Tag Archives: Hull band

Electrifying and Thunderous: The Loudhailer Electric Gathering #1

A kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, personalities and guitars: the Loudhailer Electric  Gathering was a night to evoke the imagination.

Warming Kardomah94 from 8pm was Cathy and Dez Allenby, a former third of folk acid trio Forest. Armed with a range of instruments, including a shruti box which was introduced to us, their performance was a mixture of Forest tracks from albums Forest and Full Circle. The room was filled with an ethereal sound which always brings to mind the fairy tale element of folk music, but with a clear modern overlay. Cathy and Dez’s vocals worked wonderfully together, to the backdrop of a haunting tone from the instruments.

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I was struck with awe by how fluidly Dez worked all the instruments, admitting that he couldn’t manage the bouzouki and the whistles used in one track. His harmonica balanced around his neck, he switched between bouzouki and English concertina, adding percussion where he could. I loved that each song had its own clear sounds, demarcated by each musical instrument.

For the second part of their set, they invited Lou and Rich Duffy-Howard up on to the stage with them, adding an enriched sound with Rich’s guitar and the beat of Lou’s bass. Des himself summarised this modification when he told the crowded room “We’re all peace and love and things. But we’re all rockers at heart.”

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The sound was further amplified when Lou and Rich returned to the stage – a wardrobe change and mixture of faces as Loudhailer Electric Company started their set. Ignited by the lightshow from Josh Bell of L.A.D. Events Limited, Lou and guitarist Jeff Parsons, clad in a bright pink two-piece, were luminous on stage.

Jeff Parsons LECo

Electric and Loud are two words which certainly suit the band – not only in image but in their sound. The room was rocked with from the first track On The Run, “a murder song” we were told by Rich, to their en core, a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ which Rich declared was in tribute to “Paul and Grace” of Jefferson Airplane.

With members of former bands such as Dead Fingers Talk, Red Guitars and Planet Wilson, I knew the night as going to be fuelled with energy. What I hadn’t expected was to be quite so caught up in the verve. Lou’s constant smile was captivating, their enthusiasm as they performed songs about mental health and travelling to the Adelphi on a bus from Holderness was captivating. I’d fallen somewhat into a winter slumber over the past couple of months, but this gig has certainly woken me up.

Lou Duffy-Howard LECo

My favourite track changed from one to the next as they worked through the setlist. I have to say that Out To Sea was my favourite of the night: featuring all the sounds of Folk and Rock music that I adore. The searing guitar in the arms of master Jeff Parsons, the heavy beat of Rich Walker’s drums, Rich’s soulful harmonica and Chris Heron’s sweet violin all working in harmony with Lou’s powerful vocal leadership was mesmerising. Together it produced something which literally moved me, forcing me to react even in this seated venue.

Rich & Lou LECo

I found Loudhailer Electric Company difficult to compare to any other musician. With such an eclectic array of influences, all of which you could taste in their tunes, they’ve developed a powerful sound which is entirely their own. Mesmerising instruments – the backdrop to the stage a line-up of them – were used to tell enticing tales through the voices of such electric personalities.

If you do nothing else this year, get yourself to another of their Psychedelic Gatherings and enjoy their sound for yourself. I know I aim to be there at Gathering #2.

Jeff Parsons, Lou Duffy-Howard, Rich Duffy-Howard, Rich Walker, Cathy Allenby, Dez Allenby, Chris Heron
Jeff Parsons, Lou Duffy-Howard, Rich Duffy-Howard, Rich Walker, Cathy Allenby, Dez Allenby, Chris Heron

All photo credit goes to Paul Newbon. 

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Freedom Festival 2015 – in summary

The things which made my weekend:

It won’t strike you with much surprise that my highlight of the weekend was Streaming Lights.

When the initial programme came out, I was convinced that I would be camped outside the Yellow Bus Stage for the headline slot. And at 9:45pm I was stood clutching the barrier at the front of this stage, with thousands stood behind me watching the amazing Public Service Broadcasting.

At 10pm, however, I was twisting my way out from this crowd and into the one which had already formed in front of the Fruit Trade Music Stage.

And boy was I glad to have made this decision. Everyone I’ve spoken to said how amazing Public Service Broadcasting were, and I have no doubt in this, but anyone who saw Streaming Lights was saying the same thing. Every time I see these guys, they grow stronger. Their music is utterly fun, their energy unrelenting, making for a fast-paced and humorous set. Between Ryan’s intoxicated fist pumps to the guy in the audience who took control of the audience in chants and calls, this was a set which didn’t pause even for a breath. My chest hurt from laughing so hard, but the night ended on a high.

Streaming Lights - Steve & Ryan Streaming Lights - fist pump

I caught the end of Urban Astronaut on the Saturday as I headed down to the Marina. Performed by members of Highly Sprung as part of “Gone in 20 Minutes”, they told the story of the planet destroyed. The crowd was so dense however, that I could only see so much, though watching the Astronaut spinning in the air was quite fascinating.

