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Strangers - Colors Club, Basildon, 26/5/2013

  by Adrian Janes

published: 25 / 5 / 2013

Strangers - Colors Club, Basildon, 26/5/2013


Adrian Janes at the Bas festival in Basildon enjoys a fine set of electronica from Heaven 17, Tenek and the up-and-coming Strangers

Bas is a relatively new festival of electronic-based music, with its roots in the organisers’ enthusiasm for Depeche Mode, Alison Moyet and other Essex artists. This year’s Bas took place over the last weekend in May in various local venues, and this gig was the chief live event. Strangers opened with the appropriately stirring ‘Sense of Liberty’, deploying with skill their superficially sparse instrumentation of keyboards, drums and David Maddox-Jones’s expressive voice. Later in the set they were joined by vocalist Eleanor Fletcher. Although her singing added another tone to the sound, it was mainly on current single and the set’s closer, ‘Something New’, that I felt that the use of twin vocals really worked in a powerfully emotive way. Drummer Raife Harding, besuited and standing to play his kit (a mix of electronic drums and traditional cymbals), worked hard throughout to drive the music along, while Piers Sherwood-Roberts supplied varied keyboard textures. Despite the band’s small size they collectively create a surprisingly big sound, one that aspires to and deserves a bigger stage. Tenek presented an intriguing electro/rock hybrid, with bass and guitar as important to their sound as the expected keyboards and drum machine. Live they communicated a real compulsive power (especially on ‘if I Should Fall’, with its waspish guitar) and strong vocal melodies, which were shared between their twin front men Geoff Pinckney and Pete Steer). Having since listened to some of their songs online, I would have to say that I don’t think their recordings yet do them justice, as these lack the grit and impact of the band in concert. Headliners Heaven 17 played an excellent, well-oiled set. Oddly, for a band that were once literally instrumental in forging the sound of a futuristic music, they are now largely in the position of reviving their 1980’s heyday, right back to songs like ‘Being Boiled’ and “Penthouse and Pavement’. But perhaps the fact that, in the world of electronic music, these and other songs like ‘Temptation’ (passionately performed here by lead singer Glenn Gregory and Billie Godfrey, one of the two backing vocalists) are now something like standards simply confirms their significant place in pop’s evolution. In any event, they were very enthusiastically received, and original members Gregory and Martyn Ware seemed genuinely touched by the audience’s response. All in all this was a great night, demonstrating the continued vitality and variety to be found under the banner of electronic music. Hopefully Bas will continue to grow, while not losing its intimate feel. Strangers' Set List: Sense of liberty Shine on You Broken Promises Never Enough Safe Pain Something New

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Strangers - Colors Club, Basildon, 26/5/2013

Strangers - Colors Club, Basildon, 26/5/2013

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