Patrick Widdess Reports on BLEECH, Beverley Kills, Mark Ellis & Jazz of The Judge Reinholds at The Portland 26th February 2013

Portland Arms, The

As punters poured into the Portland on a Tuesday night Jazz of The Judge Reinholds was on stage providing a solid opening for a night hosted by Repeat Records headlined by London-based indie hopefuls Bleech backed by three local acts. Jazz was in good voice despite a cold. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, he did the work of a full band banging out a set of tight songs with punchy power chord riffs and the energy and attitude of Green Day or The Offspring.
    Mark Ellis took the stage next, immediately endearing with his bashful smile, soft, gentle lyrics and self-effacing between song banter. It was a charming set and restful on the ears before the second female-dominated half of the show.
    I first heard Beverley Kills on the Repeat compilation Rocket To Romsey which features two songs from the all girl punk-rock four piece.  Having urged the crowd closer they played, shouted, sang and pranced delivering a performance that was energetic but always focussed on the music, adrenaline fuelled punk at its best.
    As Bleech took to the stage they looked like they had been performing all their lives which is almost true though they’re still young, having only released their first single in 2009. With the lights dimmed low sisters Jennifer and Katherine O’ Neill along with sharp suited drummer Matt created an electrifying presence and their death metal intro of drumming on all their instruments was immediately captivating. They sound like a band who have changed direction numerous times over several albums but they only released their debut last year. The band’s set took in everything from upbeat pop to grunge as the sisters sang in one voice from either side of the stage and duelled with their guitars in the centre. They even strayed into psychedelia on ‘Flower Hands’ - a weird song that stuck most in my mind. Often the songs sounded too close to their influences to have a lasting impact but they were rarely the same ones from one song to the next. Having absorbed everything from The Velvet Underground to Elastica they just need to draw out something distinct and original. On the basis of tonight’s performance they can and they will!

Writer & Photographer: Patrick Widdess