The Brent Flood

Belfast boys return home - and not a slinky acoustic chord in sight

Although based in London, this gig, in Belfast’s Black Box, represents something of a homecoming for The Brent Flood – singer Jay Marsh, guitarist Robin Chesterman and drummer Chris Chesterman met as students in the city’s Methodist College.

The group’s fortunes have certainly changed since their school days. They are currently creating a lot of buzz in the U.K. and Switzerland, which they recently toured. By the sounds of their 2008 EP, Pleasureseeker, they are a very different band from the one I knew from my student radio days in Glasgow.

By the time The Brent Flood come on stage, the Black Box is packed out and two pints of Guinness have me in the mood for a great show. The opening sound is a funky, bass drum groove which gets the seated audience out of their chairs and up to the front of the stage.

The second track they play, 'I Kissed A Boy' (which, Marsh assures the crowd in his introduction, sounds nothing like 'I Kissed A Girl') reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins’ 'I Am One', the roll of drums at the beginning of the song giving it a punch before the rest of the band kick in with a heavy, indie sound.

The Brent Flood do the four piece sound well. Chesterman’s guitar playing is intricate and melodic and the drumming is competent, even if the bass - hi-hat - snare motif is somewhat overdone.

The highlight for me is 'Skinny Machines', which appears on Pleasureseeker. It is one of those songs that you wish you had written yourself, and which is so essentially simple yet so effective that you almost can't believe you didn't think of it first.

It has a chorus that fools you into thinking you must have heard the song about a thousand times, whereas in actual fact it is simply great songwriting and craftsmanship. 'Superhappy', which is also on the same EP, is a fine example of the band's ability to experiment with pauses and varying timbres, the guitar riff acting like a repeated ostinato over the chord changes.

Needless to say, the encore is much demanded and, to everyone's surprise, includes a rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Black Or White'. They do it well, and it's enough to actually make me like the song. You forget how heavily guitar influenced the track is, with the cool, distorted guitar riff in-between the vocal lines and the incredibly heavy break down half way through the song.

By the time the band leave the stage, they have converted a lot more people to their sound. It was a great gig and a great set, and they are a band who pull it off and do their own thing, with their own sound. And not a slinky acoustic chord in sight.

Iain Todd