Tag Archive: alice offley


Whilst I was clearing out some old text files from my computer the other day I came across my very first Sounds Around Town submission and realised that I have been ensconced in this particular ivory tower for just about 3 years now. Quick calculations put that are around 100,000 words of recommendation for Swindon’s gig going cognoscenti, many of those words spelt correctly and in a logical order. Three years! To paraphrase Sandy Denny, had she been writing in Latin, where does the tempus fugit indeed?

 

So, enough of ancient history and on to the music of the moment. It’s certainly one of the quieter weeks, but that is probably to be expected with the amount of local festivals and busy schedules we have had through the summer. Still, there is good stuff to be had if you know where to look.

 

There is no better place to kick off your search for original music than at The Rolleston tonight with Optimal Prime, made up of members of Dodging The Bullet, Deep Thought and Snaggletooth and delivering hard hitting rock that takes in the more proggy reaches of the genre. Support comes from the ubiquitous Plummie Racket touting his solo acoustic set.

 

If you miss the main act though you can catch them on Friday over at Riffs Bar supporting Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper. His is a tasty slab of British classic rock and all in aid of raising money for Children’s Leukemia. Great music and a worthy cause. And if the heavier end of the musical spectrum is your cup of Earl Grey, then you might want to consider a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria as Rammlied bring all the industrial grind, pomp and dark majesty of the original to your doorstep.

 

And still the options in the loud and shouty department roll on. The Furnace hosts it’s regular Teenage Kicks night, showcasing the best in local bands, this time with the melodic hardcore of The Pursuit and Natures, the eclectic alt-rock of Tides of Change (who replace Route 101) and the frantic drive of The Doss who sound like a collision between The Buzzcocks and Nirvana.

 

A different serving suggestion comes courtesy of The Erin Bardwell Collective. Late sixties style rocksteady and ska originals, driven by that classic organ sound and an infectious energy and all for free at The Rolleston.

 

Saturday has a fair bit to offer in the way of music, though sadly not much of it in the original category. The Rolleston offers the only oasis in a desert of tribute acts,  in the guise of Gwyn Ashton. Not only does he do a neat line in pre-war Delta blues flavoured with cool country, jazz vibes and swamp rock earthiness, but this show will also feature ex-Magnum drummer Mickey Barker. Those into their music trivia might be interested to note that the Magnum connection also extends to Gywn’s latest album, Radiogram, which features, amongst other stalwarts, iconic piano man Mark Stanway. (I have One Sacred Hour playing in my head even as we speak)

 

Tributes can be found at The Victoria with Fleetwood Bac, featuring a Christine McVie who looks a lot like Alice Offley, Bjorn Again being ABBA at the Old Town Bowl and Syntronix playing the synth-pop hits of the eighties at Riffs Bar. And if you are still in the mood for partying after all that then Reboot club night at The Furnace playing indie, rock and alternative is the place to head for.

 

Juey is at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon session; soft Americana and folk songs with a traditional, storytelling form, employing guitar, harmonica, mandolin and banjo.

 

Wednesday provides a welcome stepping-stone to get you through the working week with a couple of interesting options. The Running Horse continue to bring in quality acoustic music, this week it’s The Black Feathers (pictured), a band whose ear for melody and amazing harmonising have to be witnessed live to be believed. Ben Maggs is also on the bill.

 

The Victoria is playing host to Shakespeare, Rattle and Roll a show looking at the life, loves and language of The Bard and setting much of it to music in a more contemporary style, such as Beatles, Elvis and Bob Dylan. Sounds pretty original to me.

 

Review by Joy Bells

Victory is in sight

We meet at Mr Moks for a 1 o’clock all you can eat for a tenner blow out! Four women and a bloke with a back pack.  Sushi sustenance is the order of the day as we engage with other Shufflers who have the same idea, notably Rich Millen, who drummed for Black Sheep Apprentice and The Decoits and who is arguably the most dedicated shuffler, taking a round trip from Berlin to show us how it’s done! The sun comes out (again), and we stroll to The Rolleston to begin the third day of shuffling shenanigans.

We arrive about half way through Alice Offley’s set. This woman is gorgeous and gifted. She put in a powerful performance at last year’s shuffle and she just goes from strength to strength. Her versatile voice gives you goose-bumps stretching effortlessly through notes at different ends of the scale and her ballerina hands dance around the piano keys with ease. She writes from the heart and I love her song ‘Black Dog’ filled with the passion of a survivor.

