❉ Samantha Reynolds on the Bristol band’s album launch at the Tunnels, February 10 2018.
“Your vibe attracts your tribe, and Sinestar’s vibe has attracted a tribe that is like a family. There is a dedicated, hardcore Sinestar following that turns a gig into an occasion…. This is what sets Sinestar apart from so many other bands, the emotional investment this tight band of fans have in this music is magical and a joy to behold.”
For a relatively unknown band, a Sinestar album launch is A Very Big Deal. There are months of build-up to the actual gig, and people fly in from the USA and all over Europe, book into hotels and help the Bristol economy enormously through food and drink consumption!
The launch of Sinestar’s ‘difficult’ third album A Million Like Us (which is currently sitting at number 9 in the German Poponaut Charts!) saw a return to the venue that hosted the band’s first album launch, The Tunnels in Bristol, and the majority of people who turned out for that first launch, for the album Singularis, turned up again for A Milion Like Us, just as they had for the launch of the second Sinestar album Evolve.
Your vibe attracts your tribe, and Sinestar’s vibe has attracted a tribe that is like a family. There is a dedicated, hardcore Sinestar following that turns a gig into an occasion.
The main difference between this album launch and the previous two is that Sinestar have evolved from a four-man band, comprising of Iain Brownlie (vocals), Mark Trueman (keyboards), James Skuse (bass), Mathew Mower Mohangee (drums) to a five piece, with the addition of Peter Steer (guitar/keyboards/backing vocals). Peter is a well-known face in the music world, having been one half of Tenek (with Geoff Pinckney) for the past decade and there is a definite crossover between the Tenek and Sinestar fan bases, so when Peter and Geoff retired Tenek last September, Peter seamlessly merged into Sinestar as a permanent member and, while Sinestar might not have known they were missing something, they were, and it was called Peter Steer. This is a musical marriage made in heaven, giving the band a new depth and a new energy.
Sinestar always have interesting and talented support acts and Fourth Engine and Dancing With Ruby ably carried on that tradition. Fourth Engine, a Bristol based duo comprised of Rachel Trimble and Russ Dallen, did a short energetic set, with very distinctive vocals, that brought people to the front of the stage, which is the best testiment to how they were received. Dancing with Ruby are a well-developed, class act, with Matt Culpin and Charlie Sanderson cementing their reputation with a set that opened with Snow Child, which sent a collective shiver down the spines of those listening. In a set that was full of first class songs Snow Child stood out as the jewel in Ruby’s crown. The front of the stage was packed during Dancing With Ruby’s set, again testimony to how good they were.
So to the main event. Legend has it that new boy Peter Steer quoted Winston Churchill before taking the stage for the first time as a Sinestar, “Here is to not buggering it up” he said…. And they didn’t.
Opening the set with three songs from the new album was a bold move, but it really worked. The anthemic A Million Like Us (the first single from the album of the same name) kicked the set off, followed by Lie On Lie, a fast paced dancy song with a hypnotic chorus. Third number A Second In Your Arms which took the pace down a little, but there is a driving beat behind Sinestar songs and a vocal hook that means the pace never drops much below 10.
These are story songs, and given free reign as the band’s frontman Iain Brownlie tells these stories with passion and conviction, and is right on the money vocally. Two back catalogue songs, total crowd pleasers Fortunes Faded and Locked From The Inside came next, which pushed the already VERY animated crowd into an arm-waving frenzy, then came the song from the new album that everyone I have spoken to says is The New Song, the reggae-influenced Smiling On The Inside, this tune has a slightly sinister edge to it and will become a Sinestar classic. The rest of the set comprised of five more new songs, all of which were well executed and very well received, and a smattering of tried and tested Sinestar anthems with the crowd getting more emotional and involved with every song. This is what sets Sinestar apart from so many other bands, the emotional investment this tight band of fans have in this music is magical and a joy to behold.
Despite a relatively small stage, the band manage to occupy it with grace and Iain Brownlie weaved some vocal magic with the rest of the band as tight as one of Mathew Mower Mohangee’s drums behind him. The closing encore song, I Am The Rain’ from the first album Singularis is now as essential as Guns and Roses doing ‘Sweet Child of Mine’, an uplifting joyous thing that the crowd move to as one entity. This was a definitive case of ‘job done’, blending the new and the known seamlessly. Sinestar took their new songs, and made them known songs with energy and a generosity of spirit that is admirable, and the audience soaked it all up like a happy and willing sponge.
In retrospect, the back of the venue could have done with more bodies in it. The hardcore fans are always there, but new recruits are needed and the band need to get out into the wild and tour and bring new fans into the fold. The addition of Peter Steer to the line-up should open up opportunities as the band’s online presence grows through his guidance and experience and word of mouth about this band gains momentum. Sinestar are unique, I haven’t seen or heard a band like them before and they are such gifted songwriters that they deserve to be heard far more widely than they presently are. Comparisons with other bands don’t work, because I simply can’t think of any band, past or present, who sound like them. The new album is another step up the ladder, but lend your ears to the previous two albums too: As a body of work they tell a story, and story songs are the best songs. The bi-annual Sinestar Album launch gigs are now the stuff of legend, and I urge you to give ALL the albums a listen – there is a story here, and stories are where cults begin.