During my recent research on the internet it was with dismay that I repeatedly came across articles yet again declaring “The Fleece“ Bristol being under threat of closure. This is despite it being saved last September when owner Chris Sharp rallied 30,000 signatures on a petition within 48 hours. The council agreed plans for local offices to be turned into residential flats but with conditions attached to permit the ongoing operation of The Fleece. The absence of residential properties in the surrounding area of The Fleece has allowed them since their first live band gig in 1982 to put on music nightly and open up until 4am at weekends. Steeped in history this lively music venue has been host to a great many famous bands and solo artists from Radiohead, White Stripes, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age to Amy Winehouse and Oasis to name a few. (They have over 13,000 signatures in just 3 days, I have included links below if you would like to get involved.)
It was therefore a real delight to see one of my favourite unsigned bands Puppet Rebellion choosing the venue as part of their UK tour. Having previously seen them perform live in Manchester at two great venues The Deaf Institute @DeafInstitute and Manchester Academy 3 @MancAcademy with their original lead singer Simon Monaghan, it was an even more exciting prospect to be seeing them with new tracks and new lead singer Oliver Davies.
The Fleece is conveniently situated a ten minute walk from the city centre, Temple Meads train station and the bus station. There are plenty of spaces to park around the venue which are free from 6pm, and there is a carpark where I parked on Portwall Lane which is a short walk away £2.50 until midnight.
Arriving early I was lucky enough to bump into guitarist Craig, just tucking into a pasta salad. It was great to meet up again and he quickly organised with the staff for me to hang out with the guys while the bands did their sound checks.
An impressive old building with a long bar on the right hand side, bar stools dotted in the centre, several picnic benches around the edge and victorian paving. The first thing that stood out was the lighting, very striking, creating patterns on the floor, friendly bar staff and clean.
Although I had primarily come to the gig to see Puppet Rebellion play, it’s always great to hear new music. The first band up were Muncle, they started the evening with “Chicken or Egg” a real wake up call to their style of music, pounding drum beats thrashing guitar, and lyrically off the wall, this was soon followed by new tracks from their EP including “Where we are now” these tracks I felt really raised the level. Despite the lead singer and guitarist Mike Griffiths having technical issues with guitar strings, they carried on through with real professionalism, and gave a great performance. https://www.facebook.com/munclemusic @MlyndonGriff.
During the break between the bands it was a real thrill to get chance to chat with the individual members of Puppet Rebellion and have a laugh. One thing this band have always got time for is their fans and supporters. They were on an obvious high after performing for the first time in London at the Hoxton Square Bar the night before to cracking reviews. Another first for them was being on a road trip together, which by the stories shared I think will be the first of many.
One thing has to be said, the acoustics in The Fleece are quality, and as Puppet Rebellion set up you could feel the sense of anticipation in the crowd building as they began to gather at the front of the stage. Starting their set with some of the more well known and well loved tracks (and for me a personal favourite “Pirouette”) Oliver totally made them his own, with a strong commanding vocal delivery supported by the superb musicianship and presence of Craig and Paul, along with the stunning rhythm section of Jim on bass guitar and Danny on the drums. They flowed quickly into their new track, where you could easily tell Oliver felt his most comfortable creating a real energy vibe with “Watch me fall”. A quality beginning that builds the adrenaline making it irresistable not to move your feet, whilst at the same time giving a salute to The Stranglers “No More Heroes”. This class indie track sustains the distinct energy and style Puppet Rebellion are known and loved for with its fast pace throughout combining spirited punchy riffs and licks a forceful driving rhythm with powerful catchy vocals you find yourself singing back. It’s length only leaves you wanting more. Puppet Rebellion took control of the venue with their vivacity and passion and with true professional musicianship gave an outstanding performance.
What I can honestly say is Puppet Rebellion haven’t lost any of their dynamism or verve, that made them so recognisable and unqiue. They still have their tightness as a band and new frontman Oliver definitely knows how to command an audience. For exisiting fans you’ll totally still be hooked, and if you haven’t experienced their music or seen them live, you really need to listen and add them to your list of must sees!
Listen up Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield because the Puppet Rebellion boys are coming to a venue near you very soon….
Birmingham Gig – 13th March – @The FlapperBrum
Leeds Gig – 14th March – @BlueberryHillUK
Sheffield Gig – 20th March – @thersbar
One last thought to end this blog post. I would just like to add, remember the venues that are keeping music alive they need our support. The Fleece Bristol is one of them. Read the link and get involved if you want to support New Music and New Music venues. Deadline for all objections is March 19th
Website The Fleece Bristol: http://www.thefleece.co.uk/
Change.org petition: http://goo.gl/aSzpMv
Photography: @TrustFox http://www.trustafoxphotography.com/