The Sherlocks / Jordan Allen / Martyn Crocker Band @ The Hub, Plymouth – 21/02/2017

It’s a greasy, uninteresting evening in Plymouth but it hasn’t stopped a mob of people turning out on a Tuesday for three hotly tipped bands playing their own songs live – that’s got to be encouraging, right? Once inside the venue, there is a palpable excitement and anticipation in the air which is largely centred around the four lads from Bolton On Dearne who are returning to Plymouth after triumphant gigs in the past, the Sherlocks are back in town.

Martyn Crocker
(Photo credit - Marielle Newton)
The evening pans out by going through various emotions of a performing musician and it all begins with a classic; nerves. Plymouth trio the Martyn Crocker Band take to the stage with no fanfare or fuss and quickly set about introducing the swelling crowd to their unique brand of intricate indie-rock. With a bass player channelling both Chris Wolstenholme and Flea and a drummer switching between subtle and driving with consummate ease, there is a fine base on which to build a set. Then we have Martyn Crocker, not a natural frontman or performer but a uniquely talented musician. Crocker’s intricate guitar work is hugely impressive and his voice is both distinctive and pure but those nerves made the band’s performance tighten up and feel as though they were holding back. Maybe they were, maybe there was something held back for the forthcoming album launch but it was no coincidence that the band got the best response from their last song which was also the performance that saw them relax more and enjoy their performance. Great songs and great musicianship, just a little rusty in terms of performance but that’s the easy part so bigger and better things will come.

Jordan Allen
(Photo credit - Marielle Newton)
Next up, after a short break to allow the various gangs to prowl around and show their threads off, we have the jittery energy of Bolton boys Jordan Allen. Frontman Allen is a tall, gangly blonde lad holding his powder blue guitar like Hank Marvin but that is where the similarity ends. The emotion behind this quartet is that of pure joy. From the second they take the stage, the energy of Jordan Allen is infectious and they are clearly delighted to be in Plymouth (the furthest South they’ve ever been, for the record). Garage influences mixed with the energy of 90 Grunge and 00s punk-pop make for a riotous half hour which really gets the crowd whipped up. Recent single ‘110 Ways to Make Things Better’ is a particular highlight as is the affable Allen who can’t resist chatting with the crowd at every opportunity. The call and response of ‘Helter’ and ‘Skelter’ is great fun but I can’t help thinking the analogy should be more turbo-twister when the chorus kicks in. These guys with these songs and this energy is a dangerous combination but one that I would bet on working out for them.

The Sherlocks
(Photo credit - Marielle Newton)
So, it’s time for the final act. The Sherlocks come with good songs, live performances that are the stuff of recent legend and the looks of a band that people want to have posters of on their walls. The two pairs of brothers take to the stage amid a storm of lights and tossed plastic pint glasses as if the Gallaghers themselves were on the road to a comeback. Straight away the melodies kick in, the drums drive and songs blast you in the face with the force of a Boeing 747 taking off. This is loud, this is slick, this is powerful, this is indie-rock on a Tuesday night custom made to whip a crowd full of latent testosterone in to an unthinking frenzy. The light show is more than impressive for a venue of this size and the devotion of the fans is almost heartening. But what’s the emotion? Well, herein lies my problem. If you can look beyond the lights and stop your ears bleeding for a second, the only emotion on the faces of the band is indifference. Not one smile, no audience interaction beyond “this is called….” and they all kept their coats on which I always think is a little rude – like, are you staying or not?

All in all, the songs won out tonight but only Jordan Allen seemed to actually enjoy playing in front of a near sell-out crowd. I’d still make a point of checking out all of these bands again but if I was to offer any words of advice it would be to just enjoy it a bit more – the crowd certainly did!

More information:

The Martyn Crocker Band -

Photography by Marielle Newton -


  1. Really enjoyed the review Roland :) However I think that Martyn Crocker is a phenomenal front man and a very experienced performer. I didn't attend the gig and therfore couldn't grasp the atmosphere or performance. But in no offence, I felt that you were very cynical towards his overview. Where were the good parts of his performance? But as I couldn't make the show, I thank you for the write up :)


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