Raggle-taggle upstarts polish their punk edge
Carnglaze Caverns, Friday
Crowns have to be the ultimate Cornish band. Hailing from the depths of the county... well, Launceston... and fiercely proud of their Celtic roots, these guys wear their heritage on their sleeves. Their music is steeped in the traditions of their ancestors, yet given new life with the edgy vitality only youthful innovation and punk presentation can bring.
Where better for them to perform, then, than in a cave at a former Cornish slate mine, providing a complete contrast to the location in which we last saw them on home soil – namely wowing the hordes on the beach at Looe Festival last September.
Friday night's spectacle at Carnglaze Caverns was every bit as thrilling as anticipated. After the capacity crowd had been warmed up with a stonking set from Plymouth's ace guitarist Vince Lee and his Big Combo, Crowns went on to give a blistering performance which rocked the ancient place to its foundations.
With a plethora of gigs now under their collective belt, Crowns have upped their game since they started out as a raggle-taggle bunch of upstarts and they have polished their performance somehow without compromising the rawness of their rabble-rousing essence. Four-part harmonies are stronger, instrumental work is tighter and their fine original compositions from their recent debut offering Stitches in the Flag – including Full Swing, Kissing Gates and Four Walls – sit very comfortably beside more traditional fare, all given Crowns' incendiary punk-fuelled twist.
Not only do they sound the business, they look it too – combining London style with Cornish swagger. Brooding bass-man Jake Butler, together with matinee-idol drummer Nathan Haynes, provided the rock solid rhythms, while compelling front-man Bill Jefferson looked every inch the svelte and stylish alt rock star and I don't think I've ever seen a cooler mandolin player than young Jack Speckleton, with his floppy hair, checked shirt and skinny chinos.
The band were augmented for the evening on accordion by Rob Strike, the lads' former music teacher from Launceston College, who added an even fuller dimension to the sound and the crowd loved every minute. The atmospheric venue was cleverly divided into a seated area down one side and a dance area on the other, but there were few left sitting for the finale. A suitably raucous rendition of Little Eyes had everyone bouncing and singing at the tops of their voices.
With a bunch of festivals to play, including Glastonbury and Download this summer, these guys are definitely ones to watch…