THE FEW – Maritime Bar, Southend-On-Sea
WHETHER THE Few’s pedigree is lost on Southend’s Monday night rock crowd is unclear. Certainly clues are thin on the ground that Phonogram’s latest signings can boast a drummer and guitarist who were both members of Def Leppard for about an hour. In fact the secret is so closely guarded that even the ever-present record company twaz is stuck for names and bills his protégés simply as ‘support’.
Thankfully any reference to Def Leppard is struck off the gig posters. It would be a cheap ploy on behalf of drummer Frank Noon, guitarist Pete Willis and Phonogram themselves. Right now the Few are happy to bask in obscurity and treat these early gigs as mere public rehearsals.
Visually there is little to suggest that the Few are about to change the seven seas. A wardrobe of yesterday’s denim, cycle shorts from hell and big-hair barnets clutter the small stage, already swamped by enough equipment to hint at former glories.
It would also be unfair to hang the Few on the shoulders of Pete Willis alone. Sure, the has-been sidekick who quit the pre-’Pyromania’ Leps is back on the small stage, but there is little evidence to argue that his role could not have been fulfilled by a thousand struggling musos from the small ads.
Instead it is left to vocalist Paul Jackson and ex-Nightrun guitarist Richard Day to carry the weight of the Few’s fledgling performances. These are early days, yet an obvious flair for melodic rock is already apparent and appreciated by the healthy crowd. Taking considerable muscle from Leppard and Free, Blackfoot and Bonfire, the Few are embarking on a career in the wake of Thunder’s recent skyrocket. It is knobbly-kneed thump-pop with few frills and even less pose, relying instead on well-crafted songs and the occasional burst of brilliance.
In Jackson the Few have a vocalist to match, if not surpass, the likes of Danny Bowes and Paul Rodgers. He says little, leaving the dumb-talk to Day, and instead sings us a song about hospital wards (‘Hell Can Wait’) that might one day be touching.
With Noon and bassist Wayne Grant providing a solid backdrop of competence and white teeth, the Few steam through a concise set that shows promise if not adventure.
The Few’s mix of melody, muscle and money cannot fail to guarantee exposure. They are obviously not bothering with building a live following and the whole project smacks of careerism, but there is no doubt that the Few are set for accolades.