Spotting the set up for this performance on Sunday, I parked myself on the floor and joined the front row for the entire set. With a two year old on my knee, we watched and took photographs as the story unfolded in full. In short: the atmosphere has turned toxic, leaving the ground barren and the air dangerous to breathe. A girl wearing a dress which reflected the summer sky set the stage, forming a circle with dirt and ‘planting’ flowers around. “Look after this for me,” she asked my toddler friend, engaging with key members of her audience. From up King Edward Street, four masked figures rolled a contraption which held the Astronaut in place. He bounced up and down, launching into the air above spectators’ heads. This brought more and more people. Their dance continued as a diet, the Astronaut fearing the girl who tried to comfort him and show him that life can survive once again on Earth.

It was amazing to watch as the Astronaut launched into the air, sailing above the audience who watched in awe. Children and adults alike seemed to watch with the same intrigue.

There was the chance to vote for your favourite of the “Gone in 20 Minutes” performances. However, I was watching so intently that I didn’t note the code and number down to text my vote. And the crowd dispersed so quickly that I couldn’t catch someone to ensure this was done. I’m not even sure how I check which performance won, but if it wasn’t this one then those I missed must have been extraordinary!

Urban Astronaut - Freedom Festival 2015 Urban Astronaut - Freedom Festival 2015

Taking kids to one of the days meant that I got to experience those attractions where a single lass may not be overly appreciated. “Mums and dads” were welcomed to join in with their offspring in Tangle, and so I joined two friends and their toddlers. And in doing so, I saw how this was both a wonderful idea for kids and also something… well, not. One of the little ones was just tired enough to be overwhelmed by the whole thing; surrounded by people in an environment she wasn’t used to, a tantrum ensued. Her little friend, however, enjoyed it so much that I was literally dragged back into the queue so that we could have a second go.

Such a simple idea, this was great fun and produced a colourful piece of art when complete. Absolutely loved it, and so did most of the children who joined in.

Tangle - Freedom Festival 2015 Tangle 3

Things which didn’t work for me:

The World Village Market didn’t really seem all that worldly. I saw a range of food stalls which offered cuisine from around the world – Turkish kebabs, French crepes, Chinese noodles and some delicious hot and spicy Indian curry – but little by the way of worldly goods. Considering the theme is Freedom, I would have expected more Fairtrade stalls. There didn’t even seem to be the usual extent of local stallholders as usual. Perhaps simply worded incorrectly, but I just didn’t agree that this aspect of the festival was achieved.

More of a niggle than a criticism, there were often huge crowds for events which were quite obviously going to be popular. I missed out on seeing Faust because the crowd was already six-deep when they started. I’ll accept some of the blame, as I’d not kept track of time as well as I should have to get myself to the front of the queue, but a larger space or some seating at the front of the crowd would have solved this. The Yellow Bus Stage were no longer using their deckchairs: could these have been put to use here?

I think this is something the festival-goers need to consider next year. But also something which the organisers could give some more thought to. Many of the attractions were repeated over the weekend, but sadly Faust was not one of these.

New acts I now follow:

I caught two new acts performing on the Bridge Stage on the opening night of the festival, catching the end of their sets as I wandered over to enjoy local bands I have seen many times.

Scarlet Riot - Freedom Festival 2015

The first was Skarlett Riot, a Scunthorpe-based rock group. Frontwoman Skarlett was wearing a rather impressive outfit. Their sound is reminiscent of the wonderfully heavy nu-metal and punk rock of the 2000s, guitar-fuelled and aggressive while still rhythmic enough to move to. It was a sound I could easily get caught up in, and I would love to see them perform again.

Spring King - Freedom Festival 2015

Spring King, fresh from Reading and Leeds festival stages and about to embark on a tour supporting Slaves, instantly got my attention as their guitarist threw himself and his instrument around. Whereas two of the band seemed pretty static, this guy and lead vocalist/drummer Tarek Musa seemed to exude endless energy. It was great to see a drummer fronting a band, though he was situated quite deep into the recesses of the stage.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. The idea of Freedom was everywhere, with people being given the chance to voice their opinions as well as listening to the ideas of others. The variety of music and theatrical performances, spread over the weekend for thousands to attend. And all for free!

Here’s to Freedom 2016.

Highlights of the Humber Street Sesh

Humber Street Sesh is a moment of joy, written into my diary before the new year has even started. It is where my blog began – the moment, last year, when I decided to start writing again.

And so I decided to treat the festival like one giant Sesh.

I try to attend as many Tuesday Sesh nights as possible, which is difficult when you work a Monday-Friday day-job (and also want to attend gigs on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday). My rule for Sesh is simple: either I have to be entirely free (a school holiday with no plans to catch up with friends or other work business involving Browse) or I have to be enticed by one of the bands. This meant that I didn’t use Street Sesh as a means of finding those bands I haven’t seen before. If I stumbled past one, great, but if I didn’t, no worries. There’s plenty of time for this at other Hull festivals – we’ve got Folk Festival, Freedom Festival and Trinity Festival in the coming weeks.

