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  • Writer's pictureLeon Riccio

GIG REVIEW: The Straights at The Facebar, Reading

The Straights injected a refreshing vibrance into tried-and-tested rock-and-roll throughout their show at The Facebar this weekend.

Playing to their strengths, the four-piece kicked into action at Reading’s favourite dingy music venue on Sunday night, rolling through a tight 10-song set.

Breezing through their backlog of singles recorded during the pandemic, the Hampshire-based band played all-originals with fierce passion.

Frontman George Years gave an impressive vocal performance, paying tribute to the forceful rock vocalists of old on the night’s opening song ‘Empty Street’.

‘Never The Right Time’ let swaying open-chords fly in a Britrock-tinged riff, which perfectly matched George’s raspy wailing.

‘Let It Turn To Blue’, the band’s latest single, had similar guitar sounds but was held tightly together by Michael Arthur’s steady bass playing.

The dreamy guitar melodies on track ‘Another Way’ built up suspense while George crooned through the first two verses, leading up to a conclusion of cacophony where the guitarist Billy May’s gentle noodling turned into a chunky, gritty, chord progression and George wailed the song’s catchy vocal hook at full pelt.

Closing the hour-long set with an encore of ‘Alone In The Crowd’, the band played an overall entertaining set to kick off the first show of the month.

As a testament to their talent, retired couple Sian and David Rees travelled from their hometown in Wales to see the band perform on Sunday night. Super-fan Sian said: “My husband likes to follow music, and as soon as we heard them [The Straights] we fell in love.”

Speaking after the gig, 28-year-old George Years (vocals) said: “We’ve been playing together since 2019. We’re all Hampshire based, but from different areas. The band formed in Fareham.

Michael Arthur said: “I couldn’t find people that were so committed in the local area, so we’re a bit scattered. We’ve only just properly started to gig coming out of lockdown.

“Most bands tend to gig first, then release music - we’ve gigged occasionally, but we’ve released music so we’ve got quite a nice catalogue to fall back on.”

Guitarist Billy May added: “We’ve always been against covers because when we first started I couldn’t play them - I could barely play guitar!

"I can write a song but I wasn’t a virtuoso, let's face it, so we take our influences from our own record collections.”

Chipping in, drummer Jack Crash said: “We played our first gig here, and it was an absolute sh*t show - everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but something clicked and we realised this works better if we don’t take it seriously.

“Every gig after that we have gotten more and more comfortable, so every gig for us is another lesson - when something goes wrong, we’re a lot better at recovery now.”

To see The Straights play live, you can catch them at their next show in Heartbreakers, Southampton, on September 16.
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