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Various Artists - Live at the Voodoo Room

Reviewed by Ben on 27th August 2006

Three years ago, there wasn't a decent live venue in Sunderland, with one of the only options the trek to Newcastle to catch big and up coming bands. If you're from the United Kingdom, you would understand that sometimes Sunderland and Newcastle doesn't mix; it's a North-Eastern rivalry, those who aren't from these parts. It's like putting a cat and a dog together - sure they may get along, but underneath it all, you know that's not the case all the time.

Along come the owners of Bar P.U.R.E, who changed that fact, allowing the upstairs to be used for bands while maintaining a DJ downstairs for regular clientele. And for three years, those who appreciate live music have congregated upstairs in The Voodoo Room to enjoy bands touring the nation. From Maximo Park to Nine Black Alps, with The Young Knives thrown in for polarity, it became a testing ground for bands trying to break the scene to throw out their material to an eager audience.

As if almost to show the sheer gratitude for the diligent efforts made by Bar P.U.R.E, the music on the double disc Live at the Voodoo Room was given free of charge by all the bands in question. Whether that's a testament of how valuable the venue is, or just a way to generate publicity for themselves is debatable; but the sheer eclectic collection of artists is a very strong attribute to the album. Rather than select music of the same genre, the album showcases styles as varied as Electronica to Metal; none of which recorded as live songs from the venue. All the tracks featured are studio version with some bands that sound like they are begging to be seen by big name publications.... well.... those just a tad bigger that Rawkstar, anyhow (NME are included in that, for some reason).

It could of been easy for the producers of the album to choose artists who have gone on to become famous - they could of chosen The Automatic and The Others to feature on the album. But they went out on a limb to include bands who regularly play the venue, which in my view was a decision well made. There are countless talented artists involved here, with I Am A Camera's brand of Big Beat Electroclash appealing to dance fans, Quatermain providing the heavy ska for the kids in their slung low jeans and baseball caps and indietronica/disco being covered (maybe even invented?) by Seventythree.

The two discs, however, are dominated very much with indie and alternative rock; which comes to the charm the album have. These aren't bands that are being blow out of proportion by the British music press. These aren't even bands being promoted by popular record label Rough Trade in a vain approach to keep 'low key' yet bring out mass upon mass of radio friendly Indie artists. These are bands that have are on the cusp of breaking through into middle-mainstream airplay, magazine coverage and those things. In essence, they are untainted and not over hyped as the next big things by anyone, yet you can't help but feel that the bands on the CD are going to be the next big things.

Want to keep an eye on who could be the biggest thing to enter the music scene in the next few years? Live at the Voodoo Room is one of the closest answers you're going to receive regarding who's hot and who's not, without bowing to down to anyone. Rough Trade compilations have spawned numerous indie bands... The Voodoo Room is about to spawn numerous bands, without any preference on genre.

Rating: 8/10
Website: barpure.co.uk

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