It has taken a while to get this one posted, but here it is! Yet another night at that wonderful York venue, The Crescent. This time to see Violet Contours in action once again. Were they as good as the last time that I saw them? You will have to read on to find out because before them there was a marvelously eclectic selection of support acts. First up we were taken to acoustic heaven by Joh Hendrickx, She does cover versions, of mostly sad songs. This set, which was way too short included songs by Laura Marling, Matt Corby, and the Middle East. Her cover of the latter’s “Blood” was dripping with emotion and that performance convinced me to find out more about them. She included one cover version that I really didn’t see coming, it was “The Black Hills Of Dakota” originally sung by Doris Day in the 1953 film ‘Calamity Jane’. Ms. Hendrickx totally owned the tune! I believe that Joh has a lot more to offer and I am looking forward to seeing her again.
Scarborough’s the Feens were next, I last saw them in July and they are still a bloody good band. They come across very “Smithsy” on some songs, from back in the day when Morrissey mattered. Particularly Sam Dowling’s guitar playing. Bass player Adam Lodge has a stunningly powerful voice which complements co-lead vocalist Freddie Scmuck’s vocals perfectly. Lodge roams the stage like a young Peter Hook in the early days of New Order, albeit with his bass more sensibly strapped much higher up his body. Someone in the crowd described them as “easier listening indie”, while I get that I think it does them an injustice. Yes their songs could be described as indie and those songs are easy to listen to, but mainly because they are so damned good. I hear traces of Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend in their sound and that is no bad thing. The Feens are getting some strong and well-deserved airplay of late. Expect much more from this band, they have the power and the talent to make it huge!
Next, it was the turn of the Serotones, another great York band who I last saw more than two years ago. They were very good then and they are even better now. If you like Dinosaur Jr, you might well like the Serotones, but the biggest influence I can hear in their songs is perhaps the Stone Roses, but with better vocals (sorry Ian Brown). The lead singer has an immaculate stage presence and really seems to understand his audience. Great music must be in human DNA somehow as the Serotones contain two kids from Shed Seven members, Rick Witter and Alan Leach. The band played a lot of new songs and they have a new single out now featuring two rather superb new songs; “Death In Paradise” and “Into The Sky”
Finally, it was time for the headliners, Violet Contours, yet another fabulously exciting band from York. This was the third time that I have experienced seeing them live and they get better every time. Their jangly indie dance style is definitely influenced by Vampire Weekend, largely because of that feel-good African guitar vibe. But I can also hear Talking Heads, or more directly the more pop styles of Talking Heads offshoot Tom Tom Club, formed by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Ben Henderson’s voice is clear, strong and conveys emotion and soul when he needs it to. Niall, Daniel, Sam, and Ben have developed into a really tight, funky band able to recreate and magnify, magnificently their recorded sound. Their repertoire is growing in range and quality; “Pablo’s Hippo and “Airstrike” are two outstanding tunes and there are plenty more too. Violet Contours are undoubtedly a band that knows how to party and bring the audience into that party effortlessly. But they don’t just get up their and play, they really look like they are enjoying every moment immensely. If you haven’t seen them or listened to them yet what the hell is preventing you?
The above Serotones video was filmed by David Butler of Wigwam Creative
All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know. I am also happy for you to use any of my pictures, all I ask is for a credit 🙂
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One helluva night that – brilliant review too, exactly how I remembered it! Worth adding that although Joh’s songs were sad, her banter between numbers meant that it didn’t seem like a melancholic set (if that makes sense?). I’d seen the Feens before, brave having 2 vocalists with different singing styles but it works really well. Serotones were a first for me, the recent releases being by far their best numbers, can’t wait to see them develop further. VC were exactly as anticipated, I’ve seen them at least half a dozen times, twice during that actual week, amazing band, Iove the interplay between the guitars, Ben’s occasionally smokey vocals (paticularly on the more emotionally charged slower Hold on), and the drive/power as it intensifies in numbers such as Airstrike and Pablo’s – brilliant.
Thanks for linking to my Serotones flip-cam footage 😎
Hi David, thanks for the comment and I am glad that you enjoyed the review. You’re right Joh’s banter was sardonic and very funny. But it was definitely a great night all round. I have also edited the post to add a credit to you for the flip cam footage 🙂
Thanks for the credit, really wasn’t necessary though. I bumped into Rick Witter in the car park of all places, saved me a fortune in fees by suggesting we wait until 8pm for the £1 tariff!