16th June | Fleece

It must be truly humbling to exist as an artistic entity for the best part of three decades and still feel the warmth of a dedicated fanbase, even if that fanbase consists mostly of the same faces that peered on at your inception. Bristol’s The Fleece may not be the biggest venue in the city but it certainly throws its hat into the ring as having one of the most dedicated regulars and existing as one of the last true bastions of ‘proper’ rock and roll. It seems fitting then that art house heroes The Blue Aeroplanes should opt to take to its stage in preparation for a return that they hope will keep them airborne for some time to come.

Openers The Belishas proved exceptionally popular with the Father’s Day crowd. Perhaps it’s due to vocalist Ewan Ferguson’s channelling of a young Paul Weller in his aggressive, staccato vocal delivery. Definite influences from the world of 70s and 80s punk and post-punk appear front and centre in a flurry of blistering guitars and a domineering stage presence that certainly resonates with tonight’s crowd.

A thunderous cacophony of pounding tom drums provides a mesmerising weight beneath impressively thick and beefy guitars, cresting to a peak in Clash-like overdriven resonance. Though The Belishas don’t necessarily represent anything ground-bracingly new they do pay homage to their influences in an entertainingly energetic manner. Their undeniable passion truly eclipses any fault you might find in terms of originality.

Living up to their theatrical roots, The Blue Aeroplanes preface their arrival with a deafening audio clip of a circling aircraft, matched to wandering pale blue spotlights zeroing in on the now heaving audience below. At the first sign of movement before us, the crowd erupt into rapturous applause, proving the band’s lasting appeal. From beat one, the stomp, pomp and purpose of the entire ensemble is mesmerizingly apparent; one thing you cannot fault this band on is their infectious energy and colourful presence.

This energy certainly seems to be soaked up by their adoring fans. This project’s roots are firmly planted in an 80s and 90s sense of all-out rock and roll. There is an air of Primal Scream and Stone Roses euphoria in conjunction with a Jarvis Cocker, by way of Mark E Smith, poetic delivery. Whilst initially endearing, it doesn’t quite seem to match the sum of its parts.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything to be enjoyed here, the sprawling guitar work is at times certainly impressive and the odd moment in which Bec Jevons takes to the microphone results in some incredible vocals and pure snarling grunge spirit. Even the downright strange movements of the band’s resident Bez, Polish dancer Wojtek Dmochowski, are undeniably enjoyable if not distracting.

There is an obvious shimmer of endearment in the work of The Blue Aeroplanes and the passion and camaraderie of the outfit certainly deserves recognition. Their prime may have passed, but the band take to Glastonbury this year and if tonight’s crowd are any indication, I’m sure they’ll inject some joy into the worlds of many festival goers.

See the video for ‘Elvis Festival’ here: