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Jesse Malin – The Old Cold Store, Nottingham (March 1, 2020)

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Jesse Malin – The Old Cold Store, Nottingham (March 1, 2020)

Posted on 05 March 2020 by John Haylock

We were torn tonight as Louise Redknapp is playing literally just down the road. Do we go for some vacuous old pop shite or plump instead for Jesse Malin,  the New York ex-punk rocker with more attitude than Judge Dredd on acid ? No brainer really.

We are barely three months into 2020 and I have just witnessed what may be the gig of the year .

Having caught Jesse Malin six months ago giving Chuck Prophet a run for his money as support on his UK tour, he really impressed the assembled throng despite it being an acoustic slimmed down set.

But tonight we get the full band with bells ,whistles and climbing on the furniture. The phrase ‘full on’ would be apt, he puts his heart and soul into his shows, he’s a bit like Springsteen but with more hair and not as rich (not yet anyway).
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His new album Sunset Kids is a corker, full of tremendously tuneful mini anthems. I would go so far as to suggest it is his best yet, co produced by the legendary Lucinda Williams it overflows with Malin magic.

Obviously he played most of the album and the sold out crowd seem to already know the words. They sang along heartily to Chemical Heart, Room 13, Meet Me at the End of the World and especially Shining Down.

The latter he movingly pre-ambled with a story about his ailing father who wanted to hear the new album before he passed away. Sadly he died during the recording and Jesse never got the opportunity to play him the finished article. The lyrics reflect this beautifully, all wrapped up in a chorus of unbridled love and hope.

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He even did a cover of The Ramones Rock and Roll Radio ! Naturally, the crowd went ballistic. He does a good line in covers, as he also did top notch versions of Rudy Can’t Fail, and Crawling Back to You by the late Tom Petty.

Malin dipped into his solo breakthrough album The fine Art of Self Destruction (2003 ) for a rocking version of Wendy. Here he went walkabout in the crowd, climbing on the bar with a brilliant theatrical bravado that added to the general air of excitement.

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A mention also for the venue. We were worried when The Maze closed down last year but I don’t think we have anything to fear. The Cold Store is going to prove a worthy successor, great acoustics, slightly larger and yet retaining an intimacy we all like (oh and it looks like they’ve repaired the leaky roof ).

If I didn’t work nights I’d be going to every gig on this tour. He’s one of those performers that generates a loyal rabid fanbase. And when I’ve had a whiskey there’s no one more rabid than me.

Brilliant band, great vibes and a wicked night out.

Seriously, checkout Jesse Malin’s Sunset Kids, it is such a magnificent piece of work.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Sam Baker – The Cold Store, Nottingham (February 2, 2020)

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Sam Baker – The Cold Store, Nottingham (February 2, 2020)

Posted on 04 February 2020 by John Haylock

Thirty four years ago Sam Baker found himself on a Peruvian train on his way to the ruins of Machu Picchu completely unaware that his life was about to change, irrevocably and terribly.

Sam Baker 2

As he sat in his carriage a terrorist bomb planted in the luggage rack by the  The Shining Path terrorist group exploded, it killed the occupants and Sam barely survived the carnage.

Suffering brain injuries, hearing loss he also requiried extensive reconstructive surgery and for years suffered from PTSD. He is the living embodiment of human survival.

“I went through so many surgeries, and I was around so many people who were in such terrible pain and in worse shape than I was,” he said.

“Yeah, something changed. One thing that changed was the sense that all suffering is universal. That we suffer, you suffer, that we all do … me, especially what I learned was empathy, and the faith that I got was the faith in us as a group, as humans.”

Sam Baker 3

In all my years of attending gigs this was a truly unique experience, Sam Baker posesses a most compulsive stage presence with his slow sometimes imperceptably quiet vocals telling perfectly precise stories that are rivetting in their delivery.

On this tour he is accompanied by the immensely talented and classically trained Radoslav Lorkovic, a big, bearded beefcake of a man with the most dextrous touch on the keyboard. When  combined with Sam Baker’s almost spoken word delivery, and his featherlight almost imperceptable electric guitar playing, it amounted to something almost spiritual.

It was a mammoth (by contemporary standards) set broken into two halves. Standout tracks were numerous but special mention must be made for the sadly almost always relevant Migrants and the joyful Isn’t Love Great.

