From the outset you can tell this band have potential. Masses of potential. Fronted by 20 year old Roy Fielding (Roy Boy to his mates), Skinny Wrist Gumbo have transformed, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, from small-time, shy, amateurs who once called themselves The J.A.R.S, into something of a phenomenon. In the four years since formation they’ve had a line-up change, have tightened their performance and have relentlessly gigged on the Preston music scene, sharing loyalties between venues such as Ships & Giggles and the renowned and well sought after Mad Ferret (newly renamed The Ferret).
Tonight’s offering demonstrates just how far these four young lads have come and showcases some promising talent which is destined to flourish and thrive.
The band is tight. There is no doubt about that. Lead guitarist Sam Farnworth is effortlessly skillful as he fingers his way around the fret with a nonchalant air of bravado; he knows he’s good, and that means everyone else should know this too.
Fielding is a mesmerising frontman. Not only are his skills as a guitarist to be revered but his vocals are familiar, they’re distorted and they’re appealing; think Jamie T but with more edge, Jake Bugg but with more energy; and with song writing capabilities not unlike those of a young Alex Turner, he so easily transforms the mundane, everyday monotony and teenage angst into poetic prose.
Third song of the set, ‘Whirwlind’ is described by Roy Boy as a love song. Lyrics like, “Roy Boy wake up, she don’t look all that without her make-up…” are brilliantly positioned to make way for a song detailing those nights that we don’t often want to talk about – the one night stands, the relationships you accidentally find yourself in, the situations you can’t get out of…brilliant storytelling for a young man of a mere 20 years old.
Impressive on the night and perhaps the most integral member and rhythm keeper of the band is 18 year old drummer, Ben Farnworth (brother to Sam). Premature in years, this is in no way apparent in his performance – he is fearless, tight, faultless and destined to improve on a talent which could, in time, rival that of Matt Helders.
Bass guitarist is often portrayed as the ‘boring’, ‘persona non grata’ member of a band (although I can think of plenty of bassists who break this mould) yet Joe Flynn shatters this pre-conceived judgement. His superior and accomplished mastering of his instrument allows for him to go wild on stage, unleashing perhaps one of the most energetic performances I’ve witnessed from a bass player in a long time. His playing is as important to this line-up as Fielding’s lyrics are and he demonstrates a capability well beyond his years.
While Farnworth and Flynn appear throughout the set to bounce around on stage, lapping up the atmosphere and enjoying every moment of their showmanship display, Fielding maintains an air of maturity. He comes across as wise, far too intelligent for a 20 year old; serious in his concentration, eyes closed and focused. He longs to let go, like his counterparts and when the final track comes around he does just that but for the majority of the set it’s clear that this kid means business. Big business.
New tune ‘Jackie White’ has an infectious introductory riff, something that will resonate for days and will get under your skin just like a White Stripes riff would. Penultimate track, ‘Forever Iridescent’ was written about Fielding’s Nana and it’s apparent in the way he so passionately performs it that it means so much more than some of his previous offerings.
Final track of the night, ‘Embers’ is an old, but oh-so reliable and memorable song. Performed on BBC Radio Lancashire and impressive to watch, if only for Roy Boy’s guitar-shunning, off-stage dancing and crowd mingling, it entices the audience and is more than suitable to close the gig. As Fielding belts out the lyrics, Flynn excels on bass, with a riff that sounds familiar (think Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Always Like This’) but remains completely original to this track.
Despite a few technical issues, mainly concerning lack of volume on the vocals and a too loud drum and lead guitar pitch this set was enjoyable, energetic, detailed, on point and highly promising. Given time and given practice they are surely set to make a gigantic racket in the local (and hopefully national) rock/alternative music scene.
Skinny Wrist Gumbo play another gig at The Ferret on Friday 1st August as part of the BBC Radio Lancashire Introducing Music night. For more info: http://theferret.info/event/radio-lancashire-introducing-music-night/