Modern Comforts bring the noise and swagger to storm into final
With Bishop's Stortford’s Riviera and Harlow’s Pocket Dust already through to the grand final, one more place was up for grabs in the third and last semi final of the Juicebox Live Battle of the Bands at The Horn at the Half Moon last Thursday (Jan 24).
It was contested by Vertigo from St Albans, local singer-songwriter Dan Thomas and Modern Comforts, who had made an impressive 140-mile journey from Burton-on-Trent in an attempt to win over the crowd.
Vertigo kicked the night off, a group of young lads with plenty of 60s and 70s influences; bassist and lead vocalist Henry Nurse played a Paul McCartney-style violin-shaped bass. He was joined by Lucas Harley on rhythm guitar, Brendan Donegan on lead guitar and Oliver Nurse on drums.
What ensued was a nice bit of indie to bop along to. The Busker was a standout song, an enjoyable ditty featuring Henry on ukulele that was structurally and melodically interesting. For the rest of the set, Henry’s driving bass lines were often the glue that held the tracks together.
The band go to school in St Albans and their ages range from Year 10 to Year 13. They plan to do some recording this year but for now are focusing on improving their live show.
Dan Thomas has earned his stripes at the Half Moon by playing a number of support slots for visiting acts on tour. For the semi final he was supported by a full band: his wife Nicola Thomas on cajon and backing vocals, Ian McLeod on guitar and Dell Carr-Rickwood on bass.
The band really rounded out his songs and gave them more depth, and opener Crawling on the Floor from Dan’s latest EP featured some close harmony from Nicola.
Dan performs with plenty of spirit and feeling, especially when singing the high notes. His songs are well crafted and, considering it was his first time out with the band, they came across well and connected with the audience. You Make Loving Easy was a memorable tune; it tested Dan’s vocals but they rose to the challenge well.
Having made such a long journey, Modern Comforts were determined to give it everything, and they immediately added more than a few decibels to the evening.
Joined by a single super-fan who had come along for the ride from east Staffordshire, they launched into a set that got pulses racing. A brief and perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek mosh pit was initiated, which was a remarkable achievement on a cold and unforgiving January night.
Modern Comforts are slightly reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys, with ferocious drumming from Nick combining with Connor’s snarled vocal. A more poppy number called Nova had elements of Catfish and the Bottlemen about it too. Their EP Restless Youth is out now on Spotify.
Voting in the Battle of the Bands is calculated partly by an audience ballot and partly by the Juicebox team of judges. Vertigo and Dan Thomas brought along many more supporters than the boys from Burton, but Modern Comforts really did pull out all the stops in their performance and were worthy winners.
Tickets are selling fast for the final on Saturday 9 March. Priced £6 in advance and £8 on the door, they are available from thehornbs.co.uk.