Rewind to Christmas 2023 and RPM’s Albums Of The Year podcasts. During the second broadcast when the gang were running through Ben Hughes’ album list, he advised us all of a record called ‘The Secret To Life’ by a still relatively new band called FIZZ, which in his wise words, told us all “you’ll love this Johnny, its very Jellyfish like powerpop”. I of course immediately needed to know more as Ben certainly knows his stuff, so with Google at hand I went on a musical adventure to discover what the hell he was raving on about and after a couple of false starts (I rather foolishly watched the videos before listening to the album) I finally started to understand, and love ‘The Secret To Life’. It’s an album that truly transcends genres (hence why watching the videos first wasn’t exactly the best way to get to know them) and oozes positivity, and it’s safe to say if I had known back then what I know now, it would have plain sailed into the number 1 spot in my own albums of the year 2023. The rather obvious next step on my journey of musical discovery being to experience what the four members of the band (Greta Isaac, Orla Gartland, Martin Luke Brown and dodie) would do with such an extraordinary record in the live setting.

I’m apparently not alone in my quest either, as tonight the downstairs in the Tramshed is packed out, filled mainly with a much younger demographic than yours truly, a large contingent also dressed up in some way to resemble tonight’s headliners, and you know what, for the first time in years I feel like I’m experiencing something new and exciting scene wise. The PA might be blasting out Andrew Gold, ELO and Boney M (making it feel a bit like I’m back at one of my old school discos) but FIZZ and their community of fans are very much about how you can bin all the negativity in life here in 2024 and simply just enjoy yourself, and that right there is exactly what going to a live show should be all about.

There’s a stark contrast to some of the other audiences I’ve been in most recently, as not only have I’ve never seen the bar area quieter in the Tramshed, but also during the support set by singer/songwriter Maya Delilah there is a hushed reverence and respect for the artiste from the audience that is a model example of how one should behave during a solo show. And why shouldn’t there be, you’ve paid your hard earned to get in, so sit back (or stand back, in tonight’s case) and immerse yourself in a world outside of your own, you’ll never know what you might discover. As it happens Maya Delilah delivers a fine 30-minute set that in equal measure has me thinking of Pink Floyd (guitar tone) Jeff Buckley (in the dissonance of the songwriting) and early Amy Winehouse (in the vocal delivery), the later almost coincidently the last time I witnessed someone being told to “shut the fuck up” during a live show for talking during her set. There’s no need for any such warnings tonight though as Maya seems genuinely blown away by the respect and reaction she is afforded and I for one shall be looking to join her 300,000 monthly listeners online to find out more.

Looking at the stage set up complete with larger than life lollipops and candy canes and a backdrop not to dissimilar to the ‘Bellybutton’ album sleeve, part of me wants FIZZ to appear on stage in their own mode of transport just like the Banana Splits did when they first wowed me into loving pop music, and to some degree they do just this, albeit via the power of imagination as we are treated to an intro tape that has us all onboard a space ship set for Fizzvile just as its about to crash land in Cardiff, as the countdown commences I find myself grinning from ear to ear and that’s before the band (complete with additional rhythm section) have even played a single note. Bursting onto the stage like all conquering heroes the screams that go up remind me of when I saw King back in 1985 and you’ll have to forgive me if I get something in my eye as ‘High In Brighton’ literally takes the roof off the place.

For the next 60 plus minutes we are treated to pretty much all the band’s stellar debut album, a carefully selected track from each of the four members solo careers (which fit in seamlessly)   along with a FIZZ’ed up cover of Lily Allen’s ‘Smile’ and the time I spend in the band’s company simply flies by, largely in part due to the fact that the band themselves look like they are loving every second of their time up on stage, and its infectious, you know.

Highlights are plentiful, but for me it is main set closer ‘The Grand Finale’ in all of it’s Queen-like pomposity that illustrates just how talented this group really are, and then of course there’s the encore of the album’s title track complete with a bubble gun, a cat glove puppet and Thomas The Tank Engine outro tape to send us all of into the night not so much wondering what we’d just experienced as what an experience it was. If FIZZ had existed in the ‘70s, trust me, they would have had their own TV show, they are that kind of band, one much larger than life itself and the fact that they have tapped into the secret of this is what makes it all so bloody perfect. Tonight was the most I’ve enjoyed myself at a gig in years, and all I had to do was be in the moment. Joyous stuff!

Author: Johnny Hayward