Tag Archive: fixed (the)


SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186This week we interview Olly Ward who will be playing Blackadder at the Arts Centre. Music from: Ethemia, The Computers, The Fixed, We Ghosts, SoulSmith, British Harlem, Andy Partridge/Peter Blegvad/Stu Rowe, WalkerBroad, Matthew Caron, The Playmakers, Hip Route.

 

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mrcatandthejackal_arno-krugerSo, another year, another Swindon Shuffle done and dusted. I hope everybody had a great time, discovered some new bands, took in some of the new cultural diversities that were included and maybe made a new friend or two along the way. (Due to the nature of deadlines, at the time of writing this I am currently only mid festival, which feels a bit like being in some bizarre, Terry Gilliam time travel movie, but we will have to assume all went well and the space time continuum, not to mention the reputation of local music is still in tact.)

 

If you still haven’t had your fix of music, the place to be this weekend is SN1Fest Summer Ball at The Old Town Bowl for a celebration of all things dance music. Saturday is spearheaded by the twisted minimalist disco sounds of Simian Mobile Disco and just added to the line up, Dismantle, the pioneering young DJ who effortlessly blurs the lines between house, dubstep and Dutch techno. Add to that over a dozen dance acts and DJ’s and you have the perfect day of contemporary and cutting edge music. If Saturday celebrates dance as a genre, Sunday is more about dance as a concept with an eclectic mix of live bands designed to get you in the party mood, from Old Colours, 2 Sick Monkeys, British Harlem, The London Underground Orchestra and all topped off with a set from Radio 1 DJ and Indie guru, Huw Stevens.

 

Back in the regular haunts there is still a multitude of great music to be deliberated, cogitated and digested, sorry went a bit Loyd Grossman then, and it doesn’t come better than Mr Cat and The Jackal (pictured) at The Victoria tonight. An experimental acoustic folk band reveling in blues, gypsy, tango, balkan and celtic themes via the medium of handmade instruments and an amazing live show…sounds worth checking out if you ask me. Support coming from punked up celtic folksters, Missin’ Rosie just adds to your reasons for going.

 

Also on the menu tonight, at The Beehive, Andre and The J-Tones mix up original and retro classics with an R ‘n’ B and soul flavour.

 

The big show for Friday is to be found out at Riffs Bar where great music and a worthy cause go hand in hand as a host of younger acts, including The Fixed, The Eberdeens, Abbie Sims and Lucy Gray will be raising money for The Stroke Association. The Rolleston is offering up The Sitting Tenants, a brilliant power-pop, psych and soul band from the 208 Records stable and The Beehive has a young touring German rock three piece that goes under the name of Patrick McCrank.

 

The Victoria start the first of two days of elated sun-clasped dance grooves tonight with the wonderful funky dub sounds of Backbeat Sound System and support from the multi-genre mash up kings, SN Dubstation. The following night the regular Reggae Club Night is visited by the legendary DJ Amma who has virtually played for every band, radio session and live event that matters.

 

Also on Saturday, fans of rock classics should head to The Rolleston for Fly on The Wall who do a neat line in covers by the likes of The Stones, Thin Lizzy, T-Rex and Blink 182.

 

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by The Senile Delinquents, a brilliant little cowgirl jazz, country outfit, imagine The Dixie Chicks with a european bias and you will be halfway there. The Sun Inn has one of it’s al fresco sessions (posh for outside) which this time will feature The Costellos, a band with a ska-reggae heart but musical arms enough to embrace a whole range of other styles and genres.

 

 

As is often the case we have to fast forward to Wednesday for our final slabs of music which come in the guise of Billyjon, a romantic balladeer who seems to be these days slipping into slightly darker and edgier musical waters, at The Running Horse and Sumita Majundar’s fresh and honest piano stories at The Roaring Donkey.

