Sonic Boom Six – Highbury Garage, London

By paul

Thursday 15 October 2009
The Relentless Garage, Highbury
Support: The Skints + The Apostates

There?s a moment tonight when Sonic Boom Six guitarist Ben Childs and singer Laila K stand onstage working their way through an acoustic rendition of ?Floating Away?. It?s a hair-on-the-arm stirring moment full of poignancy. This time last year we were getting all excited about the addition of a new band member, this year it?s an emotional farewell to an original. Following this tour, Ben C will not be touring with Sonic Boom Six again, so tonight has a rather special air about it, and a throwback feel.

THE APOSTATES arrive a little late and a little sozzled but still manage to pull off an impressive half-hour of ska-punk that has nothing to do with wacky checked trousers. It seems like London?s ready to party as well. The Dudley Moore obsessed, hometown trio may be first on but there?s a sizable audience dancing along to these sounds of rich reggae mangled with fast guitars. The band is a little rough around the edges tonight, but is well worth the time, and well worth your future attention. (3/5)

And so continues the rise of THE SKINTS; for the past year the East London reggae-punk troop?s star has been in the ascendancy, and now on the eve of new album, ?Live. Breathe. Build. Believe? (out 9 November), the quartet sounds the brightest it ever has. How up for this new album is the band? Bar one song, the always delectable ?Murderer?, tonight?s set is made up entirely of album material, and yet the crowd still acts like they hear these songs everyday. That?ll be all the constant touring then. Tonight?s performance sets up the band?s reggae approach perfectly, with multi-instrumentalist, Marcia Richards (vocals, keys, sax, melodica, flute!) taking the forefront. This usually shy and reserved young lady is starting to blossom, and there?s more than a few that notice. (5)

So, with the ethereal ?Welcome to the City of Thieves? introduction encapsulating The Garage, SONIC BOOM SIX takes to the London stage for what is most likely the last time with this line-up. It?s a shame but there?s work to be done on this Boom Or Bust Tour, and SB6 is a band that?s never shied away from toil. Within the opening minutes we?re catapulted back into this year?s ?City of Thieves? album, a heady mix of brash punk, rootsy ska and that typical Boom flavour. London?s really up for the party now, flinging more than a heroes welcome at the Reading/Leeds conquerors. At times it?s hard to believe this record only came out this year, such is the sing-along/shout-along reaction. Hysteria almost breaks out as Josh Skint jumps in and gets all leary on ?A Bright Cold Day In April?.

But as good as the new album is it?s the back-catalogue raiding that means most tonight. Rare outings for ?Danger! Danger!? and ?People Acklike They Don?t Know? hark back to those early days and growing pains, whilst ?An Ode To D.I.Y. Promoters? (from Punktastic?s very own ?Un-Scene 4? compilation) is beyond rare; talk about dusting off your heirlooms. It?s the encore triple-whammy that polishes it all off though. The acoustic performance of ?Floating Away? (the last track on the last album) is followed by ?SB6? (the first track on the first demo), a song that it took the ancestors of Howard Carter to unearth, before everybody in the room is sent haywire with ?Monkey See, Monkey Do?. Talk about your fan pleasers. Talk about your band pleasers!

So a buzzed London crowd is left with a smile, one that?s replicated on the face of each individual band member. Forget sadness, this is a band grateful for everything given and more than capable of adapting to change. Tonight?s been a success; this tour?s been a success; this year?s been a success; the past seven years have been a success. No reason to get all downhearted. Still, good luck Ben. You?re Boom through and through and your smile?s gonna be missed. (5)

Alex Hambleton