Irma Vep

19 January

"And that's just the first song," said the person next to me after Irma Vep’s opener, a fierce, vibrant way to start a set anywhere.

Beforehand, Secret Admirer engaged the audience with a warm and enticing set. Featuring Nick Ainsworth (of Former Bullies) they are the perfect antidote to a dark, cold, January night. Two guitars, bassist, drummer and keyboards formed the line-up and judging by the sizeable crowd, there were plenty of admirers. The deployment of dual vocalists over the cleverly layered textures lulled everyone into a feel-good mood.

In between, Handle entertained the crowd. Sometimes appearing by herself under the moniker of Beth, vocalist and keyboard player Bethany Hermitt has teamed up with Giulio Erasmus (bass and vocals) and drummer Nirvana Heirev (from DUDS) to form this trio. A different style from the bands either side, Handle create sharp, staccato twists and turns. Raw sounds that have so much going on, delivered with a frantic urgency.

Edwyn and his three fellow expert musicians Ruari McClean (guitar) Moema Meade (bass), Andrew Cheetham (drums) played at Gullivers as part of a tour that seems to accumulate plenty of miles but no green shield stamps, from Scotland to Manchester then across to the north east via Llanfairfechan. Even on a damp and miserable night in January when people are still dealing with bulging, post-Christmas credit card bills, upstairs at Gullivers is packed. And so it should be, for Irma Vep are in fine form.

When you are a bassist rocking out like Moema, you know something good is going on. ‘King Kong’ opened the set and marked a high level of musicianship that never dropped.

With experience as a resident of three of the four UK nations, Edwyn Stevens has been exposed to all sorts of styles, fed through his internal sound system to come up with some gloriously rich and potent songs that his band can transcribe on stage into golden audio nuggets.

After each song, Edwyn gazed out over the heads of the crowd with a look of questioning bewilderment: “They seem to be enjoying this.” Indeed we did.

Ged Camera

Photo inset by Ged Camera.