It was an early start, and one I welcomed on a Wednesday evening. The sun shining outside, some would question the decision to enter the darkened back room of this venue, but with such lovely people inside it was impossible to stay away.
I was welcomed by friends I’ve met through working with Open Doors Hull, a charity which aims to support asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers in the city, and sat amidst the busy room of personalities. It was the most bustling I have seen the venue, which I visit regularly for gigs and events.
There was an instant buzz, and during the first ukulele band – 13 members crowding the stage – the audience was clapping, singing and bouncing along. It was a fantastic way to start the evening, lifting the weight of the working day from our shoulders and bringing the entire room together.
Next up was a poet, Johanna, who read three poems: one about her husband’s job as a tanner in Hull, which had the crowd laughing; a more serious poem entitled “Refugee Baby” which fitted into the theme of the night; and her poem “On The Beach” which lifted the mood once more.
Another large ukulele group then took to the stage – apparently you can only Uke in large groups – and performed a range of songs which suited the diverse audience. I particularly enjoyed their use of the kazoo – well, four kazoos to be exact – which they used in a couple of tracks.
We were then entertained by a local theatre group who performed a snippet of their new production “Last Panto in Little Grimley”, which will be performed at the Lord Mayor’s Gala.
The final ukulele band performed after a short break, performing a full range of tracks. We’d enjoyed everything from ABBA to Bowie to “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book. And, as with the other bands, the entire room came together as one. It was wonderful to hear the acoustics of the room: the bass generated as people tapped their feet and vocals creating a 3D effect as they harmonised concurrently around the room.
What the evening was about was raising funds and awareness for the charity. I am delighted to announce that £690 was raised on the night, through ticket sales and donations.
But that is just a segment of what is needed. The current aim of the charity is to send a container to Athens to support the increasing number of refugees seeking safety here. It’s still possible to support the cause:
Donations of tents, gazebos, sleeping bags, clothing for all ages, food packages, sun lotion, toiletries and baby supplies are needed to fill the container. Donations can be dropped off at either UNISON 39, Alfred Gelder Street (Monday to Friday 9:30am-4:30pm) or Kingston House 50/54, Bond Street (Saturday & Sunday 10am-12pm).
Cash donations can be made payable to UNISON REFUGEE FUND (cheques) or via the gofundme page.
You can read more about what the charity is doing to support people here and on their Facebook page.
Weary from the working week, I found myself slogging my way down to the Adelphi for a night of music. A night of music I had been anticipating since the initial announcement that Frankie & The Heartstrings were opening their tour in our fair city.
It was silly of me to ever doubt the joy in which a Frankie gig can bring. The Adelphi promised “3 of the best” and they certainly delivered.
First on the stage was a band you’ve probably yet to hear. If you check out Carvell on Facebook or Soundcloud, you won’t find much. That’s because the band are relatively new, bringing their live debut to Hull after signing with a major record label you may well have heard of. A London-based four-piece, their sound is that of a guitar-fronted rock band, a beat catchy enough to get your foot tapping from the outset. And though you catch onto the instruments quickly, you can’t as quickly snap up the lyrics and sing along too easily – leaving you wanting to find more about them. Not being able to go home with a CD so that soon you would be quickly singing along at a gig would certainly have disappointed some members of the audience.
They concluded their set with what will be their first single, ‘Sway, which they aim to release imminently. It starts with a simple guitar introduction, building the noise quickly before calming down just enough to allow the vocals to lay atop the sound. Each instrument held its own, clearly visible in the ensemble, while also working well to generate the sound which will likely define this band.
It was a sound which pumped into the audience, a scattered crowd which grew in size as the band performed, and was received with loud cheers. A debut which showed some nerves – the bassist kept to his end of the stage with an air of anticipation. But it was a debut which held a lot of promise. I can imagine their sound permeating the charts, that relatable rock with choruses has you unconsciously singing on the bus.
Next up was Night Flowers, a band with origins in Humberside but a base currently in London. With two lead vocalists, the male, Greg Ullyart, commented on how good it felt to be back performing at the Adelphi, whereas the female, Sophia Pettit, expressed increasing joy at her first experience in the iconic venue. If you’ve seen the band perform before, you may be surprised to see the addition of Sophia – this was my first time, and I certainly enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm she brought, alongside her melodic vocals.
The level of energy grew quickly throughout the night, the engagement with the audience increasing. The entire room moved to the music of Night Flowers, and within the one set the toilets were discussed, Ronnie Pickering brought up, and the room sang “Happy Birthday” to the Adelphi along with the band. Even if I hadn’t thoroughly appreciated their sound, I certainly enjoyed their banter.
What I love about Frankie & The Heartstrings is the sheer frivolity in which they perform. It’s a playfulness which seeps out of their records, forcing you to be in a good mood. If only they could perform for us all every Friday evening!
They played all their classic tunes from previous albums as well as the very best from third album ‘Decency’ for which the tour is promoting. This included title song and opener ‘Decency’ and their next single ‘Money’, not to be confused with a single by a Hull band who appeared at the front of the crowd.