Sam Baker 1

Tattooed Woman was rivetting and Thursday was so moving. He finished with Broken Fingers and his signature tune, the glorious Go In Peace.

When I hear this I always think it’s akin to John Martyn’s May you Never .

Sam Baker is an island of warmth and hope in dangerous times.

Words by John Haylock,, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Felice Brothers  – Brudenell Club, Leeds ( January 25, 2020)

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Felice Brothers – Brudenell Club, Leeds ( January 25, 2020)

Posted on 03 February 2020 by John Haylock

The Felice Brothers, Simone, Ian and James have been spoiling us with quality Americana for almost two decades now.

Their distinctive dark and literate folk rock remains as potent today as when they first dropped Through These Reins and Gone, their debut album in 2006.

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Simone left a few years ago and pursues a fabulously creative solo career so the current band comprises of James and Ian. These days they are supplemented by the inclusion of relatively new members Jesske Humme on bass and Will Lawrence on drums.

It’s the coldest night of the year so far.  But inside the Brudenell we’re as warm as toast thanks to the near capacity turnout for the Felice Brothers. We generate the heat, the band generate just the greatest amalgam of Byrds meets The Band sounds and vibes.

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The new album Undress seems pretty familiar to most of the crowd. We devour its many fine songs such as Saving up to be the President, Salvation Army Girl and TV Mama.

With nine albums worth of material to choose from there are lots of favourites aired tonight. This includes Days of the Years, Whiskey in my Whiskey, Ballad of Lou the Welterweight. All such fantastic compositions

The band are eminantly watchable. Jesske concentrating hard and looking mean until all of a sudden cracks a great big grin when the fancy takes her.

Will is a seriously intense drummer never missing a beat. James is the joker of the pack –  ebulliant, constantly wise cracking and joshing with the audience. He’s also a man posessed when playing the accordian.

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Ian is the complete opposite, very focussed whilst delivering those majestic lyrics of his and on another plane when in full flow guitar solo mode.
Special mention for Carson McHone who bravely supported tonight.  She’s charming with some seriously good songs and coming back over to the UK in the Spring. (With XXL tour T shirts !).

Words by John Haylock, Pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Ralfe Band – Sebright Arms, Hackney (January 29, 2020)

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Ralfe Band – Sebright Arms, Hackney (January 29, 2020)

Posted on 31 January 2020 by John Haylock

This was a rarish foray onto the live stage for Ralfe Band. I use the word stage in its loosest sense. It was more an end to a floor that was slightly higher than the other end.

Ralfe Band Sweat It Out

We were at the  Sebright Arms in the heart of Hackney. Fleabag country. Lots of hipsters and veggie options. But it is a lovely pub with a great intimate dungeon of a performing room.

Bearded Ralfe Band ringmaster and glittery shirt modeller Olly Ralfe leads his troops through a highly foot tappable set of wonky and infectious distinctive tunes (that’s wonky in a good way). He plays keyboards and acoustic guitar whilst barely controlled mayhem occurs around him.

The new Mrs Ralfe takes up position on his right and is a pleasant foil to Ollys voice. Due to complete sobriety (a rarity) and amnesia I have no idea of the song titles. I tell a lie. I recall the new single Sweat It Out and a delightful moment when support Piney Gir joined the band for a joyous tune.

At one point we had a gentleman at the front who appeared to be an extra from Strictly Come Dancing. He expressed himself in various dance moves best described as unsyncopated, but he did add that extra something to what was an incredibly enjoyable evening.

Special thanks to my two carers (they know who they are!) and the chilled out traffic warden who let me off outside Subway.

Words by John Haylock

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From The Jam – Nottingham Rock City (November 17, 2019)

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From The Jam – Nottingham Rock City (November 17, 2019)

Posted on 21 November 2019 by Joe

From the Jam’s Nottingham gig sees original Jam member Bruce Foxton and co impress as they focuses on 1979’s Setting Sons.

The Jam, Rick Buckler on drums, Bruce Foxton on bass and the ridiculously ageless legend that is Paul Weller on guitar, were one of our finest punk exports.

A young trio who articulated the anger and frustration of youth in perfect three-minute bursts of Rickenbacker rage.

From The Jam Nottingham

Unlike many of their contemporaries though they had the audacity to evolve and escape the straight jacket of three chords and having a shouty man at the front.

First signs of this came with their third album, 1979’s Setting Sons. It still retained the anger and the middle-finger but they wrapped the songs up in fantastic harmonies and genuinely lovely melodies (admitedly often hidden behind cloaks of feedback).

So tonight From The Jam reprise that fantastic album minus Paul and Rick but with Bruce at the helm playing the hell out of a thunderous bass guitar and Russel Hastings as a very authentic Welleresque frontman. Hastings not only looks a little like Paul but posesses a great voice and equally impressive guitar skills.

Add one keyboardist and a rock solid drummer and we are cooking on gas daddio as the kids say, probably.

Setting Sons is satisfyingly signed sealed and delivered, with stunning versions of Girl On The Phone and an oft neglected classic Wasteland. They they deliver every Jam song you can remember. So many fabulous tunes from Thick as Thieves and a tremendously volatile Eton Rifles to That’s Entertainment and Start!

Going Underground and of course Down in the Tubestation at Midnight also feature in From The Jam’s set.

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Ray Davis of The Kinks is often cited as the best writer of quintesentially English pop songs. I beg to differ, on the evidence of these wonderful songs tonight I suggest that accolade must go to Weller, ably assisted by Foxton, the writer of News of the World among other Jam tracks.

Support for From The Jam tonight came from one hit wonders The Vapors, the band that Foxton discovered back in 1979 and supported the Jam back then. Perhaps you can remember Turning Japanese? I can’t, I’m far too young (honest).

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Deerhunter (Brighton Concorde 2 – 4th November 2019)

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Deerhunter (Brighton Concorde 2 – 4th November 2019)

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Dorian

I struggle to write a review these days. I’m not a trained journalist, I’m a music fan. I’m middle aged. I don’t have a trend to align myself to. I hear good albums and see good gigs all the time. What I don’t see or hear that much is anything I have anything much interesting to say about.

You’re lucky to see a band at their best play a great gig. I’ve been lucky enough to do so several times in my life, but more often that not I’m seeing a good band play a good show. That is nothing to sniff at, but it is nothing to write home about.

So attending Deerhunter this week I was lucky enough to see a really really good band play an interesting, and definitely unusual gig.

Deerhunter

I’d looked at recent set-lists and I had a good idea of what the band would play. 5 or 6 tracks from the latest album and Halcyon Digest (each) and a couple from earlier albums. This in itself is very good news as these are, to my mind, their best two albums with (the lengthily titled) Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? being a contender for album of the year.

The gig started as such. After some really nasty white noise (for about 5 minutes) Bradford and Co. play some really solid versions of those tracks. ‘No Ones Sleeping’ is great, ‘Revival’ is beautiful. The set continues as expected.

Between tracks Bradford engages with the crowd, he’s witty and likeable, his faux-English accent amuses me. About half way through the evening things start to get a bit weirder. He announces the start of  a dance contest that he’d hinted at earlier in the evening.

Six people are invited onto the stage and the band start to play a sort of mid-60s instrumental tune whilst the contestants dance awkwardly on the stage. This lasts for some time. At the end of this a voting process begins where the acts are judged based on the loudness of the audience clapping and cheering. At the end of this Bradford Cox picks his favourite and they are awarded the trophy.

The Deerhunter Dance Contest

The Deerhunter Dance Contest

This rather lengthy diversion has eaten into lot of song time, so it is another surprise when the band decide to play their new, non-album, 13 minute single ‘Timebends’. This is the first live outing for the song, and it is great, but t probably knocks another three songs off the list for the evening.

It is at this point that the gig takes a lengthier break. Bradford appears to want to stop playing for a while and starts chatting to the crowd. This goes on for some time. So long that audience discontent starts to set in. It is fascinating to watch. It has the same feel as an extended Stewart Lee joke, the longer it continues the funnier it seems. Conversely, to those who want him to play some more songs the more annoyed they get.

After 30(!) minutes someone shouts “Nothing Ever Happened!” and Bradford immediately agrees. The band then play this early favourite and it sounds great. It is at this point that the band are told their time is up and leave the stage, Bradford himself clearly a bit surprised to have run out of time.

A great gig? Perhaps not. An interesting and memorable gig? Definitely.

By Dorian Rogers

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Greenman Festival 2019

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Greenman Festival 2019

Posted on 29 August 2019 by John Haylock

Here we go again, fasten your seatbelts, hang on to your consonants, its time to go to Wales for the annual freakout in the hills.

Greenman has now established itself as a major attraction in the over abundant field of UK festivals, and if you’ve ever been you’ll know why, as it is always chock full of quality acts and non stop diversions.

From folk to freakzone and most points in between you’re bound to find something to blow you away into the surrounding mountains.

Wobby weather on Friday

To be fair the weather behaved itself, it only threw a wobbly on the Friday, but soon dried out on Saturday and Sunday with the arrival of some lovely sun, indeed the words quite and pleasant could have been employed.

Squirrel Flower despite sounding like a twee indie band from Dorset is in fact the stage name used by twenty one year-old Ella Williams from Boston USA. She captivated the crowd early on Friday with a set of self assured and seriously personal songs. maintaining an eerie composure and delivery throughout, she proved to be an early hit.

Squirrel Flower

Squirrel Flower

A totally unexpected treat was an energetic performance from a cracking soul singer going by the name of Durand Jones and the Indications, think Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and you’re somewhere there, the icing on the cake was an absolute fantastic cover of The Beatles Don’t let me down.

From one extreme to another, a climb up to the Far Out tent to check out Pigs Pigs Pigs etc. If you like a bunch of guys who can’t quite play the debut album from Black Sabbath and fill in the bits they can’t master by getting the vocalist to take his top off and scream alot, then this is the band for you.

Bridget St John

Bridget St John

Much better were TVAM, and the sublime Villagers who always deliver. The Walled Garden played host to a rare appearance by folk royalty Bridget St John, she was followed by a much changed Stealing Sheep, who have morphed into quirky weirdos in lycra complete with cheesy dance routines, they succeeded in confusing me, [not difficult]. After them came Bill Ryder Jones, who was electrifying, chaotic and joyous, often within the same song.

Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep

To close the main stage Friday night, the legendary Yo La Tengo totally ripped apart the fabric of space time. Indeed the opener Cherry Chapstick was reminiscent of a supernova of guitar abuse, the ground shook with terror as guitars made noises they were not constructed for. They then take everything down for quiet interludes and harmonies from heaven before erupting into cacophony again, beautiful.

Bill Ryder Jones

Bill Ryder Jones

Special shout out to Caitlin Moran in the literature tent who reduced my friend to tears [but in a good way].

Saturday’s highlights

Saturday was a blur of top notch entertainment, Jarvis Cocker put on his DJ hat and made women of a certain age dance like Pans People, Richard Thompson delivered a a scintillating acoustic set. The resurrected A Certain Ratio prove they still corner the market in skinny white boy funk, they even threw in a Talking Heads cover for good measure.

Jarvis Disco 2000

Jarvis Disco 2000

You could happily spend the entire weekend in the Chai Wallahs tent, you never hear anything that is shit, it’s a remarkable place and this year was no exception. Jazz rock proponents Lydian Collective were amazing,with lots of virtuoso playing, boundless energy, a drum solo and a guitarist who wears an unforgivable headband, we went bonkers.

A Certain Ratio

A Certain Ratio

Headliners Stereolab, despite a hesitant start soon locked in to some mighty grooves and proved why they were such groundbreakers back in the day, it was heartening to see such a big crowd as well. Four Tet was a little anti climatic but did have some nice blue lights.

Idles among Sunday’s acts

On the Sunday Yak and Idles won the noisy buggers of the weekend award, but for myself and many others the day belonged to The Liminanas. Hailing from France this proper freaked up fuzzy band of beauties ploughed their way through a delirious set, even throwing in no less than three cover versions, Mother Sky by Can, Gloria by Them and Teenage kicks by The Undertones. On a personal note this gig has elevated them to number four in my all time best gigs EVER !.

Eels

Eels

A teatime treat came in the form of Eels, a rarish UK appearance that went down fantastically well. Their sound was beefed up by a great band and frontman  E was irrepressably buoyant. By turns funny,  self depricating and hugely entertaining. Dog Faced Boy was dedicated to John Parish who co wrote it, Prince was name checked with a killer version of Raspberry Beret and Novocaine for the Soul was just superb. So great to see them still rocking, check out their remaining tour dates, you won’t be disappointed.

