If you asked me to make a list of my favourite gigs I don’t think there would be a stadium in the top 10. For me the intimate in-your-face venue is far more of an experience. So it’s with some excitement I’m off to see local legends Grifter at the Junction in Plymouth.
Chatting with singer Ollie before the show he tells me how they are careful not to play the same cities too often, so the anticipation is rife for their performance. With both support bands pulling out at the last minute due to the very rock ‘n’ roll incidence of the birth of children, Grifter will have to carry this show on their own. With a large following in the South West and ever growing support across the country, they take being alone in the limelight in their stride.
The band begin tuning up and getting the levels right as the amassed crowd begin to huddle round the relatively small stage. I’m taking photos tonight, so I try and get a sweet spot to shoot from – unfortunately this is right beside the PA and Grifter are extremely loud. They roll effortlessly into their set of dirty blues and rock numbers. Recent reviews of their latest EP assumed when the band said they were from the South they meant Arizona rather than Devon. But listening to them it’s easy to make that mistake: their nasty rock and roll could accompany a bar room brawl in Phoenix as easily as it could tonight in Plymouth.
Mixing the tempo through their set, with balls out, high speed rock then switching to slow and nasty grinds they have the audience their pocket. They are so loud at one point Ollie’s pint resting on the PA is propelled into the floor sending glass and Guinness in all directions. Their hometown crowd are at the bar buying him another before the staff have even located the mop. There are no stops on this ride, drummer Foz is a frenzy, he’s the engine and conductor of this stop-start-style bus-of-rock with little flamboyance – just peddle to the floor aggression.
Ollie calls to crowd to see who’s come up from Cornwall to see them tonight and there are several responses which turn to laughs as they launch into ‘Brother Sister’ a song about the supposed incestuous relationships of the Cornish. As a Cornishman myself I keep my head down and thank my stars that I don’t have any siblings.
Throughout this bass player Phil is a rock of precision, tight fret work and solid funky rhythms keep the dance floor moving. A fight nearly breaks out but is soon resolved and the parties shake and make-up. With one hand the band are Ares – God of war, with the other Aphrodite – Goddess of love.
The blistering set is soon brought to close with ‘Elephantine’ and Ollie’s throaty vocals drive 18 wheels of rock through the venue and smash out the doors onto parts unknown. No matter where you live Grifter will be playing near you soon. See them if you dare!