Tag Archive: racket (the)


10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nNice to see that following on from last weeks flurry of live shows, this week is continuing in a similar vein, both in terms of volume and diversity. Hopefully even those who continue to fly the “nothing ever happens round here” flag will see that it is time to call it a day or at least go back to their X-Box, Facebook trolling and Game of Thrones boxed set and let the rest of us get on with the job at hand.

 

One of the more extraordinary bands of recent times has been The Jim Jones Revue who combined the furious piano playing approach of Jerry Lee Lewis with the visceral guitar style of proto-punk bands such as The MC5 and The Stooges. Well, the band may have called it a day recently but the man who provided that core sound, one that suggested a gang fight in a piano shop, Henri Herbert, can be found at The Victoria tonight.

 

An even bigger name can be found at The Wyvern Theatre as the man with the golden voice and stalwart of such bands as Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics, Paul Carrick will be running through his repertoire of blue-eyed soul and pop-rock.

 

On Friday two big line-ups go head to head within spitting distance of each other in Old Town. At The Castle, brit-pop brats The Racket spearhead a line up that caters to all things indie and modish, being joined by the mercurial melodies and flamboyant stage antics of Nudybronque, the sharp music lines of British Harlem, the jangly pop of Theo Altieri and rock and roll swagger of Portsmouth’s Sixes & Sevens.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, is Songs of Praise line up of A Way With Words, Cavalier and Leader, so prepare for a night of abrasive alt-rock, creative dynamics, indie vibes and energetic performances.

 

The Rolleston has opted for a blend of eastern European folk, sea shanties and carnival chaos with the welcome return of Calico Jack (pictured)and their colourful tales and even more colourful costumes. And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous I can also announce that Showaddywaddy can be found at The Wyvern Theatre. Time to break out the Crepes and Drapes!

 

But music isn’t just confined to the regular venues this weekend as Friday also sees the start of a two day Vintage and Retro Weekend centred on The Brunel Centre. As well as Hot-rods and Vintage cars and bikes, Car Boot and stalls, there will be guitar workshops and live sessions from a Johnny Cash Tribute act plus Sons of The Delta, HipRoute and Jimmy Lee.

 

As usual Saturday is more preoccupied with offering sounds that you are already familiar with. Guns 2 Roses will be paying tribute to that most infamous street-rock outfit at The Victoria and all things ska, punk and new wave will be on the cards from Operation 77 at The Moonrakers.

 

Tying in nicely with the aforementioned Vintage and Retro weekend, Locarno Beat recreate the classic song writing of The 60’s at The Swiss Chalet and the previous decade is well catered for with The 58 Shakes at The Queens Tap and The Rhythm Bombers at The Rolleston. Similar vibes can be found at The Victoria on Sunday with Rockabilly Rumble.

 

But it certainly isn’t the day of rest for metal fans who have a treat lined up for them as Control The Storm’s current tour plays its last show at Level 3. Atmospheric, anthemic, melodic metal is the order of the day; fans of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish will not want to miss this one. Joining them are Curvature who take a more gothic and synth driven approach and Metaprism with their wonderfully prog. slant.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday you can find Blake, an artist who manages to mix accessible Beatle-esque melodies with heartfelt lyrical messages and social awareness.

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10649943_945806792102227_5195462776041008646_nThis Friday in Old Town two gigs are taking place in such close proximity of each other so as to make that part of town a veritable showcase for some of the best original music in the area.

 

Firstly a free gig at The Castle present 5 bands that fall roughly into the indie, modish, brit-pop categories. Headlining are The Racket, a band built on energetic stage presence, attitude and more than a tip of the hat to nineties Manchester. Nudybronque (pictured) mix infectious grooves with winsome lyrical flights of fancy and the sharp moves and even sharper tunes of British Harlem take the middle slot. Theo Altieri will be providing some wonderfully chart-glancing indie-pop vibes and opening the night are surprise guests, The Sixes and Sevens, Portsmouth’s new hottest indie-rock outfit who rose from the ashes of Moody Tuesday, a band you may have caught gigging in Swindon a few years ago.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, over at The Victoria for a mere £3, A Way With Words are spearheading a Songs of Praise line up. Although only a couple of years in, the band have already bagged some great tour supports and national festival appearances and their assertive and brash rock sound seems to be gaining them new fans at every outing. Joining them are Guildford’s Cavalier and Leader from Witney who also mix rock, indie, pop and punk in varying degrees to create brilliantly original music.

 

So for a mere £3 you can have access to 8 bands in two venues within 5 minutes of each other. All you have to do is work out the best logistics to catch the ones you want to see the most.

 

first published at Total news  –  March ’15

10402533_746070758809060_9184893415247669729_nSo, last weeks column raised a few eyebrows, it seems, with my comments on promoting originality and being part of a more creative bigger picture. I was aiming for poignancy but judging from the reaction from certain quarters many of you took it as some sort of swipe at certain genres and styles. The Gods of Music seem to have been listening to my plea though and this week’s gigs do seem to be collectively pushing the creative envelope a bit harder.

