Live Review: Sonic Boom Six (Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 18/11/12)

This is a review of Sonic Boom Six’s performance at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth, written for GUITAR CAFE. They were supported by The Barebackers, Zegema Beach and Imperial Leisure.

Read the full review and much more at

Manchester multi-genre rockers Sonic Boom Six brought their intense live show to Portsmouth.

Kicking off the festivities were The Barebackers with a “song about a hypothetical gay man”.  This was just the beginning of tonight’s eccentricities as they took off into an “anti-protest song” wringing out the heaviest music that they could possibly get out of their instrument collection, which included a ukelele, a flute and a melodica (which for those who don’t know, can be best described as a ‘wind keyboard thing that looks like a Fisher Price toy’).  Lead vocalist Huw Olesker ordered the audience to play along with their madness.  “Everyone come forward. There’s a rail for a reason!”.  Sure enough, the audience obliged.

Next up were reggae-rockers Zegema Beach who induced further insanity, but with a twist.  It was a rare thing to witness, as despite the chaos, and a frame of mind summed up by a less-than-charming cry of “this song goes out to fucking no one”, they sounded close to perfect.  The harmonies and the rhythms seemed flawless, something that needed to be seen to be believed.

Final support act, or “very special guests” as the posters describe them, Imperial Leisure then took to the stage, albeit with difficulty, as nine members squeezed onto the stage.  Just as with their precursors tonight, their great performance can be defined by a scream from the frontman, whose first words tonight were “this one is all about going fucking mental!”. Despite his lyrics being smothered by the huge band’s dense blanket of guitars and brass, it’s a safe bet that he was telling the truth.

Then finally the lights dropped and a rainbow-coloured laser show began, something usually reserved for venues far larger, set to the sounds of the opening monologue of Star Trek, though not as you might remember them. “These are the voyages of  Sonic Boom Six…”.  The curiously titled five-piece, led by the even more curiously titled Barney Boom and Laila K, wooed fans into moshing, crouching and jumping (replicating Slipknot’s infamous ‘jump the fuck up’ routine) for the next hour, with yet another peculiar cocktail of noises.

Tonight they went out to prove that it is possible to go from the anger of the guitar-heavy ‘Karma is a Bitch’ (“This is Nick Horne and this is his guitar… take me to heaven!”), to bringing out Imperial Leisure’s trumpeter and the aforementioned melodicas once again, and not sound disjointed.  They even found room to drop a sample of PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ into two of their tracks, and when that wasn’t enough, they let the tape run to do the infamous dance.  It’s bizarrely mischievous enough that it seemed to be less about making it work, and more about getting away with it.

Midway into the show, Barney asked “We are six songs in. Would you say we’re now friends?”.  A unanimous “yeah!” from the audience says that it worked out just fine.


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