The Seven Wives pub was the venue for the River Town Festival ‘…bringing the best up-and-coming original Indie/Rock bands to the town….’. with a large stage at one side of the car park and plenty of room and facilities for local music lovers.
Singer/guitarist Calum Lintott had just arrived from his home city of Southampton; he played a set of well-crafted originals and the odd cover (‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’) and rose to the challenge of breaking the ice and entertaining the early arrivals. Saltfen are a four-piece from Ely, playing melodic rock with intricate work on the two guitars giving an edge.
After some initial sound mix problems Flint Moore from Downham Market conjured up the feeling of moody endless landscapes and long-forgotten rebellions with their sweeping cinematic sound enhanced by keyboards, acoustic and electric guitar, mighty bass and drums and the commanding vocals of frontman Francis Pennington.
Two bands had to pull out at the last minute; their slots were taken by singer/guitarist Nathan James King with his introspective and very personal songs (‘…Writing about the things I’ve experienced, mostly…’) and the very impressive up-and-coming performer Gabby Rivers from Suffolk who normally plays with a band but this afternoon let just her voice and guitar cast a spell over the audience with a mix of covers and own compositions.
London quartet Duke Of Wolves played a well-drilled set of tight alternative rock, with the pace not letting up all the way through to their ode to serial killer ‘Terry’. Peterborough five-piece Golden Bantic added a welcome lighter, funkier groove to the rock and donned sunglasses to keep the gradually approaching rain at bay.
I am a big fan of St Ives rockers False Hearts, their barrage of noise carrying all before them with songs of the quality of rifftastic ‘Dream On’ and ‘Cynical Love’, one of my favourites from last year. Their keen local following started to fill up the space nearer the stage, even though the weather was starting to deteriorate.
The spotlights were creating extra special effects as the beams cut through the rain when Gaffa Tape Sandy took to the stage. Opening with its familiar distant introduction, when the trio explode into ‘Water Bottle’ you realise what a brilliant live band they are; the three musicians create a sharp, full sound and each song is a perfectly honed gem of powerpop. Fresh from extensive festival performances and live shows there are new recordings due soon with their superb last single ‘Meat Head’ as a precursor. Their super-hooklined ‘Beehive’ was the triumphal set closer.
There was a more mellow sound from Oscar Corney , his expressive voice backed by a full band and going down very well with the rain-soaked crowd.
With bill-toppers Tom Lumley and Airways still to play, very reluctantly we had to leave before the end but with memories of a day where the high quality of music was very evident in the whole running order and the friendliness of the venue and crowd created a very special atmosphere.