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I read with some amusement today that “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe has come out of retirement to host a new show. In keeping with the current trend of making everything into reality TV, he travelled to Birmingham with the Archbishop of Canterbury and famous born again Catholic Tony Blair to judge Popestars, a competition designed to decide the next pontiff. Thousands of hopefuls queued at the door, including Fiona Brat-Actress whose experience extends to having appeared in Cliff Richards Mistletoe and Wine video. The audition tasks will include singing Ave Maria, Tarmac Kissing and Meeting Bono and pretending to know who he is. One hopeful, Derek Cleanliness, 89 from Rugby, has already caught the judges eye, “He’s definitely got the look we are after” said Lythgoe, “It’s a sad fact that in the cut throat world of the Vatican, image does matter”

Still, enough pontificating and on with the show. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight features a mix of both old, new, local and from further afield.  The Starkers are a collision of grungy density and Libertines-esque melodies, whilst up from London, Hitchcock Blonde take the form of an explosive, raging alt-rock beast, laced with accessible melodies that both kick arse and cut the mustard. Opening the night, The King in Mirrors are a new band made up of familiar faces and if you get their titular reference then their rough and ready, post-punk, underground pop will be right up your street.  By contrast you can catch the superb acoustic folk guitar and sun kissed vocals of the far too young to be this talented, Jenna Witts.

Loads happening on Friday, The Furnace being a great place to spend it with a wonderful line up of younger indie types. Chaps of the moment Nudybronque headline, a band on a wonderful trajectory that has so far taken them from innocent, speed-freak pop to bittersweet, underground indie and are poised for a future that looks even more beguiling. Support comes from The Two’n’ Eights, The Racket and The Rhubarbs.

Whatflag at The Beehive are a fascinating world rock, jazz band with its roots in Gaza and Tel Aviv and a drive to break down borders and unite communities through their music. The Victoria goes for a night of acoustic acts. These days despite rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army, which in my world is about as good as it gets, Gaz Brookfield still finds time to play his old haunts and his mix of wit and wisdom set to infectious tunes is not to be missed. Support comes from alternative folk duo, Julesbury, musical magpie Jimmy Moore and the soulful stylings of Benji Clements.

Blues fans have a hard choice to make, torn between Larry Miller at The Arts Centre and Innes Sibun at The Rolleston.

The big one for Saturday is at The Furnace with top tribute The Faux Fighters. Personally I have never really seen the reason that Grohl and the gang are held in such high regard, after all if Sean Moore had jumped ship from The Manics in 1995 and returned with an inoffensive, mainstream version of the same, would anyone have batted an eyelid? Still if The Foo Fighters are your thing, this is the place to be. Other things that might take your interest are The Nomarks playing ska at The Castle and 1000 Planets doing choice cuts of classic rock, industrial, goth and punk at The Rolleston.

Some lovely acoustic comes your way on Sunday. In the afternoon you can catch Beehive favourite Juey and her gentle blends of folk, country, bluegrass and Cajun, after which heading up to The Rolleston will enable you to revel in Rumours of Spring who bring a vast array of instruments to bear on a set forged from rock, blues and folk.

The Running Horse on Wednesday has two amazing acts for you. Louise Latham (pictured) combines honest, heart on the sleeve emotions with room silencing vocal delivery that resonates with beauty and wistful reflectivity. The other half of the bill (that really should be considered as a double headline show) is The Black Feathers, an acoustic duo that combine English folk, Celtic traditions and Americana into what is almost this country’s answer to The Civil Wars.

Also on Wednesday, Teenage Kicks takes us out in fine styles at The Furnace with a riot of indie and alt-rock with The Fixed, City Lights, The Eberdeens and Written in Words (errr….as opposed to?)

Teenage Kicks at The Furnace

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Library - 50So the Mayans got it wrong and we survived. Okay, to be honest unless you are some sort of deranged American prepper, zonked out Guatemalan shaman or paranoid occultist, no one expected anything different and just used it as an excuse to throw a party. The Furnace was no exception.

 

It’s been a pretty good month for me musically speaking. Firstly managing to get to a low key show in Oxford by The Everlasting Yeah, the resurfaced 4/5ths of That Petrol Emotion, thereby getting to hang out with a genuine Undertone and some really great people. (Hurrah!) I also found myself at The Barbican for the last ever Twelfth Night show, a band I had been following since 1983. I was there at …well, near the beginning and I was there at the end. (Hurrah…with lashings of echoplex, strange time changes and all the prog rock trappings) I also caught a cracking show with Super Squarecloud and Gaz Brookfield at The Victoria to mark the end of The BBC Introducing program (boo! to the BBC top brass for such a short-sighted and money driven cultural abandonment.) All in all it had already been a great month for live shows, so to line up most of my favourite locally based bands of recent times in one place was the obvious way to top things off.

