With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Songs Under Skies – No. 6 – Elkyn and Fawn – NCEM, York – Thursday 17th September 2020 September 22, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:57 pm
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Thanks to this vile bastard Covid-19 I went to my last gig more than half a year ago on Saturday 14th March, now 187 days later I am finally got to another gig. It is the sixth and final in the Songs Under Skies series of acoustic shows in the grounds of York’s National Centre for Early Music (NCEM). I had planned to attend two earlier shows the previous week, but illness, not Covid-19 thankfully, put paid to that. These shows were masterminded by the NCEM, the Crescent and the Fulford Arms with support from the Music Venues Alliance. I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved, of all the things I have missed during lock down and beyond, it is live music that I felt the most. It was also great to meet up with so many great people from York’s fabulous music scene. Thank you Zac, Chris, Harkirit, Mikey and Marc to name just a few!

There were two acts on each of the six nights. Gates opened at 6:30pm and the first act was on at 7pm with a 30 minute break at 7:30pm while the final act took the stage at 8pm for a 30 minute set. My evening was kicked off by the delightful Elkyn with their weird, wonderful and warm folky sounds. Set opener “Seventeen” was built on Simon and Garfunkel style harmonies, soft acoustic guitars and a harmonic drone in the background. Is it even possible to have a harmonious drone? I don’t know, but this bloody well was! All of Elkyn‘s songs were quite special, “Change” was underpinned by a more harmonic almost orchestral drone. It is a new song that had never been played live before, it is a truly gorgeous melancolic chill out tune. They played the lead single from their new EP ‘Beech’ it is called “Yue” (I think). This sublime song, which rippled with raw emotion, was probably my favourite Elkyn performance. There was an extended guitar tuning session, which the band should have introduced as a strange avant garde classical guitar movement, we would have been impressed. After this we arrived at “Stupid World” which was overshadowed by the noise from the bottle bank next door being emptied. But Elkyn did not let that get them down, they are real troupers, and, wait for it, they didn’t bottle it! Lyrically the song is very powerful, with lines like “where can I go from here, I can’t flee from that” which for some reason made me think of the hardships so many of us have endured in the past six months. Check out Elkyn on Spotify by clicking here, you will not regret it.

In a rather nice twist of fate the second and final act tonight were Ilana and Crispin better known as Fawn. Why was that a nice twist of fate, well Fawn were on the bill at my last gig on March 14th. That was at the Fulford Arms where they were supporting Julia Bardo. Kitty VR was also on the bill that same night and she made her own Songs Under Skies appearance the previous week. Ilana’s vocals throughout were exquisite and very Joni Mitchellesque on the first song. “I Know Nothing” is a song all about making dumb decisions in your youth. Ilana’s voice carried a supreme range of emotion on this song, the same breadth and depth that a young Linda Rondstadt could do so well. In the middle of the set headless guitarist Crispin (he was a little tall for the small stage) left Ilana alone for a stunning, immensely beautiful song about uncertain times, a perfect theme for 2020. Her yearning vocal and deep lyrics took the evening to a real peak. “Romans, Vikings And Knights” is a song that Ilana wrote about her then home city, York. This was many years ago when she worked at the Fulford Arms. Crispin provided some spot on slide guitar on this track. Another song was an ode to another former hometown of Ilana’s, “Sleeping Giant” tells of a mountain near her old home town in the US. The story of this particular peak is that it is in fact a giant taking a very long sleep. The legend says that if the giant wakes up the world will end. But as Ilana pointed out despite the apocalyptic feel of 2020, the giant is still asleep. Click here to get some Fawn in your life, you know it makes sense!

All photographs were taken by the hugely talented Marc McGarraghy of Yellow Mustang Photography

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Skylights – The Crescent, York – Friday 28th February 2020 March 6, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:55 pm
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This would be the sixth time that I have seen Skylights in 18 months. These boys keep getting better. But more of them later, first there were a couple of support acts to talk about. Kicking proceedings off were Mad Leisure from Leeds. They are clearly great musicians and a pretty tight band, the vocals are good too. But for me, their songs are all a bit derivative of Oasis and other Brit Pop sounds and lack a real spark. I would like to see Mad Leisure take a step higher and expand their horizons musically. If they don’t then I fear they will never stand out from the crowd.

The second act to hit the stage was something on another level entirely. I am talking about Sounds Like A Storm, also from Leeds. They are classic rockers for the 21st Century and I believe that they have a great future ahead of them. Most of this crowd was probably at the venue for the headliners but that did not bother Sounds Like A Storm in the slightest. They went for it and drew a lot of punters away from the bar with their heady mix of punk, classic rock, great tunes, and immense sass. There is a raw garage rock element to their sound which underpins the passion and honesty in their lyrics. Sounds Like A Storm acts like a band that was born for the live arena and I intend to get more of them into my life!

