With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music reviews, gig reviews, fun trivia and extra added random stuff!

Shezza’s Leaving Do – Fulford Arms, York – Saturday 7th May 2022 May 16, 2022


It took a while but Shezza’s Leaving Do finally arrived and it was shaping up to be really special. For anyone of my regular readers who has no idea who Shezza is he is one of the founders of York’s wonderful music venue the Fulford Arms. His real name is Chris Sherrington and he is moving on to do a whole range of other things including working for the Music venues Trust. If you don’t know who Chris is Brad from one of the bands on the bill at this show, the Howl and the Hum described him like this on social media “Chris is a rare kind of creature. A sort that I particularly love as a monomaniacal obsessive within the music industry. He has dedicated himself to music in a way that few do. People usually think about the bands (for good reason), but without people like Chris, bands can’t exist. He’s the good side of the ‘industry’. He has turned the Fulford Arms from a waining pub into a truly great music venue. It fills a special gap as a venue that I’d imagine is hard to maintain financially. It is small enough for your first gig but big enough for almost anyone to play on the right night. It sounds amazing, the lights are great, it has a dressing room, a shower, more than one toilet (including one in a wardrobe), a great bar with wonderful staff, and brilliant sound engineers. This didn’t happen by accident. It happens when people care. It happens when people dedicate themselves for years to a space and don’t give up. Not many do it. They don’t have the guts, and they’re not stupid enough to doggedly stay in music until things eventually work out. We are lucky in York to have a few people like this, all of which mean our band still exist. Chris by no means did all this alone, the whole team is amazing of course” I don’t think anyone could have said it better! Thank you Brad but absolutely huge thanks to Chris!

Trueman And The Indoor League

It was an early start and sadly I missed Chris Sherrington performing with Petrol Hoers who according to their social media play digital horsecore. But I did get to see Chris as the set ended and now I probably need therapy! He was wearing pants and an animal mask (Zebra I think) as was his partner in Petrol Hoers crime. I definitely need to see them play at some time though. After that, it was time for a band that I have now seen six times, including on the date that was originally scheduled as Shezza’s Leaving Do. For me, one mark of a good band is a band that enjoys themselves on stage and this lot clearly does. Bearing in mind Trueman was suffering from an eye infection and went off to hospital straight after their set this was still an awesome set. The saga of the broken g string (you probably had to be there) was superb performance art! The new tune “Judas The Messiah” is one of the band’s best songs to date. Was there really a Frankie Valli and Postman Pat reference in there or did my ears deceive me? “Playstation Dreaming” without guitar was pure and classic Trueman. Can this bunch be the UK performers at next years Eurovision, please? (I did write that note on the night and therefore well in advance of Sam Ryder’s epic showing on May 14th).

The Howl And The Hum

The Howl And The Hum played two sets and the first was billed as a “normal” set, more of their second set later. But for this one, it was a classic outing for probably the greatest band ever to arise from my adopted city, York and the competition is fierce too. The highlights for me were “Hostages” and “The Only Boy Racer Left On The Island”, the latter was eloquently dedicated to Mr. Sherrington. Every one of the band was playing at 110% tonight and it showed. Do they usually have support from a backing vocalist? I am not sure, but bloody hell it worked, she was great. For a band that describes themselves as “a miserable disco who write Bond themes” the comment about playing at Chris Sherrington’s wake was classy comedy. Next, it was the wonderfully named Pat Butcher, a real 21st Century punk powerhouse of a band who write incendiary modern-day stories, just like the Bards of old, but with added sonic assault. If Samuel Pepys was around today I am sure who would be writing stuff like “Race Day Wankers”. Is this one of the best, and truest, songs about York and probably any other city that hosts big horse race meetings? They have songs about nosy neighbours, angle grinders, and council workers to name just a few subjects. The guitarist is like a satanic cross between Angus Young and Kevin the Teenager and he fuels the songs stupendously. Is this the first band ever to use a mandolin in a punk style? (That was a mandolin, right?). In the most true sense of the phrase, this band really is 4 REAL!

