The resurgence of the South-East Kent music scene has been on an uphill ascent for these past few years, and not only just favour of bigger local music venues. Local independent music venues are where the real live music gems tend to lie, especially in these economically troubled times. But one very much loved and applauded award-winning small live music venue being the Ramsgate Music Hall, still consistently delivers and hosts many great artists from all over the world – of all genre varieties. So on a very, cold and snowy night on the Ramsgate shores, we are graced with the presence of soul-punk / funk collective The Bellrays, who are in the midst of their 2018 Euro / UK tour.
But before we get to the aforementioned, let’s take a moment to talk about tour support and opening band of the evening… a quite frankly incredible little trio called Fuzzy Vox. Hailing from our neighbouring country of France, Fuzzy Vox are currently embarking on their first ever tour of the UK. But bloody hell do they make an impression! These guys balance the fine line of the dirty, fuzzy, frenetic qualities of garage punk and rock and roll bands like The Computers, Hot Snakes, and The Hives, and then whip up a musical whirlwind of devilish fun, savagely musical precision, and undisputed charm.
What is even more compelling is the natural charm and charisma of frontman Hugo Fabbri, who has the audience laughing, mesmerised, and standing to attention, who is suffice to say one of those guys who just has ‘it’. But that would be an injustice to forget about bassist and drummer Greg, and Jerem, who are both musically consistent and compelling to watch performance wise. This is one of those rare occasions where I have witnessed a support band potentially about to steal the show… But what you do need to know is that Fuzzy Vox are a band that deserve your attention immediately. Absolutely fantastic, keep your eyes on this lot. If they keep this momentum up, I predict bigger things to come in the future! They could be your new favourite band…
But after a compelling support act, up next are The ‘mighty, mighty‘ Bellrays from Riverside, California! It’s been a fair while since these guys have brought their incomparable blend of soul, funk, and punk rock back to these shores, but on tonight’s performance, it does not look like they have missed a beat. As commanding and as intoxicating as ever, lead singer and frontwoman Lisa Kekaula is an incredible and captivating force to be reckoned with. Her presence and soaring voice commands respect, awe, and attention, as she leads the band’s immediate flurry of rock and roll into a journey of breakneck punk rock rhythms, with the feverish flavours of funk and soul infusions, which gets the crowd into dancing shoes mode.
Whilst The Bellrays were musically incredible, and their selection of choice covers as well as original material was absolutely wonderful, my only criticism of their performance was that it did come across on the rare occasion as if some members of the band just seemed a little subdued. Maybe it was just an over-analytical observation, but what people need to keep in mind and respect is that tour life can be very hard and physically draining at times. So even if this was an ‘off’ night, then my word they can still kick ass more so than others on their weaker performances!
Regardless, tonight’s performances were just absolutely wonderful. A sweaty, feverish display of rock and roll, translated just how it should be – with devotion, passion, and with the utmost exuberance that will have the persuasion and the power to convert even the most introverted and hardest minds to please. A tremendously memorable evening by all accounts, although I may have to say that tonight – Fuzzy Vox may have just stole the show by the smallest of margins!