Tag Archive | "Nottingham"

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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