Last night I attended one of the many Oxjam Music Festival events that are happening around the UK this October. The venue was O’Neill’s, in Kingston-Upon-Thames, South West London. It was a wonderful evening. I enjoyed a bunch of fabulous bands. But the stars of the night were Tsar Bomba, an alternative/indie four-piece from Epsom, Surrey. They just blew everyone away.

It’s not often that a band nails it first time out. But last night Last Bomba played like they’d been together for years.The gig was a joy. The songs were great. They were well constructed, catchy and innovative. Guitarist Harry Hoyle played riffs and lead breaks that were instantly memorable and cut through the mix with crisp articulation. Most of the night I’d been listening to vocals that were a little muffled. This is not a criticism of the other bands; it’s just par for the course for a small venue. I’ve played enough; I should know. But when Tsar Bomba singer Alex Sommerville took to the stage, their was no messing about. The vocals were punchy and I could hear every lyric he sang. The sound desk was the same. The PA was the same. The difference was the singer. He was confident and he knows how to give it some.

Tsar Bomba in the studio
Tsar Bomba in the studio: click for larger version

The members of Tsar Bomba are:

  • Alex Somerville – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
  • Harry Hoyle – lead guitar, rhythm guitar and backing vocals
  • Harrison Galliven – bass guitar
  • Nicholas Stamper – drums

The band formed in 2013. They spent the summer writing furiously and recorded a couple of tracks in a studio only a few weeks ago. Apart from playing a private party, last night was their first public gig. Despite their age (16-17) several members of the band have been on the circuit in South West London and Surrey for a while, and are pretty well known locally. In the last couple of years, both Harry and Alex have played the Guilfest music festival, in separate bands – no mean feat given that they were 14-16 at the time. Alex and Nick currently play in another Epsom band called Denver. Harry and Harrison also play in another local band called Hidden Fires. In this part of the world we are lucky enough to have music projects all over the place. Pick up a stone in the local area and you’ll find one. I’ve seen both Hidden Fires and Denver on numerous occasions and if they are playing anywhere near you sometime, I recommend you go and see them.

Tsar Bomba at O'Neill's
Tsar Bomba at O’Neill’s

All members of Tsar Bomba are fabulous musicians. They are tight and they play with feeling. The core songwriters are Harry and Alex, although all band members have some input. You may have noticed that Harry has the same surname as myself. You guessed it; he’s my son. On my blog I’ve never promoted or exposed his work. And it occurred to me that I have never done so for the right reasons: nepotism is distasteful. But the reaction from the crowd at O’Neill’s made me realise that, to some degree, I had been unfair. Last night, Tsar Bomba were great, and I should acknowledge it. Hence this post.

Here are a couple of tracks from Tsar Bomba. Judge for yourself.

For more:  visit Tsar Bomba on Facebook

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