought out, tight and sounded intelligent and rehearsed.

I'm only really trying to clarify what I see as some essential truths about the situation for anyone reading, which are that we didn't know the reviewer, and that when someone gets a good review from a site like this, it's usually because the reviewer actually liked them.

We can't find other reviews of BoN on the internet, so I guess this one is particularly annoying for you guys. I assure you that the first 2 years of SK reviews were pretty wank... ride it, don't bitch, and for christ's sake be more likeable.

380 Posted By: ()

very well put superkings and i do agree, there is only one point i would like to raise, as you arrived at the venue after our set had finnished how would you know if anyone onstage was unbearably anything, smug or otherwise?

as you said, hourses of courses

377 Posted By: DJW Superkings ()

Well, I'd certainly never met this reviewer, as it happens.

It doesn't actually follow that because we got a nice review from someone that reviewed you nastily that means we agree with him/her... I was pretty stunned at the one-sided-ness of that review, which treated you rather heavily, in a way. There were plenty of nice things that could have been said about your sound. However, I imagine your singer's almost unbearably smug presence on stage did kinda lend this reviewer to fall on the harsh side of reasonable.

However, you know, you can assume that all criticism is some kind of personal attack and all nice reviews of other bands is a result of palm greasing and ass-kissing, but I'd suggest that in the long run, it'll just make you look and feel a bit silly in the end.

We tend to look at our bad reviews and see if any of it makes sense as things to work on, or just that the reviewer doesn't really "get" what we're doing. In which case, we tend to leave it and move on, rather than sulk about it on internet forums.

Horses for courses, I guess.

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