Let’s face it, when a band you love splits up there’s a moment of reflection when you wish it wasn’t so; then you realise that you wouldn’t be happy if they were staying together for the sake of it and start to wonder what the individual members might do next. So it was with the Four 45s; Harrogate’s greatest band since IV Play a decade before and fronted by three distinct performers and songwriters (supported of course by a drumming powerhouse). What would they do next? Last Friday 30th May – at the Henshaws Friday Night Mix – we got the answer.
I missed the first band, Heaven’s Waiting Room and entered halfway through Fauns, not a band I’d come across previously but who offer a well crafted and entertaining brand of party rock. Next up were Hellfire Jack who are one of the most acclaimed Harrogate acts of the moment. I’d be lying if I was to say they were entirely to my taste but they offer an intense rock experience; despite being one guitar and drums they are arguably Harrogate’s heaviest band.
The Four 45s Take Two is essentially the band minus Joe Flanagan but with Hannah Slater whose other band, Set Sails, headlined Henshaws on my last visit. If you imagine the Beatles minus John Lennon but with Tina Turner on vocals – well it’s hardly an exact comparison but you get the idea (and let’s face it – you’d give good money to see that). What the band may have sacrificed in blokish attitude they’ve gained in vocal power.
Before the show I wondered how the Four 45s material would translate to a female fronted act. The answer was that they didn’t try and that this was a set of all new material. One could quibble that there should have been a new band name as this was arguably a bigger stylistic departure than Van Halen post David Lee Roth or Black Sabbath post Ozzy but, as I said, it’s a quibble. The important question is whether it was any good.
And the answer – as if there was ever any real doubt – is yes. It will take a few visits for the songs to come into focus but Nick Turner remains Harrogate’s most gifted songwriter of the moment with Rufus Beckett not far behind – the wordplay and depth that made the Four 45s Take One so great is still there. However a song is only ultimately as good as the performer and Hannah Slater is a striking and passionate performer (not forgetting Nick McTague in the engine room).
So same name but a different band and a different experience and the Four 45s remain a band not only worth seeing but believing in. If this is just the beginning …