Pat Butcher

Flat Cap Carnival is another band that I had not seen before tonight. How the hell would all of them fit on the Fully Arm’s intimate stage? I’m not sure, but they did. Who knew York could do Latin music so well? This abundantly talented 7-piece is an incredible party band that it is impossible not to shake your arse to. Their original songs are perfect, but their covers take them to another universe completely. “All That She Wants”, “Careless Whisper” and “Spice Up Your Life” were masterclasses in how to cover a song. They made each one their own and allegedly Chris Sherrington requested the Spice Girls cover. Their social media tag describes them as “a Latin-infused Skanival band from York. Dancing is compulsory.” I definitely can’t argue with that! Now it was time for the second set of the evening from the Howl And The Hum, described on the bill as a party set. How would these self-confessed purveyors of miserable disco perform a party set we all wondered? Singer and frontman Sam did ask for forgiveness before they started, but frankly, forgiveness is not required. This was a covers set like no other and it proves that this is a band who could turn their hands to anything. Kicking off with a stomping “Highway To Hell” the band mesmerised the audience and we were all up for a party. they followed with a funky version of Prince’s “Kiss” which for me took the song back from that awful Tom Jones version of it from a few years back. They did a marvellous cover of Jone’s “Delilah” later in the set too. “Psycho Killer” was very special indeed and if you shut your eyes you could imagine it was Talking Heads playing in a small sweaty venue. “These Boots Are Made For Walking” works so well when performed by a rock band, the mighty Avalanche Party used to include that in their set back in the day. My least favourite song ever is probably Robbie Williams’ “Angels” and to be fair the Howl And The Hum even made that sound ok. Although it was a covers party set the band closed with one of their own songs, the sublime “Godmanchester Chinese Bridge”. A second set from such a great band was a fine way to end a really great night.

Flatcap Carnival

It was great to run into so many people from the York music scene on the night too. Including band members, even those not on the bill, venue owners and managers, promoters, photographers, sound engineers and far too many to mention by name. But a truly wonderful bunch of people that make support York’s amazing music scene. Chris will be missed by the Fulford Arms but he will continue to do great things with the Music Venues Trust. To paraphrase Abba, Thank You For The Music, Chris and good luck with whatever you do next!

All pictures were taken by me on my cheap Chinese Android phone. The videos were found on YouTube. If the video is yours and you would like a credit or for it to be removed please let me know.

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York Life Festival 2022 – Saturday 2nd April/ Sunday 3rd April – York City Centre April 11, 2022


On Saturday 2nd April and Sunday 3rd April, the first (and hopefully not the last) York Life Festival took place on Parliament Street in the centre of York. It was free for all residents and visitors and was organised by Make It York. Activities took place for up to ten hours each day and included music, poetry, theatre workshops, instrumental workshops, face painting, comedy, and dance. Sadly I only made it for the last part of the second day but I couldn’t let it go unnoticed by With Just A Hint Of Mayhem. I arrived just after the magnificent Hyde Family Jam finished their set on Sunday. The turnout was pretty big, despite the somewhat chilly temperature. It was nice to see all of York’s fabulous range of music venues getting some good promo with posters and handouts throughout the weekend; The Fulford Arms, the Crescent Community Venue, the Vaults, the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM), York Barbican and Forty Five Vinyl Cafe. The crowd contained a veritable who’s who of anyone who is involved in the York music scene. Firstly three of the key players behind this event were there, obviously, Simon Pattinson (Northern Radar), Chris Sherington (Fulford Arms), and Harkirit Boparai (The Crescent), and I bumped into all of them! As well as meeting many of the band members of the Sunday performers (Trueman and the Indoor League, Bull and the Howl and the Hum) I also ran into Pennine Suite (who had played the previous day), Chloe (Please Remain Calm), Zac (Heartsink and Fulford Arms ace doorman), Andy and Paula (PERCY), Nathan (rock photographer extraordinaire) and many others. The incredibly cold temperature meant that I didn’t take my usual copious notes, however here are my recollections of the three bands that I did see.

First for me were Trueman and the Indoor League. Fronted by the titular Sam Trueman this band gets better every time that I see them. They really put on a show in almost a revue-style akin to the E Street Band. Regular readers will know that I have referred to them as like a pound shop E Street Band, but that was meant as a compliment. With more of the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their performances and some lucky breaks I can see them playing arenas one day. Next up was another fine York band, Bull, who released their wonderful debut album ‘Discover Effortless Living’ last year. As well as selections from that first class platter the band treated us to a few new songs, one of which suggested that Bull have hidden talents as an ace party band! The headliners on Sunday were perhaps York’s greatest band, although there is plenty of competition. I am talking about the Howl and the Hum. They played an amazing set at the iconic Minster last year which is available on most streaming platforms and frankly it is a scale above awesome. Their set was out of this world with the whole band firing on all cylinders. The new tunes bode really well for the sophomore album when it materialises. The highlight for me though was perhaps one of the best songs ever written, “Hostages”. This festival definitely needs to be an annual event going forward, where do we sign up to make that happen? We need to know! Bring on York Life 2023!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Mayhem’s Home Town – Music from York – local lock-down releases 1 June 14, 2020


My adopted home city of York has been a hot bed of great music since I first moved here in 2007 and the York music force remains strong. So I thought that I would take this opportunity to highlight just a small handful of the great musical talent that this fantastic city has to offer. Focusing on three releases that have happened very recently during these strange lock down days.

