NOAH AND THE LONERS + ABOUT BUNNY + NUMSKULL – BASEMENT BAR, THE BRUNSWICK, HOVE 4.10.23
Wednesday 4th October was certainly a hell of a day for young Brighton based punk quartet Noah And The Loners, as not only did they drop their brand new single titled ‘Hell Of A Day’, but they got to play a single launch gig at The Brunswick Basement Bar as well.
The venue obviously holds special significance for the band as the Brighton & Hove News first covered them on 9th November last year when they were headlining a BIMM institute college showcase event. We concluded our review of Noah And The Loners set that night by stating the following:
“Here is a band that are the next wave in town, following in the wake of the likes of The Lambrini Girls and Monakis. They are a tight quartet and must keep at it as they are great. Noah had enough charisma to fill the whole cellar, which is a special gift that needs to be nurtured. A must see live band for punks of all ages!!.
Since that date, word has spread about the outfit, so much so that they even got to play Britain’s largest punk festival, ‘Rebellion‘, which is held annually in Blackpool in the summer. This dynamic and exciting four-piece play what I would describe as classic, old-school short catchy punk rock tunes. “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” the saying goes, and this mob had a deal with Marshall Records before they’d even turned 18. Thus the band are gaining more and more momentum, which is very impressive when you consider that they are still studying at college, which frontperson Noah Lonergan alluded to this evening, by referencing a boring two hour lecture that very afternoon.
The Brunswick Cellar Bar has also been utilised in the band’s video for the ‘Hell Of A Day’ single – watch it HERE.
After a couple of support acts, which we will come to shortly, Noah Lonergan (lead vocals, guitar, tambourine), Amber Welsh (bass, backing vocals), Joseph Boyle (guitar, backing vocals) and Noah Riley (drums) take to the performance space beneath The Brunswick in order to show us what they have to offer. There should have been 13 tunes on offer and in the world of punk, that means that the set won’t actually last that long, although last year they played ‘Inferno’, which this time around doesn’t get an outing, and unfortunately their ‘Garden Camping’ tune is also omitted, and on our previous meetings they have played covers of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ (Arctic Monkeys cover) and ‘God Save The King’ (Sex Pistols cover, originally ‘God Save The Queen’).
The band kick off at 9:28pm and run until 10:08pm, which including gaps is around three minutes a tune. First up was ‘Blackout’ which certainly secured the punters attention! ‘Crash Landing’ follows which vocalist Noah informs us is about the demise of the Government. ‘Just Kids’ is the next selection and let’s face it, this band are just kids, but kids with talent! Sadly this song was penned about being kids in today’s modern society and about being “f*cked over”.
It’s doubtful that back in 1977 many punk outfits would address their mental health in a tune, but times have changed and the new breed don’t shy away from such things and thus Noah wrote ‘Losing My Head’ about the state of mind and urged anyone suffering to talk to someone about it. This for me was the most proper punk track thus far and I loved it.
Just as they got going with ‘Losing My Head’, they then took the tempo down with the arrival of ‘Vessel’ which wanders near rock territory. Next was ‘You Make Me (Fall Apart)’, which jokingly isn’t exactly called that on their setlist, I suspect guitarist Joseph was the culprit on account of him handing them out! Noah, who also adds a tambourine to proceedings during this ditty, referred to the composition as “country punk”…yeehaw!.
One of my fave tunes of theirs was next in the form of ‘Real Boys’ which discusses Noah’s sexual orientation. I particularly enjoy Joseph’s almost homage to Generation X’s 1978 epic ‘Ready Steady Go’. I wonder if he has actually heard the tune or not? Keeping well on the late 1970’s vibe is ‘Teenage Tragedy’, which is an absolute corker and my favourite tune by them. You would swear that it was penned and released in 1977 by an obscure punk outfit that released it on Rough Trade, Small Wonder or the like, it’s really that good! The “nah nah nah nah” chorus gets the punters joining in as well.
