The Spitfires: Live in Southend

Watford three piece The Spitfires returned to Chinnery’s in Southend this past Saturday.

They came on the trail of their new single ‘Enough is Enough’, would it be enough to keep them in the hearts of Essex’s mods?

Roaring out of the traps with crowd favourite ‘Last Goodbye’ and ‘The New Age’. The fury of The Jam and melodic rumble of The Rifles combined with their playfulness to kick-start the dancing. A word that became omnipresent throughout.

New single ‘Enough is Enough’ took the defiant spirit of Hard-Fi’s debut ‘Stars of CCTV’ and threw in, well, everything! The brass, at times hinging on the love of Frankie Knuckles and at others, drawing upon ska, funk and soul they have become famed for. It’s such a raucous carnival affair that, it sets frontman Billy Sullivan freer than ever before.

Remember, their 4th album is imminent, this isn’t a band with a new sheen, this is one with crowd favourites. Nothing touched the vibrancy of the crowd’s reaction than on ‘Enough is Enough’.

Speaking of crowd favourites, ‘Something Worth Fighting For’ was sounding more desolate than ever, clinging to the last shred of hope in a world gone bat shit. Meanwhile. The blistering guitar solo on ‘Return To Me’ and the euphoria of ‘On My Mind’ defy all logic of the working classes in recent years. Social comment and escapist rebellion should always meet these standards!

It’s fair to say, they left Southend as favourite adopted sons

*Image coutesy of Tony Briggs

The Spitfires: Chinnerys, Southend

It's been just under a year since the Watford band ventured to the Essex coast. Their previous visit witnessed a solid outing, this time, an evolution to something far greater emerged.

Maybe performing on national TV (The Andrew Marr Show) and chiding against the middle of the road has been a huge confidence boost. Whatever it is, their playing was tighter and harder and lead to some jaw dropping moments.

The pre-fame fire of The Ordinary Boys was all over this performance. However, with The Spitfires, it feels more earnest and pure. The stripped back version of '4am' heightened this wonderfully. The lyrical desperation collided with jagged Bragg-esque guitar licks to deliver a sense of togetherness few can deliver. Too rare are fists raised aloft and strangers hugged in moments of sheer joy today.

They should be buoyed by their new songs in the set. There was no clear piss break tonight. 'Move On' and 'Something Worth Fighting For' have embraced their love of Ska and Dub. Whilst the lyrical intensity remains, there is a brevity to them which injects a skanking euphoria to the room.

The Spitfires have gone from a band that only music obsessed fans know about to, the one those fans will beg their friends to come see. They have hit that level where what they do is undeniable.

Breed: Chinnerys, Southend

Dear aspiring bands, in-between gigs, do as Clacton's Breed do, get better! Back in April, Breed played London's Water Rats and oozed potential. Last night in Southend, it all came together.

They're playing has sky rocketed and, as a result taken them ot a menacing new level. The whiff of sex and violence looms large in every song and, in frontman Jake and guitarist Max star power is emerging. The pair have that Richey Edwards '4 Real' factor about them. Dangerous and brutal, they brew a frothing disorder as their stomping rock n roll pounds away.

By the time of set closer 'Get With It', the Chinnerys faithful all know one thing, these small crowds wont be thing for long. Their blend of wayward psyche and brutal rock n roll is too powerful for other bands to share the stage with them.

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly! Chinnerys, Southend

“What’s a battle cry / If it falls on death ears”

A telling lyric from Westcliff’s Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. Especially, 12 years into his career with new material aplenty. Launching your career with a cult classic (‘Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager’) can often have a damming effect. Just ask The Enemy and Glasvegas. Despite this, head honcho Sam Duckworth returned this year with ‘Young Adult’ and, this past Saturday, he brought it to his hometown venue Chinnerys.

Now backed with an 8 piece band (all outrageously handsome btw!), Get Cape sounds better than ever. This is particularly true of new material such as ‘Adults’, ‘Animate’ and ‘VHS Forever’. The youthful exuberance that bred so much hope and escapism in 2006 is still there, but now, the musicianship is on another level. These feel like staple set numbers of a decade!

