The Torn Off Strips line-up: John Penfound (Guitar/Voice), Simon Pay (Bass/Voice), Graham Farr (Guitar/Voice) and David Penfound (Drums).
One of my favourite things is listening to a band sound checking. I say this because you can tell so much from how a band are as a unit from how they sound check. The Torn Off Strips work like a well-oiled machine, and a well-oiled machine that looks like it’s having a great time, and that transfers across to the audience, as we waited patiently. They then did a two-minute test with ‘What You Waiting For’.
I had just greedily gone to get my third hog roast burger and was walking back when I heard an X Factor style introduction, with the guy’s really deep booming voice, introducing them. I’m not sure how they did it, but it was believable enough to make me think that they actually phoned the guy up and got him to record it especially for them!
They then blasted into life with ‘Let Me Entertain You’ by Robbie Williams. The guitars rocked the audience, with deep distorted chugging, while the bassist kept up a superb running bass line. The drummer held the time for the song and they ended with John Penfound, Chasing Daisies earlier saviour, shouting ‘Hello Picket Piece Commercial Centre! Rock on!’ Everyone laughed and they ploughed into the next song, The Killers’ ‘Are We Dancers’. There was excellent singing and brilliant harmonies.
When they play together, they’re always keeping watch of each other, another mark of a well-rehearsed and experienced band. They are always smiling at each other and joking, but it’s never at the expense of the music.
They performed an Abba song from Mamma Mia, and it was done so well, with a rocky edge. The drummer’s use of the high hat was tip-top, picking up on the fills and executing them with perfection. The cool use of a flanger accentuated the drone section near the end, creating a tension before bursting into a final chorus. David threw his stick up towards the end of the song, and fumbled the catch, but he redeemed himself by catching it like a pro during Katy Perry’s ‘Hot ’n’ Cold’.
Their version of ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell, was also rocky, as well as raising the BPM up a notch or two. The drummer kept an excellent time, really pushing the song forward.
Watching the bassist’s fingers during You Spin Me Right Round by ‘Dead or Alive’ was insane. It was like watching Olympic Speed Walkers, but faster! Along with phenomenal three way vocals, brilliant guitar playing and drumming, and tasteful vibrato, this was an excellent rendition.
As a band they are so professional and funny and they absorb you into everything they do, especially the banter between John and Simon.
There was a bit of drama towards the end, when they were playing ‘Pokerface’, when the power died – I can’t say for sure if it was a power cut, or a blown fuse. John was asking if anyone had any 50p's for the meter, but it was back on after minutes and they moved on to the next song.
Every performance of every song was perfect, and I was so pleased to see them get the riff to ‘Socks on Fire’ – yes we all know that isn’t the actual title of the Kings of Leon song, but it was a joke on the day – right. I so often hear the guitarist accent the wrong beat in the bar, but the 'Strips nailed in!
Saving the best till last, they performed ‘Living on a Prayer’ by none other than Bon Jovi. The vocals were cracking, the guitar playing awesome, the drumming solid and the bass playing linking everything together. Like true pro’s they fired through the song, with accuracy in all the areas including the guitar solo and the key change from E to G.
All in all – what a magical afternoon!
Thank you to all the acts!