GIBRALTAR MUSIC FESTIVAL: THE HOMEGROWN TALENT
Big-name acts like the Stereophonics, Ne-Yo, Travis and Rosario may understandably be the main draws at this year’s Gibraltar Music Festival, but the hugely successful event is also an opportunity for Gibraltar bands and solo artists to shine and rub shoulders with their musical heroes. Fabian Vinet champions the local talent treading the boards across this GMF Weekend.
Jetstream, the main photograph shows Simon Dumas from Frontiers who kick off the festival on the first day.
The Manchester-based Frontiers are no strangers to the Gibraltar Music Festival and this will be the fourth appearance from this popular act, formerly known as This Side Up. Boasting a large, loyal following, the trio are fronted by Simon Dumas, currently perfecting his craft at the Royal Northern College of Music, with guitar and keyboard duties handled by older brothers Philip and Guy, respectively. So, what can the GMF audience expect? While it may be true that Frontiers’ sound has matured from their This Side Up days - the likely result of support slots with the likes of Lawson and The Dunwells - strong melodies and memorable guitar Pop/Rock hooks continue to be the order of the day. Indeed, one or two TSU songs like “Seven Seas” (which, in the hands of a major record label, could have been the massive chart success it deserved to be) will be making an appearance, but the focus will rightly be on Frontiers’ newly released debut EP, “Harbour Lights”.
Returning to the GMF this year after an awesome full-band Main Stage set in 2014 is the sultry-voiced Georgia Thursting, a local singer songwriter now living and working in Leeds. Following a short hiatus from her music career that has seen the 23-year-old pursuing interests in other areas of the creative industries, Georgia’s Saturday slot will include a one-off acoustic run-through her forthcoming “Closer” EP, including her latest release “Take It Out On Me”, although fans will hope there’s also the chance to listen to older material like “Hands Are Tied” or “Midnight Games”. Thursting is truly exceptional, her vocals alternating between soothing and raw, the irresistible main feature of a contemporary RnB and Soul sound that you’ll find difficult not to love.
Despite a succession of drummers, there’s nothing Spinal Tap about Jetstream, who continue to consolidate themselves as one of the most popular and reliable local acts, consistently getting things right on the live scenario. Frontman Nolan Frendo, guitarist Stu Whitwell, bass player Justin Pou and new skinsman Tristan Tonna have in a few short years amassed a truly wonderful collection of original material. Yes, they’re fantastic at providing the sonic backdrop to nightlife in Gibraltar, Marbella and Malaga with an array of catchy Pop/Rock covers, but their takes on tracks by, say, Coldplay sit very comfortably alongside their very own singalong tunes like “Lala”, “Stand Up” or the more recent Reggae-tinged “Wonderland”. They’ll go down a treat, as they always do.
Aged just sixteen, Kristian has a mature-beyond-his-years fondness for the Folk, Country and Alternative sounds of Mumford And Sons, The Lumineers and former GMF performer Newton Faulkner. The new Acoustic Stage is therefore the logical platform for young Kristian, who - armed with an acoustic guitar and that powerful marriage of innocence and aplomb that is hard to come by in later years - is looking forward to showing off his musical credentials, including the self-penned “Childish Love” which, he explains, “uses nursery rhymes to tell a story about a broken relationship.”
DEAD CITY RADIO
Fancy tender, syrupy ballads like Glenn Medeiros’s “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”? Look elsewhere; there’s nothing to see here. If, on the other hand, it’s crunching guitar riffs and truly rockstatic vocals that you’re after, may we kindly suggest you type ‘Dead City Radio: Don’t miss them!’ into your smartphone diaries. The four-piece band (Daniel Ghio on bass, guitarist Robin Batchelor, skinsman Michael Gomez and James Culatto on vocals and lumberjack shirts) were outstanding at last year’s GMF and are intent on taking things a step further this year. Drawing inspiration particularly from Seventies and Nineties-era Rock, tracks from their excellent, recent “Goddess” EP (available on Spotify and indeed on the ‘GMF16 Rock!’ Spotify playlist) will no doubt feature prominently and we’re reliabliy informed the knobs on their Marshall amps have been cranked up to eleven! Don’t say we didn’t warn you. See you down the front!
What do “Unchain My Heart”, “Signed Sealed Delivered”, “Dancing In The Street” and “Respect” all have in common? They’re all soulful, feel-good songs that benefit from the big-band treatment. And that’s where Soulmates come in! These guys - a combination of veteran musicians and more recent talent like Chloe Martinez, Jeslyn Ferrary and Tim Garcia on vocals - have earned themselves a reputation as the Rock’s premier party band, covering Soul, Funk and Pop with plenty of brass and a side order of sass. Soulmates play the Seaside Stage on Saturday and promise an entertaining, party atmosphere.
