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The Office, South Shields (Jun 2005)

Friday 10th June – “Getting It Right”

Eighth Line-Up: Lenny (Vocals), Dave Lunn (Guitar), Woody (Drums), Chris (Bass)

I do tend to review a lot of the same bands, but with my choice being limited to mainly those that play at The Office pub then you can start to appreciate my dilemma. When a group play just ‘another’ gig then it’s hard to find something of merit to mention. I mainly review ‘newer’ acts who are trying to make a name for themselves, or older bands that have shown a definite improvement that makes them worthy of reviewing once again. In this case the latter rule applies.

Tubesnake are one of those bands that have had close ties to Riffs from it’s very formative days. Even way back then there was a quality and attitude from the group that made them very watchable. I remember when they were a 5-piece outfit with 2 guitarists, and I had to travel through to Stanley to see them play at The Kings Head & Blue Boar on separate occasions. Durham and it’s surrounding area has always been their main stomping ground, and you can’t blame the guys for playing closer to home when they get great crowds at these gigs. Those who travel to see live music will have probably run in to this act at some time. Yet I seriously don’t think that they have ever played a gig north of the River Tyne, and because of this they aren’t as well known as some of the more obvious groups that play the circuit. However this doesn’t mean they are any inferior to those well established bands, and when they are on form then they can really shine amongst their peers. Without doubt it’s their singer Len who has the most influence on the proceedings, and if you catch him in fine fettle then the group come alive. This guy feeds off the enthusiasm of the audience, and if you placed him in front of a mediocre crowd then of course you’re not going to get the best out of him. And likewise if Tubesnake are put in front of the wrong type of crowd then they won’t appear to be playing at their best. So Len is the lynchpin, and if he’s happy then this group start firing on all cylinders. It just so happened that this last Office gig found Len to be on amazing form, and as such his performance took the band up another notch and really pushed the boundaries of their previous shows here.

Len started out a little hesitant, but eventually he warmed up more & more, and by the second set he was really giving it his all. The rest of the band sensed this and went along with him and also put in some great work too. For this occasion they were playing through a 2.5k PA system, and at last you could hear the drums pounding through just as they should be heard. The amplified percussion gave the group a much stronger backbeat which drove them along rather than seeing them cruise. The bass guitar had a lovely tone to it, and Dave’s guitar had a full (almost stereo) feel which made the entire band sound far more powerful than a normal one-guitar set up. The whole improved sound mix put them on a different level, and instead of past gigs where they’ve been a pub-band trying to fill up a large room with their volume, this time they had the clarity and power that a group of their quality needed. Len’s voice came alive too and he delivered some great vocals that ranged from gentle crooning on The Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses to full on ferocity with The Doors’ L.A. Woman. Dave pulled out some incredibly nifty guitar solos that got quite a few compliments from this normally hard to impress audience. Chris on bass & Woody on drums sounded like a real rhythm section, and you could hear them both equally in the mix whereas in the past the drums often got lost. A good sound does make a difference, and just as the crowd came to life with the music sounding superb, then so did the band from the reactions from the audience. Live music is always a 2-way street, and it takes a good crowd to make a good band, and vice-versa too. Tubesnake rose to the occasion and played an excellent show proving that they still can deliver the goods after all the years that they’ve been together.

… Colin Smoult, posted on Riffsonline website, Jun 2005