This has been a slow year for me gigwise so far, this is my first gig for 2023. This was another nifty little show promoted by Simon P of Northern Radar. I have lost count of the amount of Northern Radar shows that I have attended, but one theme runs through them all, Simon has never let me down with his choice of bands and artists. At least not yet anyway. Was tonight the first time I had seen a bad show from Northern Radar? Read on to find out! First up at the fabulous Fulford Arms was Everything After Midnight, I first saw them almost exactly a year ago at the York Vaults supporting Where’s Slater. What are they like? Well, there is prog, electric folk, metal, a pinch of Wolf Alice, and many other facets in their sound. Steph’s voice gets stronger every time I see them (this is the third time) and tonight I detected elements of Sandy Denny, Kiki Dee, and Ellie Rowsell. In a previous review of Everything After Midnight I said “Imagine Tori Amos if she took a much heavier direction with some added prog undertones, that is how Everything After Midnight sounded to me“, I stand by that comment!
Next up was Sun King a band that I have seen once before, back in June last year when they supported Sweet May at this very venue and that was their first gig. I can hear a whole range of influences in their fabulous sound; Small Faces, Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriot, Led Zeppelin, Paul Weller, maybe Prince on the falsetto lines, and at times a bit of that old Noddy Holder warble in the vocal. The band is tight and has a pitch-perfect grasp of the best classic rock vibes. But they go beyond just rock as they throw in some great jazz and funk licks for good measure. Seb, the lead vocalist was formerly with Naked Six and is related to British Metal royalty, he is Saxon frontman Biff Byford’s son. Biff was present humping gear for the band and later while chatting with Chris T of the Fulford Arms we thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to have Biff play a set at the Fully, maybe acoustic with Saxon, solo, or even the full band, perhaps even a residency! Biff if you’re up for that then get in touch, perhaps we can book Sun King as support!
The first time I saw Lincoln’s finest current band, the Rills was when they played the BBC Introducing Stage at the Leeds Festival back in 2021. Their stature has grown at a rapid rate and this was an incendiary set from a magnificent band. “World Leader” was immense and hugely powerful. This was the fifth show in their intense mini tour for Independent Venue Week 2023. They started in Falmouth on 30th January and worked their way to York via Swansea, Bedford and Oxford. The sixth and final show of that hectic schedule was in Blackpool the day after York. They have huge energy and that was transferred to the supremely enthusiastic crowd. The riffs were full-on and spectacular. The Rills put on a stunningly good show. So has Simon of Northern Radar let me down yet? Definitely not!
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Day 2 and already I am settling back into being at a festival, first up today it was Nothing But Thieves on Main Stage West. These Essex boys are damned good. Conor Mason’s vocals reminded me at times of Graham Bonnet, a young Ozzy Osbourne and maybe even Robert Palmer. This band turn up the passion levels to 11, Nothing But Thieves really mean it and I am definitely a fan. I had to see Punkband on the Lock Up Stage, largely because the name intrigued me. The band does what it says on the tine and hit us with some fine slices of old school punk style tunes, they are a little Sham 69-like at times, but I mean that in a good way. They handled the bass issue they encountered with aplomb and great improvisation. Brighton based Demob Happy were next on Main Stage East. They gave us some wonderfully stylish driving rock music channeled through classic British 70s blues rock. The three female backing singers added a depth that is often not found in harder rock music. The singer looked a bit like a young Frank Zappa, while the drummer could have been in Hanson! A quick jog over to Main Stage West net for a great Scottish band, the Snuts. They have a hard edged indie style and some anthemic tunes reminiscent of the Zutons or the Coral but with a harder and heavier edge. Great hooks and choruses too. A really good live band who I would definitely see again.
