On Saturday night, I was at home on the Isle of Wight and went to a local pub for some drinks after dinner. After first realising how everyone seemed to know each other in a way that could never happen in London, we then went through to the back bar for some live music.
My first reaction was to think “great, there’s music! That always makes nights more fun.” Then the band started playing The Wombats’ Moving To New York and I thought “even better! I love this song!” and danced away. It was only after that I started to realise that the musical quality was not quite what I was used to…
There were two singers; one was alright. He had personality and a smooth voice that generally hit the notes (except in Kasabian’s Fire with its vocalised focus on the big “oooh” riff). Unfortunately, the other seemed to think he was Alex Turner when he had very, very little to justify that comparison, and he slaughtered two Arctic Monkeys songs in a row.
Elsewhere, the guitar riffs were often barely complete or were rushed, and the end product just didn’t feel very tight. So why was the pub crowd going quite so crazy? Why was the room filled to the brim? Why was there some crazy dancing going down (other than the fact there was a rowdy hen party at the front)?
My brother kept saying “only in Cowes…” and maybe he’s right. In London there is naturally such a wide choice of bands and artists that only the best are going to be able to stay afloat. It has to be survival of the fittest.
However, on the Isle of Wight things are very different. Although there are still a fair number of local musicians for one self-contained island, the consumers of the music are incomparable to a city. People are paying less money for their night’s entertainment so the quality doesn’t need to be quite so high. There are many less things to do in general so they will take what they can get. There’s a slower pace of life so people are more inclined to just go with the flow and enjoy what’s on offer.
Of course, these aren’t necessarily criticisms. The enthusiasm and goodwill in a place like that pub are found much more readily in a fairly rural, local pub where no one has huge expectations and everyone’s happy. Although I’d rather a slightly more accomplished band to accompany my evening, I have to admire the spirit I saw there.