A World Asleep + Sunshine Republic + Brenda @ Lennons - 28/06/05

by PH.

Dedicating a whole gig to Richard Whitely would previously have been a sarcastic, but humorously obscure thing to do. In this case, it was rather touching. A World Asleep kicked off the evening in subdued form; the singer looking slightly uncomfortable behind his mic and the rest of the band looked in need of a warm-up. A few songs in, however, and they really came into their own. The singer, temporarily passing over his guitar duties, threw himself into the rest of the set, proving he has the range and feeling to pull off edgy, powerful vocals as well as delicate, thoughtful melodies. Thumping bass lines and superb, precise drumming threaded the songs together perfectly with intricate guitar melodies. All building to powerful, bass-driven climaxes. A World Asleep have discovered what they’re good at and they do it very well. If anyone thought they were in for an evening of normality, Sunshine Republic were there to prove them wrong. A simple, slow drumbeat kept a constant presence in all three of their songs, over which the rest of the band layered various effects and sounds. It was difficult to work out where they were planning on going with it and, sadly, even after half an hour, they hadn’t really gone anywhere. Occasionally slowing down even more, or producing bursts of noise with the odd scream from the vocalist. The whole set was made even more intriguing by the fact that bar the drummer, the band spent the entire time with their backs to the audience. Having not seen the band before it was impossible to tell if this was the norm for their performances or if, in fact, they were staging some sort of protest. Against what one can only guess. I might be inclined to use the word ‘experimental’ when describing the Republic but I wouldn’t be so bold as to even try and explain them away. I’m still not entirely sure I wasn’t the butt of a practical joke - if I was then I wasn’t the only one. This may work on record, and it may have a place on a stage somewhere, but I honestly can’t see it. Brenda finished off the evening with an accomplished and energetic set. Soaring vocals mixed with gritty guitars were both bolstered by powerful drumming. Possibly the only band whose bassist plays his instrument with a drumstick, the effect of which is questionable, they were inspiring and absorbing to watch. You could argue the vast array of digital equipment the singer has at his disposal and its input into their sound, is unnecessary - but at least it gives him something to play with in-between tracks.