With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

The Howl And The Hum – York Minster – Tuesday 25th May 2021 June 4, 2021


With proper gigs still a few weeks away I guess I will take live streams and socially distanced shows just to get my music fix. This particular show was of great interest to me for a number of reasons. The Howl And The Hum are a great band from my adopted city, York, their debut album is stunning and the venue was York’s truly iconic Minster. That building was completed around 550 years ago, even if I added my age to the combined age of the band it wouldn’t even come close to that number! Apparently the whole idea of the band playing the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York a.k.a York Minster, began as a joke. Initial suggestions were for the band to drop from the rafters or arrive via jet packs. I guess health and safety rules sadly put paid to that!

Sam Griffiths the Howl And The Hum’s venerable front man, nicely decked out in a cowboy style shirt adorned with skulls and roses, kicked off with a solo rendition of “Hostages”. He sounded like Thom Yorke playing to a tiny audience in an intimate venue. Well if you don’t count those of us watching via the stream it was a small, and I am sure very happy audience. Even watching via the live stream, which unlike Live At Worthy Farm was truly live and not “as live”, I could sense this was a very special show. The sort that people will speak of in reverential hushed tones for many, many years. Griffiths’ vocals were heavenly throughout, perhaps none more so than on “Remedy To Rust”. He was joined by a string section for this tune and I was also entranced by the Neil Young vibes that showed strongly. One of my favourites of the whole set was “A Hotel Song” which deals with suffering existential crises in hotel rooms. This was followed by “Until I Found A Rose” on which the celestial strings enhanced the song to levels even higher than the venue roof.

“Hall Of Fame” deals with the fall out and complexities of a faded, but perhaps not ended relationship. A tune that oozes sadness in a way that not many songs are able to. A lament that would moisten the tear ducts of anyone with even half a heart. For “Terrorforming” we were treated to stunningly beautiful choral support from a women’s choir led by Gina Walters. The song has become one of my most favourite tracks ever. It never fails to instil in me huge confidence and love for life, while at the same time shines a light on the inevitable fact that I now have less years left on this planet than I have spent on it so far. Is that what was intended for these lyrics? I have no idea, but that is how deeply it gets to me! Drummer Jack Williams joined Griffiths and guitarist Conor Hirons for a great run through of one of the Howl And The Hum’s classics, “The Only Boy Racer Left On the Island”. Next “Sweet Fading Silver” built towards a magnificent crescendo before a beautiful melancholy close. Sam Griffiths dedicated a new song, “Thumbs Up” to the bands bass player Bradley Blackwell who sadly missed the gig as he was unwell, I really feel for him, but this band will play huge gigs one day and he will be there for them. Does this song have the only lyric that has ever mentioned ‘Predator 2’? Either way it is a great song and once again I was reminded of Thom Yorke in Sam Griffiths incredible vocal style. I believe that even people who claim to have never heard, or heard of, the Howl And The Hum will know the song they closed the set with. It was “Godmanchester Chinese Bridge” and this was a full on mountainous performance with the band, strings, choir and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink! This is almost certainly the greatest live streamed gig ever! We really need a physical, especially vinyl, release of this monumental gig!

None of the videos are from the gig, but enjoy them anyway. Also click here if you want to see the show, it is only available for a very short time (until 23:59 UK time Sunday 6th June, and it will cost you hardly anything, just £5!

All the photographs and videos were found on line if one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or remove it please let me know!

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Float Tank #4 – The Arts Barge, York – Tuesday 6th August August 14, 2019


I was lucky enough to spend time in a flotation tank a few years ago and it was an incredible experience. For the uninitiated you float, for an hour in my case, in very salty warm water inside a pod with no light or sound. It is claimed that the relaxation you experience is better than hours of sleep. It sure felt like it and I will definitely do it again. But in the meantime, there was Float Tank #4 an experimental music session brought to us as a part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe 2019. The series started three years ago in the Railway Institute in York, this year Float Tank #4 (the following evening it would be #5) was held on the Arts Barge on the River Ouse at Tower Gardens near Skeldergate Bridge. It was a short show, just one hour, a similar length to the usual flotation tank experience. It began at 10 p.m. and ended at 11. So what exactly was it?