So, instead of reviewing everything here (after all, you can read my reviews of the festival on other platforms), I’m going to give my highlights of the day, in no particular order.

BABIES

Ryan Smith, Babies
Ryan Smith, Babies

It’s been long enough since they announced their split for me to cool down about it. I had expressed my upset to lead vocalist Ryan, but assured him that I would support them until the end. Performing on the Newcomers Stage, it seemed haunting that this was their last performance together.

I stood before the stage minutes before they were due to start, and noticed that there was some issue with a gizmo in Ryan’s hands. This issue seemed to be fixed, but it did lead to technical difficulties throughout their set. Fortunately, Babies have become used to this misfortune (at their EP launch it was Joe’s lead which lead to us not hearing his bass at all) and performed to their best ability.

Full of energy, full of smiles, Babies performed their last set with passion. The scattered crowd – their stage placed on Victoria Pier, they seemed to tower over us – congratulated them loudly as they concluded, and I spotted a couple of faces wash with momentary sadness.

All the best to the boys of Babies and their future endeavours. I doubt this is the last we’ve heard from them; music lovers tend to get drawn back in at some point.

LIFE

Mez Green, Life
Mez Green, Life

It was this time last year when I was first introduced to Life, before embarking on my first press conference with these boys. So, I just had to see them perform Street Sesh again.

The Main Stage had the largest gap between performers and audience, with quite a drop were a member of the band to jump down and try to physically engage with the audience. And that’s a typical part of Life’s performance; Mez hurling himself at the crowd in a fit of energy.

I hadn’t needed to worry. Their set was as wonderful as ever. Mez moved around the entire stage, he and his brother Mick stepping over the monitors onto a platform just before the stage, conversing with the audience. Stewart Baxter, stepping in for Rich on drums, was all energy – it’s often such a shame the drummer gets hidden at the back of the stage.

The band had also been in the crowd for Babies, with Mez taking a moment of their set to comment on the band and wish them all well. Before launching – literally – back into the music, taking that dive off the stage to meet the crowd and circle the grass before the barrier during ‘Take Off With You’.

STREAMING LIGHTS

Another band who are all energy is Streaming Lights, who have been a highlight in the music scene for the last twelve months for me. I don’t think I’ve missed one of their gigs so far this year, and they never disappoint.

Performing on the Dead Bod stage, they were sandwiched between two equally popular acts – Folk royalty Hillbilly Troupe and the fantastic Danny Landau Band. Lead vocalist Steve Minns stated at the start of the set that their sound was quite different to that of the others which fit more comfortably into the Folk genre, though it worked to introduce the more rock sound Danny Landau offers.

Sadly, the lighting was too much for my camera. So I pinched this photograph of Streaming Lights from Paul Newbon.
Sadly, the lighting was too much for my camera. So I pinched this photograph of Streaming Lights from Paul Newbon.

Still, it didn’t matter whether or not they fit into the genre of the stage – that’s one of the joys of the Sesh, that all genres are represented and get their chance to perform to a diverse audience. The crowd remained, shifting slightly as some moved backwards to the Minerva bar and others moved forward to embrace the music.

Streaming Lights have adapted their set recently, taking on more instrumentals and with a range of new songs in addition to bringing back some of their older rockier tunes. A thoroughly positive performance, the crowd reacted with equal vitality; at one point what appeared to be an item of clothing being thrown onto the stage, to which Ryan Gibbins retaliated by hurling toilet roll into the audience.

They even teased the audience with my favourite song – possibly their only slow one – ‘Slipper Song’, Steve singing the first word before announcing “it’s not the night for it”, and instead launching into their latest single, ‘Box Room Boy’.

Fantastic stuff, keeping the energy at a high and ensuring that the cold of the darkening sky didn’t get a chance to seep in.

BABY TOOTH

This was the first time I had seen Baby Tooth perform. I only caught the very end of their set on the Green Bricks Stage, and I was impressed that their live sound is pretty much what you hear on their recorded tracks.

What captivated me even further was what happened when they realised there was another ten minutes in which they were entitled to perform. Instead of launching into an original song or a cover of a popular grunge track, which would match their look, lead singer Nanny McGee unhooked the microphone from the stand and launched into a rather psychedelic version of ‘The Real Slim Shady’. It was totally unexpected and hilariously different to their look, but executed perfectly. I was amazing, grinning throughout the performance.

COAVES

I’d expressed the difficulty in which I had in selecting a headliner when such a wonderful selection was on offer. My decision to see Coaves was based on a number of things: the Newcomers Stage was in close proximity to the Dead Bod stage where I was seconds before; it was drummer Conor’s birthday, and I’d started the day with him supporting Mark Rowland in the Acoustic Marquee; and, simply, they are bloody brilliant.

