With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

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.

 

The Big Boss Caine Album Launch Show – The Crescent, York – Saturday March 24th 2018 March 27, 2018


Earlier this month I was delighted to get the chance to review ‘Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love’ the extraordinary new album from the mighty Boss Caine. (Click here to read that review) So given that I thought it was such a darned good album I was excited and filled with great expectations for the album launch show. Did I enjoy the show? Well dear reader you will have to read on to discover that. The gig was at one of York‘s finest venues, The Crescent and was promoted by talented and discerning promoter Joe Coates of Please Please You. First on the bill and all the way from London were the Swamp Stomp String Band an act that frankly it was impossible not to enjoy. They played some top tunes, many about booze and death, and had the audience a boppin’ and a rockin’ for their whole set. Their music is simple but oh so infectious and enjoyable, the between song banter is highly entertaining too. Essentially the Swamp Stomp String Band is two blokes, a Double Bass, a Guitar, A Banjo and a kazoo! You really ought to see them if you get the chance, I will definitely check them out again sometime.

The Swamp Stomp String Band

The second and final support act were the Snakerattlers who at one point claimed to come from hell, but actually they are from York. This is the second time that I have seen the Snakerattlers and they are a potentially very exciting live band. Their new album ‘This Is Rattlerock’ showcases their sound well and it will be interesting to see how they are able to develop that in future releases. The almost menacing thunder of Naomi’s drumming and the rumble of Dan’s psyched up rockabilly style guitar seemed to really hit the spot for many in tonight’s audience. I think that this is a very good band with the power and ability to become something much bigger. However one thing that is lacking for me is the engagement with their audience. Dan did make a couple of audience invasions but for me spending most of your set with your back to the crowd or side on to them doesn’t help when looking to interact with the punters. But apart from that this is clearly a talented band who are worth checking out if you haven’t already.

The Snakerattlers

Finally it was time for the main event the first live showcase of what I believe to be the finest Boss Caine album to date, ‘Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love’. I have lost count of how many times I have played the album since receiving my link for review a few weeks ago, but pretty much every song gains an even more expansive life and sound scape when heard live. “Champagne” pulled the crowd in from the off and we were all completely mesmerised by a stunning full band performance. My favourite song from the record is still “Lonesome Crow” in which the build to a wrought emotional crescendo which hits your heart and your brain in equal measure surely cannot fail to move even the hardest of souls. Second track on the album “Evidence” has, for me, some of the best lyrics in a song for some while. I have found that “Where Good Things Go To Die” leads me down a winding lane of memory back to the town where I was born and grew up. Listening to this tune seems to dredge up a new memory of my teens every time that I hear it and standing in the crowd Saturday night I was swept with more recollection of all those now long distant pangs, pains and dilemmas of teenage angst. Dan had all of us singing along with absolute gusto to album closer “Smoking In My Backyard”. While that song meant that the ten tracks from this fine collection had been handsomely put to bed there was room for a couple of extra songs one of which was the soulful lament of “Leaving Victoria” from 2010’s Boss Caine album ‘The Ship That Sailed’. Tonight’s performance was the perfect way to launch a great album with all the potential to become a true classic. For me and many of the other lucky folk in the crowd this gig will live long in our heads. Boss Caine bossed it!

 

Tom Robinson Band – The Crescent, York – Wednesday 18th October 2017 October 19, 2017


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The first and last time I saw Tom Robinson play live was back in 1977, until now at least. I had a great interest in the Tom Robinson Band back in the late 70s as I spent a few years at Senior School sitting next to original TRB drummer Brian ‘Dolphin’ Taylor. That original TRB line up of Tom Robinson, Dolphin Taylor, Mark Ambler and Danny Kustow was a hard-hitting, powerful proposition that took the audience with them on their incendiary journey. So now that Tom has put together another TRB to play the whole of the exquisitely stunning and still relevant ‘Power In The Darkness’ album on its 40th anniversary I was very thrilled by the thought of seeing him live again after all those years. Did the gig live up to my very high expectations? Well you will have to keep reading to find that out.

