Kicking off Little Red's second Tote Residency night is 'Definite Article' with their first gig under a new name that is not much better than their old, 'Squeaks & Squeals'. Vocalist Mark wears a silly hat and the band have a drum machine so songs never quite get going, but contain enough pleasant harmonies and melodies to maintain interest. As the room fills 'Magnum Gumbo Detonator' take to the stage, vocalist Bernie's slightly inane grin seemingly happy with the crowd. They're a funk band without a lot of funk and a soul band without a lot of soul, unyet their pots of charm and sense of fun carry the show, captivating the crowd, a limbo contest during the last song winning all but the coldest of hearts.
It's often said that music recycles and builds upon what's come before, borrowing bits from here and bits from there, melding them into something sort of recognisable but not quite discernable. What about those who wear their musical hearts' on their sleeves, who are more obvious about their influences and inspirations? It is clear from the outset of tonight's gig that Little Red draw more than a modicum of inspiration from 60s beat combos, with a slight dash of 70s rock thrown in for good measure. Three singers share a tour of duty on lead vocals, with slick backing vocals provided from those on the subs bench throughout. Dominic Byrne, resplendent in a knitted tank top is reminiscent of a young and dangerous (yes, he was once, a long time ago) Cliff Richard, his vocal strained and full of passion, maybe even a little pain, think of John Lennon's delivery on 'Twist & Shout'. Next up is Tom Hartney, something of a young Paul Weller look-a-like, decked in a glorious 80s style jacket, sleeves rolled up, frantically bashing a tambourine and towering above his compadres, his lower register voice booming through the rest of the band. Finally on lead duties is Quang Dinh, sporting a suitable Beatles mop top, he handles the more soulful material, his gentler voice sometimes lost in the mix, but his mournful eyes telling all that needs to be known. Adrian Beltrame on Guitar / Backing Vocals and Taka Honda complete the line up providing an able bed of rhythm and harmony. The songs are primarily about girls, loves won, loves lost, loves lamented, happy tales, sad tales and a few unrelated tales thrown in for good measure. Not the most original of subjects, but what else would you expect from a band taking the strains of the first youth music when that's all it was about, weaving it into something new and exciting for the youth of today to relate to all over again.
Published in InPress