 

In an unplanned addition to the night, Charlie Russell got things going with his line of punked-indie-mod acoustica, showing that if you are going to try and hold the room with just a voice and a guitar you need both the songs and charisma to back it up. This he has which is why it works. Now decamped to Brighton and still working as a part of a slightly re-jigged Dirt Royal line up it was great to see his axis of Libertines-Jam-Oasis influenced music on the bill.

 

The first full band to hit the stage were SkyBurnsRed, a band who have gone from strength to strength this year with a string of great shows, including the now legendary violin trashing slot at The Shuffle and a new e.p. as proof, if proof were needed. They are a band that really comes alive on the bigger stage and tonight they filled the room. Guitars growled, vocals rasped, violins soared, basses rumbled and drums power it all home….everything as it should be. To steal a quote from a recent review of their latest release, “It’s grunge with a classical sweep, alternative rock for the 21st century, it’s aggressive, raw and emotive, dark, elegant and sensuous, it’s the sound of SkyBurnsRed becoming the band that they have always been destined to become.” ‘Nuff said.

 

The Racket has proved that their shows are a balancing act on the part of the band. They can range from a beautiful chaos that becomes more about the spectacle than the music as everything seems to fall apart around them or tightly knit displays of gutter anthems that show their talents as songwriters and performers. With just the right amount of “influence” coursing through their blood streams, tonight,  they seemed to get it just right. Trashy anthems and a self-assured swagger (note to other bands: cocky is okay, arrogance is not so cool) – they nailed it. They are what happens when back-street punk influences inspire indie kids to take the less obvious Brit-pop sounds, mix it up with dance grooves and a large helping of attitude. They avoid the style over substance of bands like Twisted Wheel by having the songs to back it all up.

 

Enter Nudybronque. Okay, I raved unashamedly about their new three-piece format, when I first saw them at this same venue and I have to say that this show justified and even enhanced my thoughts. Some sort of transformation has taken place, particularly in front man Aiden. Faced with a crisis of how to continue after the departure of sibling Mike from the band, the work that they have put in has really paid off. Still based on really accessible pop grooves their music is now filled with a previously missing intensity. Vocally they seem to now have replaced their often-innocent sound with a post-punk ferocity, darker and more mature. The old songs are still as punchy and danceable as ever and their newer material points out interesting new areas of exploration. I flippantly commented of these newer influences that they had been hanging around with Super Squarecloud too much, but as a starting point that isn’t too far from the truth. Moving away from the straighter pop lines of their earlier work they are evolving into something really interesting as the songs get more involved, more exploratory, more complex. As long as they don’t stray too far away from the melodic groove and danceable backbeats that make up their core sound, they have got it made.

 

What can I say about The Rhubarbs? Nothing, as for at least the third time this year they failed to show up for a Swindon booking.

 

If the overall thread so far has been how far all these bands have moved on in the last year, The Street Orphans hit their stride a while ago – it’s pretty much two years ago that I bigged up their self titled e.p. –  and continue to deliver the goods. Plying a trade of a more accessible brand of indie but still able to blend in other genres, they manage to mix quality musicianship with clever songs and a wonderful understanding of dynamics. They might not display the intensity of the bands that have gone before but they are probably the one that will find an easier root into the more mainstream outlets of radio and album sales.

 

The story running round the room was that The Fixed had been elevated to headline due to their bar restrictive age, none of the other bands feeling that they would be in a fit state to play by the time the headline slot was due. If that was partly true, The Fixed didn’t seem out of place topping the bill. Last time I saw them their show seemed a bit forced and overly cocky. Foot on the monitor stage antics are fine if you are wearing beaten up leathers and Raybans and have the back story to go with it but when the reality is that you got a lift to the gig with you mum and tomorrow is all about finishing that English essay that is due on Monday, maybe I felt that they hadn’t paid enough dues to adopt such theatrics. But then again as an aging rocker I’m hardly their target audience so what should they care what I think? Tonight however they seemed to just get on with the business of playing the music. There was enough show to make them interesting but this time it seemed natural and didn’t detract from what they were here to do. This was a band I could take seriously, a band that doesn’t need to be followed around by tag lines relating to their age and potential. Just keep doing this and they will do just fine.

