Tag Archive | "Nottingham"

Splendour in Nottingham 2019 Preview

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Splendour in Nottingham 2019 Preview

Posted on 24 June 2019 by John Haylock

The Specials and the Manic Street Preachers are among the acts playing at this year’s Splendour in Nottingham Festival, which takes place at Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

The one-day festival also features sets from Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and the Slow Readers Club.

Splendour in Nottingham 2019

All Saints, Ash and former Fine Young Cannibal Roland Gift are among others to feature.

Meanwhile, the Comedy Stage features sets from among others Andy Robinson, Sean Haydon, Suzy Bennett and Roger Monkhouse.

Velvet Blush, Esther Van Leuven and 94 Gunships are among those to appear on the event’s Courtyard Stage.

The event takes place on 20 July with tickets available from here.


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Laura Veirs/Sam Amidon – The Bodega, Nottingham (Feb 5, 2019)

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Laura Veirs/Sam Amidon – The Bodega, Nottingham (Feb 5, 2019)

Posted on 09 February 2019 by John Haylock

My first exposure to the music of Laura Veirs was with the very beautiful album Carbon Glacier, which after a quick peep at my copy came out back in 2004 – a remarkable fifteen years ago.

Her stunning latest album The Lookout (2018) is now her tenth long player and her songwriting continues to dazzle. Her incredibly expressive singing voice and ability to pull out gorgeous melodies is as immediately identifiable as ever.

Laura 3

Tonight Veirs, who is from Portland, Oregon, performs solo apart from a number of tracks on which she is more than ably assisted by her support, Sam Amidon. He’s a fellow American now residing in London and incidentally married to Beth Orton (another bloody genius).

To call Veirs’ music pop folk may sound like a disservice but it is most assuredly not. It is both delicate, melodic and infused with a poppiness that is hard to resist.

Sam did a short set highlighting his not meagre talents on guitar, banjo and vocals and then Laura joined him for his last two numbers. He was an integral part of the show as he returned the compliment by accompanying Laura on her final numbers with some subtle violin, which was just awesome.

So with ten albums of material to choose from, Laura dipped and dived into her exquisite body of work starting off with the lead track on The Lookout, Margaret Sands, and veering far and wide, Seven Falls, and a cover of Mountains of the Moon by the Grateful Dead, which brought out the inherent beauty of the song.

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She did Song for Judee, a tribute to the late Judee Sill, which appeared on her 2016 collaborative album with Neko Case and K D Lang.

Her set was mesmeric to watch,  with such delicate guitar playing and her crystalline pure voice, especially on July Flame and Thru December. 

I was hoping for Galaxies but sadly it wasn’t to be. But this was more than compensated by her and Sam dueting at the end of the show – it was heavenly. I had waited 15 years to see her, make sure you don’t wait that long.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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Villagers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (October 17, 2018)

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Villagers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (October 17, 2018)

Posted on 21 October 2018 by John Haylock

When you do a  search on Google for Villagers more often than not those hunky chunky purveyors of ultra camp seventies disco The Village People come back at you singing YMCA. As much as I love disco classics I think I’ll stick with our Irish friends for the time being, thank you.

Since Villagers launched ten years ago, they have very quietly, very gently, rocked our world. Leader Conor O’Brien’s  melodic introspections and observations have healed and shone light into our collective hearts.

Whilst all around is going to Brexit in a handcart they are a little oasis of sparkling tunes and old fashioned musicianship. So with a new album to promote (The Fine art of Pretending to Swim),  their fifth if my calculations are correct, a tour is in order.

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The new Villagers album is an absolute joy that is chock full of many  slyly insidious tunes. I’m assured the young kids on the street today describe this as ear worms. A vulgar unpleasant phrase. I prefer to use the phrase angel cake whispers instead.

So eyes down for an evening of angel cake whispering.

Conor is given a hero’s welcome as he buoyantly takes to the stage accompanied by his superbly talented band (tonight’s Haylock award for outstanding individual achievement goes to the drummer James Byrne, a brilliant display).

Diving head first into an evening of classics and playing many of the tracks from the new opus we embark upon on an emotional rollercoaster of aural joy, the new stuff sounds absolutely brilliant, there’s some seriously catchy Villagers songs on display, especially Again, Sweet Saviour and Fool. One of the highlights was a fantastic new composition called Love Came With All That It Brings. A song from the top drawer if ever there was one.

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This was the first night of the current Villagers tour and you might have expected hesitancy or at least some  nervousness but it was flawless. Conor has such a winning way with the between song banter. He won us over easily. Both funny and modest , his demeanour is the polar opposite of most frontmen. His audience loves him for it.