Before we left we caught an amazingly energetic and exciting young lady going by the name of Emily Cappell, small in stature but containing more energy than a spinning neutron star, she had a tune about the poor buggers who have had Morrissey tattoos and their ensuing embaressment as he reveals himself to be a cock. She was fun incarnate and her new album is called brilliantly Combat Frock, what’s not to like ?

Emily Cappell

Emily Cappell

So, another year for the Greenman Festival,  another load of crazy memories, more mayhem than you can shake a Jazzmaster guitar at, hell i’ve got withdrawal symptoms already .

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.
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Indietracks Festival 2019 Review

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Indietracks Festival 2019 Review

Posted on 05 August 2019 by Dorian

Indietracks is a pretty unique event, in many ways. Most obviously in that it takes place at a heritage railway, but also in terms of what it means to the people who attend each year, and the way it is organised. The people who attend are passionate about the music and the event, and the organising team bring together a wonderful mix of music each year that manages to simultaneously follow a comfortable pattern and throw in some really delightful surprises.

Trains

You get a few industry veterans (Bis, The Catenary Wires, Tracyanne & Danny), some Indietracks mainstays (Martha and a tearful farewell to The Spook School), bands that are just starting out (Cheerbleederz) and bands that are starting to generate some industry buzz (LIINES, Porridge Radio).

There is also a lot of variety of band style considering that most people would see the indie-pop scene as being fairly straightforward in terms of musical focus. There’s black feminist punk (Big Joanie), Euro-J-Pop (Kero Kero Bonito), surf instrumentals (Surf Muscle), pop-punk (Fresh), Hong-Kong shoegaze (Thud) and hard-to-define-pop (The Orielles).

I could write hundreds of words giving my personal view on the dozens of bands I saw but what would be the benefit of that? I know from just the experience of myself and my colleagues over the weekend that everyone will find different things to like from a festival like Indietracks. Be that the different bands, or the owls, or the train sheds, or the miniature railway, or perusing the merch stalls, or surviving the falling speakers at the campsite disco.

So instead I’ll leave you with my personal three favourites from the weekend and a selection of pictures of the event. If you’ve never been then I urge you to give the festival a go next year. If you’ve been already you don’t need me to tell you how much fun it all is.

So, in no particular order, my top three:

Advance Base

Advance Base

This, like most of my favourite music over the weekend, was entirely new to me. I’d heard of Owen Ashworth’s previous act Casiotone for the Painfully Alone but never listened to them. I also knew that he’d recorded work by The Magnetic Fields but never listened to any of those tracks either. In some ways it sounded exactly as I would have expected, downbeat, synth driven and built around some great word-play. What I hadn’t expected was such a beautiful tone to his voice, and so much emotional weight to the songs.

Seazoo

Seazoo

Seazoo play a type of music that has defined my record collection for most of my adult life, noisey(ish)-indie-guitar-pop. They aren’t breaking much new ground but the older ground they are covering is pretty great. They’ve got good tunes, they play well and they seem thoroughly nice. They have just the right quantity of quirk to their sound to make things interesting and I’ll definitely be visiting their recorded output.

Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep

I don’t think many people would argue with Stealing Sheep being the most polished stage performance of the weekend. Matching outfits, vocoder vocal introductions and synchronised moves sit alongside some pretty slick pop songs. It is joyous stuff and goes down a storm with the crowd. I loved every minute of it and ‘Joking Me’ could well be the song of the year as well.

Bis

Bis

 

The Orielles

The Orielles

 

Cheerbleederz

Cheerbleederz

 

Surf Muscle

Surf Muscle

 

Fresh

Fresh

 

Big Joanie

Big Joanie

 

Martha

Martha

 

The Spook School

The Spook School

 

She's Got Spies

She’s Got Spies

 

Thud

Thud

 

Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito

Words and pictures Dorian Rogers

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Larmer Tree Festival 2019 Review

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Larmer Tree Festival 2019 Review

Posted on 25 July 2019 by Dorian

If you like Gomez or Tom Odell, then I can recommend them. I’ve seen both and they are great live and I’m sure their  appearances at this year’s Larmer Tree Festival added to their reputations as performers that walk the walk (sing the sing?) when it comes to belting out bangers.

However, this is Neonfiller, so we will focus on acts that you may have the chance to see at The Joiners Arms, The Exchange, Thekla, The Hare & Hounds, or other venue local to you.