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Before I give you my thoughts on the current TRB let me tell you about the marvellous support act, Lee Forsyth Griffiths. Lee has just released his third solo album and is also a longstanding member of Tom Robinson’s main band. Unusually in my experience he was introduced by Tom Robinson and Tom stayed in the audience to watch the whole of Lee’s set. Mr Griffith’s songs are beautifully crafted slices of life that ooze passion and emotion. He sings like he really means every word and I am sure that he does. Lee’s sense of humour is sharp and very funny too, I loved the comments about Oasis (Lee also has a song called “Married With Children”) and Kanye West. He had a very strong fan base in the audience with one bloke even stepping in when Lee appeared to briefly forget a lyric. I now have a signed copy of his new album and I will definitely be checking out his earlier stuff as well. You should do the same, you will not be disappointed.
Now it was time for the main event at the fabulous York venue that is the Crescent; the Tom Robinson Band playing the whole of the ‘Power In The Darkness’ album along with some other TRB hits from 1977/ 1978. Album and set opener “Up Against The Wall” remains a phenomenally strong tour de force with a lyric that works as well today as it did 40 years ago. In fact the whole album still sounds fresh, especially played live. The current TRB is every bit as good as the original band and features Jim Simmons an exceedingly gifted keyboard maestro, lead guitar virtuoso Adam Phillips who has also played in Richard Ashcroft’s band, powerhouse drummer Andy Treacey from Faithless and obviously Tom himself on bass guitar. Tom gave us a story about the one track from the album that has never been played live before this tour; track two, side two (well it was originally a proper LP record), “Man You Never Saw”. Apparently that song took two weeks to record, largely because the bass part was very challenging, well it is clear that Tom has mastered it now.

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“Grey Cortina” and “Too Good To Be True” kept the crowd fired up and singing along. Tom’s performance belies his age, although maybe he takes a few more moments between songs than he used to, but hell we are all 40 years older now, right? “Long Hot Summer” and the “Winter Of ‘79” were early peaks in a mountainous display from a singer and a band on top of their game and clearly enjoying themselves enormously. Tom updated some of the lyrics to a couple of songs with more pertinent and relevant names, Rees Mogg (the despicable Tory arse) featured in one to bring it up to date. As an introduction to “Better Decide Which Side You’re On” Tom reminded us of part of the wording on the back of the original LP sleeve; “I got no illusions about the political left any more than the right: just a shrewd idea which of the two side’s gonna stomp on us first”. This remains a part of my world view and I suppose looking back it was bands like TRB and the Clash that sparked my interest in politics and made me much more of a political animal. The title track of the album was also the last track on side two and it still holds a forceful message about human rights and how extremists seek to take that away. As protest songs go this has to be among the best.

dav

I love being close to the speakers 🙂

Tom broke a bass string and while Lee Forsyth Griffiths went searching for a replacement we were treated to a magnificent and rousing version of “Martin” which certainly gave the best crowd participation of the whole evening up to that point. “Martin” is such a great story song and retains a sense of poignancy and humour. After “Martin” the crowd singing just continued to grow with loud and stirring stomps through “Don’t Take No For An Answer” and “Glad To Be Gay”. A couple of times during the evening requests for Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” which were strongly rejected by many in the crowd. Personally I would not have minded hearing it, but it certainly did not detract from what was an amazing show. Mr Robinson asked if we would mind if the band didn’t leave the stage and come back for an encore and just roll straight into the encore. Most of the crowd, including myself were of the generation that clearly understands the needs of us older folk. I bet you can’t guess what the encore was can you? Tom introduced it as “a medley of my greatest hit”. It was of course the classic “2-4-6-8 Motorway” which became a medley of sorts with brief diversions into Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” among others. This was without doubt an incredible gig which made me reminisce greatly about my lost youth, but in a very good way. I even got the opportunity to have a very brief conversation with Tom and I apologised for leaving such a long gap between seeing him live; he told me that it was better late than never! I don’t plan to leave it so long again, largely because if I did I would be 98 and Tom would be over 100. There are still a few shows left on this tour (take a look below) and I urge you to get yourself a ticket, in fact I won’t take no for an answer! Sadly the 100 Club shows in London appear to be unsurprisingly all sold out.
Friday 20 October 2017 – The Leadmill, Sheffield, UK
Saturday 21 October 2017 – HOME, Manchester, UK
Tuesday 24 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Wednesday 25 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Thursday 26 October 2017 – 100 Club, London, UK
Saturday 28 October 2017 – Riverside, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Sunday 29 October 2017 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, UK
Friday 08 December 2017 – Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club, London, UK
If you have been to any dates on this tour or are planning to I would love to hear what you thought of the show.

dav

 

 
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