Tag Archives: The Corner House

The Hot Lights, The Corner House, Cambridge, 4 July 2014

Billed as ‘Cambridge Indie Heroes’, anyone expecting an evening of relentless introspective shoegazing would have been surprised at the exuberance and variety on offer. First on were Riverane, two guitars, bass and drums line-up. Vocalist /guitarist Gabriel Coulter has raw edges to his voice, suiting the sound well. The songs vary in unexpected ways, different sections, changes and instrumental passages show a will to experiment and keep the listener interested beyond the standard ‘Indie’ template. They are a young band with potential, listen to their soundcloud tracks.

The next act was the solo guitar and voice of Dickon McCarthy, an unassuming and unpretentious performer. His gentle and mellifluous vocal style, smoothly drifting over busy guitar work is something a bit different from the current crop of solo singer/guitarists. Having seen so many loops/triggered sounds/backing tracks etc recently it was intriguing to see a performer going back to basics, creating the rhythm and effects interweaved with the conventional accompaniment on a standard acoustic guitar. Again, have a listen to soundcloud…

Venus Grove are a competent four piece, playing catchy tunes drawing on the power-pop and punk heritage of the late 70s and early 80s. The lead singer Bob Nicholas had a style and delivery similar to Elvis Costello (and the glasses as well..) and the drummer created a punchy pace to the songs. The set built up well, again there was variety and having read that their influences were XTC, Beatles, Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix and others I think most of those boxes were ticked with style.

Top of the bill were The Hot Lights, they had a shaky start with a guitar string repair needed during a suspended opening song, but the audience were patient and responded well to the comeback ‘Keeping on Track’. With a relaxed and very charismatic front man and many supporters in the audience the rocking set rolled along with energy, their own material was strong and there was an interesting choice of two covers, ‘Luka’ the Suzanne Vega song (she was playing in Cambridge earlier this week), later covered by The Lemonheads, and the Nelly Furtado song ‘Turn off The Light’. Second guitar was sometimes substituted by keyboards for a different version of their Indie sound. I particularly enjoyed the songs towards the end of the set, ‘You Should Be With Me’ was a highlight. It was an engaging and enjoyable performance..

As a prelude to the Cambridge leg of the ‘Tour de France’, there was a free concert on Parker’s Piece featuring Billy Ocean and The Bay City Rollers, I think I made the right decision to seek out the alternative free show in The Corner House…


Horse Party, The Corner House , Cambridge, 20 June 2014

Horse Party are a 3-piece indie-blues band of drums and two guitars, playing a set of confident tunes, mostly taken from their recent album ‘Cover Your Eyes’. The pounding beat of ‘Back to Mono’ opens the set, the guitars overlap well and nobody missed the bass, it was certainly a full enough sound for the appreciative audience in the confines of the Corner House. There is a definite American influence, the guitar notes bend and linger and each song has plenty of time to establish the mood musically and lyrically. A highlight was when sparse arrangements in ‘Six’ gave way to guitar fireworks and inventive drum power, then back again.

Ellie Langley, Seymour Quigley and Shannon Hope are accomplished musicians, based in Bury St Edmunds (once described as ‘the new Seattle’ by John Peel during a previous musical flourishing..) and are important contributors to the resurgence of the local music scene, including their own fanzine and promoting regular music nights. An enjoyable set, I hope to see them again…


The Centimes, The Corner House, Cambridge, 25 April 2014

Tom Colborn was the engaging opening act at The Corner House, with his slide (‘bottleneck’) guitar playing, probably unique on the Cambridge scene. It was the blues, characterised by the mesmerising crystal clear sound of the resonator guitar echoing underneath self-composed songs expressing social concerns that could have been from any era. He ended strongly with the blues standard ‘Dust My Broom’, as originally performed by Elmore James (and Robert Johnson before that…).

I like The Corner House, it is a friendly place and you can walk straight off the street and into a free concert. It is a bit like someone’s large lounge when the two smaller living rooms have been knocked through, there is a reassuring archway and homely wallpaper around the top of the room. It reminded me of the classic TV show ‘The Young Ones’ when the anarchic comedy was suddenly hijacked by a top band of the day appearing in the house (OK, I know it was just a stage set…).

Biscuits for Bears were on next, classic power pop line up, guitar, bass and drums. It was a high energy performance, but there was also plenty of variation, such as waltz time on ‘Saturn in Retrograde’ and understated bass on ‘Hand Model’. ‘Won’t See Me Around’ is a stand-out pop song, much appreciated by the steadily building audience. I enjoyed their set, I hope to see them again when they resume live performance in September.

Trouser Crisis had the same trio line-up, the opening song ‘Something Missing’ was a short burst of punk energy sustained through the set, temporarily slowed for ‘Ship in a Bottle’ then pushed through to the closing song ‘Taken’ via a speeded up cover of The Penguins classic ‘Earth Angel’, (as featured in the film ‘Back To The Future!). Well played and structured songs, delivered with a knowing awareness of their musical genre.

I was looking forward to seeing The Centimes again (see earlier review) and they did not disappoint, structuring the set differently from before, starting with the opening song featuring just simple percussion as the drummer stepped up to sing. Slow opening songs built up to the full band sound, the separate vocal strengths of each member of the band giving contrast and variety to the show. It was a confident performance, the sometimes sparse instrumentation leaving room to show the strength of the songs. A classy end to a good evening of music.