Oxford Nightshift - Live Review

Like Post-It notes and selfie sticks, Peerless Pirates’ main idea is so beautifully simple you’re annoyed you didn’t think of it yourself: The Smiths without the egos. They’ve taken some of Britain’s greatest pop music, and stripped away not only Morrissey’s passive-aggressive poetics, but also Marr’s penchant for guitar hero classic rock chopwankery; it’s as if the rhythm section ruled The Smiths, and they were always the best ones (smack notwithstanding). And the true stroke of genius? They’ve filled the void with pirates. Pirates are synonymous with fun, where childhood abandon meets hard liquor and entry level cosplay, and pretty much make most things in life more enjoyable. Over the years Peerless Pirates have become as tight as well-kept rigging and as solid as a hundred year old capstan, and slowly, unobtrusively their indie-shanty schtick has become one of the best nights out in Oxford. Barring the odd dashes of Tex- Mex hot sauce, their sound has not noticeably developed, but their focus has, and we defy anyone to leave a set like this without a big silly-arse grin.

Plus, because Peerless Pirates were on our radar first, we’re able to dismiss a certain syndicalism and winkie obsessed comedian as a mere sartorial copyist of lead singer Cliff Adams. Revolution? Maybe later; for now there’s a rum keg to be tapped.

David Murphy
February 2015

Oxford Nightshift - Live Review

Peerless Pirate, unsurprisingly, dress as pirates, as do a sizeable number of their following. It could be a horribly kitsch novelty, but while their music is unabashed, rumsoaked roustabout fun, it wouldn’t count for anything if they didn’t have the songs to back it up. The Smiths influence is well-documented, best heard on set highlight `Bring Out Your Dead’, but they skitter through all manner of offbeat styles through tonight’s set, reminding us of 80s Balearic beat pioneers The Woodentops at one point, the Shadows a few minutes later, Ennio Morricone soon after that, and all three at once on `The Ghost of Captain Kid’. A great, strident cover of `Swords of a Thousand Men’ adds to the knockabout nature of the band’s show, while new single `El Gringo’ shows they’re as happy on the Tequila as the grog. Looks like The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band finally have a serious rival for best drinking music in town.

Dale Kattack
November 2014

BBC Introducing in Oxford

If you haven’t seen Peerless Pirates, they’re just a really good, fun band. You know I don’t like fun generally, it’s beneath me. But the sound is very much like the Smiths as they were in the good old days when the Smiths were brilliant, but with a sort of eastern european folk edge and a bit of spagetti western sound track, just all sorts of a big melting pot of good, fun stuff. And they have this sort of pirate motif going through it but they don’t over play it, they’re not silly. They’re not a comedy band, they are very good. And Cliff, the singers, got a great voice. Quite Morrisseyesk, a nice big bold baritone. It’s got the Ennio Morricone thing, a bit of the shadows as well, this sort of old rockabilly feel about it.

Ronan Munro
27th September 2014

BBC Introducing in Berkshire - Demo Panel - El Gringo

I really enjoyed it, I thought this was a lot of fun... It was a great rock and roll, wild western tune and I really enjoyed it.

Sean Hunt
Sub89, Reading
27th September 2014

It really pricked my ears up actually, I quite like this sort of americano, spagetti western type guitar tune. The energy, there’s this type of sea shanty knees up going on, you know it is bordering on the cartoonish, but they say they tell tales of rambunctious capers and I think they certainly deliver. I thought this was a really fun song.

So that was this weeks Demo Panel winner there, that was Peerless Pirates with El Gringo, a real stonker of a tune.

Linda Serck
BBC Radio Berkshire
27th September 2014

Amazon - El Gringo - Customer Review

We drank all the Rum (5 stars)

Rip snortin, Rum swillin, wild adventures on the good ship Peerless, although having no peers singer Cliff is still affectionately known as the Captain of these miscreants, the only thing they steal is your admiration as they plough the musical seas. The Mariachi influences in El Gringo are a slight detour from their normal vibe, but a welcome addition to their repertoire. Search out the other releases, find them on Youtube or Facebook or the Bands own web page, but most of all seek to find them playing live where they are at their best, delivering high energy feel good rhythms with a smile. Well.. what are you waiting for you miserable beggars.. haul anchor aaarrrgh!!

