The Reytons Review
by Shaun Battison

Review for Ay Up Duck Radio’s Sugarmill Show

On Wednesday 29th September.

In Superman-like fashion, I’d got home from work and headed back out in less than 20 minutes, knowing I couldn’t risk missing a second of this gig, a heroic feat that was absolutely rewarded by the three excellent bands on show.


The Luka State

I hadn’t seen The Sugarmill this busy in…well, ever I think. Such a massive crowd so early on into a gig isn’t only rare but is a tell-tale sign of the immense quality of each band on show on the night, with The Luka State up first on the roster.

Catchy, energetic, and loaded with prominent guitars throughout their set, The Luka State immediately reminded me of the first time I saw The Enemy live; with a fast-paced energy punctuated by punchy indie-rock tunes and mod aesthetic, the Winsford four-piece left everything they had in them on the stage that night, smashing through a set full of anthems and controlling the lively crowd like putty in their hands throughout the night.

They easily could’ve been headliners on the night, and I’d go as far as to say the same for Corella, and their quality was matched with their level of production, strobe lights ablaze in the background as the lads kicked off with [Insert Girl’s Name Here], a track which teased the immediately punchy and boisterous guitars the band are renown for and pairing them with animated drumming and gritty lyrics.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

Adrenaline courses through the veins of crowd and band alike as the lads graft away onstage, frontman and guitarist Conrad Ellis utilising his northern twang throughout the slower Room’s On Fire and playful-yet-provocative Girl, a tune with a very prominent 90s style drumbeat throughout as the rest of the band attack their instruments in a fury of music brilliance, their chemistry and confidence really shining through.

Similar in style to the likes of The Wholls, The Pigeon Detectives, and The Ramona Flowers, the Cheshire quartet boast bags of attitude and ability, lead guitarist Lewis Pusey rocking out all night as the steady hands of bassist Sam Bell held the ship together alongside the emphatic and often animalistic drumming of Jake Barnabas, all while lead Conrad Ellis slams poetic lyrics in tracks like Kick In The Teeth, Feel It, and What’s My Problem, the latter two of which got the Adidas Originals enthusiasts at the back rushing forwards to get stuck in down at the front, bouncing and singing along their way to cause more mayhem and mischief.

Ending a lively and impressive set on personal favourite Bury Me sent The ‘Mill into a frenzy, forcing me to break out my best pogo stick impression as friend and show co-host Ollie Hopewell looked on in disgusted shock, maybe he was just jealous of my moves. Bury Me epitomises everything about The Luka State, ending their crashing set with their instruments totally exhausted and battered from the experience. The band are currently pushing their 2021 album Fall In Fall Out and I would absolutely check it out before you inevitably go and see them, just remember that I told you so!



Four lads who met at uni forming a band isn’t a rare thing, I’m sure almost everyone will know at least one person who was briefly in a band at some point, but for them to sound as good as Corella do is truly something special; having to put their passions on pause in recent years, the Manchester four-piece introduced themselves to a locked down world via their “Club Corella”, a weekly Instagram performance to entertain their fans and stay sharp as a band. This dedication has certainly paid off for the lads, and their innovation doesn’t end with their online antics, but stretches across into their very sound.

Opening with Island, Corella offered a change of pace and style as their sunny guitars and pulsating drums encapsulated that feeling of 80s nostalgia, the band’s softer indie/pop sound coming through in tracks like Come Around and Barcelona Girl, the latter of the two giving guitarist Jack Taylor plenty of room to show off his immense skills with his instrument. Dice and Let On were a musical playground for bassist Ben Henderson and drummer James Fawcett, Dice being my personal favourite of their set on the night, playing in my head as a song you can dance away to or just chill out with!

Channelling the likes of Little Comets, No Hot Ashes, Twin Atlantic, and especially Bombay Bicycle Club, Corella have found a beautiful and summery sound and paired it with the ability to write anthem after anthem, frontman and guitarist Joel Smith’s lyrical style reminding me of The Big Dish and Aztec Camera while dressed in a very smart retro sweatshirt; all members of the band came across as really cool and really nice lads.

