Tag Archive | "Nottingham"

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.

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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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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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Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

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Chuck Prophet – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (February 19, 2017)

Posted on 21 February 2017 by John Haylock

Lip smackin’, hip shakin’, speaker bustin’, rock ‘n’ roll motivatin’, soulsavin’, jive talkin’, fancy shoe wearin’, heart liftin’, mind driftin’, string bendin’, mind sendin’, foot tappin’, hand clappin’… ladies and gentlemen I give you the hardest working man in showbusines – Mr Charles William ‘Chuck’ Prophet.

Fresh from an unexpected appearance on daytime TV politics programme, The Andrew Marr Show, Chuck and his band The Mission Express are here in the UK to save your ragged arse souls and light your blue touch paper.

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They are also promoting their excellent new album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, named after the cult 1960s rock ‘n’ roller. This is Chuck’s umpteenth release or is it fifteenth (I cant quite remember)? It’s fantastic obviously.

Since the break up of the band that made his name, the legends that were Green on Red, Chuck has ploughed the fields of rock ‘n’ roll for you, unearthing musical nuggets and groovy tunes along the way. With Stephanie Finch on keyboards, vocals and inspiration, always there as his constant muse, they travel the globe with a never less than amazing band of musicians to deliver high-octane, crowd-friendly boogie.

They are the tightest but loosest gang of motherfuckers this side of Bobby Fuller’s gravestone.

A roll call of finest moments unfolds including We Got Up and Played, In The Mausoleum and Wish Me Luck, which included a sit down chat with the audience.

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Crowd favourite Temple Beautiful goes down a storm, then there’s the irresistable You Did ( Bomp-Shooby Dooby-Bomp) complete with a heart stopping guitar solo.

There’s also choice cuts from the new album, including the title track,  Jesus was a Social Drinker and a tearing up the place Bad Year for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He even finds time for a Leonard Cohen cover Iodene, from Death of a Ladies Man and a nod to the Bobby Fuller Four themselves with a cover of Let Her Dance.

Two very exciting sweaty hours of rootsy blues sounding like it was fed through torn speaker cabinets and delivered by a band so cool you could almost forgive Americans voting for Trump (but not quite).

We stayed till Chucking out time. Boom and indeed boom.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Ben Watt & Michele Stodart – Nottingham Bodega (Feb 12, 2017)

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Ben Watt & Michele Stodart – Nottingham Bodega (Feb 12, 2017)

Posted on 13 February 2017 by John Haylock

I guess this is what they call intimate, 130 people wrapped up against the bitter cold outside, squeezed into a reverential huddle around a small stage and warmed by flowing ale and some of the most gorgeous tunes I’ve heard for many a month.

Once upon a very different time and place there was a boy girl duo who went by the name of Everything But The Girl. They were utterly sublime and wrote bedsitter soundtracks so laid back as to be invisible. You’ll probably remember Missing with its dance vibe especially.

Ben Watt and Rex

Ben Watt and Rex

But that was a long time ago. One half of the duo, Tracey Thorn, now scribes for The Guardian and has written her obligatory autobiography. Ben Watt, on the other hand continues to record and tour, hence this little soiree in Nottingham.

But before he takes to the stage, we are graced by the presence of Michele Stodart, the Magic Numbers bassist who is carving a name for herself on the Americana circuit and has two solo albums under her belt now.

With just a beautifully strummed acoustic guitar in an all too short a set she takes us down some twilight lit road

Initially she’s a little nervous but soon overcomes any jitters and by her own admission most of the tunes tonight are of the love torn relationship variety from her latest album Pieces.

Tracks Come Back Home, Ain’t No Woman, Will You Wait and Just Anyone Won’t Do are all meticulously executed, with faultless heartbreaking vocals and a deft touch on her guitar.

She really is a superlative artiste. We meet her afterwards and we find gratifyingly that she is as lovely as her songs; a more personable musician you couldn’t find.

Ben Watt is equally as mesmerising. A thoughtful, intense gent in his cap and stubble. He is every inch the troubadour accompanied tonight by the finely bearded Rex on double bass and occasional harmonies.

I knew immediately that we were in for a treat as soon as I heard the slight echo on his guitar, the bass and those lovely vocals it reminded me of the many times I saw the late John Martyn with Danny Thompson. THAT, my friends, is a comparison I don’t often make!

