Having not seen Streetlight Manifesto for a couple of years now it was with some excitement that I wandered down to Plymouth's main bus station on a grey drizzly thursday night to head for a nightclub called the White Rabbit.
Now it's not everyday that highly regarded rock bands play your local bus station but in Plymouth that's becoming more of a regular thing than you would think. Over the years the White Rabbit has built up quite a reputation for itself and acts of varrying styles ranging all the way from Welsh indie boys The Automatic to New York's hardcore mofos Sick Of It All plus too many more to mention have all set their tour bus sat navs south to head for the Rabbit's lure.
Entering said venue I'm eager for another taste of one of the most energetic live bands you could ever wish to see. Now ska might not be your cup of tea but Streetlight Manifesto are so much more than just another run of the mill bunch of brass bandits, highly powerful and visually entertaining to boot the seven guys that make up the Manifesto put on a show that few others can match in tems of endless energy and enthusiasm and the fact that their songs are as infectious as a kiss from Freddie Mercury has Streetlight's music crossing many a genre boundary. There's not just Ska fans here tonight but metalheads, punks and a whole host of other pigeon-holed people all showing their approval to the fact that fucking good music is fucking good music no matter what "tag" has been put on it. I can guarantee you that catching Streetlight live just once in your life will leave you both breathless just by watching their performance and genuinely impressed by the musical talent and showmanship on offer and ultimately you'll leave as a fan whether you want to or not.
As the last stop on a small six string run of tiny UK shows ahead of their appearance at this years Reading and Leeds Festivals, New Jersey's finest ska rockers Streetlight Manifesto hit the boards of the White Rabbit to raucous applause and carnival time was upon us as the attack of Streetlight's four strong brass section unwound with ferocity, grabbing the crowd by their collective throats while singer/songwriter/guitarist Tomas Kalnoky (formerly of Catch 22) throws out lines and chords faster than many of today's young thrash upstarts could dream of. 'Recieving End Of It All' gets the party started with more swinging than a car park full of doggers before 'Point - Counterpoint' from 2003's debut 'Everything Goes Numb' sees the first pits opening up. Streetlight's delicious revamps of Kalnoky's Catch 22 tunes 'Keasby Nights', '9mm And A Three Piece Suit' and '1234 1234' all get the crowd's voices lifting higher with each frenetic beat of Chris Thatcher's drums. Crowd surfers fly over skanking punks with little room for error as there's no room to swing a cat in the White Rabbit tonight with surging bodies almost enveloping the tiny stage so much that bassist Pete McCullough and trumpeter Matt Stewart are practically rubbing shoulders with the crowd at times.
With seven guys on stage there's virtually no room for them to move from their positions save to grab one of the several hundred bottles of water they seemingly get through during the sweat soaked 90 minute set. With the majority of the night's material culled from 2007's stunning 'Somewhere In The Between' album the likes of 'We Will Fall Together', 'Down, Down, Down To Mephisto's Cafe' and the title track itself are all received with rabid appreciation by the baying crowd prompting Tomas to let everyone know that "This is by far the best gig we've ever played in a bus station!!!" Dipping lightly into this year's covers album '99 Songs Of Revolution' to bring things up to date a run through of NOFX's 'Linoleum' sends the temperature inside the bus station higher still ahead of 'The Big Sleep' which gets the final slot of the night sending everyone home happy after one last full force sing-a-long.
Streetlight Manifesto - I fucking love this band, do yourselves a favour and check 'em out!