THUMPER + SHELF LIVES – GREEN DOOR STORE, BRIGHTON 5.10.22
Back in May the Brighton & Hove News Music Team covered no less than 168 live performances at this year’s Great Escape new music festival. Our team of 12 that attended, individually voted in secret as to who was the very best of those that they had seen and the accolade went to none other than Thumper, which is stylized as THUMPER – see the results HERE.
Thankfully THUMPER announced a trio of English dates as part of their 18 date European tour in support of their latest album ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ which dropped back in March. One of the three dates sees a welcome return visit to Brighton, where courtesy of One Inch Badge, they were playing live tonight underneath Brighton main railway station at the Green Door Store.
THUMPER are an up-and-coming band. It took IDLES eight years to breakthrough, and hopefully this Dublin based sextet will surely follow suit. They certainly have a name befitting their sound – meaning: “to strike against something heavily and noisily”. They are made up of Oisin Leahy Furlong (vocals/guitar), Alan Dooley (guitar/vocals), Alex Harvey (guitar/vocals), Dav Campbell (bass), Stevie D’Arcy (drums), and latest recruit Benedict Warner-Clayton, who replaced Shane Holly also on drums. Yep, that’s right, two drummers!
In 2019, THUMPER headed out on tour in support of their 5-track vinyl ‘Out Of Body Auto-Message’, which is certainly worth checking out. They played live here in Brighton and the Brighton & Hove News Music Team were on the case! Read our report HERE.
‘Out Of Body Auto-Message’ was the first studio record by the band and was produced by Dan Fox (Girl Band). THUMPER had stepped away from their early days of lo-fi bedroom recordings into a more widescreen effort – without losing any of the grit that defined the early material. From the mile a minute word vomit of ‘AFL’, to the 10 minute psych meltdown of ‘3am & Restless’, each song squirms to contain the dichotomy of its blistering psych and its saccharine pop sensibility.
A trio of releases followed in 2020, ‘Ad Nauseam’, ‘Topher Grace’ and ‘Topher Grace Remixes’. The single ‘Topher Grace’ scored extensive radio play on BBC6, Kerrang! & RadioX amongst others in the UK, as well as support from RTE and others at home in Ireland. It was also included on several Spotify and GooglePlay playlists, making the cover of Spotify’s The Punk List.
If you are a fan of the aforementioned IDLES and also love Fontaines DC, then THUMPER will complete the trio! It’s as simple as that! Three awesome bands that are here to stay for at least a decade one hopes.
Many have been discussing the virtues of THUMPER and their bubblegum pop through a wall of sonic death sound. Their reputation for raucous and frenzied live shows are winning more and more folk with each concert played, as those attending go and tell their mates and they attend the following concert and too enjoy themselves and spread the word further. Tonight’s gig hasn’t sold out, but I would expect more to attend for their next Brighton performance on the basis of this evening’s shenanigans. Each THUMPER show is an exercise in unpredictability and this evening’s is certainly no exception!
Having had the pleasure of previously witnessing several THUMPER live performances, we knew that there was no way that guitarist Alan Dooley would remain on stage for long. But we didn’t expect his excessive antics and that he would be happily joined by frontman Oisin (pronounced ‘OSH-een’) Leahy Furlong and Alex Harvey, during their 57 minute eight song set.
The sextet took to the stage after the intro tape had finished blasting out ‘Peer Gynt Suite No.1, “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”’ at 9:45pm. It was strobe lights a plenty throughout the whole set which certainly was a challenge for our photographers Sara and Cris, but as ever they have delivered the goods!
THUMPER opened with two tunes from their ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ debut album, namely ‘Topher Grace’ and ‘25’. As anticipated Alan was off the stage with his guitar from the opening number. He acquainted himself with the Green Door Store’s cobbled floor as he laid on his back whilst still playing his instrument. Surprisingly Alex made a foray with his Gretsch guitar for the second number ‘25’. He wandered among us only to return to the edge of the stage to push one of the foot pedals. The quartet of Oisin, Alan, Alex and Dav have a whole host of pedals from which to choose from. It’s enthralling watching them tap them with their feet.