Occupy Your Mind was given a new suit and tie, a wash and a shave and turned into a whizzing speeding thing of beauty. Another new song Long Time Waiting seemed so gorgeously familiar. An effortless reflection on modern living with added trumpets.

Old favourites blend with the new

The final furlong saw the welcome return of two old but genius nevertheless faves, the irrisistable sing along Hot Scary Summer and of course Courage.

These were preceded by one of the most adventurous new songs from the album, Ada,  a song Conor told us was about Ada Lovelace the mother of modern computing  (Charles Babbage being the father, see Analytical Engine for further details) . Unknown to Conor, until someone in the crowd pointed it out to him, there was a Nottingham connection here. Ada was the only legitimate daughter of local lad, romantic poet and total shag monster Lord Byron. Synchronicity or what? That blew him away.

I urge you all to check out the support artist on this tour. She calls herself Billie Martin. Originating from Ripon, she has a stunningly beautiful voice, and plays guitar with a featherlight touch, and with the aid of a solitary drummer. They created a little sensation among the crowd tonight. Very rarely does an audience just shut the fuck up and listen to a support act as intently as I witnessed tonight.

A lovely gesture was witnessed as she had left a hand written note on the merch table. It read simply,  “sorry no merchandise but I’ve baked a cake (lemon drizzle, my favourite) please help yourself”.

Yum and indeed yum.


Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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You Want Fox – Reverse the Curse

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You Want Fox – Reverse the Curse

Posted on 21 March 2018 by John Haylock

The annals of rock ‘n’ roll are littered with Foxes. Foxey Lady, Fleet Foxes, Samantha Fox and now You Want Fox.

Comprising of Colette Elton  (drums and gin) and Natalie Caulton (bass and gin) they sound more like a five-piece band than a mere duo and have more song hooks than a hook based shop in Hooksvilleshire.

you want fox

Their’s is a joyous, and dare I say it, harmonious sound. Their combined vocals are so catchy you’d have to be a right mardy-arse not to revel in them.

Natalie’s Fender Jazz bass sounds like a full on rifferama lead guitar, all fuzzy and lovely, and Colett’es drumming is precision perfect rather like her higher pitched vocals.

There’s so much to enjoy on this this second album featuring eleven tracks of nursery rhyme grunge.  From full on opener Tooth for a Tooth to the brooding Dirty Little Damsel, every damn song is a little earworm.

Black Heart sounds like The Ronettes backed by The Ramones and is as tremendous as that sounds.

You Want Fox’s latest single Liar Liar ought to be number one on all major continents, again it all comes down to airplay. DJs get your fucking act together. Stop playing Taylor Swift and Katy Perry and bang on some You Want Fox.

If you’ve seen them live you will be gagging to hear all this in a sweaty bar and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. They are one of the best Nottingham bands in years and their audiences always vociferous will lap this up, as will I.

You Want Fox tell me they have a prestigious London gig in November as part of Loud Women Present, at the legendary Hope and Anchor in that, there London-town, so all you hipster bods can get your fix of Fox.

Currently unsigned, these girls are getting fed up waiting for Sony to make the call,  so if you’ve got a record label, shitloads of money and a roster that needs improving then I suggest you check ’em out.

Get cursed!

by John Haylock


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Insecure men – Nottingham Bodega (March 10, 2018)

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Insecure men – Nottingham Bodega (March 10, 2018)

Posted on 12 March 2018 by John Haylock

Ok. So, Insecure Men’s name may not be particularly inspiring (although on further reflection, it is rather good).  But live these young men are if not a revelation in the biblical sense at least incredible in their own very sweet way.


My initial response to their debut album was one of contemptuous dismissal. Why the fuck was this banal cruise round the Med on a Saga holiday music being so lauded?

Yet something drew me back and after half a week spent in its cheesy company I have seen sense and predict that Saul Adamczewski and Ben Romans Hopcraft have crafted a piece of work that will be one of the years most insidious and lovable albums of 2018.


So live, can they cut it?

An affirmative YES based on this performance at a rammed Bodega. From the get go with nary a guitar riff in sight we are singing along, swaying and dancing badly. The opening number, Cliff has Left the Building, has us all captivated, sounding like The Beach Boys headed by Syd Barrett.

There are so many influences going on here. Early Velvets and a touch of glam rock on the startling Mekong Glitter. This is a song introduced by Saul as a tune about sex tourism. We all whooped (apart from the politically correct misery arse who had a go at my mate).


