Whilst the city of Plymouth was gearing up for its final Saturday night before Christmas, a triple header, consisting of Plymouth’s finest musicians assembled for a non-festive musical offering at The Terrace which is a cosy cafe/restaurant/bar, situated a stone’s throw from Plymouth’s Hoe.
Matthew Gordon Price was up first, flanked by Jamie and Fergus (aka Drakes Island), he played more of an upbeat set than what I remembered him for at his last live show. Jamie performed some lovely work on his Telecaster and produced some impressive vocal harmonies whilst Fergus treated the cajon to some action, injecting a bit of rhythm to the proceedings.
His cover of Coldplay's “Yellow" was a treat for all in attendance and Matthews distinct, mellow and rounded vocals really stole the show.
After an afternoon spent busking in the mean streets of Plymouth (making a very handsome £200!) Matthew announced that “they were just going to jam the next one out”, before launching into a fabulous version of Steppenwolf's “Magic Carpet Ride".
It was interesting to see (well, it was interesting for me) that Jamie Yost also plays electric guitar with his fingers rather than with a pick, maybe he’s following in the footsteps of Mark Knopfler?
Matthew followed the Coldplay cover with a delightfully stripped back version of “Lucky Man" by The Verve, they really did the track justice with Jamie's effervescent guitar melodies floating above Matthew's acoustic undertones. He slotted in his latest self-penned song “Vos" which hushed the room with its slow beginning but when the cajon and the second guitar came in, it was great to see the room light up once again with its heartfelt, honest lyrics, accentuating the track as it ebbed and flowed, like an acoustic roller coaster, great stuff indeed!
After a short break where I chatted to Jamie and Matthew about influential artists (this could have gone on ALL night), the guys had a game of musical chairs which saw Matthew land on the cajon and Fergus taking the centre spot armed with his acoustic guitar and Jamie bringing up the rear! Going by the name Drake's Island, they announced that they wouldn’t be playing any Christmas songs as they hadn't learnt any but would be playing some original songs before launching into “Four Days”, which nodded towards local legend Ben Howard with its raw finger picked acoustic tones, Jamie's ethereal guitar and Matthew's expert work on the cajon really sealing the deal.
“To The Sea" saw a more percussive guitar style which, when accompanied by the cajon, turned it into a firelighter of a track, it dipped splendidly midway through and built again with Matthew and Jamie bringing in the artillery to make it one of the standout tracks of the evening.
Fergus announced that he has new material in the making and will be releasing a new single at Plymouth’s Bread and Roses venue sometime in February, he then announced “Only Passing Through”, another track with strong leanings towards the artistic prowess of Ben Howard who has done so much for putting Devon on the map once again with his brilliant blend of neo, indie-folk. The song picked up momentum, seeing Matthew double timing his cajon and Fergus really opening up on the microphone. Soon enough, the track returned to a simmering pace and came to a gentle close, immense work all round for this gem!
A happier song called “The Hollow" followed this and injected more of an upbeat vibe to the proceedings, echoing the pop folk leanings of Mumford & Sons somewhat.
From pop folk to a much richer bluesy offering was a welcome move and saw Jamie playing some intricate guitar parts whilst Fergus and Matthew laid the foundations for him.
The last track saw Fergus replace his acoustic with an impressive looking Fender Jaguar and perform a heavier number called “Fire" which saw him lay down the melody whilst Jamie jammed on top in his trademark fashion. Both guitars exploded into life towards the track’s close and was definitely on the heavier side of the spectrum, I think it also shocked the room as those who had come out to chat about their present wrapping / shopping exploits were momentarily hushed by the surge of volume coming through the PA!
The final change of the night saw Jamie take centre stage, Fergus in Jamie’s spot and Matthew on the cajon again for the final set of the evening.
With a stuffy nose and blocked sinuses, Jamie said that he was concerned about his performance but midway through his opening number, he really had nothing to worry about! Fergus played some atmospheric guitar which added to the general feel of this stunning track.
Jamie introduced “Storm" and he sounded like he was struggling somewhat, strangely, his vocals didn’t seem to suffer as a result, this is a sign of a true pro! This track was well rounded offering with a prominent guitar melody and blended with Fergus's noodly offerings was certainly up there as a highlight from the night.
His recent track “Runaway" got an airing which sounded as good live as it did when I played it on my radio show a few weeks back, haunting, ethereal guitar were transported to a more wholesome place when the vocals and cajon kicked in.
“Fury" is a track that’s going to appear on a forthcoming EP, with its lively beat and atmospheric guitar, you could feel a storm brewing from the get go, I wasn’t wrong as it grew and grew until it came to a crashing climax.
Jamie announced that they were going to play “an old one" and launched into a track called “Aurora" which felt like a pair of well-worn slippers, I’ve heard this many times before and to hear it tonight really was the icing on the cake, it’s perfect in every way and all it was missing was a violin which took it completely off the scale the last time I heard it, I may of course be wrong and that might have been a totally different track, even though, it sounded incredible!
Jamie played a further track off the forthcoming EP, titled “Father", it’s a strong contender for the lead track whenever the new EP arrives.
Jamie took us way back to the first ever track he released called “Stay" which sounded great, really steeped in melody and substance, you can hear how his sound has matured since this was released and I’m glad to say that he’s definitely heading in the right direction!
“Here’s another one that we’ve never played before in the current setup” Jamie mentioned, “it could be a disaster", he added before launching into the final track of the night “Riddle”, which was a soulful number, showcasing his vocals and a hard hitting, heavy guitar riff, demonstrating a much tougher edge to Jamie's music.
It was apparent that they weren’t going to be leaving the stage just yet and closed with John Lennon's classic “Don’t Let Me Down" which benefited from a funkier guitar riff and cajon and a very soulful and somewhat congested vocal which actually sounded rather good which was amazing considering Jamie’s rather bunged up state!
It’s hard to find real talent locally but in this case, like buses, you wait for ages and then three of them come along at once.....typical!
To chat to these super talented, yet humble musicians between sets was refreshing, they said how glad they were that people had showed up to watch them perform tonight, I for one would much rather have been there, listening to these guys ply their trade than watching a bunch of ‘well refreshed’ delinquents knocking ten bales out of each other in Union Street, Merry Christmas indeed!
I’m desperately trying to get these guys to come along and perform a live session for me on my radio show (The Listening Post on Soundart Radio) and I’m 99% there, I just need them to give me the nod and I, along with my many listeners all over the world will be VERY happy bunnies!
Don’t forget the single launch night at the Bread and Roses in February, check their social media for more info.
Review by Steve Muscutt (apologies for the crap pictures, I forgot my proper camera and had to resort to my phone!)