First up are a York band that are destined for huge success, I am confident that eventually this lot will play arenas. I am talking of the Howl And The Hum who recently released their first album ‘Human Contact’ and is arguably one of the best debut albums of the 21st century so far. These boys have earned their chops the hard way through open mic nights and busking. If you haven’t heard them yet then you need to catch up really quickly. As a taster take a listen to their latest release below. It is an alternative live version of “Hostages” from their new album.

Perspex refer to themselves as “the plastic band for the decadent listener”, somehow I doubt if I can conjure up a better way to describe them. The band’s first release of 2020, “A Horse Named Useless” is a lo-fi weirdfest which has a delightful melody and contrasts that with a line about wanking off horses. Warped, wonderful, weird, wacky and worthy of a long listen.

Finally talented young York singer-songwriter Jacob Clayton released his first single “Inside Our Minds” last month. It is a chilled, yet emotional, folky track which feels reflective enough for these strange days. It is hard to judge an artist on one song, but frankly “Inside Our Minds” makes me want to hear more from him.

This site has posted about many York acts over the years and long may that continue. If any York musicians, bands, singers want to be featured here send me a message. Obviously we will still continue to include acts from all over the world, but I feel that a focus on our local scene is well worth it in these strange times!

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


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

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

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Latitude Festival 2018 Day 1 Friday 13th July July 17, 2018


The first day of the Latitude Festival in 2018 was also the thirty-third anniversary of Live Aid. I believe that in the main music has moved on amazingly since those heady singalong days of parallel shows in London and Philadelphia. Opening the Obelisk Arena Stage and the first day of the festival were the Go! Team. This stunning eight piece indie funk combo are now on their fifth album. The highlights for me were the bombastic “Mayday” and the sublime dance sounds of “Lady Flash”. i reckon this lot were early contenders for funkiest band of the weekend.

The Go! Team

Deap Valley blew the roof off the tent housing the BBC Music Stage. Power pop punk all the way from California. You couldn’t tell from their piledriving performance here but Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy met seven years ago at a crochet class. Despite that they are more full on ballsy and bluesy than the White Stripes and many others that came before them. The Aussie Danish hybrid of Palace Winter kicked off the action on the Sunrise Arena Stage and were recommended to me by my friend Ann, her sister is a massive fan of this lot. They are indeed a good band, very deep, dark and at times Beatles-esque and when they fully wigged out I even heard traces of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. The band almost didn’t get here on time. Their flight was delayed by Air Force One landing at Stansted Airport bring the Mango Mussolini to Britain.

Deap Valley

Sun Scream hit the Lake Stage with the full power of an out of control ocean-going super tanker. Some awesome indie pop from this bunch of funsters from John Peel’s home town of Bury St. Edmunds. I made my first visit to the Speakeasy for Dr Rosy Carrick’s Passionate Machine. This was essentially a winding, weblike, wonderful story about time travel which featured Rocky Balboa and David Bowie references. I think that I now truly believe in time travel; “oh no love you’re not alone!” I only caught the last song of Marlon Williams’ set sadly. But boy this dude has a voice that could split a planet in two! French band La Femme took control of the Obelisk Arena Stage with their Gallic electro pop. I reckon they were probably the coolest looking band of the day. They count Jean Michel Jarre among their growing army of fans and their second album ‘Mystere’ is released in September.

La Femme

 

I have seen Madrid popsters Hinds before. These girls know how to party hard and they have a collection of songs that will make you want to do the same. The audience at the BBC Stage lapped up possibly the biggest indie band ever to emerge from Spain. Due to my sometimes poor logistical skills I ended up at the Obelisk Stage when I should have been elsewhere. But that mistake gave me the opportunity to witness the love child of Rufus Wainwright, Little Richard and Nat King Cole. His name is Benjamin Clementine and he is utterly bloody amazing. He had the late afternoon audience eating out of his hands, especially during the sing along moments. He has been around for a while and won the Mercury Music Prize back in 2015 for his album ‘At Least For Now’. He has also more recently been a collaborator on the new Gorillaz LP.

Hinds

The next band to grace the BBC Music Stage during my travels across the beautiful landscape of the Latitude Festival site was …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. These Texas rockers were playing their 2002 record ‘Source Tags And Codes’ in full. Their dark, melodic rock remains a very attractive proposition. Surely the band’s name is a top contender for one of the greatest band names ever. One of York’s finest bands, The Howl And The Hum made their first ever Latitude appearance on the Lake Stage. I have seen this band a few times now and they get a little better every time that I see them. They are shaping up to be a truly great British band with influences from Pink Floyd, XTC and Pulp to name just a few. Their new single “Don’t Shoot The Storm” is potentially their best song in their career to date. It sure as hell brought the house down at Latitude. Lower Slaughter a Glasgow and Brighton four piece came along and pulverized the Lake Stage audience into submission with some mountainous punk power and perpetual, relentless energy.