Teenage Toy is lovely and the new single, I Don’t Wanna Dance, ironically made us dance. They played the whole album although on a slightly personal note I missed one of my favourites, Ulster, when I went for a pee. But apart from that, no quibbles.

They are visual treat as well, sartorial to the max, baggy golfing trousers white socks, a beret and a pleated grey dress. The music, the look (like an explosion in a Dexys Midnight Runners’ factory) as well as the the arch and very knowing lyrics, combine to create something quite subversive.

I am sure the crowd who attended tonight will be gifted with the foreknowledge that they saw Insecure Men in a small club in 2018 before the band played a blinder in a rather large field in Somerset in 2019.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the next Pulp.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Debs Anderson.

More information about Insecure Men can be found here.


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Eilen Jewell – The Maze, Nottingham (November 12, 2017)

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Eilen Jewell – The Maze, Nottingham (November 12, 2017)

Posted on 14 November 2017 by Joe

A very difficult decision had to be made tonight as Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band were also in town. But a quick listen to Down Hearted Blues, a collection of reworked classics by Eilen Jewell, and that Sunday night gig quandary became a formality.

Originally from Boise, Idaho, Eilen Jewell is a waif like presence that belies a sensuous, confident and sensational performer. A fantastic, authentic interpreter of the blues and countrified Americana, with such a special voice that is equally at home in both camps.

Eilen Jewel

Eilen Jewel

She and her band effortlessly invoke the spirits of Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, Memphis Minnie and Betty James. The band tonight are tremendous, on huge double bass is Shawn Supra, the suave Mr Jason Beek is on drums, brushes and washboard..oh yes, we have a washboard scenerio!

And on the sweetest guitar you’ll ever hear is the legendary guitarist Jerry Miller who has an illustrious career playing with the likes of Johnny Cash and was part of the nascent hippy movement as prime mover in the band Moby Grape with Skip Spence. He also knew Jimi Hendrix and is one of the greatest exponents of the guitar this side of Atlantis.

This was a mammoth set, two hours by my reckoning and covering all bases, including Shelf Blues, Rio Grande, Needle and Thread, Rich Man’s World from her vibrant back catalogue.

Eilen Jewell’s new recordings were superlative too. Another Night to Cry, Don’t Leave Poor Me and especially Walking with Frankie really cooked up a storm. In virtually all the songs Miller played some incredible guitar licks. Restrained and concise, the epitome of a truly gifted musician and a privilege and pleasure to experience.

Between these beautiful tunes Eilen Jewell talks about her love for the blues, busking, falling in and out of love and how music got her through the hard times.

She tells of discovering her father’s record collection and her early years in Boise, where she longed to break out and connect with something bigger. This desire to break free of your roots appears to be a common thread to many musicians.

She seemed genuinely grateful to receive vociferous calls for an encore and finished with a glorious version of Bang Bang Bang and a solo stab at Bob Dylan’s Walking Down the Line which was mesmeric.

Support was from Sophia Marshall, a name you should remember for future reference, hailing from Leicestershire this singer songwriter has an easy relaxed style with a nice set of self penned tunes. Flanked by Andy Jenkinson and Sarah Marshall who contribute backing vocals and bass, the resulting melange of acoustica is a sweet thing, gentle, harmonious and blessed with some nice tunes.

Her latest album is called Bye Bye, from which most of tonight’s short set came from and heartily recommended it is too.

Big eyed beans from Venus nil…….Eilen and Sophia, three.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.


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Public Service Broadcasting – Nottingham Rock City (October 21, 2017)

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Public Service Broadcasting – Nottingham Rock City (October 21, 2017)

Posted on 23 October 2017 by John Haylock

The popularity of Public Service Broadcasting grows exponentially, rather like one of the graphs on the visual projection screens behind them on stage.

From very humble cash strapped beginnings in 2009, they now command a small South American country’s bank balance to bring you an EVENT, rather than the budget constrained show of yore.


The cardboard televisions and the cheaply constructed sets are now a thing of the past.  They now embrace a George Lucas approach to live performances.

Once merely a duo they have now mutated into the population of a small town in Bedfordshire.

Lasers, strobes, dancing white space suited astronauts, a brass ensemble, special guests and non-stop films all bringing their music to life.

It is difficult to comprehend the journey the two heroes of Public Service Broadcasting,  the sensibly named J Willgoose esq and drummer Wigglesworth, embarked upon all those years ago.

