With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Millie Manders And The Shutup – Fulford Arms, York – Sunday 14th November 2021 November 24, 2021


I became a fan of Millie Manders and the Shut Up after seeing them at this same venue, Fulford Arms almost exactly two years ago, so I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity to see this great band. Did they deliver? Well you will just have to read on to find that out, because I need to tell you about the support band, Jøra The Førtuneteller. This hugely talented four-piece are based in Brighton (or possibly Norwich) and to get themselves on the road they sold loads of their stuff, including their Playstations, to buy a van to tour with. In my opinion that sacrifice and investment was well worth it for Sam, Gui, Dawid, and Josh. They have only been together for three years but it feels like they have been a band much longer. I sense the histrionics of Muse, the grandeur of Pink Floyd, and the punk attitude of the Clash. Sam’s vocals are world-class and reminiscent of the best of Steve Marriot and Kurt Cobain and Gui’s guitar skills are easily advanced enough that he could battle Matt Bellamy in a guitar duel and come out on top. It was also great to see Millie Manders showing her support at the front of the stage too. I am so looking forward to hearing more from Jøra The Førtuneteller and definitely seeing them play live again.

Regular readers will have seen Millie Manders and the Shut Up on these pages before. I had the honour of interviewing Millie back in January too, click here to listen to it. Millie is one of the most passionate performers in music right now. She is not just passionate about the music though, she is also supremely passionate about life, injustice, mental health, the environment, and many other things. All of this is encapsulated in an absolutely stunning performance from her and the Shut Up. Every tune was full of electrifying energy and there wasn’t a duff song or note in the whole set, the band and Millie were firing perfectly on all cylinders. Some people choose to badge Millie Manders and the Shut Up as ska-punk, but they are so much more than that. Highlights for me were “Poor Man’s Show” which is even more pertinent in the post-Covid world where the UK government is ripping the guts out of our fabulous National Health Service. Then “Not Okay” is a heart on the sleeve clarion call to every one of you who is suffering from depression, anxiety, and any other form of mental health issue. It really is ok to be not ok! But the pinnacle of the night for me was the astonishing, powered, anger and feeling in a mountainous performance of “Panic”. There are still a few dates left on this tour and if you can get to any of them, damned well do it! You will not be sorry!

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‘Things That I Confuse’ EP – Spunsugar November 19, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:53 pm
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Swedish pop trio Spunsugar have a new ep ‘Things That I Confuse’. Floaty driving pop with a hint of Cocteau twins and driving drums with buzzing bass tones propel “Hatchet Along”. Excellent vocal harmonies create a false sense of ease which is quickly dispelled by the dark nature of the lyric.
“Pink And Red” continues in the same vein. Cure like guitars carry the song along and a heavier touch sits nicely under the light touch vocals. “Things That I Confuse” is a very different animal to begin with and then locks back into the patterns established by earlier songs. The chorus is very effective with heavenly sounding choirs . The melodies on this EP are strong and the feel is one of dreamy euphoria with some excellent arrangements. I look forward to hearing where Spunsugar go to next.
Written by Paul Bamlett

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‘The Good Times Are Over’ – Luv Dot Gov November 18, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:39 pm
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Luv Dot Gov is a power-pop band from New York and their second album ‘The Good Times Are Over’ is a cornucopia of melodic delight with crunchy guitars and deadpan vocals aplenty. The title track “The Good Times Are Over” kicks things off in style with a Ramones meets the Monkees chorus. “Panik” opens on jangling guitars and Byrds-style vocals. Acapella vocals open “Maybe I Like The Rain” which is more balladic and gentle although the lyrics to all of these songs are somewhat dark. Big Hair metal riffs usher us into “Steal Your Heart” and a love song with its tongue firmly in both cheeks. “Blue Holiday” has a touch of Green Day about it and a more punky feel although the melody continues to be very strong. “Don’t Call Me” rather unexpectedly features a piano and is a truly standout song showing the breadth of this excellent band’s ambitions.
In their press release, they talk about their struggle to make the record under lockdown and touch on the unsettling nature of some of their music. I for one will be searching out their 2018 debut album ‘At Least We’ve Got This Madness’ and also looking forward to seeing this melodic and thoughtful band live.
Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘My Life In Dire Straits’ – John Illsley – Book review November 14, 2021

