Liam’s Ghost and RPNZL’s Skeleton
Once again a brilliant night of free local music in Poco Loco; situated mid-way between an adult store and a gun shop (and across the road from a funeral home), this curiously Mexican-themed pub has become an unusual hub for Medway’s exceptional, but sadly underappreciated, music scene. As the usual parade of baying drunks stumbled down Chatham High Street, inside, these bands offered a very different take on the Christmas spirit.
The night started with a solo set from Liam Lynott of Broken Banjo fame; “I feel a bit shit, but fuck it…” was his opening bait. Dishevelled, self-depreciating and playing a guitar he half-heartedly tried to tune, Lynott was clearly trying to get a spot on the next series of The Voice. With apparent contempt for the scrawled set-list he’d occasionally consult, he played a mix of covers, Broken Banjo numbers, and songs from “Space Pirate”, his latest solo album. “Raise Your Flag and Make Your Children Dumb” – from Broken Banjo’s 2013’s “Bravo 106” EP – is one of the best songs to come out of Medway, and was as cutting and poignant as ever here. His set ended with “The Battle of Rochester”, a brilliant old-fashioned folk-song about the day, last November, when Britain First were forced off Rochester High Street. The set was a beautiful shambles and further evidence of Lynott’s amazing talent and aversion to all things polished.
Next up were Tiny Ghost from deepest Kent; I reviewed their brilliant debut EP recently and this was the first chance I’d had to see them live. They didn’t disappoint; the songs from the EP were powerful, and the newer stuff sounded great, if a bit unfinished in parts. A really tight unit, they strike a balance between pop and distortion, power and subtlety. Their sound is quite eclectic; the trio take turns singing and each song seems to change direction at least once, so the post-five song monotony that often afflicts “noisy” bands didn’t strike. “Transit” was particularly great as was “Slaughterhouse”; definitely a band on the up and well worth catching if you can. Bit of a shame that many people stayed out the front during their set; might have been better to put them on later to try and stave off the “I’m just here to my mates” syndrome, but I guess there’s not much anyone can do about that.
Exoskeletons were next; dressed in green sex-elf costumes they looked like something out of an Alan Partridge lap-dance hallucination. Their festive attire became sweat-soaked and more revealing as their set progressed; for those with a wet-hairy-elf fetish it must have been the greatest Christmas present ever. At one point Pete the bassist-elf strode off the stage and placed his nut-sack into the lens of an unwitting photographer’s camera; perhaps stranger still was that the photographer stayed where he was, enduring – or maybe enjoying – this view until the song ended. Theatrics aside, Exoskeletons sounded great, pummelling through their recently released brilliant debut EP “Get Lost”. They matched power with precision, and the poppy hooks throughout differentiate them from the legions of generic noise bands. Tom Bonner is force of nature and one of those drummers who are intoxicating to watch in action. Their set ended fittingly with the worst Christmas cover I’ve ever heard; comprised mostly of a doom laden, screeching version of “We All Stand Together” it would have Paul McCartney turning in his grave, if only he were dead.
Headliners Kill RPNZL closed out the night; again the first thing of note about them was fashion-related. Lead singer Aaron’s Christmas jumper was pretty dodgy to begin with but when he turned on the flashing lights, a little bit of the Christmas spirit was forever soiled. Kill RPNZL always sound better each time I see them; songs like “Duo” and “Soviet Youth” from their debut EP “Fear Itself” – released earlier this year – sounded great but “Wife/Wife” from the “Noise Arrangement Order” compilation – (with Frau Pouch, Bear vs Manero and Broken Banjo) – has always been my favourite. As soon as it started it jolted through the crowd and it succinctly captures the band’s sound. Had to leave early to buy Christmas presents so I don’t know if they too sullied a festive favourite for the finale; I’d like to think they did.
Once again, a night that was further evidence, if it was needed, that music in Medway and Kent is thriving…
Liam Lynott www.facebook.com/Liam-Lynott-Music
Tiny Ghost https://www.facebook.com/tinyghost
Kill RPNZL www.facebook.com/Killrpnzl
Photography By David Heritage
Cover Photo By Luke Morris