On Friday I had the privilege of attending the Stringer Bessant gig at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.
Sitting well away from the road at the top of a hill like a misplaced tiny Roman fortress, at first glance, the forum is a very unusual venue, looking more like a restaurant (in fact it was originally a public toilet, apparently) but is very easily accessible, and it's small stature makes it very intimate, and gives it a relaxed atmosphere. Once inside it oozes rock'n'roll, and you can't help but feel you're somewhere special.
First band of the evening was Maker, and we were spoilt rotten by their rock'n'roll exuberance. Styled somewhere amidst Kings Of Leon, Small Faces, and the Mighty Boosh, they backed up their awesome 70's attire (I want the singer's jacket!) with some killer riffs, and blistering rawk tunes.
All timeless, memorable, foot-tapping asnd head-nodding classics, all worth searching out on Myspace etc. I can only see great things happening for this band!
Next up were Origami Dinosaur. Kinda wacky. Kinda be-boppy. Kind of Scissor Sisters, but with hats. They clearly had a large following present that evening, and the crowd loved them.
And then changing the tone completely came Stringer Bessant - the stage was reduced from mini-arena to two chairs, a couple of microphones and a mysterious flask. Gary and Jack leaving the room spellbound as they played tunes from the Yard album, plus a couple of bonuses - one being "Mellow" - a Reef tune, which the crowd were very much blessed by.
As you listened to the two of them, you couldn't help but be impressed by their musicianship, but also found yourself spellbound by the feel of the songs, and the atmosphere in the club - a previously heaving rock gig had become a quiet, reflective and relaxing evening's entertainment. It is testimony to Stringer Bessant that they were able to compliment such an evening despite a totally different style to the rest of the acts.
After the gig, it was heartwarming to note just how long Gary and Jack spent chatting to fans, some clearly a little worse-for-wear on the sauce - but at all times they are friendly, genuine and courteous to all. And you get the impression they're not so much doing it for "marketing" or "customer care" - they are doing it because they are happy, comfortable in their own skins and genuinely like and appreciate people.
I had a fantastic few minutes after the gig, backstage having a good old natter to the two of them, hopefully more of this will be published soon in one of the magazines I write and shoot for.
Big thanks to Gary and Jack for a fantastic evening and for making time to talk to me and my mate Andy - possibly the biggest Reef fan on the planet :)