Filed under: Book,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:02 am
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I don’t often get the chance to review books, but when this one was sent to me a few weeks ago I thought it was worth giving it a spin. I read a lot of books, including many rock autobiographies and biographies. This is a compelling autobiography from Dire Straits’ ace bass player John Illsley. Along with Mark Knopfler, Illsley was one of the founding members of Dire Straits, who became one of the most successful British bands ever. Apparently, Geldof had asked them to headline Live Aid as in 1984/ 85 they were probably the biggest band on the planet. However, as they were booked to play Wembley Arena that night they went on a little earlier. Illsley sums that day up superbly in saying that he is glad they didn’t have to follow Queen. John describes his early years and how he came to find a career in music, which like many of his peers and successors was frowned upon by his parents, at least initially. The band came together in Deptford, South London and were so broke in the early days that they were living hand to mouth and picking up any gigs they could. They were finally able to record a demo tape which they managed to get to DJ Charlie Gillett who played “Sultans Of Swing” incessantly on his show, the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from his time in Dire Straits Illsley speaks in a brutally honest way about how that level of fame, success and the intensive recording and touring cycles destroyed some of his relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely ranks among the best rock autobiographies that I have ever read. It is well written, open, honest, uplifting and incredibly interesting. It will be a great read for any music fans and not just fans of Dire Straits. It is out now, published by Diversion Books.

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Seagoth – Fulford Arms, York – Thursday 11th November 2021 November 13, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 12:16 am
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I am so loving the return of live music, I think that might be the single thing that I missed most during all these Covid lockdowns. Tonight was a headline slot for Seagoth, an act that is new to me, what did I think of Seagoth? Well read on dear reader, I need to tell you about the support bands first. Kicking proceedings off was Seattle On The Mantle, band names are definitely getting stranger and more surreal these days aren’t they? I really thought I wouldn’t like this lot, first impression, unfairly based on the way they looked was Mumford and Sons who I am not a fan of. Then the first tune seemed to be an amalgam of so many identikit provincial indie bands from the early noughties. But to their absolute credit, Seattle On The Mantle definitely grew on me and won me over. Their songs are most definitely story songs, seemingly about everyday life. At times the lyrics teetered towards cliche but quickly stepped up to be clinically clever, and I mean that in a good way. Musically it would be very difficult to fault them. The sound is jangly indie with a 60s pop sensibility. You have to love their wonderfully weird and warped sense of humour too. Dedicating songs to “living legends” such as John Lennon, Dennis Wilson, David Bowie, and Leonard Cohen was darkly hilarious. Now I really need to check out this band’s recorded output.

Next on stage were Honeytrap who are getting a fair amount of hype and exposure at the moment. I reckon I can sum up their performance in just two words, fucking awesome! However that would be lazy on my part, so I won’t, although I stand by the sentiment because Honeytrap is a fucking awesome band. They Channel the Verve at their early ‘Mad Richard’ peak and vocalist Kell Chambers’s voice hits the highest rock peaks with apparent ease. As well as a Richard Ashcroft influence I sensed the rawer vocal aspects of Kurt Cobain in there too. The songs seem to be sad laments, but delivered with forceful emotion and set to some howling, high-class rock music. Guitarist Will Daniels is clearly a talented guitar player and he also uses his effects pedals wonderfully. For me, Daniels’s talent is akin to that of the magnificent Bernard Butler in his Suede heyday. I felt he even added a prog injection at times. There were many high points in this set, but I must single out the immaculate performance of “Candles” which is a stunning, atmospheric, anthemic rock masterpiece of a song. You need this band in your life right now!

Unless you are familiar with Seagoth, and I wasn’t until tonight, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was something to do with the Whitby Goth weekend, but it isn’t. Seagoth is singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Georgia Ochoa. Is this the finest dreamy, psyched-up, indie, dance pop in the world? Probably. Georgia is a true musical genius and she has surrounded herself with a supremely talented band. They are all good but the bass player (apologies, I can’t find her name anywhere) is off the scale good. I have seen some great bass players over the years; Flea, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Lemmy, Tina Weymouth, Peter Hook and Bernard Edwards to name just a few and this lady definitely goes into the list. She treats her bass like a proper instrument and not just a supporting tool! I have a little rant I need to make too, why do people come to a gig and disappear after their mates band has played? So many of you missed a fabulous set from Seagoth who in my opinion will go on to play much bigger venues, especially festivals. Melvin Benn are you reading this? The new Seagoth EP is pretty special too, click here to check it out on Spotify.