My concentration either seriously lapsed or they strangely dropped the next tune listed on the setlist, that being ‘Pressure’. Thus they launched into ‘Gravity’, which Noah referred to as a “love song”, but anti-love song would have been a better description. This was their poppy moment, but still somehow managed to get a mosh going!
I wonder if drummer Noah Riley has heard Killing Joke’s ‘Wardance’? Maybe he should give it a listen and then compare the drumming on the track to his own on ‘People’. It’s rather similar, and I don’t care one bit as I love both tunes! Meanwhile during this tune, bassist Amber has a brief wander into the crowd, which adds to the excitement.
Their penultimate selection was the reason for being here, namely, ‘Hell Of A Day’, which vocalist Noah wrote about after a day of following the football team of choice and not being able to get back home due to a thunderstorm. What football team is it, I hear you ask? Watch the video HERE and all is revealed! Amber’s basswork throughout this number is a highlight and not surprisingly a moshpit broke out.
They signed off with ‘Protest Anger’ which sees drummer Noah Riley kicking off before the trio of chums joined in. Again great basswork is on offer here as Amber has a final foray during this decent punk rock ditty and by 10:08pm the special night had concluded. If punk rock is your bag, whether you are 18 or 80, then Noah And The Loners are for you!
Noah And The Loners:
Noah Lonergan – vocals, guitar
Amber Welsh – bass, vocals
Joseph Boyle – guitar, vocals
Noah Riley – drums
Noah And The Loners setlist:
‘Losing My Head’
‘You Make Me (Fall Apart)’
‘Hell Of A Day’
There were two support acts on the night, the second of which being About Bunny who are a London based quartet but hail from across the land. With vocalist Jemma McKenzie-Brown migrating from the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire, namely Beverley; bassist Alex Malseed with the distinctive tones of someone from Holywood in County Down, Northern Ireland (a hotbed in the past for punk bands including Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi, The Outcasts, Protex, The Moondogs, and The Defects to name just a few – thank you Terri Hooley); guitarist Karl Hopkin on Fender Telecaster gravitated to London from the market town of Neath in south Wales; and finally drummer Ed Riman who hails from south London.
About Bunny first supported Noah And The Loners at the Dublin Castle in Camden back on 20th July and clearly left their mark as they have been invited to tonight’s bash in order to perform a select seven tune set, which incidentally is the same number of tracks found on About Bunny’s ‘Mixtape Vol.1’ which dropped back in January – check it out HERE.
Their set ran for 25 minutes and commenced at 8:34pm until 8:59pm and surprisingly was drummer Ed’s debut appearance with the outfit, you wouldn’t have known and was the band’s very first gig in Brighton (Hove actually!). Tonight is very much about the band plugging their mixtape as 6 of the 7 tunes can be found on it. They commence with ‘Keep It To Yourself’ and the first thing I noticed was how husky Jemma’s voice actually was, it’s very distinctive in a Nico sort of way.
About Bunny are an amalgamation of not only geographical areas, but also in the tastes of the various band members, maybe less so for Ed as he’s only just joined, but there’s almost everything in there for someone. They describe this stating that “About Bunny create an intoxicating hook laden riot, that refuses to be quiet or go down without a fight. The heavy hitting vocals, spitting bass and guitar tones will lull you into a melodic comfort zone, then kick you in the guts”. OK so how does this translate to their live performance…..
Let’s throw the title “indie poppers” out there then, or as my colleague John cheekily observed “from Transvision Vamp to Britney Spears”!
Even with ‘Keep It To Yourself’ and the following number ‘Goodside’ already under their belts, it’s apparent that they are a much tighter outfit than that which went before earlier this evening. Their third selection was even better, that being their debut single ‘Special’ which dropped in November 2020. Clearly Alex on Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay bass, or whoever actually penned the bass parts in this tune, quite likely had been listening to Spizzenergi’s timeless classic ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’. I very much enjoyed hearing that riffage and noted as early as this third tune that “there’s potential here”.
