With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Paul Draper – The Crescent, York – Wednesday 21st November 2018 November 23, 2018


Mansun’s ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ has remained one of my favourite albums since its release back in 1997. I was also lucky enough to see Mansun twice at the Reading Festival back in 1996 and 1998.  So the prospect of seeing Mansun main man Paul Draper solo in my adopted home city, York was exciting. Made even more interesting having reviewed Draper’s solo album, ‘Spooky Action’ and the reissued ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ earlier this year for those wonderful folk over at 3 Songs & Out. Mr Draper is currently winding up his first ever solo acoustic tour aided by the mega talented guitarist Ben Sink. But before I tell you about that dynamic duo I need to update you on the rather spiffing support act Flo Perlin and her band. If I had to put Flo into any genre I might opt for modern folk singer. However her voice is that of an angel and has some of the crispness and clarity of a young Karen Carpenter. She is also a skilled multi instrumentalist, this evening she showed her prowess on guitar, ukulele and keyboards. Her songs feel like they are written from the depths of her soul and seem to be very much about her life. I was really keen to meet her afterwards and buy her album, ‘Cocooned’, but sadly by the time I went to the merch stand later in the evening she had left. her parents were in the audience tonight and I am sure they are very proud of Flo. Rightly so too, this was a classy and heartfelt performance. In addition to Flo’s excellence I should also mention the supreme contribution of her band on beautiful harmonies, violin and understated but perfect percussion. You really should check her out.

Paul Draper and Ben Sink hit the stage at around 9:30 by which time what had looked like a relatively small audience had grown considerably. The balance was probably around 70% Mansun songs and the rest from Paul’s solo career. When you hear some of these songs played in such a raw form it shows you just how bloody brilliant they are. “Friends Make The Worst Enemies” and “Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion” were highlights from Draper’s solo repertoire. From the Mansun years it was “Dark Mavis” and a song that is among my most favourite ever by anyone, “Wide Open Space”. It is so hard for me to recognise that the latter two songs are more than twenty years old. But I guess that just defines the word timeless! The complexity and emotion of his songs is immense. Draper’s vocals were spot on the whole night, even if he surprised himself by hitting some of the higher notes. Musical backing was Paul Draper with highly effective acoustic guitar playing and an almost ethereal electric guitar performance from Ben Sink. His gorgeous musical motifs swept in and out throughout each tune enhancing what you might have believed could not have been enhanced. His style was for me reminiscent of Bernard Butler in the early days of Suede. Mr Sink also plays guitar with the Anchoress among others. His prog like creativity is the perfect foil to Paul Draper’s wonderful delivery of his often incredibly deep lyrics. Paul handled one particular über fan very well addressing being heckled with a great sense of humour. This just made me ponder how difficult it can be for performers when they face their “number one fan” (to quote Stephen King). Listening and watching tonight’s performance made me realise what a very special songwriter Paul Draper is and I do not believe he gets the recognition that he deserves. But now with a masterpiece of a solo album and a better back catalogue than may of his Brit Pop peers maybe he will.

Public Service Announcement: – All photographs (except the gig flyer) were taken and edited by me using my cheap android phone from China. All videos were found on YouTube. If one of the videos is yours and you would like a credit or for it to be taken down please let me know.

 

The Blinders – The Crescent, York – Friday 2nd November 2018 November 9, 2018

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 9:40 pm
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Last Friday I had the honour and the pleasure of being at the fabulous York venue the Crescent for a headline gig by one of the best bands in Britain right now, the Blinders. But before I tell you about them let me spend a little time on the rather spiffing support bands. First up was York band Faux Pas. This lot are an absolute riot of energy, a bouquet of passion and posy of punk. They rip into your very being and leave you wanting more. Singer guitarist Ru Cowl wears a very big heart on his sleeve and has more balls than many singers by wearing a summer dress and the hand written ‘RUNT’ across his chest and laying down a passionate challenge to gender stereotypes. Their new single “Shame” was released last week and while it sounds good in its recorded form it becomes a towering behemoth of a song when played live.

