(by Owen Griffiths, pic by Maciej Dakowicz)
Ryan Adams has spent the last few years becoming a parody of himself, so the world really doesn’t need some pseudo American called Anthony something or other trying to replicate his efforts. All the songs are delivered in a mid Atlantic drawl, involve his poor broken heart and the same tired chords shuffled in a slightly different order. The cellist had some nice ideas though, she should jump ship because you can’t trust a British man in a denim shirt.
So, the signs don’t look good as a stripped down, three piece Great Lakes take to the floor in front of a sparse crowd, some of whom seem oblivious to the gig, this being one of those ‘early start’ Saturday night shows that make way for a club night. However as soon as they ease into their first number with the relaxed confidence of a band that know they’re good (and befitting a band that started on the whisky pre-show), the atmosphere changes and the applause seems too loud for the crowd. Without the horns, keys and slide guitars of their album versions the songs have plenty of space to breath, allowing the melodic bass lines and yearning vocals to shine. Under this the drummer plays in a strange, stiff armed style, hitting his kit with an unrelenting joy as if he’s playing for the first time and has just discovered how good he is.
With the room completely won over guitarist/ vocalist Ben Crum decides he wants to play an unrehearsed cover. A quick inter-band discussion later and we’re treated to a countrified lament on the dubious pleasures of being a penniless band on tour in the UK, by a band none of us had heard of or, to our shame remember afterwards. They finish with a blast through ‘Come Storming’, their debut single and ‘mission statement if we had anything as cheesy as that’. The calls for an encore are drowned out by the DJ, as stripy shirted men and tottering girls swarm into the room. While the Lakes sell an album to pretty much the whole audience, we finish our pints and escape to the strains of Blondie.