 

I also had an epiphany, a Damascene moment…well a thought.  After the show had finished I wandered upstairs to The Rolleston to catch the tail end of Metalhead, as the name implies a metal covers band. And as great as they were, in terms of showmanship and musical ability, it suddenly dawned on me why, for me, this was no comparison to what I had just witnessed. It’s a nostalgia thing and I’m not really into it. For me I’m not one for dwelling on the music of the past, of course I still play my old records, but as a live performance it brings nothing to my table. I’m more interested in seeing where music is going, picking up on new music through chance meetings at gigs, receiving demos by bands who are moving things forward, looking for the next new thing to excite me. Hearing AC/DC covers is all well and good, but I have been there, done that, bought any number of t-shirts that sadly no longer fit me. Even though I may have looked the part in their audience, I felt like I didn’t belong there.

 

Maybe the Mayans got it right after all. In a way. Maybe the world did end. The world of Swindon bands being also-rans, of our scene being the poor relation to Oxford, Bristol …anywhere for that matter. Tonight proved that a whole group of local bands have, after a learning curve of a couple of years, really hit their stride and are ready to get out their and hold their own against all comers. Let’s think of this as year zero, the hard work is done, the rough edges have been beaten off, or grafted on in some cases and it is time to show the rest of the country what we have got, and what we have got is a whole bunch of bands that are ready to go out their and create their own name, their own career, even their own mythology.

Library - 48So, it’s coming to that time again, the race for the coveted Christmas number one spot is upon us, or as it should be known, the inevitable public pedestal for Cowell’s latest crooning cash cow. You almost feel sorry for Joe McElderberry, being usurped by those nasty Rage Against The Machine fans and their shouty, sweary anarchist sentiments. You could argue that all these “let’s stick it to Simon” campaigns designed to overturn his god given right to be the Christmas number one puppet master, is just as orchestrated and convoluted as the thing it is protesting against. Maybe, but this year there is a really good alternative.

 

Gaz Brookfield has released a special version of his song Diet of Banality in an attempt to add a bit of spice to the race for the top spot. Imagine if this years Christmas number one was a rant against all those previous style over substance tunes and their dance routines, skimpy outfits, gimmicky rap-middle eights and the like. Oh the irony! Well if you all head over to Gaz’s website, Amazon or iTunes you could be part of the best piece of seasonal satire and festive japery the charts have witnessed in a long time. Do it!

 

Talking of japes, The Victoria has three less than serious acts for you tonight. Dole queue hero and anti-PC rapper Devvo headlines with the boy racer Chip Daddy and the best/worst cover band of them all, Kova Me Badd, also on the bill.

 

The Beehive hosts Sophie’s Xmas (as opposed to  + vent Sunday or E-ster, I suppose) Charity Bash which in the usual eclectic style of the venue will feature fire jugglers, street magic and music from Doeser, Missin’ Rosie, Erin Bardwell Collective to money for Swindon Sands.

 

Younger fans are being catered for at The Furnace in the form of Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 1), which has a wonderfully experimental undercurrent. Tides of Change deliver alt rock with a pop punk vibe, Sasquatch Walk does a neat line in jazzy punk disco and With Felix adds in some ambient electro-indie. Make sure you check out openers The Weekend Effect, I was really impressed with their rapped up indie groove. Interestingly enough there isn’t going to be a Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 2) but then I guess if the world is ending there really isn’t much point.

 

To celebrate our imminent doom on Friday (unless the Mayans got it wrong…my, won’t we look foolish?) There are a couple of Apocolyto-parties going on. At The Victoria, party band Breeze will be providing the soundtrack whereas The Furnace has one amazing line up for you. Briefly it goes like this, The Racket – elegantly wasted gutter anthems, Nudybronque – intelligent, intense and fired up pop, The Rhubarbs  – The Beatles on Speed, The Street Orphans – slick, sophisticated indie, SkyBurnsRed – searing and dark alt-rock with a classical sweep and The Fixed – exuberant indie.

