Friday, 14 April 2017

Gig Review: Great Cynics Album Release Show with Happy Accidents and Fresh at Urban Bar 13/4/17

On the 24th of March London punks Great Cynics released their fourth album POSI, on Specialist Subject Records. To celebrate this release the band put on two record release shows at the intimate Urban Bar in Whitechapel. The first night featured support from Happy Accidents and Fresh and on the second night they were supported by Austeros and Nervus. Emma and I went to the first night of fun - here's what happened.

First up were a band we first saw at the Happy Accidents album launch show last July, also at Urban Bar, London's Fresh. The three piece, fronted by the brilliant Kathryn Wood, are slowly building themselves a reputation as one the DIY scene's best up and coming band. Despite not really knowing any of the songs, I thoroughly enjoyed their set. The whole band clearly love playing live, the entire time that they were on stage they had the biggest smiles on their faces. This made me smile - I love watching a band who clearly love what they do and don't just try and be cool dudes and nonchalant about it. I just wish I knew more of the songs so I could have sung along. Fresh are a fantastic new band who certainly deserve your attention.

Next up were Happy Accidents, another young band on a very big upward trajectory. Since the release of last year's debut album, You Might Be Right, Phoebe, Rich and Neil have cemented themselves as one of the best bands in London. They are also one of the most charming bands I've ever seen live. Like Fresh, it's clear that Happy Accidents are happiest when they are performing on stage. Phoebe on drums in particular is in her zone behind the kit. Watching her bop her head and sing-a-long with the songs, even the sections where she doesn't have vocal parts, just shows how much she is enjoying herself. One particular highlight of the set was when they were joined on stage by Danny Lester and he helped out with the trumpet part of the song Facts and Figures - that was a nice surprise. The set mostly featured songs from You Might Be Right but there was a run out for older track Autopilot which went down a storm with the crowd at Urban Bar. Happy Accidents are another band who are fantastic and definitely need your attention.

Before Great Cynics took to the stage I thought about the bands that Giles had selected to play both nights. Three of the four bands booked were young London bands and the other were label mates on Specialist Subject. I suspect that all of these up and coming acts looked up to and were fans of Great Cynics before they began their bands. It's great to see Great Cynics, who at this point are veterans of the UK punk scene, give some rub to the younger bands coming through. It's kind of like Giles is a big brother to these guys and girls now.

On with the show. Tonight would be my first time seeing Great Cynics since long time bass player Iona left the band. Since then Giles and Bob have added Oli on bass and a new back-up vocalist and keyboard player, Gillie. After a bit of a onstage chat between Bob and Giles about getting hit by a beer glass whilst supporting the Aquabats and getting mugged by someone with an Operation Ivy Patch outside the Electric Ballroom, the band started out with Only Memories, the second song from POSI. Hearing this song live, and the rest of the songs they played from POSI, only made me love and appreciate the new album even more. I guess that's the point of an album launch show so that's a job well done. The problem with having a new line-up for a band that now has a fairly extensive list of songs to play is that it takes time for everyone to learn them. This obviously restricted the songs that the band could play but it didn't stop them playing plenty of fan favourites. Highlights included Want You Around - Chunky, Lost In You, Nightcaps and, set closer, Twenty Five - all of which got great reactions and at one point a crowd surfer. Great Cynics are another band the just exude charm on the stage, Giles’ enthusiasm on stage, bouncing around and smiling his way through the set was a joy to behold. I loved the make-it-up-as-you-go approach to the set list as well, as he chopped and changed the songs as he went - keeping the whole band on their toes. Great Cynics ended the night with a fun surprise cover of Cornershop's classic Brimful of Asha, which included the crowd stealing one of the microphones and Giles jumping into the crowd with his guitar to finish the song. There was quite a poignant section of the set as well where Giles spoke about formerly signed with a booking agency and not enjoying it and preferring the DIY approach of doing things yourself and taking chances. That's certainly something that seems to be working for Great Cynics.

And long may it continue!