PRIESTGATE + BLEACH LAB + SHADY BABY – THE PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 9.2.23
One of the most exciting new post-punk bands around, Priestgate, visited The Prince Albert on Thursday as part of their debut headline tour. Priestgate are a five-piece band consisting of Rob Schofield (vocals), Isaac Ellis (guitar), Connor Bingham (guitar), Kai Overton (bass) and Bridie Stagg (drums).
The band may come from the sleepy rural town of Driffield, Yorkshire, but their live performances are far from sleepy. Priestgate are charismatic, tormented and euphoric in equal measure. This was apparent from their performance at last year’s ‘Mutations Festival’, which was also covered by the Brighton & Hove News Music Team – Read the review HERE.
Before Priestgate came on stage, one of the technicians checked for lights as one had been blinking during the previous set by Bleach Lab. I’m sure he was also checking the sturdiness of the lighting rig, given that Priestgate’s lead singer Rob Scofield does like climb and hang from it during the band’s performance. More on that later.
Priestgate’s set began with an intense guitar sound, which was characteristic of their set as a whole. Their brand of guitar music infuses pop hooks with dark sensibilities, similar to bands such as The Cure and Joy Division.
The band’s front person Rob Scofield is a very intense and theatrical performer. His stage manner was not unlike Iggy Pop or Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. As early as the first track in the set, ‘Mem Loser’, he was standing on the monitors to sing. During the second song ‘By The Door’, he ripped off this vest and threw it into the crowd. Whereas some front people take advantage of the whole stage, Rob added another dimension climbing on the lighting rig, and even hanging upside down from it.
Not to be upstaged, guitarist Isaac Ellis had his own stage moves, often playing whilst bending over backwards, or dropping to his knees. The theatrics don’t take away from the quality of the musicianship or vocals. Rather than a distraction, it added to the overall experience.
The third track of the set, ‘Eyes Closed’ had a slower start, but with no let-up in its intensity. There were hints of Suede on this and other songs in the set.
Such was the pace of Priestgate’s set that Rob barely had time to take a drink between songs. The band, so keen to keep up the tempo, started the new single ‘White Shirt’, while Rob was grabbing a drink.
It was almost inevitable that Rob would venture into the crowd at some point of the crowd. During ‘Bedtime Stories’ he left the stage by the more conventional way (outwards rather than upwards) and took the mic amongst the audience to perform. Bassist Kai Overton also went to play among the audience at the end of the set.
‘Bedtime Stories’ was a good example of the controlled and channelled anger and aggression in Priestgate’s performance. Saying that the mic stand was a causality of Priestgate’s energetic no-holds-barred style. Jokingly Rab and Isaac both denied responsibility for breaking it.
Even though some of the numbers in Priestgate’s set may have started slower than others, there were clues that the tempo was about to pick up. On one song, which started with simple but effective arrangement on drums from Bridie Stagg and bass from Kai, guitarist Connor Bingham could be seen to the left of the stage warming up like a substitute itching to come onto the pitch.
Connor was far from a substitute in the band. Behind the posturing of Rob and Isaac, he produced an impressive attacking guitar performance, alternating jangling with eerie howling sounds. Likewise, bassist Kai and drummer Bridie provide a hypnotic unrelenting and unfaltering rhythm. Birdie in particular was key to setting the tempo throughout the set. For all the power and pace of Priestgate’s set, they ended on a tender number ‘Objects Of Use’.
Based on their performance at The Prince Albert, Priestgate more than lived up to their growing reputation as one of the most exciting new bands around. There was a genuine buzz in the crowd after that showing.
Rob Schofield – vocals
Isaac Ellis – guitar
Connor Bingham – guitar
Kai Overton – bass
Bridie Stagg – drums
‘Mem Loser’ (unreleased)
‘By The Door’ (from 2022 EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’)
‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’ (from 2022 EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’)
‘Feel It’ (unreleased)
‘Lay By’ (unreleased)
‘Now’ (a 2020 single release)
‘Credits’ (from 2022 EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’)
‘White Shirt’ (a 2023 single release)
‘Bedtime Story’ (from 2022 EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’)
‘Lucy Fur’ (unreleased)
‘Some Things Never Change’ (a 2022 single release)
‘Summ(air)’ (a 2021 single release)
‘Objects Of Use’ (unreleased)
Bleach Lab provided the dream pop filling in the post-punk sandwich on Thursday’s lineup at The Prince Albert. South London based indie quartet Bleach Lab are vocalist Jenna Kyle, guitarist Frank Wates and bassist Josh Longman and drummer Shawn Courtney.
