I went to the very first Cross Keys gig last Christmas. I went largely because I lived with their original bass player, and most of the line up also formed the six-a-side football team I played in goal for. It would have been rude not to, and also it was at a pub where they were giving away free mince pies.
I’m glad I did, because Cross Keys are a sensationally entertaining live band. They looked like they might be a jangly-guitared indie band just like every other student band that has ever existed, but in fact owe far more to late punk and early new-wave. The band play with elements of funk, not shy of throwing in the odd guitar solo, whilst everything is anchored perfectly by an incredibly tight rhythm section.
They ended the night with Christmas Calypso which, the audience were promised, would not end until everybody was dancing.
They were true to their word, and eventually
had to be forcibly removed from the stage one hundred per cent dance-ification had been achieved.
At their next gig, where several new songs were debuted (the same distinctive sound, but with more ambition and played with increased confidence), the Christmas Calypso reappeared, now re-named Easter Calypso. This is a fine example of the band’s humour— the song is an instrumental, and completely unchanged.
However, the challenge to the audience was different— free Creme Eggs for the worst dancing. These were limited edition Cross Keys Creme Eggs, to the extent that they had been wrapped in a second layer of plain foil and had ‘Cross Keys’ rudimentarily written on them in black felt tip pen. After a little caution from the audience the ‘dad dancing’ got into full swing, with the band pelting their fans with creme eggs. I am proud to say may own dancing garnered a prize, and only slightly ashamed that I went on to lose it in a drinking contest.
With their tight, proficient. funky new wave sound and keen sense of fun I sincerely hope it isn’t long before the Cross Keys perform live again, and only wish I was still in the Winchester area to see it.
by James D. Irwin
Their Official Bio:
Hailing from the badlands of Southern England, Cross Keys were brought into this world to combat feelings of frustration and anger in these times of austerity.
Through a high octane mix of alt. rock and punk that has been compared to Pavement and The Rakes, Cross Keys fight to rid the lands of their imposing sense of doom.
Thus their journey begins.