The crowd was scattered. There were ten other amazing acts on, so this wasn’t a surprise. But for Coaves, this was fine because you need space to move. Their set is fuelled entirely by high octane energy, and this is mirrored in the reaction from the crowd.

They concluded with ‘Change Your Mind’, Jonny inviting everyone to have “a really good dance”. And with the addition of a new outro, all four members huddled around the drumkit, and two confetti cannons to just clinch that loud, frantic ending which you just don’t forget easily.

I’ve heard amazing things about the all of the headliners, but as someone who’s also been a part of the local music scene for around a year the Newcomers Stage felt appropriate. An amazing day for everyone, with eleven amazing headline acts sending the crowds away from the marina with smiles on their faces and all the adrenalin to fuel whatever they planned for the rest of the night, whether that be at the official After Party or not.

Artwork on Victoria Pier
Part of the Photography Exhibition on Victoria Pier

On top of all this, I was proud to see just how involved members of Browse were in the festival. Our Arts Editor Lucy Howson was painting live alongside other artists. Three of our photographers, including my good friend Paul Newbon, featured in the Photography exhibition which spread across Humber Street and Victoria Pier. And our Editor-in-chief Mike White was a headliner himself, DJing inside the Silent Disco.

A festival for the people by the people of Hull – everyone involved, in whatever role, should be very feeling very positive right now.

Streaming Lights Headline The Sesh 30.06.2015

Last time I was at the Sesh, we were interviewing Streaming Lights. On the stunning evening of the 30th, I met up with the lads again for their headline slot and launch of their new single ‘Box Room Boy’.

Imogen Hart
Imogen Hart

A small crowd had gathered quickly, there near the front of the room to support 16-year old Imogen Hart. This was her debut at Sesh, though she has performed at other events. Imogen has a voice which you can easily lose yourself in; her songs laced with emotions. There are many young singers surfacing – from Freedom Road Creative Arts, as Imogen has, as well as other institutes – and she is one of the brilliant performers who will be taking to the In Training Youth Stage at Humber Street Sesh.

It was a powerful warm-up which got you moving to the beat. Mak compared her to Emily Moulton, stating that he was “in awe” of her talents. I have to say that I am rather enjoying these Sesh nights which start with an acoustic act: after a long day at work, you often find the need to be gently eased into the mood.

Jon Calvert - Coaves
Jon Calvert – Coaves

Next up were Coaves, who don’t do anything in moderation. They started their set in high energy with ‘Waves’, a summery upbeat number which you’d struggle not to dance to. The crowd were clapping along, singing the chorus and moving with the boys on stage. Even with their slower tracks, all four bandmembers are bouncing with energy – it’s really quite intoxicating – Jonny climbing on the furniture and Liam spinning in circles.

The only downside to their set was that it lacked their usual outro: missing their heavy attack on the drumkit.

Fronteers
Fronteers

The Polar Bear was quite busy by the time Fronteers stepped up to the stage. This band is the one I have not seen for the longest time, having seen all three others on the bill in the last couple of months, and I was glad to see that they had grown in confidence. They’re developing their sound: less cover tracks and more conversation with the audience. But I still found it was lacking something. They had regular followers dancing in front of the stage, but their set didn’t work for me with that placement: sandwiched between two physically energetic bands, I felt there was a dip in on-stage charisma. Which is a shame, because I did enjoy their set – it just wasn’t the one I remembered upon waking up the following day.

And I was there mostly for Streaming Lights, headlining Sesh for the second time this year. Mak had warned the crowd that their set would be “eventful”, stating that they were “everyone’s favourite” as he welcomed them to the stage.

Steve Minns - Streaming Lights
Steve Minns – Streaming Lights

Opening track ‘Shake It Up’ seemed to act as an instruction; the crowd quickly regaining their energy. In between songs – those from album KICK, a few older ones and newer ones – Ryan handed out CDs of their latest single. People quickly moved forward to claim this prize, though sadly the music video had not been completed on time (it is now available on Youtube) for us to take home this piece of joy.

Their funky tunes had people moving in full swing, their entire body reacting the sound. Considering the heat we’ve had, it was impressive that people had this energy left. It was certainly a rather sweaty affair; bassist Ryan Gibbins declared “I need a Solaro” before they introduced ‘Box Room Boy’, intended this to be their penultimate song. However, ending with a long instrumental, and Steve Minns telling the crowd “I love you”, we called for more. Much more: this was the first time I had experienced a double encore at the Sesh, with Steve admitting that he wasn’t sure he could remember how to play any other songs. Mak was ready to lead them into more tunes, perhaps keeping them there all night, but it was not only us on the floor who had work in the morning.

A warm night of fantastic music from four extremely talented acts: The Polar Bear was well and truly struck by a wave of scorching energy this Sesh night.

