Live Music Review: Blast Off Festival Day Three at The Irish Centre

12 November 17 words: Gav Squires
photos: Gav Squires

Day three of the Blast Off Festival unleashed the big guns - The Courettes, Hangee V, Muck & The Mires and The Pretty Things.

Courettes Blast Off Festival Irish Centre

The Courettes

Beginning the 3rd night of festivities were The Courettes, a two-piece from Brazil and Denmark. It's very easy to compare a male/female duo to The White Stripes, especially when one of them is wearing a red and white dress and playing a guitar that looks very similar to Jack White's. There are some songs that follow Jack and Meg's 3-4 chord bluesy garage rock blueprint, such as We're Gonna Die but there are also tracks like Voodoo Doll, sung partially in Portuguese, which would fit in perfectly on Nuggets. My favourite song here is The Boy I Love, an amazing high tempo number with a 60s fuzz guitar sounds that puts it perfectly at the intersection of classic garage and Phil Spector girl groups. They do slow things down briefly with one song that has more of a 50s guitar echo thing going on before getting back to the faster stuff and closing with a brand new song, Come Inside.

Hangee V Blast Off Festival Irish Centre

Hangee V

Hangee V arrive from Italy wearing their red and black uniforms, clearly paying homage to Nottingham's own Herbert Kilpin. They're the first band of the weekend to really feature that Hammond organ sound so beloved of the original garage rock scene. Show Me The Way has the vibe of Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by Kenny Rogers And The First Edition but the highlights here are the instrumentals. There are a couple that sound like The Shadows, ones that could be 1960s US TV themes and some that make you realise if Kill Bill had been set in Italy, Hangee V would have achieved that 15 minutes of fame that went to The 5, 6, 7, 8s - Tarantino would have loved this. Being a fan of the Ramones, it's also great to hear so many count-ins, especially since the "1-2-3-4" is in Italian.

Muck And The Mires Blast Off Festival Irish Centre

Muck & The Mires

Muck & The Mires are playing their only UK show of the year, having come all the way from Boston (there must be something in that dirty water) They have a sound that's a cross between The Beatles circa 1964 and The Wonders, from the film That Thing You Do, although I could just be hearing that because one of them wears shades all the time. The set is played in chunks of four songs, with each track breathlessly flowing into the next one in the style of the Ramones. In between these chunks, the band take the opportunity to demonstrate that all Americans have trouble pronouncing the word "Nottingham". Songs such as I'm Down With That sound as if they could have been written by The Rutles but without being a nod to a specific Beatles' track. The only thing that really betrays the fact that these songs aren't actually from the '60s is the fact that one of them mentions hashtags. They save the best until last as a great little set ends with I'm Your Man, which has a bit more of an early garage sound and is the sort of song that you could imagine the Sex Pistols covering on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. 

Pretty Thing Blast Off Festival Irish Centre

The Pretty Things

Then it's time for the big headliners, The Pretty Things, survivors of beat, psych and inventors of rock opera, despite what Pete Townshend might tell you. They're looking and sounding great for their age, at times you could close your eyes and be back at one of their gigs in the 60s. This is highlighted by the fact that they play a few covers including Jimmy Reed's Big Boss Man and Bo Diddley's You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover (of course the band were named after Pretty Thing, another Bo Diddley song written by Willie Dixon) The relatively new rhythm section (both joined in the late '00s) fit in perfectly helping to craft that Yardbirds/early Stones-cum-psych sound. A truly fantastic set is only marred by one slight misstep - the five minute drum solo on set-closing Mona, another Bo Diddley cover. As Keith Moon himself said, "drum solos are boring!" It's gone 2am when the band come back onstage to play their encore - their first single Rosalyn and bring the curtain down on another excellent day.

The Blast Off Festival takes place from the 9th to the 12th of November


Blast Off website

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