Frontman Frankie moved across stage, stretching into the audience and inviting them to sing along. We filled the room, moving with the band. A gaggle of lads before the stage had been chanting “Sunderland” all evening, and were fortunate enough to receive a song dedicated to them (with a plea to quit the chanting). I even spotted Frankie and drummer Dave Harper posing for the cameras which circled them, eager to catch the fast-paced musicians as they performed.
I was particularly excited by the end of their set, when they performed two of my favourite Frankie tracks: ‘Think Yourself Lucky’ from the new album and ‘Fragile’ from first album ‘Hunger’. I even had to put my own camera down for ‘Lucky’ watching to see if the moves from the track’s music video were engrained in those band members holding guitars – indeed it seemed to be as Ross Millard and Michael McKnight moved almost in sync, while the new bassist remained somewhat more static – and dancing with equal energy myself.
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.
And though I had started the night feeling lacklustre, by midnight I was exhilarated. Many went on for more, spending that vigour in the various bars along Newland and Princes Ave.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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, 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!
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
A very important announcement has been made this week. Humber Street Sesh wristbands went on sale Tuesday 21sy April.
At an advance price of £5, you’re getting a huge collection of music, art and local culture packed into the one day festival.
On Saturday 1st August, over 180 bands will play across ten stages. There will be over 50 DJ’s in the new Original Brew’s Art and Soul Warehouse as well as at the Resident Association Disco tent. So, musically, there is something for every taste.
Humber Street Sesh is a 12-hour showcase of the huge wealth of talent Hull has to offer. For those who engage with the weekly Sesh at The Polar Bear, you get to see your favourite local bands up on the bigger stages, mingling with even more like-minded people. For those who can’t always get down on a Tuesday night, this is your chance to support those acts. And yet there is so much more besides this.
There will also be the usual markets, street food, live street art, children’s activities, comedy and cult cinema, in addition to breakdance and rap battles, a skate park, street theatre and much more. After last year’s brief downpour, there is the aim to have more sheltered bar areas this year. Not that the rain stopped many of us from finishing our drink or heading down to see our favourite bands who happened to perform at that point.
Under 12s go free (collect your wristband as you enter the gates), and so this truly is a festival for the people; regardless of age or taste, you’ll have a fantastic day.
With 40’000 attending last year, we know we can get more through those gates this time.
Tickets are available from Hull Box Office or by phoning 01482 221113, and will be sold in various locations across the city at later dates. Note, a booking fee will apply.
All photographs are by Paul Newbon, taken at last year’s HSS.
Check out these new tracks from Hull bands, featured now on Soundcloud:
Superfast and super-loud, ‘Go Go Go’ is the one LIFE song I’ve so far failed to learn the lyrics to at their live gigs. It opens with a heavy set of drums and guitars, before the lyrics cut in. You’ll be glad to know that there are some slower parts, and you will be able to join in with the line “Oh no, I gotta go” from which we can only assume the title was developed.
This is the ideal tune for mid-set in a LIFE show, energetic and aggressive with moments in which you can catch your breath. And, if you are going to try and sing along, you’ll need those moments!
BABIES are holding their EP launch this Thursday at the Adelphi, performing a hometown gig towards the end of their tour. ‘Beach Date (When Yr Dead)’ is the first track on the EP; a slow and seductive tune which summarises their sound for me. Indie-rock meets surf-punk, they tease you with their sombre tune, before hurling catchy lyrics at you.
Alongside ‘Sink’ and ‘Teeth’, this tune is the less catchy and does not kick you with quite the colourful language as the title track.
And last in my list is something completely new. The only track featured on the Soundcloud page for this mysterious ensemble.
‘Boundaries of Us’ is the first track released by Assembling Languages. A thoroughly electric tune with guitars looping over guitars. An upbeat tune with sombre lyrics, this is one which gets you moving subconsciously. I dare you not to sing along as the backing vocals repeat the word “Pull” behind the final verses.
Previously, I would have been ignorant and obnoxious enough to cast this tune aside, simply stating that it wasn’t to my taste. But there’s something captivating about it; after just one listen, I found myself singing it aloud down the street.
Proving that you’re never too young to establish a music career is thirteen year-old Yasmin Coe. And with fans including Emma Fee, she’s making waves across the local scene.
Her natural flair for music saw her taking to any instrument on offer. She started piano lessons at six years old, as many young kids do, moving onto guitar at eight. Since then, she has also taken up violin and clarinet, as well as joining a choir. It was here that she truly found her passion for performing, singing alongside others equally enthusiastic. Even though her sound is very different to where she started, it is this which keeps her motivated. She described her belief that anyone should do what makes them happy. “If you love it … if you want to do it … “ then Yasmin says you should. Taking to the stage in 2011, she was rewarded for her singing talents at the Cottingham Music Festival. Her live debut was at Humber Street Sesh, following gigs at Freedom and Trinity Festival, where she was able to play to a wide range of people.