 

Next to hit the stage were Brighton five piece White Room who look like they just dropped in from an early 80s Duran Duran video shoot via some kind of pop time travel gizmo. But this bunch are far more talented than Duran Duran in my opinion. For starters Jake Smallwood is a far better vocalist than Simon Le Bon. White Room plough grooves that are sharp enough to cut your ears as they enter your head. They have an immaculate sense of stage presence and how to play to an audience. White Room also have a new single out, entitled “Shoot” and back in the days when the charts really meant something it would be a key contender for number one.

Finally the time had arrived for perhaps the finest band in the UK right now. This was an electrifying set from this staggeringly good three piece from Doncaster. They are touring on the back of their magnificent debut album ‘Columbia’ which was released back in September. Vocalist and guitarist Thomas has a towering, menacing, piercing eyed stare stage persona which matches that of Blinders compadres Avalanche Party’s Jordan Bell. ‘Columbia’ is an incredible album and the songs when played live are moved from earth bound tunes to full on Norse God hymnals from Valhalla. I love a band that is well read and the Blinders are clearly fans of classic dystopian fiction by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. “Brave New World” and “The Ballad Of Winston Smith” attest to that. Not every generation throws up a British band that could be called the band of their generation. In my opinion the Beatles were, as were the Sex Pistols, the Stone Roses and to some perhaps the Arctic Monkeys. I believe that this is what the Blinders are destined to become, the band of their generation. They have honesty, bravery, intelligence, extreme talent and on top of all that they play together like they were born to do it. Particular highlights from this pile driving set for me were “Hate Song”, “Brutus” and “L’Etat C’est Moi”. This is the second time I have been lucky enough to see the Blinders, I think there will be many, many more for me. I have a feeling that they will be around for a long while!

 

Public Service Announcement: – All photographs were taken and edited by me using my cheap android phone from China. All videos were found on YouTube. If one of the videos is yours and you would like a credit or for it to be taken down please let me know.

 

Skylights – The Crescent, York – Saturday 18th August 2018 August 23, 2018


Any gig which has bands on the bill that you are a fan of has to be good right? Well I had very high hopes for this one. I have had the pleasure of reviewing a couple of recent songs by headliners, Skylights and a couple by another great York band Honours. This would also be the third time I had seen Honours play live. The venue was the wonderfully quirky Crescent in York. First up were a band that I had not heard of before this show, Fond. So two Scotsmen and a Yorkshire walk into a band and call it Fond. Apologies for the poor humour but I am not particularly fond of this lot. They are very competent musicians and some of their songs, particularly their set closer strive to raise the spirit of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. It is an admirable intention but one which ultimately failed for me. In my opinion this lot might be better suited to open for a Who tribute band in a small pub.

Fond

Honours were next and as they always seem to do they played a set that could easily have been from a headline slot. Two songs that are now becoming classics; “Freedom” and “Duchess” had the crowd, which included members of Hello Operator, bouncing hard. Daniel and Tom power a finely tuned rhythm section engine which under pins the riff laden road laid down by Struan. On top of that is Jordan’s excellent vocal which could power a Formula 1 car. They also showcased a new song, “Gone” which might be their next single. It was apparently not even a week old and for me it stole their set, a truly stunning tune. Once again this raises my expectations in anticipation of the first Honours album, whenever that might arise.

Honours

Tonight’s headliners Skylights are on the comeback trail and this show is a big part of that comeback. So was it worth Rob and Rob and Myles Soley returning? Damned right it was! Their first two releases, “YRA 2018” and “What You Are” sound excellent in the recorded versions but when played live they take flight with the power of a supersonic plane. There were a lot of additional vocalists in the crowd for “YRA”. Influenced by the likes of Oasis and perhaps the Verve they also put their own personality on some great songs. “Drive Me Away” singularly failed to drive anyone away and kept us all rocking. I hope Skylights stick around for a bit longer this time! All in all this was another great night at the Crescent. Thanks to Turnbull for putting me on the guest list. It was great catching up with ace York music promoter Simon Pattinson again. Mr P how the hell did we manage to drink so much?

Skylights

and the crowd go wild!

Chilling in the Green Room!

Public Service Announcement: All pictures are courtesy of my cheap Android Chinese mobile phone. Except the shot of the audience, that was supplied by Turnbull Skylight 🙂 Videos are sourced from YouTube. If you would like me to credit you as videographer or to remove them please let me know.

