Saturday night saw The Tuesday Syndicate come to town to perform what should have been a stomping set in The Old Firehouse, Exeter’s favourite hang-out that is building a reputation for housing great live performances from the best of local music. The Tuesday Syndicate, from Woolacombe in North Devon, have been dubbed as “North Devon’s band du jour”. Indeed, a lot of hype is building up around them, including support from the likes of BBC Radio 6 who have promoted The Tuesday Syndicate as being “like Jake Bugg but with a full band and a lot more attitude”.
All this sounds like a promising start, and upon arrival expectations of delivery were high. A thorough sound-check before the performance felt like a good idea, until it became clear that it was an obsession that came to dog the evening and disrupted the gig somewhat. The large gaps – and even interruptions to songs – meant that The Tuesday Syndicate struggled to hold the audience with one man (unhelpfully yet unashamedly) echoing the thoughts of us all when he shouted out “You’re losing the audience!” from the back of the bar. At times it felt awkward how empty the front of the stage was, especially after the small gaggle of rowdy, although at times quite amusing, drunk girls who had been filling the space staggered off out into the night.
‘Palm of my Hand’ showed off how in sync the band are as a unit, with their tight vocals and ability to play off each other’s energy
The songs performed came mainly from their debut EP, What It’s Worth, which was released last year. The songs themselves were upbeat folky rock that, although high in energy, did rather merge into one and became samey – by the end of the set, it almost felt like material was being repeated. However, one track stood out; ‘Palm of my Hand’ showed off how in sync the band are as a unit, with their tight vocals and ability to play off each other’s energy proving that these guys have the potential to deliver a great gig. Furthermore, the lead singer Sam Mayo had an undeniably strong set of vocals that added passion to every song, even if he sang with a somewhat affected tone to his voice (at times, it could be mistaken for attempting to sound like an American country singer) that didn’t always entirely convince.
The comparisons drawn between them with the current crop of successful acoustic and folk artists didn’t quite hold up if based on this performance – Kodaline are more polished and chilled, but maybe Passenger rings more true in that The Tuesday Syndicate has the potential to be crowd-pleasing despite being unvaried in original content.
Their high energy enthused the set when it wasn’t being interrupted by sound-checks
The saving grace of the gig that almost entirely forgave the setbacks and flaws were their collection of covers, which really were something else. ‘Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree’ by KT Tunstall was the best of them; the high-energy and familiarity of the song drew people in from outside, and for a moment sparked hope that this was to be the turning point of the gig. Ultimately, it failed to captivate the new-found audience for long, and after a few of their original songs the dancefloor was once again a lonely place to be.
The Tuesday Syndicate clearly enjoy performing, creating a ‘lively barnstorming energy’ that is reminiscent of their coastal, rural background that has come to influence their sound. Their high energy enthused the set when it wasn’t being interrupted by sound-checks, even if their habit of dropping back and falling away from the mic in unison got tiresome – although impressive the first time, the novelty very quickly wore off to the point that it became irritating. Ultimately, this was maybe not the best first impression of a band that has received so much hype – but they were intriguing enough to deserve a second chance. It was just a bit unfortunate that this performance was not how any of us would have envisioned it.