Next up was the oldest released tune. 2015’s ‘You Didn’t Hear This From Me’ single, which commences with a solo from Alex, before his mates join in. ‘Greedy Guts’ from the album followed. This is a slow starter, but builds and builds. Both Alan and Oisin decided to jump off the stage and arguably offered us the antics highlight of the whole evening! Alan went to the back of the room and was ‘playing’ his guitar against the wooden frame that surrounds the seating area and clambering all over it. Not surprisingly, he broke a string. Oisin was playing his Fender Jazzmaster guitar in the middle of the crowd and then suddenly mid-song decided to offload it to some random fan that was just standing there! Oisin placed the guitar around this chap’s neck and encouraged him to have a go. Much to everyone’s surprise, the bloke could actually play guitar and not only that, but play it very well, and reasonably kept up with the band whilst offering his own heavy rock solo atop. I kid you not, that this was not set up! The guy in question is called Milo Hill and he is in a Brighton based outfit called Signature Gold and not surprisingly, he’s their guitarist.
After this, our Irish friends returned to the stage where drummer Stevie and Benedict had been holding the fort. Song five we were informed was a cover version and punters had to guess what it was. Part way through during a quiet section in the number, a girl shouted out “Natasha Bedingfield”, which was correct. Her prize was to be a CD copy of the album. The song in question is titled ‘Unwritten’, but the band just call it ‘Natasha’.
Song six was ‘The Loser’, which seriously called on the expertise of dual-drummers Stevie and Benedict. It was just like watching Chris “Merrick” Hughes and Terry Lee Miall from Adam & The Ants again from their 1980 heady days or Chris Kavanagh and Ray Mayhew from Sigue Sigue Sputnik during their brief fifteen minutes of fame in 1986 – wonderful stuff!
The penultimate number was ‘AFL’ from 2019’s ‘Out Of Body Auto-Message’ EP. This is a truly raucous number that punks would love with the highlight being Dav’s rumbly bass. It’s like the Ramones ‘Beat On The Brat’ meets the fastest Status Quo.
Before we knew it, it was time for the final number, ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’, which is also from the same EP. Alex joins us punters, as does Oisin, who went on walkabout, and Alan simply wanted to get a mosh going, so started one off. After which Oisin returned to the stage and asked the crowd to separate down the middle and to look at the person on the opposite side and when instructed, to run at that person and give them a high-five.
The performance concluded at 10:41pm to enormous applause. That was job done then. It was epic, but knowing THUMPER, I wouldn’t have settled for any less. Myself and our two photographers joined the merch queue and each purchased the vinyl copy of the ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ album. I certainly can’t remember all three of us doing that before. Tonight must have been very special indeed! Right then lads, when are you coming back?
Oisin Leahy Furlong – lead vocals, guitar
Alan Dooley – guitar, bv’s
Alex Harvey – guitar, bv’s
Dav Campbell – bass, bv’s
Stevie D’Arcy – drums
Benedict Warner-Clayton – drums
Milo Hill – guest guitarist
(Intro) ‘Peer Gynt Suite No.1, “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”’ (composed by Edvard Grieg)
‘Topher Grace’ (from 2022 ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ album)
‘25’ (from 2022 ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ album)
‘You Didn’t Hear This From Me’ (from 2015 ‘You Didn’t Hear This From Me’ single)
‘Greedy Guts’ (from 2022 ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ album)
‘Natasha’ aka ‘Unwritten’ (Natasha Bedingfield cover) (unreleased)
‘The Loser’ (from 2022 ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ album)
‘AFL’ (from 2019 ‘Out Of Body Auto-Message’ EP)
‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ (from 2019 ‘Out Of Body Auto-Message’ EP)
Support this evening came from London based Shelf Lives which is the brainchild of Sabrina and Jonny. Sabrina is from Toronto and Jonny is from Northampton and they make the type of music that everyone describes differently. It’s a little bit punk, it’s a little bit alt pop, it’s a little bit electronic with a hip hop cherry on top.
