Raglans, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 20 April 2014

Shooting Suns were the opening act of another varied line-up at The Portland Arms, with their confidently played ‘alternative soft rock’. The first two songs showed the influence of Coldplay with featured piano and voice tone, then for the pair of songs ‘Just Friends/Parallel’ piano was changed to guitar, with a haunting ringing high-note sound, very effective. They are a stylish and interesting band, with good variety, the lyrics and musical changes drawing the audience in. I will look forward to the new E.P, ‘Overload’.

The Scissors are a talented local band who have recorded and played in a range of venues around Cambridge, their driving sound (‘rock’n’roll guitar powered psychpunkpop’ as they describe it) filled out by a bold Hammond organ rush, superbly pushed forward in the mix tonight. Mostly up-tempo songs, such as ‘Phone Calls from the Dead’ with a much repeated and effective guitar line, then the slower ‘Why Don’t You Cry’ featuring the eerie tones of the theremin, a rarely seen and heard musical instrument (think ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys or the ‘Midsomer Murders’ theme tune). ‘Your House has Ghosts’ finished the set on a high.

Then the headliners, Raglans (from Dublin). I had listened to their debut album and they seem to already have it all in place, powerful catchy songs, full of hooks and swagger. This was brilliantly reproduced live, with pounding drums and bass added to the winning combination of guitars, electric and acoustic…..then the mandolin thrown in too, used to drive the beat and also to pierce through the full sound. Vocal harmonies were spot on and the band radiated likeability, confidently interacting with the audience as if they knew us all. Nearly every song sounded like a hit, ‘Before Tonight’ and ‘The Man From Glasgow’ were particular highlights. There was also a cover of ‘Paper Planes’ by M.I.A. for extra variety. No encore, we had been won over from the start.



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