For a while I felt pretty despondent about the music scene (or what I felt was dire lack of) in my hometown Reading. Despite hosting some music festival or other on August bank holiday every year, it frustrated me that my favourite bands would rarely visit Reading on their tours and that the scene offered me very little in comparison to other towns and cities across the country. It turns out, however, I just wasn’t looking hard enough. There are some exceptional bands (such as Sundara Karma, The Amazons) making a name for themselves and for Reading, and the curation of grassroots events like ‘Thirsty Network’ and ‘Two Steps’ at The Purple Turtle provide the perfect opportunity for new bands to gain experience and exposure and for people like me to check them out.
Reading band The Amazons headlined the most recent ‘Two Steps presents…’ show, with support from another local band TARA, who I knew little of except for their mission statement to “save you from EDM and melt your fucking face off”. And I’d say they pretty much did that. TARA are a three-piece who specialise in what I can only describe as no-fucks-given filthy rock and roll. They played a swaggering and gritty set which exceeded any expectations I had of them. Midway through the set I noted a song which almost reminded me of Darlia’s sound, except with more soul to it – heavier, and with balls. One thing TARA certainly had going for them was some of the dirtiest basslines my ears have possibly ever encountered. Watching them sort of made me feel like I needed to take a shower.
It was clear both TARA and The Amazons felt completely at home on The Purple Turtle stage, one which both bands have graced numerous times. The Amazons were greeted with a receptive crowd which led to frontman Matt Thomson proclaiming that it was their “best Reading gig yet”. Despite undoubtedly appearing relaxed on home territory, The Amazons took the task at hand no less seriously. The feeling of passion and determination for the band to succeed is unquestionable, obvious in Thomson’s body language as he belted out the lyrics to relentless opening track ‘Stay With Me’. To prove my point further I’ve heard that before the band all quit their jobs, Thomson worked in Waitrose where he used to slip the band’s demo CDs into customers’ shopping. I really hope this is true, not least for the mental image of an unsuspecting middle aged woman finding a CD between her mussels and copy of The Daily Telegraph.
The second song of the set was the band’s current single ‘Junk Food Forever’ which was mixed by Catherine Marks (who has produced the likes of Foals, Wolf Alice and White Lies) and is quite frankly fucking anthemic.
The Amazons seem to strike a perfect balance between the melodic nature of their songs, and the kind of thrashing guitars and drums that make you want to lose your mind in a mosh pit. And on a note about the drums – nobody hits as hard as Joe Emmet. The band then showcased some newer material, including ‘Nobody’, a song which they played an early version of when supporting The Kooks on tour in Germany, and ‘Ultraviolet’, which built to a huge final chorus in typical Amazons style. Before closing with ‘Something In The Water’, a new song was played which saw Thomson swap his electric guitar for an acoustic, a move which brought a refreshing tone to their sound. It highlighted the band’s potential and ability to diversify, a sentiment echoed on their slowest track ‘Palace’. The crowd were taken completely by the five minute roller-coaster that is ‘Something In The Water’ with Thomson feeding off the collective enthusiasm and joining us on the floor as the band bought their hometown show to a euphoric close.
It might seem that I’ve struggled to remain impartial towards The Amazons, but I think it would be impossible for me to do so. I truly think they’re a band to believe in. I’d urge you to catch them on tour somewhere in the UK this October, and support a sincere band with genuine talent and the potential to do big things. My only warning: your ears will be ringing for days.
(Oh, and the moral of the story? Support local talent. There’s so much of it.)
Words by Katie Pilbeam
The Amazons are on tour this October:
Oct 07 Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
Oct 08 Oporto, Leeds
Oct 09 Chameleon, Nottingham
Oct 10 Sound Control, Manchester
Oct 13 The Hope, Brighton
Oct 14 The Lexington, London
Oct 15 Louisiana, Bristol
Oct 17 Lennons, Southampton