Tag Archives: live

Colour Me Wednesday, Green Door Store, Brighton, 1st July 2018

Colour Me Wednesday return to Brighton on the final date of their launch tour for new album ‘Counting Pennies in the Afterlife’.

First on was Neil Singh, a guitarist singing his own songs, with thoughtful words about serious subjects such as war and oppression. In the best folk tradition the lyrical imagery was underpinned with taut and uncluttered music played by Neil with backing bass and drums; he is due to release an album soon.

Brighton duo ARXX use the drums and guitar format to showcase their new EP ‘Daughters Of Daughters’. They make a great noise, especially when Clara on drums lets loose and Hannah’s vocal cuts through. ‘Moments at a Time’ and ‘Intervention’ are mini riff-operas where the rhythm drives the song to new heights.

Sparkle Motion are led by multi-talented Jaca Freer, mainly a drummer with the headliners but also playing bass with Neil Singh. Billed as ‘..Brighton’s finest new queer covers band..’ the keyboard-driven line-up belted through a lively set including Placebo’s ‘Nancy Boy’, Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ and best of all Prince’s ‘Kiss’ mixed with ideal companion ‘Make Me Feel’ by Janelle Monáe. Interspersed with many protest and awareness-raising messages this exuberant line-up finished with cult 1999 outsider song ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ to a great reception from the crowd.

In this endless early summer it was getting hot in the venue, despite being hidden underneath the stone railway arches. Colour Me Wednesday were suddenly on stage with the introduction to ‘Sunriser’, the opening track on the new album. Harriet Doveton leads on guitar then at the last minute sister Jennifer grabs the mic and launches the tale of relationship uncertainty with ‘..I feel the cold before you feel it…’.
My current favourite, it is an excellent track, so much going on musically and lyrically with a speeded up section and Jaca’s intricate drums reaching new levels of complexity. Straight into ‘Boyfriend’s Car’, a sixties summery feel with harmonies and a key change in this story of post-apocalyptic automobile cruising.

‘Heather’s Left For Dead’ is a pounding wall of guitar but as always Jen’s voice floats effortlessly above. They are joined on stage on bass by Katie (from the band Personal Best) allowing Laura Ankles freedom to add extra guitar and intermesh with Harriet’s creative lines and rhythms.
‘Edge Of Everything’ is a rare celebration/acknowledgement of living near the M25 and final song ‘Entrepreneur’ sums up many modern job experiences (‘…loudest voice in my head…telling me to go back to bed…’) over a roving bass line and some neat chord changes. Then it was curfew, with no time for some of their excellent back catalogue and unfortunately no ‘Tinfoil’ from the new disc.

It is a fantastic new album, and live it is even better…

https://www.colourmewednesday.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sparklemotiontheband/
http://www.arxxband.bandcamp.com
http://www.neilvarunsingh.bandcamp.com

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Wave Pictures, Storey’s Field Centre, Cambridge, 23 June 2018

A show in Cambridge’s newest venue; a multi-purpose performance centre for the new community of Eddington on the edge of the city.
Ian Jeffs is a local singer/songwriter and is now performing with an as yet unnamed backing band. He has an amiable personality which the crowd soon warms to, along with a lived-in voice and thoughtful lyrics. The slower numbers featured his own acoustic guitar with some echoing electric stylings a bit like classic ‘One World’ John Martyn. Second song ‘Higher’ appropriately enough drifted up into the distant elevated ceiling of this unusual cuboid venue, which must flood with light when used in the daytime. ‘Warm Blooded’ was rockier while ‘Talking To MH’ built up from some subtle acoustic picking to a haunting hookline. ‘Last Days At The Farm’ is the signature track, its descriptive words brought to life by his powerful vocals.

With no preamble Dave Tattersall started off with oldie country-folkster ‘Sweetheart’ and as the rest of the Wave Pictures joined in we knew that as always the next hour would be a treat. Second song ‘Remains’ was one of the highlights of their rare vinyl-only album ‘A Season In Hull’, the following sugar-themed uptempo jive I hope is on the next LP and when Franic Rozycki does the familiar slide down the neck of his bass it has to be the majestic ‘Pool Hall’. The first quartet of songs sat together perfectly and represented as good a short summation of the band as you could expect to hear.

Having only been released for a day the new ‘Brushes With Happiness’ LP is a concoction still to savour properly but it is very much a mellow, late night delicacy. ‘Volcano’ is steady, sparse and emotive and as the rest of the new collection it has a distant lyrical melancholia. These new songs describe a world of random discarded objects, burnt matches and rain through window panes; viewed with a similar detachment to the narrator in much earlier song ‘Beer In The Breakers’. Best of the newbies is ‘Laces’ (‘…i’m glad you never tried to change me..you never even asked me to stay…’).

It was no surprise when Jonny Helm stepped out from behind the kit for his customary solo vocal, but I didn’t expect a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘And It Stoned Me’, sung without microphone (there seemed to be some issues with mics and monitors that didn’t get fully resolved) and given the subtlest of guitar and bass accompaniment.

‘The Running Man’ closed the main set then the unrelenting nightmare tale of ‘The Woods’ and finally Dave ditched the microphone for newie ‘The Red Suitcase’ drifting away slowly and ‘..waving to the waves……‘.

http://thewavepictures.com/
http://www.ianjeffs.com/
https://www.storeysfieldcentre.org.uk/

Red Red Eyes, Blue Moon, Cambridge, 5 June 2018

An excellent double-bill in the popular Blue Moon venue room, with an emphasis on keyboard-driven sounds.

First on was Cambridge based Luke Cowan; having recorded an evocative EP to illustrate the passing of the seasons he was performing this minimalist suite, having first set the tone with a cover of Bert Jansch’s ‘Veronica’. A quiet and unassuming frontman, Luke was directing his fellow seated instrumentalists from the piano as they added bass, acoustic guitar, drums and a range of percussion including a shaken cluster of shells and a singing wine glass.
Always building around a repeating and resonating piano motif each timeless, dreaming piece flowed and entranced, quite unlike anything I had heard in a live show for ages and very welcome too.

Red Red Eyes are Laura McMahon and Xavier Watkins, key performers in cinematic psychedelic adventurers Violet Woods back in 2014. This new band have recently released the impressive album ‘Horology’ (on which every track has something to do with clocks?).
The songs are based around sustained keyboard chords, varying from church organ to reassuring eighties synthesiser but the hypnotic, echoing and strangely soothing voice of Laura is the dominant sound. This is interwoven with Xavier’s effects box of tricks and sharp-edged electric guitar to cut through the mix as in the dissonant waltz ‘The Watch Ticks On’.

There are plenty of varied tones; the pulsing electro bassline on the up-tempo ‘Empty Land’, the mellotron accompaniment to the short and plaintive ‘Heart In Your Mouth’ and the many instrumental cross-currents in the sweeping epic ‘Wildfires’.

‘Control’ has a distant melody and piano line and is a sublime summary of many of the aspects of the rest of the all too short set. Persisting in the memory it was a thought-provoking, imaginative musical evening much appreciated by an attentive audience…

https://www.facebook.com/redredeyesband/
https://lukecowan.bandcamp.com/

Strawberry Fair, Midsummer Common, Cambridge, 2 June 2018

Since its beginning in the 1970s, Strawberry Fair has become a much-anticipated fixture on the Cambridge summer calendar. Full of colour, costume, protest, food and drink it is still primarily a free music festival with upwards of 100 acts on show, only a few of which I was able to stay to see this time round.
Some years the event can be slow to get going but this time the weather brought out a substantial crowd early on, including an appreciative audience for The Scissors opening the Rebel Arts Stage at midday. After a decade at the forefront of the Cambridge scene they can still strike a pose and rip it up with the best of them, aided by a selection of their own fastest and loudest songs, including I thought an extra turning up of the blazing sound system to a volume beyond 11 halfway through the set. Having seen them recently in the confines of the Cornerhouse venue, their rich and hypnotic swirling sound easily steps up to an outdoor show.

Meanwhile in the Portland Ballroom (a large tent with excellent ale bar) Garden Birds were on stage; singer/songwriter/guitarist Sarah Taylor-Morris accompanied by another guitar and with an extra enhancement of five backing singers to add an ethereal choir to her uptempo folk tales.
Next on were indie fun-folksters Jacquie And Geoff, the duo joined by electric upright bass, percussion and the lushness of a clarinet. It was all enjoyable feel-good stuff, even with an occasional ukulele showing its ability to sound uplifting and melancholic at the same time.

