Royale Records Launch Night

Next up were Retro Man Blog favourites, The Past Tense, and tonight they finally delivered the blistering set that they have been building towards for some time. The Kingston three-piece were on fire and the occasion, along with the limited set time, just seemed to spur them on to a faultless show. I have been a bit hard on vocalist and guitarist Andy Norrie-Rolfe, I know he is a self-effacing chap, but I have sometimes felt that his habit of apologizing during a set just detracts from how great The Past Tense really are. They seriously have nothing to apologize for, but should have faith in their abilities and most importantly, the sheer quality of their fizzing little Garage Pop nuggets of songs.
Tonight, Andy really sticks it to me with a brilliant performance, full of confidence, and he attacks the songs with aggression and power. Their two albums "Take Three" and "Pick 'n' Mix", although crammed full of genius songs, unfortunately have a production that doesn't quite capture the power of the band live, and that's where they are best appreciated. There's just something very special about The Past Tense. Maybe it's Andy's slightly unconventional guitar playing, where he somehow captures a slashing Wilko Johnson rhythm style that just makes you want to dance. He spirals off into little Freakbeat guitar riffs on tracks like the crowd favourite, "Wolfman" and perfects a Pete Townsend strum on their Quadrophenia tribute, "Jimmy's Love Song". It might have been Andy's crowning performance, but that's not to forget that The Past Tense also boast, what is probably the Garage Rock scene's best rhythm section, in bassist Ken Halsey and drummer Warren Samuels, who really power things along.
Ken's bass runs add counter melody to Andy's rhythm guitar, and Warren is a blur of energy behind the drum kit. The great thing about them is that, although they cram so much into each song, there is no excess, each number may be short but it is perfectly formed! And to top it all, unlike a lot of the current guitar bands on the circuit, The Past Tense have a groove, you have to dance. OK, I'm going on a bit...but I'm totally enthused by the band, they deserve more.

Steve Worrall
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