In 18 months Skylights have had some huge success and 2020 will see them become even bigger. These lads are massive Leeds United fans and like their team they have the potential to move up to the rock music premier league. Their musical roots run deep into British music history to the Small Face, slate 70s punk, Johnny Marr at his Smiths peak, Oasis when they were good and the Inspiral Carpets. But it is not just these roots, Skylights have their own unique talent that makes them more than just another indie rock band. They are possibly one of the tightest bands around. Jonny and Myles provide a rhythm that purrs like a finely tuned Rolls Royce while Turnbull throws magnificent guitar hooks, riffs, and shapes across every song that moves from psychedelic to moody shoegaze and covers every base in between. On top of that, you have Rob’s classic vocal performance with a powerful command of the stage. He has the manic 1,000-yard stare of all the best frontmen and he pulls it off far better than Liam Gallagher. But a band needs more than that to be successful and what Skylights have in abundance is an incredible collection of songs with a future as classics. We heard plenty of them at this gig. Particular highlights for me were “YRA” and new single “Enemies”. Later this year they will be headlining the rejuvenated Apollo Festival in York and supporting York legends Shed Seven in June in Halifax. I even got to meet Turnbull’s Mum, what a top lady she is!

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me on my cheap Chinese android phone or by Eddie Parkinson (a.k.a. Vinyl Eddie) on his far more expensive phone! Eddie took the Skylights shot! 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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With Just A Hint Of Mayhem Presents A Gig For SASH – The Crescent, York – Friday 3rd January 2020 January 7, 2020


This is not really a review in the truest sense, more of a little tale as to how, as With Just A Hint Of Mayhem, I promoted my first gig. The idea gelled quite a while ago, I had wanted to do something to celebrate my own 60th birthday (1st January 2019) and the tenth birthday of my With Just A Hint Of Mayhem blog (9th February 2019). But for various reasons I took a lot longer to get things moving so, in reality, I suppose the gig celebrates my 61st birthday (January 1st, 2020) and the blogs eleventh anniversary next month (9th February 2020). One decision I made early was that this first, and possibly only, gig would be for charity. Mostly because I felt that if it went belly up then people might be more forgiving. I chose SASH as it is a charity close to my heart for far more reasons than I have time to go into here. SASH is a youth homelessness charity that works across York, North and East Yorkshire. They provide invaluable help to young people aged 16-25 who are facing homelessness.

The Receivers – Picture-Copyright – Charlie Kirkpatrick

After that all I had to decide was which bands I wanted on the bill, easy peasy, right? Well not quite, one band I was keen to have play agreed to be there and then had to pull out for logistical reasons, sadly the band broke up towards the end of last year too. So that left three out of four to secure for the night. A year ago I said to Rusty, the singer from Lost Trends that I was planning a charity gig, with no prompting he said: “we’re in!” With a stern straight face, I replied: “I haven’t asked you yet!” But obviously Lost Trends then became the first band to be pencilled in. Would I be able to secure the next two bands? Well, that part wasn’t too difficult and from initial conversations, it was clear that the Receivers and My Wonderful Daze were very keen to help and to play at the Crescent on 3rd January. After some advice from people who know their stuff (thank you Joe Coates and Simon Pattinson) I dropped my original wish of four bands on the bill to three. So now all was set and I embarked on a social media campaign of promotion. I was concerned that upfront ticket sales were low, but everyone kept telling me that there would be plenty of walk-ins on the night. Thankfully all those people were right and we had I think something like 80 – 90 people there on the night.

My Wonderful Daze – Picture-Copyright – Charlie Kirkpatrick

The running order was decided by online vote after the Receivers chose to open the show (they have a number of headline gigs coming up). In a close-fought vote, Lost Trends pipped My Wonderful Daze to the headline spot. So it would be doors open at 7:30, the Receivers at 8, My Wonderful Daze at 9 and Lost Trends at 10. I wanted to be there for all the preparation so I arrived at the Crescent at 4pm, before any of the bands ready and waiting to witness the soundchecks. Even that was exciting for me and by then I was running on pure grade adrenaline. All three bands were on top form at soundcheck aided and abetted by ace soundman Stu Bellis. The team at the Crescent were superb and I learned a lot from them for next time (yes I am sure there will be more from me!). Suddenly it was time for the doors to open and I stood by the ticket table waiting for the punters to flood in! It was more of a trickle at first but a relentless trickle which continued at quite a pace for the next hour or so.

