Archive | Live Reviews

Michael Rother – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (April 25, 2017)

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Michael Rother – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (April 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 April 2017 by John Haylock

Together with the late Klaus Dinger ( 1946-2008 ), Michael Rother was one half of one of the most influential German rock groups Neu!.

I use the words rock and group in their loosest most flexible definition. Guitars and drums were involved but used in such a way as to severely undermine the strict confines of normality and indeed the listeners’ reality.

Prior to this Michael Rother and Dinger were briefly members of a formative Kraftwerk, that’s one hell of a CV… and it’s only 1974.

Michael Rother

Michael Rother

Under the guise of Neu! the duo utilised primitive electronica and studio experimentation to create puzzling and often exhilarating vistas of new sound. Together with fellow German musicians Can, these intrepid explorers put a landmine under pop and created a new uneasy listening. Their combined influential shadow still looms over much of contemporary music – a remarkable unintended consequence of music created over four decades ago.

Post Neu! Michael also involved himself with equally adventurous fellows, Harmonia, Cluster Brian Eno and Conny Plank and since then a regular feed of solo works, reflecting a more melodic side and latterly many eagerly consumed tour dates – one of which was at the fabulous Greenman Festival last August. His set there proved to be a belter. I should know, half my brain is still there.

Hence the anticipation levels on seeing him again were rather high. Certainly not looking his advanced years Rother is a self-effacing, grinning presence behind his silver laptop, commanding proceedings with  precision, his trademark treated guitar soaring above pulsating, pre-generated programmed rhythms.

The band comprise of an additional guitarist, the youngster of the trio, Franz Bargmann, and a most amazing drummer, Hanse Lampe, whose stamina and sheer devotion to the beating heart of this music is mesmeric. When they all kick in you can’t help but be swallowed up by the hypnotic swathes of joyous beats, especially when synced to the grainy multi-coloured slightly surreal imagery on the back projection.

In a ninety minute all instrumental set they rarely slowed down the pace. It was all busy busy.

Standouts were Watussi from the first Harmonia album and Flammende herzen from his debut solo album in 1977 , which Michael explained was only the second time they had played this one live.

Of course no one would have let him out of the building unless he played the two classic Neu! tracks Hallogallo and the incredible Negativland,which were duly nailed to perfection. Those motorik beats just pummeled the senses into submission. At one point ,after a particularly strenuous guitar solo, Rother screams ‘I’ve got blisters on my fingers’!

An absolutely tremendous evening of electronica from a visionary musician.

by John Haylock

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2017 Finals

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2017 Finals

Posted on 25 April 2017 by Joe

Each year at the live finals for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition particular themes emerge, which give a good indicator into the current thinking of festival bookers and music journalists.

At last year’s event attitude proved the winning theme, with She Drew the Gun’s ability to speak to a generation of young people earning the top prize, of a £5,000 PRS Foundation talent development grant and a main stage slot.

The previous year it was melody that shone through, being delivered by teenager Declan McKenna, whose track Brazil has arguably never been bettered in the competition’s history for sheer pop savvyness. Within months he was signed by Columbia and will be appearing at this year’s festival, for the third time in his fledgling career.

This year it was all about singing talent with all eight acts showcasing top vocal gymnastics.

Josh Barry

Josh Barry

In the end the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition judges, including Michael and Emily Eavis, Glastonbury stage bookers and music business professionals, went for the act with the biggest voice of them all, Josh Barry, a soul singer from London who has been a stalwart of the underground dance scene for a number of years and once even auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

His was an incredibly passionate live performance and on a night of tonsil based excellence his victory was inevitable. He will own whichever main stage he is allocated and make good use of his £5,000 PRS prize.

Young Yizzy

Young Yizzy

In terms of unearthing original talent,  Young Yizzy and Flohio were worthy runners up. These London based young MCs are already gathering critical acclaim and the teenage Young Yizzy is one of the UK’s emerging grime stars. He was a close second to Barry in terms of working a crowd, with a stage invasion at the end of his two track set a highlight of the night.

Flohio oozed star appeal and like She Drew the Gun, took the mantle of spokesperson for a generation. As a website focused mainly on indie and alternative guitar music the charismatic Flohio took me out of my comfort zone and I loved every minute of it.

