Alternative music reviews

The Bellrays / D4

Nottingham Rock City 2003

It's 8:15 on a windy Nottingham evening. Few people have strayed on to the floor to commit themselves to watching garage punk act The D4. the New Zealanders (as drummer Beaver tells me) have been going for four and a half years and their debut LP '6TWENTY' is awash with quick tunes, easy hooks and songs called 'Pirate Love' and 'RocknRoll Motherfucker'.

The band storm on and launch into new single 'Get Loose' the chorus repeats "get up, get out and get loose!" and it seems like that is what this mixed crowd are beginning to do. The set continues to sizzle but it's not until the mid-set 'Heartbreaker' that people start to take interest in this energetic young band.

Then the all too short set culminates with two of the best. 'RocknRollMF' is dedicated to everyone for finding their way through the 'warren' that is Rock City (presumably a reference to the confusing maze of the 'backstage' area). It is a storming success and, when followed by the cheerful 'Party' confirms The D4's place, if not at, near, the forefront of the new garage rock revolution.

People mutter favourably whilst humming 'Party' quietly into their beer and a there is a general mood of contentment as we wait for "the band you've really come to see". The Bellrays come out fighting. Lisa Kekaula frowns out over the now considerably condensed crowd. It is non-stop for the first half of the set with the rich vocals toning well with punky bass lines. The crowd are hardly allowed time to catch a breath let alone applaud.

Having been a Jazz act, re-invented themselves into a RocknSoul band, and been on the road for much of their nine years together the weight of time should have told upon the 'Rays; if anything it's made them more exuberant. Bob Vennum and his newly acquired bass are barely still for a second and the drums never stop during the set.

Kekaula barely speaks throughout, except to accuse the room of a lack of participation ("all you have to do is say Yes an' No"). Heads nod but the gig is somehow incomplete. It is only with a fantastic 'Screwdriver' that it really kicks off. Feet barely touch the floor after that preferring to land upon the teenager behind or the old hippy in front. By the end of the set the air is full of sweat and the crowd beg for more, duly they comeback for an exultant 'Fire on the Moon'. Lisa descends into the front row and her "sit down, sit down's are obeyed. The crowd watch on amazed as she sings into the face of the men before her and the rest of the band watch on seemingly seasoned in this act.

The Bellrays are on top and winning...have a little faith in me.

Review and photos by Alex Lawson

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