Bleach Lab are establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with critical acclaim from both the music press and Radio 6 Music. Bleach Lab combine spaced-out melodies alongside jangly guitars from Frank Wates and Josh Longman and led by the captivating voice of frontwoman Jenna Kyle.
So, with the second band of the night, the tempo and tone changed significantly. Bleach Lab opened their set with two tracks from their latest EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once’, namely ‘I Could Be Your Safe Place’ and ‘Obviously’. On the first track Shawn Courtney’s drums were quite dominant. The balance improved on the second track. Some of the crowd by now, were joining in by singing along to the band.
‘Pale Shade Of Blue’ was a very dreamy sound, and Jenna’s vocals matched the mood of the song perfectly. There was a good balance between the music and the vocals in Bleach Lab’s performance. While Jenna was singing the musicians gave her space to shine, and they took the spotlight between the vocals.
In Bleach Lab’s sound there were obvious influences from 1990’s dream pop and more recently bands such as Avvays. Alongside this were hints of The Cure from around their ‘Disintegration’ album. On ‘Real Things’ there were echoes of The Cocteau Twins.
Bleach Lab aren’t just fuzzy dream pop, as they do have a grittiness mixed in. On their final song, ‘Old Ways’ there was an unexpected guitar and drum frenzy towards the end of the song.
I admit I was wondering how such a different sound would work for Bleach Lab between Priestgate and Shady Baby. I needn’t have had any concerns. The contrast worked well.
I’ve seen Bleach Lab a couple of times before their performance at The Prince Albert on Thursday. This, I thought, was their best performance of the three. It was more balanced with vocals and music in harmony complementing each other so well.
Jenna Kyle – vocals
Frank Wates – guitar
Josh Longman – bass
Shawn Courtney – drums
Bleach Lab setlist:
‘I Could Be Your Safe Place’ (from 2022 EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once’)
‘Obviously’ (from 2022 EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once’)
‘Pale Shade Of Blue’ (from 2022 EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once’)
‘Real Thing’ (from 2021 EP ‘Nothing Feels Real’)
‘If You Only Feel It Once’ (from 2022 EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once’)
‘Old Ways’ (from 2021 EP ‘A Calm Sense Of Surrounding’)
Opening for Priestgate at The Prince Albert were local indie-rock newcomers Shady Baby. They are a four piece band fronted by Sam Leaver with his childhood friend Laurie Debnam on guitar, with Nick Varnava on bass and Tom Jackson on drums completing the line-up. It was Shady Baby’s first gig of 2023, and they gave a lively opening performance.
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team are no strangers to Shady Baby catching them last year at the ‘234 Festival’ at The Green Door Store (Review HERE) and supporting Hallan at The Albert last year (Review HERE).
Back to the present. The first two tracks of Shady Baby’s set ‘Master Of None’ and ‘Starting To Slip’ both started with Tom Jackson’s drums, before the fast guitars joined. The band’s third number had a relatively slower start before picking up the pace, demonstrating that Shady Baby are more than just a fast guitar sound.
Front person Sam Leaver gave a great performance, with vocals likened to the Heartbreakers and Stooges. There were influences from Britpop band Supergrass and Gaz Coombes, both from Sam’s vocals and the rest of the band’s sound. Guitarist Laurie Debnam was particularly impressive; whatever pace Tom set on the drums, Laurie more than matched it on guitar.
The following two tracks were Shady Baby’s two singles ‘Lonely Town’ and ‘Come To Life’. Singer Sam explained that their debut single ‘Lonely Town’ was about feeling that you’ve wasted your life. There was a slight false start to their second single ‘Come To Life’, which after a quick apology and restart was one of the best numbers in Shady Baby’s set.
‘Come To Life’ had a slightly heavier feel to it, whereas Nick Varnava’s bass was much more to the fore in the penultimate track ‘Held In’.
Shady Baby ended their set with one of their best songs of the evening. ‘Let It Slide’. It was possibly their fastest number with a very good instrumental break in this track.
Shady Baby appeared to grow in confidence and strength through their set, giving a very impressive energetic start to the evening’s proceedings. It was good to see a sizeable crowd turn up early for the opening band. From their reaction, I think Shady Baby will have picked up a few more fans from their performance supporting Priestgate.
Sam Leaver – vocals and guitar
Laurie Debnam – guitar
Nick Varnava – bass
Tom Jackson – drums
Shady Baby setlist:
‘Master Of None’
‘Starting To Slip’
‘Feel It Too’
‘Come To Life’
‘Let It Slide’