Flohio

Flohio

Both Flohio and Young Yizzy scooped £2,500 PRS Foundation grants to help further their careers, which on this evidence, will go from strength to strength.

It sounds patronising and clichéd to say that all eight finalists; also including Lucas & King, Lilith Ai, Silences, WOWH and TYNI, were winners. But as all gain a slot somewhere on the festival bill and have garnered some excellent publicity from reaching the last eight, they have in no way lost out.

As a long list judge for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition, and regular attendee at these finals, I’m looking forward to the next emerging theme. Although I’ll have to wait two years, as the festival takes a year’s break next year to let the grass at Worthy Farm recover.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

For more information about the competition and live final click here.

Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures from the live final.

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Tallinn Music Week 2017 Review

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Tallinn Music Week 2017 Review

Posted on 21 April 2017 by Marc Argent

Earlier this month we dropped by  Tallinn Music Week, the annual event held in venues across the Estonian capital. Here we showcase some of the standout acts and other highlights from this annual event, which is now in its ninth year.

The Standout Acts

 

Dagamba

Latvian power strings quartet Dagamba topped the bill in the Old Town Cinema on Saturday night, during Tallinn Music Week. Taking to the stage several minutes late during an impeccably precise festival, the band cranked up the anticipation and feverish excitement in the audience, before blasting straight into their unique take on classical and contemporary music.

Dagamba

Performing tracks like Prokofiev the Knightrider and a gloriously energised version of the Game Of Thrones theme, Dagamba proved again how to win over new fans and delight existing ones.

Albert af Ekenstam

From hardcore rock bands to instrumental groups and writing songs for others performers Albert af Eckenstam has finally found his rightful place in the music industry. Performing his melancholic songs in a warmup solo performance at Apollo bookstore during Tallinn Music Week, Albert had the support of a full band for his evening show.

Albert Af Ekenstam

Both sets wonderfully showcased his beautifully crafted lyrics, and heartfelt vocals as he continues to build on the deserved success of debut album Ashes.

Erki Pärnoja

Estonia’s very own Erki Pärnoja quite rightly performed more times than anyone else than we cared to notice at this year’s Tallinn Music Week. We managed to catch two of his enthralling instrumental shows which showcased his new LP Efterglow. Erki’s band brought the magic of Efterglow to life on the stage, with it’s undulating soundscapes that sound like the soundtrack to an Estonian Western movie.

Erki

If you’ve ever wondered what a Mogwai, Fleet Foxes and Other Lives supergroup might sound like, then Erki Pärnoja might just be your cup of tea.

Moddi

Norwegian singer and activist Moddi performed songs from his latest album ‘Unsongs’, which is an exploration of banned songs from around the world. Your first instinct would be to think this is restricted to oppressive regimes, but this is not always the case.

Moddi

For example, among his set was a beautiful interpretation of Kate Bush’s Army Dreamers, which was banned by the BBC in 1991 as it was considered inappropriate during the original Gulf War. His final song Oh My Father, I am Joseph was the exception, although brought to court three times for blasphemy, courts in Lebanon cleared the original performer each time. The story and song brought some in the crowd to tears.

Other highlights

 

Mick Pedaja

They say music is special when it takes you to another place. Be it a beautiful summer day or the Mongolian steppe. Mick Pedaja is something different. Songs like Valgeks seem to channel the voice of mother earth herself. His music gives the forests, lakes, bogs and seas a musical voice. When we caught him at Tallinn Music Week his voice was truly breath taking.

Barlast

From the beautiful setting of the Russian Theatre we were blessed to listen to Finnish instrumental group Barlast. In parts it felt like we were at a grand 18th century dance in keeping with the setting. In others such as song Cs-137 we descended to a much darker place more in keeping with a Scorsese thriller.

Úlfur Úlfur

The Adidas clad Icelandic rap duo certainly know how to engage an audience that has no idea what they are saying and can barely see them.

On performing in the botanical gardens palm tree greenhouse they said “It was very moisty. We couldn’t see the crowd. It felt like we were performing to the trees.”

Flamingods

Flamingods are the musical equivalent of the children’s show the magic roundabout. Not only do the exceptionally talented musicians move around the stage swapping instruments with each other (even mid song). Their music and presence gives off that psychedelic 70’s Woodstock vibe.

Flamingods

Special Mentions

 

Siv Jakobsen

Norwegian singer songwriter Siv Jakobsen’s beautifully crafted melancholic songs are like a loving hug for the soul. Her and pianist Einar’s obsession with Britney Spears provided a touch of fun to proceedings too.

Tcheka

Tcheka is one of those artists whose music makes the sun shine and brings warmth even on the coldest of days. With snow and sub-zero temperatures outside he was certainly in the right place.

The Notes

Imagine the trio of embarrassing young reprobrates from Channel 4’s Inbetweeners with musical talent and you would be 90% of the way to describing Estonian three-piece group The Notes. Their perfect harmonies and catchy melodies are noteworthy indeed.

Abirdwhale

A special mention also goes to Abirdwhale (AKA Masato Kakinoki) from Japan. His self made system for creating one-off improvised audiovisual performances might just be one of the most memorable live shows of the entire week

Words by Marc Argent and Mark Taylor.  All photos courtesy of Reti Kokk photography and Tallinn Music Week

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Tallinn Music Week Preview (March 27 – April 2, 2017)

Tallinn Music Week Preview (March 27 – April 2, 2017)

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Marc Argent

We are taking a detour east for our next festival review when we drop by to visit Tallinn Music Week, the annual event held in venues across the Estonian capital.

Now in it’s ninth year, TMW offers a mixture of established artists and emerging talent from Europe and beyond. Here’s a look at five of the acts we are particularly looking forward to seeing.

C Duncan

C Duncan

Mercury nominated Christopher Duncan has already made great strides since his 2015 debut album Architect. We are looking forward to finding out how his lush lo-fi bedroom recordings sound in Tallinn’s Hall of Cauldrons – stripped down piano performance or full ensemble? We shall see.

HOPING TO HEAR: Say

Albert af Ekenstam

Albert af Ekenstam

Swedish singer songwriter Albert af Ekenstam will no doubt pull in the crowds for two performances during TMW. If you were describing his sound to a stranger you’d probably name-drop M.Ward, Mark Kozelek, Bon Iver and Phosphorescent. Fans of Estonian indie favourites Ewert and the Two Dragons will be out in force, hoping Albert will perform Falling, which was co-written by the Swedish singer and features on their album Good Man Down.

HOPING TO HEAR: Walking

DAGAMBA

DAGAMBA

Latvian band DAGAMBA will be making the short trip north to Estonia to blow away audiences with their unique ‘power strings’ performance. Classical instrumentation clashes beautifully with rock, pop and world music.  Discovering DAGAMBA is like discovering you have a third ear.

HOPING TO HEAR: Prokofiev the Knightrider

Flamingods

Flamingods

Flamingods are a five-piece multi-instrumental band from Bahrain and the UK. Their live shows are reknowned for their experimentation and exploration, encompassing a variety of world music styles and cultures. One of their two performances will be at Tallinn’s busy central shopping centre Viru Keskus, where we hope to witness the place come to a standstill and attempt to identify some of the instruments on show.

HOPING TO HEAR: Anya

Mart Avi

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There’s no shortage of exciting new Estonian artists at TMW with over 100 homegrown artists performing during the event. Mart Avi’s experimental electronica has already received critical acclaim in his homeland, with his third album sandwiched in second place between David Bowie and Nick Cave releases in last year’s Eesti Ekspress albums of the year. The album Rogue Wave is expected to be showcased on the opening night of Tallinn Music Week. Avi’s eery baritone voice will provide the focal point to Eno-esque soundscapes filled with chopped up samples, horns and droning sirens.

HOPING TO HEAR: Seasons have changed

For more information about Tallinn Music Week visit their website here.

Preview by Marc Argent

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The Oysters 3 – Glee Club, Nottingham (March 12, 2017)

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The Oysters 3 – Glee Club, Nottingham (March 12, 2017)

Posted on 14 March 2017 by Joe

Here is a scary statistic – the Oysterband will be forty this year.

I know, astonishing isn’t it? Our favourite left leaning folk rock band (apart from The Fairports obviously) have been on the scene for four decades.

