Tag Archives: Gavin Chappell-Bates

Gavin Chappell-Bates : The Sanctuary Of Stars, single released June 2018

Cambridge acoustic/electric performer Gavin Chappell-Bates has returned to a cosmological theme first incorporated into one of his early compositions ‘Black Holes’; this time he has moved beyond linking celestial metaphors with a personal relationship crisis and broadened his scope to look far beyond the Earth.
He envisages the departure of post-apocalypse humans to rebirth in the distant galaxies – a bold theme to tackle indeed, a bit like the classic 1950s sci-fi novel ‘Childhood’s End’. This is one of the final tracks on his recent concept album ‘The Last One’, a climatic ‘lighters in the air moment’ big ballad contrasting with some of the rockier numbers on the LP.

Beginning with simple and calm acoustic guitar, Gavin delivers a poignant vocal performance, then as on many of his songs the hook-line chorus lifts and gives the real emotional punch. Other instruments gradually appear in the mix, with sustained electric guitar notes, faraway echoing percussion and strings filling out the sound until the spirit of the song drifts away into the distance.

Gavin has always put a lot of effort into accompanying videos; this time the lyrics are superimposed over stunning images of outer space as a contrast to some of the worst excesses on Earth. In a week where some of the profound words of the late Stephen Hawking were transmitted towards the nearest black hole a song like this really makes you think.

http://gavinchappellbates.com/

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Gavin Chappell-Bates : Album Launch, Blue Moon, Cambridge, 24 March 2018

Opening the show at the constantly improving Blue Moon venue room was local singer/songwriter/guitarist Claudia McKenzie, otherwise known as I,Claudia, with a set of uplifting and varied tracks, based on her own experiences and anecdotes. Best of these was the blues of ‘Rain Down Hell’ though she can soon lighten the mood with the start-stop pace of ‘Staying In Tonight’.

Last seen playing outside at a freezing cold Mill Road Winter Fair, Louise Eatock, better known as Flaming June played a short selection of her extensive back catalogue of powerful folk tunes, tonight joined on stage by violin and cajon to add extra pulsing rhythm and soaring melody to her timeless lyrics. ‘Little Love In A Cruel World’ and ‘Wednesdays & Weekends’ sounded as good as ever, with final track ‘The Deviling Kind’ neatly weaving a sinister lyric around an irresistible instrumental backing.

Gavin Chappell-Bates has spent many months crafting the rare treat these days of a ‘concept album’, and tonight he played it in full. It is an ambitious theme; whereas Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ attempted to describe the spectrum of all human existence, Gavin details the build up and consequences of the end of the world for an individual who literally becomes ‘The Last One’. It may sound a bit of a grim prospect but the music is generally uplifting and as he explains, the message to take away is that we should appreciate what we have and live in the moment.

The first optimistic songs are full of memories of growing up; the gradual building of musical layers in ‘The Philosopher’, the spirited romp of ‘Lovely Day’, ‘Young Lovers’ with its catchy hookline and a tribute to ‘Mother’. ‘Bad Faith/Good Faith’ sees an edgier tension across the lyric, but with another potent hook. The recorded versions of some of the tracks feature strings and keyboards, but they are not missed tonight; Gavin’s specially assembled band (The Singing Trees) have a life of their own with solid bass, 12-string electric and sparky drumming supporting his own guitars and harmonica.

‘Do What You Like’ is a topical and bitter summary of human disregard for the planet and as a consequence Armageddon arrives in my favourite track on the album ‘The Last One’……after all if the world is going to end it is good to set it to a 70s glam rock shouter, much enjoyed by the audience.
‘Cinematic Memories’ and ‘The Sanctuary Of Stars’ are moving and thoughtful big ballads, then guitar-led rocker ‘This Is It’ brings the album to a close; no triple gatefold concept excesses here, it is all very much to the point.

A quick cover of REM’s ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ was followed by final encore of Gavin’s older single ‘We Are The Ones’ and left us feeling fine.

