Tag Archive: alarm (the)


davesharpIt’s always nice to start the column with a bit of a bang, especially when the bang in question relates to a local lad made good. Tonight Gaz Brookfield returns to The Victoria, this time without the full band but with trusty sidekick Jake Martin in tow. A sort of folk-punk Robin to his acoustic guitar wielding Batman. Expect all usual mix of wit and wisdom, riotousness and reflection from both chaps and probably a bit of mixing and matching along the way. Opening the show is an acoustic set from Raze*Rebuild who prove that even their skyscaping and glorious songs can be stripped back into sleeker and more considered forms if the need arises.

The Beehive also has old friends returning to them, in their case Built For Comfort, a band who will transport you to a back street blues bar in an alternate America where Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans exist in close proximity and whose signature sounds they play perfect tribute to.

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It would seem that the booking of bands is a very tricky business, the slippery little devils. Often getting a confirmed and stable line up for an evening of music can be like trying to stuff a string bag full of freshly oiled eels. Still, if it was that easy, I guess everyone would be at it. Tonight’s show at The Victoria is a classic example of this. Having succumbed to more chopping and changing that a choppy changey thing and bearing little resemblance to the advertised gig, Songs of Praise still offers you some cracking, if fairly unexpected bands. The one constant in the whole maelstrom of changes is headline act The Racket. Delivering a riot of attitude and swagger, gutter anthems and punked out indie cacophony, it’s easy to see why they are becoming regarded as the musical rough diamonds of the local scene.

Support comes from slick Bristolian alt-rockers Mind Museum and not the Rhubarbs as originally billed and jumping into the opening slot at the eleventh hour are Quantum rock, jazz junkified, music warping, Super Squarecloud. Turned out all right in the end then.

At the Beehive it’s the welcome return of The Roving Crows.  They may look like just another folk band but in reality they are a much more interesting prospect, taking a Celtic folk musical core and flavouring it with everything from blues to jazz and ska to kleizmer and delivering it with infectiousness, energy and blinding virtuosity.

Friday has a very eclectic range of musical offerings. In fact if you look up eclectic in the dictionary you will see a photograph of this very paragraph. (No, I don’t know how they did it either!) Anyway, over at Riffs Bar those lovable buffoons nudy bronque, Nudybronque, Nudy Bronque…whatever (no ones sure of the exact grammatical form, not even the band!) steer their seemingly constant touring schedule towards Riffs Bar. This band have been one of the real success stories of local music over the past eighteen months and it has been a joy to watch they grow from a tentative band of musicians with rubbish dancing into a slick and confident, punky-ska-jangle-pop band…with rubbish dancing. Support comes from The Debuts and relative newcomers, The Starkers, but again not The Rhubarbs as originally advertised.

A great treat for progressive rock fans awaits at The 12 Bar in the guise of Tinyfish, one of the bands responsible for updating the face of the genre, from the flaky, fantasy fixations of the past into something relevant and cutting edge, from Genesis to revolution, if you like. Ok, maybe not. The Furnace is playing host to Swindon Academy of Music and Sounds Charity Show. As well as students showcasing their not inconsiderable talent, the night will be rounded off by the brilliant reggae/funk/hip-hop ten-piece A&T.

Having reformed for a one off gig at last years Shuffle festival, Big Casino decided to stay together and will be playing at The Beehive with the promise of new material.

The big event for the weekend happens on Saturday and though it is a little way out of town, I thought it deserves a mention. After the success of the recent Avebury Rocks, the Love Hope Strength Foundation has added another date to help raise money for local charities. The daytime itinerary includes walks around the area and refreshments and the evening boasts a show featuring an acoustic set by punk-folk legends, The Levellers (pictured) , one time Alarm front man Mike Peters, local lad Nick Harper and more besides. A stunning line up – if only there was a venue in Swindon capable of securing acts of this calibre!

Meanwhile, high-energy folk garnered from Celtic and American traditions will be on the menu at The Running Horse courtesy of Grubby Jack and the hardest working local punk-pop outfit, Disclosure can be found at The Royal Oak. Cinematic vibes, dance grooves and soulful jazz-folk can all be found at The Victoria with Matilda, Atari Pilot and Old Colours.

It’s not often a genuine living legend hits town, but on Tuesday, Louisiana blues king, Lazy Lester will be playing at Riffs with support from Good Things Happen in Bad Towns. And finally Wednesday sees Diversion, The Screaming Gypsies and Mike Bezzer play Wacky Wednesday at The Victoria.

This may not be the busiest week for music but it is certainly one that pound for pound (can we still say pound and not be fined by the grey suited autocrats of Brussels?) carries a lot of clout. So we will start as we mean to go on with a band all the way from Milwaukee, a city famous for good beer, a life-sized statue of The Fonz and Direct Hit! who play The Furnace tonight. Part Ramones, part Andrew WK it’s raucous punk pop at it’s finest. Who better to support such an act as our own ska-punk superheroes, Slagerij, the almost unpronounceable Priceduifkes from Belgium and intense local hardcore super group, Scythes.

 

And if you think that’s good, wait till you get a load of what’s going on further up the hill. The Victoria plays host to a band who seem to be quickly rising through the ranks and it’s easy to see why. SkyBurnsRed (alloneword!) manage to mix the majesty and sweeping grandeur of the violin with raw alt-rock guitar and complex, eastern vibed rhythms. If that isn’t enough then support comes in the guise of The Naturals, up from Bristol and sounding like a collision between My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros, if you can imagine such a thing and The Playmakers who also have more than a touch of the post punk guitar swagger about them and who will be a playing a lunchtime gig at Rise Records before kicking this all off.

 

Middle Earth comes to The Beehive with the story telling meets folk-prog strangeness of Ash Mandrake.

 

Pun of the week must go to Fridays Beehive booking, the legendary Alan Clayson and the Argonauts…geddit? a strange and quintisentially English mix of John Otway style R’n’B, Tom Robinson song crafting and the camp and quirk of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

 

A bit out of town but a gig so good it really deserves a mention, The Bell on The Green in Devizes has a great slice of old school rock, headed by ex-Terrorvision man Danny Lamberts current musical vehicle, Hellbound Hearts, a three piece forged of an industrial strength rhythm section and buzz saw guitars. Support comes from White Knuckle Bride, a band who I can’t recommend highly enough and Burnthru.

 

Saturday has something for every one. Back at The Victoria and Cheltenham’s finest alt-country punks Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun who sit somewhere between the agit-folk of Frank Turner and the anthemic rock of The Gaslight Anthem breeze into town. If that wasn’t enough, Support comes in the shape of the haunting and haunted, sweeping and cinematic Old Colours and new kid on the block Mike Bezzer.

 

Teenage Kicks at The Furnace will cater for the young pop-punksers in town with a cracking line up headed by Beyond The Break and Hands Down with Year of The Thief and Post 12. For the really heavy serving suggestion however, the place to be is at The 12 Bar. South West Hardcore celebrate their first anniversary of running the heaviest sounds in town and as is only fitting they have an all-dayer where you can experience Rising From Death, Lifeline and Sleepwalkers to name just a few.

 

 

For the laid back Sunday lunchtime vibes, you can either head up to The Arts Centre to catch Mr Love and Justice and their blend of retro-pop melodies, folky vibes and socially aware lyrics or The Beehive for Cole Stacey, who not only matches skilful folk arrangements with heartfelt soaring lyrics, but who also comes with Steve  “Show of Hands” Knightley‘s seal of approval. More rootsy music can be found that evening at The Rolleston with the welcome return of ex-Alarm guitarist, Dave Sharp and his brand of blue-collar bluesy Americana.

