There was an interesting debate on line the other day, mainly from a promoters point of view and centred around the age old problem of getting people out to watch live music. I have written about it extensively elsewhere but it is worth just recapping on the main thrust of the arguments here. One side seemed to want to lay the blame of poor attendances at the feet of the punter in a fairly sanctimonious line that went something like “ we are putting these gigs on for you and you are not attending them, therefore you are failing as a music fan” The usual clichés, use it or lose it statements and the one-upmanship of who’s most passionate about music followed in its usual dreary inevitability.
I see the scenario the other way around. The public know what they want and if promoters and venues are suffering from ill attended gigs, maybe their “product” and a gig is just as much a product as Tesco sausages, just isn’t that appealing. In short maybe they are just booking the wrong bands; wrong as in over played, limited appeal or just plain boring. Last week in particular showed that if you tap into the right vibe people will respond and bands such as Young Kato, Portia Conn, Old Colours, Spyglass, SkyBurnsRed and even old faithfuls like The Hamsters from Hell played to decent crowds. It can be done, but if people aren’t turning up to your shows, maybe the answer to the problem lies closer to home than you think.
Right, I’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested enough and come to the conclusion that these are the gigs that you might like to go to. In the name of fairness and to avoid the usual backlash, I must point out that other gigs are available and door prices can go up as well as down.
Interesting proposition in the top bar of The Victoria tonight, Normally to be found performing with Toupe, Grant Sharkey is a brilliant mix of upright bass, live humour, improvised lyrics and audience participation all of which makes for a brilliant live experience.
Friday seems to be the night when it’s all happening, starting in Old Town and working our way down the hill it goes like this. The Arts Centre has the legendary Colin Blunstone, a name associated with bands such as Argent and The Alan Parsons Project but most famous for being a member of The Zombies and co-writing the hit She’s Not There.
Round the corner at The Victoria, after too long away from the scene, The Shudders (pictured) are back spearheading a cracking night. Not only do you get their lo-fi, folk-pop, Americana shennanighins, but you also have Alex Taylor who channels the ethereal acoustic vibe of the likes of Damien Rice and John Martyn, plus the funkier, rootsy acoustica of The Right Hooks.
By the time you get down to The Beehive, something very interesting and unexpected is afoot. Whilst certain venues at the more boisterous end of town have been hosting various X-Factor contestants, here you will find Dorka Shodeinde, who was well placed in the Hungarian version of the contest performing with her guitarist Roland Polyak, the result is something altogether more soulful and palatable. If you want to play the nostalgia card, The Rolleston plays host to The Nomarks who are keeping the sound of the late seventies two-tone/ska revival alive and kicking.
Although Swindon is never short of metal bands, Riffs Bar has taken the interesting slant of getting some of the top bands of the genre, namely Eye For An Eye, From Ruin and Mortdelamer to play acoustic versions of their songs. Also note that this is Mortdelamer’s last ever gig, so I think it is only fitting that all you metallers support this and give them a great send off.
On Saturday at the same venue you can catch John Coghlan’s Quo, touring as a warm up before the much talked about classic line up Status Quo reunion. Not normally one to tout the tribute set but as it’s Transmission, who recreate the glorious sounds of Joy Division, I can’t not give it a quick mention. That’s at The Victoria and support is a Killing Joke set from 1000 Planets. If country music is your thing then you need to be at the Arts Centre for the iconic Hank Wangford and The Lost Cowboys.
And finally we jump to Wednesday when you have the options of a Bluegrass jam session at Riffs Bar or some wonderful joyous and sweeping acoustic folk from Antoine Architeuthis at The Running Horse. Support comes from Alice Offley, genre-hopping pianist who is equally at home knocking out brash pop, delicate other worldly dreamscapes and everything in between.