Tag Archives: The Sesh

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

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Humber Street Sesh 2015 – a preview

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.

LIFE
LIFE

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.

A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.
A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.

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.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

 

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.

Humber Street Sesh info poster

All photographs are by Paul Newbon, taken at last year’s HSS. 

First Avenue – ‘Dark Days’ EP review

The competition, advertised on Facebook
The competition, advertised on Facebook

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of First Avenue’s EP ‘Dark Days’ in a Facebook competition. I rarely involve myself in such things, but after seeing the band perform at Hull’s weekly Sesh, I couldn’t say no to giving it a try. I’d already decided that I would probably purchase it, and having not got round to doing so figured I might as well give a freebie a shot.

And I did win a copy. So I felt it only fair to review, using a different style to my usual EP/album reviews, by going through it track by track.

First Avenue started out as a guitar duo made up of Chris Key and Rob McIlwrath. Now with the addition of Louie Scott on bass and John Dye on percussion, they are taking the city by storm. I don’t think I know a band performing as often as these guys. They have several gigs this month alone, so do check them out.

Track 1: Intro starts off with an introduction of each instrument, building up to a regular, rather hypnotic, rhythm. You’d expect that, right? But then the music loses volume and is replaced with the sound of chatter. Like the first song performed to a crowded room, there is interjection, conversation overshadowing the tune.

Luckily, the music picks up again; the same rhythm but in faster tempo, with the addition of Chris Keys’ equally hypnotic vocals. I’m completely absorbed in the music before even track one has ended, drawn in by his husky voice and the gentle harmonies in the background. A wonderful start, perfectly named as it sets the scene for the rest of the EP.

First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15
First Avenue, Sesh 18.02.15

Track 2: You begins with a focus on the vocals. I like that more people are keeping the focus on the lead, with the lyrics taking a more prominent role. But again, there’s that rhythmic heartbeat from the drums which keeps you hooked on the sound. It’s a mellow tune, with emphasis on key phrases.

Track 3: Survive is led by the guitar. The initial vocals are less catchy, making it more difficult to hang on them as with other tracks. However, the Latin influence of the guitars makes you move to this track in a way you don’t so much with the others.

Track 4: Broken is my favourite track on the EP. Introduced by the same chatter as in the opening track, the guitars slice through and welcome the vocals again. The chorus is catchy enough that I remembered this song from their live set, singing along to the words “I’m not broken yet; I’m may train to forget.”

This tune summarises the tracklist for me: a solemn set of lyrics with an upbeat guitar which gets your feet moving to the rhythm.

Chris Key
Chris Key

Track 5: Cry Out has a different sound. Still solemn, but more haunting than the other tracks. Keys vocals underpin the guitar, echoing through the sounds of the instruments. It ends rather too soon for my liking, as I just get into when the harmonies fade and the track moves on.

Track 6: Fire of Light opens with the sound of crickets, making me picture a quiet night around a firepit. The music is gentle and relaxing, fitting this image comfortably. About a minute in, the pitch and tempo increases, introducing the chorus alongside a similar rhythmic beat the others. The sound comes in waves, picking up and lulling.

Track 7: Burning Up (Bonus Track) mixes the Latin vibes in with the relaxed vocals which bring all of these tracks together.

Overall, an easy listening collection which will get you moving if you are in such the mood for this.

You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April
You can see First Avenue performing in Hull throughout April

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.

Top 5 Browse Moments of 2014

This year has been a year of changes. A year where bridges have been mended and new friendships forged. I started a new school and joined the team of Browse Magazine.

Now, just before I look forward to the exciting newness of 2015, I’m going to look back over the last few months of 2014 – my time with Browse and the wonderful opportunities I’ve had while being a part of the team.

Photo by Luke Hallett
Photo by Luke Hallett

It started with Issue 004: MOTHER when I was asked to review the band COAVES as part of the weekly Sesh review. Three reviewers reviewing three bands; I was glad to get these guys. Their music is that wonderful mixture of sunny tunes, guitar-lead instrumentals and copious amounts of talent. Three confident singers, they come together to produce a sublime sound, and they’re never scared to try something new and admit when something doesn’t work.

Recently, I’ve been doing some more work with COAVES, who have competed in the Scunthorpe Rock Open and supported Pigeon Detectives at Fruit, and will be starting the year working with the band to promote their single ‘Waves’. They are certainly ones to look out for.

Photo by Stew Baxter, Warren Records
Photo by Stew Baxter, Warren Records

Another of my favourite Hull bands is LIFE, who featured on the front cover of issue 009. Published the same night as they performed with Kaiser Chiefs for the Adelphi 30 celebrations, we stated that that was the reason for featuring them – Black Delta Movement had received loads of press from the Hull Daily Mail, so we felt LIFE deserved a little bit too. In truth, our editor decided that if we got them in then Meg and I might stop going on about them so much. As if!