In that time their line up has remained relatively stable. You’ll not find any Fall like weekly line up shakeups with this band. Yes, they’ve had their fair share of collaborators and fellow folky royalty drop in along the way. June Tabor and Eliza Carthy to name but two.

But always at the core are the crucial three of John Jones, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser as well as Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper and Dil Davies, who for this tour are otherwise engaged.

oysters

Their setlist is a rich brew of old and new.

There’s tracks from their earliest days, such as When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down, We Could Leave Right Now and All The Way For This, from the albums Holy Bandits and Deserters, which took the crowd back to the heady days of an emerging and very exciting Cooking Vinyl label.

Then their more recent forays into the minefield of contemporary folk also get an airing, with I Built This House, Uncommercial Song and a corking performance of The Wilderness, in which John Jones’ singing was immense.

The songs in tonight’s show are punctuated by anecdotes, reminiscences, jokes and general banter as the trio take it in turn to chat informally to the audience and offer insights and thoughts regarding each number.

The collective musicianship on display is a joy to behold as Jones’ rich and resonant vocals wring out every ounce of passion on tracks like A River Runs Through and especially on Kay Sutcliffe’s Coal Not Dole, which features the lyrics:

There’ll always be a happy hour

for those with money, jobs and power

they’ll never realise the hurt

they cause to men they treat like dirt

With those incisive and sadly still applicable lines it silences the room. We take a breath, then the whole thing segues perfectly into an incredible Another Quiet Night in England. It was spine chilling in its delivery and execution.

Prosser’s superb fretboard skills are abundant and regularly sublime. He is such an underrated guitarist and as for Telfer’s beautifully evocative violin, he is an undoubted master of his chosen instrument, making it seem an effortless task to evoke such haunting sounds. We almost forgive him for those trousers (red checked bondage trousers, i’ll say no more)

Collectively they all come together to create an acoustically immersive toe tapping time.

Hal An Tow, Diamonds On The Water and Where The World Divides also feature in their repertoire of fantastic songs being played tonight.

With that corny gimmick of a tune you can whistle to and a big sing-a-long chorus, I’m so glad I went tonight. I had forgotten what an absolute bloody joy these guys are live. No matter what permutation of line up they choose to put on the pitch they are a constant Premier League side.

I hope you appreciate how I didn’t mention A Day Trip to Bangor? Oops.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes.

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Drive-By Truckers and Eyelids OR  – Concorde 2 Brighton (Mar 04, 2017)

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Drive-By Truckers and Eyelids OR – Concorde 2 Brighton (Mar 04, 2017)

Posted on 07 March 2017 by Dorian

This review is presented in reverse. Typically a review spend a few lines on the support act and then focuses for most on the time on the headliners, but I’m doing the opposite. That isn’t because I’m not interested in Drive-By Truckers or that they didn’t play a great set, far from it, but Eyelids OR are the band who got me out to the gig on this occasion.

Drive-By-Truckers

Drive-By-Truckers

Drive-By Truckers are a band that I’ve been conscious of for a long time, but never really listened to before preparing for this gig, so it is a bit of a surprise to me just how popular they are. The Concorde 2 is a sell-out and this is the night after a packed show at the cavernous Roundhouse, the crowd love them. As a newbie I’m more enamoured with them when they crank up the volume and really hit the guitars, but this is a confident band at the top of their game.

Eyelids

Eyelids

Eyelids (I’m dropping the OR for the rest of this review) in comparison, despite having members who have been playing for decades, are the relative new kids on the block. They are a big Neon Filler favourite but have never played outside the US prior to this tour, most of the crowd don’t know the band. They also have a tricky set tonight with their 30 minutes on stage starting at 7.15, just 15 minutes after the venues doors open.

Co-front-man Chris Slusarenko is chatty from the get-go and wastes no time introducing the band and launching into a brand new song ‘My Caved In Mind’, from their forthcoming album OR. They sound great, the melodies are sweet, the energy high and the riffs burst from the venue speakers. It is a timeless sound, one that evokes 90s US indie rock as much as classic indie UK bands like The House of Love and Teenage Fanclub. It’s a pretty perfect start.

Eyelids

Eyelids

The band loosely alternate between lead vocals with part-time Decemberist’s drummer John Moen being the more reserved of the two. He looks slightly odd with a moustache replacing his former beard but his songs are just as catchy and classic sounding. ‘Bound To Let You Down’ is one of the many songs they play that would have been a radio hit in a more enlightened time.

