Review: The Bar Stool Preachers, Trillians, Newcastle

The Bar Stool Preachers performing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford.
The Bar Stool Preachers performing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford.
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Far away from the TV glare of The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent lies a rich seam of artists who are trying to make it the hard way.

Not for them a few weeks of fame on the gogglebox, a hastily-recorded album, then being tossed aside as the next batch of hopefuls pour off the conveyor belt.

No, these singers and bands are the ones who fell in love with 'real' music when they were kids, learnt to play and formed a band with other like-minded souls.

If they're half-decent they might make it onto the circuit of pubs, clubs and bars which still realise live music is a great way of pulling punters on even the most mundane weeknight.

That's what The Bar Stool Preachers - a ska-infused streetpunk outfit from Brighton who were only formed a couple of years ago – are doing, trying to make a name for themselves.

This free gig should have taken place before Christmas, but had to be pulled at the last minute when singer TJ McFaull fell ill while doing the soundcheck.

TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers in action at Trillians.

TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers in action at Trillians.

They promised the fans who already started turning up for the show that they would return, and fulfilled that pledge on Wednesday night, playing in front of maybe 150 assorted punks, skins and rude boys and girls.

If you haven't heard them, they combine the ska chops of The Specials with the punk attitude of The Clash, but they're very much their own band, and their set is full of original material.

They've only released one single and one album, the excellent Blatant Propaganda, which was one of my favourite records of last year.

I'd seen them fleetingly at festivals, so was looking forward to hearing a full set, and the Preachers – complete with a new drummer – did not disappoint.

Frontman TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers.

Frontman TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers.

Their songs address often weighty issues, and the vagaries of modern life, but in an upbeat way, and they had the more lively members of the audience skanking along from the start.

TJ is a charismatic frontman – possibly because he's the son of Colin McFaull, singer of streetpunk legends Cock Sparrer, and has grown up watching his old fella charm audiences – and his band are good, tight players.

They have a range of killer tunes at their disposal, from opener Trickledown, to the touring band tale Ballad Of The M1, and first encore Clock Out, which celebrates the release the weekend provides from the tedium of a dead-end job.

It's hard to pick out a favourite, but the single One Fool Down, which proffers the advice "never look down on someone, unless you're giving them a hand up" is certainly up there.

The Bar Stool Preachers playing at Trillians.

The Bar Stool Preachers playing at Trillians.

They know this material inside-out, and the acid test of just how good they can become is if they can produce a set of songs just as good – or even better – for their second record.

They end with their signature tune, Bar Stool Preacher, and it sends everyone present homeward with a warm glow at the end of a night which was over all too soon.

The people who saw them here know they're a band destined for much bigger things. In fact, you could say they're already preaching to the converted.

A mention too for the night's opening act, Newcastle-based The Almighty Uprisers, who have only been together a year, and haven't released anything yet.

Their blend of ska and more traditional reggae slipped down nicely as an appetiser, and they are a name definitely worth watching out for.

The Bar Stool Preachers.

The Bar Stool Preachers.

The Almighty Uprisers.

The Almighty Uprisers.