THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM

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  • The Harry Francisco Band
  • Luke Gallagher
  • Skylight
The Zanzibar

When I step into The Zanzibar, I’m a little perturbed. The gaggle of teenagers surrounding and playing on the stage worry me no end. SKYLIGHT reveal themselves to be a cover band of pop punk songs I half recognise, much loved by the young crowd. It’s not my thing, but Skylight are that local band that are bound to find their niche. They play too well together, especially for such a young band, to not find success. As well as being young, they’re cheeky. “We’re playing over the Adelphi after this, everyone come with us!” Think I’ll pass, but their teen fans follow them over.

Modfather lookalike LUKE GALLAGHER takes to the mic next. He’s a prolific singer-songwriter hailing from Wrexham, and brings his pop-infused mod-revival acoustic songs to the stage. The Zanzi begins to fill up with actual adults as Gallagher plays a variety of songs from his surprisingly large back catalogue. Each track hints at the mod scene greats of yore, from the wit and charm of The Kinks to the catchy pop hooks of The Jam. He gives his latest record a quick flog, after playing a track from it. He’s getting a lot done, the Liverpool acoustic scene is growing. I expect to see Luke Gallagher again.

To all outward appearances, the next band on look like a dad-rock outfit. THE HARRY FRANCISCO BAND aren’t exactly changing any opinions with their name, but certainly do with their music. Liverpool has had long loves with many different genres, and country is one. This is an influence these fellas wear brazenly. Their songs have the Nashville twang to them, blended with that equally American blues rock sound. They’ve got the typical guitars and harmonicas, with an added twist of xylophone for one track. Their set doesn’t invade the crowd’s space, it invites everyone along for the ride.

I’m not sure if THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM take their name from an early 70s Japanese horror manga of the same name, but they’re certainly much more upbeat. Launching their new album Oubliette on the Skinny Dog label, the band are in celebratory mood, which is reflected in the crowd. They dive into their first song, and I’m instantly reminded of Weezer. It’s power pop, incorporating the sounds of a 50s prom-night band. The cheery dance numbers are there, as too are the end-of-the-night slow waltz tunes. The band still mix it up on a few tracks, with some ragtime piano sprinkled over as one of those Nashville Tennessee riffs pays us another visit. The Drifting Classroom’s songwriting is reminiscent of The Decemberists – warbling folk tale lyrics, as are Marc Sunderland’s vocals. The songs are accessible and enjoyable, reflecting on everyday experiences of everyday people. It’s easy to see why this Liverpool based act caught the eye of Elbow’s Guy Garvey, and I imagine I’ll be seeing their name on more posters around town.

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