The Mentulls

Regular readers will know that I am a great advocate of both supporting local venues and seeing new bands.  My first of three gigs this weekend was just that, a fully paid for pair of tickets and off to my local – The John Peel Centre.  The venue is not entirely unknown to me having volunteered there for four years. But covering such a wide patch for Grapevine Magazine means that I don’t get there as often as I should.

In truth I was there to hear Where Rivers Meet who are the current (October) Grapevine CoverSTARS. I knew little to nothing about the headline act The Mentulls, other than a brief conversation with my colleague Mr Google, who found me a video I liked.

The Mentulls hail from North Yorkshire and are a twin lead guitar outfit in the style of some of the greatest rock bands of the seventies.  These guys are too young to have been around then so I must assume that their parents taught them well, and had awesome record collections!

From the moment they started the room was filled with that seventies sound that made me fall in love with rock music. But the sound was so fresh, so alive it was like falling in love all over again.  I could hear Jeff Wayne, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzie, Curved Air, Wishbone Ash, but it wasn’t them. It was original Mentulls – live, fresh rock music that makes you want to unashamedly play air guitar, close your eyes and get lost in the music.

There were duelling lead guitars – that godsend to the rock music photographer – why had I chosen tonight to have a night ‘off’ and go listen to music instead of watching it through a viewfinder? In truth I didn’t mind, I was enjoying this – although by now you may have guessed that!

From Nick Coleman we had a drum solo – that’s the second I’ve come across this year – love ‘em or loathe ‘em, drum solos are part and parcel of this type of music.   I tolerate good drum solos but this was excellent!

Andrew Pipe’s guitar work was phenomenal, none more so that when he took it way down and played his electric guitar unamplified, you could hear a pin drop in the room.  Meanwhile the other guitar was being expertly handled by David Neil Crabtree, in the eyes of the centre manager a definite Michael Buble look-alike!

The final member of the quartet was Jamie Pipe on keys – yes, brother of Andrew, who brought that air of finesse to the sound, that only a keyboard player can.  And in my mind a dead ringer for Jim Lockhart of Irish 70s band Horslips.

The Mentulls reminded me of one of my new year challenges – go see new bands you’ve never heard of – you might be pleasantly surprised.  We were!

But what of Grace and Arron Bond better known as When Rivers Meet, the reason I’d turned up in the first place?  Despite having seen them live during the summer, having them on the cover of Grapevine Magazine and having corresponded with them in between time, we had never met.

A quick introduction and chat before the show confirmed what I had already suspected, these are two really nice people.  

If you’ve not come across them, they play the blues – a mix of their own material and a few covers.  It is not often that a duo can fill a room the size of the John Peel Centre but this pair did and did well. The powerhouse of their sound is Arron’s rhythmic, raucous guitar work with the kick drum holding the beat.  Layered on top are Grace’s amazing vocals – the woman cannot stand still as she enunciates the words with passion. A bit like a pure sounding Beth Hart I’m thinking.

One of the John Peel Centre regulars was talking to them after their set and said that they were the best support act the centre had ever had – I’d not disagree.

When Rivers Meet have an EP out called ‘The Uprising EP’.  I reviewed it back in September, my favourite track is ‘Kill For Your Love’, a song written by Arron for Grace. In my review I mentioned that ‘…in a festival field it stopped me in my tracks and I went Wow…’   I was delighted to hear them play it last night and completely taken aback when Grace told me afterwards: “..well, it wasn’t supposed to be in the set but we know you like it and we knew you’d be here…”. Like I said, nice people. Thank you both.

This gig was a little gem – indeed many at the John Peel Centre are.  Don’t be afraid to try something different, switch the TV off, throw on your coat and pop down to your local venue, go in and enjoy live music.