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It tends to be a hell of a lot more satisfying seeing artists in small venues than in large ones. Yes, they can be seen as different experiences, but in pub venues like the Mad Ferret, you’re without a doubt part of the atmosphere. 200 people maximum turned up to The Chapman Family’s Preston gig, and I’d say the vast majority were happy to be part of such atmosphere. As it was a free gig, there were limited expectations. Some where there for social aspects, others there for intrigue at one of the most acclaimed and recommended bands of the past few years.

Continuing with the theme of making an impact at gig, the strange concept about pub gigs with quite large bands means that you’ll be seeing frontman, Kingsley Chapman outside having a cigarette, watching the football and walking around the bar with the swagger that makes him so appealing as a frontman. Even when watching the marvellous supports he was keen and watching. Perhaps this indicates a lack of arrogance, despite the enigmatic persona he may portray.

First support came from chaotic grunge duo, White Swallow. With ferocious anger and violence between two musicians, they managed to create a sound as strong as ten musicians being up there on stage. Like a cross-between early Nirvana and Jeff Buckley when he goes his heaviest in live performances (Chicago, Eternal Life-esque), they managed to create a fusion of influences mixed with their own unique and raw appeal. The drummer hits the drums as hard as the metal and grunge crossovers of the early 90s and connects completely with lead singer and talented guitarist, Bobby Mambo. Unlike Nirvana, who reflected Seattle and the grit and poverty of their personal lives, they certainly don’t portray the dark and seedy side of… errr… Chorley, perhaps they’re making a bigger statement. Making the music they love to listen to and more importantly love to play live.

Taking to the stage secondly were Lancastrian teenage outfit, Cry Baby Aeroplanes, with what seemed to be a very American influenced sound. The band surprised the audience with their energy and bravado for such a young band. With two shared vocalists, it was refreshing to see such young lads with voices that echoed and complimented each other.

As it reached 11 o’clock the main act took to the stage, The Chapman family, dressed in all black filled the small stage of The Mad Ferret. Although there were only five members up there, they filled it so that it didn’t just look like The Chapman Family, it seemed as if they’d invited their distant relatives along for the journey. As they’re renowned for their overtly political lyrics and opinion, their voice was loud and clear as they screamed and pounded through the opening tracks. With Pop Chapman providing squealing backing vocals, they professed their anger in the only medium they know how. Although the politics came across as important, it seemed a little too much. After a few tracks of hearing about the government, although relevant, it wasn’t clear on their real values, apart from the fact they really hated the “lies”. Despite this, the dark yet subtle energy that they used as a catalyst for their opinions really did work. The band seemed tight, the audience were more than fond of the band they had come to see and Kingsley Chapman was the mysterious and perplexing frontman that he has been said to be in the press.

I was open to anything before coming to see The Chapman Family. I’d been told you either love or hate them. Some dismiss their music as half-hearted drivel; some see them as the voice of our generation, offering something different to the tedious indie pop of the current alternative music scene. One thing that can be established after seeing them in Preston is that they’re a top live act with an appeal that will continue for the foreseeable future. Are they the voice of a generation? It remains to be seen.

Review by Josh Nicol

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