Tag Archive: london underground orchestra (the)


156353_181984905147703_916302_nI often get the feeling that I am the protagonist in the latest Dan Brown novel. But this time instead of being a Harvard Symbologist searching for the meaning of the Holy Grail or trying to save priests from an Illuminate plot, it is set in a west country railway town and I am on a break-neck, historic quest, unravelling clues and wrestling gig information from a shadowy cult made up of venue owners and promoters who have also sent an albino sound engineer to thwart my efforts. Still if Dan Brown’s clichéd style holds true I will probably get paired up with a young, European stunner as the “will they, won’t they” love interest, so things aren’t so bad.

 

But safe guarding the descendant of Christ is one thing, I’m just trying to put together an accurate and informative gig guide and it really shouldn’t be this difficult. I would have thought that in these fiscally tricky times, venues and promoters would be putting even more effort into trying to draw punters into their shows, but if an expert gig goer (and if experience is measured in hours spent leaning on a bar, pint in hand watching local bands then I am pretty top of my game) like myself can’t root out the relevant information from websites and (anti-) social networking sites, then what hope has the casual enquirer. Come on folks, work with me here or don’t moan when the door count to your gig only just scrapes double figures. Help me to help you before more venues go out of business or stop promoting music.

 

Anyway, with the information I have been able to wrestle from elusive, mystic guardians at gunpoint, here are some things to do over the coming week.

 

The Victoria has a bit of a treat for you tonight as those splendid chaps at Sheer Music bring Brighton band of the moment, Verses, to the stage. Intelligent, hook driven, dynamic rock music is on the menu and if you like what you hear you can be amongst one of the first to pick up their debut album, Feel It Faster. Support comes from the no less talented Take the Seven and local bands All Ears Avow and Somewhat Snakes.

 

Those looking for something all together more rootsy might find what they are looking for at The Beehive as Christopher Rees weaves soulful folk around spectral blues and ends up with a wonderfully unique sound.

 

If metal tributes are your thing, then there is only one place to be on Friday, The Victoria. The Big Four Tribute Band go further than similar acts, four times further in fact, as they replicate the music of Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica. Consisting of members of UK metallers, Betrayal, and with five years behind them in this guise, you know that they will be more than capable of pulling off such a feat.

 

Meanwhile, music biographer, musician and leader of his own personal band of Argonauts, Alan Clayson (pictured) will be fronting a show at The Beehive that pretty much defies description, so all I will say is go along, watch and make your own mind up about this truly original performer. The Arts Centre has The Ben Waters Band, energetic boogie piano at it’s finest taking in rock, jive and ska, not only one of Jools Holland’s top ten piano players but trivia fans might like to know that Ben is also PJ Harvey’s cousin.

 

 

Saturday plays host to mainly covers and tributes, the music of Pink Floyd can be heard at The Victoria whilst 1000 Planets play a mix of rock, industrial and goth covers plus originals in a similar vein from this years release Pay The Price.  Rock, pop and indie covers can be found at The Swiss Chalet courtesy of Switch and original music comes from the often shambolic, always entertaining Hamsters From Hell at The Castle. If you like the idea of mixing great food with sublime music then the dulcet and exotic tones of Skins and Strings will provide the perfect musical backdrop at Asiana in Old Town.

 

The penultimate mention is for Shaun Buswell’s show on Tuesday. After setting himself the challenge to meet, write for, rehearse and gig with an orchestra of total strangers, he is now taking a Dave Gorman style presentation of the whole project to The Edinburgh Festival and you can catch a preview at The Victoria. Finally on Wednesday, stalwart jazzmen and all round good eggs, Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz play The Roaring Donkey.

1488783_10152289534731684_309147990_n….so then I said to my editor, “So what are you going to do, not edit out a whole 170 word introductory paragraph just because you don’t agree with it’s sentiment? As if! And anyone reading the previous paragraph will surely agree with me anyway. Right, enough controversy and on with the musical recommendations and there is lots on offer this week.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria, tonight, is a bit of a deconstructed, alt-pop, leftfield, difficult to describe…thingy, of a show. Vienna Ditto is a two-piece outfit that veer between mesmerising sci-fi blues and dance-rock riffs with added atmospheric and ambient electronica, a bit like Portishead writing a Tarantino soundtrack. Also on the bill are Super Squarecloud, purveyors of warped pop and strange adventures in time signatures, plus The Clementines a newish musical vehicle driven by a whole bunch of people who used to be called Crash and The (Bandi)Coots.

 

More dance vibes emanate from The Beehive when Zetan Spore land their mothership  to spread their cosmic message through the medium of Psy-trance music, an intoxicating blend of psychedelic dance, searing guitars, tribal breaks and a tsunami of energy and positivity.

 

There can’t be many people around that haven’t heard about Shaun Buswell’s Underground Orchestra Challenge, which saw him hire, rehearse and write the music for a full orchestra recruited from commuters on the underground. Before the show heads off to the Edinburgh Fringe you have a chance to experience his PowerPoint style presentation of the whole project at The Wyvern Theatre. You also get free entry into the Indisposition of David Philips which is showing directly afterwards as part of Madame Renard’s Mini Fringe Festival.

 

Friday brings in a couple of acoustic offerings, firstly at Riffs Bar where the sometimes floating, sometimes buoyant, but always impressive music of Rob Lear is sharing the night with the similarly joyous, spiritual and absorbing Real Raj. If you prefer to stay in the heart of town then The Regent’s Acoustic Circus will feature Jimmy Moore, Benji Clements and The Crown Jewels.

 

Elsewhere NewQuay Times bring low-slung Americana to The Queens Tap and Ode and The Bebops will be attempting to answer the age-old question “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on The Bedpost Overnight?” through the medium of audience participation skiffle at The Victoria. Louder options come in the shape of slick ska from The Nomarks at The Beehive and the masters of mayhem, riotous rhythm and boozy blues, The Hamsters From Hell will be laying waste to The Rolleston and it’s near vicinity.

 

If you are of the heavy rock and metal persuasion then there is only one place for you to be on Saturday as a host of bands line up for an all-dayer at Basement 73. Metal is the main order of the day with Malefice, Sleep Inertia, Harmony Disorder and many more satisfying the needs of the pure metalhead whilst some variation comes from the dark, post-punk of Strength in Blunders, the grungier edge of Burnthru and Boss Cloth, the cross genre blends of The Damned and The Dirty and impressive alt-rock of All Ears Avow.

Apart from that it is all slightly less boundary pushing with The Victoria hosting a tribute to AC/DC, The Ashford Road Club featuring the songs of Adele, The Great Nothing playing rock covers at The Queens Tap and Built For Comfort treating The Rolleston to some Chicago blues classics.

 

If you want to get out and get some fresh air on Sunday then a stroll to the bandstand in the Old Town Gardens will reward you with something a bit special. Skins and Strings (pictured) are a two-piece instrumental set up who mix the exotic sound of tabla drums with pastoral acoustic guitar, the perfect musical blend of orient and occident.

 

Similarly exotic sounds can be found at The Check Inn in Wroughton with the Latin infused, acoustic jazz of Gilmore’n’Jaz. If something more “in your face” as the youth of today might say, is required then the fired up, electric blues standards of The Lewis Creavan Band at The White Hart might be the answer.

 

Finally the musical week ends in perfect fashion at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with another outing for Benji Clements whose skilful and soulful blends of groove-laden and funky standards and originals is a great way the to take your mind off of the midweek blues.

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.