With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Violet Contours – The Crescent, York – Friday 18th October 2019 November 3, 2019


It has taken a while to get this one posted, but here it is! Yet another night at that wonderful York venue, The Crescent. This time to see Violet Contours in action once again. Were they as good as the last time that I saw them? You will have to read on to find out because before them there was a marvelously eclectic selection of support acts. First up we were taken to acoustic heaven by Joh Hendrickx, She does cover versions, of mostly sad songs. This set, which was way too short included songs by Laura Marling, Matt Corby, and the Middle East. Her cover of the latter’s “Blood” was dripping with emotion and that performance convinced me to find out more about them. She included one cover version that I really didn’t see coming, it was “The Black Hills Of Dakota” originally sung by Doris Day in the 1953 film ‘Calamity Jane’. Ms. Hendrickx totally owned the tune! I believe that Joh has a lot more to offer and I am looking forward to seeing her again.

Joh Hendrickx

Scarborough’s the Feens were next, I last saw them in July and they are still a bloody good band. They come across very “Smithsy” on some songs, from back in the day when Morrissey mattered. Particularly Sam Dowling’s guitar playing. Bass player Adam Lodge has a stunningly powerful voice which complements co-lead vocalist Freddie Scmuck’s vocals perfectly. Lodge roams the stage like a young Peter Hook in the early days of New Order, albeit with his bass more sensibly strapped much higher up his body. Someone in the crowd described them as “easier listening indie”, while I get that I think it does them an injustice. Yes their songs could be described as indie and those songs are easy to listen to, but mainly because they are so damned good. I hear traces of Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend in their sound and that is no bad thing. The Feens are getting some strong and well-deserved airplay of late. Expect much more from this band, they have the power and the talent to make it huge!

Feens

Next, it was the turn of the Serotones, another great York band who I last saw more than two years ago. They were very good then and they are even better now. If you like Dinosaur Jr, you might well like the Serotones, but the biggest influence I can hear in their songs is perhaps the Stone Roses, but with better vocals (sorry Ian Brown). The lead singer has an immaculate stage presence and really seems to understand his audience. Great music must be in human DNA somehow as the Serotones contain two kids from Shed Seven members, Rick Witter and Alan Leach. The band played a lot of new songs and they have a new single out now featuring two rather superb new songs; “Death In Paradise” and “Into The Sky”

Serotones

Finally, it was time for the headliners, Violet Contours, yet another fabulously exciting band from York. This was the third time that I have experienced seeing them live and they get better every time. Their jangly indie dance style is definitely influenced by Vampire Weekend, largely because of that feel-good African guitar vibe. But I can also hear Talking Heads, or more directly the more pop styles of Talking Heads offshoot Tom Tom Club, formed by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Ben Henderson’s voice is clear, strong and conveys emotion and soul when he needs it to. Niall, Daniel, Sam, and Ben have developed into a really tight, funky band able to recreate and magnify, magnificently their recorded sound. Their repertoire is growing in range and quality; “Pablo’s Hippo and “Airstrike” are two outstanding tunes and there are plenty more too. Violet Contours are undoubtedly a band that knows how to party and bring the audience into that party effortlessly. But they don’t just get up their and play, they really look like they are enjoying every moment immensely. If you haven’t seen them or listened to them yet what the hell is preventing you?

Violet Contours

The above Serotones video was filmed by David Butler of Wigwam Creative

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know. I am also happy for you to use any of my pictures, all I ask is for a credit 🙂

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Kitty VR ‘All In Her Head’ EP Launch – The Crescent, York – Saturday 17th August 2019 August 20, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 9:56 pm
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This was my third visit to the Crescent, one of York’s best music venues, in a week. I need to slow down! Anyway, tonight was a showcase for the launch of the new EP from Kitty VR, ‘All In Her Head’. More of the very talented Kitty later. First, there were two great support acts to talk about. The first of these was Laura Kindelan and tonight marked the fifth time that I have seen her play live and I hope there will be many more. Laura kicked off her set with a new song, “Over Nothing”. This tune is sparse, electric blues that simply oozes with mood and emotion. I have made this comparison before but this was very wonderfully Jeff Buckleyesque. She played her only love song “Fingertips”, which was actually written as an assignment! Fact fans may wish to know that the Brit Pop era band Mansun actually had a song called “Mansun’s Only Love Song”. The divine, atmospheric “Sweet Tooth” was given a rare but stunning airing as it is one of Kitty’s favourites. Laura closed her set with a powerful run through “Toxic” which had the crowd a moving and a grooving!

Laura Kindelan

The next act to take the stage was the Silver Reserve (Solo) a.k.a. Matthew Sturgess. This guy knows how to do songs of emotional introspection which he delivers supremely well. I heard elements of Bon Iver in his tunes and at times the tonal quality of his fragile vocals were reminiscent of both Thom Yorke and Guy Garvey. He is an incredible talent when it comes to looping guitar riffs and vocals too. His take on this seemed effortless and faultless. He might not have any happy songs, but everything he played begged to be listened to.

