Sofar Sounds returned to Chester following the debut gig in January at Becnicks. The idea behind Sofar sounds is a small scale pop up performance in an intimate setting. The location is kept a secret until the day of the gig , as are the acts performing. Minerva Lodge Tattoo Club on Northgate st was the venue for the sold out event, and despite being a larger venue than Becnicks, the sense of intimacy was not lost.
Opening was Carl Foulkes-Jones, a “one man blues act”. The blues were perfect for the last hours of a stormy day as as darkness fell upon the city. Carl’s vocals reminded me of early John Lennon and his solo guitar and harmonica quickly had the audience transfixed. He followed up a song about a drunken friend, with “Devil’s following me” , the pounding rhythm suggesting ominous hurried footsteps along the 28th worst street. A great start to the evening
Leicester based Demons of Ruby Mae were next. Consisting of vocalist Jonny and Adam on keyboard, the doom ridden pop was equally intense and haunting. Lyrics of suffocated dreams and childhood nightmares pulled the listener in, as Adam hunched over the keyboard like a cross between Elton John and Nosferatu, like nothing I’d heard in Chester before. The Demons are playing the Soup Kitchen in Manchester on April 29th.
Long haired rockers Green Room were the penultimate act and had the audience nodding their heads after ten seconds. The band are all students from Chester and praised the “sweet venue” being another newcomer to Chester. Their music was violent, fresh but melodic. The band will be playing The Gathering in the summer and also supporting Dave McCabe at Alexanders in April.
Lastly high energy Ska band Broken Three Ways need no introduction, being familiar faces on the Chester circuit. A contrast to the three previous acts, the 6 piece band brought a massive sense of fun to close the show. Everyone had a smile on their face after listening to this band.
The second Sofar Sounds was a massive hit, offering a wider range of musical styles than the inaugural event and several acts news to Chester. Steve , owner of Minerva Lodge was enthusiastic about being involved and championed the diverse range of acts on show. “In 2 years a lot has changed, I’m glad to be a part of it.” With acts from outside of Chester now keen to be involved in this and future events, “it’s about putting Chester on the map” he said. It’s hard to imagine events like this taking place in the “cultural desert ” of years gone by, so credit goes to organiser David Weir for giving Chester another avenue of cultural expression. Sofar sounds is the epitome of Chester cool.