Where better to start than a half-empty tent at 9:30pm on the Sunday night, populated with small groups of Odell refuseniks who are now just about running on fumes after the long festival weekend?

BC Camplight

BC Camplight

Into this cauldron of apathy strolls BC Camplight who promptly delivers the performance of the festival. Brian Christinzio is a piano virtuoso with a big voice and – seeming to serve notice to the sparse crowd that they were in for a ride – started big, with Deportation Blues. With barely time to swig more gin and wine that can be good for you (and nurse a melting microphone stand) he and his band piled into the set list. Just Because I Love You and I’m in a Weird Place Now showed the full range of his voice, from choirboy sweetness to Springsteen bellow.  Fire In England started as expected but morphed into a deranged Madness / John Grant mash-up whilst You Should’ve Gone To School washes over like a soothing AOR balm.

The band is on the ball and tonight this sonically confusing, sometimes scary, but ultimately warm and big-hearted performance gave the crowd more than they expected.  Inevitably I’m Desperate closes the set and (with an exhortation to come back for a main stage appearance at The End of the Road Festival here later in the year) he is off.

It’s easy to forget how good BC Camplight is. A frenzied all-night trip with Michael McDonald and Billy Joel that turns out OK by the morning might get close, but if that’s not an option, then go see him.

Du Blonde

Du Blonde

Working back to Saturday afternoon, Du Blonde (Beth Jeans Houghton) clearly has more artistic talent and drive than I could dream of. As well as writing and performing, she is a painter and illustrator, and has produced animations for her own work and the likes of Ezra Furman and Lump. Given this, the fact that she gave a vocal performance that had hints of Anna Calvi shouldn’t have been a surprise. The driving rhythm section set the scene for her guitar playing that – through a diverse set list that veered from rocking out riffs to doleful ballads – left you wanting to hear the next song. Angel stands out for its riff heavy chorus, and whilst some compositions lacked streaming-friendly immediacy, your patience is rewarded.

Odstocks, appearing in The Village Inn, a two minute stroll from the Peacock Palace (where Du Blonde wrangled her Stratocaster) gave us a nonstop set of proper stonking Indie boy rock, but with enough twists and turns (including occasional hints of The Cure in some of guitarist Tommy Nicklen’s repertoire) to lift them above pub rock. Determined to ignore technical glitches – from both the sound system and lead singer Jack Wilkinson-Holton’s sunglasses – their vibrant under-3-minute tunes won the tent over.

BASH

BASH

The act most thrilled to be at the Festival was clearly BASH! Following up on their main stage appearance the day before, the smaller Village Inn tent was full of people and anticipation well before they started. With pop unashamedly front and centre, they had the attitude of a born-again Postcard Records signing. Lead singer, Amanda Bashmakova started off a little breathless but her Claire Grogan-like delivery quickly matured to a vocal performance evoking Gwen Stefani. Not to be out done by Amanda’s vogue-ing; bassist Miles Hobbs injected both funk and – via expert stares and moustache twitches that Ron Mael would applaud – added a little jeopardy to keep the crowd on their toes. “Lovely, Smart and Beautiful” showed them at the best, and as joint winners of Larmer Tree’s ‘Breakthrough Act’ (alongside with Bristol’s Agata) the organisers must have been chuffed at the reaction of the crowd. Fun, not dumb.

Surprise act was possibly (& perhaps controversially) K T Tunstall, who cranked up the rock with her new band. Yes, she still gets the Acoustic out to play arms-in-the-air ballads and crowd pleasers, like the loop-pedal ‘woo-hoos’ of Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, and the Radio 2-friendly Other side of the World, but tracks like 2010s Push that knot away get a heft that had not been evident before. This band featuring Mandy Clarke on bass and Cat Myers (whose work with Honeyblood has been praised on Neonfiller before) give KT an urgency and attitude that takes the music somewhere else. Think Blondie, think The Pretenders, think nice one KT.

For reasons beyond my control I could only arrive on Saturday, so was sad to miss some bands, but it is clear Larmer Tree is a great little festival with big acts. Yes it’s one for the families, but there are some acts in there that can still be relied on to frighten the horses and the compact size of the site, easy camping, and lack of crushes is a joy to experience only a few weeks after Glastonbury.