Lost Trends – Picture-Copyright – Charlie Kirkpatrick

Before the bands came on Matt Messias told the crowd about all the great work that SASH do to help prevent youth homelessness. Every band played like they were headliners which made it a blistering night of fabulous music. The Receivers played crowdpleasers like “Saturday” and showcased a couple of new songs. Guitarist Alex had some instrument issues towards the end of their set but improvised with some maniacal Bez dancing. Flowers a.k.a. Chloe the obscenely talented frontwoman of My Wonderful Daze had an awful cold but did not let that deter her or the band from pulling off an incendiary set. The crowd had been up for a party and were wearing their bopping shoes and dancing trousers and showing their best moves all night. That culminated in the whole room grooving to those famous indie dance punkateers Lost Trends. It was a great night of punk, funk, psych, indie, metal, glam, and ROCK. It was LOUD and I loved it. Everyone that I spoke to loved it too. All three bands looked to be having great fun on stage as well. The Receivers and My Wonderful Daze offered much of their merch sales to SASH. I know that Lost Trends would have done the same but they are currently “the band with no merch”! So thanks to all the paying punters (many of whom gave their change to the charity), merch sales, all the bands turning down a rider and a discount on the venue hire fee we raised more than £400 for SASH. That is beyond my wildest expectations and it will fund 21 safe nights sleep to young people facing homelessness in our community. I cannot thank you all enough for what you helped us achieve. With Just A Hint Of Mayhem will definitely be doing more gigs!

Matt & Bill – Picture-Copyright – Charlie Kirkpatrick

As a postscript, there was an after-party of sorts at the Priory for shameless Karaoke. But while there were some true legends made into the early hours via Abba songs, Cyndi Lauper tunes and a couple of the Dame’s greatest hits, what went on at the Priory stays at the Priory. Although if you would like to pay me a fiver which I will give to SASH I will tell you as much as I can remember!

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by Charlie Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Photography please do not share or use without permission. You can find Kirkpatrick Photography here and on Facebook. There are a few more excellent pictures from Charlie just below the following public service announcement, including some great crowd shots. I recognise quite a few of those punters! Incidentally, the gig poster was designed and made 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. 

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King Kurt – The Crescent, York – Sunday 24th November 2019 December 1, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:22 pm
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The 80s mental madcaps King Kurt are back together again! Originally formed in 1981 the band split up in 1988. There have been a few sporadic reformations since then, this one is quite special as it includes four original members. Do these Psychobilly monsters still have what it takes? You will need to read on to find out as there is first the little matter of a rather good support act to talk about. That support act was one of York’s best-known bands, the Snakerattlers, a psychobilly, garage, trash, thrash power duo with Naomi on drums and vocals and Dan on vocals and Link Wray style guitar duties. It is quite a while since I last saw them and believe me they have gotten so much better in that time. They are truly a live force of nature the way they attack their songs. Dan uses his sometimes comedic, often horror style of gurning to draw the audience in and frankly we were drawn in quite easily at this show. They have a couple of albums under their rattlesnake buckled belts and we heard a great selection from both. They have a great set of band themed songs too; “Do The Rattle Rock”, “Snake Rattle Rock, Snake Rattle Roll” to name just a couple. Dan and Naomi played a blistering set that had us bouncing around from the off. Highlights for me were “She’s Strange” which Dan dedicated to Naomi and a mountainous “All Heads Will Roll”. Another incredibly talented band from the fine city of York, my adopted home!

Back in the early 80s after original King Kurt member, Jef left the band they decided to give him a proper send-off by turning him into a cake by covering him in flour, eggs and shaving foam. The legendary ‘messy’ gigs that followed were a result of fans doing something similar at every gig. Nowadays all King Kurt gigs are clean unless stated otherwise. My good friend Ian and I were warned as we entered the Crescent that this was a clean gig. A small part of me was disappointed, however, I am glad that I didn’t go home covered in crap! The band took to the stage in a uniform of red onesies, the type with the button flap on the arse. Are there any other bands that would dare to play a gig dressed like that? Probably, but definitely not many. King Kurt is usually billed as a psychobilly band and while that is certainly a part of what they are, I believe that they are so much more. Their songs and performance also have power pop, punk, glam rock (in sound if not in appearance) and a very British humour that has its roots in the like of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Smeg’s vocals were first class and Thwack’s guitar rocked like a bastard. All the big songs were there in a set that felt like it was over way too soon, but that is because time flies when you are having so much fun, right? All the hits and favourites were there and my particular highlights were “Destination Zululand” and “Do The Rat”. Sometimes I see bands reform and think to myself, why did you bother, but with King Kurt all I have to say is welcome back and what took you so long?

All the photos apart from the gig flyer 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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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 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.

 

 
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