3rd September 2014

Nightshift Oxford - Demo of the Month (August 2014)

We feel like we’ve been reviewing Peerless Pirates since the dawn of forever and yet, despite the fact they’re a band who almost pathologically seem unwilling or unable to progress from a tried and tested formula, we can never tire of doing so. Because here’s that seemingly rare thing, a band who simply sound like they’re having the time of their lives. If, as film critic Mark Kermode wisely states, the more fun a comedy film was to make the less funny it will be, then that rule seems to be inverted with Peerless Pirates who take to the stage dressed as yer actual pirates and make a rousing rockabilly racket that forever sounds like they drink grog and rum for lunch and don’t go to bed when their mums say so. While The Smiths remain their cornerstone influence `El Gringo’ here takes a bit of detour from Cornish inns and Balkan gypsy dances into a Mexican tavern where it demands “Give me Sangria” before sneaking a hefty dash of amphetamines into The Shadows’ tequila and getting a spaghetti western theme party going. `Your Grace’ is more typical of the band, Cliff Adams’ Morrissey-esque baritone cavorting around Kyle Mundy’s freight train guitar, all full of creaking, baroque elegance, teetering on collapse. Rousing, a bit silly and more fun than you’re going to have all week.


Are You Listening? Festival 2014

Peerless Pirates were playing Pavlov’s Dog, a joint which had become so packed drinks orders had to be bellowed several times, “ginger beer” somehow becoming “a jug of beer.”

Everyone loves a good band of pirates, and these young vagabonds, based in landlocked-Berkshire, were pretty cool. With an underlying, endearing naughtiness about them, their guitar-based sound is tinged with history and shanty-style songs. The current line-up has been playing since 2010, and the four-piece completed two Glastonbury sets last year. There was just something fun about these guys, whose act was made all the more entertaining by the late arrival of newish member Kyle Mundy, who begged the audience to keep an eye out for traffic wardens outside while they played.

Juliet England

Nelson's Folly - Review

There’s something endearingly heroic about Peerless Pirate’s unstinting dedication to their buccaneering image and song titles, as well as their devotion to a style of indie rock that would sound as at home 30 years ago as it does today. The pirate-obsessed quartet have been at it for five years or so now, each new demo or release steadfastly refusing to evolve much more than incrementally from the last, Cliff Adams still casting flamboyantly poetic lyrics to the seven seas in his sonorous, Morrissey-esque voice as sing-song guitar lines cavort with the spirit of Johnny Marr. From `Those Heady Days of Decadence’ through to `One Over The Eight’, the aim seems to be to party like the grog will never run dry to a rockabilly soundtrack that’s as old and solid as the timbers that make up the ship’s masts.

Thing is, for all the band’s adherence to a tried and trusted formula, they’re undeniably great fun, with a sense of the ridiculous that indie rock, or whatever passes for it nowadays, seemed to forget when people failed to recognise the humour in The Smiths and The Wedding Present.

This ship’s course is sure and it’s not for turning. God speed.

Ian Chesterton

Peerless Pirates Demo

Across numerous demos over the years Peerless Pirates have displayed little sign that they’re going to change their battle plan, and really, why should they when the one they’ve employed up til now works so well. Essentially a pirate-obsessed gang of Smithsloving indie-pop brigands, the band deal in broad brushstrokes and heroic gestures, led by the inveterate Captain Cliff Adams, a man who truly seems to see himself as the bastard offspring of Blackbeard and Morrissey. `The Greatest Explorer On Earth’ continues their seafaring ways in fine rambunctious style, while `The Two Of Swords’ simply dances along merrily in the footsteps of `This Charming Man’. Given its title, and their previous ability to kick up a right royal rockabilly ruckus, `Those Heady Days of Decadence’ feels a bit reined in, becalmed in the Doldrums, perhaps, but we’ll belay cursing them with the black spot for now since Peerless Pirates’ unstinting adherence to an ancient code of indie rock continues to mark them out as both honest to a fault and a whole barrel of musical fun.


Peerless Pirates: 'Thieves & Miscreants' - Nightshift

What’s the point of being in a band called Peerless Pirates and writing songs called `The Ghost Of Captain Kidd’ and `Palaver At The Harbour’ if you can’t slip some heroically hamfisted nautical metaphors into your lyrics? “As you sailed away / You were captain of my heart” bellows Cliff Adams at the start of the former number piece, a tumbling rockabilly caper that, if it were to take human form would likely bounce around your living room on its wooden leg, grinning at you through gold teeth. Oh sure there’s a hefty novelty edge to Peerless Pirates, one they’re obviously keen to play up to, but none of that would matter if they didn’t always sound like a right old barrel of fun – like The Smiths cavorting with The Ukranians in a rumsoaked orgy of thigh-slapping bro-love. Adams’ voice is pure Morrissey, while `Palavar...’ feels like a carefree seafaring adventure about to begin. `Bring Out Your Dead’ might almost be self-parody, so OTT is its delivery, but the undertone is “We don’t care what you think; we’re having fun!” By all that’s holy, wouldn’t it be great if more bands sounded like they were having as good a time as Peerless Pirates?

Dale Kattack

Peerless Pirates: Demo - Music in Oxford

Anyone who believes The Smiths were all about self-pity, poetry and a particular kind of doe-eyed defeatism obviously never caught one of the band’s riotous live shows – wild celebrations of the self-imposed social outsider set to a raucous rockabilly soundtrack and hosted by pop’s greatest panto dame.