Songs from all stages of his career, from North Marine Drive and 25th December through to the current album Fever Dream, which I consider the highpoint of his songwriting career to date.

Also featured were a few songs from last year’s Hendra, the title track of which Ben described in upsetting detail. He wrote it in response to the death from cancer of his half sister. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

Moving regularly from guitar to keyboards he performed The Levels and a stupendous version of Gradually, New Year of Grace, Spring and Fever Dream.

All this combined for a set permeated with artistry, love and hope.

I was so impressed I bought two of his books as well.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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The Damned – Rock City, Nottingham (November 13, 2016)

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The Damned – Rock City, Nottingham (November 13, 2016)

Posted on 14 November 2016 by Joe

‘Is she really going out with him?’ – so goes the spoken intro to The Damned’s early classic single New Rose.

After nearly 40 years, she’s still with him, no longer new, in fact she’s slightly worn and frayed and hobbling a bit but still full of beans for her age, a bit like The Damned really.

On the way into Rock City we saw a poster for this year’s forthcoming Nottingham panto, namely Jack and the Beanstalk starring the legendary Chuckle Brothers. Thinking back on this, perhaps it was an omen.

Dave Vanian

Dave Vanian

The Damned were one of the most dynamic of the first wave of UK punk bands and certainly the first to get a punk single out.

Released on October 1976 New Rose beat The Sex Pistols and The Clash to vinyl by months. Clocking in at just 2.44 seconds of careering Stooges inspired lunacy, New Rose came out on the hugely influential Stiff label and was produced by none other than Nick Lowe.

Their debut album was released three months later in January 1977 and our hearing was never the same again.

They still doggedly soldier on despite only containing two original members, frontman Dave Vanian and the incomparable Captain Sensible on guitar.

But the other guys in the band sure make up for those missing in action. Indeed their main keyboard player, the brilliantly named Monty Oxymoron has been with them for twenty years and he now looks like a reject from the set of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

Let the loony-toons begin, with no support they went for the stealth set, the not so well known numbers first, greatest hits later option.

Captain Sensible

Captain Sensible

Sparks only began to fly well into the set, Disco Man and Just Can’t Be Happy Today recaptured some of their early career magic. Waiting for the Blackout was a blast, Eloise as you can imagine was received with huge cheers.

For the first half of the show I had deep reservations, amidst all the banter and jolly japes they almost become a parody of punk rock. God only knows what their younger selves would have thought if they could see themselves now, older, gurning like twits on speed, arsing about and doing an impromptu version of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.

When they first started back in ‘76 they were mad, bad and took no prisoners. There was an air of menace about them, but the years have robbed them of that and now we have a punk rock panto, albeit with some bloody good tunes.

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They conclude with a riotous Smash it Up, but then declare to everyone’s delight they are going to do the debut album. Now this is what we want.

Damned Damned Damned was such a pivotal album, one that still stands the test of time (unlike Monty). Those tunes, Neat Neat Neat, Fan Club, See Her Tonight, Feel The Pain and of course New Rose, which was glorious.

They finally get round to I Feel Alright. Iggy would have approved whole heartedly, and it gives the Captain the opportunity to shine with his guitar skills, peeling off some tremendous solos and at one point balancing a feeding back guitar on his trademark red beret clad head.

Yes, the heart of The Damned still beats, just slightly slower and a little more irregular than 40 years ago. There’s probably a defibrillator waiting in the wings somewhere, but at least its still alive.

Chuckle Brothers need not apply. Not just yet anyway.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Ellie Goulding – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2016)

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Ellie Goulding – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2016)

Posted on 14 March 2016 by John Haylock

Move over Madonna Louise Ciccone, there’s a new Queen of perfect pop ready to take your shaky crown.

Yes Madge you can now put your pointy bras away and put your headscarf on and go and collect your bus pass, the tremendous Ellie Goulding is your rightful heir.

Her Majesty appears on a raised pedestal from behind swathes of gold curtains to tumultuous applause and screams. She looked like a blonde angel in big, black safety boots, and her trademark black designer hotpants. Lights, action, hysteria!