Clearly word is already out on this duo as they have already toured with Skunk Anansie and are set to play at Paper Dress Vintage for The Great Escape’s ‘First 50’ in London on 15th November, which means that they will return to Brighton next May in order to play at the full Great Escape. They are certainly no strangers to Brighton though, having supported Together Pangea at The Hope & Ruin on 1st July this year, and prior to that they played a free entry show at the same venue on 3rd February. Before that, they supported Palace Winter on 22nd November 2021. The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were in attendance and reported thus:
“Support tonight came from Shelf Lives, a recently formed South London duo consisting of Sabrina and Jonny. Their sound is kind of trash pop/punk and they reminded me in places of Peaches, and Sabrina who is originally from Toronto in Canada is a formidable front woman. They make a lot of noise with just a guitar and vocals and a backing track. I particularly liked their new single ‘Shelf Life’ which has just been released. They are hoping to be playing again in Brighton at next year’s Great Escape”.
Their 8 track mini-album ‘Yes, Offence’ dropped on 28th April this year and is available on light blue and transparent vinyl. You can purchase it HERE. Their latest release is a single titled ‘Skirts & Salads’ when dropped at the end of September.
Tonight at the Green Door Store they played all eight songs from their ‘Yes, Offence’ mini-album, plus their latest single ‘Skirts & Salads’, as well as an unreleased cover number going by the title of ‘Violet’. The remainder being an ‘Intro’ track, which consisted of Jonny taking to the stage at 8:45pm and letting loose on his Squier guitar and accompanying 8 floor pedals, prior to the arrival of Sabrina a minute or so later.
Jonny was also in charge of Roland SP-404SX linear wave sampler as well as another keyboard and part way through the set with a bass guitar. He added backing vocals when required. After the ‘Intro’, the duo were away proper with the indie-pop toe-tapping ‘I Don’t Like Me You’. Which was followed by ‘Shock Horror’, with the earworm lyrics “Shock horror you’re stuck; Do you feel like you suck, yeah”. Following number ‘Call Me’ also had memorable lyrics “I really can’t be f*cked!”.
Sabrina is certainly full of North American bravado during the set and one senses that maybe this isn’t a person to mess with! Some might say that she has an attitude, but hopefully it’s all part of the act.
It was the turn of their October 2021 debut single release next in the form of ‘Shelf Life’ which was the best so far with its decent fast pumping beat and vocals akin to Taiwanese rapper Pan Wei Ju aka Aristophanes. Jonny switched over to bass guitar for ‘Skirts & Salads’ which Sabrina called “a banger!” and indeed it was, being even faster than the previous number, and further earworm lyrics “I like my girls like that; I like my girls like that” were ingrained.
‘Mark Twain’ was the mid-set slow number with Sabrina and Jonny sharing rappy style vocal delivery. There was no guitar or bass required for this tune. But the guitar was slung back on for the loud shouty modern pop number ‘I Don’t Think I’ll Go Out Today’, with its “Everyone’s making me crazy; Everyone’s driving me crazy” lyrics. We were informed that the next number was a cover. Its title was ‘Violet’ and was quite possibly the one by ‘Hole’. It sounded not unlike The Prodigy.
The penultimate number was ‘She Gon’ Kill Ya’, which again reminded me of Aristophanes. “It’s a vibe, it’s a feeling” lyrics were ingrained. Final number ‘Fighting That Bitch’ saw Sabrina join us punters for some close up action.
Shelf Lives are nothing like THUMPER and were quite possibly a strange choice of support act, but having said that, the punters did (in the main) did really enjoy them. I personally would have enjoyed it more with possibly a little less in-yer-face action from Sabrina.
Sabrina – vocals
Jonny – guitar, bass, keyboards
Shelf Lives setlist:
‘I Don’t Like Me You’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Shock Horror’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Call Me’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Shelf Life’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Skirts & Salads’ (from 2022 ‘Skirts & Salads’ single)
‘Mark Twain’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘I Don’t Think I’ll Go Out Today’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Violet’ (unreleased cover version)
‘She Gon’ Kill Ya’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)
‘Fighting That Bitch’ (from 2022 ‘Yes, Offence’ album)