Tag Archive: operation 77


thumbnail.jpegThere have been some busy weeks when it comes to live music of late and this one has to be the busiest of the lot. I have covered as much as I can below but space being what it is, some gigs are not going to make the cut so please check out the website or page of your favourite band a and venues to fill in some of the gaps. You can’t say that nothing ever happens in this town.(You could but you’d be wrong.)

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40922994_1038122389702686_5504215381138472960_oSome weeks this town is blessed with big name acts travelling through the parish boundaries, other times there are a few new and interesting options passing through from further afield and sometimes we are find wonderful blasts from the past in our midsts. This week though is mainly a real celebration of the bands that keep the local circuit alive. You will know most of the names, you have probably seen many before but as a show case of just how vibrant the local scene is and just how many great home grown bands we have, this week acts as the perfect showcase.

I say mainly as tonight offers a few options from across the county line and the most unusual of them can be found at The Victoria. Siblings of Us (pictured) are a band undergoing a transformation moving from the most mercurial and jagged two-piece synth wave band topped off with Bee Gee-esque vocals into the most mercurial and jagged three-piece electro-rock band…with Bee Gee-esque vocals. Reventure and Xadium also bring new ideas to the rock format.

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149371_10152435420009290_5033964773938942595_nWith a record number of, mainly, original music gigs taking place this week, I am going to forego the usual meandering introduction and just jump straight in. And I’ll start at The Victoria, the main cause of such a glut of new music descending on the town. Tonight is the first night of Vic-Fest, a four-day celebration of original bands, each night curated by a different local promoter and varying in its target audience.

 

Laura Kidd aka She Makes War played for Songs of Praise as a solo act getting on for a year ago and now as part of her national tour she brings the full band show back into town. Her breathtakingly honest gloom-pop, distils a creative punk spirit and is the perfect headline for this night of alternative sounds. Tour support, Forgery Lit add a dirty, grunge blues to the night and the alt-country punk of Coasters will be lapped up by fans of such bands as The Gaslight Anthem.

 

Whether you catch Robert Brown fronting Smouldering Sons or solo, as he is tonight at The Beehive, there is so much to enjoy in the blends of Americana, blues rock and folky vibes that dance around this musical creations.

 

Friday at The Victoria and Fairview Promotions take us down a reggae path. Backbeat Soundsystem take a traditional reggae vibe, inject it with funk, dub and ska and then kick it up into a higher gear to create a bass driven party groove. Festival favourites Dub The Earth and King Solomon Band deliver fresh takes on the genre and openers The Nomarks offer a more ska based set to kick off the night.

 

Back at The Beehive and the folk ‘n’ roll of The Model Folk, a beautiful cacophony of wheezing harmonium, scratchy washboard, throbbing double bass and various acoustica, create a very different, but just as brilliant, party soundtrack. Midway between those two venues, some wonderful singer-songwriter sets can be had at The Regent courtesy of Drew Bryant and Nick Felix and if classic rock and metal standards are more your thing, then Bad Obsession at The Rolleston is the gig for you.

 

Day three at The Victoria, or Saturday as the rest of us call it, really steps things up a gear and showcases the best new bands at the harder end of rock. It’s always a pleasure to watch The Manic Shine (pictured) not just for their technical expertise and the sheer infectiousness of their songs, but also because they manage to give a lesson in stage performance than many bands would be wise to take note of. They are joined by Vault of Eagles who play a wonderfully primal brand of twisted rock that falls somewhere between The Bad Seeds and P J Harvey. Punk and metal fuse together in The Graphic’s warped art attacks (check out their video The Kid….do it now!) and local support comes from local rising stars, Ghost of Machines and stalwarts The Starkers.

 

It is quite apt that in a week that marked 15 years since we lost the lyrical genius, singer, artist, actor and madman, Ian Dury, that The Blox, a tribute to his years fronting The Blockheads, are playing at The Rolleston. Expect all the caustic wit and kitchen sink wisdom, not to mention exceptional musicianship that made the original band so…well, original.

If you are after something altogether more funky then, Funk’daMental play funk and disco classics at The Swiss Chalet and the after party tunes can be found at Level 3 as Beats and Bars mixes live acts with DJ’s to showcase the best of the current wave of hip-hop acts.

 

Sunday at The Victoria rounds off with a night of metal courtesy of Dredded Vyrus. Main act Skreamer manage to combine the grandeur and pomp of classic metal with the primal growl and speed of its current direction whilst Antoinette offer a more contemporary post-metalcore sound. Belial and Ursus open the night’s proceedings.

 

It’s blues and R’n’B (the boogie guitar sort not the lip synched, dance routine sort) all the way with Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and punk, ska and new wave covers are to be found at The Swiss Chalet with Operation ’77.

 

At The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday hosts ex-Haiku frontman Phil Cooper and his Neil Finn comparable musical earworms with a rare, short set from the mercurial Adam Crosland to kick the night off.

1148809_503701169718211_1721662663_nSo that’s it, all done. Twelfth Night has been and gone, the decorations are back in the attic, though you will be picking pine needles out of your socks until May, the Christmas supplies have been depleted, all but the hardly touched bottle of egg-nog and some dubious looking figs and it is time to look forward to the future (…it’s only just begun…still got that damn tune stuck in my head.). So armed only with a new gym membership and a handful of good intentions we step forth into a new year, a blank page to document the next chapter… in bestest handwriting please.

 

And we get off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with the first Songs of Praise show of the year. Headliners, The Black Feathers, have made quite a name for themselves with their amazing vocal harmonies and blend of Celtic folk and Americana roots music. Joining them are Little Red another roots outfit driven by sweet boy-girl vocal interplay and opening the night is the quintessentially and often eccentrically English sounds of George Wilding.

 

Staying at The Victoria, on Friday, intelligent, direct, melodic and occasionally anthemic rock is on offer with Clay Gods and joining them are Goodbye The Sunset, a band who seem to channel something of the spirit and sound of what first turned my ear to The Gaslight Anthem, so no complaints here. Opening the show are the aptly named Dirty Smooth who manage to mix raw rock with acoustica or as they put it “tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out too, but sweet enough for the girls to dance too!” Cunning.

 

The Rolleston, meanwhile, will be grooving to the jazz, funk and blues fusion that goes by the name of Rival Attraction and if a more ska, punk and New Wave vibe better suits your tastes then a quick visit to The Swiss Chalet to catch Operation 77 is in order.

 

Saturday sees We Ghosts return to The Beehive. This ever popular Anglo-Swedish band trade in an acoustic sound that ranges from stylishly driven rock to emotive, smoky, late night chill-outs but always with lush and distinctive vocals leading the way.

 

Elsewhere the rest of the evening options pretty much follow a less original tack, the best of which in my “over-inflated opinion” is 1000 Planets who will be delivering their Killing Joke set at The Victoria. So if the thought of moshing out to the gothic laced industrial dance sounds of one of the post-punk periods most creative bands, then this is about as close as you can get without a time machine.

 

Cover bands are out in force so you can catch The Tin Shack Band playing everything from the sixties to the present day at The Rolleston and The Swiss Chalet features Catch 22 playing…wait for it, pop and rock from the sixties to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar, Sound Bites not only run through a set of classic rock covers they will also be raising money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and FOLMS.

 

The week rounds off with a couple of great singer songwriters. Firstly on Sunday you can find Matt Chipperfield at The Beehive for the afternoon session and then on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the folky-Americana sound of Salisbury’s very own Sue Hart.

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January is always a difficult time to try to get people along to gigs, well, at least the sort of gigs that I go to. But it got me thinking about just how important a crowd is to a musical event. Sure, everyone wants their band to be able to pull in the numbers but really, as with many thing…size doesn’t actually matter. You can still make history without an audience. How many people saw The Sex Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall, the gig that took punk beyond its London art college roots….about 40? (Although I have personally met about 120 people who claim to have been there.) There were only 12 people at the last supper, well, thirteen to begin with. Half that number witnessed the Wright Brothers first flight and Archimedes was alone in his bath when he made his greatest discovery. No, not soap on a rope!

 

It’s not the size of the crowd, it’s the power of the event, so do something brave, original, extravagant, boundary pushing and truly entertaining. Something that people will take notice of. Write your own footnote in the music history book. Do something new; don’t just copy what has gone before. Who wants to live in a world that runs on plagiarism?  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…errr, hang on!

 

Anyway, a quiet week but here it is.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight has a bit of a vicious edge. Strength In Blunders headline, a three piece sitting on the cusp of punk traditions and new wave experimentation, more Husker Du or Magazine than first wave Brit punk. Support comes from Honesty a band evolved from Frome’s riotous assembly, Haters…remember them? And opening up the night are local alt-rockers Tides of Change.

 

A couple of wonderfully original shows are on offer on Friday. Firstly at The Victoria, The Shudders grace the stage with their musically eloquent combinations of alt-country, lo-fi rock and wonderfully melodic and infectious tunes.  Support is from El Born (pictured), an evocative, heart on sleeve, London, alt-rock band just heading out on a UK tour and offering a Café Nero style loyalty card leading to free gig entry. Interesting! Opening the night is looping, electric guitarist Johnny Lucas who you may remember from his summer anthem Lilo, a song that would even have the most stalwart Goths taking off their nu-rocks and playing Frisbee on the beech.

 

Over at Riffs Bar Benji Clements will be playing his trademark mashed up and funked out standards and originals, an artist who does a neat line in sassy soul and bluesy acoustic grooves. Also on the bill is Ella Martini a young singer with an equally soulful pop vibe.

 

The next part of the column is what I call the “that was then…and this is then as well” section, as everything on offer is a cover of or a tribute to something that you are probably already familiar with. So in brief, also on Friday at The Rolleston regular fixtures The Great Nothing offer a wide range of iconic rock tracks from across the years, followed by Dodging The Bullet the next day who play classic rock covers.

 

At The New Inn on Saturday you can catch punky-ska classics from Operation 77 and at The Victoria there are tributes to Hendrix and Cream.

 

And that is it apart from a solo appearance from David Marx (minus his regular AK-Poets) at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. A wealth of songs that you might not get to hear from the full band show, interspersed with stories and humour. Not a bad way to round the music week off if you ask me, and in a way by reading this article you did ask me. So there!

Sounds Around Town

After a couple of weeks experimenting with different stylistic approaches to this column, an attempt to appease various critics, I have come to rather a startling conclusion. Irrespective of whichever criteria I use to determine its content, the old adage about pleasing all the people all of the time still holds true, so I might as well just write as I see fit, forget democracy and take whatever flak comes my way. So with that in mind here are my undemocratic musical musings and biased nominations for this week.

 

Those of a certain age, my sort of age in fact, will probably remember a group of spiky haired, Celtic rockers called The Alarm who exploded in a blaze of glory (see what I did there?) from North Wales in the early eighties. Well believe it or not guitarist Dave Sharp plays a free top bar gig at The Victoria tonight, having swapped fist in the air, charged anthems for a smoother blend of bluesy-folk rock. Support comes from the incomparable Rob Beckinsale.

 

The Rolleston continue to hit high standards with their original band bookings and tonight play host to Wires who excel in lusciously harmonious indie creations; make sure you pick up a copy of their latest e.p. Shadows whilst you are there.

 

Tonight also heralds the return of Minneapolis muse Courtney Yasmineh (pictured) who manages to squeeze in a visit to The Beehive between gigs in London and Amsterdam to dish out feisty rock that lies somewhere between Blondie and Sheryl Crowe  and  guitar brilliance comes courtesy of Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Wheatsheaf. Big name options come in the shape of McFly at The Oasis and Chas (but no Dave) Hodges and His Band at the Wyvern.

 

Friday night sees a host of young bands at Riffs Bar headed by pop-punksters Beyond The Break, The John Does and the currently ubiquitous Sasquatch Walk (who seem to be on a short tour of Swindon postcodes over the next month). The Rolleston goes psychobilly as The Graveyard Johnnys and Cowboy and The Corpse go quiff to quiff.

 

The shoegazing, dream pop of Reading’s Tripwires, will be the highlight of the night at The Victoria; imagine Warpaint teaching Sonic Youth to play lullabies, The Jess Hall Band take on the role of the perfect support band and I’ll say it again, Play Shy is nothing short of a perfect pop song. A DJ set from the Young Blood guys is also on the cards.

 

The big noise of Saturday night is The Hoosiers at The MECA; originally describing themselves as “odd pop” they have since re-invented themselves as a more conventional electro-tinged pop band. The Furnace will be revelling in what it does best, a swift, brutal sensory overload courtesy of metal bands Romeo Must Die, My City Burning and Karrion.

 

Elsewhere it’s tributes to Pink Floyd at the Victoria, Ozzy at The Rolleston and punk and new wave covers at Riffs Bar with Operation 77.

 

If you like the idea of a Lazy Sunday afternoon with some chilled music, then head up to The Art Centre to take in the intelligent folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice. The evening may bring one more tribute experience, this time Bon Jovi at The MECA, but it also brings some great original music. Hotly tipped to be one of the next big things Billy Lockett is at Riffs Bar along with a support act so exciting, it can’t even be named on the website.

 

One of the most exciting gigs of the week takes place at The Victoria with the first time out for Old Colours who rise out of the ashes of Anchor and The Wolf to keep the “cinematic” banner flying. Any band described as “a bit like Laura Marling playing a house party with My Bloody Valentine rocking in the next room” has got to be worth checking out. Charlie Bath and The City Marshals will be show casing songs from the soon to be released The Good Fall e.p. and opening the night is a rare outing for chilled, folky lounge-jazz darlings, Matilda.

 

Tuesdays dose of jazz at Baker Street is courtesy of keyboard virtuoso Alex Steele and Wednesdays Running Horse Sessions features the wonderfully named John Shillibeer and a welcome return for Sumita Majumdar.