Cambridge 105 radio have many ways of promoting local artists, with dedicated specialist DJs and the very popular ‘unsigned chart’. Here they host a stage, showcasing local artists of all genres; we caught the end of a set by Ffion Rebecca, originally from Wales but now living in Cambridge and making waves on the local music scene. Performing her own songs and covers she has a rich and versatile voice and a confident stage presence, accompanied by some jazzy stylings from her companion’s acoustic guitar.

I last saw guitarist Kimberley Rew guesting with cult legend Robyn Hitchcock two weeks ago, now here he was on the Flying Pig stage as the lynchpin of the band Jack, a good-time blues-rock band regularly gigging around the city. Rew is not an extravagant soloist, his short and spicy guitar lines and chops weave effortlessly over rock solid bass and drums and complement the traditional blues vocals. Definitely a band and vibe to savour as the afternoon turned to evening and the crowds continued to arrive…

http://strawberry-fair.org.uk/
http://www.thescissors.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/jacquiandgeoff
https://cambridge105.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/FfionRebecca%20/
http://www.jackblues.tk/

Robyn Hitchcock, Unitarian Church, Cambridge, 18 May 2018

The small Unitarian Church is an ideal venue for the close bond that Robyn Hitchcock has with his devoted followers, he was playing the second of two long ago sold-out shows, with the promise of a completely different setlist for each evening.

Support Jessica Lee Morgan sings her own compositions with acoustic guitar and some jazzy bass. She has a warm and versatile voice; opener ‘Texas Angel’ shows shades of Joni Mitchell while ‘I Am Not’ is a bold alt-country statement of independence. ‘Nobody Knows’ is a short sharp up-tempo bluesy number and then back to the country stylings and catchy chorus of ‘Waiting To Leave’. ‘The Less Said The Better’ was co-written with Jessica’s mother, singer Mary Hopkin, then she managed to get the normally reserved Cambridge audience to sing along to set-closer ‘This Is My Love Song To You’, leaving a real feel-good atmosphere in the church.

Robyn Hitchcock draws on his substantial back catalogue and his attachment to Cambridge for his set (most recent album not featuring at all?), opening with his original band Soft Boys song ‘Tonight’, probably written he says across the road on Midsummer Common in 1979.
The songs work with just his acoustic guitar accompanying; often using quite a complex instrumentation. With a warning that a throat infection may render his voice a bit more “Leonard Cohen” than usual he launched into the excellent ‘My Wife And My Dead Wife’ with its multitude of twisting lyrical rhymes (‘..my dead wife’s upstairs, she’s still wearing flares…’) and a macabre but irresistible chorus.
The surreal words stay in dark territory for ‘Sinister But She’s Happy’ but how can you not raise a wry smile to the line ‘…like a chandelier festooned with leeches…’ and so many others.

With its pop laced with psychedelia ‘Beautiful Girl’ would have sat nicely at the top of the charts in the late 60s, while ‘I’m Only You’ is another tour de force of lyrical imagery (…I’m a liquid you’re dissolving in…’) and then a cover of Syd Barrett’s ‘Octopus’ fits in well.
Being a church venue, you could expect to find a piano, so Robyn moved across to the Steinway upright for a trio of ballads ending with ‘I Used To Love You’ with local references galore ‘…the police station is still on Parkers Piece, it hasn’t drifted and nor have the police…’.

Local guitarist and original musical collaborator Kimberley Rew stepped up to add some spiky electric guitar colours to four more songs, including the timeless political frustrations of ‘I Wanna Destroy You’ and a moving cover of alternative national anthem ‘Waterloo Sunset’ bringing this brilliant show to an end.

http://www.robynhitchcock.com/
http://www.jessicaleemorgan.com/
http://www.greenmind.co.uk/


Robyn and early arrivals outside the venue (photo by http://www.karenfranceseng.com)

Bury Fringe All-Dayer, Hunter Club, Bury St Edmunds, 5 May 2018

Thirty bands across four stages in the welcoming surroundings of the Hunter Club, mainly showcasing performers from the musical cauldron of Bury St Edmunds. Curated by Seymour Quigley, local veteran of many bands including the inestimable and greatly missed Horse Party, a favourite on this site. And he must be congratulated on a superb job; with so much choice and quality on show during the day.

There was a mellow and relaxing start on one of the stages from Alicia Hall and then Robert C Taylor, with subtle acoustic guitar and a mix of covers and own compositions. Cambridge based Lemondaze were a revelation of loud, artful, psychedelic energy. With all the infinite possibilities arising from bass and two guitarists with a mountain of effects pedals, three voices and industrial strength drumming the songs hit and lifted the audience onto another plane for their half hour.

