Hope and Ruin, Brighton 6/4/18

The Hope and Ruin is the sort of venue where your feet stick to the floor and drunk blokes spill their pint over you. A proper old-school band room above a pub that my former home of Cambridge sadly lacked in recent years, the sound quality remains excellent in this tiny dark cavern, giving a ferociously loud burst of energy when support act, The Black Delta Movement, start their set. This four-piece from Hull are as tight as the lead singer’s jacket and as exciting as his little moustache. With garage rock being their genre of choice, it’s easy to compare them to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Brian Jonestown Massacre, even when they weave in a bit of Paul Weller’s ‘Walk On Guilded Splinters’ and The Doors ‘The End’ to one of their songs.

Pic : Tom Arran

Plugging their new album ‘Preservations’, TBDM get the approval of several kids shouting for more at the front, not to mention an older man in a leopard-print peaked cap, and seem genuinely humbled. I am here by myself as everyone I know seems to have kids and the plus one is on a business trip but I wouldn’t have missed this. What’s more, I wouldn’t be able to hear much after their set to make conversation anyway. Gloriously noisy, TBDM are also very polite when I hold the door open for them at the end of the night. Lovely.

And picture this – Saint Agnes is a place in Cornwall, a beautiful place where not much happens (except when this band played there), where golden sands meet blue seas and Poldark sits on a horse admiring the view. Saint Agnes The Band are the antidote to everything beautiful, a big black hole that would see Aiden Turner pushed to his fate and then pick at his eyes for afters. Another quartet, Saint Agnes look every bit the East London group that they are – guitarist with a medallion adorning a slightly bare chest under distressed leather, mysterious female singer complete with heavy fringe and negligee. That’s not to say that they are another hipster flash in the pan. Their performance is incredible, as they enter the stage with the audience still talking amongst themselves and the drummer gives a little smirk before jolting everyone silent with a crash. A drunk, slightly chavvy looking bloke shouts that they sound like Nirvana. They don’t. Putting me in mind of one of my favourite underground bands of yore, The Bookhouse Boys, or maybe even The Kills, Saint Agnes also have similarities to the art of David Lynch in their songwriting style- sometimes romantic, sometimes sensual, always completely mesmerising and, of course, quite unhinged and utterly unfathomable. This is the ‘Witching Hour’ tour after all, and its title track relies on ‘Hammer Horror’ keys, a slight soft rock vocal from the guitarist and a juddering stare from the sinewy frontwoman as she floats amongst the crowd. Throw in a harmonica on occasion for a touch of the blues, and you have what is one of the best live acts around. I can’t believe that the show was only a fiver. Catch them before their ticket prices ramp up.

Anna C

Thanks to Josh at 9PR for getting me in for the gig.