Antonio Lulic is a story telling singer from ‘up North’, sharing intimate moments between his songs to relate how and why he wrote them. In ‘The City of Austin Texas’ he imparts the miseries of breaking up with his girlfriend, in ‘Sobering Up’ he remembers the turning point that prompted him to make the transition between poor, drunk musician to rich, drunk musician. If he were washing powder he’d be concentrated non bio with his gravelly voice and bright guitar stripping down his life’s laundry on the wash board of experience to dry in the sun.

Starlight City quickly follows. They give a practiced, high energy performance; this is The Undertones partying with Big Country from four guys who work well casting a pop punk spell. They keep the late Sunday afternoon audience awake despite Siesta’s calling. I have to admit I’m beginning to flag and apologise to Browfort for not staying to listen to what I’m told is a brilliant set.

 

Frankie lets me sleep on her settee for a couple of hours. I’m out like a light and come round with the sound of children playing in the street and the brain cell lubricating smell of coffee. Batteries charged we freshen up and head back down town; this time to The Furnace for the last leg of the Swindon Shuffle Showdown. We’re nearly there and I’m half wishing there was another day to go. The Light Grenades, a funky four piece with an electronic beat infusing competent guitar and laid back vocals are playing when we arrive. People filter into the Furnace as behind the scenes lighting and sound are being fine-tuned and hello, Swindon’s very own events archivists, Swindon Viewpoint arrive and start filming the whole event. It’s all turning into something really rather special. That and the £2 shorts offer, that’s spirits not Bermuda! Salute the Magpie are five lads from Trowbridge bringing new meaning to the Old Wives tale of hailing Magpie’s to avoid bad luck. They remind me of The Strokes, strong vocals and anthemy guitar riffs surfing an indie sound.

There’s a lot of music to get through tonight and we’re already running late when The Starkers take to the stage. This is a dynamic performance by three brazen boys loving what they do and wanting you to love it too. Jingly guitar jumps out of honey harmonies and a grungy bang of anachronistic, modern/old completely brilliant music emerges, smashes itself against the dark Furnace walls and bounds about in my brain a bit. Fab! Fab! Fab!  

Like the increasingly amazing fireworks that explode as the countdown to Midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, the bands on tonight’s line up are some of the best bands in Wiltshire (and Witney). The Street Orphans pick up their instruments and suddenly complex rhythm changes are waging war on mediocrity. Their perky EP is on my iPod and their classic rock pop blending an indie beat saw me complete the Reading half marathon this year. It’s 10.30 and there are still three more bands to play.

I’ve been a fan of SkyburnsRed for a while and their layer cake of delicious sounds feature orchestral rock and savvy fiddle sandwiching garage and grunge and squashing it down so that it squirts out the sides. Blimin’ good stuff! So excited by their performance are they that they engage in a little Luddite like instrument destruction, ending their set with a stage littered with bits of broken violin…but it keeps them off the street!

Following on quickly are Plummie and The Racket. Wearing my newly acquired Racket badge, I feel decidedly fan like and am pretty impressed by how much better they are than when I saw them a few months ago. Effing and C**nting are par for the course and anyway didn’t DH Lawrence go to court to give us the right to swear in a creative context? Whatever…the raw riffs of the guitar slam into the vocals like a steel ball into a block of flats along with a few pints of beer giving the band a sticky impromptu shower. The Furnace is living up to its name. It’s hot down here!

Finally, taking to the stage at 11, when in reality the whole show should be winding down are The Black Hats. Guitars with attitude, drums smashing through in your face vocals, brilliantly crafted songs with articulate lyrics. At the end all I and everyone else could do was whoop for more. And yes that was me screaming for ‘We write things down’. Thank you for playing it! And that was it, well almost…we finished our shorts, well £2 was too tempting and started home. The streets were deserted although we did see two members of SkyBurnsRed walking by the Town Hall. ‘SKYBURNSRED’ I shouted excitedly, they waved back in the distance. Swindon has so much talent.

Wondering home I look up at the sky and see a shooting star. My wish…well let’s just say it has something to do with music and next years shuffle…

Music is full of potential; the potential to push boundaries, to boldly go and all that (pardon the split infinitive,) to move forward with and even ahead of current imagination, to challenge and make you think. It is indeed a wondrous thing. Sometimes however all you want is something familiar and a bit lowbrow, something that connects with the heart and the foot rather than the head and that is just what Songs of Praise has on offer for you tonight.

