A rock band that can make you roar and cry
Great rock is a helluva lot more than just the volume.
Demonstrating this reality is a fine band new on the Norwich scene, About Them Shoes. They can certainly whip up a storm and match the musical tension of the best on the circuit. But they add such precision and tightness to their playing that they sound like a seasoned professional studio unit. Yet the youngest member of this stunning five piece is Matt Furness on rocking drums, who is still only 14 but has been drumming for over 6 years! This slight and polite lad is on his way to something big.
A couple of the other players are school contemporaries but just a few years older. Their youthfulness is balanced by masterful veteran star, Hugh Lynch, taking his typically commanding lead on vocals. He can match his voice to the style and mood of the song from mellow poignancy to vibrant, even raucous, energy, from sheer window-rattling power to breathy whisper. Pitch perfect and articulating like no rock singer you have ever heard, so every word is clear and makes perfect sense of the stories behind the lyrics that he clearly loves to tell.
Often in rock bands, the most important member does not get the attention that his role deserves. This band is held tightly together by some brilliant, understated but mesmeric bass from Gen Ellis. Maybe his glorious feel for the structure and importance of the bass line comes from his considerable experience on the acoustic scene and it has been polished through his whole stack of gigging in different styles over the years, originally on guitar.
The musical heart of About Them Shoes is the superb backing from two lead/rhythm guitars.
I deliberately do not separate these two accomplished young musicians as both have the ability to play rock-steady chords and searing lead solos. They switch the roles so effortlessly that it takes an astute observer to be certain exactly who is doing what at various times. With both still in their late teens, they may not yet be into their maturity but boy do they have style, imagination and pure guitar ability. Andy Johnson plays cool clear chords and lyrical solo lines, whilst Will Flittner can use particularly powerful staccato rhythm chords that form the framework for the rest of the band.
The band has an eclectic repertoire of rockers, the quality end of classic pop, plus innovative takes from the library of the likes of J J Cale, B B King and Stevie Wonder. Get to see them and get a great night out.
In summary, this band has some real energy, but added to that is a level of precision, tightness, lightness and joy, both in the playing and, judging by the enthusiastic fans, in the listening.
Roger Haywood, Jazz reviewer for local publications in East Anglia