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‘All In’ – Apollo Junction November 11, 2021


For so many bands the sophomore album is often difficult, patchy and never lives up to the promise of their breakthrough release. However Apollo Junction smash that theory into a centillion pieces. This is an outstanding album and if it doesn’t feature in all of those best album of 2021 lists in the next few weeks I will be very surprised and incredibly disappointed. Seven of the eleven tracks (twelve tracks on the vinyl release) have been released as singles which might suggest that the remaining five tracks might be pure filler, but they most certainly are not, every song here is an absolute masterpiece. Apollo Junction certainly know and appreciate their rock history and they have what might be described as a dark glam sound, which not many other bands can match. It is clear that Jamie, Matt, Jonathan, Ben and Sam have used this awful Covid driven 18 months really well. I loved their first album, ‘Mystery’ from 2019, but frankly while that was a very good album, ‘All In’ is a truly great album that we will still be listening to in many years.

Photo by Steve Riding

The album kicks off with “Light Up The Sky” and that is what this full on glam stomper does in a way that is unmatched even by the most explosive and expensive fireworks. The initial 20 second orchestral overture lulls you into a relaxed sense and then those massive drums kick in. It has some proper tasty funky metal overtones and elements of their signature electro sound. This song epitomises that dark glam description I gave in the opening paragraph and after a few listens to the album this is probably my favourite track, but only just. Slightly more in a Depeche Mode meets the Human League vibe is “Porcelain” which has anthem written all over it. In your face rocker “Two Car Family” hits you next and it is another thunderous banger of a tune. A thumping thumping, infectious glam rock beat that Don Powell would be proud of and some mostly upbeat positive lyrics. If this tune does not make you move then you need an appointment with your doctor. If you need to catch your breath after the last track then “Rooftops” will give you a small, ok tiny, opportunity to do that. Apollo Junction have a knack of producing sublime anthems and “Rooftops” is the kind of track that U2 would kill for. I sensed an Echo and the Bunnymen influence in “On The Ropes” although I think Jamie has a slightly more dynamic and emotional voice than Ian McCulloch. It is hard not to love “When We Grow Up” which is pure Indie Pop Rock at it’s best, with a chorus that Pete Wylie would be proud of. The multi tracked vocals towards the end make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. (Check the video out too, it features a host of Apollo Junction fans, including me)

“Sometimes” is New Order smashing head on into U2 while letting Brandon Flowers into the room as well. The lyrics feel quite deep and personal, but ultimately very positive. The funky, summery guitar opening, courtesy of Matt, of “Unknowns” has hit single written all over it. Matt’s bass is supremely powerful here and the lyrics are very clever. How can you not love this line, “like a dinosaur in the last disco”. “Borderlines” is a staggeringly good fast paced rocker with an 80s Simple Minds feel that you can easily imagine blasting out across festival fields all over the world. It is underpinned by more of that ace glam rock drum sound. This whole album feels like a greatest hits package and next up is “Forever” which I once described as close to being a perfect lockdown anthem. I stand by that description 100%. It is upbeat, has a happy vibe, and a great singalong hook. There is a more acoustic, very slightly slower feel to “Are You Happy” which is a more understated anthem than the preponderance of banging tunes that precede it. The “hidden track”, “Our Goodbye” which I think is only available on the vinyl release has a John Lennon influence in the keyboards, lyrics and vocal phrasing. Earlier Apollo Junction asked “Are You Happy” I can categorically state that I am ecstatic, this is a stunning album and you need to get your hands on it as soon as you can! It is officially released tomorrow, Friday 12th November on Shedload Records.

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This House Is haunted – Fulford Arms, York – Sunday 31st October November 9, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:28 pm
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Has there ever been a more aptly named band to headline a show on Halloween than This House Is Haunted? Maybe, but this York band was booked for Halloween this year! Before I speak of them I need to tell you about the three support acts. First to take the stage was Redfyrn, another fine York band. Cat is a great vocalist with a voice that is heavy rock bordering on operatic. Redfyrn have a monster heavy sound with boot-crushing bass and riffs that could split an atom. There are rich seams of jazz and prog in their sound and the drummer’s less is more approach comes across like a heavy metal Charlie Watts. This is the second time I have seen them and it won’t be the last.

