Writer Jasmine Khan / Photographer Erin Connelly
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Mama Roux’s for a gig. They’ve swapped the decadent décor for a cleaner aesthetic that gives the venue more breathing room, and the bouncer’s friendly on the way in which always starts the night off well.
It’s 420 so I’m thirsty, and I feel compelled to mention that it costs me £7.37 for a two pints of soft drink, a bit ridiculous considering it’s soda water and syrup out the tap.
My grump at drinks prices is soon forgotten as local stars Fitzroy Holt take the stage. They kick off the evening with ‘Medicine’, a moody, yearning, rock ballad that sends shivers to my toes.
The tune starts off strong as Thom Rhodes guitar rumbles against James Williams’ bass. Pounding drums played by DJ ride underneath the ever growing collage of sound. Then, the sound lulls before building incrementally.
Front man Connor Brookes, cries out: “That girls my medicine.” His tone is powerful, almost a roar, and practically every word that follows is underpinned by a soft growl.
‘Medicine’ feels gritty and gorgeous, just like Brum.
As the set continues Brookes’ emotive voice caresses the mic – the depth of his tone and his dynamic range persistently on display. Brook also plays lead guitar and as the band continues to groove, DJ’s skills on drums become even more apparent. It must also be said that Williams’ trousers are as funky as his rhythm.
I’m sad when Fitzroy’s set finishes, but I’ve heard Cardiff’s Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard put on quite the show.
Tom Rees’ immaculate stage presence is apparent immediately – there’s something a bit American Psycho about it – the erratic dancing draws you in but you’re cautious of being zapped by some kind of electric energy.
Crashing symbols and drawn out chords pierce the crowd with sharp precision and the bands frequent use of pedals and synths means Buzzard (Buzzard Buzzard) sound had a twang to it. Rees’ falsetto shrieks at points in a way that reminds me of Talking Heads, and then drowns back down, catapulting us and then bringing us back down to earth.
For a moment I’m extremely confused then I realise someone has been playing musical instruments (get it?) because the pianist is no longer a pianist, he’s playing the tambourine, and Tom Rees has picked up the keys.
Are they showing off? Absolutely. Does it make for a great performance? The crowd’s reaction is a resounding yes.
“People who do encores are sell outs,” says Tom Rees which receives one funny heckle and then several more unfunny heckles.
As Buzzard’s set comes to a close, Tom Rees’ voice waivers momentarily. But we forgive him almost instantly because he explains that the infamous Brummie curry has left his vocal cords a tad worse for wear.
For more from Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard take a look at their website: www.buzzardbuzzardbuzzard.com
You can find Fitzroy Holt via: www.facebook.com/fitzroyholtofficial
To see what Mama Roux’s have on, check out www.mamarouxs.co.uk