Duo Kulk played the first of two sets, the heavy electric guitar and frenetic drums combination works brilliantly in an intimate venue, with guitarist Thom Longdin down in the audience or roaring some vocals, while Jade Squires pounds the drum kit mercilessly. Back on the ‘Rock Against Racism’ stage we found another intriguingly named duo: Grandma’s Waffle Velocity from Colchester, this time the vocals and unrelenting drums interlinked with an effects-laden bass. The Glitter Shop brought a dream-pop, keyboard driven vibe to the main stage performing some powerful versions of best known tracks ‘Alive’, ‘Fizz and ‘Sleep’. I caught the end of the set by Cambridge trio The Baby Seals, consummate performers with a great sound and stage presence; and also a couple of rapid fire rock-pop songs from SIAH, very well received by the audience.

I was looking forward to Londoners Fightmilk having seen them recently and they certainly didn’t disappoint, with a set drawn mainly from their soon to be released new album the four-piece mesh brilliantly on stage with a wall of noisy mayhem tempered by light and shade in their mix and neat instrumental flourishes. Witty lyrics are delivered knowingly by lead singer Lily Rae and older songs ‘Pity Party’, the stealthy ‘Your Girlfriend’ and the mighty ‘Bank Of Mum And Dad’ went down well too.

While Cambridge trio Goldblume were weaving their magic of edgy blues next door, Bury rockers Tundra thoroughly warmed up the home crowd for the arrival of local heroes Gaffa Tape Sandy, returning from playing in Leeds earlier in the day. Opening with ‘Transylvania’, it was second track ‘Water Bottle’ that sent the faithful into overdrive, with crowdsurfing carrying on through the set, even when the music was briefly interrupted by a charity flexi-disc raffle. The rhythm powered trio make an incredibly full sound and the pace and momentum did not let up throughout, reaching its apex in the majestic ‘Beehive’, a glorious end to a fantastic day.

http://www.gaffatapesandy.co.uk/
https://fightmilkisaband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TUNDRABANDOFFICIAL/
https://goldblumeband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SIAHbury/
http://thebabyseals.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/theglittershopband/
https://www.facebook.com/Grandmaswafflevelocity
https://kulk.bandcamp.com/
http://www.hunterclub.org.uk/

Public Service Broadcasting, Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 10 April 2018

The return of Public Service Broadcasting to the Corn Exchange after three years of a steadily increasing profile culminating in their new album reaching number four in the charts.

Support was from Jane Weaver, multi-talented singer/songwriter tonight showcasing tracks from her most recent album with her keyboardist and guitarist laying down some bold electronic grooves and featuring some excellent live drumming. Jane’s vocals float effortlessly above the music and the hypnotic qualities of ‘The Architect, ‘I Need A Connection’ and older favourite ‘Don’t Take My Soul’ went down well with the sold-out crowd.

With a stage flanked by two moving pithead wheels and miners’ lamps descending from above the four performers of PSB opened their set with the first three tracks from the very successful ‘Every Valley’ album, describing the central position of the coal industry in communities in the Welsh valleys; the decline of the industry to be revisited later in the show.

Their use of visuals has reached a new level, the striking images projected onto several screens, illustrating the archive voice samples. The musical core of the band continues as strongly as before, with live guitar, drumming and bass giving extra heft when necessary.
Older songs such as ‘Theme From PSB’, ‘Night Mail’ and concert rarity ‘Elfstedentocht’ (‘…a song about ice-skating in Dutch…’) were real treats but the surprise mid-set highlight was definitely ‘ROYGBIV’ when the voices describing the invention of electronic colour were accompanied by a visual spectacular.

We cheered the re-establishment of contact with Apollo 8 as it returned from ‘The Other Side’ of the Moon, enjoyed the dancing astronauts and brass-players in ‘Gagarin’, went misty-eyed over film of the pioneering ‘Valentina’, were shocked by the images of confrontation and musical dissonance in ‘All Out’, revelled in the eccentric singalong of spacecraft technology in ‘Go’ and were carried along by the emotional history lesson of ‘Everest’. And there was more too.

What a great show! In 2015 I described them as a ‘…formidable live attraction…’, they are even better now…

https://www.publicservicebroadcasting.net/
https://janeweavermusic.com/

https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/04/26/public-service-broadcasting-corn-exchange-cambridge-25-april-2015/