They say that variety is the spice of life and writing this week’s column has brought up a couple of thoughts relating to that. The first musing I will bring up straight away and is on the subject of gig line-ups. Question: Is it best, when putting a show together, to take the line of generic harmony, in other words to chose a series of acts of a similar style so that the whole bill appeals to fans of one genre of music, or is a more eclectic approach useful in that it the bill as a whole appeals to a wider musical outlook. There probably is no simple answer, but I do know that tonight’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria definitely falls into the latter category as their offering takes in everything from indie to pop to voodoo blues.
Theo Altieri sums up everything that is of the moment in music. His clean-limbed, indie-pop tunes, sit easily on the listener, are vibrant, fresh and punchy and as such he makes a worthy headliner for the show. Vienna Ditto (pictured) is a whole different bluesy, retro-electro can of worms. Looking like an alliance between a lounge jazz diva and a mad professor and sounding like the deal the devil would have struck with Robert Johnson had he been into homebuilt electronica and Twin Peaks, they are as strange as they are brilliant. New Indie kids on the block, The Primaveras open the night.
And if that doesn’t cover enough musical bases, then maybe The Open Secrets brand of modern country meets old time mountain music at The Beehive is to your liking.
Friday takes more of a soul and blues journey, initially at least. The Soul Strutters at The Rolleston do pretty much what it says on the tin as they select the best of the golden era of funk, soul, disco and rare groove. Made up of consummate musicians with a musical pedigree second to none, this is the tightest and funkiest band you will experience for a long time. Riffs Bar is the setting for the launch of a new blues band. Featuring a few familiar faces and leaning heavily towards a Joe Bonamassa feel, Sloe Train are one for blues enthusiasts to keep an eye out for.
If covers are more your idea of a musical night out then you have to options of acoustic pop and rock at The Castle with Stripped or an altogether wilder experience with Toxic at The Victoria.
Looking for something all together more hard and heavy? Look no further than Level 3 and Essenone’s regular night. Kremated lead the charge with their collision of thrash metal, punk and hardcore, imagine Venom’s tour bus crashing into an Exploited gig and you have some sort of starting point. Joining them are Sumer who sound like Tool re-writing Ok Computer plus high-octane metal-heads From Dusk Till Dawn and Powercake.
And this brings me on to my second point regarding the condiment of existence (spice of life…gedit?) and that of clashing shows. For whilst The Victoria hosts The Big 4, a tribute act specialising in the music of stalwarts of thrash metal – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, The Rolleston has opted for Shepherds Pie who offer a wider selection of music from loosely the same territory. So effectively over just two days, there are three shows, which are aimed at the same audience. Surely that just divides the fans who probably can’t afford to go to every show and who certainly can’t be in two places at once. Just saying.
More rock, indie and funk covers are to be had at The Swiss Chalet with The Shadow Monkeys and up at The Castle, The Hamsters From Hell will be treating (?) the punters to some blustery, raucous and sweary r’n’b as only they can.
That wonderful monthly fixture, Lazy Sunday Afternoon is at The Central Library and as well as featuring your hosts, Mr Love and Justice and their blend of West Coast meets West Kennett folk-pop, has the velvet tones of Emily Davis and the celtic, folk, American, southern harmony infusions of The Black Feathers.
And finally Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey is a showcase of young singer-songwriters. Headlining is George Wilding whose songs encompass Nick Drake, David Bowie, Dickensian vaudeville and Lewis Carroll. Also on the bill are Rhys Bury and Matthew Bryant.