After the amazing crowd efforts last week, this second semi final finds Mr Kyps in a more muted mode at the start. Mischa are first on, and get some great reaction despite the smaller numbers than last week. This reaction seems to spur the band on to putting on a great show.
Mischa the man is wired and firing on all cylinders, Si is very animated despite sitting on a cajon, he doesn’t just play the box with his hands, his whole body is involved with the rhythms.
Ed (bass) and Rowland (cello / ukelele) look enigmatic, flowing with the lilting melody that is One Of Those Days. Mischa recounts the story behind On My Own, which itself is sad yet appealing, and seems to be appreciated by many in the venue both as the story and the song.
Hessian start with an absolute blinder “smacking me in the face” as one commentator puts it. They are so clearly and openly happy to be here – big smiles on their faces, big shouts to the crowd. They are tight too, they’ve clearly been working on their cuts and breaks in the music.
Hessian have also brought their fans with them this time, there’s a big party going on in the front. There is some really intricate duelling guitar work happening, courtesy of Sam and Richard, while Tillie (bass) and Alex (drums) lay down a really heavy yet sufficiently muted to allow the guitars and synth to shine.
The vocal harmonies from Tillie and Richard are allowed to play a dominant part in one of their songs, and most of the time they absolutely nail it. There are a couple of misses, but only a couple, really just demonstrating that there is still room for improvement even in the polished performances.
Big Face Reggae start with a flourish, throwing out fluorescent glowsticks into the crowd. They kick off with Big Face Reggae, as expected very strong reggae beat – It’s really good to see Rio on the drums again, him having been absent all through the other rounds
What I’m enjoying most is four high quality individual acts in their own right, all getting together to make Big Face Reggae what it is. Ant from Fairplay is stupidly talented in many other ways as well as on the bass he’s using tonight. Si Genaro is doing what he does best, drawing in and engaging the crowd, when not on the mic with the harmonica. Lead Si Crockett warns they’re about to play the last of their laid back songs with Pub Girl, which same really allows his voice to shine. He was right about the laid back stuff, Spill Your Drinks is pure ska, lots of skanking going on, Si Genaro features as MC. This really gets the crowd noisy as well.
It helps that Mr Kyps has filled up by now; there aren’t as many crowded at the front as last week, so the overall venue feels fuller as people are more distributed. What we’re seeing this time is a lot more dancing, Big Face Reggae‘s last song (title can’t be repeated under Radio Rules) gets a lot of people moving, and not just at the front – having witnessed this performance, I can see why a lot of other punters are tipping them to be at the top in DMA 2011
Evolver are our fourth band of the evening, I’ve been looking forward to seeing them as I’ve missed their other two Bournemouth performances since their appearance in the DMA heats, where what they did made it very easy to put them through to the next round.
They don’t disappoint – Ed (lead guitar) using an ebow and vibrato to create an unusual sound. Their first song is raunchy and lively, before they slip into an announced new song and a tidier pace.
They are all dressed smart – some in jackets, others in shirts; one thing I pick up is their faces, Jordan (keys) is looking very much rabbit in the headlights at the start, maybe awed by being at this stage of the competition. As the set progresses and they get into it more, they start looking more comfortable in themselves and can tell they get a little more relaxed and start smiling a lot more, which is good to see.
Evolver move on into a blinder of a set – everyone I talk to is loving what they’re doing, its all very slick and polished, including the gaps between song for instrument switch overs. Megaphones are also in attendance as for County Hospital last week, really helping make a contrast to what has gone before.
New Volunteer start to a half empty venue, which doesn’t really fill up again despite their clear attraction; they start very gently with Surrounded, showing a true artistic edge. Third song (and title of their CD) Remote Control Parade has a progression of chords that sound like they should be really awkward, yet the whole sequence works in an amazing way.
By their fourth song the guys have demonstrated their multi-instrumental skills, e.g. Chris Pedley started on drums, moved to bass, and is now on guitar. Dean on Bass moved to sax, then percussion, and keys, Rich moves from glockenspiel to drums and vocals; they all look like they’ve been enjoying themselves from the off.
The dance music is catchy and yet still out and out rock. Right at the end Chris Mears collaborates with Rich in a drum solo, using a floor tom at the front of the stage, making an impressive end to an impressive performance.
So, my tips for the five finalists out of the ten acts – Constellation and Fearne from SF1, though I would really like to see Cella Creeps and County Hospital go through as the “artistic” element. Evolver and Big Big Face Reggae from SF2, again I’d like to see New Volunteer make it as the artistic entry. That means (obviously) I’ve not plumped for Bel Casino, Mischa or Hessian; no diss on them, every single act has I think each played blinders of sets. The results are announced on Monday, so watch this space…