With broad influences, ranging from One Direction to the The Beatles, Yasmin sees her music as a release of emotions. She explained that “when something hits you hard … you can sit with your guitar for ages”. Writing her own songs from the experiences a young girl has, she treats her songwriting as a means of “[getting] the emotions out there”. New single ‘Leave and Let Go’ is about accepting the loss of those close to you, whether through death or a move to another country. This gives her lyrics a power which draws you in, instantly identifying with the content.
On Saturday 7th March, her single launch takes place at That’s Entertainment, Prospect Centre. The first in-store promotion gig to happen in Hull since The Paddingtons performed at HMV, this offers anyone and everyone a chance to hear her perform live. Being a teenager, many of her fans are of a similar age, but her sound is something which will capture the attention of anyone wandering past on a busy weekend afternoon.
She described the store’s recent introduction of local music as “good that they’re encouraging local artists”. And though she’s a fan of current pop bands, such as One Direction, she recognises that there is often more talent in those performing for the love of it, than manufactured bands who often get more time in the spotlight. And this gig is a perfect example of what local musicians can offer their fans – intimate and friendly.
So, show your support for this talented young woman at 1pm next Saturday. Copies of her single will be available for purchase, which includes an additional track to that which will be available on ITunes.
A lovely way to spend a Sunday evening; able to relax and reflect on the day’s gone past and those to come. The last night of their three day tour, visiting each band’s hometown, Bridge the Gap concluded in Hull.
Union Mash Up, along Princes Avenue, was packed to standing room only. If you know the venue, this doesn’t mean hundreds of people, but an intimate few. Still, it was good to see such a busy event held on a Sunday. The reasons for this were obvious even before the first band took to the warm stage by the hearth.
Dimly lit by candles and fairy lights, Emma Fee stood before the collection of family, friends and fans, introducing the first band. They were The Finest Hour from Cleethorpes. A classic pub band sound, with that mixture of male-lead Folk and Rock. They had quite a loud sound for the small venue, a mixture of acoustic punk and folk rock.
Rob Bywater has a stunning voice, gentle and charming while still powerful when required by the lyrics. It reminded me of the simplistic beauty I’ve always associated with vocalists such as Rob Thomas, who captivates the audience with natural charisma. The last song saw a shift in vocals, with Bywater passing over to the guitarist Sam Simmons. Equally alluring, the combination of vocals during harmonies was a clean synchronisation. It was this final song which had invisible fingers stroking the hairs on the back of my neck, leaving me a little forlorn when they stepped back into the crowd.
The divide between the banks of the Humber is not as distinct as it used to be. I have lived on both sides for about the same length of time, and the one town which was mocked on both is Scunthorpe, where Chris Cooper Band hail from.
Playing songs from their album, which was available to purchase, the romantic atmosphere was set again within mere seconds of them picking up their instruments. Most songs took on a similar structure, with a slow instrumental build up, Chris Cooper’s delightfully husky voice and then throwing in some fast tempo and loud volume sections. With a sound you can match to Rod Stewart, it was easy to fall under the spell of Chris Cooper alone, but with the backing vocals and instruments, you were swept into the moment entirely.
Their song ‘By My Side’ was like a good date, opening with his soul on his sleeve, adding personality and charisma with every verse, and ending by stealing your heart. They had some slow songs which just intensified the reaction, both physical and emotional, felt across the room. There had been minimal chatter while The Finest Hour performed, but these guys played to a truly entranced audience.
All those years I have mocked “sunny Scunny”, and now I can see the beautiful sunshine which lives in that town, the rose attached to the thorn.
Happy Endings, the hosts for this third night of their Humber our, started with “the opposite of a crescendo” as they sang a remixed downbeat version of ‘Out of Bounds’. The cement which makes this such a perfect line-up, poignant tracks and stunning vocals, this time female-lead passing between sisters Emma and Rachel Fee, had the audience pulled in by the heartstrings once again. With Happy Endings you yielded to the emotions stirred by The Finest Hour and Chris Cooper Band. “Masquerade”, which they aim to feature on the new album, is a haunting song about the masks we wear in front of each other.
Playing a mixture of old and new songs, the audience were able to enjoy their downbeat and more upbeat tunes. ‘To Die For’, one Emma Fee stated was a favourite of hers, covered both, starting slow but becoming more cheery and quick as the chorus was repeated. Just as the sentiments were built to a pinnacle, Emma concludes the song with an echo of the opening sound.
Each band sent a shiver down my spine, in that way which only truly beautiful music can, collectively taking the room on a journey of emotions. Even the barman was able to enjoy each set as the audience were so captivated. And to make it a perfect evening, everyone was so easy-going and pleasant to spend time with. Complete strangers were chatting away by the end of the night, the bands mingling, comfortably rotating in their seats as the next got up to perform. It was so reassuringly supportive, with the Fee’s smiling at each other in silent encouragement and obvious joy, and the sharing of a guitar as Rob Bywater’s saw a tragic end recently.
This is what you can expect from any of these performers – a compassionate, comforting and beautiful presentation of emotions.