Three guitars can often be a mess live, but a skillful balance between restraint and the desire to rock out means that they sound great and melodies don’t suffer. On forthcoming single ‘Camelot’ they are joined by Drive-By Trucker Jay Gonzalez who adds some lovely keyboards to the mix.

The band makes the most of their 30 minutes and I count three new tracks and about half a dozen songs from their catalogue in their set. They even manage to slip an extended psyche-rock breakdown into ‘Say It’s Alright’, a song that highlights what a great band they are and how solid the rhythm section is.

So, short but sweet and a great sign of things to come. The new songs sound great and if there is any justice the new album will drop to rave reviews. I’m keeping my eyes open for news of a headlining tour, and a full length set, some time soon.

By Dorian Rogers

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You Want Fox – The Maze, Nottingham (March 5, 2017)

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You Want Fox – The Maze, Nottingham (March 5, 2017)

Posted on 07 March 2017 by John Haylock

Word of mouth from friends and distant cousins from Venus have been going on about Nottingham band You Want Fox for a few months now.

This week I finally got round to seeing them, as part of a four band showcase.

The identities of the other three will have to remain a closely guarded secret as not to embarrass them as You Want Fox usurped their mates with a tremendous, but all too brief set.

You Want Fox

You Want Fox

The Maze is a great little venue and nothing like its names suggest. You couldn’t get lost in The Maze even if you tried. Two bars, two bogs, two rooms and that’s it. It’s like a small cottage crossed with a dolls house, but smaller.

You Want Fox are just two people, Colette Elton on drums and vocals and Natalie Caulton on grizzly bass and vocals. For a duo they make one hell of a racket. That is racket in the good sense of the word, meaning to rock ‘n’ roll your cranium into outer space.

With a fuck you attitude and an easy sense of humour they blasted their way through choice cuts from their 2016 debut album You Can’t Sit With Us.

Live they effortlessly fuse girly pop sensibilities with the rifferama ding dong of say Royal Blood or The White Stripes. It works so well, as the polar opposites of their pretty harmonies collide with the feeling your arse is being savaged by a snarling rottweiler.

Bad Girls (Do It Better) opens proceedings. It’s a statement of proper girl power, Ex- Boyfriend, which follows, is just so much fun, especially with the addition of a ‘fuck off’ in the lyric.

Shades of Grey, which is the highlight of their album, is an utter blinder. It’s just so full of irresistible goodness.

They also perform their new single, the catchy Liar, for the first time live.

If I had some money I’d sign them up immediately to my imaginary record label, ring up Butch Vig to produce the next album, get them on at Reading or Leeds Festival and just sit back and wait for the world to catch up.

They really do have the potential to break out of the restrictive small town insular music scene and cross over into super sexy world domination.

The Haylock kiss of death syndrome will now kick in. You watch, they’ll probably split up next week.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes

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Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

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Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

Posted on 03 March 2017 by Joe

“It’s great to finish the tour in the European Union,” joked Norman Blake, the genial frontman of Teenage Fanclub, who were in London at the end of a three-week tour of the continent.

As well as classics from their 90s heyday their set also focused on more recent tracks, such as I’m in Love, from their 2016 critically acclaimed album Here.

Of course the 40-somethings who packed out their third sell out show of the past year, have not come to just jump up and down to their new stuff – it’s the oldies they also crave.

Teenage Fanclub

And Teenage Fanclub have certainly got them, with 1993’s Radio, in particular sending the crowd wild. This minor hit of the time is sung by bass player Gerard Love, who of all the band appears uncannily to have not aged. Regardless of perhaps having an unsavoury self- portrait hanging in his attic, his delivery of this sparkling piece of pop, was complemented perfectly by the deranged howls from the guitar of fellow founder member Raymond McGinley.

McGinley takes the lead vocal on the next track from their new album, entreating us to Hold On, kaleidoscopic keyboard and Byrds-esque guitar driven gem.

Blake then takes a star turn for It’s All In My Mind. This 2005 track’s simple lines and lyrical harmonies fade and repeat perfectly to showcase their pop sensibilities.

