Whether it was a carefully chosen date or just a happy coincidence, it was with great anticipation that Gentlemen Of Few, Kent's Greatest export bar Biddenden sparkling wine (... sorry boys, but it has won more awards) took to the stage at the Leas Cliff Hall on American Independence Day. The band may all hail from the South-East of Kent but it's nearer the American Deep South that you'll find the roots of their Bluegrass and Country infused Folk-Rock.
The 4th of July is always cause for state-side celebration but it was to be in Folkestone that Gentlemen Of Few headlined their biggest gig to date, and whilst there may not have been fireworks, there was certainly a fantastic party atmosphere and sense of great pride and achievement that the band had packed out such a large local venue.
Sam Mummery was the first of the support acts to venture onto stage. His lone figure (think Jessie Eisenberg/Mark Zuckerberg with an acoustic guitar and little else and you wont go far wrong) performed some sincere sounding ballads, 'Unwind' and 'The Lake' among them. Tellingly for Sam, his best song of the night was his cover of Benjamin Francis Leftwich's 'Atlas Hands' (Sam's most powerful and potent song; delivered with far more conviction than any of his own).
On stage next, and prior to the GOF, were the altogether more boisterous and exuberant Ab & The Underclass. The four piece band had some great toe-tapping stuff to get the crowd geed up, there was even mild choreography taking place on stage, as well as crowd participation off it. With a whole lotta bobbing going on, Ab & The Underclass couldn't let the occasion go by without promoting their own new 4 track E.P, 'More To Life'. There were fabulous sibling harmonies from Abi & Tom (Angus Young, Norman Wisdom and Robbie Williams rolled into one... I know, but really, and yes it did work) especially on their pimped up version of 'I'm A Believer' and even a nod to the Killers 'All These Things I've Done' towards the end of an entertaining set.
The main event of the night, Gentlemen Of Few, followed on not too far behind the departure of Ab & The Underclass. They didn't really need a reason to book out the Leas Cliff Hall, I think their devoted followers would have turned out regardless but have one they did anyway. With a new 8 track E.P/Mini-album to their name it was time to unleash 'The Way & The Return' to the ears of the assembled masses.
With the 'Few' occasionally and beneficially enhanced with the addition of an extra four (Violin, Drums, Trombone & Trumpet) spirited souls on stage they set about raising the roof with a band staple, 'This Is Getting Old'. After ridin' the freight train down to New Orleans, with Kit on banjo and Jarrod Piner's Honky Tonk keys, they set about delivering a fine cover of Springsteen's 'Glory Days'.
Gentlemen Of Few had obviously worked hard to make the gig happen but were also genuinely thankful to the crowd 'for making it all worth it'. The band didn't disappoint all night. From piano led ballads through to the Who's 'Squeeze Box' via the 'Duelling Banjo's' of Deliverance, GOF were on the top of their game. The band's take on the Old Crow Medicine Show's 'Wagon Wheel' tore the roof off with a fantastically fervent performance.
You may have been forgiven for thinking you were in swamp country but there was no need for any moonshine to enjoy the foot stompin' jamboree that the band cooked up on stage. It made it all the harder to believe that the new record was recorded on a barge in Cornwall during a wet and cold February. If it was cold outside the band had a fire in their belly and nothing was going to dampen their resolve. GOF, then and now, are all clearly all about imparting their enjoyment of their music.
The infectious spirit of a band in their ascendancy was a pleasure to witness and a delight for the audience. From their first single to cuts from their new E.P, including great performances of 'Bring Me Home' and 'Bluegrass Song', Gentlemen Of Few held the crowd throughout with enthusiastic passion and riotous abandon. Elliott, Reece, Jarrod and Kit were all loving being there as much as the crowd they had come to entertain. Hopefully, just the first of many (near enough) homecoming headline gigs.
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