REVIEW: The Sums plus support, The Zanzibar 24/11/12

The Zanzibar featured another top-notch line up, as The Cheap Thrills, Professor Yaffle, Mercury 13 and The Sums wowed the venue’s audience with their own unique style. Shaun McCoy was there to catch the action.

After two very fine sets from The Cheap Thrills and Professor Yaffle, the ante went up further when Wirral combo Mercury 13 delivered a stylish plethora of indie-pop tunes that really hit the spot. The band is musically strong in all departments. Mel is a very accomplished lead vocalist/guitarist, all-rounder Nonny on electric keyboard and trumpet, bassist and co-vocalist Gary Hart, and the stylishly solid drumming courtesy of Rooky.

Even if you hadn’t heard Mercury 13, you would hear a lot of admirable elements in there music from listening to Love, the Jam, Shack and Pale Fountains. The guys open with America, a shiny indie-psychedelic stringed track with a strong lead vocal. The first four songs of their set are top draw – an amalgamation of anarchic/smooth vocals riding over brass interludes of jazz-rock that would go down well anywhere. Again, Again, Again and Searchlight are songs that make up a new single the band have released as a forerunner for a forthcoming album. The two tracks are pure power pop which feature evocative keyboards and neat harmonies.

Mercury 13 can mix it between flighty rhythmic pop and heartfelt ballads such as Dear Brother and The Mighty Fall. Both are filled with more passionately anarchic vocals and a highly melodic sound. Skyscraper is a splendid track to end their enjoyable set with. It’s a jazzy-blues driven track reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene at their most energetic. A poetic parting shot from one of the dark horses on the local music scene.

From one dark horse to one of the most uniquely talented bands in Liverpool – The Sums. Lead by the unstoppable Digsy Deary (acoustic guitar) and backed up by the sharply talented Chris Mullin (bass) Lee Watson (lead guitar) and Chris Campbell (drums). They kick off with an invigorating new track – Cliché, another lyrically sharp punch from the Digsy vocabulary. Followed by the crunchingly psychedelic Vegetable, Digsy’s heightened lead vocal is finely underpinned by Chris while they surf over Lee’s dynamic lead guitar. Digsy’s got arguably the strongest male vocal in Liverpool, it is both uninhibited and heartfelt and superbly backed by co-songwriter Chris Mullin.

The Sums are a powerfully melodic indie pop group with psychedelic tinged riffs and effects that make them a top draw act to watch. The vocals lurch from the soulfully sublime to startlingly anarchic. The former is demonstrated in the finely orchestrated Small Smile and Who Cares. During these two tracks Digsy’s lead vocal and his harmonies with Chris rise and rise to create something really powerful.

They finish with God I Hate This Town, a track by Digsy’s former band Smaller. The Sums material goes down well with the audience but a song from the back catalogue is always enthusiastically welcomed. A very good end to another very good evening.

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