It's difficult to sum up my feelings upon the approach of this gig. You see, there was this band called Reuben whom I, and many others, loved a great deal. A band that was as honest and as dedicated to their fans as one could wish a band to be...and they wrote some pretty kick-ass songs as well. In 2008 Reuben split up, leaving a gaping hole in the British music scene for their followers. It seems pretty unlikely that they'll ever return, especially with singer/guitarist Jamie Lenman pursuing a reasonably successful illustration career at the present. This is obviously sad but perhaps it's time to get over it...for Freeze The Atlantic's sake.
Fast forward to 29th April 2010. Freeze The Atlantic are about to play their first ever gig. This is a band featuring not only two ex-members of Reuben in bassist Jon Pearce and drummer Guy Davis but also members of Hundred Reasons (Andy Gilmour, who plays bass in HR but guitar here) and Archie & The Instincts (Tom Stevens, guitarist). It's something of an early 21st century southern counties supergroup. For many of the people packed into the Barfly tonight however, this is all about Jon and Guy's involvement. There are people here looking for FtA to fill the Reuben sized gap mentioned earlier.
Before the 200 strong crowd find out whether FtA are going to be awesome or a damp squib however there are two totally mental support acts to enjoy. Hold Your Horse Is are a bit like the live music equivalent of a bottle of coke exploding in an expensive Porsche, thus ruining the leather upholstery. Basically, they're really kinda awesome in a crazy sort of way (assuming you don't own a Porsche). Musically they sound a fair amount like Mclusky. You should go and see them if they're playing near you and buy one of their ultra horsey t-shirts as well.
Cars On Fire are more visceral than HYHI. Frontman Ali Ross is in the crow within thirty seconds of the first song kicking off, stirring up the first pit of the evening (spoiler alert). This is a band that sounds like Reuben, the Bristolians provide some almighty riffage with some mega screams from Ross and yet still with anthemic choruses on the likes of 'Burn The Suits' and 'Sharks'. The sound isn't perfect and there's some refining to be done before they can truly match some of their heroes but this is a band that will be pretty awesome for sure by the time they get their first full album out; mini-album 'Dig Your Own Grave' is out now, they'll give it to you for a fiver if you ask nicely!
When Freeze The Atlantic finally enter the stage the tension is noticeable. Not that they appear to have noticed. This is an incredibly tight performance from a band playing their first gig and they don't let the fact that the crowd is hearing most of these songs for the first time hold them back in any way at all. Singer Daniel Flay is the only one who appears at all nervous but he still gives a fine performance, crowd surfing not once but twice, and it's great to see Jon and Guy back on stage again (admittedly Guy can't actually be seen but then again, he's supposed to be sitting down I suppose). It's important to note that they actually sound very little like Reuben at all. This isn't a bad thing at all, they're a very good band with some great songs, although I suspect some in the crowd may well be a little disappointed. The songs already released through their MySpace are obvious highlights merely because they're known, 'Feather In A Hurricane' being a particular favourite along with closer 'All These Things You Hold On To', which sees the crowd join in on the "woah-oh-oh-oh-oh" part toward the end. The band leave with a promise to return in September...bring it on. They may not be Reuben but they'll definitely do.
Hold Your Horse Is - 7/10
Cars On Fire - 7/10
Freeze The Atlantic - 8/10