vice_squad.pngOkay, I’ll get this out of the way first off and talk about a show that I have been pretty excited about since it was first announced. Those who know me are aware that I’m pretty fanatical about New Model Army and have been listening to and watching them play since the mid 80’s…yes I’m that old! But in all that time despite front man Justin Sullivan’s numerous side projects and solo ventures, somehow I have only ever seen him play as part of the full band experience. 

That all changes tonight as he plays The Victoria. Sullivan is a mirror for the trials and challenges of life, more social commentary than truly political, tales of ordinary people making their way through the world but also threaded through with optimism and a celebration of this strange and beautiful world we live in. Support comes from two of the finest acoustic players on the circuit, the engaging stories of Jake Martin and the deft and dexterous songwriting of Chuck SJ Hay.

The Beehive promises something just as off the beaten track, for Swindon at least, probably more so. Ash Mandrake is a pretty cool proposition at the best of times, a cross between a minstrel from Westeros (get me with the pop culture reference) and a prog-rock milliner, but as Keshanadram (I see what he did there) you will be treated to the full band version of his music. (Insert your own wonderfully unique “gigs are like busses” analogy here!)

The Queen’s Tap is back in musical business after its refurbishment and they kick things off with a night of 70’s glam with Fab 208, which may sound like a terrible radio station but is actually one of the longest running glam tributes on the circuit. Over a quarter of a century in and still paying homage to the likes of Bowie, T Rex, Bay City Rollers and ABBA in all their glitzy, glittered glory.

Tributes from that decade are also on the cards at The Victoria but this time from a much different musical scene. In 1978 The Clash were the undisputed front runners of British punk, though whether punk as a scene still existed at that point is still the source of much debate, and their second album, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, saw them embrace a wider audience. 40 years on London Calling will be playing the album in its entirety. 

Rockabilly is on the cards courtesy of The Bulltown Boys at The Rolleston. Old school rock ’n’roll from Presley to The Reverend Horton Heat, from Jerry Lee to The Stray Cats delivered in their own inimitable style plus a generous helping of their own tunes. Quiffs set to stun its time to cut a rug.

Saturday brings plenty of heavier music, the biggest name being Vice Squad at The Victoria. Since 1979 and in various incarnations, this Bristol band have blended punk and hard rock and tempered it wonderfully with Beki Bondage’s melodic vocal deliveries. But no mere punk heritage band, Vice Squad (pictured) have a wealth of more recent material to draw on and promise an incendiary live show.

Shepherd’s Pie make up the second musical helping for The Queen’s Tap opening weekend, powerful hard rock and metal classics delivered via some deft and dexterous playing and no shortage of musical drama. If ever a band did justice to the iconic songs which have defined the genre, these guys  do it best. The Waiting Room see the return of Revenged, a tribute to Californian metallers Avenged Sevenfold, a band known for style and substance, constant reinvention and epic live shows. 

At the other extreme, Binomial bring their celebration of 80’s electro-pop to The Swiss Chalet; Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell, Erasure, OMD, Gary Numan even Kraftwerk are all on the cards.  And if authentic rock and roll is your thing then you have a choice of either The Rhythm Slingers at The Rolleston or Joe and the Overriders at The Castle.

And before I go the Sounds Around Town minions have informed me that this column is actually the 400th one I have inflicted upon you, outlasting 2 editors and any number of sub-editors! Was it something I said?