To kick off the gig there’s bunch of frenetic new numbers from the latest album Delerium, Aftertaste, Holding for Life and Goodness Gracious, all sounding totally fabbo and looking great with a nice, restrained light show of geometric lines.

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding

The first of many highlights comes with a strident and irresistible Outside; her voice proving every equal of her contemporaries such as Paloma and Beyonce.

Things take a turn for the quieter with a lovely ballad called Devotion in which she accompanies herself on acoustic guitar (it must be said, she is a very good guitar player, at quite a few junctures in the set she straps on a black Gibson and gives it some serious punishment).

She enters the crowd via an extended walkway and delivers a beautiful version of The Waterboys’ How Long Will I Love You. Much to the delight of many there’s even time for some dance routines from her troupe of tireless and under dressed male dancers.

She dedicates the new single Army to her best friend, it sounds rather limp on record but live it sparkles, she then covers Elton John’s Your Song with great aplomb and displays some amazing vocal gymnastics.

As we approach the final fences the hits come thick and fast, little girls in tiaras sing along like tiny cloned pop divas, twenty something single girls get all screamy, middle aged people dance in that way that you think is hilarious but you are probably doing as well, long suffering boyfriends grin and bare it in the hope that they’ll get a snog on the way home. The whole arena goes middle class ballistic for Burn, Got You On My Mind, a blinding Anything Could Happen, I Need Your Love and finally Love Me Like You Do.

Sometimes we lose sight of what ‘pop’ should be as if it’s not hip to like stuff that’s popular, infused with vibrant energy and entertainment that is enjoyed by the masses. As we get old, serious and cynical we are supposed to like miserable buggers in kagoules singing about death and how life is shit ( guilty as charged ). But every now and again it is so refreshing to come up for a breath of sweet pop air and wallow in its heady perfume. All rise for Ellie Goulding the new Pop Queen, long may she reign o’er us.

*A quick mention of the two support acts. You’ve probably not heard of Lany, but you will do, a trio of chaps, the lead singer has lots of lovely hair, is stick thin and would have appeared in alot of the girls dreams when they got home after the gig. They have a single out called ILYSB. You read it here first, they’re going to be massive. John Newman on the other hand is relatively well known, wears ill fitting white trousers and sweats a lot. He won me over, or wore me down, not sure which.

Words and pictures by John Haylock

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Therapy? – The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (March 12, 2016)

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Therapy? – The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (March 12, 2016)

Posted on 14 March 2016 by John Haylock

What an extraordinary evening this was. First of all it was great to see tonight’s support act  The Membranes still going strong after a seemingly infinite time spent on the coalface of abrasive in-yer-face off-kilter rock. With the apparently indestructible John Robb at the helm they plough on regardless of trends and fashions. Long may they rock subversively.

Yet who could have predicted the longevity of Therapy? Formed in 1989 by mainman Andy Cairns they hit the music scene like the blast of an oxyacetylene torch in the early 1990s with great albums like Troublegum (1994). As tonight’s lengthy masterclass in sonic-riffola testify they are still very much alive and kicking.

Therapy?

Therapy?

This was the last gig on the current tour and, man, they were still as vibrant and joyous as back in the day. This was no mere going through the motions, give us the cheque now go home scenario.

As I wobble dangerously near the front and at one point fall over like an old man in a  post office queue, it occurs to me that if Therapy? had been signed to Sub Pop, were American and hung around with Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan they would be lauded and idolised in equal measure. More grunge than Nirvana, more riffs than Black Sabbath, more energy expanded than a malfunctioning nuclear reactor.

Tonight saw the spotlight fall on their second album  on a major label, Infernal love from 1995, and it was all going swimmingly, we were enjoying a cover of the Husker Du classic  ‘Diane’ at about the forty minutes mark in, and suddenly Andy had to bring a halt to the proceedings, the band lurched to a stuttering stop, the crowd curious, necks craning,

Apparently an over enthusiastic punter had fallen badly at the front, it looked very serious, medics were called and the band went off and it looked like the evening was over. After about half an hour an ambulance crew  arrived and stretchered the poor guy out.

Andy came back on and announced that under the circumstances the venue had agreed to lift the curfew and they could play out way past the designated finish time. As one we cheered and got down to some serious moshing.

