Each time I start to wonder whether I’ve finally moved to the age where I must force myself to go to sleepy boring jazz lounge bars and learn how to finger tap with enthusiasm, along comes another must-see collection of young noisy upstarts.
After a flying night in the company of Heartsink, Calva Louise and Boston Manor I can’t see how I can ever let this gig habit end. I’ll be the one with my dinner and beer down my front, on a Zimmer Frame, muttering absently about the best gig I’ve seen since The Smiths in 1983. If you are very lucky it can be a fate which will happen to you too one day.
While my focus tonight was on Calva Louise a band I saw a few times in 2019, massively enjoyed, and not seen since, I’ll shout a credit to the absolutely lovely bunch of folk that follow Boston Manor around the country. My local Huddersfield venue The Parish is renown for its chilled and friendly vibes, but tonight was uber cool.
The other special thing about this crowd was their enthusiastic interest in the supports.
As it happens all the folks that arrived early on this freezing cold icy night were treated to a tight quality opening set from North Yorkshire’s Heartsink. This was a nicely spirited set of crisp spiky new wave. It’s hard to think that Heartsink could have put more effort and practice into their set.
Heartsink have the vibe of those tight and clever bands like Green Day, not copies, just that likable hard style that punches out a grin.
There was a nice bit of chat from the band and it was clear Heartsink were delighted to be playing to a full room of attentive music lovers. A real connection and I’d go and see Heartsink in a Heartbeat again (see what I did there?).
If I thought the space for Heartsink was busy then the room for Blackpool based Calva Louse was full, and more importantly full of intense anticipation.
Bassist Alizon told me later the band had not gigged for a few months and tonight was more than a bit special for them as the set had been revamped to reflect a lot of new tunage for their forthcoming 7 track EP/LP (haha we debated what it should be called – a ‘short play’, a ‘long EP’). One thing for sure, this new Calva Louise material is not ‘one track short of an album’ in the sandwich/ picnic way. So it’s gonna be a full album for me.
In 2019, I described Calva Louise as “…the lead vocals and guitar of Venezuelan Jess Allanic is pure bubblegum punk fun, while the bass of Alizon Taho and the drums of Ben Parker give the deft and rocking powerhouse, giving the band its jaunty, cheeky edge“.
OK that’s a standard of writing which clearly shows why I’ve never been snapped up to review for any of the big music publishing guys, but the point is that the 2022 Calva Louise is a far more complicated band.
There is a much fuller sound with some of what my dinosaur mind puts a whole lot of work and thought into a little box called ‘electronic wizardry’, and both Alizon and Jess deploy retractable organs (for smutty minds, I mean cool keyboards which easily slide out of the way for when the guitar and bass are in full flow).
The end result is a fuller, more complex sound, although unmistakably Calva Louise.
While the new Calva Louise sound evokes a few thoughts back to the prog rock era of the early-mid 1970’s, the lightness and clean power of Calva Louise remain true.
Jess has an amazing vocal range, soft as a kitten one moment and then turning on a sixpence her vocals turn into a the voice of a roaring, angry, cornered mountain lion. As someone who has had singing training, I’m pleased to report that Jess could easily talk after the gig, it seems she has this fantastic power with little detriment to her vocal chords.
The Calva Louise music live is a pretty heavy beast. With some of the beat structure I know a few of my hard rock fans would bang along too.
So, this was a powerful introduction to the new album, Alizon told me the first track is due shortly – this is the absolute angry powerhouse which ended the set tonight. It deserves to stand as a way marker in the band’s career as it’s a beautiful bruiser of a song.
I know from speaking with some new Boston Manor gig buddies that Calva Louise won new friends and followers tonight. Calva Louise are definitely on my 2023 must see list.
* the dodgy live images are my own, the professional one of the band has been lifted from their public socials.