Tag Archives: The Polar Bear

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.


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

The Sesh 20.01.15

There are two ways in which a band will keep you out late on a chilly winter’s night. The first is loyalty: being one of those bands you just adore, knowing they’ll put on a good show and keep you entertained. The second is to catch you when you’re already out and draw you in for more by simply being brilliant. Often the second comes first.

In the case of this week’s Sesh, I was drawn out by loyalty. My first Sesh of 2015 featured two bands I have not seen previously and one I’m rather attached to. I’ve written quite a lot about Streaming Lights, admitting my reservations when first introduced to them years ago, and then my falling for their charms.

And so, this Tuesday, I stepped out into the cold air and made my way down to the Polar Bear. Meeting with my Browse comrades – Paul and Luke with their cameras, and Darren reviewing for the mag – I was rather giddy.

Magic Carpet Factory
Magic Carpet Factory

I arrived, as I often do, during the soundcheck for the opening band, Magic Carpet Factory. Lead singer, Adam Desforges, stepped up to the mic, a guitar around him and a maraca in his hand. Turning to Paul, I joked that they “had me at maracas”, having previously got quite anxious when Black Delta Movement hadn’t played my favourite tune ‘Butterfly’ (featuring maracas). We chatted quietly through their soundcheck, growing louder as the music over the system came on. The audience grew too; the room becoming busy but not heaving.

Magic Carpet Factory
Magic Carpet Factory

The joke turned more serious as the band started their set with a bass beat from the drums coursing through the veins of the crowd. Hiked up by the guitars, the music cradled Desforge’s voice. I struggled throughout the night to say who they reminded me of, having a rather classic indie rock sound – enjoyable easy listening which got our feet tapping. I particularly enjoyed their song ‘Midnight Kiss’ which has catchy lyrics I felt I could sing along to. An ideal warming opener, especially as I anticipated the energetic set to come.

Paul’s verdict on Magic Carpet Ride was that they were ‘very good’, giving them both thumbs up (again demonstrating why he doesn’t write the reviews).

And The Hangnails
And The Hangnails

And The Hangnails from York took to the stage next. They had been highly recommended by Black Delta Movement, who they have seen and played along previously, and so I expected a similar sound from the two men and their instruments.

Being a duo, I was quickly impressed with the power they created on stage. Martyn Fillingham, on guitar and vocals, and Steven Reid, on drums, performed with as much energy and presence as a larger band, pulling the crowd forward. I was just getting used to their sound, when Fillingham stepped up the vocals, screaming the lyrics into the mic and hooking us in once again as we became comfortable and enticing anyone not already knee-deep in their sound.

And The Hangnails
And The Hangnails

And again, as I got used to this faster rhythm and increased volume, they altered the tempo and brought everything down to allow us to focus on Fillingham’s voice during a calm moment.

They demonstrated a professionalism which many Hull bands can learn from. Two men on stage, captivating the audience with such precision, making those alterations when we’d just begun to attach a specific sound to their name. This short set was a collection of their songs, including some newer ones, which demonstrated their diversity as musicians. We’d been talking only earlier in the night about how bands we’d grown up with had lost our favour because they’d changed their style, moving on when we weren’t prepared to. I’d commented that one thing I love about the Manic Street Preachers is that they have adapted to move with the times, developing their own style to suit them as they change through the course of life, admitting that there are albums I rarely listen to but adore simply because they are theirs. With And The Hangnail, this worked to keep the audience fresh.

Their last song was a full showcase of their talent, starting heavy and powerful, then mellowing to a rhythmic drumbeat and simple chords, ensuring the Fillingham’s voice was a fierce focal point on the stage, before jumping straight up again and concluding loudly.

Paul’s verdict on And The Hangnails was a difficult one. Having not considered that he’d already used up both of his thumbs, he settled with doubling up in order to offer four thumbs.

I knew he’d struggle further with the headlining band, as we’d both come out to see them and had been sat with them for a proportion of the night.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

Playing tracks for their album ‘Kick’, as well as one of their “rocky ones from back in the day”, Streaming Lights performed with the energy and excitement I have come to expect from them. All three – Steve Minns on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan Gibbins on bass, and Chris Flynn on drums – were smiling throughout the set, at each other and out into the crowd. The sheer enjoyment of being on stage filtered through the room, and people stepped forward to dance in front of them.