 

“What You Are” – Skylights August 18, 2018

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:41 pm
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Following hot on the heels of the excellent “YRA 2018”, which I reviewed back in April, Skylights are back with the towering sonic powerhouse that is “What You Are”. I bloody loved “YRA 2018”, in fact I still do, but with “What You Are” they have topped it. They mine a rich seam from British rock history; Beatles, Stones, Small Faces, the Clash, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene among others. But while they have influences they take things to a whole new original level. This lot has the potential to become a great band so get on board now before they hit the heights, you will not be disappointed!

The York music scene is incredibly strong right now and it is great to have Skylights as a part of that scene. They are headlining at the Crescent in York tonight and if what they have released so far is a good gauge then it will be a stunning set. If you haven’t heard any of their stuff yet then click here for their SoundCloud page and prepare to be blown away! Skylights, what you are is a fucking awesome band! No pressure lads!

 

Isaac Gracie – The Crescent, York – Monday 16th April 2018 April 17, 2018


Another school night, another gig at the fabulous Crescent in York. Tonight was another excellent show from Northern Radar this time headlined by Isaac Gracie. But before I give you my opinion of Mr Gracie how about a big hand for the most amazing support act Matt Maltese. He has an album coming out in June and after seeing him play live that is a very, very exciting prospect. He is like a lounge version of Rufus Wainwright who wears his politics on his sleeve in 72 point bold font. “As The World Caves In” is an incredible song and a very worthy single, a copy of which I bought on the night. Matt’s between song bonhomie and sardonic wit is wonderfully original. I think perhaps that “Guilty” was my favourite highlight, but there were many, so that might change if you ask me again. I would unreservedly pay to see Mr Maltese again.

It would be somewhat of a cliché to say that I have seen the future of rock ‘n’ roll, let’s face it Jon Landau said that about Bruce Springsteen in 1974. However I have seen a very bright future for British music in the shape of Isaac Gracie. Twenty One year old Gracie is a former chorister with the Ealing Abbey Choir. He first came to the attention of the music industry after “Last Words” a song recorded on GarageBand in his bedroom was unleashed into the world in 2015. His songs are far more mature than his years and on top of that he comes across as wonderfully affable and self-deprecating on stage. For me he has all the finest qualities of a young Jeff Buckley. I had the privilege of seeing Buckley at the Reading Festival many, many years ago and Gracie has the same qualities in his songs, performance, raw talent, passion and demeanour. Check out his cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” and the Arctic Monkeys “Fluorescent Adolescent” on YouTube and see the ghost of Buckley made real. My wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman doesn’t come to many gigs with me, but she was blown away by this one.

His first album is a truly accomplished début “Terrified”, “Last Words”, “Reverie”, “Running On Empty” and “Silhouettes Of You” all feel like classic songs that have been with you your whole life and Isaac played all of them tonight. There was not a single dud song in his set, my particular highlights were “All In My Mind” and the haunting song of sadness that is “Darkness Of The Day”. “Was our love a work of art, before the painting fell apart”, is that not one of the best lyrical couplets ever written? It is almost 46 years since I attended my first gig and there have been hundreds since then, but this is without doubt one of the finest shows that I have ever seen. If Isaac Gracie does not become a world straddling star then there is something horribly wrong with this planet.

 

Cabbage – The Crescent, York – Wednesday 11th April 2018 April 13, 2018


Well isn’t the Crescent turning into a fab venue. Tonight in a show put together by the talented Mr Dean Shakespeare of Under The Influence we had one of the most hyped bands in ages headlining ; those delightful lads from Cabbage. This would make it four times that I had seen them live, so what did I think of them this time? Well dear reader you will need to read on to find out, because I need to tell you about the excellent support acts first. The Grimm Twins took to the stage before anyone else and sadly the early crowd held back for far too long for such a stunning band. They are punk and post punk rolled into one. They contain a pinch of the Fall and a dash of the Buzzcocks which given that their DNA is close geographically, they are from Macclesfield, I am not surprised. Their song “Generation Z” is a venerable and honourable anthem for this bands generation. After hearing this I would be happy to hand over the mantle as my baby boomer generation have royally fucked things up. Their closing number “Theme Of The Grimm” is a top tune, it is deep, meaningful, powerful, special and anthemic. Definitely a band to watch out for.

