“Is there a pub in Brighton you don’t know?” enquired a friend, upon learning that I was ‘Brighton born and bred’ (whatever the ‘bred’ part actually means, in this context. ‘Born and raised’ would be more apt, but no-one says that).
I laughed and replied that there were plenty, because of Brighton’s dynamic nature; as soon as I think I know them all, I stumble across another crop of them in places that hitherto did not look big enough to house the sign outside, let alone a whole venue.
‘Latest Music Bar’, although not a new venue, was new to me. In a basement in Manchester Street, Kemptown, it is big enough to promise a party yet small enough to elicit an intimate cosiness. Markus was on the door to meet and greet with his trademark trilby and smile to match. With a genuine concern for the wellbeing of his audience, he introduced me to friends lest I should be alone for the evening and so the party began.
Showcase in Musical Craft
Arthur Mills, the first supporting artiste, stepped up first and warmed the audience with the talented sounds of his American style folk music. With topics ranging from poignant moments to burgers, one could call his lyrics delightfully offbeat.
Equally accomplished, Mark Stanley took his turn next and with a more traditional approach, maintained the American style folk theme. With his lilty voice and flawless playing of the acoustic guitar, he continued with the high standard of the evening’s entertainment.
Giving us a change in tempo and genre, Rob Abbott was the last of this showcase in musical craft before the main act. A rock artiste with an old-fashioned vibe, he rounded off this part of the evening with upbeat tunes wrapped up in dulcet tones.
Special mention to Phil Macnamara, an excellent bass player who accompanied all four bands of the evening.
Ska, Blues, Jazz and Rock
Markus Napier is a showman. His onstage (actually, offstage too) charisma engages immediately and his acting prowess is evident from the start. Writer and main protagonist in the ‘Brighton Is Falling’ series (available on YouTube), he introduced his set with an unflinching and dramatic taste of the Brighton drama. A song of the same name appears on their ‘Loving Sword’ album, to which we were treated in his set, plus a few extra songs because this is a man who over-delivers. You cannot limit Tenderhooks to a genre; with a fantastic range of instruments played by the six members of the band (Markus himself shifted between main vocals, sax and guitar), there are shades of ska, blues and jazz in amongst alternative rock. With some beautifully nostalgic lyrics such as ‘I wish I was just ten years older, rest your head upon my shoulder’ mixed in with quirkier lyrics like ‘I ain’t got on any socks, I ain’t got on my shirt’, the diversity between songs is as clever as the diversity of talent within the band.
Powerhouse of Artistic Flair
Markus is the frontman and is a powerhouse of artistic flair and energy, but the whole band is a team of talent and spirit. By the time they were playing an encore, the Latest Music Bar was rocking with a party atmosphere, such is the feelgood effect of the Tenderhooks.