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Sheding Festival – The Fades

March 24, 2012

I awoke this morning, with the following lyric pogoing around my head –

I don’t know what’s wrong with Jonny. He don’t like Meccano, Meccano, Meccano. He don’t like Meccano.

Meccano is the latest single from SW London-based The Fades and, in my book at least, it is already a strong contender for ‘Single of the Year’. It’s not normal for me to play my hand so early, but I like this band. I like them a lot.

A couple of posts ago, I was bemoaning the fact that there were few, if any, bands around that were prepared to stick it to the mic and write some proper, ballsy, rock’n’roll songs. (see ‘The ‘Beaten Generation’ and ‘…have axe, will grind…’ ) Now it would seem that, like London buses, you have to wait for ages, but then three turn up at once. Of course, music is an intensely personal experience, not only for the audience, but also the musician. One man’s meat and all that…

So here’s the disclaimer: if you’re looking for intricate synth lines, swirling strings, morbidly obese horn sections and/or digital jiggery pokery, this may not be your bag. Planning a romantic night in with dinner, soft lighting and ambient music? Try Burt Bacharach.

The Fades
At The Watershed

The Fades
Three Minute Heroes

From the off at The Watershed last night, (23/03/12) I was captivated. What we have is four musicians in complete control of their instruments and sound, delivering no-nonsense, three-minute punk/soul songs of such power, precision and passion, that I found it impossible not to be completely swept away. There is an album in the offing and the boys treated us to their new material. From Be Your Man through to the aptly named, I Love Punk Rock, this was such a jaw-droppingly good set, I was afraid I’d slip in the puddle of drool I’d left on the floor.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy to deliver, and what makes The Fades rise head and shoulders above so many others, is a sublime sense of teamwork. Dave Lightfoot’s lyrics and guitar playing can be minimalist, which gives the impression that there is no room for arseing round – nothing shall be wasted, and he’s backed up to the hilt by lead guitarist Jonny Barnard. The two play superbly off each other, like they’ve been doing it all their lives. The respect they have for each other on stage comes across in spades and I was in no way surprised afterwards when Dave described his playing partner as, “100% the best guitarist I’ve ever met.”

Dave’s brother, James is on bass and BVs. As a bassist myself, I’ve often heard it said that we’re just frustrated lead guitarists. What James gives the band is a hard-hitting intricacy on bass that compliments the perfectly syncopated guitars. It’s intense, but then it has to be to a part of a rhythm section with Alistair “Flash” Thorpe on drums. Now, I’ve seen some drummers in my time, but man! can this chap play. The extraordinary hand speed he possesses sends The Fades into warp speed. I mean, watching them had me grinning like I was in an open top car doing 200mph.

Gig finished and Mrs Aardvark turned to me and said, “John Peel would have loved this lot!” She’s not wrong. She tells me she never is. But it’s a brilliantly succinct observation and I love her a little more. Then she reveals she has a ‘bit of a crush’ on the drummer. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Downstairs, and The Fades are just as engaging as they are on stage. We’re laughing and joking like long-lost mates. Dave reveals a bit about his view on the world and again, I’m not in the least bit surprised when I find myself agreeing with him. “It’s like we’re not given a chance any more, especially now we’re in a recession. Everything’s fucked up. It’s like the Sex Pistols said, ‘there is no future.'” There is a future, we all know there is and The Fades are going to be around making sure that there is a voice for the minority. “We’re not setting out to be as big as the original punk bands,” Dave continues. “We’re just doing it because we love it.”

James in particular is excited about their prospects. “I’m really proud of our new record. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done as a band. I just want people to hear it.”

And so do I. Again and again. If I’ve played Meccano once today, I’ve played it two dozen times. New favourite band? You betcha because here is a refreshing blend of punk and soul which plays to my punk/mod leanings. Dave tells me this makes me a ‘monk’. Perhaps then I should get me to a monastery. A punk rock monastery because I do indeed love punk rock.

And don’t tell Mrs Aardvark, but I think throughout the course of the last 24hrs, I’ve developed a bit of a man crush on The Fades!


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