Live Review: Paradise Club @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth – 18/10/19

“What happened to Kassassin Street?” has been one of the biggest questions on the people of Portsmouth’s lips for the past few years. The band were one of, if not the biggest buzz name on the Southsea music scene up until 2017 with the promise of new music, an album and more gigs. There was a lot of hype around the band and with merit, but all of a sudden, excuse the pun, radio silence.

That was up until earlier this year when the band broke their silence announcing they’d been working hard on reinventing the band and returned with a new name, new music as well as the news of the departure of bassist Tom Wells (who can now be found making music as Fast Trains). Paradise Club launched this latest project on Friday evening for a hometown gig at none other than Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms. The band were supported by Gosport’s Arcade Hearts and Brighton based Mantras, two of our favourites making an unforgettable lineup, one not to be missed.

Mantras opened the night 3 months to the day after their Edge of the Wedge headline gig back in July, their first in Portsmouth since 2016(?). Mantras combine influences of psych rock with a tinge of Britpop and they even thew in a dancier cover for good measure. The performance is energetic and even more confident than their headline gig back in July. Arcade Hearts followed this up finishing up their 8 date UK tour. The band played a set packed full of their indie-pop bangers including latest singles ‘Get Close’ and ‘Y U?’. This gig was sadly their drummer Brandon Squibb’s last gig with the band.

Baring in mind that Paradise Club are yet to release or even preview any music under their current name (other than at a spur of the moment Great Escape appearance earlier this year) there was a mighty turn out on the evening for the band. Anticipation was high to see/hear what the reinvention of what was a band on their way to success would be like.

The new music is moodier, slightly slower paced but with a definite groove as well as danceable aspects. Frontman Rowan Bastable still leads the way able to capture the crowd with a mesmerising performance. In their own right, Paradise Club are a dance-rock band who play everything live. To make this possible, the four-piece band were joined on stage by local favourite Jerry Williams providing backing vocals/additional guitar as well as sound tech/former Bellyeyesmile guitarist Ben Glass on additional synths/bass. Jim Harding of New Desert Blues also provided electronic percussion/extra drums on the evening.

An impressive light show saw lasers adorn the space above the band and the crowd. All attendees were given diffraction glasses to compliment the lasers which split the lights into trippy, rainbow effects etc. A bit of a novelty, but it was also quite effective.

I didn’t expect as many tracks the band previewed at their last few Kassassin Street gigs (aka the transition period to Paradise Club) to appear in their current forms. ‘Tensions Are Rising’ and ‘Black Dog’ being two favourites which I thought were shelved and never to be heard again. Previously released tracks ‘To Be Young’ and ‘Centre Straight Atom’ also made appearances. The band also returned after a brief encore with a slower, more stripped back, minimal rendition of ‘Love Without Borders’.

If this 15 track set was anything to go by, Paradise Club are well and truly back so watch this space.

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