The new and old tracks continue to blend throughout the first half of their set, with Thin Air, from Here, followed by Verisimilitude, one of the many highlights of their 1993 album Grand Prix.

Teenage Fanclub 2

Also being blended was Blake’s endless switching of guitars. Why one man needs two Gibson Es335s for one gig is beyond me.

Ultimately it is the mix of McGinley’s electrifying lead guitar and the solid rhythm section of Blake, Love and the thumping toms of drummer Francis McDonald that enable them to bring real depth to their mid-paced pop tunes. The guitars give the textures to enrich a series of intelligent and heartfelt vocals to produce music of intense beauty.

Midway through their set, a succession of classic songs sweeps the crowd through the 1990s, from the sorrowful keyboards of Dave McGowan on Dumb Dumb Dumb to the acapella introduction to Did I Say, the band bring sunshine with their sincere, heartfelt, yet uplifting vocals.

Few bands could sing “I Don’t Want Control Of You” with any degree of sincerity and there is something refreshing in their positivity in an age of deep cynicism.

The standout Teenage Fanclub track is left till last as they launch into a reworking of 1991’s The Concept. Its guitars are stark and piercing against the driving beat of the rhythm section. The vocal plaintive and heartfelt.

Returning for four encores and finishing with the aptly titled early classic Everything Flows, Blake sings “I never know which way to go”, a line given added resonance as they head into their 50’s in a band started nearly thirty years ago.

Teenage Fanclub may not be the most ambitious band in the world, but there is a solidity and a craft to their work that has stood the test of time.

Words by Gavin McGarvey, pictures by Carlos McGarvey

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The Dears – Leeds Brudenell Social Club (February 26, 2017)

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The Dears – Leeds Brudenell Social Club (February 26, 2017)

Posted on 28 February 2017 by John Haylock

The last time I saw The Dears, inflatable breasted page three girl Jordan was in an indifferent public battle with Gina G for the chance to represent the UK in Eurovision, Prince Charles had announced his intention to marry the very beautiful Specsavers model Camilla Parker Bowling Green and small sweary Eminem was number one with Like Toy Soldiers.

The Dears

The Dears

That was what seems like an eternity ago, but was in fact February 2005 to be precise and somehow our paths have long since diverged. They were promoting the No Cities Left album back then, which promised much but criminally failed to garner public attention. Dears one, fickle useless public nil.

What a pleasant surprise then to see that this fine Montreal based ensemble led by husband and wife Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak are still creating epic and grandiose soundscapes.

The Brudenell in Leeds is a strange venue, part wheeltappers and shunters club, part mini 02 Arena. With a pizza wagon in the car park it is the Ritz of the North.

As support bands go Plants and Animals were magnificent. They won everybody over with their twisting, turning urgent popscapes. Coming out of Halifax Nova Scotia via The Dears birthplace Montreal they inhabit a similar musical world, full of restless inventive song structures with subtle melodic undertones. With a focus on tracks from their most recent album, Waltzed in from the Rumbling, their all too brief set was a fiery precursor to tonight’s main course.

Opening with one of the highlights from the new album (Times Infinity Vol 1) The Dears plummet head first into We Lost Everything and I Used To Pray for the Heavens to Fall. It is akin to falling into an abyss of sound, with chiming guitars and the impassioned vocals of Lightburn hypnotising and disorienting the listener into submission. It is a joyous surrender and something they do time and again throughout the evening. As the vocals get more desperate, the guitars get heavier, the mood darkens before exploding, subsiding and emerging triumphant on the other side.

The Dears' Natalia Yanchak

The Dears’ Natalia Yanchak

This new album really is a grower and they continue with the haunting Face of Horrors, another wonderful addition to their oeuvre.

At one point Murray is to be found amid the crowd roaring his heart out like a caged rock and roll tiger. There’s no half measures with this guy, who is two parts Otis Redding, one part Kurt Cobain.

Then it is Natalia’s chance to destroy your heart, from behind her trusty Roland keyboard she sings lead on a desolate and pessimistic new number called Onward and Downward. The chorus of which goes as follows ‘in the end we’ll die alone’. Yes, I think they’ve been listening to Joy Division again. But it is delivered so beautifully as to render it heartbreaking.

