Ben Nixon || December 9th
As I enter the dimly lit street of The Villas, a little pocket of Stoke-on-Trent that is hidden in plain, I feel the anticipation cutting through the icy air. Step by step, across the cobbled pavement I noticed the sense of magic that this place projects and I haven't reached the venue yet. At last what seemed like an age, I reached the entrance of this huge Victorian style house. The familiar, warm sound of a house beat that could only be created by the Love Beat girls, pulses through the air and through my body.
The atmosphere sinks in immediately and on entrance I am greeted by a couple of the Captain's pirates who hands me a goody bag of Captain Stingray's single cd, with a few other goodies put into the mix. Unfortunately no bottles of rum or gold. Maybe next time. The room on my right, was set up for the band with a real deep blue sea feel to the room, underwater projectors and lasers gifted from Villain Visuals adding a great touch to the theme of the night (under da sea).
The house was packed and everybody is ready to get stuck into the groovy sounds of Captain Stingray. 10:30 strikes and the band begin to man their posts. Ash Wall ripping up guitar and vocals. Joe Stainsby slappin da bass. Danny Shaw smashing the drums. Jimmy The Fish the underwater wizard on keys. Gaiostopher (Guy) Maine grooving on acoustic guitar, vocals and djembe. Paddy Routledge blasting the sax and David Woolley mastering assorted percussion. I was amazed how so many of them managed to fit into such a small space.
They kick off the set with a cover of santana and straight into 'Sano' which is what the night is all about, their brand new single. A real funky tune that would raise Davy Jone's from his locker and onto the dance floor. Song after song the band plough through the first half of their set, the cheer at the end of each song roaring louder as the night progressed. The dance floor was bouncing, both in the metaphorical and the literal sense, the floors were moving in time of the crowd's beat.
I began to think this Victorian house couldn’t take the capacity and power that the band were producing but it did and it stood strong. Are much deserved break was needed and 'The 8' took to the decks playing dub and continuing the high energy that was vibrating from the whole night. After a much needed intermission to cool down from the heat that was emitting from the gig room, the band take to the stage to complete the second half of their set. It came to their last song and the crowd demanded just one more song from the band, they just could not get enough of the world music, funk gods. They decided to play 'Sano' just one more time and the crowd went mental, everyone had their boogie going in full force. What an experience.
The whole night in my eyes was a monumental success, from keeping the theme classy and the atmosphere solid, Captain Stingray's Groove Machine will leave you bewildered in amazement as soon as you witness what they have to offer. Some of the best musicians that Stoke-on-Trent has to deliver and an extremely well put together night for their single release. So if you haven't given yourself the opportunity to get your groove on, I would treat yourself to seeing them at one of their up-coming shows. Hats off to all of the Captain's, you did Stoke's music scene proud.
Sano is an intense, spice pot of African beats and chirpy vocals courtesy of Gaiostopher Maine, singing in Guniea- Bissau. Animated, vivid, and full of joy- Sano is the perfect cure to any winter blues.
Its B-Sides, A World Inside, and Swimming In The Ocean, are the perfect accompaniment to Sano. A World Inside has this bluesy-funk vibe, with the vocals of guitarist Ash Wall replacing Gaiostopher’s. This track is more accessible, and gives each individual musician an opportunity to shine- from Joe Stainby’s bopping bass, to Danny Shaw’s tingling drums, as well as Ash himself, during his silky finger-work in the guitar solo. Swimming In The Ocean is self-explanatory- wavy percussion, jolting riffs, and disorientating lyrics- as the name would suggest. It ends with a crazy, conga-line creating, sax solo from Paddy Routledge, finishing the single with a vibrant flare.
When performing live, Captain Stingray are a visual feast of musical ability. It is overwhelming to witness seven artists in one tiny space, working to fuse genres and styles together in order to create a colourful chaos. And somehow, they have developed a tactic that allows this to transfer into the recording studio as well.
You can catch Captain Stingray and the Groove Machine live next at The Sugarmill on Wednesday 28th December, where they will support Dirty Money No.5.