Ruen Brothers at Electrowerkz
There was a large contingent down from Scunthorpe for the Ruen Brothers gig at Electrowerkz. They are the local lads done good, currently riding a wave of hype from tastemakers such as Zane Lowe after years of playing in Scunthorpe’s pubs and bars. Despite all this acclaim, you can’t blame them for appearing a bit nervous as they look out over the crowd packed into one of the venue’s smallest rooms.
The Ruen Brothers (real names Rupert and Henry Stansall) specialise in a type of 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll, its blues-indebted rhythms bringing to mind the sound of early Elvis or The Stones. The question with an act like this is whether they can pay homage to their influences, acknowledged most obviously on the Franki Valli referencing Walk like a Man, whilst avoiding sounding like a tribute act. On the evidence of the night’s performance, the answer is: not quite.
One reason lies with the group’s musicianship which never rises above perfunctory. Drummer, Charlie Hart, and bassist, Gary Cleaver, help lend the band a sonic wallop, but the stream of workaday licks which emanate from Henry Stansall’s guitar fail to inspire. Rupert Stansall’s vocals are another issue, brought to the fore on a slower track such as Crying Wolf. His pipes are undoubtedly impressive, but the extent to which his natural accent is buried underneath a Roy Orbison impression is a little off-putting. A pan-American accent has been the norm in rock ‘n’ roll ever since The Beatles, but Rupert takes it to the extreme, his drawl accentuating some notes to almost comical levels.
Still, the crowd can’t get enough. After the single Aces, which is sweepingly dramatic and by far the best song of the night, the band are roared back on for an encore.
“The lads from Scunny want to hear a little bit of Roll Over Beethoven,” Rupert says with a smile. Chuck Berry’s iconic riff rings out and sets the crowd off into ecstasy.
It’s refreshing to see an audience so enthused with such a retro sound, which might be a bit unoriginal but is certainly unlike anything else the Top 40 has to offer. Whether the band can overcome this initial novelty remains to be seen. The truly fantastic Aces does hint at something greater, so here’s hoping that as they progress, the band can begin to find its own voice.
For further information and future events visit Ruen Brothers’ website here.
Watch the video for Aces here: