Category: live review

968 White LilacThose who missed the excellent bill at The Castle last night can check out the evenings proceedings via the always excellent David Rose’s Gig Diary.


12049204_1695691823996317_7380164194924267062_nThere’s more leather onstage at The Victoria than at a biker’s convention as Kamino kick off the second instalment of the Songs of Praise bill on Thursday night.

I was flattened by their debut video of ‘Antidote’ only a week ago and wonder mischievously whether they can recreate that incredible sound outside the studio. Stupid boy…

This is an absolutely belting set. They bill themselves as ‘alternative rock’ but as well as the trademark chunky guitars, there’s elements of melodic metal, some Proggy and Pompy bits, reinforced by Bec Jevons’ sweeping keyboard work and the whole thing rocks flows and rocks like a ride down white-water rapids.

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12189445_1695473650684801_1355004113238000662_oIt’s certainly not a gentle introduction to Friday’s Songs of Praise bill at The Victoria in Swindon. First band up are Molotov Sexbomb from Witney and they lay out their noisy and forceful stall early on in the set.

They deal in Garage and post-Punk and from the first notes, the music takes up a position about six inches in front of your face and eyeballs you without a break until the final chord dies away.

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12185145_10154363415624251_8963479377626763271_oCheck out a great review from arch music fan and blogger Dave Rose here

Also a great set of photo’s from the night courtesy of Paul Jellings here

11870933_488084031366179_9122912349955513731_nGetting people out to watch original music on a Thursday night in Swindon is always a challenging proposition and doing it with a bill entirely of bands who are all from out of town might be seen as irresponsible. But the ethic behind the Songs of Praise promoters, whose night this is, is one of “it’s the show I’d want to go to so maybe there are enough like-minded people around who feel the same to make it work.” Debatable.

As openers Gelato, kicked into their set, it quickly became obvious that there was a phenomenon at work here known as The Callum Green Factor. Normally found drumming with the headliners but tonight also sitting in for their London mates, the fact that Callum is originally from Swindon had brought quite a few people along which meant that the normally sparse first band crowd looked pretty healthy.

Gelato sit at a musical crossroads, or more likely the point of impact in a collision between punk and grunge, stoner and garage rock and as such weave between big desert rock anthems and short, sharp, incendiary shocks, subtle pulsing bass led post punk and anything that lies between, peppered with the always entertaining between song chat of Drew constantly trying to sell us on the idea that the more reserved bassist Phil was the star of the show. As a fellow bassist of course I am going to agree with that.

Flowerpot found themselves in the difficult position of having booked a tour and then lost their lead vocalist but from the way guitarist Louisa Baker took on the extra duties you wouldn’t have guessed that this three-piece version wasn’t the regular set up. And these girls can rock it with the best of them, like Gelato before them, shifting with ease between genres – spikey riot grrrl aggression, intricate classic rock solos and 90’s college rock inspired alt-indie melodies.

It was during their set that an incident, which showed the problem new music, faces in towns such as Swindon, took place. Having nipped to the top bar to replenish my drink I was talking to a couple of lads who had picked up on the fact that Flowerpot had just launched into a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit and were thinking of going down to check the music out. Two things in their minds, however, seem to be an issue. Firstly they were unsure if they wanted to see a band that did original music and were hoping for some Foo Fighters covers (it does seem that David Grohl may have recently overtaken Buddhism as the 4th largest religion in the world) and secondly they wouldn’t believe me that it was three young girls making such a wonderful racket. (Viv Albertine would be spinning in her grave, if she weren’t of course very much alive.)

It is also worth noting that during Louisa’s calls for a dance competition down the front the hardest grooving participants were actually Emma and Linda from Echo Boom Generation, no pre-gig solitude or stoic rituals for them, just an attitude of “let’s get the party started, right here, right now.” It’s a party that they took to even greater heights when they took the stage.

It’s a sad fact that rock music in a culturally narrow town such as this is often limited to classic rock tributes and NWOBHM era cover bands and there are normally very specific criteria for people attending. 1. They are related to or work with one of the band members. 2. They know they are going to get a murdered rendition of Breaking The Law or worse…Sex On Fire. 3. They are the sort of people who say things such as “ music was better when I was younger” “ I know the music I like and stick to that” or “I don’t have time to listen to any new music.” But surely there was a time when all of those bands and all those records were new to you and you were hungry for more? Where did it all go wrong?

Echo Boom Generation are quite simply the future of rock and roll. It’s a cliché I know but if you want a high octane show of killer tunes, big riffs, bigger beats, audience participation choruses and dirty grooves then it’s all there. Isn’t that rock and roll in a nutshell? And whilst taking and re-using all the things that traditionally made rock so great, they do so in forward looking, of the here and now, sort of way. They may tip their hats to the past but they are racing into the future. It also helps that they are three of the most watchable performers ever to grace the stage. Admittedly Callum on his second gig of the night might be flagging a bit but the ear-to-ear smile is still in place and he is still giving it his all. Then again you would be smiling if you were keeping beat for the hottest front line on the circuit…performance wise, musically, in terms of cool and any other way you want to interpret it.

Singer/guitarist Linda Buratto is all hair and rock pose, a whirling dervish of attitude and swagger, everything you want your bands focal point to be whilst bassist Emma Hughes is all lace and barefooted boogie, joining in often ironically on the rock ‘n’ roll theatrics but holding down some tight and dexterous bass runs whilst constantly jiving away, both girls continuing the party they started in the audience during the support acts.

The set ends and it almost feels that there is a void left in the room, an implosion after all that energy has dissipated, the house music kicks in with some cool track, but it isn’t the same. This is how you should feel after a gig, used, abused, put through an emotional meat grinder and spat out the other side to be re-assembled but never quite the same, slightly lost and totally elated. Still there is only one thing to do…go and have a few drinks with the band and count the days until you do it all again.

For all those people who say that nothing ever happens in town, or are just happy to follow the same few tried and tested local circuit bands out of habit, misguided loyalty or laziness, I will say this. Something great did just happen, something very fucking great, a taste of the future of rock music …but if you prefer to sit at home with your Game of Thrones box set or go to watch your brother–in-laws cover band for the 18th time, the future isn’t the place for you anyway. Boom!

11225740_1662728220626011_7483219701444188878_nNow it has to be said that a packed and happily noisy pub in downtown Swindon on a Saturday night is not a finger-style guitarist and singer/songwriter’s natural habitat, but Andy Oliveri goes about his craft with a mixture of great professionalism and dogged determination.

His recent debut album ‘Pay Your Respect To The Rose’ is one of the finest things I’ve heard this year and amid earnest and animated discussion of whether Swindon Town are a ‘selling team’ (they had to discuss that?) and the serious business of getting hammered with your mates, he lays it out in front of us.

The guitar technique is excellent and the voice rich and melodic – difficult to pick highlights out of a set so full of quality, but for me the recent single, ‘A Heart That Sings Can Never Bleed’ probably topped everything tonight, it is an exquisitely lovely song.

He’ll have more receptive audiences – make sure you’re one of them – he’s a very, very good performer.

The images, which were taken in available light, are Copyright Geoffrey Head 2015. Please do not reproduce without permission and a credit. Thanks everyone, it’s important.

11753745_1663230517242448_8272897022402729679_nDowntown Swindon on a Saturday night and the place is crackling with energy. The lads are wearing their Ralph Lauren polos and their designer jeans and the ladies are wearing, frankly, very little.

We’re gathered in The Locomotive for the latest in a series of original music gigs curated by  Songs of Praise. It’s a small and neat pub with a stage that covers a good half the available interior space, but when the 70’s disco lighting starts up, I realise that we’re actually looking at a huge dance floor…

The young guy standing next to me is, not putting it too finely, hammered. “What’s this band’s name, mate?” he asks. I tell him and he says “They any good?” I tell him that I think we’re about to find out, one way or another – and we certainly do.

The amount of people who have told me that I should be watching tonight’s headliners, White Lilac has reached such a level that I turn to Bristol music luminary Mustafa Mirreh of The Flux for his opinion and when he gives a resounding thumbs up, I’m there.

I do a few minutes’ YouTube research to familiarise myself with the style, but nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares you11219112_1663230680575765_6908029146545632346_n for the power of this band. And I don’t mean they’re loud – aided by an excellent sound tech, they’re only using sufficient volume to rise above the hubbub – they’re just forceful, the music simply hits you in a wave. Imagine the most coruscating parts of Abjects colliding head on with the most blissful parts of Light Falls Forward and you might be getting close.

The band is a four-piece, but the pretty constant swapping of instruments to produce different configurations and soundscapes is an impressive feature of the performance. The one fixed point though is drummer Tom Counihan, who unobtrusively lays down a wide variety of different beats through the night with great craft and subtlety – an essential anchor when a band plays a good chunk of its set without a bass player.

Much of the coverage the band has received centres around singer Faye Rogers glorious, soaring voice, which is much in evidence as they jump straight in with their latest single, the mesmerising “The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower”. Clearly not a band to keep their powder dry. Rogers also plays very smooth sax and can more than handle her lush teardrop Vox.

11781783_1663230393909127_5818595597345483278_nIt’s clear after about one and a half tracks that this band has got something very special going for it, and a further recent effort, the breathtaking ‘Night Visions’, long and elegant, firmly reinforces this.

Much of this band’s elegance is produced by Emma Thornton’s cello, which has the dual role of providing a deeply melodic backdrop to some tracks while acting as a substitute bass on the tracks where two guitars are being used. She also switches over to bass for the more rocking tracks, of which there are several of differing degrees of violence, topped by the brutal ‘Dog Meat’, a three(ish) chord post-Punk thrash of immense power, with an instrument-free Rogers showing that not only does she do the Siren call but she can also growl one out as well – it’s my favourite of the night – it could strip paint at a hundred paces and produces a tremendous crowd reaction.

Guitarist Curtis Warner also comes right to the fore in this one, crashing out the chords to add to the bell-like clarity of11800291_1663230630575770_7235828207295542885_n his fine soloing during the evening, he also adds very fluent bass to a couple of tracks.

They do just under an hour, which goes very, very fast. I turn to the bloke next to me, who’s still, miraculously, standing and ask him what he thought. “They’re [expletive deleted] brilliant, mate – what are they called again?”

The band is called White Lilac and you’re going to be hearing a lot about them.


 (images used by kind permission of Geoffrey Head)


10527329_675300369218513_2277650497184696053_nLast week found me in my usual haunts for two radically different shows. Wednesday, as usual, was all about the acoustic session at The Roaring Donkey and this week it was the turn of Sue Hart, a Salisbury based Americana songwriter to entertain the small, attentive and gradually increasing number punters. Aided and abetted by “a mildly disgruntled man” whose real name was Pete on bass the duo treated the room to not only lessons in song writing, dexterous musicianship and vocal harmonising, but also the less tangible and often overlooked traits – charisma, audience engagement and the ability to take your music seriously whilst finding humour in the whole process of making music for a living. They were gracious and wonderful company and they perfectly epitomised those wonderful anecdotes that you only get from working with musicians. Not only is Pete’s “day job” working as Chrissie Hynde’s lighting guy, Sue also revealed in the wonderfully titled song, “ You Were A Lying, Drunken Bum, But I Got To See The Mountains” how she took a road trip across America and “accidently” got married. You just don’t get stories like that hanging around with four guys who working in Nationwide during the day and try to sound like Green Day in the evenings.


The following evening revolved around a trip to The Victoria, a place I watch a lot of bands but not normally ones as hard and heavy as the ones on offer that night. Arriving late I missed Eden Falls but did manage to catch a bit of Heriot who mixed howling vocals and heavy riffs with doomy interludes and atmospheric asides, interesting but the main thrust of their sound wasn’t one that spoke to me.


Although the intensity and sheer raw brutality of Screamo style metal isn’t really my thing, I think if you are going to watch any genre that falls largely outside your comfort zone then pick the best band of that genre. Headliners Sleep Inertia certainly seem the best of their peer group. Four–fifths born from the ashes of The Dead Lay Waiting they have deliberately pushed their new sound towards a more mature target audience. The result is a brutal, near apocalyptic, onslaught of high-octane riffs, pulsing bass runs, crashing back beats and primordial vocals, and for all its overwhelming attack of sight and sound, you can’t help but get carried away by its sheer force. Not the sort of thing you are going to use as the sound track to a Sunday fine dining experience, but in the right context an unforgettable experience.

(first published at Swindon Link)

1795764_10151912627284290_2105492537_nIt’s not often that Songs of Praise night at The Victoria hosts heavier line-ups, having built its current reputation largely on indie, pop, folk and alternative sounds. But one of the bands they have been championing for a number of years now is The Manic Shine and their appearance on any local bill should be enough to make any discerning rock or metal fan take heed. Whilst we do get a lot of bands termed “classic rock” playing in town, what The Manic Shine do is take the hallmarks of that genre – big riffs, tight and dexterous playing, energetic delivery (not to mention a wonderful array of beards) and use those key elements to push the genre forward.
By adding an array of technology, samplers, I-pads and more pedals than you would find at the Tour de France, they blend in a myriad of incidental soundscapes, electronic washes and additional layering which when added to the byzantine heavy drives and infectious nature of their songs, rejuvenates the often tired ghost of rock and roll and drags it kicking and screaming into, not only the here and now but towards an altogether brighter future.
It’s the sound of virtuoso playing meeting the possibilities that modern technology offers, it is the sound of past musical high points being imbued with future possibilities, of man meeting machine. But at no point do they use all of these clever additions as a crutch to lean on, strip  it all away and you still have some of the finest rock players and one of the most charismatic bands on the circuit today. Put the two together though and you quite simply have the future of rock music. My only question is…where were all you rock and metal fans who have recently been very vocal about your preferred genre not being represented in this town?


Library - 189 Review by PfalzDxii

The Sunday afternoon of 24th March 2013 was always going to be good. Rich Millin was back in town. Rich, having left Swindon (where he is a musical legend), to live in Berlin with his new family, was back. He had returned to celebrate his birthday, and to play in the German band, The Driftwood Fairytale. Yes, he brought the band with him.

The afternoon started with a great set from Plummie Racket. Plummie has garnered for himself an enviable reputation as a writer/performer. He puts in so much of himself, and the audience loves him for it. As soon as he had finished, his trademark hood, was pulled down.

Next up was Black Sheep Apprentice…. Known throughout the…. Enough said…. You know ‘em. If they have slipped under your radar, I suggest you look up this fine band, and see for yourself. All good friends of Rich Millin (wonder drummer), Black Sheep Apprentice were short one member. Their drummer was missing. “The good looking one” (as was shouted out), wasn’t there. Millin was asked if he wanted the seat. “I’ll do one at the end”, he said. So, can a three guitar band play a decent set? Well, Black Sheep Apprentice can. They did. They even introduced new material, as did Plummie, beforehand. They played a fine set, with much energy and style. Millin sat in for the final few numbers, and reminded us all, as if it was needed, just how good a drummer he is.

The Driftwood Fairytales. A name I was not familiar with. I am now though! The classic rock band line up. Three guitars and drums. Most of the audience, here in Swindon, had come to see Millin. The band knew that, and mentioned it. We though, all know that Millin will only play in a band if he wants to…. and, if he rates them. There was a deal of good humoured banter as the band began to realize they were amongst friends, and music lovers. As soon as the band began to play, it was obvious we were in for a rare treat. The first few numbers were not too fast, but Millin was. He was playing relatively gently in keeping with the guitars, but I was awed by the sheer speed and accuracy of the drumming. A veritable master-class. As the songs became faster and louder, it became ever more clear that the musicianship from all, was absolutely top notch, as was the singing. All the songs were sung in English for our benefit, can you imagine us returning the favour? The band was loud, but musical. Every instrument was clear. The band meshed as one, and the songs were varied. The whole place was rocking, and it was all such incredible fun. What a fantastic band. What an incredible afternoon.

The Driftwood Fairytales commented favourably on the make-up of the audience. Of how we were of all ages. I wish he hadn’t been looking at me at the time, though. He seemed amazed we were treating the afternoon as a wonderful social event. Well, we do…. especially when the music has been that good. Would I see them again? Oh yes, try to stop me!