I was able to attend this gig with our newest writer, Juan Brooks, and just before the gig over a couple of hot coffees (we’re proper rock ‘n’ roll) we decided to do this review as a collaboration. So while it is written in the first person the thoughts and words are from both of us. This is a different approach for us and we hope that you like it! being back at the Crescent (a first-time visit for Juan) was great and Joe, Head Honcho of Please Please You, and one of the Crescent’s Kingpins had lined up a great show. Sadly one great band, Cowgirl, had to pull out thanks to that bastard Covid. First up were the Surfing Magazines a relatively new garage-rock group from Leeds. They are made up of two-thirds of The Wave Pictures and one-half of Slow Club. Their surf-style instrumentals were spectacularly good and on these the Surfing Magazines really came into their own. The Dick Dale guitar licks were brilliant. Their cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Egyptian Reggae” transformed the tune into something that would be perfect on a Tarantino soundtrack. In fact, the Surfing Magazines would make an excellent choice as a bar band in a Tarantino film. Their country rock vocal harmonies were incredibly powerful and at times were reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and even Beatlesesque in some parts. The guitarist was supremely versatile going from the aforementioned Dick Dale, some Bo Diddley riffs, and the intricacy of Television’s Tom Verlaine. Even the broken guitar string didn’t phase the ace axeman. A powerfully good band!
We had both listened to some tracks from the headliner, Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip before the gig and neither of us could put them into any specific genre. Mik has elements of observational comedy across a great rock sound. But that is only part of what and who he is. Both of us had perma grins for the whole set, if you failed to smile during Mik’s set then you need your happy muscles checked. Mik is a very funny bloke and a great observer of the minutiae of human life. Almost every song has some everyday references from Dad muscles, playing horsey, betting shop pens, stuff you find down the back of the armchair and libraries. Indeed “Libraries” is an awesome track. Mik appears to be completely chaotic, but clearly knows what he is doing and that just plays to him putting on a great performance and a wonderful show. His energy is boundless, is he really 66? While he uses the spoken word approach a lot he does possess a fabulous singing voice that flits from punk, to rock, to folk, and onto ballads. There were so many highlights, “The Zumba Sign’s Come Down” and “Acoustic Synthesiser” are weird, wacky, and wonderfully hilarious. Meanwhile “DB Was A Funny Man” is a song of genius about the Dame himself, Mr. Bowie. Mik weaves in a few excerpts from Bowie hits into it too, notably “run for the shadows, run for the shadows” and “whop whop whop” from Bowie’s “Golden Years”. He also manages o get some Van Morrison elements in there too. The main highlight for both of us was “Sweet Leaf Of The North”, the whole introductory preamble and story, and then the song itself. Apparently Iggy Pop chose this as one of his highlights of the last decade. Sounds like he’s a big fan. Mik creates a sense of northern belonging and togetherness with his followers and has great fun with the audience. His affectionate and heartfelt mickey take of Vinny the sound guy was excellent too. It is worth pointing out that his band, particularly the guitarist Jonny Flockton are blessed with huge musical talent and are the perfect foil for Mik’s performance. Juan perhaps summed up Mik in one sentence by saying “for me, he is a modern-day Northern Ian Dury“! So difficult to argue with that. Both Juan and I have become Mik Artistik evangelists and will be telling everyone we meet that they need to see Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip live!
Written by Bill Adamson and Juan Brooks
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