With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Lower Than Atlantis – Fibbers, York – Sunday 13th May May 15, 2018

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:25 pm
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Last Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of going to see one of Watford’s finest bands, Lower Than Atlantis playing live at Fibbers in York. It was courtesy of those doyens of decibels over at 3 Songs & Out. Click here to read my review and feel free to stick around on 3 Songs & Out.

 

Absolute Bowie – Fibbers, York – Friday 19th January 2018 January 20, 2018


Regular readers of this blog will know not only that I am a massive David Bowie fan, but I am also a bit of a Bowie snob. I have never been a particular fan of tribute bands. I have seen many and a handful have been very good, but the majority were mediocre at best. However just over a year ago at the fabulous Fibbers music venue in York I reluctantly decided to go and see Absolute Bowie. This is an act that many in the industry refer to as the best Bowie tribute by far and many of the reviews bear that out. Click here to read my review of that gig. I loved last years York show so much that I had to come back again in 2018. This time I persuaded my good friend and fellow Bowie fan Simon Hernaman and his wife Marie to join me. Was last year a one off or is the magic still there? You should read on to find the answer to that question.

The first set was a Ziggy set with John O’Neill in fine form as Bowie’s earliest and probably most iconic character. The costumes, the mime driven dance moves and most importantly for me the authentic sounding Bowie vocals from O’Neill. None of this would of worked however without the support of the excellent band; Chris Buratti on guitar, makes an excellent Mick Ronson in the first set, Fabio Cashio a stunningly talented bass player, Alex Paollilo on keyboards and drummer Alessandro Ricardi. There were many highlights in the Ziggy half of the show and it sounded great from where I was in the crowd although there seemed to be some problems with at least one of the monitors. Particular highlights were “Moonage Daydream“, ” The Man Who Sold The World“, a truly majestic “Life On Mars” and  “Starman” which had everyone in Fibbers la-la-la-la-ing like lunatics. First set closer was “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide“, what else could it be? I do not believe that there was a single person in the crowd that didn’t sing along to every song with 100% passion.

Which Bowie would we get from John  O’Neill in the second set? It was Serious Moonlight Bowie; bleached blond hair, wearing a pastel suit, unfastened bow tie and braces. In terms of where these songs were drawn from it was a much wider period than the Ziggy set ranging from 1974 to 1983. This band match their talent with confidence, to open with “Station To Station” would not have been attempted by lesser tribute acts, but Absolute Bowie pulled it off completely and followed that with a mesmerisingly funky version of what in my opinion is one of the finest cuts on the ‘Station To station’ album, “Stay”. Whilst we are on funk I have to mention “Fame”, I think Mr Bowie himself would have enjoyed that. We were treated to “Ashes To Ashes”, Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” from the 80s. The encore was for me perhaps the finest part of an amazing night. We were hit with “Space Oddity” which was introduced with a blast of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra” which was used as the theme to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey‘, “Heroes” and a stonking version of “Rebel Rebel” that may well have brought the ceiling down had it gone on any longer. If you have seen Absolute Bowie before then I know you will see them again, I certainly will. If you have never seen them before what are you waiting for?

Public service announcement – all videos found via YouTube but all the pictures are from the delightful Mr. Simon Hernaman’s mobile phone 🙂

 

Shining, Seep Away, Shrieking Violet – Fibbers, York – Thursday 7th September 2017 September 8, 2017


I had teased my colleagues and friends that I was going to see some Scandinavian death metal, but clearly that wasn’t quite the case, although Shining are a spectacularly good band. But more of them later. Let me start with the support acts. First on were Shrieking Violet. They certainly shriek well, very powerfully and in tune. But I suspect it was Violet’s night off. A damned good band though; head banging, ear exploding perfection!

Shrieking Violet

Seep away were next to take the Fibbers stage. Now that was a fucking performance. If you had walked in half way through Seep Away’s set there is no way that you would have imagined that they were the support band. They owned the sadly relatively small crowd tonight. Singer and ace front-man Jay Sillence spent most of his time in the audience. The band have some great songs of their own. Notably “Matchstick Man”. On top of that my view is that if you cover a song then you should make it different from the original. Well Seep Away’s cover of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” did just that. It was like one of Yorkshire’s finest hard-core punk, metal, thrash bands took the corpse of the song, ripped it apart and then put it back together in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory. A truly bloody awesome band.

Seep Away

Shining, now it says on the metaphorical tin that these Norwegian’s are black-jazz pioneers who have created their own hybrid of jazz (with no boring jazz noodling) and extreme metal. Very much an industrial, metal band who know how to rock like demons. Their intro music was the sixties Zager and Evans classic “In The Year 2525”; who doesn’t love that song? Saxophone in a band as heavy as Shining doesn’t work on paper. But who cares about paper? This band takes jazz to a whole new plane. The played a few new songs tonight, set opener “Everything Dies” is a stunning tour-de-force which blasts you into surrender. Another new song, “Hole In The Sky” slowed the pace a little and showed shades of Ultravox and Biffy Clyro. “Animal ” was a tasty rock song too. Apparently Shining started out as more of a jazz band and this is writ clear in tunes like “Helter Skelter” taken from their 2010 album ‘Black Jazz’. It was a little challenging, but it was also brilliant and the work of musical alchemists. Apologies for the Scandinavian stereotypes but has York been invaded by hard rock Vikings? Did Asgard’s house band cross Bifrost the rainbow bridge to start rocking Midgard? It sure as hell felt like it. I left Fibbers feeling like my head and brain had been battered to a pulp by Mjolnir the mighty hammer wielded by Thor. Do not miss an opportunity to see this band they will, I am sure, blow you away.

