Downstairs in the Three Crowns pub in Stoke Newington High Street, something of a rock and roll revival took place on Monday night. The ‘rediscovery’ of Blues and Rock and Roll has been brewing amongst the next generation of bands and artists over the last few years, with The Strypes and Jake Bugg rising to prominence fairly rapidly and hailed as a welcome return to the ‘authentic’ sounds of the mid-twentieth century. There is something of a scene building up, including QM’s own Smokey Taboo (formerly known as Thieves) and tonight’s headliners Hidden Charms.
Liverpool’s Sankofa kicked off proceedings with their moody, bass-heavy blues. Their sound is vaguely reminiscent of early Kings of Leon, as well as the more obvious influences of 60s blues and psych music. They took their name from the Ghanaian word meaning “We must go back and reclaim our past, so we can move forward”, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the Scouse four-piece if not the movement as a whole.
Hidden Charms’ groove based rhythm and blues made for an easy listening and danceable set. Despite the occasional dip into lyrical cliché, the band’s material is solid with current single ‘Dreaming of Another Girl’ a particular highlight – it’s surf-like groove and catchy hook making it a real stand-out in their set. They come across well onstage, with instrumental sections not feeling laboured or self-indulgent and providing an energy that ensured the crowd’s attention throughout. There is an air of understatement about the band’s soulful groove that makes it seem almost effortless, as if they are waiting for the audience to come to them rather than shouting in their faces. This is a band on the up and though they’re not necessarily offering anything especially new, in the words of one audience member, “it’s hard to find good live rock and roll”. If you’re sick of listening to your Stones records on repeat and want a live experience then Hidden Charms are a great option amongst a burgeoning UK scene, just don’t expect them to change the world.