There was a time when, according to the song, all people wanted for Christmas was two front teeth, but those simpler times seem to be long gone. I blame Mariah Carey. She really raised the stakes by famously declaring that all she wanted was you. Yes, YOU (and you and you and you!) Blimey, not asking for much. It’s also a time when people “ironically” slip into novelty knitwear, words such as ‘tis and ‘twas make an annual outing and everyone suddenly thinks that Elf is the new It’s a Wonderful Life. (Over my dead body!)
It’s a time of year when TV sets overflow with adverts featuring stressed mums, useless dads, penguins, puppies, Christmas tables heaving under thousands of pounds worth of food, soppy, faux-indie soundtracks and perpetual snow, even though a white Christmas happens about one in 6 years and half as frequently in “that London” where these adverts are dreamed up. All I want for Christmas is some decent live music to experience; thankfully Santa seems to have delivered.
The Victoria has the first of two heavy rock shows, firstly tonight in the shape of Manchester trio Absolva, a band who have taken the core sound that informed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the eighties and brought it bang up to date. Support comes from equally hard hitting classic metallers Die No More and Control The Storm.
At the other end of the musical spectrum Claude Bourbon returns to The Beehive to weave an intoxicating acoustic web from a fusion of classical, jazz, folk and Latin guitar styles.
Friday has plenty to choose from, the big one being a fund raiser for I.A.R. that’s International Animal Rescue, not the World War Two Romanian fighter plane manufacturer. Anyway, more about that can be found elsewhere on this page. Funk and soul fans are well catered for by Felix and The Funk at The Moonrakers and blues fans have two options. Soul, Rhythm and Blues and rock all go into the mix at Riffs Bar with Bob Bowles and the Dansette Tones and at The Rolleston there is a tribute to that stalwart of American music, Bonnie Rait.
Fans of heavier music get a second slice of the pie with ubiquitous Iron Maiden tribute Powerslaves playing Level 3 whilst Metalhead offer a selection of classic rock and metal at The Victoria.
Roots Reggae gets a look in on Saturday at The Victoria with Urban Lions the new musical vehicle for classic UK roots artist Donette Forte. Also on the bill are DJ’s Bambi (aka Miss Reggae Reggae Sauce) and Stu Green (aka Mr Pop Art.) If, however, something a bit more raucous is to your tastes then The Roughnecks at the Rolleston might be more to your liking. Made up of band members from Josie and The Outlaw, The Meteors and Screaming Lord Sutch, their blend of old school rock ‘n’roll and psychobilly has been described as a Dr Feelgood meets The Meteors sound clash. A more wide-ranging musical experience can be had with the pop and rock covers offered up by Echo at The Swiss Chalet.
Sunday may be the day of rest but something a bit special takes place at The Victoria in the evening as those awfully nice chaps at Sheer Music offer a chance to experience the brilliance of The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (pictured). This is a band who make albums about their favourite books and films and having already dealt with Cool Hand Luke and The Catcher in The Rye, their just released 3rd album goes under the fitting title of It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol. So it’s folk-pop with a literary bent, sounds intriguing. Also on the bill are the intense aggro-acoustic sounds of Oxygen Thief, the agit-folk of Coasters plus the mellower and captivating musical charms of Charlie Bath.
Rounding the week off and providing two gigs that really do offer something totally unique are Kick Ass Brass and Skins and Strings. The first is a soul-funk outfit combining steaming hot brass, an amazing rhythm section and outstanding vocals and can be found at Baker Street on Tuesday. The second is an instrumental two-piece that combines exotic eastern tabla beats with the more pastoral guitar of a western folk tradition which is to be found at The Roaring Donkey.