Gig Review: Dura Mater at Jam Cafe

Words: Karl Blakesley
Photos: Josh Eastoe
Monday 15 April 2024
reading time: min, words

On the eve of the release of their stunning new single Red Holiday, fast-rising Notts 8-piece Dura Mater headed down to Jamcafé in Hockley to celebrate their second song entering the streaming world. With a packed room filled with raucous energy and good vibes aplenty, here’s what went down at their single release show…

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Jamcafé is one of those venues I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time, but every time I’ve ventured there during Dot To Dot or Hockley Hustle its been full to the brim with sadly no more room at the inn. Finally though the stars aligned and I was able to visit this quaint spot over on Heathcoat Street for Dura Mater’s single release show. As I step foot inside I immediately see why it’s such a popular hangout, with a great selection of beers on tap, friendly staff serving with a smile and surroundings of warm, artistic décor. It’s a real gem of a spot and once London-based quartet House Arrest take to the floor, the magic only intensifies – even after they initially try to convince the onlooking crowd that’s not going to be the case.

“Thanks for coming, we’re going to play some awful music now – take it away boys!” yells the shades-donned lead singer, as they launch into a riotous punk track that also brings with it a hint of rockabilly swag. It’s a great start and as the addictive buzzy riffs of their second song kicks in, I start to notice the amusing quirks of the band on stage. Firstly the bass player seems to be using an old sock as a fret clamp, and the keyboardist also has a cowbell that he is playing with, what has to be said, some incredible panache. “Come forward and make us more insecure – this is another s*ithouse song” the frontman gestures, as they launch into one of their readily available singles, Trucking On.

“This is a new one which we’ve never played to an audience before, it’s about Rishi Sunak – f*ck that guy man.” If they hadn’t of stated it was about Rishi you would’ve had a tough time guessing, as the lyrics for the song seem minimal, with the track propelled instead by more punk-heavy riffs. After playing through most recent single M. Munroe followed then by a slightly more subdued number, the band then turn their attention stateside. “This next song is about Donald Trump – we’re not a political band, those guys just suck. They’re ugly and lame.” Funny! It’s then time to wrap-up what has been a very impressive support set, as final song Swans goes down a storm with the energized crowd.

After a short break its then time for the main reason everyone is gathered for the evening – Dura Mater. “Hello, you may have recognised me from earlier.” Indeed, the ensemble that have now taken to the floor features the sweater-vest wearing, cowbell-playing keyboardist from House Arrest as one of the two lead vocalists. Also, the frontman for House Arrest is also back on stage, but this time takes a backseat as one of the guitarists. To be in two projects at the same time, that are both very different and very distinct, you can’t help but be impressed by the creativity.

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As they dive into their first single The Umbrella Tree, the difference in styles between the two projects is apparent straight away. This time there’s trumpets, violins and just generally a bigger, bolder sound, drawing shades to the likes of Black Country, New Road, Arcade Fire and Opus Kink. “This is the one we’re releasing tomorrow” says the sweater-clad frontman as they launch into the understated beauty of Red Holiday. With its dreamy refrain of “In my head, Red Holidays keep me swimming, keep me floating away”, it’s a song that hits you in all the senses and feels all at once, particularly in this intimate live environment.

As they enter the second half of the set, the energy is then taken up a notch. “This next one’s about my fear of p*ssing in public” says our friend in the sweater, as he introduces an erratic number filled with some wonderfully jittery riffs. Then after a short blast through another sub-2-minute punk song with paper and pizza in the title (I don’t quite catch the full name), they switch into a disco tune called False Advertising. The eclectism on display in the set is really quite dazzling and when the band - who are now sweating buckets - finally draw the set to a close, you get that hit of serotonin that only a great live show from a newly discovered band can give you.

With their debut EP Arable Ground set for release during the late May bank holiday, you can add Dura Mater to the long list of Notts-linked acts looking to make waves in 2024. 

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