The next band up were She Drew The Gun who to me appeared to be influenced by everything and nothing at the same time, this is no criticism they are a wonderful and truly original band. They are a band with a conscience and bucket loads of passion. Imagine Dick Dale backing a torch singer or Kate Tempest fronting early Roxy Music and this will give you just a small insight into exactly how good She Drew The Gun are. If you saw them at the Crescent tonight and you didn’t become a fan then I seriously believe that you need to have your musical taste examined!

Finally it was time for the main attraction and one of your five a day, it is only the mighty Cabbage! This is the fourth time that I have experienced the band known as Cabbage and this was the first time that I had seen them outside of a festival. So this was very much their own crowd and oh boy did they whip us into a frenzy. Cabbage play punk, funk, pop, post punk and many other styles in between but they are nigh on impossible to drop into a genre. They are bombastic, lovingly chaotic and they carry off a healthy dollop of arrogance too. We were treated to some proper choice cuts from their new album ‘Nihilistic Glamour Shots’ and some of the finest songs from their ever-expanding repertoire. They were at their explosive best for “Arms of Pleonexia” and “Gibraltar Ape” was a towering masterpiece that shook the room, but to be fair I was standing right next to the speaker stack! From their earlier songs “Uber Capitalist Death Trade”, “Terrorist Synthesizer” and “Dinner Lady” were particular highlights for me. On top of that who can resist the genius that is “Necroflat in the Palace”. After seeing them at the Latitude Festival last year I made a prediction that they would headline a major festival in three years. I stand by that and hopefully it will be by or before 2020! Get yourself out to see Cabbage now before they start playing just the enormodomes!

It was also great to catch up with Simon P; kingpin of Northern Radar, Joe Coates; Head Honcho of Please Please You and Joe and Jared from one of my most favourite bands the rather awesome Avalanche Party! so as gig nights go this one was among the very best!

Public service announcement – all photographs emanated from by cheap little android phone and the videos were all discovered on YouTube.

 

Hello Operator, BlackWaters, Honours – The Crescent, York – 29th March 2018 March 31, 2018


I always enjoy a visit to one of York‘s top music venues, The Crescent, especially when it is a package of bands put together by the talented Simon Pattinson of Northern Radar. He has never let me down yet with a gig or band recommendation and frankly he nailed it again here! First up were a York band that up to now I hadn’t heard, Honours. They put on a powerful and energetic performance and in their DNA they have a link to some of the greatest British bands from the Small Faces through to Oasis. Although personally I felt that Honours have so much more personality and presence than Liam Gallagher has these days. Their guitarist’s style and journeys along his fret board shows hints of the best 70s rock licks and riffs. Do the honours and get yourself out there to see Honours!

BlackWaters are originally from Guildford, Surrey but are now based in Sheffield, but tonight they were here in York. I was bloody glad they were here as well. I don’t say this too often but this lot are potentially one of the best bands on the scene right now. John Peel would have loved them. Absolutely boundless energy, magnificent engagement with the audience. I heard shades of the Fall, the Pistols, the Clash and Cabbage. They don’t seem to bow to any scene or fashion and their playing is as punky as a punk band can get. I will definitely be seeing BlackWaters playing live again sometime!

The headliners tonight were one of York’s greatest bands, although the competition is fierce. Having just experienced BlackWaters I thought who the hell would want to follow that? But Hello Operator more than stepped up to the plate, they damn well broke it into a million tiny shards. I have seen them a couple of times before, but that was back in 2015. Back then they were oozing with talent and they have made mountainous growth in stature, power, presence and musicianship and since then. They opened their set under a standard lamp in the middle of the crowd. The punters seemed to love it and the band looked to be having great fun too. The highlight from tonight’s set for me was a rip-roaring “Oosh” which came close to bringing the roof down. Lead singer Max has a vocal that could compete with the best rock vocalists Britain has produced, from Paul Rodgers through John Lydon to Joe Elliott. Max also showed his climbing skills as he appeared on the top of the speaker stack toward the end of the set. Peter Greenwood’s guitar playing has the left field take of his namesake Jonny Greenwood and the subtle tuneful driven licks that John Squire is so good with. This was a titanic and stunning set from a band that I would love to see break very big and I really believe that they have it in them to do so.

 

 
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