Hectic or poppy, clever or soulful, there isn’t much the Manchester band can’t do musically, and achieving this well-rounded sound despite only being together since 2016 is such an impressive feat. The band ended on Waterfall and left the crowd wanting much more from them, the perfect finale that typified Corella and everything they’re about. Oh, and I’ve also got a massive respect for them and their love of oatcakes!


The Reytons

Before a single note was played from the evening’s headliners, The Sugarmill crowd was in a frenzy; spurred on by the excellent bands who came before The Reytons and further so by the trio of songs played before the Sheffield band took to stage, delighting the Stoke-on-Trent crowd Tom Jones’ Delilah and Neil Dimond’s Sweet Caroline before emerging to remixed audio from a legendary interview with “Britain’s Hardest Prisoner” Paul Sykes. The heaving venue now reaching breaking point as a sweaty and boisterous crowd called back iconic lines about swimming the Straights of Johor and punching sharks in the earhole before the four-piece took to stage, pints flying through the air and punters at the back scrambling over one another just to get a look at the stage.

I’ve never seen The ‘Mill so lively before a word is spoken and then BANG! Flashing lights accompanied by a nauseating surge from the audience as the Kids off the Estate set things off, 2020’s single Red Smoke opening their set over a chorus of “Here we, here we, here we f***ing go!”. The ensuing chaos made for great viewing from the venue’s balcony, a spot which I secured having combatted with the standing area below.

The crowd were immediately consumed by the band’s every action, fixating on each note and syllable as thrashing guitars and banging drums laid ample room for frontman Jonny Yerrell to jump about the stage as though he were singing to each member of the audience like he’d known them for years, pacing up and down a stage with “Kids off the Estate” in big letters as his backdrop all the while.

By now the aroma of Dark Fruits and suede protect had made its way up to the balcony, the sweaty haze above the rabid crowd looking as though it would never dissipate as the walls of The Sugarmill ran wet with sweat. A gross but apt observation as the crowd raged on, making me wonder if I’d ever seen a band more in tune with their audience. I hadn’t. The pace of the headliners was rarely quelled, only the occasional swig of beer or chat with the mob before them stopped the crowd from throwing themselves across the floor in delight.

It’s tricky to even know where to start in describing The Reytons, often compared to the Arctic Monkeys both lyrically and in sound, though I’d argue they’re much grittier than their Yorkshire predecessors. Their lyrics, however, draw much easier comparison; tales from being at the bike sheds and nipping down the local for a pint to complex metaphors and direct stabs at the highs and lows of working-class life. Sounds of The Enemy and Courteeners shine through in tracks like On the Back Burner and Headache, while Expectations of a Fool channel that show off the band’s unrivalled ability to write anthems.

Harrison Lesser and Slice Of Lime are the two songs that encapsulate the power and range of The Reytons, the abilities of bassist Lee Holland and drummer Sean O’Connor really on display across the two with steady riffs and upbeat drumming keeping the evening lively as lead guitarist Joe ‘O’Brien pulls twanging riffs out of seemingly nowhere, the three lads behind frontman Jonny Yerrell really holding their own and letting their personalities shine through their work.

Punkier sounds are explored through Antibiotics and Nothing to Declare as the band show that one of life’s defining qualities is just cracking on and making your own fun regardless of circumstance. Keeping with the punkier theme and ending on Broke Boys Cartel, the quartet made a lasting impression on all those in attendance, leaving me walking home almost in a sprint I was so buzzing from the night!

I felt an immense sense of joy just reading back my notes from the night and remembered the euphoric feeling of my ears ringing from the set. Of course, I expected The Reytons to put in a shift in, but they did more than that as they gave it their all. Huge respect and excitement for their future projects and a shared excitement for Corella and The Luka State as they continue on their journey. Music is in safe hands, trust me.


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© Shaun Battison 2021
Contact: SugarmillShow@gmail.com







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