It was weeks between my last gig of 2022 and my first of 2023, but only five days between my first and second gig of 2023. I was back at one of my favourite establishments, the Fulford Arms to see Flip Top Head, a band I had never seen before take the headline spot. In fact, I had never seen any of the five acts on the bill before, which is quite rare for me these days. The lineup was put together by the uber-talented Tom Beer of one of York’s finest bands, Bull. First up it was Cat Redfern and if Bjork made eerie, ethereal folk-rock influenced by Radiohead it might sound like Cat Redfern. I believe that some of Cat’s songs might fit perfectly on a Twin Peaks soundtrack, check her out. The second act to play was Big Rain In The Morning, a band that plays psychy, proggy, and folky sounds with a slight nod to the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. Their vocal harmonies are phenomenal. The band featured the aforementioned Cat Redfern on bass and Tom Beer off of Bull on drums (is there any instrument that this man is unable to play?) Is there a band around now that is anything quite like Big Rain In The Morning? Probably not, this lot are a true bunch of originators.
Third, onto the stage was Ellis D, that is a great name and a fab pun on the hallucinogenic drug lysergic acid diethylamide a.k.a. LSD. Ellis D brings some psychedelic funky fun all the way from Brighton. “Homecoming Queen” rocks big time. Vocally I was reminded of David Byrne, Jonathan Richman and on the higher notes perhaps even Russel Mael. The drummer is like a more controlled Keith Moon, if he was a super hero he would be called Metronome Man. The band encountered a few technical issues during their set but they didn’t let them phase it at all. This lot are great and very difficult to drop into any particular genre box. The penultimate act was a band called Victory Samosa who have megatons of organic pop hooks. Yes, I did say organic, there is none of that battery farmed pop shite here. Victory Samosa reminded me strongly of Daryl Palumbo in his Head Automatica side project from a few years ago. This is underpinned by some shades of early Franz Ferdinand and Rich Kids with Midge Ure. “Equinox”, “Little Miss Golden Fleece” and the song that probably isn’t called Cecilia prove that Victory Samosa have an amazing cache of great songs. When will there be a Victory Samosa album? I hope it’s soon. I can say categorically that this band are definitely one of my new favourites.
Finally, it was time for the headliners, also from Brighton, Flip Top Head. Michael Jackson once said something along the lines of “bad is good”, well I think something similar applies to Flip Top Head, wait, scrub that, with this bunch it is more like “mad, is good”, or even “Mad is GREAT”. This band issue forth a colourful cacophony of sound that at times feels like it may have originated extraterrestrially. The lead female vocals evoke the weirdness and beauty of the Cocteau Twins and the soul and feeling of Clare Torry’ wailing vocal on Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig In The Sky”. How many bands promote the trombone to the lead instrument in a few songs? Hardly any in my experience, but Flip Top Head do that with style and panache. Their songs are wonderful and I really like the contrast to the vocals with an almost spoken word narration, similar to “Private Investigations” era Dire Straits. I am looking forward to the release of their new single “Seventh Bell Number” next week. Incidentally, the song sounds excellent live. Alongside Victory Samosa I can confirm that Flip Top Head are another of my favourite bands. This was another banger of a night at the Fully Arms.
All the photos, apart from the gig poster, are by Aron Murray of Vexed Music Photography
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