 

Other parties come in the form of Slagerij’s very messy Christmas at TP’s; ska-punk mayhem from one of Swindon’s success stories and taking Hell Death Fury, Escape From ’98 and The Useless Eaters into oblivion with them.

 

The Beehive goes down a slightly more sedate path with the fiddlesome roots rockers State of Undress. If our are a fan of The Albion Band, Fairport Convention or even The Strawbs then this is for you.

 

Saturday brings along the annual musical curveball at The Victoria, The 12 Bands of Christmas. Each band gets to do two covers; the more out their usual comfort zone the better. Previous years have seen the Blowbacks turning Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman into a feedback-drenched tribute to Sonic Youth. Matt Kilford abandoning his usual restrained approach and screaming, “Lick my legs!” when covering PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’ and Si Hall somehow matching the stratospheric range of La Roux. Need I say more?

 

 

After the bizarre offerings of that you may want to find some nostalgic, late night comfort at The Furnace when DJ Dust will be hosting one of his irregular Level 3 reunion nights. Party like its 1993 all over again, Kurt is still alive and Strictly Come Dancing is still eleven years in the future.

 

Finally Sunday afternoon at The Beehive brings a wonderfully pairing of bands and not just because they share a drummer. Rumour Shed plays music that is wonderfully chilled, reflective, richly poetic and quietly majestic. Accompanying them are The Shudders, a band just beginning to get back into their stride after too long away and guaranteed to make you want to bop, boogie and booze in equal measure. And it’s all free.

I think I have worked out my problem with cover bands. Whilst watching the incredible Super Squarecloud last week, a Damascene moment occurred. We live in an age where music seems hell-bent on a nostalgia trip. In a previous column I pointed out that the 60’s had psychedelia, the 70’s had disco and punk, the 80’s hip-hop and the 90’s rave, but since then what? If contemporary music is content to plunder the past to a lesser or greater degree, then cover bands are a pure slice of well worn déjà vu. Fine if you want to live in the past, and we all need to visit our youthful memories from time to time but it doesn’t really further the cause of music. What we need is the opposite …err, avant verrais? Jamais vu? I don’t know, I’m still struggling with English! That is why bands such as Super Squarecloud and Crash and The Coots are so important to the local scene, wonderful slices of forward thinking weirdness that push boundaries and create unique yet accessible music along the way. So it’s vive la difference as they say across the channel and here’s to creativity.

And if you ever thought that everything that could be done with rock music has been, then you need to be at The Victoria tonight. Up from that London, The Manic Shine infuse their music with the influences of their diverse cultural heritage and the result is a glorious blend of punch and panache; classic rock riffs, atmospheric dynamics, driving back beats and a bunch of great songs. Support comes from Ataraxis Vibration, the natural successor to the likes of Hendrix, Cream and Free plus Streetfight Silence’s more pop-punk vibe.

In The Beehive’s continuing quest to become a Canadian colony, yet another of its musical emissaries takes up residence there tonight. David Celia is a frequent visitor to the place and his elegant and humorous brand of songmanship is always well received. The Divine Comedy with maple syrup!

Two options for the loud jumpered, knit your own yoghurt brigade…or folk fans, as they prefer to be called. Folk in the Bar at Riffs is a open mic session, for a more formal experience the Urban Folk Quartet will be mixing British traditional themes with global influences at The Arts Centre.

The big noise for Friday is at The Furnace with their Halloween special, which will be powered by the sound of Swindon’s finest indie rock. Infectious, groove driven pop comes courtesy of Nudybronque, with Secret Lives and The Fixed playing the part of perfect support bands.

The 12 Bar also goes for the younger and brasher end of the musical market, but as usual are not big on information. Whilst I can tell you that headliners Days on Juno are a must for anyone who likes hook laden pop-punk in general and Fall Out Boy in particular, all I can tell you about support band The 39 Steps is that I read John Buchan’s classic novel of the same name many times as a kid. Riffs Bar also opts for the pop-punk with Running From Zombies and All Action Hero but again there is no information on the website. (Come on guys, meet me half way!)

Saturday sees a bonfire party at Riffs Bar with yet another Burlesque show to go alongside rock covers from Chiller. Some of you are too young to remember the days before the by-laws were changed to ensure that at least three burlesque shows were held in the parish each week, I some times miss those days, or as we used to call it…last year.

