gig reviews

Nebula / Merrick / Rings Around Saturn

Where: The Croft // When: 11/02/2010

by Jodie Humphries

For me, the gigs that I enjoy the most are the hardest ones to write about, as I can’t simply write ‘I loved this gig’ and leave it as that, but this is what I want to be able to do about this gig. It’s going to take quite a lot to top this particular gig in 2010. Headliners were the fantastic Nebula, complete with two local support acts – Rings Around Saturn and Merrick. This is a gig where I should have been taking notes, but what the hell; I was a paying customer and wanted to enjoy the music along with everyone else in the crowded venue!

Rings Around Saturn

First to take to the stage were local four-piece Rings Around Saturn, who to quote their Myspace, brought their own blend of “heavy brutal rock”. This band, with an enigmatic frontman who knew how to get a gig started, the band put their foot to the floor and didn’t lift it for the entirety of their set. I’m disappointed in myself for admitting this, but I was actually at a gig they were playing at before, and didn’t really pay attention to them as I was too busy chatting outside (in my defence I wasn’t there to review and had someone else reviewing the night).

I had to laugh when this band were setting up, as they had to wait for the drummer to take of his shoes and socks – not what you expect a drummer to do to play his kit. This band meshes very well together and clearly enjoys making music. Sorry in advance, to I think it’s the guitarist, but he kept reminding me of one of the characters Brendan Fraser plays in Bedazzled, when he’s the basketball player – I couldn’t help it, it’s because the guitarist was big and covered in tattoos like the character in 'Bedazzled' – a random point to include in a review I know, but it had to be said.

This band who keep the volume up and don’t like to pause to give you time to even think about escaping, which is a real positive as it meant they held the attention of everyone in the room and people didn’t even consider starting to chat.

www.myspace.com/ringsaroundsaturn

Merrick

Next up were a band who have quickly become a favourite of mine on the Bristol scene – Merrick. If you ever see Merrick up on stage, they’ll look like one of the scariest bands out there – chat to them though, and they’re one of the nicest. To describe Merrick, they’re rock verging on metal, but the music has soul and meaning. Knowing Marcus the singer well, I know a lot of time and thought goes into the lyrics of each and every one of their songs, as it does with every band. Marcus’ splits each song with a mix of singing, screaming and shouting, blending each one into a mix which leaves you not knowing what to expect. Chunky riffs and powerful drumming is what you can expect from this band, I just bet you wouldn’t be able to spot the drummer in a line-up, as, sorry Mark, but he is one of the least likely looking drummers, but he doesn’t half fly across his drums.

Starting their set, they chose the song ‘Just Chromosome’, which built in pace, to let people gradually get a feel for the music, but as it built in intensity, you could see nearly every single person in The Croft start to move their head and appreciate the music. For Merrick, this was quite a proggy set, as they wanted to keep in tempo with Nebula, despite this; there was the full power behind it that I’ve come to expect and love from Merrick. If you like your music with more than a dose and a half of power behind it, then this is one band that should be at the top of your gig list.

www.myspace.com/bristolmerrick

Nebula

And finally we reach Nebula. It has to be said that these guys are one of my favourite bands (I tried not to be a fan girl when talking to singer Eddie before and after the gig – although it was hard when he stepped off stage and asked me what I thought of the set), so it was great to see them in Bristol again. I think it was in 2008 they played Bristol last, playing The Cooler, so I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket to see this psychedelic rock outfit again, knowing how much I enjoyed them last time.

A bit of a random fact for you, I didn’t previously realise that a Nebula is an “interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and plasma”, but now knowing that, it fits into the whole psychedelic feel of the band – the feeling of being out in space and being free. You get the feeling that Eddie and Jimmy are old hippies at heart with their waistcoats and Jimmy with his headscarf, they kind of put Tom to shame, who was wearing a Wales rugby shirt – for which he was called “Welsh boy” all night.

The set of the night consisted of new and old material – songs like ‘Aphrodite’, which they said “was for all the women out there” – it was a very male dominated gig! And ‘The Dagger,’ which is an old favourite. It was also great to hear material from all of their albums, especially material off their ‘Charged album’, as this was the album which got me into Nebula. I brought this album on a whim after reading the description on it – I have to say, I’ve never looked back. As well as old material, we were also treated to new material such as set-opener, 'The Perfect Rapture', which is being released in March. All of their material has a funky feel to it which I think you can put down to Eddie's guitar. With this band though, you can't just single one of them out, they all mesh well together, bringing the power out and getting everyone moving. They're a band where you feel the music, feel the pull to it, and automatically find yourself wanting more - demanding more, as you're pulled in.

Nebula are one of those bands that you would swear blind that there was more than three of them up on stage as there is such a variety of sounds coming from up there – and not to mention the power that comes through. At The Croft we were treated to a set which was probably nearly an hour long, as songs merged together so that the band could fit more in for our enjoyment. It would have been great if it was a longer set, but they had an 11 o’clock curfew due to a club night happening after – they still pushed past the curfew though to make sure the fans got what they wanted. We were even treated to an encore where they left the stage and just Eddie came back to begin with to do a song, Jimmy and Tom stood to the side while he did this, before rejoining him. This is a band who clearly bounce of each other and love what they're doing - and for that, they're loved in return.

Nebula won’t be for everyone, it’s certainly a cult following they have, but I hope they keep coming back to the UK and that Bristol stays on that very short list of UK tour dates. I don’t want to have to start a Facebook campaign of ‘Bring Nebula Back To Bristol’, but I will if they stay away too long.

www.myspace.com/nebulamusic

Nebula Setlist

1. The Perfect Rapture (new song to be released in march on split 7" with Quest for Fire on Tee Pee Records)
2. The Dagger
3. Giant-Clearlight
4. Search & Destroy (Iggy & The Stooges)
5. Aphrodite
6. Dream Submarine-In The Depths-She's So Heavy
7. Let It Burn
8. Pulse
9. Come Down
10. Little Yellow Pill
11. The Other Side
12. Fields Of Psilocybin - Sister Morphine
13. The Eagle Has Landed
14. Lead Sky
15. Down The Highway

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