In this present day when we’re constantly having mundane faecal matter flung at us by the mainstream music industry, when we’re angry about the shambles this government has herded us into, when we feel like we’re just about to lose faith, it’s a breath of fresh air when a band present themselves to save us. Meet Thee Faction.
Representatives of the considerably obscure genre of ‘Socialist Rhythm and Blues,’ Thee Faction present on stage as a rather astonishing nine-piece, all somehow managing to pack themselves onto the modestly-sized stage of Newport’s Le Pub. Quite remarkably, amid the line-up is an impressive brass section consisting of a trumpeter, trombonist and saxophonist, and collectively dubbed Brass Kapital – a play on the 1867 text by Karl Marx, of course.
With a brief introduction, the set kicks off with ‘Let’s Have a Meeting’ and right from the onset, frontman Billy Brentford expresses his energy and well-rehearsed tenacity, as his slim frame jives about the stage. “These are not protest songs”, Brentford adamantly proclaims, “These are solution songs”.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the band is that they’re not just astonishingly knowledgeable about the subject matter of their songs, but they are also incredibly talented musicians. As difficult as it may be, if you were to just momentarily strip the band of their politics, you would still have a tight, musically-skilled act, capable of entertaining the masses.
The set proceeds with a very concise lesson on Guild Socialism, urging the audience to research the subject, as ‘Don’t call on Rock n Roll, Call on GDH Cole’ is played, shortly before the freshly-penned ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’ makes an appearance. The latter amusingly features the catchy tongue-in-cheek lyric “I’m loving Engels instead”. Biographies of intellectual figureheads and explanations of the complexities of theoretical socialism have never sounded so good.
Thee Faction are no strangers to criticising middle-class bands, particularly recently-mothballed hipster farmers Mumford and Sons. In fact over the summer fans who purchased Thee Faction’s latest album ‘Good Politics’ received a free badge instructing good citizens to “Say no to Mumford and Sons”. Unsurprisingly tonight, there were a generous amount of digs at the aforementioned hipsters; this resulted in Brentford coining the provocative phrase of “Mumfordisation” to describe the appropriation of working-class culture by middle-class artists, before launching into the liveliest song of the night, ‘Sausage Machine’.
“Encores are a bourgeois pantomime!” Brentford professes, as the set is finalised with the rather rambunctious ‘Ready’, by now he’s passionately bounding around the floor asking comrades from the audience if in fact they are ready for the revolution. “We’re ready!” comes the unanimous response from the whole of the room.
Thee Faction will be performing at Cardiff’s Mind Festival on 24th November, in aid of raising money and awareness of mental health.
Photos by Pete Christopher James