Next up it was the turn of another local band, the Bricks. They have a supremely powerful post-punk sound with incredible energy levels, especially from singer Gemma. She is an excellent frontwoman and the band is really tight. I heard strains of early Siouxsie Sioux in Gemma’s vocals and occasionally maybe Lene Lovich too. Their songs are idiosyncratic and original, I particularly loved “Short Songs”. And a special mention for “Warburton” (at least I think that is the title), which can sit alongside just a small handful of other bread-related songs. You need to experience the Bricks live, I did and I will be back for more. Vaquelin came to the spooky stage next. If Led Zeppelin had sweaty, dirty, illicit sex with Bring Me The Horizon, Valequin would be the haunted offspring. Sometimes funky, but always heavy tunes with classy rock vocals prove that this band knows how to rock. The guitars hit you stylistically like Slash but so much heavier.

This House Is Haunted is a hellishly accomplished band. In keeping with Halloween, the band took to the stage dressed like Squid Game participants, although the heat meant those masks didn’t stay for too long! Every member makes a 100% contribution to what are clearly some staggeringly powerful rock songs. Dom proves what an exceptional drummer he is. Zak hits a perfect sweet spot showcasing his fine rock voice and he also supplies some first class nuclear-powered guitar riffs. Bass player Jenn keeps the band’s engine finely tuned and purring like a top-of-the-range Rolls Royce. The world needs to hear more of this band. If they ever haunt a venue near you then do not miss them.

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Rick Astley – First Direct Arena, Leeds – Thursday 29th October 2021 November 8, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:05 pm
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Regular readers might think a Mr. Astley gig is a strange choice for me, but I have never been averse to a blast of decent pop music as long as it is good. Was it good? Well, you will find out later in this review, but first I need to tell you about the wonderful stellar support act, KT Tunstall. Earlier this year KT cancelled her summer shows due to concerns about her hearing, but she is most definitely back now. Armed with a guitar, effects pedals, and supreme looping skills (her faithful loop pedal even has a name, “Wee Bastard”) she won the crowd over quickly and we stayed with her for her whole set, clapping, singing, and dancing throughout. All the hits were on show including two particular highlights for me in “Suddenly I See” and “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”. She also stormed through a haunting and emotive cover of the late, great Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.

This gig has been a long time coming, thanks to Covid. I bought tickets as a Christmas present for my wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman for Christmas 2019. The show was, like many others, rescheduled, postponed and rescheduled a few times. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely, Rick is a perfect performer. He is comfortable with his pop past and his newer songs show the depth and real soulfulness of his voice. A huge shout out to his fabulous band and the amazing backing singers. Obviously all the early hits were there, including a double dose of “Never Gonna Give You Up”. He kicked off the show with a softer, jazzier excerpt from it and then, as expected, closed the encore with a full everybody on their feet and dancing version. “Keep Singing”, “Beautiful Life” and “Cry For Help” were highlights for me and really showcased what an incredibly talented vocalist Rick Astley is. Meanwhile his cover choices were inspired, “When I Fall In Love” (which was expected) and a superb and authentic rendition of the Temptations classic, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”. But to top both of those Rick did a a gorgeous and at times ethereal cover of Harry Styles “Watermelon Sugar High”. Not only is Rick Astley a great singer and performer he also comes across as a really decent bloke. If the opportunity arises I will definitely see him again!