So, on top of reviewing them at the Adelphi 30 gig, Meg and I got to interview lead singer Mez and his guitarist brother Mick: our first videoed interview for the magazine. We’d both met them before at Press Pack and the interview felt much more like a chat than a Q&A, which was the perfect way to start off this additional role for the mag. We were both glad that there wasn’t the room for us to feature on the screen – the confidence for this would come later…

The Talks @ Welly

As time has progressed, I’ve taken on more and more at Browse. But issue 013 (unlucky for some) was one I felt particularly proud of. Our cover band were The Talks, an amazing ska band who I realised I had first seen perform on an episode of Hollyoaks! Working hard over the half term, I contacted the band for a text interview while they were touring Europe for their album launch, as well as writing the bio, an album review and then headed out on a schoolnight to review their hometown gig at the Welly. It was fantastic to work with them, pestering them to meet deadlines and then hugging a very sweaty Pat at the end of their gig.

And their album is one I play over and over. It’s fantastic for that Friday night feeling, when you’re physically destroyed after the working week but emotionally ready to go out and party for the weekend. Energetic tunes with meaningful lyrics – it’s easy to miss the message within the words, but you should listen to them carefully the next time you get a chance.

Photo by Chris Pepper
Photo by Chris Pepper

This leads me directly into the first time I featured on a video interview. As with issue 013, I took on writing the main features of issue 016: Black Delta Movement. Having annoyed myself at being too busy to interview Hillbilly Troupe in the previous issue, I was excited to be working with this band. I’d reviewed them as part of many of the festivals, the Adelphi 30 gig and as part of Hulloween, but I’d never reviewed them as the focal feature.

I’ve often felt the disadvantage of not being born and bred in Hull. I didn’t go to school with any member of the bands in the area – I’ve taught a couple – and often my face is just one of many in a crowd. But these lads didn’t care about that. Bass player Liam informed me that his mum reads all my stuff, and the pre-interview chat was comfortable and relaxed.

My confidence soared from this point; not just on-screen but generally in myself. I was at the point where I knew people were reading my stuff and offering me some positive feedback (always lovely to hear) and I was taking on more and more opportunities, putting myself out there and becoming a firm feature within the magazine.

Dan Mawer - La Bete Blooms

To pick a final feature is actually the hardest of them all. But I went with another band who I have interviewed and reviewed, now a couple of times. This feature was actually all a bit last minute for me. For issue 012, I met up with La Bête Blooms for a short video interview and a review of their EP launch at Fruit. Nobody else was free to interview, so I agreed. This was fine, all planned and going as expected. That was until I was informed that the person reviewing wasn’t able to make it. I turned to Luke, our photographer, and sagged at the concept of the late night before school. But I was there and it was due to finish before midnight – not too late.

I had listened to their tracks as part of the research for the interview, so I had an idea of what to expect. They’d mentioned that their live sound was quite different to their mastered and recorded stuff. But I was not in any way prepared for what I experienced in the intimate back room of Fruit. I commented that there is a beast within the band, and I stand by that. Dan Mawer is one of the nicest guys I have ever met: he never misses the chance to say hello if you’re in the same room as him, he always asks how the mag is doing, and his smile is the most positively charming sight you’ll see at the Sesh on a Tuesday. Then you throw a guitar his way and get him on that stage and you’re blinded by the transformation. That smile will be there at the start, but a guitar solo later and he is smashing the place up. I was amazed to see every mic stand upturned by the end of the set, and recall rushing home to write up my notes so that the review included everything I took from my first La Bête Blooms experience.

Four months of working for the magazine, now I can’t imagine my life without at least one gig a week and lists of artists I need to contact. My CD collection has taken on a strong Hull accent. My friends fall into two categories: those I gig with and those who listen to my constant reviews of gigs (even if they’ve just read it online).

I’ve always said you should start the year as you mean to go on. And so Browse Mag Sessions #2: NYE is the place I will be: alongside friends old and new, amidst writers, photographers, musicians and readers.

2015 sees a lot of new starts for me, but being a part of Browse is something I am pleased to say will continue. Here’s to more exciting experiences.

A Sesh Review – 09.12.14

Regardless of the long day I had spent at work – eleven hours of students and parents clawing for my attention – I was going to attend this week’s Sesh. LIFE were headlining, and if the long night killed me then, at the very least, I could say that I was able to love LIFE until I took my last breath. Their last gig of the year, I was worried that my scrambled brain would not do them justice, and so took on the role of fan rather than reviewer, merely acting on behalf of Browse’s Twitter page for updates.

Having dosed myself up with flu medicines, I had survived Parents Evening, and in less than an hour I had refreshed myself enough to hop into the taxi which would take me to The Polar Bear. This bar, with its small decorated beer garden and stages directly next to the men’s bogs, is becoming a favourite haunt of mine. I don’t visit regularly as such, but if given the option, I’ll meet friends or colleagues there for a drink and a chat.

