After a band scratched at short notice I was reliably informed of the revised set times and so arrived at the pre designated time to watch the opening act to find Barnsley invaders The Violet on the closing song of their set! Even more annoying because I’d seen them the previous week supporting Exit Calm and they were terrific. Suffice to say they play epic rock songs, have an impressive, and powerfully voiced front man, a top drummer, plus tonight a bassist sporting a cracking black eye. The resultant verdict is they are well worth a listen at their next local gig.
The compact venue, about a third full at the end of The Violet set, has at least doubled its audience within 15 minutes to welcome onstage Driftrun. They are led by the charismatic vocalist Rich Gill (Gilly), whose birthday it is today, and it’s soon obvious they are in the mood for a party. Chris Goodyear’s blitzing guitar riffs produce a powerful melodic sound and Gilly’s excellent voice is a perfect fit. Classic track ‘Mellor Road’ gets the biggest cheers but its just one highlight of a sensational set, ‘Juke Box Suzie’ and closer ‘Early Morning’ are other notable songs the crowd love.
Following that is no easy task but headliners Ruberlaris have the crowd behind them before they even enter the stage, using Madness track One Step Beyond as their intro. Ska is most definitely the order of the day and very exciting it is too. With Andy Copeland’s sax to the fore and vocalist Chris Alsop in his natty dread hat leading the line, the stage is set for some impressive tunes. ‘Monday Morning Blues’ raises the tempo from the opening two tunes to get the crowd bouncing. With some powerful lyrics and a really catchy two tone sound Ruberlaris are very close to having something really special. Add a little more variety to the guitar and a bit more vocal range and they could be in another league. Their audience lapped it up and found the lyrics easy to relate to, evidenced by the beer dripping from the ceiling from the bouncing plastic glasses. The Ru Ru Ruberlaris chant in between songs lifts the already electric atmosphere. The band depart to leave Chris alone to play a poignant acoustic solo before rejoining him for the finale ‘Hollys Song’, a departure from the Ska sound to more of an indie beat. The curfew dictates the end of the gig or an encore would have been a shoe in, with deafening cheers from the near sell out crowd quietening only when the house lights come on.