Monday, 3 March 2014

Kenelis live at the Scala

I went to see Kenelis at the Scala on Friday night, and was struck by how far Mel has come from the open mic nights more than ten years ago, where I’d drive down to Camberley and watch her perform. Kenelis the band have had a few incarnations, and the new line up (which isn’t that new!) has given Mel a shot in the arm and renewed drive. You can tell the band genuinely like each other, and are pushing each other to become bigger and better.
The last band I saw play at the Scala was Bright Eyes; so to see Mel and her gang standing on the same stage as one of my biggest heroes was a big deal. The Scala also holds other memories for us; a few wild, memorable club nights at Popstarz in our twenties meant that this felt like a homecoming gig of sorts.
The band opened with Moving to Brighton, which has a strong guitar part. I’d say Kenelis have two sides to them; a heavy, rock sound and a rocky/pop side. Personally, I like the heavy songs the most. I’ve always liked the screamy/ angsty ones and I like the acoustic ones too, but I think that's just because they remind me of old times! 
It was great to see the band up on a screen in the venue, too. I like the Scala as a venue, and the sound was great. The last big venue I saw Kenelis in was the Indigo2 club at the O2 arena, and I think they really lend themselves to filling up these big venues with their big sound. 
Next was GFY, which I’d say was more poppy, although it still has a rocky guitar and loads of energy. I think you can hear Mel’s accent come out much more when she sings now, which is always a good thing. I love hearing accents in songs – real accents, not put on ones!
Next up was Don’t Kill My Rock, which has a punky feel to it, with handclaps and ‘heys’ from the boys in the band. I really liked With Scars, which is where there were some technical difficulties, but I actually liked the more stripped down feel of it, as it is more of a ballad (or was that night!) Ballad is the wrong word; I don’t think Kenelis do ballads!
With my memory, I can’t remember which songs are very old or very new, but Holes feels to me like a classic Kenelis song (even if it isn’t), with strong lyrics and a catchy chorus.
The band finished with Prodigy Witch that has Metallica-esque guitars – I loved it. The song has a lot of different parts to it, stop-starty bits in the verses, screaming, slow bits and sing-song parts with backing vocals. It has a Paranoid Android sort of structure to it. I like it when you don’t know quite where you are with a song. It just has a bit of everything – to me it’s perfect Kenelis because it encapsulates all of their strengths; it’s got heart but it’s also got just proper headbanging parts. I like the ‘witch!’ screaming at the end, too. I always like screaming on songs! 
I don’t think the crowd were in the least bit bothered by any technical difficulties. I noticed how the venue filled up as the set went on, and when it finished, I felt like we’d just been getting started. Hopefully this gig will give Kenelis a push onto the next level of stardom; they have paid their dues and they deserve to be big. We’re sadly lacking in strong front-women in rock at the moment, and Mel, in her grey and black union jack jeans, is more than ready to step up.