Tag Archives: live

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)

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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/

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Fopp, Cambridge, 5 April 2018

Cambridge record store Fopp was the venue for a short acoustic performance from highly-regarded folk duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, a prelude to their show later in the day at The Portland Arms….
….and what a treat for the tired CD and vinyl shopper, as the pair spun their wistful melancholy with single guitar and unamplified voice, (adding a brief appearance from support act Samantha Whates on backing vocals for two songs). They opened with ‘The Birds’ from their ornithologically themed EP from 2017. Josienne has a pure, rich yet delicate voice, fully inhabiting the lyrical tales she tells. Having instantly won over the audience the pair then played the poignant ‘Something Familiar’ (5.8 million listens on Spotify!).

Currently touring to promote a new LP, Josienne and Ben have an extensive back catalogue including some covers of traditional folk tunes and more contemporary works such as ‘Dark Turn Of Mind’, a slow waltz from US alt-country singer Gillian Welch’s 2011 album ‘The Harrow & The Harvest’ which was performed next. Their current stage show adds drums, bass and keyboards to the sound, but the sparseness and space in the sound produced this afternoon was a hypnotic mix on its own. Ben plays acoustic mainly but also featured a retro Gibson hollow-bodied electric; what a superb sound that made.
They finished the set with the mellow ‘Seedlings All’, the title track to the new disc.
Pure Magic.

http://josienneandben.com/#contact

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/
http://loui552.wixsite.com/flamingjuneuk
https://www.iclaudiamusic.com/

Wave Pictures, Esquires, Bedford, 15 March 2018

In their many years of extensive touring, the Wave Pictures had never played in Bedford, historic home town of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. It was also new territory for Cambridge’s Mammoth Penguins, the opening act in Bedford Esquires; ‘one of the UK’s most beloved independent small music venues’.
Tracks from their superb debut LP (‘Cries At The Movies’, ‘Propped Up’ and the matchless ‘Strength In My Legs’) were mixed with songs from their new concept album where a person’s disappearance is described from the viewpoint of all the affected parties. As a power trio they produce a bold balanced live sound, with plenty of space for instrumental nuance and the subtleties of Emma Kupa’s sharp lyrics.

The Wave Pictures have a core of adoring fans and gather new converts whenever they come to town; their reputation for hard work is reflected in the news that they have two new albums out this year in June and October. This productivity rate results in a vast back catalogue and tonight’s show mines gems from this rich seam including the opener ‘Little Surprise’ and fan-favourite ‘Spaghetti’.

If you have never seen them before prepare to be impressed by the relaxed but confident musical interplay between the trio, the quality of the songs and of course the guitar playing intricacies from unassuming frontman Dave Tattersall unleashed early on in ‘Lisbon’ and especially later in ‘Tiny Craters In The Sand’.

Jonny Helm steps out from behind the drums for the affecting ‘Sleepy Eyes’ and Franic Rozycki constantly develops bass lines that mesh perfectly around each rhythm, as the style ranges between the rock blast of ‘Pea Green Coat’, the slower blues grind of ‘H.D Rider’ with new companion piece ‘House On the Beach’ and the effortless shuffling groove of ‘Before This Day’.

One of the only bands you will see who can take requests and instantly play them, we were treated to ‘Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens’ and an encore cover of the brooding blues ‘Green River’. The final song in the main set was the pensive ‘Like Smoke’, drifting upwards into the rafters and fading away into just the vocal refrain, as we all wondered when we could join them for the next show (It is Cambridge on June 23rd…!!)

http://thewavepictures.com/
http://mammothpenguins.tumblr.com/
http://www.bedfordesquires.co.uk/

Indiepop Alldayer, Firebug, Leicester, 24 Feb 2018

Another strong line-up in the upstairs room at The Firebug, kicking off with local duo Jitterz, who have claimed to be ‘the uncoolest band you’ll ever meet’ and the drums/guitar/vocal set-up is an ideal opener with some raw and smart own compositions. Like the White Stripes but more fun.

Charmpit carry an American attitude into some very British preoccupations and their infectious noise is accompanied by props, glitter and general likeability, including inviting everyone to the all-you-can-eat buffet afterwards. Personal Best were replaced at the last minute by multi-talented Emma Kupa, frequently reviewed in various guises on this site, this afternoon she was playing acoustic guitar and singing her heartfelt, emotional vignettes.

MJ Hibbert And The Validators play wistful, amusing songs showing that getting older doesn’t adversely affect your views on life, love and alternative music (‘…my boss was in an indie band once, he never sold his bass..‘). Nice bit of violin playing too.

After a short break to re-charge, Fightmilk opened the second half with the explosive ‘Bank Of Mum And Dad’, full of neat lyrics (‘…everything I own is in a box in the shed…’) they make a great sound, with a relaxed on-stage chemistry. They really are enjoying being on stage and the feeling spreads into the audience. The sinister, brooding ‘Your Girlfriend’ shows that the band are not just all-out rockers. A definite highlight of the day, can’t wait to see them again!

As soon as Suggested Friends kick into ‘Chicken’, you know you are in safe hands; with Emma Kupa back on stage on bass, pounding drums and tight guitar work, all held together by Faith Taylor’s extra-special vocals. It is a ‘Song 2’ for the indie DIY scene. ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Horcrux For Your Soul’ motors along pushing all before it and the high point for me is the superbly concise and scary ‘Please Don’t Look At Me On The Bus’ with a hookline you can’t get out of your head.

I had been looking forward to seeing Milky Wimpshake (returning to Leicester for the first time in at least twenty years!) and I wasn’t disappointed. Frontman Pete Dale has a substantial back catalogue to delve into and the bands sparse but sharp playing gives room for his tales of the politics of the nation and relationships or just the mundanity of everyday life, with some tracks going back to his recently re-released debut album ‘Bus Route To Your Heart’.

We had to leave soon after former Broken Family Band frontman Steven Adams And The French Drops started their bill-topping set, but they seemed to be hitting the heights early on with many fans in the audience.

It was a great musical mini-festival (and still only £8!!?)

https://jitterz.bandcamp.com/
https://charmpit.bandcamp.com/
https://emmakupa.wordpress.com/
http://mjhibbett.co.uk/
https://fightmilkisaband.bandcamp.com/
https://suggestedfriends.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/milkywimpshake
http://www.stevenjamesadams.com/