Shining

 

The Ska-talites – Fibbers, York – Tuesday 22nd August 2017 August 23, 2017


Now this is an opportunity that doesn’t happen too often. The chance to see one of the finest ska bands that ever existed, the Ska-talites. Actually in my adopted home city of York too. Anyway before I talk of the ska giants let me tell you about the support. Opener was the rather excellent ska DJ team Bangarang with some truly superb ska and reggae tunes to set the scene for the evening. The support band was the Magnificent 7, one of York’s finest young bands and purveyors of authentic, skillful and fun ska punk, ska, pop punk and hip hop. Well the latter is largely down to their excellent cover of the Eminem classic “Lose Yourself” which works really well with a ska punk arrangement. Their own compositions are pretty damned good too and oh boy did it look like they were having fun on that stage. On stage dancer of the night award should probably go to the trombone player from the Magnificent 7.

So now it was time for a band that originally formed in the mid 60s. Whilst there are hardly any original members left the spirit lives on and a band that had reggae greats Tommy McCook, Don Drummond and Roland Alphonso in their membership originally clearly has a great heritage. The Ska-talites are mainly an instrumental band and the first part of their set showed just how good an instrumental band they are with tunes like “Confucius” and “Latin Goes Ska”. Later in the set they were joined by reggae and ska goddess Doreen Shaffer on vocals for a few songs. Notably “My Boy Lollipop“, “Sugar Sugar” (not the Archies song), a very classy “Simmer Down” and one of my favourites “Nice Time”. The latter is a wonderful Bob Marley composition that I first heard via the Johnny Nash version in 1974. Doreen Shaffer must be over 70 now and she has aged incredibly well and she still has the vocals of a much younger woman. After she left the stage the band showcased their individual talents and frankly there is not a single weak link in this band. They closed with and amazing extended romp through their 1967 UK top 40 hit cover of the theme from the “Guns Of Navarone”. They closed with “Phoenix City” which was originally recorded by Roland Alphonso back in 1966. We also got to hear the Freedom countdown twice too. So if you didn’t get to Fibbers tonight why not? I expect a signed excuse from your parents or guardians in my pigeon-hole tomorrow. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ……… FREEDOM!

 

Billy Bibby and the Wry Smiles – Fibbers, York – Thursday 1st June 2017 June 6, 2017


I was tipped off about this gig by the rather excellent York band Lost Trends, who were on the bill. Lost Trends were originally scheduled to hit the stage later but for some reason they opened the show. Rather than sulk at being told to kick things off they decided to play their set like it was a headline slot and oh boy did that work. They played an absolute blinder and engaged magnificently with the punters lucky enough to be their at the start. This is a band that really know their stuff. Pete and Rusty’s guitar lines do battle with each other aided and abetted by the full powered rhythm section of John and Adam. This is the second time I have seen Lost Trends and I damned well know it won’t be the last, they bring you funky punk that you can dance to. In fact keep an eye on this blog in the next week or so for a hard hitting interview with the band where you will learn such important facts as what their favourite chocolate bars are and whether they could beat Justin Bieber in a fight.

Lost Trends

Next up were Alleyways another splendid York band. They seemed nervous at the start but grew in stature as their set moved on. For me they have a 21st Century spin on electronic 80s sounds a la Flock Of Seagulls and Tears For Fears. The playing was tight and well rehearsed and the lead singer has the makings of a stunning rock voice. “Naked” is a captivating, anthemic song. Check them out, you will not be disappointed. The penultimate band of the night were another of the fine selection of bands from York, the Serotones. A very alt.rock band indeed, think of the likes of Dinosaur Junior with the pop rock sensibilities of the Foo Fighters. I have listened to “Never Back Down” a lot since I got home from the gig.

Alleyways

Now it was time for the headliners Billy Bibby and the Wry Smiles. Billy is the founding guitarist of the rather excellent Catfish and the Bottlemen. The songs have a laid back US East Coast 70s rock feel at times but they have more depth and more strings to their bow than just that. Some of their songs rock out like a hard rock bastard. They suffered a few technical problems during their set including a blown amplifier, did this deter them? No it didn’t if anything it gave them the momentum to pull off a set that really hit the heights. Billy is a great vocalist and the Wry Smiles show a high degree of musical eloquence and skill. These boys know their stuff and are well worth seeing live.

