by Matilda Bywater
Saturday evening presented a veritable conundrum for Bedford-dwellers in the form of a clash at Esquires: tribute band The Total Stone Roses playing upstairs and whimsical guitar-driven band Gengahr gracing Holy Moly’s. Having missed the latter supporting Wolf Alice on the main stage a couple of summers ago (the night before my A-Level English Lit exam), I plumped to see Gengahr and was glad that I did.
Esquires seems to have a rare knack for booking bands on the very cusp of success to play intimate shows and Gengahr, with their NME-approved swirling pop and blissed-out vocals that delicately err on the falsetto, are certainly one of those bands. Playing a healthy mix of recognisable tracks such as ‘She’s a Witch’ and the gently psychedelic ‘Heroine’ on top of new material from their forthcoming album, not even the minor technical hitches (or the questionable audience-led rendition of Wonderwall that ensued) could dampen the atmosphere.
At one point during the set, one fan (making use of the lack of divider between audience and stage) presents the bemused band with a single Ferrero Rocher before another thrusts a phone at frontman Felix Bushe, encouraging him to say hi to his friend who apparently has been listening to the whole set from the comfort of his home.
The woozy four-piece are on form tonight, surprisingly not yet jaded by incessant touring but happy to indulge the crowd, taking last-minute requests for lesser-known songs from their debut album ‘A Dream Outside’ and even staying for a jubilant encore. Speaking briefly to bass-player Hugh Schulte after the show, he laughs, “We like playing in Bedford, although I’ll admit we haven’t seen much of the town… We went to the pub to watch the football earlier but the locals there were scary so we left”*. Scary locals aside, the band do seem genuinely pleased and humbled by the response tonight, confessing “we’re still getting used to playing our own shows!”
*The Bedford Clanger hopes this wasn’t your local that let the side down.