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Ideals + Pistols and Vultures + These Ghosts @ The Swan, Ipswich, Dec 30!

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Ideals + Pistols and Vultures + These Ghosts @ The Swan, Ipswich, Dec 30!

­When I heard Ideals were playing at the Swan I jumped at the chance to review them. With their careers set to really take off in 2011 and visits to their hometown becoming something of a rarity these days, it seemed like the perfect time to catch the band at a transition. This is intensified further by their recent change of line up, Matthew Bunkell being replaced by old friend Johnny Healey to allow the former guitarist to focus on his academic career. All in all this promises to be a special gig.

This is my first time at the Swan and I have to admit it’s an unusual venue. Whilst it has the indy vibe you’d expect from Ipswich’s number one alternative music venue, the layout is downright bizarre, the stage being crammed in the ten square feet of space at the end of the bar. This isn’t a problem in itself but the soundcheck makes me slightly wary as to what’s in store; the bar’s unusual acoustics don’t exactly lend themselves to the perfect listening experience. Fortunately my fears are unfounded as some hard work at the mixing desk balances out the levels and compensate for the odd dead areas in the sound.

Pistols and Vultures kick off the night with a nice mix of syncopated drumming and warm, high-end bass tones. Dwelling somewhere on the verge between ska and punk, they occasionally mix in competent tempo changes and warm atmospheres from the midi keyboard. My only potential criticism of the group is that the vocals seem to deviate little from those of their contemporaries, settling for the slightly overused emo template which fails to really test the vocalist’s abilities. But they certainly know their way around their music and throw in enough curves to keep the listener’s attention.

As soon as they begin to play it is clear the second act of the night, These Ghosts, are a very different beast. They use a blend of synthesized material, double time rhythms and tense bass loops; the mix skillfully balanced enough that the disparate parts make up an incredibly convincing whole. At points during the set the pace builds with progressive kick-heavy drums, ramping up the tension before releasing it with a frenetic energy. Their last song of the evening has some real weight to it, referencing a far wider spectrum of music than you’d receive from a mere punk-pop placation and showing that These Ghosts have the potential to produce some truly great music.

And so, finally, we come to the climax of the night. Ideals.

At this point I would like to make a confession. I would love to be able to wax lyrical about the band’s prowess, their potential. I’d like to pretend that I have a notepad full of crib notes as long as Charles Kennedy’s bar tab, paint myself as the severe and dedicated music critic hanging at the back of the room with a discerning look on my face and a head full of blinding similes. But I can’t. When Ideals finally come on stage all thoughts of work and words are swept clear away and instead I find myself completely caught up in the music. Which, given my reserved and curmudgeonly demeanour, probably speaks far louder than any amount of sycophantic praise or indulgent rhetoric.

But in an attempt to do the boys justice I will say that an Ideals show is an experience not to be missed. Despite the recent change of line up, there isn’t a note out of place and there’s a polish to the delivery that even long established bands often struggle to emulate. The lads’ taut playing at points conjure up memories of old post-punk classics; Ben Ward’s ornamentation on the cymbals brings out my Ian Curtis impression, essentially just rigid body spasms and jerky leg movements. Their music has an energy to it that isn’t just contagious. It’s a pandemic in microcosm.

Attending one of their gigs, it’s easy to understand why there is a buzz surrounding everything Ideals do. The light-gauge guitar playing of new member Johnny and guitarist / vocalist Andrew Major contributes toward a truly uplifting listening experience, never falling too far into excessive distortion and yet also maintaining an edge that is skillfully counterpointed by Simon Wilson’s clean bass. The whole time they’re on stage the band seem to be fully committed to their performance; the passion they have for their music clearly shines through. There’s a joy to the proceedings that is ever-present and almost impossible to ignore.

If 2011 is a year of change for Ideals, this gig on the penultimate night of the decade is a sign that there are great things to come for this homegrown band. I strongly recommend that the next time you get the opportunity you head along to one of their shows and see what all the fuss is about.


Words: Josh Russell
Photography: White-Robot


1 p&v - mbm | on 09 January 2011

i had no idea Pistols And Vultures were anywhere near ska or punk. . .in fact probably two genres that they couldn’t be further from!
and the vocals don’t seem to be emo in anyway, i could be wrong though, check out for yourself?!

2 Howard | on 10 January 2011

I agree. I don’t think P&V sound even vaguely punk or ska. I also think the vocals are the best aspect of the band and are not in any way emo.

I am the editor at IP1 and take responsibiltiy for all content that is published in the mag and online under IP1zine’s profile. As a result I will ask the reviewer to reassess their description of P&V.

3 Josh Russell | on 18 January 2011

Heya Guys,

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this.

Genuine error on my part this; going back over my notes clarifies the situation somewhat. Originally I had referred to elements of your music being somewhat suggestive of these genres; for example I had mentioned that the way the guitar was played brought to mind Ska music, Ska in the traditional sense of Ska Reggae not in the Less Than Jake sense. There was also a passing reference to punk in there as well.

Unfortunately both of these comments were casualties to the inner editor in me. I deleted a lot of excess words to try to improve the flow of the piece and didn’t think how much this would change the context. My sincerest apologies for the mix up and just wanted to let you know, very much enjoyed the gig.

Hope to catch you guys again soon!

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