If your idea of fun is singing at the top of your voice ‘James Joyce is Fucking my Sister’ (from Potato Junkie) like a lunatic with a glass of Southern Comfort in one hand and an air guitar in the other (I know I do) then  you would have loved it. At one point they dedicated the next song to Lemmy, next thing you know they were doing just the greatest version of Ace of spades I have ever heard in my life. Mr Kilminster would have smiled down and raised a pint I’m sure. Teethgrindingly brilliant.

Words and Picture – John Haylock

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Jane Weaver-The Bodega, Nottingham (Oct 18)

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Jane Weaver-The Bodega, Nottingham (Oct 18)

Posted on 19 October 2015 by Joe

A reluctant admission to begin with, up until six months ago Jane Weaver wasn’t even on my radar. To my eternal shame I was not aware of her at all and it was only a chance remark by a friend that piqued my interest.

Then by good fortune I saw her turn in a lovely set at the Greenman Festival in August, which even a deluge of annoyingly persistent Welsh drizzle couldn’t ruin.

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So tonight it is with great relief that she’s indoors, the roof’s not leaking and she’s playing in the small intimate confines of Nottingham’s Bodega, a fantastic venue where it’s hip to read a book at the bar, or if you’re brave enough you can have a natter with Jason Williamson from local heroes Sleaford Mods.

Virtually all of the tracks tonight were off her latest album The Silver globe, although she kicked off tonight with a track from 2011, The Fallen By Watch Bird, that proved irresistible with its relentless driving momentum.

Weaver’s band proceed to pulverize the senses with their ultra tight rhythmic onslaught, combined with her breathy high register vocals you can’t help be swept along on a wave of sexiness and choppy guitar, no sooner had that finished they carried on in the same vein with Argent, which sadly is not a tribute to Rod Argent but another gloriously uplifting tune nevertheless.

Weaver

At the forefront of the tiny stage is Weaver with a modest keyboard and microphone, conducting proceedings like an icy golden haired folk rock Boadicea. Behind her are four superb musicians dedicated to blowing your mind with some serious psychfolk to die for.

The hour goes by in a blur of difficult to categorise music with ‘Sandy Denny goes electronica’ possibly the closest to an accurate description that you’ll get. Live she creates a wall of mesmerising sound, with I need a connection and Your Time in This Life superb, as was new single Mission Desire and an encore of Stealing Gold.

*Support tonight came from four very young girls from Derby called Babe Punch, we don’t talk about Derby round Nottingham, but on this occasion I shall put my prejudices to one side. This bunch are ok actually, not exactly The Slits but they did have some good shouty choruses. They seemed to be having fun and no one lynched them, not to my knowledge anyway. Although their cover of The Cure’ s Just like heaven was almost a capital offence.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Chuck Prophet – The Maze, Nottingham (May 31, 2015)

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Chuck Prophet – The Maze, Nottingham (May 31, 2015)

Posted on 02 June 2015 by Joe

Mention Gas, Food And Lodgings, Green on Red’s 1988 album to any self respecting music fan and they’ll wet themselves with glee. It’s the best of a handful of their classic grizzly rock ‘n’ roll albums from back in the day, made by two legends of latter day Americana, Dan Stuart and Chuck Prophet.

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet

Dan’s current recording career is pretty subdued, he appears to have checked himself out of the music business hotel with only a couple of solo albums since their split in 1992. But Chuck on the other hand has been super busy ever since, continuing to regularly put out new material and tour.

For his latest visit to the UK he is showcasing tracks from his 13th studio album Night Surfer, which is full of snarly blues rock and gritty, anthemic tales.

The Maze in Nottingham is a a small room in the back of a pub and it’s heaving, it’s hot, the beer is flowing, and everyone is jostling for a good vantage point, so what better way to get us all warmed up and ready to expend copious amounts of sweat than some wordy acoustic action from tonight’s support band the Oxford based and frighteningly talented Dreaming Spires. They usually perform as a three piece power pop trio but sadly the drummer is absent tonight so it’s a slimmed down almost acoustic set. Brothers Robin and Joe Bennett turn in a short set that even has time for a super version of one of Springsteen’s achingly beautiful songs Atlantic City.

They also do the title track from their new album Searching for the Supertruth and best of all is a couple of tracks from their debut album Brothers in Brooklyn, Everything All The Time and the clever lyrical observations of that album’s title track.