ADRIAN PISARELLO AND THE UNDESIREABLES 141
Adrian Pisarello has for many years now been one of the most original and uninhibited performers of the Rock’s music scene. His approach can be summarised as a fusion of styles as diverse as Punk, Flamenco, Reggae and good old Rock and Roll, coupled with a great ability to borrow from those diverse genres whilst packaging the results in a fresh, fun way. That modus operandi continues with Adrian’s new outfit, The Undesireables 141, featuring the likes of Nick Richardson (guitars), Francis Pecino on drums and Jonathan Bugeja on just about everything else. There’s definitely more of a Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Country-tinged feel to the new material, with nods to Elvis, Johnny Cash and The Stray Cats, and if the feet-stomping sounds of the new songs or re-imagined takes of older tunes from The EC Band or The Return Of The Punk Zombies weren’t enough, there’s also the visual spectacle of Jason Belilo’s piccolo acoustic bass, proving that size isn’t always everything.
Familiar with the current Nashville sound? Fret not because Layla Bugeja will be delivering a masterclass with a little help from dad Jonathan, best known for his work with Take Two and GibFloyd. Indeed, musical talent runs in the family as Layla is the niece of Taxi/Melon Diesel six-stringer Danny Bugeja. Having said that, this young lady is very much her own boss, with original songs like the excellent, instantly memorable “Bootlickin’ Lies” demonstrating she’s as talented on the songwriting front as she is performing tracks by the likes of Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves or even Johnny Cash. So, a Pop-flavoured Country set is what the audience can expect from young Layla, whose take on Dolly Parton’s “Joleen” is exquisite.
A published poet and singer-songwriter, Gabriel Moreno will be a focal point of the brand new Acoustic Stage, performing music and poetry throughout the weekend as he’ll be hosting proceedings, although his main slot is on Saturday. “Songs Of Love and Decadence”, which he describes as a cry to the night and intricacies of romantic existence (the man is nothing if not passionate and intense!), is his debut album, the musical culmination of a life in London, Barcelona, Italy and Peru. Gabriel cites the great Leonard Cohen as one of his influences, but his songs fuse Mediterranean rhythms with acoustic Indie and Folk leanings, promising something that is both different and special. Rebecca Faller and Jonathan Teuma will join Gabriel for poetry readings.
A hugely talented, quirky singer-songwriter, Hollie has in recent times been balancing her studies at London’s National Film and Television School with the recording and performing of new material, including a brand new EP scheduled for release at the end of the year. Songs like “Mother Of Mine” and “Marionette” have already ably demonstrated Hollie’s uncompromising, mellow and unconventional style - there are traces of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Jeff Buckley in there - but the GMF audience are promised an entirely new and unexpected sound. Fresh from gigging the London circuit, Hollie April will be backed by a four-piece band (guitar, bass, drums and viola) and you’d be well advised not to miss her Acoustic Stage set.
Music fans old enough to have purchased cassettes (remember them?) of Guns N’Roses’ and Bon Jovi’s debut albums from Vijay and Shades will no doubt remember No Man’s Land. Many will also recall the legendary Friday nights soundtracked by GLOW. Fast forward to 2009 and the formation of Metro Motel, the latter having experienced various line-up changes over the years. A constant feature of all these Gibraltar acts has been the determined, rhythm section powerhouse that are Corey Lawrence Alman (bass) and drummer Mark Brooks. With a new line-up featuring Jose Correock on vocals and six-stringer Olly Heywood, Metro Motel will deliver to the Gibraltar Music Festival audience their heartfelt, passionate blend of melodic Rock. Brand new song “El Sonido De La Vida” is bound to feature, as well as a selection from Metro Motel’s now extensive back catalogue.
Fresh from opening GibFloyd’s Chronology event this summer, Ethan Rocca and his acoustic guitar will be performing a selection of covers - these have in the recent past included takes on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and “Payphone” from Maroon 5 - as well as originals, like the excellent “Thorns”, a song that confidently shows off soulful vocals and accomplished guitar work. Ethan’s influences are varied and continually evolving, although he cites Paulo Nautini’s “Sky” as an example of the approach he strives for. The young singer-songwriter likes to tell a story through his music so be sure to listen to what he’s got to say when Ethan takes to the Acoustic Stage on the Sunday.
Asked what the audience can expect from Omnibus, the band are unequivocal in their reply: “Fun, nostalgia and more fun.” And who are we to argue? One or two originals may creep into their setlist, but Omnibus - a five-piece act fronted by Anthony Rocco with a line-up that features former Bay City Rollers keyboard player Kevin Peach - concentrate on covers and, following a positively received performance at last year’s Festival, promise to deliver more of the same, with their own, Omnibus-flavoured interpretation of classics. No strangers to the local live circuit and fresh from delighting crowds at this year’s Summer Nights, the band’s influences are wide enough for their material to encompass everything from Queen to Keane, Whitesnake to The Beatles. In other words: Fun, nostalgia and more fun!