It’s difficult not to repeat myself when reviewing a band I’ve seen recently before or spent time with. Streaming Lights put on a show as only they do, chatting with each other and the crowd, posing for pictures when the camera came around and throwing themselves about the stage.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

I have said before that it’s saddened me to see them play to scattered crowds. The last time I’d seen them, they’d played during a meal at a charity ball, giving the energy to their music but not receiving much back as their audience was more interested in the food. They’d agreed that it was difficult to engage with this crowd. But this was not an issue as they headlined the Sesh, with eager fans moving and singing along. Yet, their banter was mostly negative. However laced with sarcasm, it struck me that if they are to knock themselves down then it offers others the opportunity.

Steven Minns - Streaming Lights
Steven Minns – Streaming Lights

I am a fan of Streaming Lights. I like that their sound is different – something you may not engage with straight away, but which grows on you quickly. I like their silliness, their drunken performances which are still perfectly executed. Though Steve consistently questioned Ryan as to which song was next, they launched into each song as a team and played them all with the velvetiness of their mastered tracks. I like that they are so energetic and eager, on and off stage.

Paul’s verdict was five thumbs up, though this was slightly biased and mostly based on his previous use of the system.

Overall, it was a fantastic night. I left the house giddy with anticipation, knowing it would be a good night. Magic Carpet Factory were really enjoyable. And The Hangnails had be hooked throughout, dragging me in if lethargy even winked in my direction. Streaming Lights were as wonderful as I could expect. I left The Polar Bear buzzing with the energy of the night, convinced that it was somewhat warmer.

The New Years Eve Eve Sesh 30.12.14

I’d never seen so many people packed into The Polar Bear as I did for their New Year’s special Sesh. In contrast to the icy outdoors, we were warm and comfortable, enjoying the jolly folk music of three fantastic bands.

Mick McGarry - Hillbilly Troupe
Mick McGarry – Hillbilly Troupe

Hillbilly Troupe, unable to play the headline spot, took over for the warm up. Performing acoustically, they stood in front of the stage; a more intimate setting which enabled the crowd to huddle around, engaging with the band. Playing tunes from their album, with one Des O’Connor track which they’ve only played a few times before, we were all able to join in, singing and dancing. I was with friends from two corners of the country, visiting for New Year celebrations, and they knew the songs well enough to join in and become one with the crowd.

Christopher Frost on piano - Hillbilly Troupe
Christopher Frost on piano – Hillbilly Troupe

A firm favourite in the city, Hillbilly Troupe performed a fun and energetic set. Never ones to let anything stop them, when facing an issue with the bass guitar Mick McGarry simply stepped to the rescue by singing ‘Luckiest Sailor’ unaccompanied by the instruments. Sadly, being in the warm up spot meant that many people were still deep in conversation, and this was the first time I had experienced anything but silence during this track: usually, the full audience is captivated by Mick’s voice and his sorrowful tale.

The Quicksilver Kings lead singer Keith Hogger
The Quicksilver Kings lead singer Keith Hogger

The Quicksilver Kings were next to take on the stage and the now swollen crowd, stood right up to the front even between performances. Their sound is blues/folk with a pulsing rock beat. More mellow than Hillbilly Troupe, I recognised that they would have suited the warm up spot; the audience swaying in reaction, where we’d been tapping our feet and bouncing to Hillbilly Troupe.

The Quicksilver Kings
The Quicksilver Kings

Their energy increasing throughout their set, we were moving more and more, warming the room again, and preparing ourselves for the headliner.

With Danny Landau, it’s easy to assume you’re getting the one man and his guitar experience – not something you expect for the final slot of the night. But the stage was filled with characters, playing a range of instruments. With Landau as the focal, centre stage, it was easy to compare with similar great singers as Frank Turner, who performs with equal levels of enthusiasm when acoustically solo or supported by a full band.

Danny Landau
Danny Landau

We were dancing again, whether we knew the songs or now – I was pleased that I did recognise more than expected – and the room was a wave of energy. The sound was powerfully upbeat, easy to enjoy and move to.

They concluded at midnight, with a loud, crashing instrumental, after having been called for en core and playing popular song ‘45’. If anyone’s enthusiasm for the night was beginning to wane, if tiredness was taking hold, this was cast out. The cheerful DJ set which followed continued to keep the room filled with merry characters.

Folk music is the true nature of storytelling, and this was a wonderful way to conclude the year, for many of us acting as preparation for the exhilarating New Year’s Eve celebrations. All singers had voices which drew you in: Mick McGarry, the Godfather of Folk, a jovial heart-breaker; Keith Hagger’s charming tones; and Danny Landau’s enigmatic charisma. It was cold outside, but in The Polar Bear, it was warm and charming: a fire lit in everyone’s hearts.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves
We certainly enjoyed ourselves

Originally written for Browse Magazine.

Photo credit goes to my good friend Heather Irwin.

