Tag Archives: Fire: TUF

Folk In Hull – a celebration of local music

Songs are poems put to music; music is a story with no need for words.

Folk in Hull was a tale told in nine chapters, taking the audience on a journey of the city and its music makers.

Our initial narrators were Lyn Acton and Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones, who kept the audience engaged with their humorous conversation and endless jokes, bridging that gap from the stage. It was in quick succession that each band took their part, mere minutes as they bounced from one side of the stage to the other.

Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)
Farino (Paul Newbon Photography)

Up first were guitar-yielding duo Farino, who released their debut album in 2008. Influenced by any music genre which includes the guitar, you could hear the Latin vibe in their opening track. As is often the case, we launched straight into the music, with a fast-paced instrumental to which you could easily picture dancers strutting around the room to. Showcasing all that you can do with the instrument, the audience was swiftly warmed up, energised by the sound and eager to hear more.

Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)
Crooked Weather (Paul Newbon Photography)

Describing themselves as earthy, unruly and original, Crooked Weather were next on the bill. It was difficult to place them into a genre, having a folk-rock look and with more of a blues sound, this five-piece introduced the art of storytelling into the night. Performing four songs, one of which lead vocalist Will Bladen described as “the folkiest thing you’ll hear all evening”, they pulled the audience in by the heartstrings.

Returning the focus back to the instruments were RPM (which stands for the first initials of each member: Rob, Paul and Mike). With roots in improvisation, they performed a block of consistent powerful sound; the drums and bass getting your feet tapping, while the saxophone made you sway.

Pearl's Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)
Pearl’s Cab Ride (Paul Newbon Photography)

The last band before the short interval was Lyn Acton’s own Pearl’s Cab Ride, ending the segment with the funky soul of this large band, meant that everyone was eager for more.

The mood was set by the musicians, bouncing as they did from one stage to another, building up that kaleidoscope of sentiment.

The highlights for me were yet to come, and they did not disappoint.

Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin 'Mad Dog' Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)
Hillbilly Troupe, feat. Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Jones (Paul Newbon Photography)

Hillbilly Troupe were the fifth act on stage, instantly raising the roof of Hull Truck. Performing without Mick McGarry, Lloyd Dobbs and Mick Murphy took on lead vocals while Martin Jones joined the ensemble to play trumpet during ‘I Wish There Was No Prisons’, during which Dobbs mimicked picking his pocket.

Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)
Heron String Quartet (Paul Newbon Photography)

Bringing the volume down, but leaving the energy high, the Heron String Quartet took over with. The back curtain now lit up like the night sky, they performed three classical collaborations, taking us on a wordless journey into the night, which including one which mixed ‘Beethoven’s Fifth’ with The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’.

Micky Fegz - Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Micky Fegz – Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Next up were dark grunge artists Fire: The Unstoppable Force. I’ve seen these guys a lot recently, and I’ve been saying they’re suited for a stage like this one. And, as their name suggests, the stage was unable to stop them; Alfie Steel did not instantly pick up his guitar, instead opening with a wolf call before taking the stairs in order to penetrate the audience. I’ve always said they are fantastic performers, and they proved this with every movement, reminding us that we were sat in a theatre and that music is more than just noise made by the instruments. Anyone who hadn’t seen them before were quickly enthralled, with members standing between songs as they applauded.

Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)
Fire: The Unstoppable Force (Paul Newbon Photography)

Wedging together two of my favourite bands, Tom Skelly and The Salty Beards took up their instruments next. Opening with ‘Morning Sun’, they started softly, easing us in while focusing our attention on Skelly’s luscious voice. Never failing to capture my heart, the world around them dissipated, fading to insignificance; those people who’d distracted me before as they stood to top up their drinks no longer there. The Salty Beards filling the space between songs with sound, you were kept hanging on, your heart beating in time with the music, which grew in ferocity.

Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)
Bud Sugar (Paul Newbon Photography)

Concluding the night, popular boys Bud Sugar were described by Lyn Acton as “one of the hits of the festivals last year”, and the calls from the crowd certainly back this up. Mixing rap, reggae and just about anything which takes their fancy, the audience clapped along as they played, casting the music around the entire room.

An amazing variety of talent, covering every genre of music and building the performance into the sound, Folk in Hull demonstrated exactly what makes this city strong. A tale which took many turns, saw many characters and ended with a happily ever after.

I wrote two reviews for this event – this one featured in Browse Magazine. You can read the other over on the Yorkshire Gig Guide.

All photography by the wonderful Paul Newbon.


Hulloween – Round One – Friday Night

The dress code was ‘dark and surreal’ and many took this on board. Most notably the bands performing in Halloween-inspired garbs.

