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Friday 2nd September 2016

Tooting Tram & Social

On Friday, lured by the promise of an evening of live Blues/Rock, I made the long trek from Hertfordshire to the Tooting Tram and Social. You won’t be surprised to hear that the TT&S is a converted tramshed, which is conveniently located 200 yards from Tooting Broadway station. I arrived just in time for the support band, 485C - surely the only band to be named after a colour code (Red, since you ask, the same shade as postboxes, McDonalds and the Russian communist flag!). 485C played their first gig four months ago, but are already achieving public awareness in the London area. Their debut single, ‘She’ll Lie’, only released in August, has already featured on Steve Lamacq’s BBC Radio 6 Music Show. 485C’s set focused on traditional, basic Rock, infused with the intensity of youth. Normally played with three guitarists, their music had a loud pounding beat which demanded attention, even more so when vocalist Adam occasionally added a fourth guitar and their volume reached thunderous proportions.

After a short break, 485C were followed by headliners Cortes, a three piece, London based band with an international flavour: Andy Cortes (Vocals and guitar) is from London, but his family is from Columbia; Sam Davies (bass) is from Barnstaple; Marijus (drums) is from Vilnius in Lithuania. The band members first met during 2012, in the vibrant London underworld of jam sessions and dark sweaty gigs. They soon joined forces to form Cortes, but it was not until late 2013 that they felt ready to take their music to the stage in London’s competitive and challenging music scene. Cortes soon made an impact: in 2014 an early demo version of ‘Facing My Fear’ was posted on-line, where it was picked up by Zane Lowe, leading to airplay on BBC Radio 1.

In 2016, Cortes have continued to enhance their reputation. In May they released ‘Close To Nowhere’, their critically acclaimed debut single, which was playlisted by Radio 1 and led to Cortes’ appearance at the station’s Big Weekend Festival in Devon. It was followed last month by their second single ‘Towers’, their first release on their new record label, the independent Ignition 45s.

Cortes’s set at the TT&S was a blistering arrangement of Indie Rock tunes, each song as slick and secure as the next. Andy’s unmistakable voice was superb, ranging from dirty, gritty rock vocals, to a more soothing soulful twang, adding to the band’s unique sound. Andy’s vocals were well complemented by Sam’s groove laden bass lines and Marijus’s explosive drumming. The band has a togetherness born out of its four years experience as a single unit, but has lost none of its early enthusiasm and excitement. Their set started with a couple of explosive rock numbers that demanded everybody’s attention, and soon had the audience tapping along to the beat. They then showed their softer, more sensitive side by performing latest single ‘Towers’, with its powerful guitar and authentic Blues twang, which also made the most of Andy’s smooth yet sharp vocals. The raw energy of ‘Surrender’ raised the pace again, setting the scene for the accelerating rhythm and passionate vocals of ‘Close To Nowhere’. This song’s repetitive guitar and drum riff were cleverly used to build up to the explosive chorus, a fitting finale for Cortes’s set: as it finished the roaring applause was inevitable. Cortes’s dark, edgy sound is ideally suited to the club and pub live music scene. My only complaint was the short length of their set: just under half an hour. The TT&S have surely got the balance badly wrong when less than an hour’s live music is followed by a four hour DJ set!!

Big Ian

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