Southend live music

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.

The Bonnevilles: The Railway, Southend

The Belfast duo, Andrew McGibbon Jnr (guitars & vocals) and Chris Mullen (drums) brought their brand of rock 'n' roll to Southend this past Tuesday night.

From the first crushing guitar part of ‘The Good Bastards’, the air takes on a murkier presence. Theirs is a swirling fog of blues, rock n roll and rockabilly. On 'Dirty Photographs' has the blues hook of Peter Green’s ‘Long Grey Mare’ channelled through Bo Diddley’s attitude, Cream’s sense of rhythm and chaos of The Black Keys’ ‘Do The Rump’.

Shining like a nugget of gold on a cloudy sea bed was ‘The Poachers Pocket’. Slightly fuzzy, a hint of Cobain’s drawl, and a blistering psychedelic solo melting all and sundry, quite simply, it’s epic!

Amid all the fuzz and devilment, an old school R'n'B soul permeates The Bonnevilles. No matter how abrasive or decadent, an enriching warmth continually permeates. Be sure to check them out on the remaining UK dates!

Frank Turner: Cliffs Pavillion, Southend      

It’s hard to think of Frank Turner as part of the establishment but, after 11 years as a solo artist, he is punk rock royalty. With that comes pros and cons. The angst, the rage, and the fall to the floor desperation inevitably fades. However, being a massive Freddie Mercury fan, Turner is developing into the consummate performer.

Essex, a far too deprived county of proper gigs, is pumped and raring to go as Turner strides on stage. The ease at which he glides around the stage or leaps onto speakers on set opener ‘1933’ is, well, palm of his hand should cover it.

‘Making America Great Again’ leaves a big imprint on his Southend faithful. To be progressive of political thought in this county is not the norm so, to hear the chorus “Let's make America great again / By making racists ashamed again / Let's make compassion in fashion again” belted out is staunch reminder that we’re not alone.

Of all the classics he plays, its ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’ that always shines brightest. For those who find no solace in this anthem we say this, you’ll never know the collective spirit forged in a dark sweat filled room that provides goosebumps for a lifetime or, as Frank might say:

"But if your all about the destination / Then take a fucking flight / Where going nowhere slowly but seeing all the signs / And we're definitely going to hell / But we'll have all the best stories to tell"

Image Source: Martin Neal

Mark Morriss Live: Spotlite Club, Southend

A strange gig in many ways. What was due to be an intimate setting with an icon became even more so with a poor turnout. This was Southend’s newest small gig venue, not a great sign of things to come. Nevertheless, Morriss took the ego hit in his stride and regaled stories and jokes in-between worthy of Live at the Apollo.

In-between the anecdotes and Bluetones classics, Morriss displayed his criminally underrated solo material. From his 2014 album ‘Flash of Darkness’, was ‘It's Hard to Be Good All The Time’ which kept the spirit of Crosby Stills and Nash alive. The sullen acoustic guitars of ‘Carry On’ and the brooding nature of ‘Dark Star’ combined with Morriss’ unique pop vocals.

From his debut solo effort ‘Memory Muscle’ came the more Bluetones-esque ‘I’m Sick’. The spritely melodies which embody all that is great about his band. More interestingly, there is sense of longing for something unfound, a notion that, with all the glory of the 90s, you’d feel Morriss would not have anymore.

The standout offering was the CSN styled ‘This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth). A brilliant story of self-reflection and what it is to be a solo artist. Morriss’ ability to intertwine feelings of isolation with pop music have never been better here.

This was not a gig BBC4 will be making a documentary about but, for the small crowd, its one they will cherish more than most. Humble and hilarious, Morriss reminded them of the glory days and, better still, demonstrated that he is a force to be reckoned with as a solo act.

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.