Photography: John Johnson / johnjohnson-photography.com

Sugarmen

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  • We Are Catchers
  • The Probes
Pretty Green Presents @ Buyers Club 21/4/16

The stage is set at Buyers Club tonight for Liverpool to show its true colours. As the shadow of Prince’s untimely passing is cast over the city, three of Merseyside brightest hopes for the future set about proving the hype.

First up are THE PROBES, a band who have been plugging away for a good couple of years now but have stepped things up a notch with EP Autonomy. Tonight, it is clear a slew of high profile support slots including one with spiritual forefathers Echo and the Bunnymen have helped the four-piece hone their spacey psych sound. It’s a business-like approach from start to finish from the local lads as they dispense with between song pleasantries to focus on a set of razor sharp, Spandex tight compositions which take in Joy Division, Television and pre-shit Muse.

WE ARE CATCHERS have remained rather enigmatic since the release of their superb debut album on Domino two years ago, but it seems that Peter Jackson is now back in the swing of things with a new line-up that is completed by a flautist – a bold move but one that pays off in spades. The new look Catchers have obviously given Jackson a new lease of songwriting life as they play a set primarily made up of brand new tunes tonight. Old favourites Tap Tap Tap and If You Decide are warmly received but it’s the darker Doorsy styles of closing track Citadel which recaptures the excitement that surrounded these Scouse Beach Boys back in 2014.

Buyers Club is reaching capacity and there’s buzz in the air as a home crowd ready themselves to welcome SUGARMEN, who return to the city after impressing industry types across the Pond at SXSW festival. There’s more to this band than the standard format of two guitars, bass and drums suggest: their sheer energy for a start, as well as their ability to contort a hook within a catchy indie anthem. The effect on singer Luke Fenlon’s vocal brings an extra dimension to the aesthetic and the confidence that exudes from the group is infectious. You can always tell when a band’s high on self-belief when they throw their best known track in the first half of their set, and Plastic Ocean is certainly a high-point of the evening. The song has obviously been a benchmark for Sugarmen and the tunes which have cropped up recently point to a new interesting direction for a band who may have supported the Who and worked with The Clash’s Mick Jones but are certainly no pastiche of past glories. As with all the bands on the bill tonight, there are certainly nods to history’s musical giants here but these are acts that want to drive Liverpool forward as a city which defines what is cutting edge in rock ‘n’ roll.

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