We are drawing to the end of 2015.
I’ve been rather quiet recently. Well, as far as gigs have been concerned. I’ve not even been down to the weekly Sesh night for the past couple of months, instead feeling as though I have been dragged home from work by some undistinguishable force which throws me into the warmth and calmly tells me to ‘stay’. It’s not that there haven’t been fantastic things happening, I just haven’t found the energy to motivate myself into attending any of them.
So, now that I have started my Christmas holiday and begun to unwind, I find myself looking back over those warmer months which were spent in sweaty music venues and at crowded festivals.
This is my summary of 2015, through the musicians who have made this year an absolute blast.
And I start with my (second-only-to-the-Manics) favourite band, who I discovered in January of this year at The New Adelphi Club during Independent Venue Week. Their charisma and energy drew me to the stage and had me dancing along. I’ve since gushed with animated enthusiasm about Frankie and The Heartstrings, ensuring I stayed up to date with their latest album ‘Decency’ (pre-ordered so that it arrived at the earliest possible moment) and booking my ticket for the tour, when they returned to Hull in October. I can’t get through a Frankie gig with notepad still in hand. I just can’t focus on making words make sense when they perform; unable to stop my entire body from reacting to such tracks as ‘Think Yourself Lucky’. I stated in my review of their October gig that “It’s impossible not to feel elated when Frankie & The Heartstrings are on stage. They are everything wonderful about live music: fantastic tunes, glorious banter and more energy than a hummingbird after a can of Red Bull.”
My favourite home-based band is of course Streaming Lights. Since September of last year I have followed these boys to almost every single gig, which included most of the festivals over the summer, and interviewed them for their cover feature in Browse Magazine. It was their Freedom Festival 2015 set which shines out as the most colourful of them all. Headlining the Fruit Music Stage, they performed to a crowded Humber Street who chanted and cheered and sung along. Jumping from one corner of the stage to the other with my camera, aiming to capture every moment possible, I watched the crowd become frothed up with excitement. Every set is a humorous collection of catchy tunes and general silliness, which warms you on even the most freezing of a night. They make my cheeks ache from laughing too much, and I rarely awaken the following day with any voice left. With every set they improve, becoming more and more animated as they develop their sound and their presence in the Hull music scene.
A new voice on my radar this year has been Mark Rowland, who now goes by the stage name of Signs of Home. Supported by percussion from Coaves’ Conor Maher, he performs an energetic acoustic set which features emotional and fun songs. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing his EP, “The First One”, of which the opening track has become one of my most played tracks of the year. “Just Another Nerdy Kid” summarises geek-chic with simple lyrics, a clear meaning and a catchy chorus which will have a new audience singing along. I compared his vocals to Ed Sheeran – “a charming voice which comforts you, pleasantly taking your hand and guiding you through the music” – because the EP reminded me of my first impressions of the busking wonder, but having since seen Mark perform at a number of events, my view of him as a performer is less comparable with a focus solely on the lad before me.
The most intimate gig I attended this year was that of La Bête Blooms when they celebrated their fifth year as a band. Hosted at Thieving Harry’s, a café with ample character located on Hull’s picturesque marina, they were joined by friends and family, including that of supporting performers Emily Moulton and Tom Skelly. Three fantastic music acts, their music made ever more beautiful as we watched the setting sun through the open doors of the venue. Spilling out of these doors, La Bête Blooms performed one of their less aggressive sets, featuring new single “Summer”, the lyrics of which had been written into a small book that we were able to take home with us.
2015 has been an amazing year for local music. There is so much that I haven’t mentioned in this summary. There have been births – bands such as Vulgarians and Fronteers who have formed out of the ashes of former bands – and deaths – most notably the separation of BABIES who were quickly becoming one of my favourite local bands. There have been highs – mostly highs – and a few lows: as there is every year, we have taken the positive and the negative. But mostly, Hull has continued to shine as a brilliant star amongst many other wonderful music scenes.
I realise that I haven’t mentioned some significant names. LIFE performed at Leeds and Reading Festival on the BBC Introducing stage, giving them their well-deserved spotlight on the festival rota. For my birthday, I enjoyed the sounds of Less Decieved and Liberatae Mae (now both minus one member but still performing regularly) who supported the fantastic delight of Funeral For A Friend. I’ve spent a lot of time at Yasmin Coe gigs, amazed by the talent of such a young girl.
Truth is, there’s been so much to get excited about. And there continues to be. 2016 will bring more music, more memories.
Don’t forget to continue supporting local artists and your local independent music venues. Without continued support from friends, family and fans, they can not work. And if they can not work, then they can not supply is with the gift of their music. It’s a win-win really.