Photography: Paul McCoy / photomccoy.tumblr.com

Hidden Charms

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  • The Bay Rays
  • Hypnotized
  • Bribes
EVOL @ The Magnet 8/2/17

The Magnet is a great venue for showcasing new bands, intimate enough to make it feel special but with enough room for the crowd to express themselves and their affinity with the bands. Tonight already feels like it’s going to be one of those nights, the thrill is already in the air. HIDDEN CHARMS may hail from London but their signing to the mighty Deltasonic will always ensure a special place in the hearts of good-taste Liverpool folk.

The crowd seem to be appreciating the choice of local rock trio BRIBES. This is a band who are all about the riffs, driving forward with 100% attitude, but allowing more crafted elements room to breathe. The opening track sounds incredibly like The Fall’s epic Blindness with a bassline that could go on for an eternity and no-one would mind.

HYPNOTIZED bring more psychedelic chords and shows the range of influences in a band that could easily be categorised as simply, a rock band. They seem to get more and more into their stride and find a wider range of styles as their short set progresses. Jump The Gun is a pounding example of their sonic power and vocals veer strangely into Gallagher territory. The last few songs find a more stable identity and there is a spirit of T-Rex in there which comes as a huge surprise. This has been a solid set and is going to take some beating from THE BAY RAYS.

This three-piece from Kent know their way around a good tune, with strong examples like A New Hope. Bribes however have certainly left a hard trail to furrow and Harry Nicholl’s high pitched vocals may provide a sense of theatrics in a 70s-glam stomp kind of way, making for a heavy but decidedly non-threatening delivery. Whilst there is no doubting their skills and appeal, we have now reached a point where we are ready for Hidden Charms, The Bay Rays clearly have their fans though.

Hidden Charms deliver in spades. Opening with Left Hand Man from their Harder From Here EP, the whole band are moving in unison creating an instant party onstage, all hair, maracas and 60s keyboards. Anyone who isn’t instantly smitten needs to leave now, seriously.

It’s easy to see why legendary Who and Kinks producer, Shel Talmy, asked to work with them, their sound is retrospective for sure, and incredibly modish, but there is no lack in originality and youthful exuberance. On Long Way Down, with vocals coming from keyboard player Ranald Macdonald, he channels Lou Reed seamlessly but still retains Hidden Charms’ own identity. Vocalist, Vincent Davies is clearly thrilled to be playing here, at the venue where they played their Liverpool gig four years ago, and we know because he says so.

Inflections of George Harrison and even Devendra Banhart even out the pace, but this is kept mainly to intros as each track builds to an alluring wig out. There’s a Hanna Barbera cartoon quality to the band which is ridiculously appealing, adding even more accessibility to their already rich catalogue of songs. I Don’t Mind is epic and astounding and wouldn’t be out of place alongside The White Stripes and Nick Cave on the Peaky Blinders soundtrack, so easy to imagine it playing against a dramatic scenario. Bassist Josh Lewis dons a penguin mask during the song, and why not?

The set has been priceless so far, and the only thing we can think about as it draws to an end is, how great is the album going to be? Deltasonic have scored a blinder with this signing. I Just Wanna Be Left Alone is the perfect closer, a complete balls-out rabble rouser, and ironically Davies is left far from alone with a full-on stage invasion. The audience have been promising this since the first song. The band are completely enveloped and once the fans leave the stage, they are gone.

If any band deserves to explode this year, then Hidden Charms are top of that list.

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