While we seem to have a surfeit of young pretenders to the throne when it comes to junior troubadours, I’ll gladly add a writewyattuk thumbs-up to Sheffield’s Liberty Ship.
If you’re off to see Reverend and the Makers promoting new album 32, I advise you to get in early enough to check out their Yorkshire town-mates.
They’re easy enough to spot, a bunch of teenage wannabes with plenty of of hair and a moon-faced singer out front.
If that sounds bitter from this ageing hack, it could well be, because this quartet -Lewis, Jack, James and Kierran – have not only got youth but plenty of talent on their side too, judging by this showing.
The lad out front, a true luminary judging by my previous description, supplies sublime vocals, reminiscent of Liverpool’s The La’s and Cast and maybe Dundee’s The View, with great harmonies from his band-mates too.
I can’t add much about the drummer – tucked away to the left, out of my sight-line – but here’s an outfit proving there’s a promising future for jangly guitar bands after all.
And with some delicious hooks and proper song-craft to boot, I’m pretty sure the Reverend himself would readily agree with that verdict.
While this sell-out 53 Degrees crowd were largely appreciative of the support act, they were on a higher plain by the time Reverend and The Makers stepped out on stage.
This was Friday night fever from the moment Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man announced the Rev’s arrival, starting as they meant to go on with the new album’s opener, Detonator.
That got the whole place moving, to a point where you wondered about the floor strength, the energy levels further raised by the pumping dance groove of Bassline.
It was the songs from debut LP The State of Things causing the biggest stir, starting with the title track, and at times it was more a warehouse rave than a uni gig.
Latest single The Only One further proved the Makers remain on something of a creative high, although Jon gave a tongue-in-cheek ‘six out of 10’ rating to his audience, but suggested there was still time to change that.
It’s fair to say that proved they gave it a good go, the reaction to the anthemic Shine The Light and old favourite What the Milkman Saw helping.
A singalong Devil’s Radio positively showcased the new record, but the early albums continued to inspire the biggest reaction.
A poignant No Soap in a Dirty War and rousing Open Your Window, putting us in spring-like mood, were followed by Hard Time for Dreamers, again showing proper strength in depth.
Between songs, the home crowd raised the roof, singing Sir Tom Finney’s praises in a difficult week for Preston, leading to Jon’s timely dedication to the North End legend on mighty breakthrough hit Heavyweight Champion of the World.
The joint was jumping again, I Spy adding a Two Tone dimension to a Happy Mondays meets Ian Brown feel, while the audience joined in with The Wrestler and Bandits, Laura McClure swapping keyboards for trumpet.
Different Trains helped Jon’s pitch for more sales of the new long player, requesting a chart battle with Lorde, and Out of The Shadows ensured the tempo was high for a big finish, continued by fave rave He Said He Loved Me.
And where else from there but through the trumpet-led Silence Is Talking, Sheffield’s visiting love crowd’s War-inspired hit proving paramount in suggesting the first shoots of Spring are just around the corner.
This being the Reverend though, that wasn’t the end, Jon returning 10 minutes later outside the venue, armed only with a guitar.
His hangers-on sang heartily along to acoustic renditions of Miss Brown and Dandy Livingstone’s Specials-covered classic A Message To You, Rudy.
And with Laura safely inside, it was left to his adoring audience to supply the obligatory brass accompaniment.
For more about Liberty Ship, head to their facebook page here.
And for an interview with Reverend and The Makers frontman Jon McClure from just before the 53 Degrees gig, click here.
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