The Saturday night after St. Paul’s Carnival was as good a night as any for Belishas’ single launch gig at the Louisiana. The band had pulled in a good crowd, nearly packing out the venue, and, after an afternoon of good weather and daytime drinking, the audience was lively, jolly and ready to party.
One of Belishas’ clear selling points is the extreme air of Englishness they emit in both their sound and image. Ewan Ferguson’s vocal delivery is in that archetypal half-singing-half-talking drawl of early 2000s indie rock n’ roll, similar to Carl Barât and Pete Doherty. The lyrics are a mix of being entertainingly to-the-point – almost childish at times – and poetic. ‘You’re so boring!’ in ‘Chlorine Maureen’, and ‘You’re like a grapefruit way after it’s ripe’ in ‘Dorian Grey’ are candid, a bit bitchy, and very funny indeed. The guitars in these two songs also had a strong whiff of post-punk revival about them as the pair played around with simple-but-effective chord progressions, with great screechy solos thrown in by lead guitarist Alex Garbutt. The only song which really strayed from this formula was ‘Foreign Policy’ (lovingly dedicated to Boris Johnson on this occasion) which has already been played several times by Steve Lamacq on Radio 6. This song was less Libertines, more Smiths, perhaps coming from a more mature and insightful place. Punkiness gave way to twee jangle here, Ferguson moving from his signature drawl into singing, with a sort of chic surliness, ‘I don’t understand it now, what it means to be a man.’
The other Euan (McCaughan) in the band drummed with a feverish enthusiasm and slightly mad look in his eyes, whilst Isaac Green was the epitome of a bass player, awkwardly (but also adorably) bobbing about stage left with his long blonde hair flopped over his face like a curtain. The songs’ energetic nature and bandmembers’ fizziness on stage got well over half of the audience contentedly dancing around, teens and middle-aged gig-goers alike. Belishas probably aren’t the most original band you’ll listen to in 2019, but they certainly know how to entertain an audience from start to finish. 7/10
Originally written for Bristol In Stereo by Emily Engleheart