I, sadly, left everything to the last minute. Usually one to be designing Halloween costumes over the summer, I could be found transforming a rah-rah skirt into a suitable witch’s mess of cobwebs, spiders and skulls. I was not to let this deter me though; Halloween is time to let those guards down and test your limits.

Catching the bus was a bit of an issue when the colourful aspects of your outfit only show up under a UV light. Thinking that missing the mode of transport would be the worst thing to happen this Allhallow’s Eve, I giggled with one of the Blues Brothers who noted that he’d had the same issue.

I was early for the first performance at the Alive With Art exhibition so, spotted by a former colleague, I joined friends in Pave for a pleasant catch-up.

As catch-ups do, this overran so that I missed The Dyr Sister perform, but one friend accompanied me into the exhibition to watch Mein Host perform to a speckled crowd among the artwork. One man and his guitar, the intimate venue was a perfect place to capture his enchanting voice and personality. When we followed Mein Host upstairs to Union Mash Up, where he sang three more songs, he performed to each one of us. Moving around the room, he engaged with each of us who attended early into the evening, enjoying the calm ambience with a vampire movie silently playing in the background. It was at this point, aiming to get a shot where he wore a butcher aprin emblazoned with the event’s logo, that I realised just how unorganised I had been. Having uploaded the images from Tuesday night’s Sesh, I’d left my SD card in my laptop, and would be carrying around a fully-charged and utterly useless camera for the night.

It was about 9pm when I headed down to The Polar Bear, saddened that I’d had to make the decision between the collection of bands there and the performers at Union Mash Up. I would have liked to see Lewis Young (AKA My Pleasure) perform again, and certainly would have enjoyed the change of plan for Rachel Harris who would be performing a piece on heroin and the work of Michelle Dee. The atmosphere had been delightful and calm, with a comfortable collection of chairs and a chance to chat relax, chat and drink.

But, as if hearing Grant Dobbs practising his wolf howls, the call of the wild was drawing me to The Polar Bear, where The Cotton Gussets were playing and another group of friends were aiming to meet me within minutes. Clapping along, the first band stepping down as I order my drink, I looked around at the decorated room and the few decorated customers to have joined thus far. There were many surreal skulls and a fantastic werewolf costume, but many people had opted to come simply as themselves.

Spooky Friends
Spooky Friends

Dead Hormones performed spattered in blood, the volume turned up loud and bouncing around the walls. In fact, one friend commented that they were so bouncing that he need not shake when visiting the little boys’ room just the other side of the wall from the stage. Playing a mixture of original tracks and covers, the audience was able to join in whether they knew the band or not, shaking their shoulders to their version of Stuck In The Middle or tapping their foot to General Error.

It was wonderful to watch the increasing swarm of participants; the general public as well as members of the many Hull bands who were there in support of their fellow musicians. There were a mixture of outfits, from the traditional witches (myself included), zombies and cats (why?), to fully decorated skeletons and gothic-inspired ensembles. The efforts of both bands and customers were noted in conversation, people chatting with strangers about the application of make-up and choice of outfit. From our table there was a long discussion about the appropriate manner in which to ask Jacob Tillison if we could get a picture of his backside, decorated with two bloody handprints.

Hillbilly Troupe performing
Hillbilly Troupe performing

Fire – a truly unstoppable force – performed a collection of horror-themed songs, including Jack the Ripper and Psycho Killer. Alfie Steel’s voice was strikingly haunting, and would not go amiss as a voiceover introduction to a slasher movie. This, teamed with the wolf howls in Bad Man which were echoed back from the audience, painted an auditory picture of the joy of Halloween, the fantastical pleasure that comes so close to fear.

Last minute headliners were the Hillbilly Troupe, having only been announced that morning. With a mixture of eyeliner efforts and unusual wardrobe choices – Mick McGarry did comment on Lloyd’s “lovely knees” during on-stage discussion about his selection of dress for the evening – they crowded the stage before an eager audience. This band always get the crowd moving, playing their favourites from the current album and even getting down to dance with the people. Ending the night in a fit of energy, they left me, and I am sure many more, hungry for more.

A thoroughly enjoyable Halloween evening; easily chatting along with an array of characters dressed as assorted characters, with fantastic music and two welcoming venues. I’m certainly ready to do it all again tonight, when a second set of bands take to The Polar Bear’s stage which includes the mysterious Tobias Reaper & The Graveyard Shift (playing at 11pm).

A clue?
A clue?

This time I won’t be donning my witch’s hat and wand, but I will have a camera I can use. So, at the very least, tomorrow’s review will look nicer.

Hull Trinity Festival 2014