Live Review: The Van T’s, Preston

Live Review: The Van T’s

Roper Hall, Preston, 12 April 2019

Words and Photographs by Gary Lambert

Despite it being a fairly regular location on the circuit and only about 35 minutes drive from home, I had never in 20+ years of gig going made my way to Preston. However The Van T’s were coming to town as part of a tour with This Feeling, so that was going to change. Roper Hall is your traditional post-nineties student pub that’s neither horrendous, pleasurable, nor particularly memorable, but the gig venue upstairs, The Dark Room, is a cracker, I really enjoyed it in there. Apart from the strange lighting which meant that the singers in each band had their head and torso in darkness, but their legs were lit up perfectly.

The first band of the night was Sky Valley Mistress. This Lancastrian outfit have been around for years, but I’d guess it has been at least eighteen months since I saw them in action. I was thorou

ghly pleased to find out that nothing much had changed in that time. They are full of energy, loud, raucous and have a thick slather of doom and darkness within their sound. Their singer, Kayley prowls around the stage like the Hell Kitten the back of her jacket proclaims her as whilst Starsky and Russell create a sonic assault around her. It feels wrong seeing them in a venue like this. They have a sound made for basements with basslines to bounce off brickwork. They should be sh

ining a light of glamour in their all-white outfits in somewhere miserable and dark.

Definitely suiting the nice venue was Life At The Arcade who are moulding themselves into a consistent, tight outfit. Their music is starting to get louder and rougher, and even though

I watched them only two weeks previously, I felt that their sound was moved up a notch. They’re still keeping the pop accessibility of their music, it would be foolish not to, but the impression I get is that they are now putting everything they can into their performances and trying to make the best of the chances they have. They have been playing all over the country this last year as part of This Feeling, and this is having a positive effect on them compared to playing constantly in front of home crowds with the same friends turning up at every gig. They go out to make sure people pay them attention, and with their latest release Tabloids sounding exceptional, it was impossible not to pay them attention.

57297838_2281080898816679_3969944791176708096_n.jpgEarlier this year, The Van T’s announced that they were to be one of the support acts when Foo Fighters hit Glasgow this summer. We have been massive fans of the Glaswegian four-piece over here at Popped Towers, so we were made up for them. Going on this set, in a strange town, they are set up for one of the greatest moments in their life when Dave Grohl and friends hit their city. The band have progressed from sounding tight and sharp, to sounding tight, sharp, and full of attitude. With Chloe, Hannah, and Joanne at the front of the stage acting like they are in some kind of street gang that uses guitars instead of knives to menace the unsuspecting, Shaun happily smashes away at the back with merry abandon. Recent single Je Suis Cool sounded even better than it did on record as it hits you in the gut and makes you wish that you were cool enough to be one of The Van T’s. I’m happy being one of The Fan T’s though.

As usual for a gig by This Feeling, the last band of the night are a local act. In this case Bines. There was an impressive number of fans watching and supporting them, and Bines seemed to thrive on this and were visceral and destructive. This was a wonderful surprise for me as I’d never heard of them before, but I had made massively wrong guesses about how they would sound given that they had their name in pink bubble letters on the poster. I thought it was guaranteed to be the poppiest of indie pop, but instead, during their best moments, they sounded like The Who at their loudest and angriest.

It was a really smart night of music with a mix of new music, bands I haven’t seen for a while, and generally a sense of the joy that comes from live music.


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