 

 

In a week of originality, the best is left to last. Detroit popsters, Johnny Headband (pictured), blend synth driven space pop jams with soaring atmospherics and alluring warped disco grooves. It’s as much about the theatricality as it is about the dancebility and if one of the guys on stage at The Victoria looks familiar it’s because he used to be in Electric 6, though for some reason has changed his name from the very reasonable Smorgasbord, to the more unlikely Keith Thompson. Hardly the stuff of rock and roll!

Sounds Around Town

After a couple of weeks experimenting with different stylistic approaches to this column, an attempt to appease various critics, I have come to rather a startling conclusion. Irrespective of whichever criteria I use to determine its content, the old adage about pleasing all the people all of the time still holds true, so I might as well just write as I see fit, forget democracy and take whatever flak comes my way. So with that in mind here are my undemocratic musical musings and biased nominations for this week.

 

Those of a certain age, my sort of age in fact, will probably remember a group of spiky haired, Celtic rockers called The Alarm who exploded in a blaze of glory (see what I did there?) from North Wales in the early eighties. Well believe it or not guitarist Dave Sharp plays a free top bar gig at The Victoria tonight, having swapped fist in the air, charged anthems for a smoother blend of bluesy-folk rock. Support comes from the incomparable Rob Beckinsale.

 

The Rolleston continue to hit high standards with their original band bookings and tonight play host to Wires who excel in lusciously harmonious indie creations; make sure you pick up a copy of their latest e.p. Shadows whilst you are there.

 

Tonight also heralds the return of Minneapolis muse Courtney Yasmineh (pictured) who manages to squeeze in a visit to The Beehive between gigs in London and Amsterdam to dish out feisty rock that lies somewhere between Blondie and Sheryl Crowe  and  guitar brilliance comes courtesy of Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Wheatsheaf. Big name options come in the shape of McFly at The Oasis and Chas (but no Dave) Hodges and His Band at the Wyvern.

 

Friday night sees a host of young bands at Riffs Bar headed by pop-punksters Beyond The Break, The John Does and the currently ubiquitous Sasquatch Walk (who seem to be on a short tour of Swindon postcodes over the next month). The Rolleston goes psychobilly as The Graveyard Johnnys and Cowboy and The Corpse go quiff to quiff.

 

The shoegazing, dream pop of Reading’s Tripwires, will be the highlight of the night at The Victoria; imagine Warpaint teaching Sonic Youth to play lullabies, The Jess Hall Band take on the role of the perfect support band and I’ll say it again, Play Shy is nothing short of a perfect pop song. A DJ set from the Young Blood guys is also on the cards.

 

The big noise of Saturday night is The Hoosiers at The MECA; originally describing themselves as “odd pop” they have since re-invented themselves as a more conventional electro-tinged pop band. The Furnace will be revelling in what it does best, a swift, brutal sensory overload courtesy of metal bands Romeo Must Die, My City Burning and Karrion.

 

Elsewhere it’s tributes to Pink Floyd at the Victoria, Ozzy at The Rolleston and punk and new wave covers at Riffs Bar with Operation 77.

 

If you like the idea of a Lazy Sunday afternoon with some chilled music, then head up to The Art Centre to take in the intelligent folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice. The evening may bring one more tribute experience, this time Bon Jovi at The MECA, but it also brings some great original music. Hotly tipped to be one of the next big things Billy Lockett is at Riffs Bar along with a support act so exciting, it can’t even be named on the website.

 

One of the most exciting gigs of the week takes place at The Victoria with the first time out for Old Colours who rise out of the ashes of Anchor and The Wolf to keep the “cinematic” banner flying. Any band described as “a bit like Laura Marling playing a house party with My Bloody Valentine rocking in the next room” has got to be worth checking out. Charlie Bath and The City Marshals will be show casing songs from the soon to be released The Good Fall e.p. and opening the night is a rare outing for chilled, folky lounge-jazz darlings, Matilda.

 

Tuesdays dose of jazz at Baker Street is courtesy of keyboard virtuoso Alex Steele and Wednesdays Running Horse Sessions features the wonderfully named John Shillibeer and a welcome return for Sumita Majumdar.