Photos by Paul Newbon

Streaming Lights

“The main benefit of being in a band is about having a good time, while also doing something you love and are passionate about. Effectively this band is our 5-a-side football team.”

Except there’s only three of them. Streaming Lights consists of Steve Minns, Ryan Gibbins and Chris Flynn.

Founded in 2010, they’ve become a recognisable name on the Hull Music Scene. Known for their energetic stage antics and Minns’ distinguishable falsetto tones, their music is incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. When I first saw them perform, in their earlier days, they produced a much heavier sound with clear rock influences. Now, I’d be inclined to use the words ‘electric’ and ‘fun’ (these words, and synonyms of these words, being ones I have certainly used when reviewing the band). And it is this which draws you in: the boyish frivolity (synonym) of their stage presence, entertaining the crowd with humorous banter and general silliness.

Their lyrics too are cleverly comical. On 2014 album ‘KICK’ you’ll find songs about the addictive lure of EBay, the all-encompassing allure of a pair of slippers and the desire to see inside someone else’s mind. With catchy choruses and buoyant beats, it won’t take you many spins before you’re singing along at one of their shows.

“a patchwork quilt of different things”

And now that their audience has become comfortable with these songs, the lads are producing new tracks in the hope that it won’t take another three years before the second album. ‘Box Room Boy’ is their new single, launched at The Sesh on June 30th, with the video being released a couple of days later.

And this weekend they are performing at The Big Gig alongside other popular Hull bands. If I haven’t already convinced you that these boys are something to experience, then get down there just for the fun of it – see what the fuss is all about.

Photograph credit goes to Chris Pepper (Jemstar Images)

New Music: Assembling Languages

Assembling Languages are a synth pop duo, brining you electronic beats and catchy lyrics. Influenced by a wide range of music genres, they bring a crisp pop sound with a little something for everyone.

Attempting to keep their identify a secret, their Facebook page lists no bandmembers. However, after an initial spin on BBC Introducing Humberside, Alan Raw was quick to recognise the vocals of Steve Minns, lead vocalist of the already popular Streaming Lights. His falsetto voice, teamed with the mixing brilliance of Kev La Kat, brings two very well-known faces around the city into one place.

Their debut track ‘Boundaries Of Us’ has received very positive feedback from bloggers who are willing to shout about is new transition in music. Admittedly, I am one of those eager bloggers, who included them on a list of new tunes to hit Soundcloud in March. And I’ve been trying to get it out of my head ever since. It’s a tune which crawls into your brain and leaves you stepping through your day to that beat alone.

No doubt there is much more to come from Assembling Languages. But for now, there’s just the one tune for you to add to your playlist. Keep your eyes peeled and ears open.

A Busy Day in Hull City Centre (20.06.2015)

I knew it was going to busy day, especially after a reduced sleep post-gig. It’s always busy in the city centre on a Saturday. But this was more than your average Saturday.

First of all it was the Lord Mayor’s Parade, an annual event with a ‘green’ parade walking one mile around the Princes Quay and Old Town section. This year the theme was ‘Hats Off To The Mayor’, with a competition open to the public to make their own hat.

Up until last year, I had been a part of the parade, walking with a local group of Rainbows. However, our unit has now disbanded and so I watched the groups of participants assemble along Princes Dock Street from the window of Cuckoos, where I ate a delicious lunch with a friend. A pirate ship (which my friend argued was inadequately entitled, as it held only two pirates) was parked directly outside our window, and we were able to see the range of costumes pass us by.

The Pirate 'Boat'
The Pirate ‘Boat’

Our lunch consumed, we headed to the bottom of Whitefriargate where Steel Trinity were positioned. They played music to onlookers awaiting their glimpse of the parade, which seemed to have timed itself perfectly with the heavens opening their bulbous clouds.

It didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the participants, even if it did affect the moods of some of the onlookers. There was dancing and singing, musical instruments and puppets, all joyfully playing to the crowds. Some costumes were very well designed for the troublesome British weather: umbrellas transformed into jellyfish and large hats designed to look like other creatures.

Underwater creatures getting a watering
Underwater creatures getting a watering

While all of this was taking place, there was a demonstration happening in Queens Gardens. An anti-austerity protest.

At 2pm, I headed over to The Warren, a resource centre which opens its doors to young people during weekdays. Saturday 2th June, however, the doors opened to the general public in order to host a special gig in partnership with the anti-austerity demonstration.

Hull Against Austerity gig poster

I entered as Joe Solo performed a song of revolution to a scattered crowd, some stood and some sat directly before the stage. He song further songs about protest – describing the mining strikes of 30 years ago – and songs in protest – one about a friend who was arrested for setting up a soup kitchen in a disused building. For his song ‘No Pasarán’, he had the crowd get involved. A song about a Hull volunteer who fought against fascists in the Spanish Civil War, the title means ‘They shall not pass’, and when this line was sung during the chorus we were invited to join in, producing a tuneful chant. “It sounds better with your fist in the air,” he told us, highlighting the need for strength in numbers but also representing the non-violent approach to this protest.

