The search for live music in Bournemouth continued on Friday night with the second half of a visit to The Winchester up on Poole Road.
Following a storming set by support act The Cramatics, Will and The People made the penultimate appearance in their UK tour and what a cracking appearance it was too.
Sadly for those groups practicing the art of Reggae, the musical form affords the big kids on the bus the opportunity to swear that 'white people can't play reggae' and WATP are currently doing their best to disprove this. Sure, Brinsley Forde isn't in the group and they come from Brighton rather than the Blue Mountains but it's difficult to see how they'd change that.
Mooching into The Winchester on Friday they brought an air of a band in a bit of a daze but determined to enjoy it anyway and their partisan crowd had been nicely warmed up by a lively and popular Cramatics set beforehand.
Favourite of the night for me was Salamander but the equally good Holiday had the crowd and Will fans singing and bouncing. Sensimilla had a bunch of reggae vibes going on and the bouncy, catchy earworm, Holiday is perhaps the most Sting like but judging the quality of Rendle and co by these is IMHO a mistake.
The soulful and haunting Masterpiece isn't the song for a busy fast paced gig but hints at greater depths available in Rendles music and highlight the possibilities afforded by his ballad catalogue.
So they are good band and once again I was left thinking that the winter is too long and it's time to get into shorts and flip flops. There was however a bit of a downside to WATPs set and it's a kind of a back handed compliment.
It's clear that the entire band are accomplished musicians and they each played several instruments throughout the set which was lovely, however for me I got the sense that, like a web designer who insists on putting in an animated landing page it was a bit more about showing off what they could do rather than what each item brought to the music. It's a small niggle and I'm sure they are all lovely guys but it kind of grated a bit. That having been said I'd go again.
It's funny how little things bring questions. Drinking red stripe on set and referencing ganja at every opportunity just smacked a little of someone trying too hard to be Bob Marley. This is sad because it's clear, in their songwriting and lyric building that they have talent and I just wonder what would come out if they left the West Indies and the 1970s behind.
WATP were featured as number 469 on The Guardians list of band of the day back in 2009 and since then they have been working hard by releasing albums and touring the world in various line ups.
Frontman Will Rendle provides a sort of barely held together manic energy and almost 'The Goons' like comedy that points the way to a band doing what they do and to hell with the rest of you.
So let's just state what they aren't. They aren't The Police, The Specials, Aswad and nor is Will Jack Johnson but to be fair we can't really hold that against them. What they are is a funtime soft reggae and soulish/indie band that has a growing following in the area.
Their catchy tunes bring memories of hot summers, cold beers and chilling out under a shade tree which let's face it is handy for a dark damp Friday night in Bournemouth.
Their set features some memorable bouncy tunes with lyrics tinged with verbal dexterity such as 'Lion in the morning sun' and whilst there is a fair smattering of poppy sounds the spine of reggae runs through most of the music.
Don't let my sniffy review put you off though. Overall I had a great time and really enjoyed many of their songs. The set was a winner and looking around at my fellow attendees I was probably the only one with any questions. They were a palpable hit. MrsGigsandbands liked WATP best whilst I prefered The Cramatics which just goes to show that
women know nothing about music we're all different.
Will and the People are off on tour to Europe and India but they are back in May so if you see them on a playbill or at a festival then go and see and make your own mind up.
You can find more photos from the gig in our gallery
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Their site http://www.willandthepeople.com/