I read with some amusement today that “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe has come out of retirement to host a new show. In keeping with the current trend of making everything into reality TV, he travelled to Birmingham with the Archbishop of Canterbury and famous born again Catholic Tony Blair to judge Popestars, a competition designed to decide the next pontiff. Thousands of hopefuls queued at the door, including Fiona Brat-Actress whose experience extends to having appeared in Cliff Richards Mistletoe and Wine video. The audition tasks will include singing Ave Maria, Tarmac Kissing and Meeting Bono and pretending to know who he is. One hopeful, Derek Cleanliness, 89 from Rugby, has already caught the judges eye, “He’s definitely got the look we are after” said Lythgoe, “It’s a sad fact that in the cut throat world of the Vatican, image does matter”
Still, enough pontificating and on with the show. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight features a mix of both old, new, local and from further afield. The Starkers are a collision of grungy density and Libertines-esque melodies, whilst up from London, Hitchcock Blonde take the form of an explosive, raging alt-rock beast, laced with accessible melodies that both kick arse and cut the mustard. Opening the night, The King in Mirrors are a new band made up of familiar faces and if you get their titular reference then their rough and ready, post-punk, underground pop will be right up your street. By contrast you can catch the superb acoustic folk guitar and sun kissed vocals of the far too young to be this talented, Jenna Witts.
Loads happening on Friday, The Furnace being a great place to spend it with a wonderful line up of younger indie types. Chaps of the moment Nudybronque headline, a band on a wonderful trajectory that has so far taken them from innocent, speed-freak pop to bittersweet, underground indie and are poised for a future that looks even more beguiling. Support comes from The Two’n’ Eights, The Racket and The Rhubarbs.
Whatflag at The Beehive are a fascinating world rock, jazz band with its roots in Gaza and Tel Aviv and a drive to break down borders and unite communities through their music. The Victoria goes for a night of acoustic acts. These days despite rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army, which in my world is about as good as it gets, Gaz Brookfield still finds time to play his old haunts and his mix of wit and wisdom set to infectious tunes is not to be missed. Support comes from alternative folk duo, Julesbury, musical magpie Jimmy Moore and the soulful stylings of Benji Clements.
Blues fans have a hard choice to make, torn between Larry Miller at The Arts Centre and Innes Sibun at The Rolleston.
The big one for Saturday is at The Furnace with top tribute The Faux Fighters. Personally I have never really seen the reason that Grohl and the gang are held in such high regard, after all if Sean Moore had jumped ship from The Manics in 1995 and returned with an inoffensive, mainstream version of the same, would anyone have batted an eyelid? Still if The Foo Fighters are your thing, this is the place to be. Other things that might take your interest are The Nomarks playing ska at The Castle and 1000 Planets doing choice cuts of classic rock, industrial, goth and punk at The Rolleston.
Some lovely acoustic comes your way on Sunday. In the afternoon you can catch Beehive favourite Juey and her gentle blends of folk, country, bluegrass and Cajun, after which heading up to The Rolleston will enable you to revel in Rumours of Spring who bring a vast array of instruments to bear on a set forged from rock, blues and folk.
The Running Horse on Wednesday has two amazing acts for you. Louise Latham (pictured) combines honest, heart on the sleeve emotions with room silencing vocal delivery that resonates with beauty and wistful reflectivity. The other half of the bill (that really should be considered as a double headline show) is The Black Feathers, an acoustic duo that combine English folk, Celtic traditions and Americana into what is almost this country’s answer to The Civil Wars.
Also on Wednesday, Teenage Kicks takes us out in fine styles at The Furnace with a riot of indie and alt-rock with The Fixed, City Lights, The Eberdeens and Written in Words (errr….as opposed to?)