The BellRays were back in Brighton. They promised some Punk, Funk, Rock and Soul – and Oh Boy! Did they deliver. They came, they played, we loved it! The band and crowd partied it hard for almost 2 hours at The Prince Albert in Brighton!
The Bellrays (also capitalised as The BellRays) is an American rock group that combines garage rock and punk with soul music, founded in Riverside, California in 1990 by vocalist Lisa Kekaula and guitarist Bob Vennum. Kekaula and Vennum founded the BellRays on the dissolution of previous group The Rosethorns, a group formed by Vennum in 1986, which Kekaula joined in 1988; the band released an album Ralph’s Mom & Dad in 1990; songs from the album were later rerecorded by the BellRays.
Lisa Kekaula – vocals, tambourine and yep, a kazoo!
Bob Vennum working those guitars and vocals
Dusty Watson at the back on the drums and cymbal repair kit
Bernard Yin making the bass guitar magic, vocals and rocking the specs
The BellRays: The Set
Now dear reader The BellRays were totally 100% new to me. Well, apart from Dusty and Bernard, whom I had the privilege of meeting back in 2019. The music was new to me. Every single person in a packed out Prince Albert gave the band a massive cheer as they climbed the steps onto the stage. The Stay Sick Team lined up a strong pair of opening acts. It is quite refreshing to offer so much for the price of the ticket. The thunder makers Los Pepes are touring with The BellRays and are second on the bill and opening the evening were the fabulous Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explodes. Read all about that here. Its a strong band that can follow Los Pepes! Now onto the BellRays…
A shake of the tambourine and we were off, get ready Brighton its gonna get hot! The first three songs on the set were Bad Reaction (from their latest album), Mine All Mine, and I Can’t Hide. Fabulous! The Albert was hot and humid already and the walls were already beginning to glisten along with many foreheads of the smiling faces in the crowd as Lisa et al get on with the show. The tambourine was shaken within an inch of its life tonight and a Kazoo appeared a couple of times, what a great sound when played with The BellRays! I Don’t Wanna Cry, Every Chance I Get and, with a supreme vocal, Soul Girl were up next.
Lisa is something else! From the get go she totally owned the stage – it was her stage, and also safe to say she owned the crowd! She glided and slinked around the stage and engaged with her audience at every opportunity. Hell, I think she would have jumped right in there with us if it wasn’t quite so packed!
OMG! This band is relentless. They are 100% entertaining and boy do they have some fabulous material to draw from. Lets see, we have to be about halfway through the set, are they ticking the boxes?
Damn right they are! The check box proves correct as The BellRays turn up the Rock and Roll percentage of content and of course their mix of soul, garage clashing head on with some fun punk. All of this led by the awesome, and at times loud vocals of Lisa Kekaula. What a performance! The band as a whole unit were simply breathtaking. Dusty absolutely powered through a couple of solo slots, and the fine thick string playing from Bernard put up a fine sound. It was tight – not a single note out of place.
So many songs, I couldn’t keep up! but we also had Junior High, Shake Your Snake, Perfect and Man Enough. Be certain, The BellRays know how to groove, and by the end of the evening so will the crowd. The BellRays know when to wind up the guitars and up the amps. But they can also mash it up; they can thrash it and of course drop that oh so familiar 60’s backbeat. We were being educated tonight.
Black Lightning and Startime heralded the end of the set. No Way! The crowd were baying for more from The Bellrays. Well it seemed as if Lisa and the guys were in the mood for a party, the crowd reacted enthusiastically as drinks and arms were thrown into the air!
Detroit Breakdown, Whole Lotta Love ( yes it was THAT song), Lisa absolutely let it rip for Blues For Godzilla, Stupid F’ing People and finally Tie Me Down. All of these last songs, there may have been more are just perfect for a live setting with a crowd that is up for a good time. Lisa, and as I say I was new to their music was at times soulful, almost soothing but then she would kick it up for a raunchy outburst or play it funky as the songs require.
Keep in touch with The BellRays on the WWW.
Stay Sick are promoters based in Brighton. They have been around for a while now. Great night and well organised. Seriously good bang for your buck! Thank you Stay Sick.
Established in 2008, now a Brighton institution for the ones in the know, these Cramps obsessed guys have put on such greats as Billy Childish, Kid Congo from the Cramps, Monotonix, Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster and Thee Oh Sees. With bands from Japan, Germany, USA, France and even Croatia (to name but a few), STAY SICK has made it their mission to track down, kidnap and present you with the best bands from all over the globe.
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Please note all original images / video are copyright, please do not copy. If any of the featured artists/promoters/venues want copies of the images – or more if available – please just get in touch.
All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2019.
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