Liam McGrady 31/10/2004
It started off strange, and just got stranger.
First of all there was the support band. The name of which I can't remember, with it being preposterous and instantly forgettable in equal measure, who couldn't decide if they were straight ahead rock, poppy punk or elastic bass-lined funk. Hang on, their name might have had something to do with murdering babydoll's… anyway, with an all female frontline and a big butch biker type, wearing bandanna, on drums it was just downright odd.
The main event then. Indie popsters, Clearfall took to the stage in front of, I think it's fair to say, a small crowd. Half of the crowd seemed to be made up of acquaintances of the band while the other half looked like they had been kicked out of a Halloween party for being just too damn weird.
Now I'll admit right now that after hearing the songs off the two demo cd's by the band, I was left a bit cold. The songs seemed pretty bare-boned; like they needed bulking up a touch, but when played live they are improved upon. New addition Gavin certainly fills out the sound from the back on drums, lending a more muscular foundation onto which vocalist/guitarist Gerry, guitarist Martin and bassist Niall craft the sort of tunes that some young bands would give their right arms, left arms and both legs for. Not sure that would be a good look, just a torso and a head, might be good for publicity though…
Let's get back to matters at hand. Worries about sound quality were present throughout the gig, with the band seeking assurances from the crowd. They needn't have worried though as Martin's guitar sparkled one minute then crunched the next and Gerry's Scottish-tinged vocals came through loud and clear all night.
You're waiting for the aforementioned strangeness aren't you? Well here it is. As the band prepared for another one of their perky pop ditty's, a young lady (heavily intoxicated I presume), dressed as Marilyn Manson, stepped forward and presented Gerry with a rubber replica of a dismembered foot. With this declared as, “The strangest thing I've ever been given” by the singer, the band launched into the inanely catchy She's Gone Away. This sparked the most crowd participation of the night, as the Manson look-alike dragged various crowd members up to dance to what is an immensely danceable track.
I guess you had to be there to really appreciate just how surreal this was, and you know, more people should have been there. Clearfall have evidently got an ear for a good tune (which some bands forget about; style over substance?) with Lullabye and Everglow being particularly strong songs. Lullabye is an obvious fan favourite and an anthem in waiting, despite being less than orthodox in its arrangement, while Everlong on the other hand is a moody, mesmerising rocker where the rest of the band provides a swirling undercarriage for Martin's menacing guitar lines.
The band rounded of the night in fine style with an enjoyable romp through the classic Teenage Kicks-after a request from the floor. So, any fault's? Well apart from Gerry's strange habit of making hand gesture's that are part mime artist and part police traffic controller, the main question is: Do Clearfall have that special something to lift them above being a first class support band? I'm still not sure. Then again maybe backing Clearfall, as they meld simple yet thoughtful lyrics to shiny-happy, acoustic led songs, ahead of some trendy “The” band might just pay off in the long run.