Forget following the fickle fashions of music that come and go faster than Kerry Katona’s boyfriends, tonight at The Victoria, it is all about old school rock, albeit dressed in some nice, cliché free contemporary attitude. You may remember White Knuckle Bride from their support slot to Thin Lizzy when they graced The M.E.C.A stage last year: a wholesome blend of rock aggression and glam sleaze. Up from Portsmouth  are Kodiak Jack who sound just like Nickleback think they do and Frome’s Indie-Punkers, Haters.

New kids on the block, Imperial Promotions have their first outing at The 12 Bar, featuring the funked out vibes of Sasquatch Walk (pictured), another outing for those dark and poetic garage rockers, The Dacoits, plus the alt-pop sounds of Lionstate. Add to that acoustic sets from Callum Martin (who was awesome a few weeks ago opening up for Tripwires) Bianca Politzi and Days On Juno and you have the potential for a brilliant night).

The Rolleston is playing host to a band that I really haven’t seen enough of in the last few years. Coach, for it is they, mix up world music grooves, classical sass, laidback vibes and soulful folky pop melodies. Just add a warm evening and a chilled drink and you have everything you could want. And blues aficionados must not miss the chance to catch Kent DuChaine at The Beehive, the real deal in Delta Blues all the way from the Deep South.

Something a bit different at The Victoria on Friday. Dead at 27 is a tribute to all those iconic musicians who were determined not to see 28, but then you know rock musicians and how they feel about the septemvigesimal positional numeral system? Anyway, the great and good of Swindon will be paying tribute to the likes of Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and more besides.

If you prefer something a bit more heart warming then Prita at The Beehive might be your preferred option who neatly blends layers of looped harmonies, percussion and acoustic guitar into wonderful washes not a million miles away from Norah Jones or a laid back K T Tunstall.

Saturday is all about The Furnace. System of a Clown recreate everyone’s favourite Armenian technical metal-heads and believe me if you think that it would be difficult to do justice to such complex music then you obviously weren’t at their debut outing last year when they nearly destroyed the 12 Bar. A must see.

Loads to do on Sunday, which obviously might interfere with your church commitments, but then God is a big music fan. Joshua had his own jazz band and people are still talking about his gig in Jericho, brought the roof down, apparently.

The Beehive afternoon session is a mix of folk and jazz tinged blues with Sara Coffield and ex-Dr Feelgood front man, Pete Gage. The 12 Bar plays host to an all-dayer with a host of great acoustic acts before it relocates to the main stage for the full on show. There will be punk from The Useless Eaters, Indie from The Fixed. Alice Offley’s piano driven dream pop will be adding a touch of elegance to the proceedings and SkyBurnsRed will be dishing out wonderful swathes of Gypsy Metal. The whole night is rounded off with the beautiful cacophony that is The Racket. And that’s not even the half of it.

The Furnace has a night of rock and hardcore headed up by The Amsterdam Red Light District and The Rolleston has those local rhythm and booze icons, The Hamsters From Hell.

Culture Vultures will have are spoilt for choice mid week between jazz with The Theo Jackson Trio at Baker Street on Tuesday and folk darling Maddy Prior at The Arts centre on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday acoustic entertainment comes courtesy of Drew Bryant and Rich Maya at The Running Horse.

What’s all that Rukus?

I thought I would help give this gig a bit of a push, firstly because it involves so many  people  I know, not to mention  the fact that some genuinely great Imagebands are involved, and  secondly because the venue itself still seems very reluctant to actually put gigs on their website. Anyway, Easter Sunday , The 8th of April, will see a wonderful cross section of Swindon’s musical great and good descend on the 12 Bar for an all day shindig and general party to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Okay, not the religious bit, though the man behind the even, none other than young Plummie, fancies himself as a bit of a messiah. so maybe it’s not that out of keeping, date wise.

So what have they got lines up for you. In the front bar there is a wealth of solo acts from the sweary and highly charged antics of Pete Monkey, to the country-esque vibes of Black Sheep Apprentice front man Skiddy.  And as well as the man himself it will also feature sets by David Lynch, Marky Thatcher, Nick Felix and Drew Bryant.

The main stage is where all the big noise will be. There will be punk from The Useless Eaters, Indie from The Fixed and balancing the line between will be the “Pindy” sounds of The Vooz. Alice Offley will be adding a touch of elegance to the proceedings with her piano driven dream pop and band of the moment SkyBurnsRed dishing out wonderful swathes of Gypsy Metal…. once you have heard what they do you will understand what i mean.

The whole night is rounded off with the beautiful cacophony that is The Racket, think The Libertines kicking the dying breath from Brit-pop and doing so with a slightly baggy Mancunian swagger and you are on the right lines. All that and it’s only £3. Bargain.