LIVE REVIEW: THE HACIENDAS, Jonny Ash, The Notion, The Raymonds – EBGBS, Liverpool, 22/10/2022.

Checking my diary, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be spending a few nights in the treacherous cellar space on Liverpool’s Seel Street that is EBGBS. If the rest of those evenings are as good as this one, I’m in for a decent fortnight. This particular Saturday I witnessed four bands of differing styles all with one intent – to go out and show the crowd a good time.

First band of the evening were Warrington based foursome The Raymonds. Usually on these sorts of evenings the first band on the bill are a new band, who appear a little nervous and lack a bit of stage craft. No such issues with The Raymonds. They took to the stage like they owned it and gave such an honest, relaxed performance that you’d have thought you were watching a rehearsal.

The Raymonds

The Raymonds own material comprising of songs like Fish Tank, and Nights with You were coolly and confidently delivered slices of funky- feeling indie pop. There was also an excellent cover of a song by a band that The Raymonds’ cited as being an influence – Swings and Waterslides by the much-lamented Viola Beach. I enquired about the derivation of the band’s name, half anticipating a Ramones or Paul McCartney/Paul Ramon link, but no. The Raymonds have taken their name from a neighbour’s cat (this type of incisive journalism is why you keep coming back to Halfway 2 Nowhere!).

Manchester band The Notion were next up. The four-piece group opened up with No Intentions a song built around the dynamic, vibrant vocals of lead singer Kyle McCombe. The band’s sound appears rooted in classic Britpop. Dylan McCombe’s swirling guitar on Slow Down had a whiff of The Seahorses about it and Crusade had the energy and bombast of a fledgling Manic’s tune. Having previously supported RATS, and Dirty Laces, The Notion are one to keep an eye on.

The Notion

I’m assuming Jonny Ash are from North-East Wales – judging by the red and white, ‘Wrexham/Wembley’ flag draped around lead singer Callum Gaughran’s microphone stand. It did not remain there long as it was soon being vigorously brandished about by the singer himself and sundry members of the crowd. The songs of Jonny Ash are council estate indie, kitchen sink dramas in 3-minute episodes. Take for example This Town – it’s a song about neighbour’s barking dogs, boarded-up shops, and people unable to meet their rent payments. The songs are sung and played with a passion that puts you in no doubt that the events depicted are lived experiences.

Musically, Jonny Ash travel across the indie spectrum. Rosies is a slower anthemic tune full of swirling guitars in the style of third album Oasis. Disco has the crowd grabbing feel of The Snuts. The previously mentioned This Town has the relatability of something by The K’s. An energetic and entertaining set, that was the ideal warm up for the headliners, was brought to a conclusion with MDMA.

Jonny Ash

One of the benefits of having four ‘out of town’ bands on a line-up is that they tend to stick around and support each other. That’s what happened here, and it certainly helped to generate a convivial atmosphere for the night’s headliners – The Haciendas. The Manchester quartet were embarking on their first headline tour to promote their new EP Dreamer. The first thing that strikes you when you hear The Haciendas, is the depth of the vocals. Singer Tom Smith’s voice is positively cavernous. Deep and resonant they are the sort of vocals that tip an indie guitar band’s sound into Alt-rock territory, and if all their songs sounded like the powerful Passion Fever, then that might be a fair description of the band’s sound.

The Haciendas

But the The Haciendas don’t solely inhabit that territory, they don’t like to be fenced-in, they like to roam around a bit. Little Monkey has jaunty drums and a bouncy bassline and has a Fratelli’s feel to it. The Joker is a post punk, power-pop epic built around Dan Ashcroft’s buzz-saw guitar noise. The Haciendas can display a more delicate side too – All for You – is a pleasantly melodic acoustic ballad. The Haciendas live sound is distinctive, engaging and vital. Go see them when you get the chance. You’ll have a blast.

Ian Dunphy

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