A promise kept, this one, to check out a very promising young Swindon Band in Nudy Bronque. I’d seen this lot deliver the highlight of the night in their perfect reading of Gomez’ “Whipping Piccadilly” at the “12 Bands Of Christmas” up the Vic in December, and promised myself I’d check out their own material the first chance I got. So this was it, a local stop on a short jaunt around the South West to promote their current “Moondog” EP, incredibly though only the second time I’ve ever been to Riffs!
Nevertheless, I drove out after an evening at my ‘rents stuffing myself with Chinese food, hitting the venue at 8.30 and thus wandering in midway through opener Faye Rogers’ set. The daughter of old friend Stella, she weaved some pastoral, wistful and eminently listenable tuneage over the general hubbub, delivering them with a pure, innocent sounding voice which recalled Harriet from The Sundays, or Tanya from Belly. Good stuff for starters, although I confess I only half paid attention as I ran into Rich Craven, in town from Oxford, and caught up with a similar anal retentive music fan!
Carried on with the chat with Rich and his mate Rich May during the other 2 supports – inside for The Get-Outs, a noisy and formulaic but quite tuneful actually post-grunge nu-punk trio who at their best recalled “Copper Blue”-era Sugar; and outside during The Interpreteurs’ ska stylings. I don’t like ska. Simple as that, really.
Good company and music chat (plus Mr. Craven’s huge pizza!) had hastened the time along, so it was 10 to 11 when we re-entered the by-now crammed venue, and I popped down the busy front for Nudy Bronque’s arrival onstage at 11. The young trio burst into the yelping mutant garage rock of opener “Bottled Blonde”, vocalist Aidan already an angular, swaggering presence with a deep, resonant vocal style recalling Jarvis Cocker (not the only Pulp comparison in evidence, for me at least…), and the confidence of a natural frontman (which made it all more surprising when Dave Franklin later revealed Aidan wasn’t their original vocalist!).
Nudy Bronque’s sound is a melting pot of influences – dashes of the quirky, “His’n’Hers”-era Pulp, the ramshackly jangle of early Orange Juice or the dissonant cacophony of Fire Engines, even some of the Vaccines 50’s Buddy Holly-isms – but distilled into a unique, original and quintessentially English sound. “Crazy But I Love Him” was a reverb-soaked jangle-fest with a doo-wop rhythmic base, which melted impressively into a strident chorus noise-fest, then a touching rendition of the Velvet Underground’s comedown ballad “Sunday Morning” diffused the frantic mood very well. The set highlight came a couple of numbers later, with the tremendous, galloping “Peachy Keen”, the chorus collapsing into some deliciously discordant guitar noise. By this time the trio was augmented by an impromptu appearance from their EP producer, embellishing the sound with some keyboard colour, then picking up the bass while the normal bassist played some squeezebox. The final number “Space Travel 2013 By Phone” was a slow-burn into a squalling crescendo, allowing Aidan to indulge in some primal screaming. A great end to a swift half-hour, but the band were persuaded on for an unplanned encore of “What’s It Gonna Be?”, the terrace chant chorus seemingly acting as a metaphor for this young and very promising band.
Calls for further encores went unrequited (“we’ve not rehearsed any more songs!” the band offered as an excuse) as I said my farewells, taxi-ing Mr. May home and getting home myself about ¼ to 1, reflecting on Nudy Bronque’s performance. What’s it gonna be? I don’t honestly know, but at the moment all things are possible, with the right breaks. Either way it’ll be a strange and entertaining ride, and one I’m firmly planning to be on!