This is further striking on ‘DNA’ and fan favourite ‘Lighthouse Keeper’. The latter, a great song about life in Southend, always breeds huge devotion from the Essex crowd. However, ‘DNA’, surpasses it with its older, wiser and reflective stance. Get Cape’s vocal is oozes into shore like the waves just a few hundred yards away with an elegant ease to marvel at.

Quite simply, this is the best version of Get Cape that’s ever materialised, go and watch for yourselves!

The Spitfires - Chinnerys, Southend

All too often, The Spitfires are written off as just another Jam revivalist band. Anyone in Southend last Friday surely has to dispute this, loudly!

They are band steeped in the English greats such as The Jam, Specials, Billy Bragg, and Madness. Sometimes, The Jam comparisons shine a little too bright but, with this much melody and passion, they seem destined to outrun this tag. 

This is particularly pertinent on ‘4am’. This earnest tale of abusive landlords stops Chinnerys dead in its tracks. Social comment is always a plus point in the alternative music community but, this poetic, and with this much integrity, a rare thing indeed.

Former singles ‘So Long’ and ‘Move On’ go down well. The Clash via The Beat inspired ‘Move On’ has the Southend faithful skanking whilst ‘So Long’, reminds us all of when The Ordinary Boys first emerged and were not fame hungry whores.

Whilst we have all be lauding Liam Gallagher’s new found confessional song writing style (and rightly so), The Spitfires, Sullivan in particular, nail this one epic song. ‘Spoke To Soon’ recounts a tale of degradation and personal failure towards a loved one whilst all around it, is a swirling Who via Arcade Fire epic.

With new material on the horizon, watch out as this has to be their breakthrough year.

Jordan Allen live at Chinnerys, Southend

It was a dank and dark Monday night in Southend, everything about it said ‘tough gig’ Bolton’s Jordan Allen supporting The Sherlocks. From the opening notes of ‘Dancing In The Dark’, it’s clear that Chinnerys stage was being owned by one only act tonight.

Allen is still finding his feet, has an array of influences, ranging from Little Man Tate to Courteeners to Fat White Family. However, what shines through is their confidence, ambition and remarkable ability to play at such a young age.

New single ‘110 Ways To Make Things Better’, is played with great spirit and, by the time Allen snarls the great lyric ‘you got to resurrect your reputation’, the Essex crowd is clearly on board with their dogma.

’Rosie’, didn’t garner the interaction they were after but, a bellowing Brixton Academy looms for this infectious indie number. They ended on ‘Helter Skelter’, which, has set opener written all over it once they established. The Strokes-esque guitars are begging for a beer lobbing frenzy.

Standing out a mile was former single ‘White Lines’. How can a man so young produce something so brooding and accessible? It takes the darkness of Fat White Family and morphs it with the psyche-punk that shone so brightly for Oasis in their formative years.

This obviously early days for Allen and his band but, the spotlight is there for the taking as long as the focus remains.




The King Blues live @ Chinnerys, Southend

Well on a cold Tuesday evening, The King Blues walked into Southend’s Chinnerys and took pride in who they wanted to be, punk rock legends.

For only their second gig in 4 years, opening with a spoken word piece might have been risky move. For King Blues’ leader Itch however, this was no gamble. For any budding performers, this is how you do it. During ‘What If Punk Never Happened’ he makes the crowd laugh, angry, cry, hopeful and entertained by meaning every single word of the poem.

New single ‘Off With Their Heads’ sends the crowd into a frenzy and ‘Taxi Driver’ almost brings about a riot. This is no reunion gig to earn a few quid. The band are back and their small army are ready for the journey once more.

The rest of the gig is made up of their back catalogue and in short, is punk rock heaven. ‘Mr Music Man’ has the crowd skanking as one whilst ‘Headbutt’ and ‘Lets Hang The Landlord’ to name but two, send a raucous crowd into frenzy.

Every band will love their fans and vice versa. With the King Blues though, it’s different. There is affection between the two, as if their performance is an act of kindness where they drag a mate out of the gutter. Not to do a disservice to the band but this largely comes from Itch. Is there anybody who embeds as much emotion into each song?

10 years on, he still has time for everyone at the merch stall afterwards and for a this drunk adoring journalist in the bar afterwards. It’s not for good PR or the chance to sell a few more t-shirts. It’s because he genuinely got love, so much love, love in his heart and it’s a feeling he will never let go.