The Achievers seemed to appear in the headlights all of a sudden in 2018 following the release of their debut album Live At The SVA. They have, however been together as an electric band since 2013. I saw them for the first time in October 2018 and now a year later at the very same venue, the Tuesday Night Music Club (TNMC), Coulsdon.
Steve Ferbrache (Lead Vocal/Rhythm Guitar), Rufus Fry (Harmonica/Vocals), Robert Holmes (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Aron Attwood (Drums/Vocals) and Jack Thomas (Bass) had travelled all the way from Gloucestershire to play the TNMC.
The band has, in truth, always held high expectations but surely even they must be surprised at how the success has gathered pace over the past year. They are quick to credit the impact of playing this venue last year and many like it as they have benefitted from the recommendations and rave reviews that have followed.
As a consequence of the many positive comments and a busy summer playing festivals, the band was invited to take part in this year’s UK Blues Challenge organised by the UK Blues Federation. They only went and won the damned thing. The next potential achievement, they get the opportunity to represent the UK at the European and International Blues Challenges in Amsterdam and Memphis respectively next year.
The Achievers successfully blend blues, soul and dance hall gospel with their beautiful four part harmonies. The love of gospel music is mutual within this band but don’t go believing they are a group of faithful worshippers, in their own words they play gospel for the godless. They also play with a freedom, or playing in the moment as they would call it, which is the result of the band’s reluctance to rehearse.
Many of the songs in the set list can be found on the band’s well received release, the excellent The Lost Arc, but one song that pushes all the right buttons, their brilliant version of a song that has it’s roots in 16th century English folk but has also seen a blues interpretation, The Cuckoo, which can be found on their debut Live At The SVA. Taj Mahal for one has covered this but The Achievers manage to give it a wonderful refreshing blues/folk interpretation.
I was lucky enough to capture the band performing this magical number in 2018 when they played the club which you will find below.
A prime example of the gospel for the godless tag is the final track on the new release, See Me Back Jesus, a guy that lives over the road from Steve Ferbrache who just so happens to go by the name of Jesus always insists, whenever the band ventures out in the van, on seeing them reverse safely out into the never busy road. Aron Attwood deserves the credit for the idea for the song.
Steve Ferbrache is not only the purveyor of splendid vocals and rhythm guitar, he is the resident comedian who has the additional responsibility of making the rest of the band laugh. I have to say he is a very personable young man who not only achieves this additional duty in the band but does a pretty good job on the audience.
Rufus Fry is a man of many talents. He has replenished his supply of 35 – yes 35 – harmonicas following the goodwill of many following the theft of his original arsenal. There are moments during the performance when you find yourself along with others seeking out the keyboard player, no need for a keyboard when Rufus has a harmonica working with a pedal.
Robert Holmes is a very unassuming guitar player but boy can he play. He does have pedigree which goes all the way back to the mid 80s when Robert was enjoying success with new wave outfit ‘Til Tuesday. Aron Attwood has a percussive style of drumming which sees him standing and giving a powerhouse performance behind his cocktail drum kit. Newest member, Jack Thomas, just looks so comfortable and plays with a smile permanently etched on his face.
I wish this band every success and just as long as they continue to enjoy themselves this will rub off on their ever increasing fan base and they will fulfill its achievements.
Photography and Words of The Achievers at The Tuesday Night Music Club by Phil Honley. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.