Well played Gavin and the band. A triumph!

http://gavinchappellbates.com/
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https://www.iclaudiamusic.com/

Gavin Chappell-Bates : Bad Faith/Good Faith, single released 8 December 2017

As a prelude to his much-anticipated second long-player ‘The Last One’ Gavin Chappell-Bates releases this philosophical concoction inspired by French savant Jean-Paul Sartre and his reflections on how a person should aspire to authenticity and make free choices. Despite JP’s intellect I’m sure that while smoking his pipe in the salons of Paris that even he could not have predicted this satisfying combination of challenging lyric and punchy indie-rock.

Although Gavin could probably multi-track and loop the other instruments himself he has chosen to feature two of Cambridge’s top performers and session players, Neil Bruce of Bouquet Of Dead Crows on guitar and Fred’s House drummer Paul Richards (who has just launched a new drumming film project, see link below). The spiky words and edgy music encourage the listener to reflect on the profound issues carefully, or just dance along anyway.

The accompanying video consists of graphic interpretations of the lyric, no personal appearance this time, before bombarding us with the big question: ‘…bad faith, good faith, decide, this is your life…’. Deep stuff indeed, but ridiculously catchy too.

With this song and the previous single Gavin is enigmatically trailing the forthcoming album, hopefully due early 2018?

http://gavinchappellbates.com/
https://www.gofundme.com/the-50-days-of-drummer

Gavin Chappell-Bates : Lovely Day, single released August 2017

In the movies we had Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, Will Smith….and now Gavin Chappell-Bates will empathise with being the last person alive on Earth on his much-anticipated second album ‘The Last One’, due out later this year. As a precursor to that we have ‘Lovely Day’, an acoustic guitar-driven romp that is presumably an early track on the album, full of exuberance lyrically and musically, before the ‘end of the world’ scenario kicks in.

A folk-rocky vibe from the backing band glides along nicely underneath while a multi-voiced and blissfully unaware Gavin projects endless optimism about what is to come, with a nice mellow middle eight too. Recorded with an as-live production, the mix is spot-on.

I always enjoy his videos; this one is filmed at Cambridge tree-filled beauty spot Wandlebury and features some of Gavin’s musical comrades portraying woodland animals. It is all satisfyingly bonkers and reminiscent of those late 1960s promo films for the psychedelic leanings of Pink Floyd’s ‘Arnold Layne’ and mid-period Beatles, with lots of speeded-up movement and quick jump-cuts, what’s not to like?

(admire the beautiful original artwork on the sleeve too, drawn by Ali Chappell-Bates…)

http://gavinchappellbates.com/
https://alichappellbatesart.com/

Gavin Chappell-Bates : Church Of Rock and Roll, single released July 2016

Gavin Chappell-Bates returns to his musical roots for this rocking new single, the opening track from the 2016 album ‘We Are The Ones’,

The video version begins with birdsong in a quintessential English churchyard, then the shock…a gravestone cross commemorating the demise of Gavin? But don’t worry, he is firing on all cylinders as the guitars crash in for an all-out celebration of his musical influences and the simply stated logic of the importance of ‘rock and roll’.

Like many tracks on the album the hookline is strong and the relentless pace of the song still allows time for a guitar solo and bass break. The Manic Street Preachers get a reference ‘All I learnt was from my own Holy Bible…’, made explicit in the video as the priest flicks through some influential CDs, also including Suede, Led Zep and the Beatles. Definitely not a conventional priest, rolling pages of the prayer book for a use probably not sanctioned by the Church as well as ending up with a non-traditional twist on clerical garb….it is all great fun and in these enlightened times not likely to cause the controversy of Madonna and her ‘Like A Prayer’ video??

But back to the music, it is a compact, gutsy track and it sounds great live!

