There are some bands who exude so much passion and drive that it just sucks you in.
Babies did exactly this when I met with them in a café a couple of weeks ago for a cover interview with Browse Magazine. Over cups of coffee and pots of tea, I witnessed the enthusiasm and desire which keeps them going back to the rehearsal room, back to the stages on which they perform. Even when it feels like everything is against them.
Two days later, I attended their EP launch at the Adelphi, this time with the intention of capturing them in photographic form. My diddy camera and I are getting better at this, and I was pleased with the outcome. Sadly, stepping down from the stage at the end of the night, Ry, lead singer and guitarist of Babies, did not express the same sentiment about the night.
I entered the Adelphi to see the lads – Ry Smith, Joe Vickers and Sam Mackereth – in giddy excitement. I picked a t-shirt with their band name sprayed thrice onto the front, and wandered through for to get a drink and seat. The room was warmly lit, as the Adelphi often is, and on the back wall was a banner, their name spraypainted across a white sheet. I love the DIY element of it, the effort to ensure their name was seen without too much funding. It says: this is us, take it or leave it.
The night started off with Kev La Kat, who has supported the band in other ways also. I’ve always been inspired by the courage it must take one man (or indeed woman) to stand before an audience alongside only instruments. Kev La Kat did have an array of instruments – guitar, laptop, soundboard and keys – and through these he produced some wonderful sounds. An ideal warm-up for the night, getting the scattered crowd engaged with the stage.
Next onto the stage were Trash, an indie-pop band hailing from Chesterfield. Theirs was the first of interesting stage set-ups. You’re so used to seeing the lead singer positioned centre-stage, that it’s a little uncomfortable when bands decide not to follow this. Trash had their singer to the left, with the bassist at central focus; made more bizarre as he was the least animated of the band. I enjoyed their sound: energetic guitars with a pounding bass beat from the drums. It was easy to move to, making photography difficult.
Following Trash was Oedipus The King, a band I’ve heard huge things about but hadn’t witnessed for myself until that night. They are truly a force to be reckoned with, and rather – sadly, but honestly – stole the show. Lead singer and guitarist, Daniel Symes stood to the right of the stage, furthest away from where I started their set. His powerful voice drew the audience in, physically moving them closer to the stage, and then stepped out to join them, circling the crowd. They have a natural confidence, having mastered their stage craft to demonstrate power over their audience while maintaining a secure link with them.
Even with an issue regarding a guitar lead, which had guitarist Sean Hartley unplugging and re-plugging his two guitars until he could get one of them to produce the required sound; this too was done with confidence and ease, creating a little joke when he was successful and able to join in with his band.
This same issue continued into the headline set, with Joe taking the left corner of the stage and the dodgy lead. While he tackled with this, Ry and Sam kicked into their first few songs, a mixture of their older tracks, those on their EP and a couple of newer tracks, yet unheard. Joe, fighting with the lead, performed on his bass, but I couldn’t be sure we could hear any of it off stage.
And so close are these boys that Joe’s struggle seemed to become the band’s struggle. Ry forgot to tune his guitar during one song, and things started to slip as they focused on these details.
From the crowd, I simply saw these passionate boys doing their best. Oedipus The King had stepped things up so greatly, that any fall would be a colossal one. However, the enjoyment was still there. The boys of Trash lined up along the front of the stage – Babies t-shirts on, the orange and red spraypaint glittering in the lights from the stage – moving to the sound.
So, when Ry stepped down from the stage and said to me that he was unhappy with the set (his words were much more brutal), I simply smiled and told him I had enjoyed it. It was DIY, it was rustic, it wasn’t perfect, but it was bloody good fun. When Joe finally gave up on the dodgy lead, he grabbed drumsticks and thrashed his annoyance out with Sam, and it was loud and exciting. That’s what you can take from a Babies gig – loud excitement.
Yes, Babies can improve their game. They have a collection of brilliant songs, with a sound unlike most bands in the area, and they’ve a solid following who support them whole-heartedly. These things happen, and with practice and growth of confidence, they don’t seem as significant. Babies are still in their (mind the pun) baby years of their music career, and I am sure they will take from this the lesson which will make them more powerful performers who can command the stage and drive their music deeper into the world.