“First and foremost, we highly recommend heading to any gigs headed by the phrase ‘JD Presents’. Free Jack and Coke on entry? Yes please!
Free booze isn’t the main event however, as Billy Wright brings his band Arcaves back for his biggest homecoming show to date. There’s a full set up with professional light rigging that would look more at home on The Cliffs Pavilion stage. Can this evening live up to the hype of the occasion?
Kicking off proceedings is LJ Howard, who immediately sets the precedence for the rest of the evening. His charismatic pop soul simply demands your attention; the crowd are like putty in his hands, getting them engaged with call and response chants for ‘History’. Instant superstar. That’s how you open a gig.
Next up is Southchurch, who are riding the momentum train, with BBC Essex Introducing choosing them as one of their Sounds of 2017. They don’t mess about, jumping straight in with their current single ‘Fading‘, much to the delight of the room that’s starting to fill up nicely. Their house and garage grooves are a refreshing change to what Chinnerys is used to. Casey’s vocals completely shine over impressive arrangements, with Taylor keeping the energy high at all times.
We are now two for two. The future looks bright and we’ve not even made it to the headliners yet.
Billy Wright has been building and developing his vision for some time now, so tonight feels like a realisation of the dream. A packed Chinnerys, a huge stage production setting and great anticipation; can Arcaves live up to the main event?
If Arcaves new material is anything to go by, then Billy’s big pop aspirations will be soon realised. Sure, old favourites like ‘Man Enough‘ and ‘Out Of The Blue‘ go down well with the Arcaves faithful, but with the current lineup, some much needed energy and cohesion is now present. For the first time in a while, it feels like a band, rather than Billy with some session players. We’re witnessing his vision start to come into fruition, which is just as satisfying as the disco beats and big soul belters that we’re hearing.
Bekile is an absolute star, who is absolutely key to the band’s sound, her soaring vocals compliment Billy in such a way that gives these tracks an incredible vindication. If anything, Billy’s charisma is in danger of shielding her here. Tucked away on the side of the stage, our only niggle is that maybe she should be right at the front, demanding our attention. Billy’s charisma is never in doubt, so a little switch up could bring his band more into play, because his band are simply wonderful. The moment when Dominic Nyarambi jumps on the barrier and hypes up the crowd is pure joy. Then suddenly what is going on here? Is that a keytar? Lewis Olley has stepped forward behind his keys and is about to do a keytar solo? He certainly does and somehow, it makes perfect sense. Keytars should never be cool, but here we are, a full Chinnerys absolutely lapping it up.
Tonight is a celebration. Arcaves have come so far and with promises of more new music, Chinnerys witnessed something that was important, a rebirth and a sign that once again, the Southend Music Scene is the healthiest it’s been for years. And that’s not just the JD talking.”