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A Slow Education – Day 2 – The Crescent, York – Saturday 23rd October 2021 November 7, 2021


Three bands down after Day 1 just seven to go on Day 2 of the rather marvellous A Slow Education mini Festival at one of York’s finest venues, the Crescent. Perspex took to the stage first and it is always good to have such a lively band to kick off proceedings at the start of what looked like a great day of music. Perspex have a tank full of energy and probably a whole bunch of jerry cans full of the stuff too. At their peak, they sound like prime time Clash with vocal phrasings like Steve Harley. Who doesn’t love Perspex? I was lucky enough to review Cowgirl’s eponymously titled first album a couple of months back so I was looking forward to hearing some of the new songs played live and they did not disappoint. If Carlsberg made garage rock it would probably sound like Cowgirl. This band is an MC5 for the 21st Century. The Lounge Society were next and lounge is not something they do. This is psyched up, punchy, funky rock with a hard edge, definitely not music for a relaxing night in your lounge. It is music made to make you move around maniacally while balancing like a crazed high wire walker on that fine line between genius and madness. Bands are definitely looking so much younger to old farts like me these days, but lead singer Cameron Davey belies those youthful looks with just the right measure of rock-star swagger and menace. The Lounge Society are truly a band for our age.

Cowgirl
Bull

If you like your rock sharp, funky and angular a la Talking Heads then I have no doubt that you will love the majestic Treeboy & Arc. There are some heartfelt punky vocals across some outstanding tunes that tell of real life. Bass player James Kay is bloody good and must be close to the bass skills of Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. This is funk-punk for music maniacs. This band is not afraid to show off their skyscraping, jacked-up riffs that underpin some colossal, towering tunes. Next on stage were the band that I have seen more than any other in 2021, but thanks to these bastard Covid days that is only three times. I am talking about one of York’s mightiest bands, Bull. This was another stunning set from a band that is great on record and truly awesome in the live environment. The new songs take their sublime harmonies to another level, definitely to Beach Boys proportions. Not sure why, but I have a strange vision of Bull recording and acapella cover of They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse In Your Soul”. Also how about a Monkees style TV show featuring scenes from Bull mansions where the ban get into all kinds of surreal adventures and psychedelic japes. That needs to be made, right? Billy Nomates might genuinely have no mates and no band on stage with her but she has balls. To take to the stage with just a laptop and stun the crowd into a trancey submission so easily takes supreme skill and she has that in abundance. Her beats are huge and so is her social conscience. Vocally she scores 11/10 for me, I am now most definitely a Billy Nomates fan. Headliners Warmduscher was highly recommended to me and I had listened to a lot of their stuff before this show. The name “Warmduscher” is German and the term literally means ‘hot showerer’, which implies the idea of someone unwilling to step out of their comfort zone or do things that make them feel uncomfortable. It stems from a German myth that taking a cold shower is considered masculine. So is this a band unwilling to step out of their comfort zone, I don’t think so. This is a great bunch of musicians from Fat White Family and Paranoid London. Their post-punk sound is enhanced by some great tunes but I felt their performance was lacklustre and lacked sparkle on the night. Maybe it was the ridiculously long soundcheck or the heavy reliance on vocal effects pedals by vocalist Clams Baker Jr. Mate you have a good voice stop messing with all the effects stuff. The jury is out for me on Warmduscher, so I hope I caught them on an off night, but I need to see them again to confirm.

Treeboy & Arc

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A Slow Education – Day 1 – The Crescent, York – Friday 22nd October 2021 November 6, 2021


A two day mini-festival at the Crescent in York, now that was a proposition too good to miss, so I didn’t, I was there for the whole caboodle and now I need to tell you what I thought of the bands and artists that appeared. Missing Kids were first and they have some great guitar work and incredibly tight drumming. I found them to be a bit shoegaze but with much bigger beats, certainly at the start of their set, but the riffage towards the end was very Strokesy. This is most definitely a good band. The second band to take the stage was Bleach Lab who produce dream indie-pop straight from the DNA of Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins). Their sometimes inward-looking songs are brought to life by their captivating and enchanting frontwoman Jenna Kyle. The bass was deep and thunderous at times with a dub feel akin to Jah Wobble.

Bleach Lab

Headliners for day 1 were Yard Act from Leeds, a band that on paper probably wouldn’t work, but on stage and on record there really is no stopping them. Instrumentally they have classic rock, prog rock, and a powerful and hypnotic Burundi style dual drummer sound, but with only one drummer. Guitarist Sammy Robinson is an understated axe genius from the same planet as Bill Nelson. Singer James Smith hits you like John Cooper Clarke on steroids. He makes the punky story tunes come to life and he has a superb interaction with the audience. Sir Elton John is a big fan too. Their debut album drops in January and based on this evidence it will be immense!

Yard Act

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