He also took time to promote the We Shall Overcome events which, similar to this gig, have no monetary ticket prices. Instead you are invited to bring along donations of tinned and dried foods for the local food banks. A positive reaction to the recent election results, there will be a series of events over the weekend of October 2nd-4th across the country, celebrating music and culture while supporting those affected by the cuts. This was met by the loudest applause of the gig, showing further the solidarity in those gathered.

Next onto the stage was the manager of the Warren with a few words about austerity and how his organisation fits into this. He opened with strong words: “the whole theory of austerity is bullshit.” He stated that it was fantastic to see so many people, young and older, at both the demonstration and the gig, explaining that this is “your future… this is where it begins again” and that we needed to “get angry in a controlled and measured and campaigning way” because “that’s what scares them the most”.

Performers in Queen Victoria Square
Performers in Queen Victoria Square

Following him was 12 year-old Eva Davies with her original songs. Not a protest singer like Joe Solo, she was singing about those things which affect teenagers in Britain; opening with a re-telling of Romeo & Juliet did elude to the theme however. The point being made here is that opportunities such as this will become lessened if too many cuts take place. With so many volunteer-run organisations struggling and venues being strangled with legislation, there are fewer chances for someone like Eva to share her talent.

Nothing’s Happening were next onto the stage; a punk band full of political opinions. The crowd – all besides one very young boy who sat right up front – were on their feet for this act. Lead vocalist Casey Stead referred to another punk singer: Jon Lydon, better known as Jonny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, who has quoted in several newspapers for telling everyone to make sure they use their vote and calling Russell Brand a “bumhole” in response to his political “revolution” last October.

Fact: everyone is talking about austerity. Even if they don’t fully understand what it entails, or how it will directly impact them, the idea of it is absurd. Martin Deane, MP for the Green Party in Hull North, spoke further to that which he had said earlier in Queens Gardens at the demonstration. He declared that “austerity is a con” and that “we’re a city of culture, not a city of cuts!” With a view of cuts to libraries and hospitals, not to mention the way education is falling down the plughole of politics, he said that he encouraged everyone present to fight against austerity.

Last to the stage were popular Hull band, LIFE, with Stew Baxter taking to the drums as Rich is unable to perform at the moment. Starting off with their first single ‘Crawling’, they encapsulated the frustration many felt at the election results. Guitarist Mick Sanders declared, “I hope everyone stuck it to the man today,” before they launched into catchy tune ‘Money’ – during which Mez Sanders added to the lyrics “who even likes money anyway?”. Their set was one which could bring the crowds in – a popular local band who are making their name across the UK – but also one which demonstrated the power of political beliefs and in giving words to your opinions and emotions. They performed as they would any gig, but embedded in the lyrics are the political views of these young men living in a torn society.

Steel Trinity
Steel Trinity

It was a day to feel accomplished, and a day to feel a part of something. I do what I can for charity, supporting local organisations as I do local bands. I wanted to be there for my students and for the local community and for those who had come together to fight a worthy cause. I managed all of this, though I left feeling that in order to do so I was unable to give myself entirely to any in particular.

This is true of many things. Hull is so alive with activity that it is difficult to attend everything – support everything. But I do my bit, and I hope that others too did their bit on this busy Saturday in Hull city centre.

Tunes To Check Out

Let me start you off this month in my lovely home city of Hull. LIFE released their new EP I Knew I Was A Rat on Monday 11th May, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. I now own 3 copies of ‘Take Off With You’ as I had previously bought it as a single. Do I care? No. It simply means it tends to appear more often than any other song when playing all my tunes on random.

I actually featured the single ‘Go Go Go’ in my March Tunes To Check Out, the video (shot by ShootJMoore) has since been hosted by Vevo. But it is second track ‘All Your Friends’ which I am most enjoying. This track summarises the sound I associate with the band; Mez shouting out to the listeners as an introduction to the song, a clear beat from bassist Loz and drummer Rick, and some lovely guitar pieces from Mick (who wins me over every time I see them perform live). Their lyrics are fast-paced and laced with cultural references, from Breaking Bad to the Grapes Of Wrath. Their sound is furiously fun.

The next two suggestions are from bands I’ve seen sharing a stage with LIFE.

First all, Storms, who co-headlined with the band last year, and who I quickly bonded with. Now signed to MUK Records, they’ve cleansed themselves and started afresh with their new single ‘Girl’. I was saddened to see their tracks disappear from my Soundcloud stream, but immensely pleased to see them receiving significant media coverage with this track which holds onto their sound. (Too often a record label alters the sound of a band, cleaning it and stripping away all that makes it beautiful. Thank you MUK for that.)