The songs spew out thick and fast. Whites only party, Hate Then Love, and a tremendous version of There Goes my Outfit from Gang of Losers.

5 chords is resurrected from Degeneration Street and they even stretch back to No Cities Left with Who Are You Defenders of the Universe.

I was trying to pinpoint their sound for the uninitiated, and was going to suggest Pixies meet Elbow. But no, that is bollocks, that is not right. For the life of me I can’t think of a suitable comparison. The Dears are so individual I can’t think of anyone who sounds anything like them.

After the gut wrenching Onward, the band leave the stage and Murray goes all acoustic on us, with A Reading of the Second Part.

This comes as a welcome breather before they go stratospheric with the 22 Death of All the Romance.

Love The Dears, times infinity.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Glastonbury Calling (February 25, 2017)

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Glastonbury Calling (February 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 February 2017 by Joe

Some of the south west of England’s best acts were out in force at Glastonbury Calling, the annual eclectic, one-day festival now in its second year.

With Glastonbury pubs The Hawthorns, The Riflemans, Market House and King Arthur involved, as well as the larger Assembly Rooms and Bocabar, it was as much a showcase of the town’s wealth of venues as its array of talented musicians.

It was the pub venues where we focused our attention, starting at The Hawthorns. Complete with newly knocked through wall this town centre venue now offers a two tier view of the stage.

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Flipron

As host to the town’s regular open mic event as well as local artists’ gigs, Hawthorns is  a home away from home for many of the acts. This includes Glastonbury based Flipron, who on the day eschewed their usual four piece psychedelic pop band persona to present a lounge set, involving singer and songwriter Jesse Budd and Joe Atkinson on keyboards.

It was a stripped back feel that worked particularly well, bringing their late 1960s psychedelic side to the fore and saving the more 1990s indie rock aspect for another day.

Among highlights was Orpheus Inconsolable, a whimsical ditty from their Gravity Calling album that features some splendid Roger Whitaker style whistling and could have come straight out of 1967. Mingers in Paradise, from 2006’s Biscuits for Cerebus album and about aging disgracefully, also worked well in this laid back set.

Gilda Parade

Gilda Parade

A quick five minute walk took us to a polar opposite gig, the windowless back room of The King Arthur where Bristol heavy rock trio Gilda Parade were churning out tracks, such as their 2015 single Devil in Me, at a rate of knots.

Yes, they are full of the rock clichés, such as wearing shades indoors. But with self deprecating banter it was clearly partly tongue in cheek. They offer far, far more than mere clichés too across their tightly played set full of jerky rhythms and dramatic stops and starts.

Next up, back at The Hawthorns was Glastonbury based Duncan Batey, winner of the 2012 Somerset Songwriter competition and playing tracks from his impressive 2013 EP Blindsided.

The arrangements, featuring Dan Shaw on double bass and slide guitar, and Gerry Barnett on cello, brought out the melancholy, thoughtful side to his songs. This also gave his impressive vocals the chance to shine across a passionate set.

Duncan Batey

Duncan Batey

The Rifleman’s was the venue for our final Glastonbury Calling act of the afternoon. This is one of Glastonbury’s oldest pubs, with a 16th century bar at the front and a warren of rooms stretching out back.

Taking the pub’s schedule from afternoon to the evening was Owl in the Sun, a Somerset based quintet that features two married couples among its members. But the similarities with Fleetwood Mac stop there as they put in an entertaining set blending Americana with gypsy folk and jazz.

Owl in the Sun are one of those bands that I challenge anyone to dislike. Their set was fun, engaging and full of beautiful vocal harmonies. It also finished off with one of the best flute solos I’ve seen live.

Owl in the Sun

Owl in the Sun

There was plenty more to go into the evening. Bristol reggae act Laid Blak headlined the Bocabar’s list, DJ sets were carrying on at The Market House and the Assembly rooms featured The Truthseekers, Safehaus and Lazy Daze among others. In total more than 40 acts took part.

One of the main points I take away from my day was how great it was to see every venue busy and full of smiles, with the crowds out in full force, eager to hear new music and see familiar acts alike.

I’m looking forward to next year’s Glastonbury Calling already, as this one day event continues to impress and make its mark on the west country’s already famous festival scene.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

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