Live Reviews

The Bellrays – Live

Engine Room, Brighton

Man, it’s been years since I last saw Riverside, California’s Bellrays debut on these shores with a ballistic set at The Garage in London.

At the time, the Poptones label were trying to push them as ‘the next big thing’, in a similar fashion they had with The Hives. It didn’t happen, but thankfully band founders and mainstays (vocalist) Lisa Kekaula and guitarist Bob Vennum are in this for the long term, and have refused to lie down… continuing to record and tour the globe.

There’s a receptive enough crowd gathered in this dingy subterranean venue by the time the quartet take to the small stage, and slowly but surely turn up the heat… starting out with a mid-pace soul groove, before breaking out salvos of righteously charged rocking fury. Lisa K dominates the stage, banging on her tambourine, and bellowing into her microphone… testifying to the powers of rockNroll. In the wings, the band locks in and maintains the solid momentum of a well greased machine. I’m not sure how long this current line-up has been together, but the chemistry suggested they’ve racked up a few miles together. They sound hot, move about a lot, good points in my book. Nothing bugs me more than an overly static live band.

The band trawls thru their back catalogue, with much enthusiastic audience feedback to material that made it on to the “Meet The Bellrays” compilation, notably “Fire on The Moon”, “Hole in the World“, “Zero P.M” and the belting set shutdown “Blues for Godzilla“, but there’s less initial hoopla to newer songs (from the “Red White and Black”, “Have a Little Faith” and “Hard Sweet and Sticky” LP’s) which is a shame, cuz the likes of “One Big Party“, “Voodoo Train“, “Psychotic Hate Man” and “Detroit Breakdown” are stellar numbers. And I wonder what some of the audience are here to hear? Just the ‘old stuff’? I don’t get that mindset. I still go and see bands for what they are doing now, not to just wallow in past glories, and dusted off blasts from a time gone by. If I wanted that, I’d just stay home and play the records.

By set close they have the crowd eating out of their hands and return for a curfew busting two song encore. I noted a decent walk up to The Bellrays merch stall afterwards, so I’d like to think more people were tuning in to the band’s latter releases. It’s important, keeps a band like this movin’. This ain’t no staid retrospective.

So yeah, I really enjoyed this shot of The Bellrays, they easily rocked out with the best of ’em. Get aboard brothers and sisters…

Pete Craven