It opens with a high-pitched guitar, the video introducing you to the protagonist who has an unhealthy interest in one specific girl. George Runciman’s vocals are gentle and yet strong, adding an additional layer which compliments the instruments. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to suggest that manic stalking is the way to get the girl, but it makes for a fun video.

My last suggestion is from Frankie and The Heartstrings’ new album Decency, which I have already pre-ordered on vinyl in huge anticipation and a moment of sheer joy when I spotted it on their website.

The video for forthcoming single ‘Think Yourself Lucky’ is immensely fun, even if it doesn’t really seem to make sense. Showing the band dressed like a 1950s rock band, lead singer Frankie bounces around before the musicians, dancing with balloons and a young gentleman (I want to say gentleman, anyway). Drummer Dave Harper flirts from behind his kit, while Michael Matthews, Michael McKnight and Ross Millard attempt synchronised guitar moves. If you’ve ever seen this band live, you’ll know that this is exactly what you can expect from the guys, perhaps without the synchronised movements from those wielding guitars.

I openly admit to having fallen completely head over heels (and every other euphemism for obsession and unashamed adoration) for Frankie and The Heartstrings. They’re fun, they’ve got a crisp and funky sound, and they never fail to put a smile on your face.

Thinking about it, these three bands would make a pretty decent line-up. Don’t ask me which one I’d stick in the headline spot though…

A Good Hull Brew

This weekend I saw Black Kes perform for the first time. With only one day to enjoy Cottingham Springboard Festival, I was glad to catch these guys. And purchase their album ‘Premium Beer’.

Performing at the King Billy,  Cottingham Springboard Festival
Performing at the King Billy, Cottingham Springboard Festival

A successful Hull-based skiffle band, I first met these four characters at a Hulloween event last year. Slide-guitarist JT was dressed as Hannibal Lector, there was a vampire and the only other memorable thing was just how inebriated they all were. And so it seemed apt that their album be entitled ‘Premium Brew’.

On Sunday, they appeared to be a rather rag-tag collection of people. My friend wasn’t really sure what to make of them: excited to see a washboard would be played but a little unnerved by the clown which was placed on a desk mere centimetres from our noses (more about that in a moment.) Their set so enthralled me that I had to get my hands on a copy of the album, and haven’t stopped talking about it/them since.

It’s easy to assume that this is a band who take nothing seriously, playing merely for the joy of it and not caring too much about the reception. But this is simply not the case. Their sets, like their album, involve both an intro and a reprise, demonstrating just how serious about music they really are. A professional unit who maintain their characters of King Rat, Archie, Specky and JT, as introduced in the intro played at the opening of their sets and their album.

King Rat
King Rat

All four members have their defining roles – King Rat on guitar, Archie on bass, Specky on the washboard and JT on the slide guitar – as well as sharing vocals. Depending on the role within the song, Specky and JT seem to take on the lead, with King Rat and Archie delivering harmonies and additional bites of sound.

The songs which stand out on the album are also the ones which were extremely memorable after their live set.

Archie Lamplugh
Archie Lamplugh

‘Rape in East Yorkshire’ is a hilarious track. You’re warned in the live set not to listen to it with a filthy mind – naturally, causing you to do just this. And so the double entendre transforms this sweet song about crops in our lovely county into something much more sordid. This song demonstrates just how clever their lyrics are, with quick and snappy puns as well as the extended use of figurative language.

‘Haunted House’ is the track which stood out most to me from the live set. Before they performed it, they told us a story. Allegedly, one year ago on the very chair in which I happened to be sat an old lady died during their performance. Intense feedback from JT’s guitar caused her pacemaker to explode. And now she haunts them. The mastered track starts with whispered voices, building with the introduction of each instrument, with JT’s vocals expressing anger at this woman’s ghostly presence. The other members perform the sounds of ghosts, and the song starts off quite jolly sounding. About two thirds of the way through the song, the sound reaches a climax and then drops quite suddenly – like the sudden chill of a haunted space – before JT’s voice quietly announced that as a child he watched the movie Poltergeist. He describes the moment with the clown on the chair, building the fear in his voice as the clown moves – lyrically – from the chair to under the bed and then around the throat. Live this was even more terrifying, as JT drags a wooden clown around the stage and into the audience.

JT & clown
JT & clown

Another track I enjoy is ‘The Island’ which appears to describe a dream location for any modern man. With no “sales targets” and “blue skies”, the island is a utopia in a capitalist environment. With references to Justin Timberlake, Michael Caine, the TV show Lost and a catchy chorus, this is one song I’ll comfortably be singing along to the next time I see Black Kes perform.

Title track ‘Premium Brew’ takes centre-stage on the album. It’s a three-minute instrumental, which can really get the party started. It’s perhaps a musical analogy for a really good, really drunken night out.

I urge you to check Black Kes out. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of skiffle (or even know what skiffle is), you’re bound to enjoy these guys. Live, they are true performers, with the ever-expressive JT and the jovial personality of Specky. Listening to the album, I am able to relive Sunday’s set, and it was the first of the day. That’s just how powerful their magic is.

