Theatre Royal

The Claim - The New Industrial Ballads

“And now a song of hope / Despite despairing hearts”

The Claim are to release their first album since 1988’s ‘Boomy Tella’ via Turntable Friend Records on May 24th. Release date wise, it’s perfection. Nothing is more British than a bank holiday, as the band they heavily influenced once sang:

“Bank holiday comes six times a year
Days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers”

Recorded at Jim Riley’s Ranscombe Studios in Rochester, they look set to reignite the Medway sound. At the heart of the original Medway boom were great pop instincts, nothing has changed.

Lead single ‘Johnny’ is the perfect link to this past. The urgency of Jam permeating their spiralling pop guitars. Meanwhile, Dave Read’s vocal hook on ‘When The Morning Comes’ chorus demonstrates pop music can emerge from even downbeat affairs. ‘Smoke and Screens’ and ‘The Haunted Pub’ is a display of pop music transcending to art. A flurry of polemic and social comment wrapped up in working class British life collides with sun kissed production and sprightly guitar hooks. Where as, the sparkling Grandaddy production and Bluetones' pop sheen of 'Just Too Far' is the albums cherry on the cake. The Smiths methodology burns bright.

In 2015, Sam Duckworth (aka Get Cape Wear Cape Fly) released an EP and album under the moniker ‘Recreations’. It tapped into a feelings of alternative and lost souls along the estuary in Essex. The Claim, a five minute hop across the Thames, have struck a similar chord. Opener ‘Johnny Kidd’s Right Hand Man’, drifts down the estuary ignored and downtrodden but never losing hope. The mod-cum-blues on ‘Estuary Greens and Blues’ recalls Blur’s ‘End of Century’ and ‘To The End’ as it drifts out to sea. So blissful is album closer 'Under Canvas', that all those sneering looks for wearing DM's or having to tolerate Farage lovers drift away into insignificance.

The Claim, despite obviously being a band of brothers, have, in Dave Read a vocalist that perhaps only Morrissey and Michael Head can rival. Unique in sound, he has their ability to find a melodic hook in unexpected places. 'Light Bending', as the guitars saunter like British Sea Power circa 'Open Season', finds a choppy Dr Feelgood vibe. Where as, 'Mrs Jones', Read delivers his most emotive vocal on a loving character driven tale.

The subtlety of The Claim’s polemic gently caressing the infectious melodies is truly remarkable. Blink and you’ll miss the bands appeal to be nicer to immigrants on ‘Journey’. Couple this with the righteousness of ‘I will stand and fight / for what I know is right’ and Read’s gut wrenching alienation on the line ‘where do I fit in…………where do I belong’, you have one of the social comments of the year. On ‘Hercules’, the nuance turns to anti-austerity polemic (“boarded up shops / Run down housing / There’s your big society”) but remains forever pop friendly. This is how to mix pop and politics without an embarrassment of excuses.

It’s been 30 years since their debut ‘Boomy Tella’. Countless fans will have pondered what might have been had they got a bigger break back then. We defy them not to see this 30 years wait as positive now. Integrity in tack, The Claim have delivered a pop music masterpiece.

Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:




Theatre Royal - All Fall Forward / Better Say Goodbye

“Not everyone grows up to be an astronaut / Not everyone was born to be a king / Not everyone can be, Freddy Mercury......but on the day die I'll say at least I fucking tried”

Eulogy, Frank Turner, 2011

Four albums in, Kent's Theatre Royal are well established without being, well established. They have honed a Go-Betweens via the classic Medway of their forefathers. Their back catalogue is littered with “should have been” alternative pop singles. Alas, it hasn't happened.

Undeterred, the Medway boys are back and at it again with their new double a-side. 'All Fall Forward' chronicles theirs and, many other bands plight at present. The lack of chance and backing available, their discourse of “takes us nowhere / nowhere fast” seems all the more resounding.

'Better Say Goodbye' has a directness and an effortless that newcomers will undoubtedly say “haven't heard tunes like this for a while”. Whilst the sun still shines, the free flowing guitars allow for that extra spring in the step.

Both tracks fleeting and light of touch, the romance of Kerouac's 'On The Road' is almost tangible. The underdogs capture his yearning for something meaningful in this life. Their quest, for now, is beset with the tragedy of almost but not quite. With John Kennedy and Steve Lamacq onside, that breakthrough is surely imminent.

Theatre Royal - ...And Then It Fell Out Of My Head

The Rochester outfit are back with their fourth album 'And Then it Fell Out Of My Head'. They have been a secret for far too long, but, with backing from Steve Lemacq, this record seems set to spread their message far and wide.

Despite their lack of coverage, their confidence has certainly not diminished. It is an album packed with potential singles (if only people bought them). So, its only fitting they lead off with former single 'Port Bou'. It bristles with their archetypal Mersey-pysche sound and has the feel of a beloved underdog.

'Locked Together On The Lines' recalls the tale of frontman Oliver's Nan finding a dead sailor and prostitute at Chatham's war memorial, The Great Lines. Every facet oozes brilliance. Vocally, the human touch shines through on what is a tragedy. Sonically, the guitars blend the breeziness and haziness of The La's with the pop instincts of The Bluetones.

The real star though, are the lyrics. They build the intrigue immediately with brilliant opening ‘did he woo her / did pay her’. Prostitutes are so often viewed as second class citizens which, is deftly portrayed here with anonymity:

‘a sailor lay with a stranger now frozen in time’

This albums real success lies with 'Standing In The Land'. The bravery alone to talk about fear and confusion over refugees should be applauded. The opening line will stop all in its wake:

“it seems clear to me / how can we be free/ when there is dying in the sea / Because of you and me”

Usually, social comment is reserved for political angst or sub-cultures in full flow. This goes one further and relays an actual conversation with the accessibility of Gogglebox. It's laced with anguish, guilt and regret, it is a triumph of inputting pure feeling into a song not seen since Primal Scream's 'Damaged'.

At times, on 'Teardrop' and 'Will Someone Please Write Me A Song', your left with a sense that their magic has waned somewhat. Upon further reflection, it's a testament to how many potential singles they have. Few can deny the brilliance of the harmonica on 'What Has Become of Me' ,witty lyrics and the dejected isolation projected in its closing moments.

Theatre Royal may not be new, but with this album, they have certainly arrived.

The album is out now. Find it on their Bandcamp page here:

https://theatreroyal.bandcamp.com/album/and-then-it-fell-out-of-my-head

 

 

 

Theatre Royal - Port Bou

Sometimes, bands can play but lack the human touch and vice versa. Theatre Royal have both, what they’ve lacked is just that little bit of luck. With their new single ‘Port Bou’ though, they have got their breakthrough on day time BBC6.

Its blend of the Paisley and Medway scenes is far more revitalising than rehashing. It injects them with an ‘us vs the world’ spirit that makes you want to ride into battle with them. It’s the immediacy of the opening riff which fires everything up, much like The Jam’s ‘Running On The Spot’ or ‘The Gift’.

‘Port Bou’ is not solely about its chest out bravado. Far from it. This is pop music! The jingle jangle guitars shimmer throughout which simultaneously, conjure visions of hope and loneliness. Couple this with an early John Squire solo and a final third which has a brief, but glorious Ian McCulloch vocal drag, you clearly have one of 2017’s (grandchildren) nuggets of gold.