Tag Archive: goldray


The recurring theme of the last run of gigs I have attended seems to be, sadly, a woeful lack of attendance. A paranoid man might see himself as the lowest common denominator, thankfully I’m not that paranoid and happy to place the blame elsewhere.  At a recent Goldray gig, new musical vehicle of Reef’s Kenway House and Andy Treacy, the man behind the relentless beats of Faithless, the musicians were pretty much on par numbers-wise with the audience, but at least I was introduced to the brilliant psychedelic groove machine that is Ulysses, possibly my new favourite band. The visual and musical delight of The Baronesques was also a pleasant bonus.

A more recent and rare jaunt down to The 12 Bar in Swindon saw an even more extreme turn of events. You have to question the decision to host two Oxfordshire bands; largely unknown in Swindon with almost no advertising at a venue that most people seem to have forgotten even exists. Whilst The Shapes and Mammoth and The Drum rose to the occasion, the audience numbers hardly rose at all, mid way through the main act I think the non-band related segment of the audience hit the dizzy heights of four people. I would have put this to the promoter but sadly they didn’t show up at the gig either.

In 1983, two impressionable music fanatics found themselves at Reading Festival and witnessed a band that were to become a small part in the soundtrack to both their lives. Twelfth Night was the obvious band for slightly awkward, borderline nerds. Their music was complex, the songs long and the lyrics were something that you could obsess over and test each other’s knowledge with. Yes, prog-rock was back on the menu. By the late eighties the band had run it’s course but in 2007 began a series of re-union shows with various line-ups to popular acclaim but now the decision had been taken to call it a day on even that and these same two friends found themselves heading down to Mr Kyps in the unfashionable end of the Bournemouth/Poole conurbation for one last time. We may not have quite been there right at the start but we would be there at the end. But it was more that just about Twelfth Night.

Opening the night was Alan Reed, ex-Pallas front man (and Abel Ganz for those who remember) and now ploughing a furrow under his own name. Joined by the infectious Mark Spencer on keyboards, a man who will loom large in the evening’s proceedings, a mix of tracks from his new album and some wonderful rendition of Sanctuary, one of the first songs he co-wrote on joining the band. Even more interesting was a chat with him at the merchandise desk afterwards. My learned colleague, Mark, put the question of his leaving the band after 25 years as the front man, having already heard guitarists Niall Mathewson version that ran along the lines of “it was all very amicable.” Well apparently it wasn’t. Not only was Alan clearly sacked, by telephone, the band had been working with an alternative front man for 6 months and still using him to play the live shows until the new man was up to speed. Charming! As a foot note he added that it’s not safe for him to set foot in Aberdeen, the hometown of Pallas, but describes not being part of the latest album as “ a lucky escape.”

Marking the 25th anniversary of the cracking IQ album, Nomzamo, ex-front man Paul Menel was on the bill to play the album in its entirety and what a great show they turned in.  A mix of his current band, ex- IQ keyboard maestro Martin Orford (note white, middle class, middle aged men should not sport baseball caps, it makes them look like they should be in a mini bus heading for Disneyland Paris if you know what I mean) and Clive Nolan, another icon of the keys normally found with Pendragon ran through a long but faultless set, clearly having a great time along the way.

Now with a limited time available to play in and clearly annoying bassist Clive Mitten who made a number of references to the fact, Twelfth Night took the stage. Well, billed as The Cryptic Clues, with Andy Revel, looking more like Sean Pertwee everyday, Brian Devoil and the aforementioned Mitten, it’s a rose by any other name. Leaving the Virgin years behind them and running through early material only, the part of front man Geoff Mann was taken by Mark Spenser, who not only did a brilliant job got many people thinking that he night have been the better option for the job when it fell to his old flatmate Andy Sears. Not that I had anything but respect for Andy but seeing Spenser prowl and pose in the limelight, he just seemed to be a better prospect. Sequences was attacked with its usual military precision, Creepshow as twisted and poignant as ever, We Are Same, The Ceiling Speaks and Love Song, all expected and all delivered by a band bowing out on a high. Thank you guys; it’s been an interesting journey.

I bet by know you are wondering what the title of the piece has to do with anything. Well, as prog fans will admit if pushed, gigs are predominantly the bastion of a certain type of male, imagine The Big Bang Theory for music and you get the idea. It’s with this in mind that you can spot the fans from the bands family members that have been coaxed into coming along and you can guarantee that the cool or even remotely presentable looking ones fall into the latter category. It therefore came as no surprise that the slick looking lass with the long dark hair who stuck out like a sore yet very attractive thumb was later seen arm in arm with one of the musicians. It’s just one of the games you can play at these types of gig.