 

Strawberries, the Howl & the Hum, Naked 6 and Violet Contours – Fibbers, York – Wednesday 19th April 2017 April 20, 2017


How can you go wrong with a ticket price of £5 (£7 on the door) for four bands? Well you can’t really can you? At Fibbers too. This was another gig recommended to me by the talented Mr Simon Pattinson, pity our poor communication meant he didn’t make it though because it was a proper pedal to the metal, balls to the wall rock night.

Violet Contours

Up first were Violet Contours with their jangly indie pop that carries a great northern edge. At times they channel Kings Of Leon and Orange Juice. “Electric Bodies” is a phenomenal début release. It is rich, vibrant and hangs around in your brain much longer than lesser songs.

Naked 6

Now Naked 6 is a band that I first saw a few months ago at the Crescent in York and I thought they were darned good then. I bought my ticket from the band’s bass player extraordinaire Caleb tonight. What a top bloke! Do you like your rock hard? Do you like some funk in your rock? Do you love a band that knows how to rock out and I mean really rock out? Well look no further than the mighty, magnificent music machine that is Naked 6. This is the 21st century Led Zep. How the fuck do three people make so much noise? They made my ears bleed, but in the best possible way. To top it all off I swear that their very metal version of “I Wanna Be Like You” is like nothing that you have ever heard before.

The Howl and the Hum

I must confess that I have never come across the Howl and the Hum before. What are they like? Think Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, the Doors without Manzarek and maybe the Villagers then you are part way to understanding this complex band with simple songs that sound like stunning and sharp icicles of left-field rock. They know how to build a song from a soft, laid back start into a pile driving crescendo. I reckon this lot could be the house band in David Lynch‘s ‘Twin Peaks‘.

The Strawberries

Now for the main attraction, how on earth could the Strawberries follow such a powerful line up? With aplomb, power, guts, swagger and some pretty tasty tunes. They are clearly one of the finest bands from Leeds at the moment. I’m gutted that I missed them on the Jack Rocks stage at the Leeds Festival last year, let’s hope they will be there again this year. They draw on the most psychedelic aspects of Primal Scream and they take the audience by the scruff of their dirty necks and slap them into submission with some amazing tunes. “Caramel Eyes” was a particular favourite of mine. This is the band that Oasis might have become had they not blown it after the first two albums. I bought the Strawberries EP with its individually hand crafted cover and it is a super charged 15 minutes from a band with a great future.

You really need to get out and catch any of these four bands playing live. You will not be disappointed whichever one you choose!

A public service announcement – all the pictures are from my nifty little Chinese phone and the videos are all courtesy of YouTube.

 

Absolute Bowie – Fibbers, York Friday 13th January 2017 January 15, 2017


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I have often seen myself as a bit of a Bowie purist, particularly as I saw the Dame himself ten times from 1976 to 2004. I have also never been a big fan of tribute acts. However I had heard some very good things about Absolute Bowie. But I do believe that this might have been perhaps one of the first gigs I had ever been to where I set out to not really enjoy myself. However I had a little word with myself about not being such a miserable git and to get on and enjoy the show and indeed that is what I did!

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The first set focused on the Ziggy period, John O’Neill is a very convincing Bowie in both vocals and mannerisms. How much more authentic can you get than a 12 string guitar on a marvellous set opener “Space Oddity“. Those early songs were all nailed down perfectly, my particular favourites were “The Man Who Sold The World“, “Moonage Daydream“, “All The Young Dudes” and “Starman”. The band is clearly a very talented bunch, Chris Buratti is a stunning Mick Ronson with supreme guitar skills. There was even time for the obligatory Bowie of old costume change from the glittery jumpsuit into what was a very good approximation of one of Bowie’s Japanese outfits. The audience was in full vocal flow throughout the evening and Fibbers was rocking to the rafters. Close your eyes and you could imagine that you were at Friars in Aylesbury in 1972 or the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. By now all my doubts had disappeared and I was looking forward to the second set with relish.

absolute-bowie

I had wondered which Bowie era would be next on the agenda. I felt that it might jump straight to Serious Moonlight (more of that later!) but we were treated to classic Thin White Duke. The set opened with stupendous and rumbling work out of “Station To Station”. So great that it wasn’t just the all the usual hit singles, although there were plenty of those too. My favourite track from the second set was easily “Stay” which in my opinion never gets played enough. That said though “Fashion”, “Ashes To Ashes” and “China Girl” were all brilliant. “China Girl” is not even one of my favourite Bowie songs! We were even treated to another costume change during the second set, this time from Thin White Duke to the Serious Moonlight Bowie from 1983. Strangely I felt O’Neill looked more like Bowie in the Serious Moonlight segment, which is pretty special given the lack of make-up compared to his take on Ziggy. “Rebel Rebel” was a massive encore moment and the crowd went totally wild at this point.

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If like me before this you consider yourself a bit of a Bowie purist (actually maybe snob would be better) just lose that attitude and lose yourself in the Absolute Bowie experience. I will definitely go and see Europe’s finest Bowie tribute act again. You will never see the real thing again, but this is as close as you’ll get without it being the real thing to paraphrase Woody Woodmansey.

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Public Service Announcement: Obviously none of these excellent photographs or videos were taken or filmed by me, just so you know!

 

 
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