Solabeat Alliance – Leeds Packhorse

By paul

This gig was at York Fibbers

Thanks to the generosity of Route 215, I made my first trip to the York Fibbers to see the second date of their jaunt with Solabeat Alliance. Truth be told I probably wouldn’t have travelled 100 miles just to see SBA – but after the gig my opinions changed for the better. Local bands NINEPOUNDNOTE (I say local, I mean Yorkshire based) and another whose name I did not catch warm up the couple of hundred fans who have gathered on a mild Saturday evening. Both bands do their jobs well, serving up decent, if unspectacular ska and pop-punk consecutively. Both bands lack a confidence and stage presence to make a mark, but for warm up acts both do their job well.

ROUTE 215 had been on the lash until 6am that morning and, unsurprisingly, their performance was affected by their dehydration and sleep depravation. The Londoners have always been spot on whenever I’ve seen them, but despite having a clutch of tunes more powerful than a rocket propelled grenade in their arsenal, tonight they are rather sloppy. Rod isn’t quite his usual self, missing the higher notes and fluffing some bass lines, while Nick looks like he may throw up at any point. The on-stage heat is blinding though, making Sean and Ryan’s constant jumping and pirouetting ever the more impressive. Old favourites ‘GTT’ and ‘Steal Your Soul’ are still glorious slabs of pop-punk, while newies ‘Jesus Was A Sexy’ and I Am What I Am’ (i think) show there’s plenty more miles in the 215 tank. I also must point out the fool (who I believe may have been a PT forum member) who proceeded to elbow, punch and roundhouse sweep every member of the dancefloor into submission. That was until he was told by one of my mates where to go – if he wanted to keep his teeth. Dance by all means, but don’t decapitate those around you. An off night, but 215 still wipe the floor with pretty much every pop-punk band in the country. (7.5)

If you’re yet to catch SOLABEAT ALLIANCE on tour you are really, really missing out. To be honest I was expecting slick, no frills ska punk, but what I wasn’t expecting was a band so tight, entertaining and armed with a set of anthemic tunes that I was left gasping for more. Although much maligned, Moon Ska certainly know a classy band when they see one and SBA are surely one of the best in their genre. By far the best live set I’ve seen so far this year – and I’m not a huge ska fan – SBA have the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. Frontman Tim is as charismatic and energetic as any singer I’ve seen this year, constantly prowling across the stage, while the brass section are tighter than Linford Christie in a skintight leotard. I thought ‘Island Fire’ was good but not great, but listening to it after you’ve seen them live brings a whole new dimension to proceedings. ‘All Or Nothing‘ has some immense melodies and huge hooks, throwing back comparisons to Catch 22 or the Mad Caddies. I could go on forever, but the plain and simple fact is that I was converted, big style. If the sun shines this summer, expect Solabeat to blow up big…(9)