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet takes the stage at nine, with his ultra cool band including his wife Stephanie Finch on keyboards, guitars and vocals. There’s no messing and immediately Chuck is in the zone, grinning and stomping like a man possessed, giving us the evil eye and peeling off paint stripping guitar solos that would have made the late Stevie Ray Vaughan weep with joy.There’s just no filler. Countrified Inner city Technological Man, Sonny Liston’s Blues and especially Ford Econoline hit you in the face like a rock ‘n’ roll boxing glove

The band take it down a notch so as to allow Stephanie to shine on the innocently sweet versions of Queen Bee and Tina Goodbye, then the stomp returns with some hearty call and response on Temple Beautiful. Then there’s a ripping solo at the conclusion of Summertime Thing, with Chuck walking into the audience and literally staring me in the eyes as he struts his stuff. There’s much humourous between song banter as he talks of his bemusement of cricket and mentions the D word (Derby) which aroused much hissing; we don’t mention that place down here.

Finally, he warns any old timers that the next song is really heavy and will probably have a detrimental effect on the elderly in the crowd and that it might be a good time to leave if you have a heart condition. He then proceeds to blast out the crazy-doolally-singalong You Did (bomp shooby dooby bomp) much to everyone’ s delight. Absolutely bloody awesome.

It’s nights like these that you know the rock ‘n’ roll flame will never go out. This is not just good music, it’s kind of a religious thing and we went to big church. Hell yeah, brothers and sisters! Hell yeah!

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Villagers – Glee Club, Nottingham (April 26, 2015)

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Villagers – Glee Club, Nottingham (April 26, 2015)

Posted on 27 April 2015 by John Haylock

That rare thing nowadays, a seated gig, a respectful attentive audience but sadly no stage diving. Nottingham’s Glee club is mainly a comedy venue but it is also ideal for music due to its beautiful acoustics. That is essential for a bill like tonight’s featuring the stripped back new album Darling Arithmetic from Villagers and the precise vocals of their creative force Conor O’Brien.

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Villagers now have three albums under their belts and they continue to go from strength to strength, consolidating and refining their musical journey, which has already won them a devoted fanbase and one that continues to astonish the attentive listener. Rarely in the history of contemporary music has the delicacy of a perfectly enunciated vocal delivery and backed by exquisitely attractive semi acoustic instrumental passages been so perfectly well executed.

The new album I feel is a polite guest in your house who underneath the calm exterior wants to swear at your Mum. It’s a love album, but also filled with the anger O’Brien feels at times as a gay man facing sexual intolerance in Ireland.

Live O’Brien and band weave hypnotic, hushed tales of love, prejudice and loss, although they can also kick bottom at the drop of a hat. The Waves, from their second album Awayland (2013) for instance was given a lesson it will never forget; all strum and drums to the nth degree.

Conor O'Brien

Conor O’Brien

Yet it’s the new songs that take centre stage and impress, the album is played in its entirety, opening somewhat nervously with the short title track and proceeding to mesmerize with Everything I Am Is Yours and No One To Blame, by the time they hit the wonderful So Naive they were cooking on gas. Darling Arithmetic is basically a solo effort but for the live shows Conor has surrounded himself in a sympathetic cocoon of instinctive and frighteningly adept musicians and on Little Bigot and Hot Scary Summer they are playing as one to such a degree the music attains that elusive and spiritually harmonic gestalt that Mike Scott of The Waterboys once described as the Big Music.

For the encore the band depart temporarily as Conor performs Ship of Promises and Becoming a Jackal solo, the audience is spellbound and hanging on every word of these two tracks from Villagers’ 2010 solo album Becoming a Jackal. The band return for a final flourish with a devastatingly honest Pieces, also from their debut album, as well as Courage, the lead track from Darling Arithmetic that closes a most intimate and powerful show. Darling Arithmetic, it’s fab, do the math.

*Support this evening comes from Surrey born Luke Sital Singh, a tall bespectacled skinny guy with an incredible voice a most deft touch with electric and acoustic guitars, even venturing to the  keyboard at one point to deliver a short intense set of depressing songs, his words not mine. All numbers were from his debut The Fire Inside and very good they were too, especially Fail For You.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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