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“Too sexy for the Shirts?” By Lee Trewhela (West Briton)
I wouldn't know a G chord from a G-string (although both take some intricate
finger work to unleash) but if you are a bit more muso than me you'll appreciate
how good The Shirts really are.
In the past I've railed against covers bands, but this lot are a bit different.
The Shirts pride themselves on sounding just like the bands they cover - so
their Kinks songs sound just like The Kinks and you'd be mistaken for thinking
that Strummer and Jones have joined them for their rendition of The Clash's
White Man In Hammersmith Palais.
Bass guitarist & vocalist Mark Ashton told Upfront: "We pride ourselves not only on
our musicianship but the fact that we really enjoy ourselves while we're playing - a lot of bands just stand there looking miserable. People appreciate that we're having a good time."
They're so appreciated that a female fan approached them excitedly after a gig
at the Bosuns in Penzance and asked them to play at her wedding.
When is it, asked the band. I don't know, I haven't even got a boyfriend yet,
replied the girl. There's nothing like forward-planning.
Unbelievably, The Shirts - two thirds of which are Falmouth-based - spent a
year rehearsing before they entered the Cornish live arena.
The band - who have a wealth of musical experience between them and a repertoire
of 60 songs including a handful of originals - attempt to get the guitar sounds
spot on for each of the acts they cover from Ian Dury to The Jam , so that means
the appearance of those devilishly difficult diminished chords.
"We've all been in bands that bang out the same old stuff - and there's nothing wrong
with that - but we all wanted to be in a group that played to our musical strengths," added Mark.
So they are able to reproduce the swirling psychedelia of The Beatles'
Dear Prudence on one hand and the same band's grungey Back In The
USSR on the other.
Diversity is The Shirts' buzzword - just witness the superb three-part accapella
harmony that ushers in their version of Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere or their
rocked-up Wonderful World.
Mark's brother Andy (guitarist & vocals) is a former member of punky
rockers Moondragon who then mutated into punky folkers Lordryk, both big on the
continent, playing several big festivals in Europe.
Drummer & vocalist Philip Sands, played with a plethora of bands in London including Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook and has the claim to fame of being mates with Dido.