The arches are illuminated, the nave filled with awe. Revelations continues to be an inspiring venue, not only due to its beauty but the commitment to bringing art to the town of Ashford and utilising the gorgeous St Mary’s Church, rich in heritage and spirit, to engage a new audience.
Opening the evening is OMateaus, bringing to the space a short set of soulful tunes on his guitar. Once a Canterbury chorister, his voice is rich, but fragile, and his stage banter effervescent with gratitude. His third appearance at Revelations, he finishes with a heartfelt and anthemic ode to his grandfather in the stars.
Lady Bird are noisy, and angry – but do it with a smile. The punk tunes and cheeky banter are suggestive of a kind of honed recklessness, but with a sense of grit behind it. They censor out swear words as they turn up volume, shocking some of those who remember the venue only as a holy church.
Headliners The Bay Rays see not only the crowd up on their feet, but their support bands out there in enthusiasm. Lead singer and guitarist Harry Nicoll, bassist Anthus Davis, and drummer Maxwell Oakley bounce of one another’s sonics, tight and powerful, as well you would imagine from three musicians who have been playing together since their teens. They’ve performed in various incarnations, but the infectious three minute melodies of The Bay Rays are the ones that have got them noticed by Noisey, BBC Kent, and Huw Stephens amongst others.
They power through the busy chorus of Four Walls, rock out with latest single Aphelion, and take us through recent EP Satisfaction, all with a mingling of unbridled passion, powerful destructiveness, and vulnerability. Evoking a hint of Supergrass and tinges of early Kings of Leon, their tunes are infectious but not throwaway in the slightest. Lyrics explore all the stresses of modern living; hypnotic melodies linger over, and determined bass lines power on. They’ve lived the struggles of finding worthwhile employment, artistic anxiety, barrage of anxieties and the harsh realities of modern day housing – all of which permeate their song craft.
There’s no encore, despite rapturous applause, which pleases me greatly (I like them, just the almost de facto reappearance regardless of audience calls bugs me). The Bay Rays play on their own terms, and they do it with blazing style.
Images credited to Lewis J Brockway