Thursday, 27 October 2011

County Champion with Trojan Horse
Islington Mill, Salford
Thursday 20th October
Rating: 4/5

I'm sure by now everyone's tired of me periodically emerging from hibernation to pen words about Trojan Horse, but well, fuck off. Tonight on an incredible bill topped by Circles and Secret Chiefs 3 (who I was regrettably destined to miss) were County Champion and Trojan Horse. The latter - if you have ever read this blog before - you will know already, but the former may be somewhat more enigmatic. 

Well, without further ado let me lift the veil. As perhaps the more acute and tuned-in of you will have noticed, the picture is of Charlie Barnes and Ste Anderson from Charlie Barnes & the Geekks... and that's because County Champion is the new name for that very band. At 2000 Trees this year they effectively announced their arrival with a new set of tunes contributed to by every bandmember, and Charlie finally assumed the frontman role he'd hitherto never quite grown into. Out was glitch-pop and in was drop-D (though fear not, he will continue to perform that under his own name). 

Even though their set was blighted by technical difficulties, you know it's a good sign when Mike Vennart and Gambler from Oceansize turn up to see your first show, and with a setlist that included 'Nasty Bastard', '18' and 'Balloons', County Champion certainly played to their strengths. Their sound is a concise blend of math and progressive, shot through with a slight post-hardcore edge. It sounds, if I were to boil it down to a single song by another band, kind of like the heavier passages of 'Only Twin', off Frames. There's that same epic abandon, the sense of the vocals riding a wave of previously contained, but now unleashed energy.

After the totally brilliant Champion boys had shuffled back into the crowd, it was time for the 'Horse to kick off their second show in as many days. They've always been an exceptionally hard-working band, and these days it seems there's not a week that goes by without a slew of Trojan Horse gigs. As they grow in stature, I'm gradually becoming one of a number of familiar faces at their gigs, and lest it smack of me laying out my wares smugly for all to see, I've got to say that it feels great to have seen a band grow from being a completely underground entity to being a major force on a local scene. That it should be a band as capriciously brilliant as TH is just icing on the cake, really. Here's to Prog Nouveau. Vive la revolution!

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