My only wish (other than a magic credit card for all the good booze and food on offer) would for tents that don’t have posts right in front of the centre of the stage, and zero tolerance for steel prince/princess trollies that blight this beautiful place – children love festivals, strap them to you, let them run, or hold their hands and walk. People will love you for it.

Words and pictures by Matt Turner

Editors note: Friends of the site, The Jangle Brothers (who may include this editor), DJ’d a woodland silent disco set at the Larmer Tree festival on the Saturday night. They are available for weddings, discos, parties, festivals etc. etc.

Silent Disco

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Splendour Festival 2019 Review

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Splendour Festival 2019 Review

Posted on 23 July 2019 by Joe

The day started off threatening biblical downpours. It eventually turned by mid afternoon into Benidorm.

This was the latest and largest Splendour Festival during its take over of the lustrous grounds of Wollaton Hall.

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The red deer were away. The Hall closed. All that was left was to arrange a big pop party with 25,000 inebriated guests.

The Rifles brought the riffs. The Specials brought the ska. The Manic Street Preachers brought the memories.

With a full supporting cast it proved to be a grand day out. Split over two main stages and a number of smaller stages the entertainment had something for everyone. With lots of Nottingham talent on show it proved to be a big success, even showcasing some potentially very big hitters for the future.

Re Teu for example is someone to look out for. A flamboyant singer and guitarist who proved to be an early afternoon ray of sunshine. This was in The Courtyard,which used to be the old stables.

Velvet Blush

Quite what the horses would have made of the blues rock stylings of 94 Gunships is hard to gauge. The band were great but my tip for the top were Nottingham’s Velvet Blush  – playing some fantastic dirty rock n roll and fronted by a vocalist with a sweet voice and an equally sweet white guitar.

With hints of 1990s grunge it was hardly surprising that when we spoke to them afterwards we discovered they were big fans of Sonic Youth and The Breeders. I wanted to tell them I had seen both but they probably weren’t even born when I did.

A rush over to the Confetti stage saw The Rifles dishing out some retro mod rock. Better by far was ex Fine Young Cannables vocalist Roland Gift. He’s still the posessor of one of the most distinctive voices in pop and it was great to hear a live version of the old Elvis hit, Suspicious Minds.

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Now who doesn’t love a bit of anthemic ? The Splendour in Nottingham day’s fix came from Slow Readers Club. Think Editors , Simple Minds, New Order and you’re nearly there. I Saw Ghosts was the highlight of an extremely enjoyable and energising set.

Some brilliantly observed comedy from Roger Monkhouse on the Splendour Festival comedy stage was followed by more insanity on the Fringe Stage with a half an hour in the company of Mrs Green, who is basically a bloke with a beard dressed up as your gran (and on acid) singing cover versions. Not exactly cutting edge but we loved him.

Mrs Green

Mrs Green

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man was extremly popular and delivered a robust Splendour Festival set but it was the sensational double header of The Specials and Manic Street Preachers, both welcomed like gods, that really hit the spot.

Rag 'n' Bone Man

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

Saffiyah Khan you might remember taking on the EDL. She came on half way through at Splendour Festival and whilst the band played some mighty dub sounds she walked into the huge crowd, talking all the time, a lot of people seemed bemused by this act, I though it was like some kind of living art installation, it was brave but extremely tense at the same time.

The Specials paced their set very nicely, refusing too pander to the audiences need to hear their biggest hits as soon as they hit the stage.  We got a more restrained flow of tunes such as Man at C and Stereotypes, Nightclub, A message to you Rudy and an immense  version of The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum (Boris are you listening?), then a rush to the finish line with timeless classics Gangsters and Much Too young.

The Specials

The Specials

As for the Manic Street Preachers, what can you say? Welsh national treasures who from critically lambasted begingings have now become part of our much loved rock furniture. They punched a hole  in the festival with some proper full on rock and roll. I never thought I’d ever hear You Love Us live ever again. How wrong I was. It was both rip and roaring. Richy would have been proud.

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

So watch out for Velvet Blush, My Pet Fauxes and fresh from his Glastonbury appearance local artist Rob Green.

Sadly we missed All Saints at Splendour Festival, as  I was on my hands and knees looking for my lost beer tokens. It was the best day out at Wollaton Park since I stole a deer last year. (I’m joking…it was a giraffe)

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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