Situated within the centre of a bustling Bristol, the Thekla is, ironically, a hidden gem. The boat is, by far, my favourite concert venue in the whole of the UK – and I’ve done a fair bit of travelling! Imagine my delight when I heard that the lovely Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors were to grace the ship’s tiny stage tonight. Their trademark fusion of country and rock has captivated the hearts of fans and critics alike, and having discussed tour antics with Ryan and Mickey earlier in the afternoon, I knew I was in for one hell of a show!
The first band to take to the stage this evening was Jasper In The Company Of Others, and they seemed the perfect fit! The band flawlessly marry the country and rock genres, and pair this with an endearingly charming stage presence (and a ukulele!) which, of course, effortlessly won over the crowd. Though, perhaps the band member the crowd most readily took a fancy to was their violinist, who soldiered through the whole set despite hanging out of his arse! What a trooper! Jasper In The Company Of Others are well worth checking out. You’ll be missing out if you don’t!
Fort Hope were next to play for the spritely West Country crowd. This seemed a slightly odd choice at the time. After all, the band are more full-on rock, as opposed to a concoction of genres, but having heard wonderful things about them beforehand, as well as speaking with some avid fans outside the venue, I knew I was in for a real treat! Their set was, frankly, insane. What I had not accounted for with Fort Hope was their sheer vivacity and the truly unique nature of the front man, Jon Gaskin’s voice. Find me someone else who can hit that range of notes and I’ll eat my hat. Overall, Fort Hope were stunning, and gave a demanding crowd a solid set
After a short break, Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors were good to go, and their set was packed! Opening with ‘Drugs and Fashion’ – a jaunty, upbeat song, which set a lovely tone for the rest of the evening, the motley crew wasted no time working the crowd. There were definitely a couple of naughty, but hilarious, jokes I can’t retell here! We also found out that if Ryan could be any animal, he’d be a lion, and that he uses his self-depreciating humour to great effect, as well as being one of the most kind and compassionate people in the business. Alas, I digress. The set continued, arriving at one of my personal favourites, ‘Medicine’. It’s a song that is seemingly very simple, but in practice deceptively clever, and was pulled off tonight with such enthusiasm that, even if you had never heard it before, you could not help but to fall in love with it.
It wasn’t just the ‘golden oldies’ that the crowd sang along to. Songs from ‘The Devil’s In The Detail’ were also given some real gusto (In between matches of invisible crowd tennis of course..?). The ever popular ‘Smarter’ is just one example of the Traitors’ collection of soon-to-be classics, judging from the astonishing reaction elicited from a boisterous crowd. However, whilst ‘Smarter’ is undeniably a real hit, the star of the set, in terms of vocal crowd participation, was ‘We Never Should Have Moved to LA’. The song embodies a rather naughty, but endearing tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and really went down well with us boat-boarding Brits: “(Don’t be such a) see-you-next-Tuesday”. Love it!
The ‘official’ set ended with another firm fan favourite, ‘Ode To The Idiots’; a song proudly flipping the bird to the haters. This fast paced, kick-ass song was a perfect end to a wonderful set from the transatlantic crew, but where would we be without an equally astonishing encore? Following a brief pause on the stage, we were treated to ‘Truth On Tape’ (an older song which is well worth a listen!), as well as the revered ‘4 Letter Verb’ live! Ryan Hamilton and The Traitors exited the stage on a wave of whooping and cheering, no less than they deserved. The band are finally taking a well-deserved break, but I know I won’t be alone, queuing outside venues across the UK when they decide to put on their touring shoes again.
Review – Amy Jefferies
Images – Becky O’Grady