Live Review: The Fades, Stephen EvEns Band + Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter at Half Moon, London

Cor. Can’t go wrong with a party where the headline band kick off their set with an 8-minute long, brass-enhanced punk rock motorik glider, can you?

South West London punks The Fades have taken over The Half Moon in Putney to celebrate the release of their new album, Night Terrors. Recorded straight to tape over a weekend, it’s a squalling, eclectic album veering from short sharp punk rock pop songs to brooding, epic 8-minute semi-instrumentals with the odd reggae influence or free-form jazz solo thrown in somewhere in the middle. Genre-wise, it’s chaotic and messy, grabbing the best bits of whatever takes their fancy and interpreting it in their own unique way. It’s quite brilliant. Appropriately for an album launch, album collaborators take the support slots. It’s a family party.

First up is Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter of Carter USM, who provides guest vocals to The Fades’ recent single ‘People In General’. Rock’s most amiable living legend, Les delivers a crowd-pleasing acoustic set – yes, a crowd-pleasing acoustic set is an achievable thing in the right hands – of classics old and recent, capable of switching from spiky wit to heartbreak over the course of one line of lyric. He’s followed by The Stephen EvEns Band, featuring album producer Stephen Gilchrist. They perform brilliant, catchy, gleefully wonky pop songs about – amongst other things – wanting to be your friend and I think I love them. Gilchrist is a superb frontman, at one point easily swatting away that one super-drunk heckler. 

Then The Fades. I say again: cor. Here’s a thing: catty musicians – and friends of musicians – who can’t think of anything nice to say about their friends’ bands often use a variation on the words ‘yeah, you were really tight’ as a gritted-teeth post-set compliment-that-isn’t-a-compliment. I have a friend who can make the words ‘you looked like you were having a lot of fun up there’ sound like the senate sneaking up on Caesar. So for possibly the first time in my life with actual, real-life sincerity and love in my heart: The Fades are tight. They have a lot of energy. They look like they’re having fun. And their songs are fucking brilliant. That opener…even being familiar with their previous material I’m taken aback by it. When the brass section – the charmingly named Brassholes – kick in on the chorus, it’s one of the biggest sounds I’ve heard in a venue of this size for a long time. 

The set quite rightly leans heavily on the new album. Recent single ‘I Lost My Job’ sounds like a raucous take on imperial phase Police via The Teardrop Explodes, and of course Les Carter returns to the stage to reprise his guest slot on ‘People In General’. An improvised ramble through the aftermath of a drunken night out, his monologue about stumbling home and attempting to play guitar along with Bowie’s Hunky Dory is a hilarious – and from the chord sequences I could make out, accurate – account of small hours paranoia. And while some of The Fades’ lyrics trade on nostalgia (‘Meccano’, or ‘I Love Punk Rock’’s list of favourite bands), sonically they’re already looking forward: a new song makes its live debut, presumably intended for their next release. It, too, is a cracker.

The set proper closes – appropriately again – with album closer ‘Wake Up Generation’, before the inevitable encore with ‘Another Song About Motorbikes’. Calls for another helping go unheeded, and they’re off. The album is celebrated, and thoughts are already heading towards whatever is next. And quite right too. 

The album, Night Terrors, is available now on vinyl and digital download via Bandcamp

Find out more on The Fades’ official website

Review and photography by Steve Horry

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