Guitarist Diaries: Mexicolas @ Moles, Bath 24/02/08

On record Birmingham band Mexicolas sound like the best kept secret in British rock right now – I (staff writer Rob Laing) went to see them at Bath’s infamous Moles venue to find out if they could deliver live…

Sunday nights: Antiques Roadshow and Sara Lee gateaux from Asda. Not tonight – oh no. I leave the warm of a terraced lair to make my way into the black, cold winter night and up the M5 in search of rock. The future of rock.

Attending gigs on a Sunday is a strange experience for anyone that isn’t a student – the spectre of Monday morning hangs over like a rotund pterodactyl. Sometimes it’s worth the effort, often it’s not. As a result I find Moles isn’t exactly heaving tonight.

I arrive later than planned and before the main event of Mexicolas, there’s a pint to acquire and two support acts to watch. Missing the first one due to Bath’s frustrating one-way traffic system, I behold a solo acoustic troubadour who sounds like a poor man’s Jeff Buckley. Seems like an odd choice for the bill tonight but he pulls in an enthusiastic response with his knowingly wistful falsetto. Not sure why though.

South Wales’ Sierra Alpha are much more impressive. Unashamedly pop, they look a little like the Scissor Sisters with Jack Black fronting and sound like The Zutons, The Feeling and Queen in a blender. They only formed in August lat year but already have an armoury of catchy songs and a guitarist who is unashamed to wield a pointy Strat-style metal guitar. Ones to watch for sure.

I’ve got to admit to being biased in favour of Mexicolas before they play a note. I’ve been listening to their recently released debut album X a lot since it arrived in the Guitarist office and I think it’s one of the best British rock albums in a long time. Fans of Feeder and Foo Fighters – this should be your new favourite band.

However I’m slightly worried that with expectation comes the threat of disappointment – could the three-piece deliver the goods without any studio trickery to hide behind?

Yes they could and they did. Half way through Queens Of The Stone Age-esque opener Shame, it’s clear this band have all the brute force a power trio needs and in guitarist/vocalist Jamie Evans they have the right captain to lead them to glory.

Playing through a large portion of X, the band assault an initially indifferent crowd with an energy and barrage of hooks that never lets up. It’s undeniable just how powerful these songs sound when stripped down in a live setting – Easy Smile already sounds like an anthem that belongs in much bigger venues and Lovers Are Not Enemies actually sound heavier and stronger in a live setting than on record. The new song (I think it’s called B12 but don’t quote me on that) debuted tonight makes it clear the future’s bright for the next record too.

Evans moves, plays and sings like a frontman who’s paid his dues in venues like this many times over and is ready for new challenges. His playing is top notch throughout – he wrestles a wall of sound from his seventies black Tele that never lets up and even showcases some impressive SRV-styles blues chops on an instrumental towards the end of the set. Following a storming Come Clean, they even have time for an encore of Falling Into Myself and the reaction makes it clear that they’ve – justifiably – won new fans tonight.

Despite an excellent show in this small venue I wouldn’t want to see Mexicolas here again – they are clearly ready for, and deserve, bigger things judging by tonight’s showing.

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