Like Smiths fans, pirates are often miscast as lonely outcasts when really they probably had more fun, even minus the odd eye or leg or dose of scurvy, than most of the hapless put-upon landlubbing denizens of the seventeenth century, pissing away their ill-gotten gains in lamp-lit Cornish inns. Though maybe not to a raucous rockabilly soundtrack.

Anyway, Peerless Pirates have been kicking out their swashbuckling-tinted brand of Smiths worship for a few years now, over a series of seemingly unchanging demos, to the point that there’s something positively heroic about their refusal or inability to change one iota. Heck, they’re even still ripping off the same Smiths songs as they ever did.

Thing is, even to point such a thing out would be to miss the point as spectacularly as a misfiring blunderbuss in an Atlantic storm. Peerless Pirates aren’t about progress, or subtlety or, whisper it, nuanced pop poetry. No, they want to hang from the rigging, cask of rum in hand, and have all aboard dance a merry jig to the tunes in their head.

So, ‘Knight In Tarnished Armour’ finds the hearty frontman rhyming “adversary” with “necessary” without a hint of self-consciousness, as guitars twang like cracking timbers behind him, a lounge crooner experiencing his ‘Bingo Master’s Breakout’ moment and letting what’s left of his hair down for the last time. ‘Ella’s Voyage’ is heavy-handed but lyrically defter of touch, while ‘Palatine Bloodline’ finds the singer coming dangerously close to pastiche as he hits those same windswept high notes Moz forever reached for back in his 80s heyday. ‘Throw Down the Gauntlet’ might as well be ‘This Charming Man’ as it hits its chorus, albeit with a lively eastern European feel to it that we wouldn’t be shocked to discover was ripped wholesale from Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’.

Big, bold and sometimes maybe a bit silly, Peerless Pirates are never less than fun. Simple fun yes, but isn’t that the best kind? Not unlike a game of pirates, really.

Brinna Childresse-Lao
Music in Oxford

The Yare Man Revieweth

One may expect a band with a name such as Peerless Pirates to be making music in the vein of Alestorm, Turisas or similar metal bands, but with a much lighter approach from clearly a very different set of influences, the music on offer is a very different kettle of fish within I guess the pirate music spectrum of the modern age. Impressive demos that aren't all necessarily as swashbuckling as the name suggests, but a great band in the making none the less.

Although all demos so far, they're still at a point of being very well produced tracks and opening with Knights in tarnished armour and then swiftly moving onto Ellas voyage, the collection begins very well, with excellent vocals, rhythm and a top notch guitar tone to boot. Palaver at the Harbour has a Monkey Island feel to it that kids from the 90s (or fans of Lucasarts) will certainly be able to appreciate in this day and age.

Like all great bands, they wrote a fine and catchy ballad, in this case it is the aptly titled High Seas Love Affair, a track that hits many spots and can be envisioned as a large crowd favourite. There are many tracks that encourage grog swigging with their piratey rhythms and Throw Down the Gauntlet is no exception to this, if you don't at least nod to this track you have no soul, it's just that catchy, frankly.

On the whole: vocals a lot like The Cure or Joy Division, dark but a lot of melody to them and makes the music reach that previous level that a different vocalist wouldn't perhaps been able to have achieved. The other highlight is the guitar tone on the electric sections, it always adds a very good salty dog vibe to the whole collection and it goes a long way in making some of the track becoming very memorable to the listener, such as Palaver at the Harbour.

I give the demos (so far) an 8/10. The band clearly had a lot of fun producing this collection of songs and it is only really a matter of time for their big break, definitely check them out.

The Yare Man Revieweth

Bossons About - 6 Towns Radio

"Oh that is beautiful, that is absolutely beautiful; the Peerless Pirates and Ghost of Captain Kid"

Terry Bossons
6 Towns Radio

Recharged Radio

The Pirates have been sailing around our playlists for eons now (check out their appearance on the Forum show from ‘back in the day’ below), and rightfully so too. They’ve provided us with consistently great tracks that we can honestly say we’ll be playing for many years to come.

Recharged Radio


With really well-written songs and an almost perfect pop performance, Peerless Pirates will have audiences bouncing on the dancefloor. Their sound is like an upbeat, happy version of The Smiths, making one wonder if Morrissey might be a tad jealous if he hears them.


What's on the stereo this week?

The eponymous EP by Peerless Pirates ( is the latest set of songs by this band who craft cheerful, nautical tales set to music. While this template might restrict them in some ways, there's still variety, with touches of Interpol, Franz Ferdinand and even Lily Allen in their cheeky, jangly guitar pop music.

