There’s always been something about the notion of a three-piece band and how unexpectedly powerful such a stripped-down unit can be.
Forget all the added extras. All you really need is bass, guitar and drums. The Jam are an obvious example. Go back a bit and you can throw Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience in there, and in more recent times, Green Day. And there we have a clear influence on Hertfordshire trio The Subways.
Take their American Idiot era fervour and swap Billie Joe Armstrong for Billy Lunn, and you get new wave angst and power coupled with super-catchy hooks and inspired riffs.
What maybe sets The Subways apart are the harmonies between Billy and co-vocalist Charlotte Cooper, plus youthful energy by the bucket-load. And with Billy’s brother Josh’s hyper-active drumming holding the whole combo together, we have a fresh spin on a winning formula.
This is where the ex-journo in me might make a lazy comment about little of note coming out of Welwyn Garden City since the Shredded Wheat factory closed down. But I’m above all that (honest), and The Subways deserve better.
You might prefer labels like post-grunge or indie, but I’ll settle for perfect three-minute pop – not least on stand-out singles like the wondrous Rock’n’Roll Queen, Oh Yeah, It’s A Party, We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time, and latest offering Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
At The Ritz we got all that and more, and while now and again that youthful energy gets a little tiring – not least as Billy shouts ‘Manchesterrrrr!!!’ for the 28th time – he somehow gets away with all that fresh-faced naivety. It helps define him … and his band. High-octane tunes and helium vocals prove a fiery combination.
I’m pretty sure there won’t be an insurance company out there that will go near Billy judging by his crowd-surfing antics at The Ritz – with his guitar on one occasion, and thankfully without it later as he climbed the balcony then threw himself back into an ultra-faithful throng – the element of trust from band and audience alike there for all to see.
There’s more to this gifted trio than just catchy powerful post-punk riffs. When they slow things down, you detect song-craft at its best, this scribe seeing parallels with The La’s and The Kooks for starters.Charlotte’s sumptuous bass also took me back to The Pixies, her on-stage presence alone having us mesmerised from the start.
With three studio albums behind them now, signs are that The Subways are at the top of their game, and they deserve all the accolades. Catch them yourself soon. They’ll put a spring in your step and remind you just what live music can be about.
For a writewyattuk feature/interview with Billy Lunn of The Subways, from October 2014, head here. For all the latest from The Subways, head to their official website or keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter.