9foldpunch wins Offord bands battle

WINNER of the first Offord Battle of the Bands on Saturday was Fenstanton band 9foldpunch. The vote was shared by a panel of judges and by the crowd - and the band won on the crowd s cheers. They were still on a high when they played at the Golden Lion pu

WINNER of the first Offord Battle of the Bands on Saturday was Fenstanton band 9foldpunch.

The vote was shared by a panel of judges and by the crowd - and the band won on the crowd's cheers.

They were still on a high when they played at the Golden Lion pub in St Ives the following night. Lead singer Simon Dartford said: "Everyone's been saying to us, finally 9FoldPunch have actually won something."

The Ramones-inspired four piece has been together for about five years and was one of the first to be interviewed by Almost Famous when the column started in 2002.

Seeing them on stage at the St Ives pub reiterated what a truly exceptional live band they are. Their mix of catchy songs, pop punk attitude and relentless showmanship mark them out as something special. It's true that they are still rough around the edges occasionally, but that's something I seek out in a band.

In a pub setting, their freshness sets them a million miles apart from any overrehearsed covers band. They must have played their songs hundreds of times, but neither the sound nor show seem stale.

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As Simon's guitar dies as the lead is pulled from it he is calm enough to take the guitar off and rest it against the nearest amp instead of trying to plug it in while in the middle of a song.

Later, a swipe from Boner's bass narrowly misses Simon as he springs up from the floor. Instead of mulling the potentially painful near-miss he instinctively punches the air and gets on with the show's finale.

This month alone, tour dates included Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Boston, Norwich, Hertford, Welwyn Garden City and Fordham.

Co-ordinating judge at Offord Barry Roberts, a music teacher at Huntingdonshire Regional College, said: "Every act was good. It was very difficult to choose a winner. We were surprised at the high standard of the entries - but the crowd decided it for 9foldpunch. They are good musicians, a very tight band and the way they put the thing together is impressive.

The other contenders were The Brink, Clear Cut, Wolves Stole My Childhood, Nick the Robot and Moosejaw. The Winter Kings dropped out after their singer developed a throat infection. Nick the Robot - who sang from under a tin foil box - was also commended.

Festival organiser Nita Tinn said: "We thought the whole event went well and we hope to do it again next year. We had a small but keen audience of around 200 people. We lost money but, that is usual for the first year of any event and if it hadn't been for the generosity of our sponsors, local businesses, we would have lost more."

The event also included a beer festival, barbecue and craft stalls.

CHRIS BOLAND

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