A night of music will easily draw me out into the cold, and the thought of pleasant company makes the prospect all the more delightful. I was venturing out alone, knowing that I would be able to meet up with Paul Newbon, who has recently joined the Browse team and who I also met at a LIFE gig. Greeted by the smiling face of Dom Abbott, of Black Delta Movement, at the bar, I ordered my drink and had a quick chat. The bar was already quite busy, but I found Paul seated next to family members of Mez and Mick from LIFE. Thinking about it now, I realise how rude I was to have recognised them and not introduced myself – apologies mum and dad of LIFE; please blame it on my being terribly unwell and scatter-brained.

Mike Wright
Mike Wright

From behind his booth, Mak announced the first artist. Mike Wright, formerly of Bonnitts, took to the stage as just he and his guitar. Playing three melancholy songs, he captivated the scattered audience. Yes there was chatter, yes people still ordered their drinks, but in our booth we watched intently. Paul returned with a brief review: “That was jolly good.” (That’s why he does the snaps, and I do the writing.) He performed with the simplistic beauty of vocals and instrument, drawing those of us who listened intently in with every word.

Laurel Canyons remind of La Bête Blooms – not vocally, but with their style. A casual look but a powerful performance. Opening with an instrumental track, I wasn’t really sure whether I wanted them to bring the vocals in. It was so aggressively beautiful, that I feared vocals would distort the sound. Fortunately, just like Dan Mawer’s coarse melodies, Jake Cope’s vocals merely added to the aura created in the room. Performing songs from their EP ‘Now We’re Rebuilding’, they displayed a vocal and instrumental range of skills. At times the instruments took over, all four putting their energy into this, and then suddenly mellowing to allow Cope’s vocals to flow over the crowd.

Jake Cope - Laurel Canyons
Jake Cope – Laurel Canyons

From the EP, my favourite song is ‘Cry Hard, Cry Fast’. The up and down pattern of both instruments and vocals is very pleasing.

Their set ended with them all unplugging the instruments, and stepping down into the crowd. I merely needed to swivel on my stool, but stood to get a clear view. Cope still clutching his guitar, Paul Burdett, France Lahmar and Arv Teeroovengadum stood beside him, harmonising. A stunning sound, somewhat overshadowed by the chatter of those behind, but well worth standing for. I look forward to seeing more from them.

Grabbing another drink from the bar at the end of their set, I was greeted by Jon and Jordan from Coaves, who admitted they’d been discussing my recent article on the band. I’m not used to knowing anyone outside of the relatively inbred teacher circle, and I was humbled by their kind words. Yet again, I was overwhelmed with how lovely everyone is, as we chatted like good friends about their recent performance at the Scunthorpe Rock Open Finals and their upcoming single launch.

Reuben - The Hubbards
Reuben – The Hubbards

The Hubbards were up next. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them, but I went with high expectations. Reuben has a stunning, unique voice, and I enjoy the more uplifting sound that they have.

The crowd swelled, reaching the stage. I couldn’t see well without standing, so moved closer to the stage with the others, having also met up with our working reviewer Bob. They performed their most popular songs, and they performed very well. But their interaction with the audience didn’t match the energy of the other bands. The set was good, but I wasn’t blown away – which I have been before when seeing them live. There was a bit of banter, but just no electricity.

I’m seeing them again next week as they support Pigeon Detectives at a sold out gig at Fruit, and hope they’ve a bit more spark them.

LIFE
LIFE

Last, and certainly never least, was LIFE. I’d already shuffled my way to the front of the stage. Mak had said earlier in the evening that he wasn’t ashamed to admit that they were his favourites on the Hull music scene – I didn’t know we had so much in common. Again the crowd, having pushed themselves back in the interlude, flooded the space before the stage. I realised my mistake at having stepped forward early, positioning myself right next to a speaker and leaving a view of only Loz and Mez.

Mez & Mick - LIFE
Mez & Mick – LIFE

I’ve seen these guys enough times to know their set pretty well, but there was even more thrown into this last performance of the year. Mez was everywhere; into the audience, crawling onto Rich’s drum kit and, when he was on the stage, tipping himself into the crowd. Mick, also on form, was bouncing at every opportunity, a blur of shadows on the back wall to me. Suggesting that they slow things down a bit, Mez introduced their fastest song ‘Go Go Go’ and showed off his vocal talents with the super-speedy lyrics.

For the last song, he launched himself into the audience with more vitality than I’ve seen before. Circling the crowd, he gave his mum a little squeeze before finishing off back on stage with the other lads. It took them seconds to be off and out the door for the compulsory chat with Nineties Boy, but I imagine they appreciated the chill of the winter air after that set.

Mez - LIFE
Mez – LIFE

A night of intense highs, it really was a cracking line-up.

I ended the night with the song ‘Take Off With You’ and started the following day with my phone alarm playing Mick’s guitar solo from the very same song. I recalled the night so clearly, tiny segments growing into larger accounts; words forming on the tips of my fingers, desperate to be written down. LIFE always give me something to write about. And write it I did.

It’s a bit long, but I won’t apologise for that.

Thanks to everyone who kept me company and chatted with me on the night, and to The Polar Bear for hosting another fantastic evening of music. And special thanks to Paul, who also supplied the images used in this post.