22-20s : Manchester Hop & Grape

Believe the hype

For a new band, a barrage of relentless hype is a millstone. [a]22-20s[/a]? [a]22-20s[/a]are just too cool to care. Effortlessly stunning completely unfazed by the whirlwind of A&R attention that surrounded them earlier this year tonight the Lincoln blues-punk trio look and sound like a band ready to deliver on their early promise. In spades.

Yes, their bluesy element has seen them lazily touted as the ‘British Stripes’ in some quarters. True, they share Jack ‘n’ Megs influences in people like legendary bluesman Muddy Waters, but [a]22-20s[/a] sound is significantly more heavyweight. Hurtling at breakneck pace through raw, scuzzy shitkickers like ‘22 Days’ and ‘Messed Up’, they’re a staggering live force: permanently rooted to the spot, singer Martin Trimble possesses a stare that could burn holes through steel. Clad in – what else? – a leather jacket, he’s an unflinching embodiement of studied cool, primed to join the Casablancas/White stratosphere.

As clear leaders of the BritPack movement, it’s obvious that [a]22-20s[/a] are taking this all extremely seriously, as throughout the set there’s a complete sense of unwavering focus. There’s no needless between-song mumbling or over-exuberant pogoing and, like all the best bands, once they down tools after awesome set closer ‘Devil In Me’, there’s no encore, leaving the crowd desperate for more. It’s a trick they’re going to perfect over the coming year. Pretty soon everyone’s going to want a piece of them. Believe the hype.

Rick Martin