The Howl and the Hum

The Music and Film Arena was home to the marvellous Lump a project of Mike Lindsey and British folk superstar Laura Marling. It was charming, eerie and whimsical rock with a soft prog vibe. A stunning achievement. Rather cheekily though, given Laura’s background in folk, I so wanted to shout “Judas!” I sensibly chose not to though. These days the Charlatans are essentially a heritage band. They did however put on an enthusiastic and danceable show from the part that I saw. My highlight was “North Country Boy” although their new material left me a bit cold. I had a wonderfully different and somewhat new experience watching Tune-Yards on the BBC Music Stage. I have heard great drum ‘n’ bass and I have witnessed talented and intelligent use of looping. This combination produced a lively and heavenly dance set.

I had been looking forward to seeing Solange from the moment the Latitude 2018 headliners were announced and she was not a disappointment. From the preshow playing of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Secret Life Of Plants’ album over the PA I had a feeling it was going to be special. The stage was sparse and white, featuring a huge globe and two pyramid like constructions. The lighting was only ever one colour at a time and no spot lights were used. The choreography and coördination of movement for everyone on stage was perfect and harked back to the golden days of watching 60s Motown groups go through their meticulously syncopated dance routines. Solange herself is an incredibly talented performer; her vocals are pitch perfect and soulful. All the hits were there, the show was book-ended by “Rise” and other highlights were “Crush” and “Losing You”, but I doubt that anything like the hook line from “F.U.B.U.”, “All my niggas in the whole wide world” has ever rang out across Henham Park before! This showcased modern R & B at its finest. For me Solange is every bit as good as her sister!

Public Service Announcement: All pictures are from my phone, apart from the pink sheep shot which I found on line. All videos are sourced from YouTube. If you own the copyright to any of these please let me know and I will be happy to either give you a named credit or take the picture or video down.

 

 

Strawberries, the Howl & the Hum, Naked 6 and Violet Contours – Fibbers, York – Wednesday 19th April 2017 April 20, 2017


How can you go wrong with a ticket price of £5 (£7 on the door) for four bands? Well you can’t really can you? At Fibbers too. This was another gig recommended to me by the talented Mr Simon Pattinson, pity our poor communication meant he didn’t make it though because it was a proper pedal to the metal, balls to the wall rock night.

Violet Contours

Up first were Violet Contours with their jangly indie pop that carries a great northern edge. At times they channel Kings Of Leon and Orange Juice. “Electric Bodies” is a phenomenal début release. It is rich, vibrant and hangs around in your brain much longer than lesser songs.

Naked 6

Now Naked 6 is a band that I first saw a few months ago at the Crescent in York and I thought they were darned good then. I bought my ticket from the band’s bass player extraordinaire Caleb tonight. What a top bloke! Do you like your rock hard? Do you like some funk in your rock? Do you love a band that knows how to rock out and I mean really rock out? Well look no further than the mighty, magnificent music machine that is Naked 6. This is the 21st century Led Zep. How the fuck do three people make so much noise? They made my ears bleed, but in the best possible way. To top it all off I swear that their very metal version of “I Wanna Be Like You” is like nothing that you have ever heard before.

The Howl and the Hum

I must confess that I have never come across the Howl and the Hum before. What are they like? Think Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, the Doors without Manzarek and maybe the Villagers then you are part way to understanding this complex band with simple songs that sound like stunning and sharp icicles of left-field rock. They know how to build a song from a soft, laid back start into a pile driving crescendo. I reckon this lot could be the house band in David Lynch‘s ‘Twin Peaks‘.

The Strawberries

Now for the main attraction, how on earth could the Strawberries follow such a powerful line up? With aplomb, power, guts, swagger and some pretty tasty tunes. They are clearly one of the finest bands from Leeds at the moment. I’m gutted that I missed them on the Jack Rocks stage at the Leeds Festival last year, let’s hope they will be there again this year. They draw on the most psychedelic aspects of Primal Scream and they take the audience by the scruff of their dirty necks and slap them into submission with some amazing tunes. “Caramel Eyes” was a particular favourite of mine. This is the band that Oasis might have become had they not blown it after the first two albums. I bought the Strawberries EP with its individually hand crafted cover and it is a super charged 15 minutes from a band with a great future.

You really need to get out and catch any of these four bands playing live. You will not be disappointed whichever one you choose!

A public service announcement – all the pictures are from my nifty little Chinese phone and the videos are all courtesy of YouTube.

 

 
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