It’s time to get your reverb out, and loosen up that vibrato arm because Surf’s up at Henry’s Cellar Bar tonight; and eye spy, I’ve already spotted some ho-dads hanging around the door looking conspicuous, maybe looking for trouble? but probably just looking for the gents ...
It’s a busy night at Henry’s - the smallest venue in town (or at least that’s what it feels like). I’m very happy to hear that Edinburgh has a surf scene; or at least enough surf bands to host a whole evening of instro action.
Edinburgh fabled five piece Surf Manchu are already in situ when I arrive, and I have it on good authority that they’ve been playing for around 50 mins! Describing themselves amusingly as ‘Not so much SoCal, kinda more NoSco’. They’ve certainly made an effort to at least look the part, with polynesian shirts and fezzes, no less. Always a welcome sight.They are both youthful and enthusiastic, and I caught them playing Dick Dale’s 'Miserlou' and the ‘60s Batman theme - both of which are always good value. I hope to catch their full set next time.
Onto the Head Henchmen. The fantastic foursome take to the tiny stage. They say that ‘they still can’t decide whether they are a surf rock band or a sledge rock band’ check out their facebook page for more info on that one. Whilst not looking like most traditional surf bands, what they lack in that department, they make up for with sheer exuberance and a lovely longhorn bass guitar. Superficialities and joking aside, they are quite impressive. Their set is a mixture of self-penned numbers and choice covers, all performed with capability, pounding drums a-go-go. The give us a weird and wonderful mixture of tunes; the Tetris theme tune (an excitable young lady informs me), The Shadows’ ‘Apache’; the first but not the last Shadows cover of the evening. I would like to know a) when did The Shadows become cool?* b) why no Shadows Walk?**. Ending their set with a fabulous version of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’.
Lastly, but by no means least-ly, it’s time for Preston Pfanz & The Seaton Sands. You may recognise a few of them from various other Edinburgh ‘60s repro bands over the years such as The Thanes and Les BOF!. And this particular band, although very modest about it, are definitely in a different league. They have a distinct presence. Kicking off with Link Wray’s ‘Run Chicken Run’, and then onto the more esoteric ‘Black Sand Beach’ by Kayama Yuzo (swoon!). They continue driving through their set effortlessly with a varied and cool mixture of surf / drag / spy and horror instros, along with more from the Shadows. Frontman Angus McPake challenges the crowd to a dance contest, but I don’t think the crowd are quite that tipsy, and to be fair there isn’t much space to Twist effectively, never mind Hully Gully.
They dedicate a rendition of The Beatles ‘Please, Please Me’ to the recently deceased 5th Beatle George Martin, as well as ending their set and encore with ‘Cry For A Shadow’.
*I’m yet to disassociate them from Cliff Richard.
**The Shadows Walk is three steps within a 60-60-60-degree triangle with a reverse right-heel back-kick with optional can-can finale (source: Wikipedia)
If you missed them this time, Preston Pfanz And The Seaton Sands will be playing at the official after party for The Scottish Tattoo Convention at Studio 24 on Sunday 27th March details which can be found here.