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Gavin Chappell-Bates, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 8 April 2016

A double R*E*P*E*A*T Records album launch; starting with ‘Horizons’ from Horse Party, mostly a collection of songs released as EPs, singles and downloads over the last year. They are a brilliant live band, tonight the original trio were augmented by a bass player on stage and that gives these new songs even more clout.
The stealthy, sparse vocals and guitar from Ellie Langley and Seymour Quigley set the mood of the song, then the hooks crash in; the opening song ‘Animal’ showcases this to great effect with an extra power bass line and of course the ace drumming by Shannon Hope, driving the sound to new heights every time.
Highlights were the slower bluesy groove of ‘Gratitude Falling’, the bittersweetness of ‘Out Of Sight’ and the energetic final song ‘Paydirt’, this was the best performance I had seen by this electrifying band.

‘We Are The Ones’ is the new CD from Gavin Chappell-Bates (reviewed on this site) and instead of his solo live-looping tonight he was backed by a full band, Cambridge rockers Bouquet Of Dead Crows. Gavin’s songs are from the head and heart; he started with ‘Refugee’ a gradual build-up to a huge Manic Street Preachers (his favourite band) style chorus. The band stepped up to the faster ‘Church Of Rock and Roll’ and the mighty bass line underpinning the disconcerting chord changes of ‘Black Holes’.

’95’ was an anthem to get the crowd singing along to the hookline and his very personal early song ‘Last Angel’ was a sensitively sung duet, then his bitter reflection on recent politics ‘The Finest Hour’ got a full workover from the band.
There was a surprise during the end of the ballad ‘Starlight’; suddenly there were 11 more singers on stage , a choir in black who had been part of the audience. This emotional lift carried into the title-track rouser ‘We Are The Ones’ (a worthy successor to the rallying cry of the late 80s, ’68 Guns’ by The Alarm?) and finally ‘Dead End Disco Streets’ closed the show and launched the album in style…

http://gavinchappellbates.com/
https://www.facebook.com/horsepartyparty

https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2016/03/22/gavin-chappell-bates-we-are-the-ones-lp-released-8-april-2016/

Gavin Chappell-Bates : We Are The Ones, LP released 8 April 2016

A track-by-track review of ‘We Are The Ones’, the debut album by Cambridge singer/songwriter Gavin Chappell-Bates.

1. Church Of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This is a blasting punchy rocker. The meticulous care and attention to detail that Gavin puts into his music is evident from the start and we get an early reference to his favourite band (Manic Street Preachers, a band whose cult status and influence continues to grow).

2. All Ways. A sort of ‘you and me against the world’ feeling, over some ringing guitar and hefty bass and drums.

3. 95. See my earlier review of this standout anthem, making 1995 sound like a good place to be.
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/08/23/gavin-chappell-bates-95-single-released-july-2015/

4. Refugee. The musical centrepiece of the album, an abstract lyric over a gentle beginning then full-on guitar (check out the scenic views of Cambridge on the video for this one).

5. We Are The Ones. The title track is a companion piece to ’95’, less specific in its references but similar sentiment. And very catchy.

6. Writing In The Sand. An acoustic ballad with increasing layers of backing, as Gavin can show to good effect when using his looping techniques in live performances.

7. Black Holes. Improbably low bass riff underpins a tale of regret as life’s moments succumb to the gravitational inevitability of the title. Definitely one of my favourite tracks.

8. Dead End Disco Streets. A big sweeping song, the lyric populated with a cast of lost characters whose only escape is music. Good strings on this one.

9. Follow The Light. Simple optimistic sentiments, evolving into another catchy chorus.

10. The Finest Hour. A rarity amongst current music, a political protest song. Some sharp commentary about unfulfilled promises over a nice Celtic riff, and possibly the first time I have heard Neil Kinnock mentioned in a lyric.

11. Last Angel. This is a heartfelt and uncomfortable track about despair with a sung note of goodbye ‘…tonight will be my last night on Earth’ featuring a guest vocal from Kathryn James.

12. Starlight. As a contrast to the previous song this moves from the individual to the universal with astronomical contemplation linked to a touching tale of love. And another big chorus.

This is an impressive collection; I recently caught a warm-up show preparing for the album launch on 8 April at The Portland Arms in Cambridge and these songs work very well with a live band….

http://gavinchappellbates.com/