Selection four was ‘Cry For Me’, which has an earworm chorus: “Why won’t you cry 4 me?; What you saying I’m not good enough; Good enough; Why aye aye aye”. After this we had the only number not from the mixtape, the unreleased ‘Bad Fit’, which Jemma informs us will be included on their next EP. This was a decent choice to perform live and Ed’s drumming was outstanding and for me, this blew all of the previous tunes out of the water, which surely signals that the new lineup are certainly on the right path. From here on in their set, they got better and better and the longer they played for the more I enjoyed it.
Their final two tunes were ‘Love It’ (and we did!), followed by ‘Cut Up’ and it’s here that their Blondie influence shines through. At one minute to nine, they were done, just as I felt they were getting started. They are looking to return to Brighton in the near future, so promoters take note!!!
Jemma McKenzie-Brown – vocals
Alex Malseed – bass
Karl Hopkin – guitar
Ed Riman – drums
About Bunny setlist:
‘Keep It To Yourself’
‘Cry For Me’
Kicking off the night were local outfit Numskull, a trio’s who’s name I was aware of, but as yet I hadn’t got to witness live, until this bash that is.
Turns out that they are a trio consisting of Dylan Harris on lead vocals and Ibanez GIO 5-string bass, Ralph Foster on Fender guitar, and James Bish on drums. They take to the stage area thirteen minutes late and then Ralph realises that he is missing a guitar pedal and they won’t sound as good as they usually do. File this under lesson learned and it won’t happen again! As a result of this late start we were thankfully spared a Christmas number at the end of their set…Argh I said the “C” word!!!
What we did get was a selection of half a dozen numbers which didn’t include their pre-Covid singles ‘My Dog’ and ‘Quaaludes’, but they did sign off with their last single ‘Am I Awake?’ from last year. They were joined on stage by Josh Hazeldon which gave them some amusement, as that was the name they gave to the tiny skeleton puppet that was apparently put together by the mystery Josh, and this hung from the end of Dylan’s bass throughout the set. I noted one leg was missing, so it was either lost or not completed! No doubt Dylan, Ralph and James are chuckling amongst themselves to actually read that Josh Hazeldon has got a mention!
Back to their performance, which commenced at 7:58pm and curtailed by Noah at 8:21pm, due to the overrun. ‘A Newness’ was their opening selection and was clearly rough around the edges, due to missing pedal, and (lateness) stress, but there was an almost Nirvana nod for this tune. It’s fair to say that Dylan’s vocals aren’t exactly the finest I’ve ever heard, but clearly still better than mine, but having said that, the dude sure knows how to slap his bass and at times, due to pedal control, the instrument didn’t even sound like a bass guitar!
‘Japanese Cheese’ was selection two and for myself more preferable than the opening, due to its mixed vibe of 1980 Killing Joke meets rival Brighton trio Monakis. ‘Horses Held’ was memorable on account of Ralph dropping his guitar onto the deck and him venturing into the crowd which he encouraged to split down the middle in order for him to perform some cartwheels whilst his chums played on…Random!
Selection four was ‘Mousetrap’ which was venturing into surf psych territory. An area which I would encourage them to continue with. Guess what! Yep, Ralph’s in the crowd again during this number. Their material often opts for changes in beats and tempos which I’m not really a fan of as anyone who has read my account of Black Midi at ‘Latitude’ festival, will be fully aware.
‘Mountain Topless’ was their penultimate choice and followed by the aforementioned ‘Am I Awake?’. Tonight, they were not a polished outfit by any means, maybe they aren’t ever, but it would be ideal to have the opportunity to witness this trio in action again, in order to ascertain whether they were just having a slightly below par night or otherwise. The positives being that when James leads the other two along via his constant drumming beat and when the tracks keep the momentum going, then that was enjoyable! At 8:21pm that was it …..for now!
Dylan Harris – vocals, bass
Ralph Foster – guitar
James Bish – drums
‘Am I Awake?’