By virtue of this being their hometown, Galahad headlined the night and sadly the crowd was now at an all time low, driven probably by the fact that a lot of people had probably travelled and had headed off early to catch trains or begin a long trek home. I’m not sure what the capacity of Mr Kyps is but with the place less that a fifth full I suspect that there is a promoter somewhere with a big whole in his bank balance. Galahad was the one band on the bill that I was not familiar with, although a third appearance by Mr Spenser on bass gave it a somewhat familiar edge. That said, they didn’t really gel with me. If prog-rock is just headbangers with A-levels, as the saying goes, these guys were probably re-sitting. Somehow it all seemed a bit disjointed and proof that great musicianship doesn’t always translate into great songs. I appreciate the punkier edge to their sound and lively stage show, but somehow it didn’t grab me. Then again it may just be a case of I had seen what I had come to see and wasn’t ready to take on anything new that night. Still the local crowd loved it and that’s all that counts.

It is always great to connect with the music of your youth, re-live the music that formed your musical tastes for years to come. As you get older and more stuck in your ways new music often means less on an already formed musical mind. What was nice about the gig was that I fell in love with those songs all over again. Oh to be a youngster again, good work prog.

It’s amazing what little bits of music trivia you stumble across when doing research for music articles. Like the fact that comedian Roland Rivron once drummed for Transvision Vamp or that Monaco’s National Orchestra is bigger than its army. Few of you may be aware that David Bowie invented Connect 4 and as well as coining the term Britpop, Stuart Maconie also originated the phrase Latvipop, which, to be fair,  never really caught on. Also I have personally listened to the Concrete Blonde album Bloodletting more times than anyone else on the planet. Not all of the above is true but I can assure you that everything that follows is absolute fact.

 

Tonight at The Victoria is a folk and roots extravaganza in the form of this years Oxjam. Hiproute will be on hand to deliver funked up, lap slide guitar blues, whilst Missin’ Rosie will be injecting folk music with rock adrenalin. Bateleurs provide a wonderful blend of new-country and traditional folk and the intriguingly named Stone Donkey Pilots seem immersed in a hill-billy busker vibe that evokes moonshine, dungarees and re-runs of Deliverance.

 

Further down the road, The Beehive continues it’s fascination with Canadian bands by playing host to Picture The Ocean, an alt-pop band who are both gently melodic and wistfully reflective or as someone put it “ like a therapeutic walk on the shore on a grey day.” Catch their last UK show before they head off to Europe, India and, if there is any justice in the world, fame and fortune.  At the Arts Centre, musical icons The Animals (and friends) pay a visit; for  the song We Gotta Get Out of This Place alone they deserve your endless adulation.

 

Something a bit special for you at The Victoria on Friday. Goldray (pictured) are what happens when the guitar sound of Reef and the beats of Faithless come together in a psychedelic explosion of textures and riffs. Think Jefferson Airplane sparring (or even spa-ing) with Warpaint whilst Tame Impala hold their coats. With support from Ulysses and The Baronesques it will be like The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test all over again. (Blimey, a Tom Wolfe reference two weeks running, it’s getting like the Times Literary Supplement!)

 

The 12 Bar opts for the punkier route with Useless Eaters and stalwarts of the scene Nobodies Heroes plus the return of Lydia Twenty whilst The Rolleston has neo rock and rollers, Red Hot Trio, not just your usual bowling shirt rockabilly! Other options are rocked out blues with The Stevie J Rivers Band at The Beehive and ska from The Nomarks at The Liden Arms.

 

Saturday, normally the bastion of the cover and tribute set really raises it’s game to deliver three top gigs. If you haven’t seen Flipron before then you need to be at The Victoria. If you have seen them then you will know that it is difficult to pin down exactly what they do in such a small amount of space. They have been described variously as “ Barrelhouse Britpop,” “Psychedelic Honkytonk” and, my favourite “ Stephen Fry wrestling with Ian Dury on a Mississippi Riverboat” not much I can add to that except The Costellos and Coach add equally exotic vibes into the nights mix.

 

Fans of Hardcore should head to The 12 Bar for Vera Cruz, What The Night Brings and Rising From Death, whilst The Furnace plays host to Fearless Vampire Killers a band whose “Death Pop” will appeal to anyone who watches the Twilight Films and/or grew up on My Chemical Romance. Support is from local lads making good The Dead Lay Waiting.

 

Pete Christie is at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon slot, finger picked acoustic that mixes rock, folk and country into a sort of anglicana roots music now there’s a term we need to catch on.

 

 

As usual our jump off point is The Running Horse acoustic sessions on Wednesday, this time featuring the welcome return of the newly resurrected Shudders and their clean limbed, melodic and totally infectious country-pop-folk masterpieces. Support comes from The Cadbury Sisters, a duo whose delicate harmonies will leave you transfixed, charmed and in total awe.