Johnny Cage And The Voodoo Groove/Thee Manatees – Cardiff, 10 Feet Tall – 28 January 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 04:30

Well that's the Christmas festivities well and truly put to bed, onwards with another year of frequenting the smaller venues, supporting the bands that put the pulse into a stagnating mainstream music industry, be they rock, punk, ska, indie, metal - or just plain weird: LETS HAVE IT!!


16266272 1400364933321749 2847531746572303803 n


The week prior to this gig came under the banner of Cardiff Independent Venue week with all the smaller venues where breaking bands start out being pushed into the public eye, this being the climax in a great little venue - The Big Top within 10 Feet Tall: all tented ceiling and spinning mirror ball, a perfect fit to the Voodoo groove and definitely a venue I’m gonna keep my eye out for in the future, giving the right hint of bohemian decadence and kitsch.


First up we had a brand new band on me, Thee Manatees, consisting of Cai Strachan (vocals, electric guitar, bass drum) Hannah Loy (vocals, electric ukelele, percussion) and Andrew Vidgen (vocals, harmonica, percussion). Now for fans of the subversive film genre, and a certain David Lynch in particular, it should be mentioned that Lynch land has picked up on these guys for his latest compilation, ‘Lynchian 7’.


Thee Manatees artwork


Describing these guys was always going to be difficult and before any background reading post the gig I’d have classed them as providing a dystopian Lynchian blues scape. What the fuck are you talking about Brooks? Dystopian (relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.’the dystopian future of a society bereft of reason’.)? Just about sums up the current climate, especially politically and socially with King Trump in charge of the world.


So back to the music, and Hannah Loy has one of those Liz Frazier-esque voices - powerful and fragile at the same time, and on opener ‘Jack of Clubs’ the cutting edge and attitude and clever twists and turns really set you up for the finish (check out the track – hint, hint).


The guys have their first EP out and playing it post show it’s a bit of a belter, straying into the Americana setting, but underpinned by a bastardised version of the blues that really fits. Tracks like ‘Cuckoo’, ‘Fine White Fingers’ and ‘Alabama Chrome’ really need to be heard live, gaining a whole new dimension. These guys are definitely a band I’m going to catch live as they move upwards into the bigger venues.


Johnny Cage avatar


After a very swift changeover the venue, which was full for Thee Manatees just got fuller and fuller, until you couldn’t even lift a camera, so time to settle in with Johnny Cage And The Voodoo Groove for their own take on this rock and roll music we all love.


I reviewed the forthcoming LP here on Über Rock and absolutely loved the Cuban/New Orleans down and dirty feel to it, but live these guy’s are a very different animal and the songs take on a whole new persona. With a crowd on fire, pumped up and waiting, there was only going to be one outcome: something that’ll probably sit within gig of the year listings come the end of this year, already!


It’s great watching a band feed off the audience, pushing harder and harder and the audience responding in kind and the gig absolutely flew by, from opener ‘Human Remains’: even with Peanut struggling with the dreaded man flu the band were on fire and even went over time. In no particular order we had ‘3 Brass Monkeys’ ‘Jockey full of Bourbon’(probably my track of the night, even though Mrs B disagreed) ‘Before/Sweet Dreams’ ‘Better Off Left Alone’ ‘Well Well Well’ ‘Got It All Wrong’ ‘Charlie Jones’ plus other bits that I was too busy dancing too, to take note of, we had Burlesque glamour, we had a real rock and roll revue and we had first and foremost a band at the top of their game. The only thing that I just can’t understand is why they aren’t shifting out of the smaller venues and exposing a whole new audience to their own particular brand of rock and roll. There’s got to be a promoter out there looking for a kick ass band to push… and, if there is, why not these guys?


All content © Über Rock.  Not to be reproduced in part or in whole without the express written permission of Über Rock.