REVIEW: Bark! at Tamesis Dock

It’s not every night you get to go to a gig on a boat but Thursday night was one of those nights, as I was lucky enough to get an invitation to Bark! Bark! is a regular music night hosted by a collection of likely young chaps and chapettes who like noise, beer… and it seems boats. This round of Bark! takes place at Tamesis Dock a moored boat between Vauxhall and Lambeth Bridges. And if you’re ever looking for it, trust me you can’t miss it. It’s all done up in fairy lights like a Christmas tree.

The venue is not without its charms. The upper deck boasts an awesome view of the river and the wildly eclectic décor inside is a talking point on its own. Not that we’re forced to talk about the décor since there’s some rather good music on offer.

First up are the folk stylings of Alistair MacKenzie accompanied by Ben Edgington. It is instantly obvious that MacKenzie is a bit special. His voice is soulful, rich and unusual – somewhat reminiscent of Scott Hutchinson. Both play acoustic guitar but MacKenzie is particularly animated when he picks up his banjo and there are feet tapping along throughout. I particularly like The Mess We’re In, a frank song about unrequited love and the cruelties of karma.  You can download a little free EP from his website now, so get on it.

Next up is Exiles, a magnificently noisy trio of Southend lads full of grungy aggression and political lyrics. There is something very sincere and real about them and they’re perfect for the rough and ready “homemade” vibe of Bark! The entire set is played with the aforementioned Ben Edginton lying on the floor with his feet up against the drum kit to stop it from skidding across the floor due to the odd angle that the boat has grounded itself at. And we’re all treated to handmade copies of an Exiles single with a masking tape title. It must be mentioned that one member of the audience becomes so caught up in the set that he swings from the rafters and snogs my husband. When I chat to bassist, Rob Glenister, about this over a smoke on the deck, he says, “I always knew we were a band that could make things happen.” He might just be right.

We slip out while the tunes are still going. The CD decks have fallen through and Sam Bowcher is frenetically DJing off an array of iPods and phones collected from the audience. It works surprisingly well because he’s playing the music that everyone in attendance loves.

I leave hoping that the next Bark! is soon. I can’t wait to see what the venue will be.

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