Hugh Gunningham began proceedings at this year’s Summer Party; with his blend of folk-driven songwriting and more Blues-orientated textures, the winner of this year’s Discovery competition delivered an interesting set. Perhaps most telling of all was the choice of covers which characterised Gunningham’s set; including the likes of John Mayer, Stevie Wonder and Louis Armstrong, it is evident that Gunningham draws inspiration from a diversity of sources and it shows in the original songs he dotted across his set.
However, despite Gunningham’s best efforts, he only played to a small crowd of roughly ten people. Because his performance was scheduled so early and in poor weather, Gunningham faced an uphill battle throughout the majority of his set. Nonetheless, Gunningham made the best of the situation – working the occasional joke about the lack of people – and still left the crowd with a brilliant set.
Gunningham’s style was typified by the technical prowess of his guitar playing, favouring a Blues style running up and down scales and improvised solos at length. An equally impressive feat was the use of looping pedals, which were used to great effect when covering ‘Superstitious’ and enabled his set to have the presence of a full band. In interviews, Gunningham has spoken openly of the influence of John Mayer’s style on his own which shows in his both dexterous, yet understated vocal delivery. The blend of both makes for interesting listening as the two components play off one another and made for a superb set from Hugh Gunningham.
Tiger Blood were on not long after, playing what can only be described as Indie; they opened with the song which won them Notts Got Talent and their set did not progress much from there, musically speaking. Following in the same vein of Jet; the band has taken upon themselves to not so much forge a sound which incorporates elements or textures of other bands and rather decided upon simply mimicking bands outright. Their ‘sound’ was a patchwork of Indie bands of the last 5 years, complete with Bombay Bicycle Club verses, Two Door Cinema Club choruses and Pigeon Detectives bridges.
I suppose I am being overly critical; Tiger Blood do not purport to be reinventing the musical wheel and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I am musically at odds with bands that take such a pedestrian approach to their music, but I feel the crowd were not and enjoyed Tiger Blood for what they were, a Uni band offering ‘fun’ music. However, despite how much the band want to explore their musical capabilities, the musical shortcomings of their sound ultimately means that I find it hard to imagine the band progressing beyond their middle-of-the-road Indie. Nonetheless, this did not seem to matter too much to the band and most importantly the crowd.