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If someone asked you to define the word Rock, you could come up with all sorts of answers. You can go on about how the music has a certain kind of beat, how it is played with certain type of instruments or how it is more about the attitude of the bands and their fans. You might be able to go on to write an entire thesis and enter enthralling long debates with music peers about it’s exact meaning. I say don’t bother, for I can define rock in two words: Judge Tuxedo. This Swansea based band put on a live performance that is every bit as entertaining as one could ever hope for from a proper rock show. There is a real dynamic to the group, which shows through in the way they effortlessly merge together. Where as most bands seem to be a group of musicians that play together, it is apparent on stage that Judge Tuxedo are a group of friends who come together to not only play some good music but also to have a great time. And because they are so well polished together, they take this attitude with them forward and out into the audience which can not help but dance to their body wracking grooves. It is quite common with a Judge Tuxedo set to see their vocalist, Michael Chandler, step off stage and sing side by side with the audience who are only too happy to receive him into their throes. As the passionate deep tones that seem to well up from the bottomless depths of his huge set of lungs captivate the crowd, he can also be offered support from both the lead guitarist, Jon Bevis, and the bands bass guitarist, Scott Midlane. Both on wireless instruments, they literally join the crowd in rocking out to the music that they all enjoy so much, leaving their drummer Hywel Griffiths, to hold the fort back on stage, which he does effortlessly, banging those drums in a way that gets your shoulders bouncing, your head bopping and in the mood for more. Indeed, one of the first time’s I saw this band play live in the Garage in the Uplands, Swansea, the drummer had put a pint in behind the bar and set both the guitarists the challenge that the first one to the bar during the set whilst playing could claim the drink. It’s this kind of fun antics that the band brings to the stage that helps define the difference between a band that sounds good on the radio and one which is an amazing experience to see live. This is not to say their music is worth passing over either, for it can be easily played in any rock DJ’s set without the crowd realising they are actually listening to an unsigned act. Why this band has not yet been picked up by a label defeats me, for they have all the great ingredients that say this band can go really far with a range of songs that smoothly transitions between gentle, relaxing tunes with true emotional feeling through to infectious, genre defining danceable smashes. My only criticism is that whilst this band can put on a forty-five minute set of original music that should become classics in their own right, is that we need to hear more from them. But with the promise of new material on the horizon this year, who knows, perhaps soon we can experience Judge Tuxedo doing a double set of original music live. I can only hope so, for that can only be an experience even more worth seeing and hearing from these masters of rock.
More info at www.myspace.com/judgetuxedo

Words: SP Draken
Photo: Bob Norris