Rummers Open Mic Night – a triumph

Photo - Hannah Floate

Photo – Hannah Floate
KOPAR performing for the first time

SUNDAY 9th saw the second round of the weekly Rummers Open Mic Nights. A perennial mainstay of university termtime, these open mics have proved very popular among audiences and prospective troubadours, with slots often being fully booked out, attracting decent-sized crowds for a relatively small venue. This week’s instalment saw six acts stepping up to the mic; with not a duff performance in sight, I imagine the judge (the bartender, it turned out) had a job on his hands.

George Jones kicked off with his Dylanesque brogue, playing several folky standards alongside his own original, politically-charged compositions, including a lengthy acapella number. He was also selling his albums for a quid – go get ‘em. Armed with nowt but an acoustic guitar and his husky drawl, he is by turns scathing and soothing; a consummate performer.

Lucy Williams was up next, playing some low-key solo acoustic covers, amongst them Ben Howard’s ‘Keep Your Head Up’, Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, Taylor Swift’s ‘Trouble’ and Li’l Wayne’s ‘Lollipop’. The range of pop covers were quite eclectic, with Lucy deftly navigating each artist and condensing them into a few chords, her singing reminiscent of Laura Marling.

Third on the list was new band KOPAR, comprised of Bruce Tollafield (vocals) and Andrew Noel (bass and sax, the latter sadly not in evidence tonight) – both former members of local band The Cymbelines – along with Emily Farr on drums and Harry Warne on guitar and electronics. Theirs was a marriage between punk economy of play and a Talking Heads sensibility. Original ‘Calabasas’ for instance, with lyrics based on the Bling Ring robberies, featured a snaking bassline and creeping ride hits while Bruce’s echoey voice shot out. It was an impressive performance for a debut and certainly they’re a band to look out for.

Next up was Oli and Cal; trumpeter and troubadour. Their set was sparky and upbeat, sprinkling in a little rap; there was even a sad trombone at one point. Wonderful. Their short set was a nice chance of pace, leaving a smile on everyone’s faces, the highlight being a relaxed rendition of ‘Hey Ya’.

Kieran Bagnall stepped up next; another regular at open mics, Kieran’s assured versions of (e.g.) ‘High Hopes’ (Kodaline) and ‘Little Lion Man’ (Mumford & Sons) endeared him to the audience just as easily as he has managed on previous occasions. He was consistently good and has always been consistently good.

Surprise of the evening was Arthur, who provided an exhilarating solo drum set, displaying some mighty chops as he pounded the skins, incorporating dramatic pauses, Nirvana’s ‘About a Boy’ and, yes, even a healthy dose of cowbell. I wanted more.

All performers were great, demonstrating why the Rummers Open Mics are so well-attended. Here were the top 3 of the night, as judged by the bartender:

1st – Oli and Cal
2nd – Lucy Williams
3rd – KOPAR