Back on the Main Stage East it was the turn of Inhaler, I am sure most of you have seen the hype that follows them given that front man Elijah Hewson is Bono’s son. Elijah is the spitting image of his Dad in my view. Am I allowed to say that Inhaler are influenced by U2? Well I believe that they are, but I guess that isn’t too surprising. They are a good band though and it will be interesting to see how they develop from here. A big shout out to the mightily talented guitarist Josh Jenkinson. Bad Nerves, more Essex boys were on next at the Lock Up Stage. This band does old school punk blended with classy power pop really well. The crowd was clearly made up of many hard core Bad Nerves fans who clearly love the band. A return to the BBC Introducing stage next for FFSYTHO?!, is described in the festival PR bumph as a pint-sized rapper, that much is true. But she is not just a run of the mill rapper she is bloody good. She has some sharp and tasty ciphers which she spits perfectly. She is a great ambassador for UK Hip Hop and Grime. She was backed with some finely selected beats and samples from DJ Mark Ski. Next it was a secret set in the Lock Up by Don Broco, my daughter Lauren’s favourite band. This was a short but full on performance from a band at the top of their game. They enticed the crowd with older songs and some newer stuff from their forthcoming album, which based on this show could be their best yet. “Gumshield” whipped the crowd into a moshing frenzy. Don Broco are clearly a force of nature live. Rob Damiani has a great voice and was he trying to bring back the mullet? I paid my first visit to the BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage next for Mimi Webb from Canterbury. Her music is dance oriented with elements of pop, trance and soul. She has a stunning voice. I returned to the Main Stage West for Sea Girls. If Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed a stadium/ festival band it would probably give us Sea Girls and I do mean that in a most complimentary way. The have anthems not songs and it feels like those anthems are designed to drift stylishly across a muddy or dusty festival field and be sung back to them by an enraptured crowd.
Clearly the Lock Up Stage was going to be one of my main haunts on Saturday, I was back there this time for Grace Mckagan, she started out with synth punk band the Pink Slips and is now establishing herself as a formidable solo artist. She gives the world dark, grungy, industrial garage rock. A bit like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club but if they had an ace female singer. I am now a committed Grace Mckagan fan, I think she could be huge before long. The BBC Intyroducing Stage gave us Lincoln’s the Rills next. They are a three piece with the energy and dynamism of the Jam in their early days. Imagine the Small Faces as a punk band with Marc Bolan writing their hooks and Steve Jones contributing their riffs, that is the Rills for me. Definitely a potentially great band and certainly one to watch out for. Lady Ice is on the rise after successfully appearing on the BBC show ‘The Rap Game UK’. Her delivery, style and energy is first class and supported by some great beats from DJ Tigie, and her MC was great too. It was a real shame it was such a small crowd because Lady Ice knows how to perform and that is exactly what she did. Mabel was next on Main Stage East, for me she has the pop nous of Madonna and Lady Gaga and the choreography and dance skills of Janet Jackson. She completes the package with a full on powerful and deeply soulful voice. A quick dash across to Main Stage West was definitely worth it to witness a storming set from Sam Fender. This is a man with a huge passion for life and for music. While it was that cracking tune “Hypersonic Missiles” that really got him noticed it is the poignant and deeply emotional “Dead Boys” that is my favourite. Like many other acts Sam claimed that this crowd was much better than Reading, but you would wouldn’t you. But to be fair he did kick off some huge mosh circles.
Back to the Lock Up Stage once again this time for the immensely talented Yonaka. They have developed into a really special band. They are definitely the full metal packet now and Theresa’s vocals were stunning. This set was an awesome blitzkrieg of magnificent hard rock. Next for me it was Hull’s Low Hummer on the BBC Introducing Stage. If you put Talking Heads, Pulp and Ian Curtis in a music blender I believe the wonky rock smoothie that results would be the rather spiffing Low Hummer. A top set from a top band. Catfish and the Bottlemen were the first of Saturday’s joint headliners, on Main Stage West. Personally I think they peaked too soon with a great punked up cover of the Beatles “Helter Skelter”. They are an incredibly powerful live band and their already great songs are improved tenfold in the live environment. This is not a band I listen to very often, but I will always seek them out at a Festival. Stormzy closed the second day on the Main Stage East with something that might be a rock gig, a Grime set in a club, a modern take on gospel, a political rally. It was refreshingly different. He opened with the wonderful “Big Michael” and the crowd lapped him up. Stormzy is a man who wears his political opinions on his sleeve and is not afraid to air them. At one point encouraging the crowd to hold their “FUCK BORIS” placards and posters higher. Another hugely entertaining set from a man whose talent seems to continue to grow.
All the pictures were taken using my cheap Chinese phone camera. The video was found on YouTube. If it is yours and you would like me to take it down or give you a credit please let me know. Yes I do know the clip is from Reading, but there is not much film footage of Leeds online 🙂
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