Darrah: The Railway, Southend

To mark the release of their new single, Southend's Darrah played a packed show at The Railway.

This was alternative pop music at its finest. Shimmering synths, psyche guitars and killer choruses. 'Can't Tax The Sun' was The Pixies through the prism of bubblegum pop. It was so infectious, it was dangerous.

On 'Stars' and the solo performed 'Pothole', Darrah displays an ability to pitch the rhythm of a set way beyond his years. 'Stars', a hazy Real Estate meets Teenage Fanclub affair, drifts by effortlessly. Meanwhile, 'Pothole' stripped everything back to showcase his estuary vocal at its most intimate.

The set closes on the new single 'Business' and, on this showing, it will be for many years to come. As the guitars throb away, Darrah's instinct for a vocal hook shines bright. There are hints of Lydon, Bowie and Albarn throughout, and by the time the synths start to sparkle, it becomes something quite special indeed.

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.