Well, this is awkward. I love Bare Knuckle Parade and I was going to write a few words saying you should go and see them sometime.
But I can’t. After I’d been to their latest gig in The Islington (wearing their merch, too) and just as I was going to write something saying how they’re the bawdy, addictive brethren of Dropkick Murphys and Bon Jovi, they broke up. “It’s been a beautiful, unforgettable journey, and we want to thank every single one of you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you all.”
I first heard the Bath five-piece on the radio late last year, being championed by Steve Lamacq. A few clicks later and I discovered that ‘Come Alive’, the upbeat indie-tinged anthem I’d heard was a bit of a departure from the Gogol Bordello covers and rock shanties sung in basement bars that had forged Bare Knuckle Parade in the first place. The first time I saw them live, there were five blokes in leather jackets with long hair, dancing jigs on tables and thrashing strings on guitars and mandolins in full-throated harmony like a demented Mumford and Sons mainlining testosterone and preserved in cider.
Upside is, now they’re called Novatines and are still making amazing music. Their first release, ‘Medicine’, is a bold statement of intent. At a time when guitar bands aren’t as popular as they used to be, Novatines come at you with all guns blazing. The menacing verses blend the modern UK rock sound of Lower Than Atlantic and Royal Blood with a soulful tinge that’s more like Kings of Leon.
It’s the anthemic chorus that marks Novatines out as different. Huge harmonies make up a pre-chorus that leads into a showcase of vocalist Jamie Beale’s tenacity and range, backed by a drumbeat that could fill a stadium. Even live in a small venue, Novatines attacking their instruments and alive in full-throated voice stayed tight and in tune where less well-drilled bands would fall into noise more than music.
The onstage enthusiasm obviously caught the crowd too, and we sang the simple words back even though it was the first time any of us had ever heard the song. It doesn’t come across as strongly on the recording, but Novatines live really have an almost 80s arena rock feel to them. You’ll be hearing a lot more of these West Country boys in future – but for the full party, and even if like me you were a huge fan of what they did before – go and see for yourself just how good they are live.