Take a look at the guitar toting youngster leaping skywards on our 3SongsBonn logo. A few years down the line and the man might have changed, but not thankfully his music.
Jason Barwick was back to spearhead the latest Hardrock attack of Grimsby’s finest musical exponent – The Brew.
The heat was most definitely on, and not just from the music onstage. Bassman Tim Smith confided later that this was about the hottest he’d felt onstage since a gig in Spain that saw audience members being plucked out of the audience where they’d passed out. No-one passed out as far as I could tell at the Harmonie, but I seriously feared for Drummer Kurt Smith. His is an explosive style on the drumstool and not only did he miss out on a break that his fellow Brits got, but he had to fill in the time going Muppet crazy (remember Animal?) with his kit. A stunning virtuoso performance that culminated in a bare handed salvo of fiery proportions.
Outside of the drum break It wasn’t any easier for Jason Barwick. He had a glass of white wine beside him on the stage but I never saw him touch a drop. I guess, given the heat, he didn’t dare. Bassist (and father of Kurtis) Tim Smith laughed off my later concerns about his health in the physical pyrotechnics that encapsulate every Brew appearance. His time as a pro tennis player and training in Martial Arts keep him up to scratch with his fellow bandsmen. There are maybe people out there that see pictures of the band and wonder why they aren’t a young boy band. Those people don’t understand the dynamics of what makes these guys as good as they are or more exactly what gives them the edge over so many wanna be Blues inspired Rockbands. It’s called chemistry. The Brew have it in spades.
If I’m honest I’ve always found the Brew as special mainly because of the live commitment they have. Their first disc, ‘The Joker’ was promising but had too much of influences like Zeppelin and Free in it to be truly inspiring. It had promise but mainly showcased the talents of a young Jason Barwick. There was a lot of setting fire to cymbals and playing guitar with a violin bow but this has been put a lot more in check (although the violin bow still gets it’s outing as does the ‘behind my back’ guitar solo and of course the high jumps).
The setlist I spot taped to Barwicks pedal board says ‘Repeat’, ‘Mute’, ‘Pause’, Skip’, ‘Fast Forward’. That’s the tracklisting in sketch f from the latest CD. The refrain “Turn back, repeat’ and a heavy metalriff are not completely my cup of middle aged tea. They need a live stage and the excited ‘gymnastics’ of the band to make them special. Not that the disc is bad. Barwicks vocals just get better with every release. His guitar playing can’t be faulted and when I later tell him of seeing Rory Gallagher play he sighs with envy at being to young to catch the Irish wizard live himself. Anyone who plays from the heart gets my vote – and Mr Barwick is up there with Mr Gallagher in his enthusiasm and in his humility. Favourite track of the evening was inevitably the moving ‘KAM’ but most topical song was undoubtably ‘Every Gig Has It’s Neighbour’ about the complainers who bemoan music as noise pollution. “I hear Bonn has a problem with this” remarked Jason and replied in the best way possible – with a guitar solo to die for.
I mentioned the ‘wannabees’ that are all hoping for a slice of the Hardrock pie in Europe and the support band from London Albany Down were clearly aspiring to go places that The Brew have already been. On this evidence they have every chance of succeeding too. I’d never heard of them or even knew there was a support slot tonight. I’m glad there was though as these guys played some serious Rock/Blues.
Albany Down “Run on pure adrenalin” it says on their website. Which makes me think of a certain Grimsby Band whose drumkit is standing behind their own this evening. Theirs, like The Brew’s, is a Zeppelin inspired sound too. So what can they offer that’s different? Their sound is not as heavy and has more space in it I guess. Vocalist Paul Muir has a good set of tonsils and a charismatic presence onstage alongside an excellent guitarist named Paul Turley, and they have something of a rarity – Donna Peters as a female drummer. Good rock songs well sung are plentiful these days so they will need to really find some special tunes and lyrics to stand out from the crowd – they can’t rely on the quite exceptional musical talents of Barwick’s guitar or Smith’s drumming as the Brew can so it will be down to the songs themselves. The good news is that I liked them so much I bought the new CD ‘Not Over Yet’ and indeed it’s not over yet for these guys. They are due to go up the Rock ladder. Only time will tell how far.
All in all then a grand night for English Rock, especially if you like it loud n proud. The Brew and Albany Down are both loud, and I’m certainly proud, to be from England when I hear them play!
CLICK HERE FOR MORE PICTURES