New Year’s Eve in Hull

Still got no idea what you’re doing for New Years? With only just over a week to go, you need to be considering which ticket offers you the most for your money. Which event will offer you with the most explosive entry into 2015?

Here are the best three offers I could find, grouped together for your convenience.

Pros and Cons… well, there’s always a few of them.

Option #1: NYE at The Polar Bear

Polar Bear

With the Onion Club creating a mixed set of funk, jazz and soul, hosts of the weekly Sesh are proposing a very entertaining night. Resident DJs, if you’ve been to one of the events before, you’ll know it’s a funky night of vintage and sounds and music which gets you into a funky groove.

Pro: this is the cheapest of the nights out. Tickets are a mere fiver, which includes a free glass of fizz, and drinks at The Polar Bear are not overpriced. You can pick them up from the bar.

Con: no live music.

Option #2: Frootenanny


A fabulous wordplay in the popular Hootenanny celebrations of New Year’s Eve, I was instinctively drawn in. Add to that a fantastic line-up and the ability to walk to and from the venue (perhaps not a pro for yourselves, but certainly for me), and I’ll struggle to find a con.

An 18+ event which features a mixture of musical sounds, there’s something for everyone. A mash-up of easy listening from Joe Duncan and band, pop-rap from popular Nineties Boy, indie guitar tunes from The Holy Orders, punk-based ska from the electrifying Counting Coins, all topped off with a DJ set from the amazing Endoflevelbaddie.

Pro: so many amazing acts for a wonderful £6 (advance tickets are available from Hull Box Office).

Con: When really busy, Fruit can get a bit too much for me. People can just be too rude for such confined spaces. And I don’t want to see the New Year in covered in someone else’s booze and wishing to punch everyone who finds the need to walk between every conversation I’m having. Don’t get me wrong, I love the venue and I’ve never been disappointed at a gig there, but I do get frustrated with a significant amount of people who attend.


Option #3: Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE

Browse Mag Sessions

Okay, okay, so it’s kind of obvious which of the three options I have offered you, I will be attending. But, hear me out.

The second instalment from Browse Magazine sees two bands and six DJs, offering a full bag of treats. Audio Subscene are headlining with Fronteers supporting: both offering indie tunes, one band quite new to the scene while the other has a secure following.

With six DJs, including a set from our charming editor Mike White, there will be music until 4 in the morning. Most exciting though, is the exclusive set from Steve Cobby, of Fila Brazillia fame. Truly a star-studded collection of local musicians.

A little more pricey than the other events – £7 for advance tickets available from here or £10 otd – we are offering a huge selection.

Pro: the platter of goodies I’ve already mentioned – which also features DJs Mike White, Tom Gibbins, Phil Green, Corey Barker and Alex Robinson.

Con: A few people have commented that they’d prefer 6 bands and 2 DJs. Initially, I agreed, but the DJs we have lined up are fantastic, and will ensure an energetic night of great music from Hull and beyond.

And finally, a few reminders.

Wherever you choose to spend New Year’s Eve, drink safely and consider those around you. Prebook that taxi and ensure nobody is left out in the cold. Remember, the way you start the year sets the year in motion!

Happy partying people.

Black Delta Movement Single Launch 29.12.14

Though Black Delta Movement have existed for about 5 years, their sound is fresh to the ears. Poetic lyrics and powerfully mesmerising instrumentals, they slip into a mash of sub-genres: psychedelic rock, indie, garage, blues. It’s what makes them stand out from the crowd, as well as drawing people in.

Humber Street Sesh 2014
Humber Street Sesh 2014

2014 has been a busy year for the band. Signed with Ruby Music, they released their four-track EP ‘Ghost Dance’ in December, and the year will come to a conclusion with their single launch of “The Trip”.

A cover of Kim Fowley’s hit, originally written and produced in 1965, this song describes a psychedelic experience. A fast-paced, guitar-lead track, which encompasses the highs and lows of the 1970s: just as you drift off into the blissful instrumental, Matt Burr’s vocals slice through the instruments like a knife made of glass – the devil twisting your mind.

Fowley was once described as “a shadowy cult figure well outside the margins of the mainstream.” This too reflects the charismatic Black Delta Movement, who produce a sound on the outskirts of the indie music spectrum, delivering a different performance with each song. Though there are clear similarities to the original track, this is still very much their own composition.

And with support from Fire: The Unstoppable Force and The Evil Litter, the night is sure to be a cacophony of bizarre wonderment.

Advance tickets are £5, available from bandmembers with a limited amount at The Polar Bear. Doors open at 7:30, and an aftershow party will continue til 2am with a DIG Club Night/BDM DJ set.

An ideal way to let go after eating all those mince pies.


BDM single launch banner

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.