The Arts Centre offers up another inspired booking with the bluesy, folk-pop of Lotte Mullan, imagine the delicacy of Janis Ian mixed with the nouse of Joni Mitchell, gorgeous stuff. At the Rolleston “theatrical” cover band The Atomic Rays will be covering the classics and they come with an endorsement from Radio 1 DJ Edith Bowman, make of that what you will.

Global journeyman, Renny Field, will be impressing The Beehive on Sunday with his trademark uplifting and lyrically engaging songs for the afternoon session and that evening The Rolleston has the Mason-Dixon line colliding with the M4 corridor to shape the inimitable mix of southern blues, R’n’B and gospel that is Pignose.

Pignose’s Pete Cousins can also be found at The Victoria on Tuesday supporting Grandpa Banana. As guitarist with seminal San Francisco Bay Area folk rockers, The Youngbloods, Banana is rightly considered an icon of California bluegrass and old time rock and roll, to catch him playing a free gig is something not to be missed.

The week rounds off on Wednesday with even more Bluegrass this time in the form of Riffs Bar’s weekly jam and at The Running Horse more acoustic goodness courtesy of Sam Eden and the vocally harmonious Ethemia.

A short time ago I was asked to co-host a session of that wonderful podcast …From the Ladder Factory an Ox, Berks, Wilts  based music show. The ensuing chaos can be found here  – Ladder 20

As the same old arguments of “have guitar bands had their day” and “is electronic music the way forward” continue to be discussed in the dark corners of venues and around the water coolers of music magazines publishers, it is worth noting that whilst it is an interesting argument, it makes no account for the rise of a new musical passion. The ukulele! Not only are so many indie/folk cross over bands taking to the instrument like a sacked girl band singer to a premiership footballer, but we have also witnessed the emergence of the first ever ukulele super group and you can catch them at The Beehive tonight.

 

The Rinky Dinks (pictured) are wall-to-wall brilliance. Taking songs of all genres, from every decade of contemporary music and giving them a uke-over the result is as side-splitting as it is unique and until you have heard Led Zeppelin rendered unto the ukulele, you haven’t heard anything.

 

If that doesn’t quite tick enough boxes for you, there are a couple of other chilled out serving suggestions for you to consider. Riffs Bar has “Folk in The Bar” hosted by local duo, Albion, a night that endeavours to capture the spirit of the Greenwich Village folk revival movement of the 60’s. At the Victoria, Songs of Praise has moved into the top bar for a more laid back show, Nick Tann and The Real Raj are solo performers as well as a duo whose mix and match style takes in everything from folk- pop, Americana and soaring acoustica to John Martyn style ballads. Forget Wacky Wednesday welcome to Tremendous Thursday. Okay, maybe not.

 

A worthy collection of local bands is to be found over at Riffs Bar on Friday, with The Rackets’ chaotic yet mesmerising gutter indie leading the way. SkyBurnsRed will be bringing a taste of violin driven alt-rock, The Porn Issue help funk the place up and Empire will be the opening salvo.

 

Teddy White will be teaching the Rolleston a thing or two about the meaning of the letters R and B, whilst down at the 12 Bar is one of the strangest line ups I have seen in a while. Not that there is anything wrong with the bands, it’s just I never thought I’d ever see all these on the same bill. Between Dead By Friday? The Fixed, Not George and Charlie Anne you have old school dynamic rock, slick, staccato indie, anthemic acoustic and an ethereal voiced solo singer. If you look up eclectic in the dictionary it actually has a picture of the flyer for this show.

 

Metallica fans will want to be at The Victoria, ‘nuff said, and if you are still up for some after hours music The Nightshift at The Furnace will be playing Industrial, Darkwave and Electronica into the wee small hours.

 

 

Saturday is it’s usual bastion of tributes and covers. Shepherds Pie at The Victoria are a tribute to every air guitar anthem ever written and at The 12 Bar The Useless Eaters are a tribute to the sound of the early punk movement, though original music can be found with support bands The Porn Issue (they get around don’t they) and the new wave punktronica of Last Exit Saints.

 

Doors tribute bands are ensuring the survival of the old bus analogy with The Strange Doors at Riffs Bar and The Floydian Doors at The Rolleston, although to be fair with the latter band you do get 2 tributes acts for the price of one.

