Well, I did say that after the epic Kraftwerk show, I was in need of seeing 4 blokes playing loud guitars in a tiny sweaty pub back room; how about 3 blokes and a girl doing the same in my old 80’s/ 90’s haunt Level 3? So along come Inheaven, a band who’ve been on the periphery of my musical radar after I’d caught the last, Pixies-ish number of their early-running Field Day set a couple of years ago, up for playing a Glastonbury warm up gig in the ‘don, which also represented a homecoming show for bassist Chloe! A band also gaining some momentum of late, and allegedly at the vanguard of a current “shoegaze” revival of sorts, I checked out a couple of their youtube clips which promised something punchier to augment the shimmering guitar work, so I was happy to book a ticket for what promised to be a complete contrast to my last gig – and at approximately 1/27th of the price!
Bolted in the new Ride album on the short drive into town to get me in the mood for some groovy upbeat shoegaze, hitting the venue at 8 along with a buoyant young crowd early doors. Misfires, first of a couple of spritely young local supports, were on just after my arrival, a couple of early numbers revealing some nice textural driving guitar tunes, with insistent strident choral hooks. “Do You Wanna”, 3rd number in and new single (“on the new music list on Spotify last Friday!” announced the tousled vocalist proudly) had a sneakily repetitive chorus underpinned by some sturdy bass, and soaring, building newie “Manchester” also showed some variation and promise. The driving “22” also saw a mosh of sorts break out, and I confess these old feet were tapped along to this urgent and rockingly upbeat set, the conclusion of which saw both the vocalist and bassist pile in to the mosh during a punkish “Tonight”. Nice start!
Ran into a few folks (old colleague Shaun’s brother Andy, Well Dressed Thieves Adam and James, and former Polar Front – now Hail – sticksman Liam, who’s apparently guesting for Raze*Rebuild for their Shuffle set in July!) for some rock chat before Yves took the stage at 9. I’d seen them deliver a spritely, modish set 16 months ago up the Castle, yet tonight they were immediately heavier and shoutier than that outing, almost as if in the intervening time they’d discovered their dad’s copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and decided to make all their songs sound like that… their second number almost – almost – nicked the opening bass riff from The Pixies’ “Debaser”, and “All In Vain” was a dead ringer for “Drain You” by Cobain’s lot. For me, the set therefore had an odd, schizophrenic feel; energy and enthusiastic projection in buckets, sure, but it felt they needed to decide what kind of band they are… still, the ever-increasing young mosh received each number with gusto, so what the fuck do I know, right?
I ran into Andy Fenton and mate Nige, before taking my spot at the bottom of the stairs, stage right, for Inheaven, on at 10 onto a pretty stage bedecked with trailing roses up the mic stands. They immediately set to proving a lie to the “shoegaze” tag, with opener “Bitter Town” having a galloping, expansive feel recalling War On Drugs, and “Stupid Things” the roaring stadium dynamics of a Springsteen or Gaslight Anthem, albeit overlaid with creepy, heavy proto Goth guitar licks. Not what it said on the tin! “Baby’s Alright” was a swaggering, blues-rock workout worthy of Iggy himself, before vocalist James Taylor announced, “Swindon! This is Chloe’s hometown!” and the bassist shared some of her early gig experiences at Lev, before taking co-vocals on the thrashy “Vultures”. A lighter, almost new wavey “Drift” was probably my set favourite, featuring a nice descending hook and dual vocal harmonies, and set closer “Regeneration” (probably the one I’d heard at Field Day) was a slower paced, growlier Pixies-tinged death march, ending an enthusiastically played and received set of dynamic rock. Well warmed up for Glasto now!
Hung around for chats with the band and getting the inevitable set-list signed before heading off, after a convincing home (kind of,anyway…) win from Inheaven. An intriguing lot, this, with elements of heavy goth, big expansive stadium rockers and, yes, shimmering and haunting shoegaze in their sound, but sensibly not relying overmuch on any one element. File next to Sundara Karma and the excellent Desperate Journalist as another promising guitar band find for 2017 – and beyond!