Simon Minter
Music in Oxford

Peerless Pirates EP - Music in Oxford

In preparation for this review, Peerless Pirates’ Cliff Adams was kind enough to send his band’s entire oeuvre to, at my request. I wanted a handful of the older tracks for a mix-tape (they’re still cool, kids!), although there was a secondary object in assessing how the Pirates’ sound has evolved since the likes of the splendid ‘One over the Eight’ and ‘Bring Out Your Dead’.

And here’s the news: it hasn’t. Not an extra whisker, not a spare parrot-feather. Like another denizen of the high seas, the shark, they have told evolution to avast (one). And for that we can be heartily (two) grateful.

Anyway, for those who don’t know, the Pirates’ stock-in-trade is cheerfully salty (three) nautical tales, set to Smithsian jangly guitar pop, and sung with mildly offkey gusto by Adams in a baritone reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos. The formula doesn’t change a lot, but the individual songs are all well-constructed, melodic and ooze character. The abiding image is of a bearded fellow running out of aPortsmouthtavern, trousers round his ankles, pursued by unpaid landladies, seduced floozies or enraged love rivals.

Within the template, you get a bit of variety: opener ‘The Gunpowder Plot’s first three seconds sound like Interpol’s ‘Take You on a Cruise’, but that’s as far as the flirtation with melancholia goes. The main bulk of the song borrows a little from none other than Lily Allen in both melody and the cheeky quote “It’s not fair!”, proving the resemblance is other than a coincidence (might the spirited Lily be one of the Pirate King’s conquests?) . ‘For Queen and Country’ is a little more chromatic, but the air of rumbustious comedy is never far away. ‘No Sight of Land’ has some lovely twangling Duane Eddy guitar and a twisting lanyard (four) of a melody. ‘Palaver at the Harbour’ is a bit pub rock, but has a great title and some of the clumsy rhyme schemes (we’re away, we’re away, in disarray, put us out of our mis-e-ray!) are actually quite treasurable (five), though they’d have to go some to beat Lord Byron (“Oh, you lords of ladies, so intellectual/ have they not hen-pecked you all?”).

If I had to choose, I’d say the set of earlier songs are a bit stronger in melody than the current crop, and one certainly doesn’t need an album by this group-they are emphatically a ‘singles’ band. (No harm in that-Madness were another singles band, and they did all right.). It seems quite right that the Pirates’ music has a punky, raw feel to it-pirates were the original punks, with their aversion to discipline, their bad hair and their can-do capitalism (Long John Silver, just like Malcolm McClaren was only in it for the money). If Nightshift’s Ronan Munro fancies a party band to close next year’s Punt, he could do worse than sign this crew (six) up. He’d be a plank (seven) not to.

Colin MacKinnon
Music in Oxford

Peerless Pirates at The Wheatsheaf, Oxford, 22/06/2011

I was passing by The Wheatsheaf in Oxford last Wednesday evening and thought I'd pop in and say hello to my old mate Joel the sound engineer - who has been engineering sound to some of the finest gigs in Oxford since the 1990's.

After obtaining some ale and ascending the stairs to the stage area, there I was greeted by a sound I hadn't heard in this place before.

After greeting Joel and being granted entrance to the venue, my attention was caught by an unusual band. A different type of indie with an "out to sea" feel about what they do. Yes indeed, lock up your cash and your treasure while the pirates are in town. The singer, Cliff, has a swashbuckling look about him and the bass player sports a little Steven type of bandana. Yes, very piratey. Makes me wonder if they are aware of Pastafarianism?

This band is Peerless Pirates - and indeed they are. Their songs are upbeat and all about, well, pirate escapades, such as songs like "The Ghost Of Captain Kidd" and "Bring Out Your Dead". A fun band who you should go and see play live. Yes their songs are very swashbuckling!

Check out their Official Website or Facebook page and see when they're next gigging. You won't be disappointed.

Dave Tommo
Band Weblogs

Riverside Festival, Charlbury, 18-19/06/2011

Good, then we level-headed people can get on with talking about the Charlbury Riverside Festival 2011, always a beautifully run, welcoming event, and one that we organise our summer around because we’d hate to ever miss it. In some ways, it doesn’t spoil the event if the music is duff at Riverside but we must admit, this year the lineup was, pound for pound, the strongest it’s been for quite some years. And starting with Peerless Pirates certainly couldn’t dampen anybody’s spirits, even as the first of many showers blew across the festival. They play classic indie welded onto rugged, shanty-style basslines that justify the band’s name: think The Wedding Present with arrangements by Guybrush Threepwood. Not always painfully original – you don’t have to be Scott Bakula to make the quantum leap from their opening tune to ‘This Charming Man’ – but they offer friendly, jolly music that inaugurates the festival almost as well as the near visible battle within compere Lee Christian not to say naughty words on the mike.

David Murphy
Music in Oxford