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The Fierce And The Dead

Ramsgate Music Hall, Kent
Saturday, 4th May 2024

Saturday night in Ramsgate, at the Ramsgate Music Hall, which apparently has earned the accolade “Best small venue in the country”. Certainly, the layout of the place and the superb sound earn kudos from this scribbler.

Ramsgate Music Hall

We are here to witness another spirited performance from a band that just gets better all the time. “Hello. We are The Fierce And The Dead, from Rushden, Northamptonshire ” announces bassist and singer Kev Feazey after the band make an unassuming entry on to the stage’s hallowed ground, a place where mere humans can be transformed into conduits for something more, something bigger.

Following that intro, Kev informs us eager attendees that “This is the start, and this is The Start“, and off we go with the by now familiar slow build up to noisy denouement that is the opening track of the new(ish) album, the game changing News From The Invisible World. A few sound glitches were ironed out after that number, and after a few buzzes and clicks and shared looks of consternation with his fellow band members, Kev says “That was Technical Difficulties, a number that may appear again at some point in the set.” Kev’s undemonstrative and gently self-deprecating wit is present and correct tonight! This manifests itself in his later description of his colourful if maybe by then a tad sticky and uncomfortable shirt as being made of 1970s polyester, much to the amusement of the crowd. Polyester Man is among us!

The Fierce and The Dead at Ramsgtate Music Hall

The band then launch into a riotous Shake The Jar, which also shook the audience, by the look of the small but full room, now witnessing varying degrees of moshing, right to the back. The setlist is familiar as it is almost the same as for the album launch gig last year – LINK TO REVIEW – minus Parts 2 & 7, and with the addition of ancient rumbler Landcrab as a closing number. This means we get the entirety of News From The Invisible World, which is all good as far as I am concerned! This includes Photogenic Love, possibly the most atypical TFATD song thus far into their existence. That is, if a band as ever-changing as this can have an atypical song? Answers carved into a Spencer Park bench, if you feel so inclined. 🙂 Kev describes Photogenic Love as his “nemesis”, possibly because it so structurally different from the band’s trusty riff monsters – who knows? Anyhow, he pulls it off with aplomb, as he does all these new weird singing things. He is reading the lyrics off sheets on a music stand, an unusual trait for a singer in band, but perhaps not surprising for a man fairly new to this vocalising lark, and as he says, we just have to “get used to it”.

The Fierce and The Dead's Matt Stevens  at Ramsgtate Music Hall

It’s probably time to mention Matt Stevens, as ever stage left as we look, who is squeezing out several coruscating solos from his protesting and howling instrument like he has geetar moider on his mind. If TFATD ever play bigger venues I envisage Matt hurling his long-suffering instrument all over the shop without having to worry about low ceilings. A perfect foil to Matt’s extroversions is the unassuming but essential second guitarist Steve Cleaton stage right, who is suffering a bit with a cold, as he later tells me. Steve was the star of the recurring Technical Difficulties, but trust me it all sounded fine down here in the pit. His understated style is the ideal counterbalance to Matt’s more physical approach.

The Fierce and The Dead at Ramsgtate Music Hall

On drums at the back is the mighty rhythm powerhouse that is Stuart Marshall, whose kit takes another severe pounding as he propels the band through the set with the thrust of a turbine jet engine. This leaves me to pour praise upon Tom Hunt on keyboards and backing vocals, and tambourine massacre. His keys lend an extra layer of texture that bring these new songs alive, especially Photogenic Love. The band now occupy a different space than before, one that is just as undefinable, and this is due in no small part to Tom’s contributions. What exactly this new space in the musical firmament is defined as is open to debate, but the old and new tunes blend perfectly. Heck, this is simply “good music”, who needs genres?

The Fierce and The Dead at Ramsgtate Music Hall

Introducing fan favourite Magnet as “a heavy metal interlude”, Kev leads us down that particular riff-strewn garden path with a twinkle in his eye, and no doubt, an itch in his polyester! This is followed by a rabble rousing Wonderful, the ultimate shoutalong-a-pogo number that gets the already very mobile crowd jumping. Another highlight was What A Time To Be Alive that managed to make the album version sound weedy in comparison. Rounding off with the always crowd-pleasing Truck, the big noisy riffs having the desired effect on a by now tired but happy audience, segueing into a closing vista of gusting squalls of notes, with added howls and feedback as Matt manipulates his pedalboard to maximum effect, and with Stuart mercilessly pounding his kit to within an inch of its life one more time, an eight year old Landcrab crawls off with its prey in its big claw, and an evil look in all ten of its bloodshot eyes.

The Fierce and The Dead at Ramsgtate Music Hall

There are numerous points during this set when the audience and band are as one, just like my gig the previous night, when I was privileged to have witnessed the most joyous and emotionally uplifting celebration in music that was the Sing To Tim (Smith, of Cardiacs fame) tribute gig in London, a performance that I concluded was my gig of the year so far. This night’s entertainment will have to go some to even get close, I thought. Amazingly it did!

[Photos by Rosamund Tomlins, Phil Lively & Roger Trenwith]

The Start
Shake The Jar
Golden Thread
Photogenic Love
What A Time To Be Alive
Part 8
Nostalgia Now
~ Encore

Kev Feazey – Bass, Vocals, Polyester
Matt Stevens – Lead Guitar
Steve Cleaton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Stuart Marshall – Drums
Tom Hunt – Keyboards, Backing Vocals, eventually broken Tambourine

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