They have gone from small crowds of bewildered onlookers via a mindblowing set at Glastonbury in 2013 to this – a sold out tour in 2018. They deserve it. Their music is tremendously effective, cleverly interweaving movie and documentary dialogue with tasty instrumental tunes.


They also now have a considerable back catalogue to draw upon. But they start with selections from the new album Every Valley. This is a concept piece based upon the trials, tribulations and plight of Welsh coal mining communities back in the day.

The subject matter, despite being very moving, worthy and historically interesting doesn’t lend itself well to a rock show, After all, there is only so much black and white footage of Welsh coal miners struggling to survive economic desperation that you can take.

But never mind there’s always the Spacerace to freak out to, with footage of rockets and explosions and dynamic guitar riffs, married to Kraftwerkian keyboard funkiness.

The set then veers sharp left into the oncoming path of Sir John Betjeman with a fantastic rendition of Night Mail.

Then into what most consider their most rocking song Spitfire. In in an ideal world this would be our new national anthem.

The addition of a three-man brass army to Public Service Broadcasting on stage is most welcome. At times it’s not unlike James Brown’s backing band playing with New Order.

One regret was the absence of the Margaret Thatcher footage they played back in the summer to accompany one of the tracks from the new album.  It had the entire crowd booing and swearing at her image.

Three members of Haiku Salut join the band for a lovely version of They Gave Me A Lamp.

In addition, Go! was total overload great – a real techno frenzy of lights, action and men in dickie bows.

Lit up, the one that includes snippets of Thomas Woodroofe’s infamous incoherent report of a passing naval flotilla from Portland in 1937 whilst completely pissed, was a hoot.

While for the encore they gave us the traditional closer, Everest, with its beautiful floating melody swirling around our buzzing heads.

Where to next for our intrepid explorers? The centre of the Earth or the centre of the galaxy?

Tune in next time for more thrilling adventures in sound and space!

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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Hockley Hustle – Nottingham (October 8, 2017)

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Hockley Hustle – Nottingham (October 8, 2017)

Posted on 10 October 2017 by John Haylock

It seems as though every town in England is putting on showcase days to highlight the rich diversity of their eternally evolving artistic subculture. Similar events in Brighton, Manchester, Leeds and Glastonbury (the town that is) have all kicked off this year and anywhere with a few bars and galleries seem ripe for some locally sourced talent.


Today it’s the turn of an area in Nottingham called Hockley, a small conclave of a regenerated, previously impoverished area of the city. An area, which has transformed itself remarkably over the years to become a vibrant hub of commerce and creativity.

From early afternoon the Hockley Hustle took off,  with the area becoming a busy, heaving but happy gathering of like-minded people, fueled by enormous amounts of alcohol (sorry, that’s just me), exotic foodstuffs and good-natured camaraderie. It’s like a party but with health and safety regulators.

First port of call was the Old Angel pub where at half past three I thought I was going to see Brian Blessed. Turns out it’s a band. Ha bleedin’ ha!

In the same venue we caught some hard driving rhythm and blues from a band called Louis – think Dr Feelgood (ish). Then a young lady called Holly Taylor-Gamble and her young band sang mightily with conviction and brimstone.

I recently flagged up duo You Want Fox – featuring Colette on drums and Natalie on bass, who kick off bigtime. They are a raucous good time duo with some great sing-a-long choruses and catchy tunes. A stage invasion is actively encouraged. Brilliant.

I Am Lono got off to a good start after some interminable sound-checking, but sadly after two numbers it all went technology tits up, and they came to a faltering halt.

But hey, greatest thing ever was the Hockley Hustle set from some guys called Future Shinjuku.

My God they were good. They have a lead vocalist/guitarist who looks like Rag n Bone Man, with a similar gravelly voice, loads of echo on the riffing and a bunch of electronics from a chap with a laptop with lots of buttons on it. Warning – don’t press one like I did, he didn’t like that.

Over to El Capo bar where Inkbomb played some dramatic thrash metal. But how we ever missed a sixty-piece choir in the contemporary art gallery I’ll never know.

We then shot over to the Bodega to see what was happening – lasted one minute as we realised drum ‘n’ bass ain’t our thing.

Fire eaters, girls singing acapella on street corners, jugglers and a chap dressed as half Ziggy Stardust half Adam Ant followed. Only in Nottingham.

Our Hockley Hustle tour also took in some jazz, a bit of poetry and finished the evening in the company of The Sonics, sorry Thee Eviltones – garage rock bravado and bollocks. Totally in your face next to a plant pot. Groovy-baby, groovy-baby.

Come to Nottingham, it’s not shit anymore.

Words by John Haylock


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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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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.


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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