Scouse indie icons 28 Costumes finally launch their Adventure Stories album, Getintothis’ Henry Gardenhoe reflects on a night of profound emotion and pop diamonds.
My Bloody Valentine took 22 years with mbv. Vashti Bunyan managed 35 years to release Lookaftering. While Guns N’ Roses went through about 57 line up changes and another 35 years to finally drop Chinese Democracy.
So, we should consider ourselves relatively impatient if we don’t forgive the lads in 28 Costumes for waiting a mere 13 years to finally unleash their Adventure Stories record to the world.
The Merseysiders’ story begins in 2003 when Chris McIntosh (vocals, guitar), Tony Reilly (lead guitar), Paul Green (bass) and Nick Hoare (drums) sign to Spank Records and hurtle out of the blocks with their debut album The Fake Death Experience receiving rave reviews and subsequent tours taking them across the UK, Europe and Austin Texas’ SXSW.
Along the way they play with the likes of The Editors, Futureheads and garner favourable live reviews and with album number two boxed off in the Welsh countryside ‘the Cossies’ look all set to springboard into the upper division of UK indie pop.
Yet, like so many before them, things go awry, they fall out with their record label, the album is shelved and the band splinters with creative driving force Chris Mac moving to Berlin.
Push forward to 2017, and tragedy strikes. Co-founder of Spank Records, Jon Hall, dies of heart failure aged just 38. In the intervening years Jon had become somewhat of an unsung hero amid the Liverpool music community; sound engineering at Leaf, being head engineer at various Merseyside music festivals, sound tech-ing on the road for bands including All We Are while on the road and producing records for many rising talents. To put it plainly, this gentle giant was known to nearly all musicians and those in the creative industry on Merseyside – and he was loved and respected unanimously.
Since their split, 28 Costumes and Jon had become allies during a variety of creative endeavours – so it seemed a fitting tribute to Jon and his label, to reunite and finally let Adventure Stories see the light of day.
That day, arrived in gloriously triumphant and poignant fashion on Saturday as Chris, Tony and Nick took to the stage one more time. In the absence of Paul, joining them on bass, was Graham Jones – an apt player for his band Voo were entwined in the mid-2000s era for which Scouse pop-rock-and-roll was so decidedly rich and flavoursome.
For what these bands, and 28 Costumes in particular revel in, is the very essence of pop – three minute ear-worms which deal in melody and big singalong choruses. They’re economic and all the more excellent for it.
Take You Excite Me, a yelping angular hurricane which sees Chris attacking the microphone as his band giddily join the fray in a volley of choppy riffs and terrace style backing vocals.
Of course, the band needn’t have brought extra microphones to the party, because the EBGBS bunker is bouncing from the minute they hit the stage. Not only is this an album launch, it’s also the celebration of friends, a lost comrade, innumerable adventures shared, moments of love and loss and lunacy – and those times shared with the band are also moments shared with their mini legion of faces in the crowd.
There’s heads of their contemporaries from bands who they played with more than ten years ago, there’s Jules Bennett (the man behind Liquidation – the Le Bateau club night synonymous with that era in Liverpool music – and the final venue 28 Costumes played last time out) manning the lighting and down the front there’s longtime fans in band t-shirts singing every word back at them.
While this is obviously a hugely satisfying night for the band, there’s the added poignancy of a heartfelt mass singalong of Happy Birthday to Jon Hall who would have celebrated his 40th birthday this week and the relief is palpable when the final chords of the night are let loose amid party streamers and balloons being let off into the crowd. It was a night high on emotion – but the Cossies can each be proud of a job well done.
Earlier in the evening, one of Merseyside’s finest new prospects kicked off the night in stunning gothic fashion.
Hailing from Liverpool and Carlisle, quartet Pale Rider donned painted faces reminiscent of Scandinavian black metallers and when the deep red lights clashed with eyeball bursting strobes and their intense progressive primal rock and roll turbulence it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the sensory explosion.
They open with a trio of numbers which segue into one another Adult Stars presenting itself as a tribal racket of unholy proportions as Louis Dutton‘s bass pangs trade devastating blows with Sophie Thompson‘s drums. Lead singer Ben Russell bobs and weaves menacingly, stalking the stage like a wild cat ready to be unleashed from his cage as guitarist Fran Codman melds wah and ridiculous fuzz creating a vortex of noise all around.
The oozing languid intro of One Beat lulls you into a false sense of security for nigh on three minutes before a darting rocket-fueled finale of propulsive noise power.
Like all the best bands they exude a gang mentality and appear to have an intuitive sense of unity and that’s displayed in the darkest track of all, closer Hair – an eight minute monster which rips your head off, pauses for a moments respite before firing up once more and demolishing whatever’s left of your being. It’s like Mogwai jamming with Mastodon. It’s insanely nasty – and we can’t wait to see where they go next.
Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody