Tag Archive: mick o’toole


Dreadzone-c-Simon-Partington-_MG_5821.jpgFor those who say that nothing ever happens in Swindon, this week is set to prove them very wrong, as not one but two big name bands with long histories, varied and fascinating careers and a wealth of albums behind them can be found nested in amongst the usual, more localised, musical fare. But more of that later.

Wilding, an act which has both grown in number and shrunken in name, since the eponymous George’s solo days, will be taking to The Victoria’s stage tonight and I highly recommend that you check them out. Combining the front man’s lyrical wit and wisdom with a band of seasoned players means that they can finally reach the sonic heights that their recorded work encapsulated and believe me you will want to experience that. With new indie outfit Compact Pussycat opening the night this is a great way to kick off the weekend.

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13925568_10153787229178457_2827194294073760264_oNot too much to get through this week and obviously the offerings are of a more mainstream and accessible nature, after all no-one wants an avant-garde, dystopian, post-rock band as the soundtrack to their works shindig. Well, no one except me.

At The Victoria you can catch Phlemmy’s Christmas Karaoke, a night of seasonal shenanigans and mischief in the main venue itself. Ideal for work’s parties or anyone looking for one last big knee’s up. It’s Wacky Wednesday with bells on…literally.

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11081418_10152764261624290_7985975332801455801_nIt’s easy to forget, especially when a whole music genre seems to have developed around trying it’s damnedest to be Frank Turner, that one man with a guitar does not have to result in bullish angst or political and social calls to arms. Neither does it have to follow the Damien Rice/Jake Morley model of minimalist melancholy and wistful, fragile thoughts put to music. Between the two extremes there is a whole industry built on pop aware, chart smart, accessible acoustic music and Ben Montague fits right in the heart of it. Emotionally charged and honest but delivered in a fairly commercial package, Montague gently plucks heartstrings whilst laying out songs that have a romantic yet broad appeal and you will find him at The Victoria tonight.

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10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nTomorrow is one of those days that resonate throughout history. On May 8th, 70 years ago, the world woke up to a Europe finally at peace after the ravages of war. Sixteen years before that The St Valentines Day Massacre made world headlines and more latterly, completing the cycle of world shaking deeds, in 1972, Ian “H” Watkins of Steps infamy was born, so it is obviously a date which is tied in with important historical events. Also tomorrow we will wake up to learn the fate of the next five years in the running of this country. But tonight we party. Thankfully, this weekend whether celebrating the result or drowning your sorrows there is no shortage of great sounds to do it to.

 

Those opting for a bit of a shindig should look no further than The Victoria tonight as Bite The Buffalo bring their “stomping, coffin blues” to town and show just why recent years have seen them play such festivals as SXSW and supports to none other than Robert Plant. Fresh out of the box, 2 piece The Harlers continue to re-connect with dirty blues-rock memories and openers The Johnstown Flood add grunge and warped guitars to the blues template.

 

At The Wheatsheaf, Darren Hodge deals in a gentler but no less mesmerising take on the same genre; an ear for tradition and some outstanding finger-picking dexterity are the order of the day and he is joined by the loved-up folk harmonies of Ethemia plus the elemental imagery and sounds of Drew Bryant. Sitting between the two, a funky blend of acoustic and gritty blues is Jim Blair who can be found at The Beehive.

 

And if Thursday had a heavy blues undercurrent, Friday takes a folkier stance. Firstly at The Beehive with Calico Jack (pictured), a band whose distinctive canal boat-folk blends gypsy jive, carnival chaos and shanty shenanigans to create twisted fairy tales and worlds of dark enchantment. For a punkier take on the genre, Mick O’Toole can be found at The Rolleston. Theirs is a howling banshee of a show in the tradition of Flogging Molly or Greenland Whalefishers, so if the idea of a sonic wall of aggressive accordion, mutilating mandolin lines and belligerent banjo forming the front line of a folk-punk onslaught sounds like your cup of cider, then this is the show for you.

 

At The Victoria, Buswell’s brand of indie-pop meets chamber folk will be providing the venue with sweeping majestic sounds not to mention some logistical headaches as the orchestral wing of this band often pushes the stage set up into double figures. Support comes from the lush dynamics and dark atmospherics of White Lilac and opening the show is the man known as Last Box of Sparklers and his hushed and fleeting, Nordic indie sounds. Incendiary blues-rock classics are delivered with spellbinding dexterity at The Queens Tap courtesy of The Lewis Creaven Band.

