Back at the start of the year I saw a concert put together by Off Axis, a nationwide scheme for up-and-coming bands to share support slots at each other’s gigs. To kick off Independent Venue Week 2016, local lads Dorey the Wise were brilliantly supported at The Albion by Ded Rabbit and Young Jacks – from Edinburgh and Leeds respectively – in a night that showcased the sheer talent there is all over the country and helped to establish the Albion as one of Hastings’s best live music venues.
Last week Dorey the Wise were back at the Albion for another Off Axis gig, this time supported by Bristol-based quartet The Rupees. Promoting their new Catch 22 EP and showing off a relatively new line-up, the Rupees confidently delivered their infectious, catchy tunes – solid synth pads, growling guitar and an ubertight, neo-funky rhythm section – to a keen and busy Albion crowd, who didn’t take long at all to get up and dance.
This was a perfect warm-up for Dorey the Wise, who over the past four years or so have ingrained themselves into the fabric of the music scene in Hastings and further afield. During this time they have refined their live act and honed their songwriting skills, the result being that they now deliver a more polished, practised performance than might have been expected less than a year ago. The songs are more complex too.
Alongside the more familiar, poppier numbers there are some newer, moodier moments to the live set, showing that, with experience, the band has matured well and is not afraid to explore the darkness as well as the light. There was even a brand new song, never before heard outside the band, which is so fresh off the production line that – customarily for Dorey – it doesn’t even have a name yet.
At the centre of the action, as always, is the considerable presence of front man Aidan Tigwell, whose on-stage charisma makes it difficult to take your eyes off him. Just as Dorey the Wise’s songwriting has matured and developed, so Tigwell’s voice has grown to fit the newer, more elaborate arrangements, and has the ability to switch with ease from impassioned foghorn to delicate balladeer. Alongside him, lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Georghiou is the perfect foil, adding layers of sound that have come to define Dorey, and the rhythm section – James Dennison on bass and Elliot Lampitt on drums – is tighter, snappier and more adventurous than ever.
Something has happened to this band in between their two Albion performances this year that has led to a more professional, more versatile set, full of light and shade and brimming with emotion – all of this confidently delivered by a band that has grown in confidence, stature and raw musical prowess.
Off Axis Network works by connecting like-minded artists from across the UK, and enabling them to ‘trade’ their audiences with one another, so they can play more shows, in more places, to more people than ever before possible. The idea of the system is to substantially increase the circulation of artists around the country, and hence giving them the opportunity to build national fanbases.