Silver Reserve a.k.a. Matthew Sturgess

Finally, it was time for Kitty VR to rock the joint with her excellent band. This must have been close to a full house and the air was electric with excitement and anticipation. Her songs are incredibly well developed and Kitty performs them with great style and soul. Her band is frankly shit hot! Tim Downie is a guitar genius who seems to be able to play in any style required from funky chops to a softer sound and everything in between. The rhythm section of drummer Farai Kuudzadombo and bassist Jack Welsh are a highly polished pair who underlay Kitty’s songs with a smooth driving backbeat. The highlight of her set was for me a towering take on her single “Whirlpool” on which the band hit a psychedelic peak. Sometimes the best cover to do is perhaps a difficult one and in my view, Kitty’s choice of Erykah Badu’s “On And On” was a very brave choice. Kitty didn’t just nail it, she smashed it through the floor as she conveyed the emotion and soul of a truly classic song which she made her own. I felt that her vocals were at times as ethereal and ghostly as Beth Gibbons and if I was not mistaken I believe that was a haunting cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box” near the end. Kitty VR’s EP is something special and this show proves that she has so much more to offer too. Check her out now if you haven’t already.

Kitty VR

All the photos apart from the EP cover art were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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This House Is Haunted – The Crescent, York – Friday 16th August 2019 August 18, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 7:23 pm
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One of the few things that I knew about this gig beforehand was that York’s magical, madcap musical adventurers My Wonderful Daze would be playing. This would be the second time that I had seen them. Previously I saw them at the Fulford Arms when they supported Hands Off Gretel back in July. Click here to read what I said about them then. Right now they are just weeks away from the launch of their first EP and if their boundlessly energetic stage performance combined with some supreme musical talent is anything to go by it will be at least bloody good, but most probably fucking great! The bands sound is a clever combination of punk riffs, glam stomp underscored by the sort of funky guitar licks that force you to dance even if you feel that you don’t want to. This is one hell of a tight band and Flowers’ singing show just how powerful a strong punk ethos can be. Highlights for me were “Glorious Day” and “Happy Now” (I hope that I got the titles right!). I had previously detected some warped similarities to Florence and the Machine, but their set tonight took me right back to the first time that I saw Siouxsie and the Banshees around 1976/77. When the My Wonderful Daze EP is available you need to do everything that you can to get your hands on a copy, obviously nothing illegal right? Shady but not illegal might work though.

My Wonderful Daze

Next up were another great York band, although they have now “emigrated” to Leeds, Amongst Thieves. This is a band that knows how to please an audience, in fact, lead singer Josh Nash spent the whole set in the audience. Prowling around with a maniacal stare and swing his microphone around lassoo style emulating Roger Daltrey at his peak. all of this rock theatre element simply added to what was a set of staggeringly great power. Amongst Thieves know how to rock like a bastard from Hell and everything was turned up to eleven or higher. There was punk, metal and classic rock among many other things. Nash’s vocals were hard and spot-on, the counterpoint growly vocal from Ricky Kwong was at times stunning.  This was their first York gig for two years, they really need to come back more often. I am definitely a fan of the band after this gig, I even bought their 11 track CD from 2017 and it has already been played three times. This is a band with the potential to become huge and I hope that they do.

Amongst Thieves

Headliners tonight were This House Is Haunted, another fabulous York band. This city’s great musical heritage shows no signs of slowing down. Apparently, this was only their fourth gig, that was extremely hard to believe for me. It was a polished and powerful performance from a highly talented band. They are as heavy as hell, but with some introspective moments akin to Radiohead. The bottom line though is that if you love great rock music you will adore This House Is Haunted. Zak Ford’s vocals are reminiscent of some of the great metal vocalists. Jenn and Dom are a formidable rhythm section that is the beating heart of the songs. For a three-piece, they make more noise than a band with twice the personnel. Dom’s drumming is super heavy and he must have some of John Bonham’s DNA in him. Their signature tune “This House Is Haunted” deserves to be massive. I will definitely be seeing this lot again!

This House Is Haunted

 

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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Imarhan – The Crescent, York – Sunday 11th August 2019 August 17, 2019


Imarhan are an Algerian Tuareg rock band formed in 2006 in Tamanrasset, Algeria. They are this generations Tinariwen. They released their first and self-titled album in 2016 followed up by ‘Temet’ in 2018. I was lucky enough to catch them on the UK leg of their tour at one of York’s best music venues, the Crescent. There was no support band, but we were warmed up for the show by an incredibly intuitive DJ whose set crossed Africa, the Middle East, and Jamaica. He played a cover version of Bob Marley’s “War” by a female vocalist which was stunning. (I need to find out who that singer was if you know please tell me – UPDATE – check the comment below from the DJ, Dave Atkin a.k.a. Drummie Dave, the song is by Neyssattou & Likkle Mai ).

I had listened to some of Imarhan‘s current album before the show, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but they were highly recommended by a few of my friends, thank you, Dan Lucas! There is a definite middle eastern vibe throughout their music, with an obvious African influence all of which is underpinned by some western rock music stylings. The lead singer and guitarist could probably play any Santana track just as well as Carlos himself. The bass player was among the funkiest that I have ever seen or heard, he sure knows how to get his desert groove on. If there is such an establishment then this guy will have graduated from the Larry Graham Academy of Bassology! Ask your Grand Parents about Mr. Graham kids. The drummer was incredibly talented but also looked like the most chilled dude that I have seen in years. Very special mention to the percussionist who played a range of instruments some of which I had never seen before. It was clear to me that Imarhan are at the top of their game and they were really enjoying themselves on that stage. The vast majority of the crowd, including me and my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman danced the night away. It has to be said that like many Brits I only speak English so I have no idea what Imarhan are singing about, but that really does not matter, this just proves once again that music really is a universal language that transcends the need for a common spoken language. Check out any of Imarhan’s albums and if you get a chance to see them play live take it!

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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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 ĂĽber 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.

 

 
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