View On Flickr. Photos by Richard Heaven

Very rarely do the security look like they’re having as much fun as the audience, but as Sonic Boom Six break into ’Gangnam Style’ mid song (with much of the crowd following suit,) its hard not to break into a smile at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Ska is rarely super serious as demonstrated by the local four piece Huw Olesker and The Barebackers who open tonight’s show. They’ve achieved a lot for such a young band and tonight’s set showcases their eclectic sound, mixing various styles of ska and reggae with occasionally humorous lyrics. Despite starting only 15 minutes after doors open they play to a good crowd and leave with a few new fans found. Having previously seen them incite shoe fights and limbo competitions mid set tonight’s performance does seem a little refined but it’s enjoyable none the less. (3.5/5)

View On Flickr. Photos by Richard Heaven

Zegema Beach soon follow, bringing a more traditional reggae sound to the table. Frontman Bobby Weaver demands your attention, channelling Jarvis cocker in his performance whilst joking with the crowd. Whilst they don’t genre hop as much as the Boom or the Barebackers it’s great to see hints of motown and two tone appear in the mix. Given Imperial Leisure’s explosive live reputation I can understand why Zegema Beach were chosen to precede them. (4/5)

View On Flickr. Photos by Richard Heaven

Having failed to be impressed by Imperial Leisure’s new album earlier this year I was curious to see how they measure up live. The arrival of the brass section boded well but that was nothing compared to their two front men. Both dominated the stage and air space around them with Ben playing the straight man to a hyperactive Denis who’s on stage persona brings back memories of a young Zach De La Rocha or Honor Titus. Having these young guns opening for them each night must keep the Boom on their feet. (4/5)

View On Flickr. Photos by Richard Heaven

Anyone who’s caught the Boom during the last ten years knows what to expect from Sonic Boom Six live – both Laila K and Barney Boom are competent front people, taking every opportunity to interact with the crowd and keep the energy levels high. Most bands mellow out after the first few years so it’s great to see that the energy is still there after all this time. 

Like the new album or not, it’s impossible to deny that the new tunes sound massive live. Synthesisers have been present at Sonic Boom Six shows for a long time now but it feels like the new material utilises them to their full potential, giving them a larger sound than the five of them could otherwise produce whilst putting on an active live show. 

Whilst the set list was understandably self titled heavy – eight of the thirteen songs (excluding their cover of The Streets’ ‘Push Things Forward’) came from their 2012 release – older fans were treated to some vintage Boom in the shape of ’People Acklike They Don’t Know’ and the pit friendly ’Piggy In The Middle’. I’d have liked to have seen a couple of tracks replaced with prime cuts from their back catalogue – ’Flatline’ and ’Keep On Believing’ not quite making the transition to the stage as well as ’Virus’ and ’SOS’ – but 2012 has seen the Boom turn over a new leaf and this tour should be seen as a true celebration of that. (4.5/5)


Words and Photos by Richard Heaven

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