Down to the Retro Bar again for another night of Ska and with some new bands to review rather than the same old stuff that so many others get bogged down with. A few chats upstairs then down into what was a pretty full gigging room with the first band Faintest Idea, just kick starting the evenings entertainment.

Hailing from Norfolk I thought this was a bloody good distance to travel but considered it a sign of enthusiasm and spirit. I for one am glad they made the trip because this was mighty impressive stuff that transcended the Ska boundary and dipped into hard edge punk quite brilliantly. The combination worked well and songs were delivered with pace, adequate aggression and melody in equal measures that brought a fine finished product. Good stage presence was shown and inklings of a 'Frederickson' style approach seeemed apt. Very good indeed and the night was off to a flyer.

The Fractions next and a band who have gigged for me several times (with more to come) and have always proved themselves capable in all areas. Despite a few minor hiccups this was as solid a set as I've seen them play and the new geezer (was it from Failure by Design) fitted in superbly and helped deliver a most definitive harder sound. Some of the drum rolls and solid guitar rhythms were deliberate and heavy which in my opinion will help the Fractions appeal to a wider audience. A few choice songs were bashed out with excellence with many a number off their latest CD thrown in. This band are growing in stature all the time and with shorter, fast edge songs thrown in to the mix are surely going to be a force to be reckoned with. The very busy stage look is excellent and really captures the eye.

Chewin' Bricks next and this crew relied more on melody and timing rather than the pace of the previous 2 outfits. This was good but for me the fast parts really outshone the more laboured songs and that took a slight edge off. It didn't really catch my attention like it should have done but it was well recieved in general and my lack of ska knowledge here maybe a hindrance to the final judgement. Personally I would speed up the whole set but I can't knock it too much because the talent and consistency was eveident for all to see.

Last band of the night for me was Damn Skippy (bizarre name - surely they don't mean that lovable bouncy mammal of those 70's TV classics). This was a great finish for me and the songs were a varied mix indeed with the band at one point sounding like a bunch of pissed up pirates thrashing out a punked-up sea shanty. Gypsy-esque, ska-ish, punkish, etc - many flavours here with the very few insipid but overall very tasty indeed. The place was rocking when these 'erberts were in full swing and they really produced a most pleasing set.

So OMD at another Ska gig - whatever next - Tim 'Punk4Life' Davies not selling childbirth films. Well why not I say - if you don't go, you won't know so one may as well check this stuff out, as Ska, when played well, is a real pleasure. A good night and a swig of sherry to the runners of the SkaBar for doing a great job and creating some nice opportunities for some solid bands. Keep at it and back to the punk scene for me (well until next month maybe).

review by OMD (29 January 07)