LIVE REVIEW: Widdershins & Nights Tribunal @ G21 (The Saddle Inn), Chester – 9th February 2019

Home to a number of small music venues, Chester has a growing live music scene with a great community feel. Heading to the G21 stage, a new venue incorporated into The Saddle Inn, the beer garden is full of friends, family and music lovers awaiting this evening’s performance. Two alternative trios with great potential are due to perform soon.

Acoustic trio Widdershins (5) are first to perform, bringing a friendly, humorous atmosphere to the stage that gives their set a relaxing, enjoyable quality. The group have folk and punk influences which come through clearly in their sound; Huw’s guitar playing features short snappy chord sequences contrasted with more intricate melodies across their set, and Chris’ bass playing brings depth to their sound , with underlying melodies used in a number of their tracks bring something different to their set. The vocal styles performed by Courtney and Huw add a unique twist. Huw’s low tones bring a mellow sound that blends incredibly well with the guitar and bass. This really emphasises their folk influences and produces a wonderful, natural sound. Courtney’s vocals introduce a striking contrast with a very distinctive vocal style – a fluidity in her voice allows for seamless melody lines but she can really pack a punch when she adds extra power. This allows her to bring an aggressive sound for my punk influenced sounds and a softer sound to blend with the folk styles. Unfortunately, their sound, particularly the vocals, was affected by the amps used. They were clearly not designed for vocals as a dampening, slight muting effect could be heard.

Widdershins’ performance has an aspect of A Comedy Of Errors as the setlist appears to be chosen as their performance goes on and the odd moment of confusion arises every now and again. It does come across as a bit unprofessional, but they seem to get away with it through humour. They include a range of original tracks and covers in their set, Widdershins bring an all-round feel good performance. Combing a mixture of more energetic and calmer tracks adds diversity to their set. Their rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is very good. By slowing down from the original tempo, Courtney is able to elaborate on the vocal lines to show off the power of her voice. Hearing the audience sing along its clear that this track is a winner for the trio.  This track was the penultimate of their set-list and it would have been better as the final track and left the audience on a high for Nights Tribunal.  

Nights Tribunal (7) are next to perform. The heavy alternative trio bring a change in tone from Widdershins; from the off, the heavy distortion, powerful bass and dynamic drum rhythms create a great wall of sound. They are somewhat more organised than Widdershins and deliver a performance with smoother transitions between tracks. Considering the small stage and equipment available to them, Nights Tribunal deliver a good sound with each instrument being reasonably well balanced. Ryan’s vocals become slightly lost in the instrumentation at times, but generally speaking his voice is audible. His voice has an interesting texture that contributes to the uniqueness of their sound. It complements the distortion tones used on the guitar and bass. Their performance is pretty tight, and the drumming in particular is excellent. Drummer Jack incorporates a variety of rhythm styles and flourishes through each track which really lifts up and energises their sound. The basslines performed by Mike add some great undertones to their tracks giving their performance depth. As a trio it can be difficult to create a full sound, but Nights Tribunal succeed in achieving this.

Both bands have good potential and clearly contain talented members. Widdershins have a strong sound and with a little organisation and practice they could easily deliver a very strong performance, while Nights Tribunal have strong songwriting and live performance skills. With a little more polishing and attention to sound balancing they will take their performances to the next level. It is great to see local bands performing in Chester and it will be great to see how they continue to progress.

Words by Holly Royle

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