Down from Above / Dead Blood Cells / Jan Doyle Band

Birds Nest Pub, Deptford - London 7 August 2021

"After 18 months gig free due to COVID-19, I find myself slightly confused"

After nearly 18 months gig free (due to COVID-19) I find myself venturing out to South London to the Birds Nest Pub in Deptford. On arriving I find myself feeling slightly confused. As there is no obvious stage area. A quick look around and I spot a sound engineer standing near the end of the bar at the side of an area, which then has barrier in front of it, a few chairs another barrier and then some seating.

It suddenly dawned on me that the space behind the first barrier (bar) was the performance area, it looked a bit odd but I took up post on one of the chairs, and found myself sitting to Mr Dean Clarke of Ugly Nature / Brutalist Architecture In The Sun fame (a great start to the evening). Looking at the setup of the performance area - I said to Dean that I would be disappointed if Derek (from the Jan Doyle Band) did not end up dancing on top of the bar in front.

Jan Doyle Band
First up was the aforementioned Jan Doyle Band. In this instance consisting of Derek Anthony Williams on vocals, keys and performance, alongside Kelly on guitar, so a new line up for me. Have to say it worked a treat and, as ever, Derek gave a no hold bars performance. Aided by the fact he was now equipped with a headset mic.

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Photos [L-R]: Jan Doyle Band

The band mainly performed their most recent EP Body Balanced. This was a magnificent performance by the band with Derek fully utilising the stage area, the barrier in front of it and involving the audience, both with irreverent banter (which went down very well with the crowd) and his dance routine. It made me realise just how much I missed these live performances. I especially loved the cover of Baccara's Yes Sir I can Boogie - it just works for the band. 8/10

Setlist: Distance, Body Balanced, Confusion, Reflections Until the End of the World (U2 cover), Play Pretend, Yes Sir I Can Boogie (Baccara cover).

Dead Blood Cells
I have had the pleasure of seeing Dead Blood Cells before a couple of years ago, and whilst I enjoyed the music, and whilst for me two years may not seem very long, for lead vocalist Tamara it has seen her move from her teens into her 20's (and her hair change from Goth Black to bright orange). It has seen her stage presence become much more assured.

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Photos [L-R]: Dead Blood Cells

Whilst her vocals have always been strong, she now seemed much more at home on the stage and also better able to converse and communicate with the audience. This time has also seen the addition of a guitarist James Feist (also of Luna Lacuna and Smile Wide). As ever most of the sounds were provided by Jason Cheesman’s electronics and there were some lovely analogue type sounds being produced. The production levels were excellent, the guitar was sensitive and added to the texture of the music, adding to the depth of the music.

Watching this performance, I could not help feel reminiscent of Hazel O’Connor in Breaking Glass, with strong, well-developed songs being fronted by a very feisty and talented female vocalist. 8/10

Setlist: Locked Away, Woman in White, Fly, Old Man, The Candles They Flicker, Enemy, Give it Up

Down From Above
This was the first time I have seen this act, but have been aware of vocalist Anastasia Resurrection for some time, so I was looking forward to this performance. The band line-up for the night was Anastasia on vocals and Rob Ackerman on guitar.

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Photos [L-R]: Down From Above

I am not sure if it was because the guitar amp was too big for the venue or the mix just was not right but much of the subtlety of the music was drowned out by the guitar. This was a shame as I could see Anastasia was putting her heart and soul into the performance, she was very expressive and her vocals sounded amazing and when the backing track could be heard it was clear that there was something pretty remarkable going on.

This was one of the few instances that post gig I went online to be sure if what I heard at the gig was an anomaly. I am fairly sure it was as the guitar/vocal/other instrumentation sounded much more balanced - and the band themselves have since confirmed there were problems with the mix that night, and given that I hope to be able to see them in action again and this time hope for a more balanced mix. 6/10 but 8/10 if the levels can be sorted.

Setlist: Betrayed, Drag Me Down, Blood Rush, Dead In The Water, Believe That It Is True, Surrender Hanging on the Telephone, Electric Blue

Review + Photos: Mark Smith