 

It’s all about the blues at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon session, with The Sons of The Delta. Both electric and acoustic blues, Americana and roots vibes or as one wise soul put it…Raw, righteous, the real Delta deal. More great music can be found at The Rolleston that evening with Irish pop-folkstress Polly Barrett who has more than a touch of Cara Dillon about her, which is obviously a very good thing indeed.

 

The Running Horse, as usual, provides the mid week Euterpean oasis to rejuvenate and revive you from the slog of the real world, this week with the soulful world music vibes of Coach and the dulcet tones of Rhiannon Elliot.

Okay, the summer hasn’t panned out quite the way we hoped it might, but this weekend there is something happening that will hopefully make you pause from those traditional summer activities (building arks, herding pairs of animals, hold surfing contests through Leicester town centre, etc.)  – Summer Breeze is upon us. Every year this gradually evolving festival manages to out-do itself and this weekend will be no exception. Running for two days at Warren Farm near Liddington, there are so many bands that the safest way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to check out their easily found website, but my top recommendations would run something like this.

The big name is that wonderful, award winning songstress, K T Tunstall (pictured), and if the Saturday crowd can’t make central Swindon bask in the words to Suddenly I See, drifting off the downs on the night air, then I will be writing to my M.P. Strange, balkanised and klezmatic, anarchic, world music mash-ups come courtesy of The Destroyers and The Congo Faith Healers offer up gypsy jive, swamp blues. The festival also sees the welcome return of a couple of old favourites, the indescribable Flipron and the rootsy, slide guitar work of Willie and The Bandits. The local crop of bands offers some treats too, such as the dulcet tones of Charlie Bath here in full band mode, dance driven anthems from Atari Pilot and there is even a brace of Morleys; the haunting and soulful Jazz and the slick acoustic pop of Jake. No sign of Paul though, shame.

Right, back into the urban environment and tonight at The Victoria, the hardest gigging punk band of them all rolls into town. Charlie Harper leads his vintage hoodlums into their fifth decade, with the same old unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Not only do they have local legends, Nobody’s Heroes in support, they have Jamie Oliver on drums. Pucker!

More rafters will be raised at The Rolleston with The Racket. To celebrate front man Plummie’s 12th birthday (I don’t know, I’m just going on the way he acts!) he brings his beautifully chaotic band along to do what they do best. With punk drum and bass maestros 2 Sick Monkeys plus a man answering only to the name Doza on the bill, it is not a night for the faint hearted.

Something more restrained can be found at The Beehive with Claude Bourbon. This virtuosic Frenchman blends everything from blues and folk to jazz and flamenco, ethereal eastern vibes and luscious Latin grooves into a real showcase of world music.

Staying at The Beehive as we kick off Fridays serving suggestions finds I See Hawks in L.A. channelling the ghosts of the old time High Lonesome sound and the vibes of the 60’s counter culture and seeing that they have come all the way from Los Angeles to play for you, the least you can do is stroll down the road to check them out.

In a battle of the big riffs, The 12 Bar goes head to head with The Furnace. UNK Industries presents a showcase of pop-punk and post-hardcore bands including Hold The Fight, When Words Fail and From Embers at the former whilst the latter plays host to local poor boys making good, The Dead Lay Waiting who are joined by various shades of metal from Silent Descent, the Mask of Virtue and Dissolute. Loads on offer for the fan of the hard and heavy, but not great planning on the part of the venues.

It may come as no shock to you if I admit that I’m not the most switched on with popular culture, so I freely admit that I had no idea who Britain’s Got Talent competitor, Alex Davis was until I checked him out on-line. Fans of Ed Sheeran will be into him, I suspect, but what they will make of the weird musical landscape that support act Super Squarecloud build around themselves is anyone’s guess. The Fixed’s brand of slick indie is also worth going for.

If you don’t make it to Summer Breeze over the weekend, alternative arrangements come in the shape of early Whitesnake (i.e. before the poodle hair, spandex and Steve flippin’ Vai ruined everything) blues guitar maestro Bernie Marsden at the Furnace on Saturday and Sunday night offers up Bob Smith at The Rolleston with a bag of Americana, folk and rocking blues.