The words This Dirty Swamp conjure up some strange images. Perhaps Shrek, or maybe the eco-warrior Swampy. Some may think that, but in the City of Preston, This Dirty Swamp means only one thing: heavy duty, high powered ROCK, and on this night The Swamp certainly Rocked!
The reason for all this rocking? The launch party for their debut release, the live CD 'Swamping The Ferret'. Recorded back in February at The Mad Ferret in Preston, this seven track album showcases the band's live act, and definitely gives a fine taste of what this popular draw on the live circuit in the north-west, are all about.
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The Swamp were the main draw of the evening, but also performing to warm up the crowd, was a young singer named Sacha Bailey, who accompanied by her own excellent acoustic guitar playing performed a short set of songs. These were all covers, and she sang them well, and has a lovely emotional, slightly husky singing style.
A couple of real standout songs were a version of the Tears For Fears classic 'Mad World' and 'Take Me Home', written by Dublin based singer Mark Geary. Her style, a little reminiscent of Laura Marling, was 'folky', her performance style easy and accesible. She was well received by the crowd, and on being asked for an encore, said she had sang all the songs she knew, so performed a short classical guitar work, which went down a storm.
She showed signs of nervousness during the first couple of songs in her set, but this is understandable, as I was told that she is only 14, and this was her first ever gig! I reckon if Sacha sticks at it, she could do very well.
Headliners This Dirty Swamp feature Mark on drums, lead vocals and amusing song introductions, Stew on guitar and backing vocals and providing the bass, Russ. Any of the pub regulars expecting more mellow folky sounds were in for a shock when the opening chords of 'Clean Your Bones' blasted from the PA. A bluesy hard rock number, it was a far cry from the gentle sounds of Sacha, and went down a treat with all who were there.
The powerful drums, and pulsating bass, provided a good solid underpinning for the expert guitar playing of Stew. If one phrase sums up the sound of this band then it's tight, loose and dirty. A bit like Led Zep in that respect!
Other highlights included the swampy (sorry...) sounds of 'Dixie National Forest', and the hard rocking 'Mountain Girl', but for me the stand out track, from a set full of fine songs, was the band's signature tune 'This Dirty Swamp (Snakes in the Ground)', which showed to full effect the classic rock sounds utilised by the band, featuring as it does, nods to Hendrix and Cream.
Mark the singing drummer has a distinctive voice, with a soulful delivery, slightly similar to Jack Bruce and Michael Chapman.
Throughout their set the Swamp never let the energy levels drop, except for 'Follow The Bear', which saw Mark swap his drum kit for acoustic guitar and Sacha as a guest on celtic drum joined Mark and Stew for this song. Enigmatic bassist Russ sat out this tune and joined the audience to enjoy the interplay between Mark's gruff tones and the pure voice of Sacha on this haunting melody.
The volume was cranked up again for set closer 'In My Shack', and the Swamp then ended their show with an encore, a reprise of 'Clean Your Bones' and then it was all over.
All in all a fine evening of quality music. Watch Sacha Bailey, she could go far. Top marks to This Dirty Swamp for giving a superb set of high octane rock and roll. This is a band that deserves to be heard by a wider audience and I look forward to hearing their studio album which is being worked on right now.
If you are ever in the Preston, or West Lancashire area, and This Dirty Swamp are playing go check them out for a fun evening of rock noise and beer.