23 July 2012
On the second day of a festival that had been turned into a clinging mud-trudge-fest on its first day there was a definite need for some sunshine and something a bit up-tempo to lift the spirits. Sunday delivered on both - as the ground dried up the Nettlebed Stage was graced by an appearance from The Whybirds. This year is their fifth as a gigging band, and with a couple of albums under their belt they've got plenty of songs to pick from for a forty-five minute set. There have been some recent changes in camp Whybirds - and they are currently a three piece of drums, bass and electric guitar - so there were none of the guitar duels of old but otherwise they'd worked around the line-up alteration incredibly effectively. Not so surprising since the whole band can take lead vocals, there's great harmonisation and, whilst they all play well, Dave Banks is something of a guitar god offering up by turns driving rhythm or mind shaking solo's a la Crazy Horse. It's that good, and as a band it ensure that they come across as never less than superb and they sensibly have the ambition to produce a suitably huge sound.
What really impresses with The Whybirds - other than the fantastic volume levels - is that they were ready to go from the start and just dropped song after glorious song with the practiced smoothness of a well-oiled machine. There were several that were new, taken from their upcoming third album (due out in early 2013, and definitely one to watch for) as well as plenty of old friends such as 'Jenny, can we take a ride?'. New songs - old songs - they blended together perfectly as The Whybirds continue their good tradition of perfect Americana based on a mix of hook heavy, melody rich and lyrically catchy songs. At times on the new songs there's a slight touch of early Springsteen to add to the mix of southern rock and Tom Petty cool.
That forty-five minutes passed pretty quickly, and just left the crowd baying for one more - and when they got that, well, why not ask for one more again? The Whybirds, a band you won't regret seeing live and who come with an unconditional guarantee.