 

As usual, Saturday is the bastion of nostalgia, reminisence and the tried and tested (all of which could actually be names of cover bands themselves) but that doesn’t mean that they rock any less. In fact, out at Riffs Bar, the hardest partying band in town take the stage. Enjoy their set of rock, pop and indie classics, just don’t try matching them drink for drink at the bar afterwards.

 

Also rocking out like a good ‘un, The Sex Pissed Dolls, pun their way into level 3 to deliver a set of rock, ska and punk standards and at The Brookhouse Farm (moved from The Woodlands Edge) it’s the last chance to catch The Beat Holes before they return home to Italy. Imagine if The Beatles had formed out of the punk melting pot of 1976’s London squat scene and also liked to listen to heavy metal. Intrigued? Check them out, they are brilliant.

 

Other options are 1000 Planets punk, goth and alternative sounds at The Rolleston, power-pop, mod and soul from Peloton at The Swiss Chalet and vintage classic rock from Mid-Life Crisis at The Queens Tap.

 

There is just enough room to mention Peter Jagger and his political tinged folk songs at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon and David Marx’s poetic and poignant music at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

544560_586659531391273_2070667669_nAs time goes on music seems to get more and more compartmentalised, ever more exotic labels and terms seem to come into play to create demarcation between music styles. Now, I grew up musically in the 80’s and things were quite tribal then, in any given pub the mod would be glaring at the punk, the metaller would be chatting to the glam rocker out of solidarity, the new wave kids would be geeking over the forthcoming Bunnymen album and the two goths would be sipping cider and black in the shadows. That was a world that made some kind of sense to me. Recently I have had to struggle which such subgenres as Djent apparently not a village in Tunisia (recycled joke alert!) Math-core, Gyp-hop, Vedic Metal, Sadcore, and a host of other niche scenes. Where will it end?

 

One band that can be found in a very small genre, possibly its only inhabitants, are those glorious purveyors of Puzzle-pop…for want of a better description, Oui Legionniares, a soundclash of the best bits of pop, indie and punk reassembled in strange and intriguing ways. They can be found tonight at The Victoria sandwiched between shimmering, shoegazing vibes of Sahara Heights and headliners Yves equally exotic soundscapes.

 

Another wonderful fusion of styles can be found at The Beehive as Mambo Jambo weave together the distinctive sounds of bluegrass, Latin, Caribbean, New Orleans, Balkan, jazz, folk and more besides into a sunny and vibrant feast of music.

 

And in the “if you like that, you’ll like this” department, and staying at The Beehive for a moment, on Friday you will find Grubby Jack the renowned local fast folk trio who mix fiendish banjo with high velocity fiddle-breaks to deliver classic celtic and Appalachian styles.

 

Other options will suit rock fans but they will have to choose between the hard-rocking electric blues of The Lewis Creavan Band at The Rolleston or the classic metal showcase of Metalhead at The Victoria.

 

One of the most important bands of my formative years can be found at Level 3 on Saturday as The Men They Couldn’t Hang provide the headline act to celebrate Charred Hearts front man, Dermot Fullers 50th Birthday bash. This is a semi-private affair with entry by ticket only but how often do I get to talk about the outfit that made me want to join a band in this column? (Yes, they have a lot to answer for!)

 

Similarly raucous folk and roll can be found with celtic, cider punk, party animals Mick O’Toole in The Rolleston, think The Pogues meet The Clash and prepare to dance the night away. And talking of “the last gang in town” you can catch a tribute to them in the guise of Radio Clash at The Victoria.

 

 

So with the old punk posse well catered for we can cast our eyes out towards Riffs Bar and a bit of an old boys reunion. Blueprint’s heyday may have been around 15 years ago but that hasn’t stopped them dusting off the instruments and hitting the stage once more. Support comes from 80’s underground pop referencing The King In Mirrors and indie rock stalwarts Rocket Box.

 

Fans of slick, 70’s pop should head along to The Swiss Chalet as vocal duo Abbaholics relive the hits of…well, I’m sure you can work out where they are coming from.

 

Things get a bit quiet until Wednesday when you can catch two solo acts at The Roaring Donkey whose bands have played a major part in local music over the years, Neil Mercer (Rumour Shed, Dacoits, Seven Years on) and Dave Corrigan (good Things Happen In Bad Towns, Spacehopper.)

 

And to end on a real bang, at the same time Gnarwolves return to The Victoria courtesy of Sheer Music. Infectious, abrasive, sing-along punk at it’s finest. Support comes from the equally punchy Boxkite and opening the night is the more saccharine pop-punk of As The Sun Sleeps.