Review: Porchlight Smoker, The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth

Thee Hypnotics live at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, April 14, 2018.  Picture: Paul Windsor

REVIEW: Thee Hypnotics at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

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Admittedly, on paper, putting Americana music and reggae together sounds potentially terrible.

Fortunately, when Brighton’s Porchlight Smoker finished their main set with a cover of Stir it Up – bluegrass Bob, if you will, it actually worked.

This four-piece of hugely talented multi-instrumentalists includes three lead singers, while the fourth, Scott Warman on double bass, adds backing vocals to the mix – a mix that often sees the quartet harmonising together.

And nowhere are these rough-hewn harmonies more effective than on a sublime take on John Prine’s much covered Angel from Montgomery.

But there is a lot more to this band than covers, with two albums behind them, and a third pending, they have a well of their own country/roots material to draw on.

This includes the poignant Steve Bell-led Flowers on the Sea, about a victim of the HMS Hood sinking, and Fred Gregory’s Welcome to the Family (‘this one’s about two murders, a suicide and a drug bust’).

They are also masters of the slow burn – check out Back to Babylon which builds to a galloping finish.

And they know how to work a crowd – the tempo builds throughout the well-paced set. If there’s one criticism, it’s that the Square Tower might just be too reserved a venue for these guys – I bet they can tear it up in a bar or at a festival.