Teenage Cancer Trust Fundraiser

There were loads of events on this bank holiday weekend, but I’d had the tickets for the Teenage Cancer Trust Fundraiser on my noticeboard for over a month.

At a mere £3.50, I couldn’t turn this event down. Even with a free gig on at the Larkin’s Ale Festival, I knew I would be spending the majority of Sunday with my friends and fellow muso’s down at Fruit. Afterall, it was for a good cause and twelve bands had also given up their time to entertain us free, all for this charity. A charity which Luke Bowe pointed out was of equal significance to all in the audience as “we’ve all been touched by the Big C”.

Wayward Suns
Wayward Suns

Wayward Suns kicked things off. They’re a band of young lads, who I haven’t seen perform before. Their heavy rock sound filled the room, where quite a crowd had gathered. New to me, I noticed a similar thread to their sound as I hear in Young Jack (especially with songs such as ‘Get Along’). Sharing their vocal harmonies across the three lads at the front of the stage, the lead vocalist – who also has a mop of hair similar to Luke Bowe – had a voice which reminds me of Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz; melodic and raw.

Vulgarians lead singer Ryan Wilson-Preen
Vulgarians lead singer Ryan Wilson-Preen

Due to the scattering crowd, and the sudden sunshine, Vulgarians commented on the lack of people inside Fruit for their set. “We’ve emptied Fruit,” Ryan Wilson-Preen announced; I hadn’t even noticed until he mentioned it, but it was true that the crowd was more disperse. A shame, and rather a shock, as this band have built quite a following.

The gig was a near-sell-out and yet the venue never felt full; people came and went for the bands they knew and supported, with few sticking around for the duration. No single band had the full impact of the crowd because of this, and I felt this was a real shame.

The Froot '67
The Froot ’67

Looking rather 70s and sounding a little 60s, The Froot ’67 were exactly what I wanted to listen to on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I am most certainly one of their newest fans, will no doubt be purchasing their debut album ‘Seven Past Eight’, for which they celebrated on the 9th at Raine Club. Bouncing vocals from bassist Stevie Newby to guitarist Louie Donoghue, all four members performed with huge levels of energy. A real delight.

It was at this point that my friend and I nipped out for a spot of late lunch, missing Attack The Embassy. However, our return was quick, eager to not miss too much, and we re-entered to the loud noise and incredible power of Cannibal Animal – whose drummer had us both transfixed as he performed in a blur of swift movements – and Dead Hormones who are the band I have seen most recently. We were straight back into the swing of things, and ready for the night to continue, replenished and excited.

Dead Hormones
Dead Hormones

The line-up from this point featured some of my favourite Hull bands; those I rave, unashamedly, rather too much about. My friend and I settled into a spot before the stage, digging our heels into the concrete floor.

Tom Skelly has a stunning voice, and I am always amazed at the ferocity with which he and his Salty Beards perform. Much like the ocean and the allure as described in popular track ‘Morning Sun’, their music sweeps over you, a never-ending wave of sound, rising and dipping to cool you with Skelly’s softer tones.

BREEZE lead vocalist Aron Gilbey
BREEZE lead vocalist Aron Gilbey

Breeze, Streaming Lights, Coaves and Young Jack never get old for me. Eternally indulgent, I could write reams just about their sets.  From the point where Breeze sang ‘Goodbye, So Long’, I was my most energetic, and mirrored the vivacity of Coaves and the highlight of silliness, Streaming Lights, who always offer more entertainment than their electric tunes.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

As a prelude to the final three bands, we also had experimental The Bodyfarmers, who perform with no vocals. Their mixture of guitars – during one song being played with a bow – drums and soundboard filled the space wonderfully. It can sometimes cause people’s minds to wander, having no lyrics to focus on or sing along to, but The Bodyfarmers seemed to have the opposite effect, pulling the crowd in. Their last track appeared to knock out each of the guitarists, who fell to the floor and left the stage to the drummer and bassist, who thanked the audience in an echoing quiet (with no use for them, the mics had been turned off).

The Bodyfarmers
The Bodyfarmers

Young Jack had a hefty crowd, with people moving further forward to welcome them on stage. Playing their popular tracks as well as new funky sound ‘Move’, they were the ideal headliners; indeed taking their second headline spot this week. So enthralled were the audience, we called out for more, and reacted very positively to their cover of Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’.

Young Jack lead vocalist Luke Bowe
Young Jack lead vocalist Luke Bowe

Overall, a very enjoyable way to spend the day – absorbed in the music which stretched from bright sunshine to the glittering night. And though the crowd altered as quickly as the bands did, there was always a buzz in the room. Taking that into consideration alongside the £500 raised for charity, you can’t argue that the event was a hit.

And a perfect warm-up to the festival season, when we’ll be able to soak up the tunes as well as those sunny rays.