Cambridge Portland Arms 28/04/04

Rob Jackson's reputation precedes him and I had been told by many people that this was a guitarist worth watching. Those people weren't wrong. Like a soothing bedtime story, the mellow vibes encourage you to be impressed by the talent on display and slap a goofy, awed expression across your chops. Also part of local alt-country four-piece, The Low Country, his solo material produces a sound as smooth as a baby's bottom and, on this greyest of English supposedly-summer days, wraps the listener up and warms to the cockles.

Although it must be summer. Because I am further appreciating The Blueberries, with their harmonicas and laidback bluesy countryfied rawk. This is bare-foot-in-the-sand music; a bit gets stuck in your shoe when you put it back on and you can still feel it there months after, and it makes you smile, as you remember happy days on the beach, watching your pasty white skin turn brown. The band's mix of yearning and sentimental melodies, competent ability and cheerful crowd banter cannot fail to provoke some sort of emotion or reaction, although I have to say the drumming did bring me back to the reality of aforementioned gloomy weather. Definitely a band to watch though.

Rude Mechanicals

And then we come to Rude Mechanicals. Avant garde "absurd rock" and totally barmy, the focal point for this four-piece comes in the form of singer Miss Roberts; tonight resplendent in red satin and sequins and resembling something of a human glitterball, she is a peculiar mix of one of those scary vampire dolls from cheesy flick "Barbarella" and a sparkling, much-cherished Christmas fairy. Their sound, likewise, makes you want to run away screaming, yet you can't bear to put it back in the box and forget about it for another year. Commanding mesmerising performances featuring snippets of funk, blues, electronica and dark-sounding laments about walking round Sainsburys and spam, I also enjoyed a random bloke doing some impressive dancing whilst pretending to be a bloke called Derek who lives in a loft. Some crusties also provided a brass section using party horns. Wonderful stuff.