DEMOB HAPPY + THE PALE WHITE – CHALK, BRIGHTON 15.9.23
Brighton’s Chalk venue is subjected to something of a Geordie invasion tonight as both bands playing hail from Newcastle, although headliners Demob Happy have been Brighton based for a number of years.
Support band The Pale White comprise Adam Hope on guitar and vocals, his brother Jack on drums, and Tom Booth on bass. Tom wears a Rush ‘Caress Of Steel’ t-shirt, so as a bassist one suspects that he may be something of a Geddy Lee fan!
The Pale White’s music is, broadly speaking, melodic but tough sounding heavy rock. Jack Hope is a very impressive drummer, being both dextrous and powerful. He does backing vocals too. In fact, The Pale White collectively come up with some really good harmonies, which is not something that a lot of people would associate with a heavy band.
Pretty much every song has a big rock ‘n’ roll ending, which can become a little wearing after a while. This can make the songs a little difficult to differentiate between. Perhaps the big endings should be saved for what they consider to be their biggest songs?
They play their new single ‘Validate Me’, which already sounds like something of a classic. Penultimate song ‘That Dress’ is something of a boogie monster and has a hint of both ZZ Top and Rory Gallagher about it.
Set closer ‘Medicine’ is slower and has something of a brooding quality. It also features a storming guitar solo. Save the best till last eh? The Pale White headline Highbury Garage on 7th December.
The Pale White setlist:
1. ‘Infinite Pleasure’
2. ‘How Far Can You Push A Man?’
3. ‘Never Enough’
4. ‘Validate Me’
5. ‘Taste The Sund’
6. ‘That Dress’
Demob Happy’s gig tonight is effectively a homecoming show, and consequently there is the real feeling of an event about it. If Chalk isn’t sold out then it must be pretty damn close.
The band comprise Matthew Marcantonio on bass and vocals, Adam Godfrey on guitar, and Thomas Armstrong on drums. They are also joined by an additional guitarist/keyboard player who unfortunately isn’t introduced to us. It’s a pity as his contribution to the overall sound is not insubstantial.
Matthew Marcantonio’s vocals are absolutely drenched in reverb, and it has to be said, they sound ace! Demob Happy’s music is modern heavy rock, which on record has occasional slight hints of Muse. The key thing is the band are not actively harking back to the 1970s and 1980s as many rock bands do.
In general their music sounds very fresh. However, live they sound much more like a traditional rock band than they do on record. This is not a bad thing however, live their music has quite an organic feel to it.
Whilst Demob Happy’s performance is relatively slick, it doesn’t prevent the odd slightly comedic occurrence. At one point Matthew becomes hopelessly tangled in his mic stand and it falls over. He seems to be at a bit of a loss as to how it happened.
The band’s onstage line-up expands further when they are joined by two female backing vocalists whom Matthew christens Shemob Happy. They seem to be there chiefly for the material from the new album ‘Divine Machines’, and they make their vocal debut tonight on ‘Token Appreciation Society’.
Adam Godfrey is responsible for some superb guitar soloing. There’s not an ounce of fat though. There’s no noodling. Not a note is wasted. Adam is clearly a guitarist who believes that less is more.
For a couple of songs the second guitarist takes on bass duties, and without his instrument Matthew plays the frontman, exceedingly well as it happens. For ‘She’s As Happy As A Man Can Be’ Adam is on bass, whilst Matthew is on keyboards. The band are pretty much in Queen mode. I can’t hear the lyrics that clearly but I’m guessing that this is an attempt at a trans anthem? Or perhaps a treatise on sexual confusion? Discuss.
This has been a great gig, but I rather feel that this band are designed for bigger venues. It might take another year or two, but I can see this band in arenas. Whatever, they get a rousing response from the Chalk crowd. The three core members take their bow without the additional musicians, which is a bit of a shame. There is no encore.
Demob Happy are currently on tour in Europe before heading to the USA and Canada. They have no further UK shows planned at present, this gig being the final show of their UK tour. However, when they next play over here, I’ll be there!