Well it was a very strange gig experience. Imagine, if you will, being at a gig in total darkness and only being able to hear the performers but not see them. Are you imagining that? Trust me the sensory experience goes way beyond what our little minds can imagine. The set began with Sam Griffiths of The Howl And The Hum playing a lounge-style piano take on Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”, appropriately. Sam was visible for this as it was just background while we took our seats and the last vestiges of light were blocked out. Once we were truly plunged into darkness the fun began with a poem recited, presumably by the poet (apologies, I didn’t get her name). She was backed with some eerie sounds which were mostly keyboard-driven. After that, it was instrumental music which was guitar-based and might have included a number of tape loops. I believe that Kai West of Bull was responsible for much of this. It was a stunning psychedelic ambient drone and at times I was reminded of the sound bite and tape loop psych-out that was “Revolution No. 9” from the Beatles White Album. But however it was composed and performed it was a great sound that fitted the experience perfectly. Like many of us in the audience I completely lost track of time and a few times I tried to get my eyes accustomed to the dark, but it really was Eldritch black. If Float Tank returns next year then I will be first in line!

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Adam French, Sam Griffiths and Crispin Halcrow – The Basement, City Screen, York – Tuesday 26th January 2016 January 27, 2016


I haven’t been to the Basement at City Screen for sometime so it was good to be back. Especially as this was a show recommended by my good mate Simon Pattinson. He has never let me down with those recommendations and tonight certainly maintained his 100% record!

crispin halcrow

First on start was Crispin Halcrow, although he seemed a little nervous at first he finished his set with confidence. I heard something of Teddy Thompson and Seth Lakeman in him. He certainly knows how to write a song, “Charcoal” is beautiful and it is about remembering. Crispin also introduced us to Phoebe the ukulele for a very well performed cover of the Mama’s And Papa’s hit “Dream A Little Dream”. This lad from Kendal is one to watch.

sam griffiths

Next under the stage lights was Sam Griffiths ably supported by Bradley Blackwell (I hope I got that name right). He kicked off with a song that he introduced as being a song about a Bob Dylan album, it is called “Blood On The Tracks“. Dylan got another mention later in the set when Sam suggested that he had ripped off the great Mr Zimmerman with a song called “Shelter Of The Storm”. That ripped off reference was very much tongue in cheek and I think the song is superb and given airplay I would say it has big hit written all over it. Sam’s songs are all well-developed and mature. In particular a song inspired by the David Lynch film ‘Lost Highway‘ called “Camera” which was my favourite from Sam’s set.

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The first two acts were damned good but Adam French took it to another level completely. The likes of James Bay and Hozier are indeed very talented but I think Adam knocks the socks off them. His songs are incredibly well constructed and given how sublime they sound in a solo setting I believe they would be even better with a band. Adam is a multi instrumentalist utilising guitar, keyboard and bass guitar. “Hunter” was accompanied by Mr French on bass guitar and worked so very well. Will Adam French write a classic song? I think he already has at least two in the haunting “Silhouette” and the gorgeous “Ivory”. I have been going to gigs for more than 40 years and this was probably one of the finest small club sets that I have ever seen. Forget about all that X Factor rubbish, if music has a future then it is in the hands of very talented people like Adam French. I urge you to check him out on-line or live when you get the chance. I sense that his days of playing small intimate gigs like this may well be numbered. He will, I am sure, be coming to you on a much bigger stage very soon. I would also like to add that he is a great bloke too having had a few drinks with him after the show along with his Mum and other friends and family.

adam french

Public service announcement! The photos of Crispin, Sam and Bradley were sourced on line and those of Adam were taken on my trusty Nokia phone.

 

 
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