 

And right off the bat (what is it with me a clichés this week?) tonight The Victoria offers you something a bit special. After years for plying a trade as a solo acoustic troubadour, Billy Bingham has finally teamed up with some other well known faces on the live scene to create Ghost of Machines (pictured), a band that blend white hot riffs, industrial back beats and spiralling hooks to paint a dark, brutal and dystopian sound track. The middle slot features the welcome return of Armchair Committee, whose scattergun salvo of influences run from howling blues to stoner rock via rampant melodicism. Opening the night are Cathodes, a brooding and intense musical assault of Byzantine complexity.

 

Over at The Beehive you can catch a mixture of R’n’B, soul and rock covers and originals from The Dansette Tones, the current musical vehicle for our very own Bob Bowles.

 

Friday also has a great billing at The Victoria. As vocalist for The Inspiral Carpets, Tom Hingley was at the forefront of the influential Madchester Scene of the 90s. Since leaving the band in 2011 for a solo career he has released two crowd-funded albums that have taken him in totally new musical directions. Expect an eclectic mix of blues originals and Manchester era standards.

 

Support comes from Uxbridge quartet The Cornerstones who channel that same quintessential Englishness that you can hear in songs by The Beatles, The Kinks and The Stone Roses. Local stalwarts, British Harlem and The Racket will be warming the crowd up and vinyl junkie and DJ Bobby The Persuader will be spinning the coolest of tunes in between sets.

 

At the Art Centre Blue to Brown, featuring Duran Duran guitarist Dominic Brown, present a rock and blues extravaganza. Apparently they toyed with a band name based on other members of this all-star line up, but Spalding to Bramwell just sounded like a vintage car rally.

 

Folk is on the menu at The Beehive but don’t expect the twee, pastoral musical outing that the genre often conjures up. The Model Folk are a riot of East European sounds with wheezing harmoniums, shrieking clarinet and the humble washboard providing the platform for tales about everything from soviet farm machinery to 1930’s drag queens. Intriguing to say the least.

 

Rhythm and Blues fans are well catered for at The Rolleston by The Back Water R&B Band playing standards from Delta, Texas, Southern and Back Water sub-genres, whilst at The Castle Vice Versa play a range of indie tunes from the 70’s to the 90’s.

 

Saturdays big draw is out at Riffs Bar as A Way With Words bring their brash and assertive brand of rock to the stage. Channelling a host of contemporary influences from The Foo Fighters to Fall Out Boy, expect crunching guitars and spiralling lead lines, pulsing bass and thunderous back beats. Bristol alt-rock trio Stone Cold Fiction and the soulful acoustics of Cristian Perugino complete the bill.

 

Echo will be providing the party at The Swiss Chalet and at The Rolleston a legendary blues triptych of Mike Hoddinott, Innes Sibun and Jerry Soffe perform as Blues Transfusion.

 

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, you will find folk-pop pixie, Tamsin Quin dishing out wonderfully accessible tunes presented with equal measures of charm and cheek. Starting the night off will be the atmospherics and hushed tones of Andrew Burke.

1604974_10205493575525344_2950299431195506125_nProwling centre stage armed with a microphone, raybans and Brit-pop service issue Parka, at the eye of the storm that is The Racket, it is easy to lose sight of just how accomplished a songwriter Plummie Racket is. The band may be the perfect vehicle to deliver a certain brand of brash, punked up, indie street anthems but solo gigs have shown that there is more thought and understanding of the craft to be found buried underneath that particular musical force of nature.

 

Two Years Ago is the teaser release from a forthcoming e.p. and is the perfect link between the two worlds. It’s a lyrical stream of consciousness rapped out using the same language as The Racket, a nostalgic catalogue of people and places, sounds and sights that have come and gone so quickly, but musically it takes a slight side step from what you would expect from the full band experience. It may end in the same raging overdrive that you would expect but the slow burning build to get there and the gradual overlaying of sounds show an eye for detail that is often lost in the live experience.

 

I still maintain that The Racket are a band that could breakthrough to bigger things at any moment, but on the strength of this song, it may just be the solo work that paves the way for that.

10628059_765161323523366_7975140535020360117_nIt was quite a busy week for checking out music, but it also revealed just how difficult it is to find a receptive audience. Saturday found me at The Victoria for a “two birds, one stone” type of approach. As a tribute to the late Ian “Jock” Kerr who was not only to be found on either side of the bar there but who was also a great musician and supporter of local music, there was a bill of bands which like the man himself ranged from the genially boisterous to the just plain silly. I had enough time to catch the first two bands, British Harlem turning in a cool as you like and fashionably of the moment set of instant modish indie classics and The Racket following with their trashed Brit-Pop ways. Sadly I could stick around for the tribute band parody that is Kova Me Badd as it was time to head next door to Longs Bar for the debut outing for The Tribe.

 

I must admit, it isn’t a place I really venture into, the odd lunchtime snack maybe, but I’m certainly not really part of their target demographic, but that said, apart from it being busy as hell and taking ages to get served, it works pretty well as a live music venue. The Tribe are a collection of already established musicians who mix reggae vibes and hip-hop beats into a brilliantly accessible dance groove and you can tell by the performance that they are all masters of what they do. Not only a brilliant delivery but the music seems to cater for the whole dance scene with elements of pop, rap and even the odd disco back beat finding it’s way into this heady mix.

 

And so going from a couple of nights that were wonderfully supported to the flip side of the musical coin. Wednesday night at The Roaring Donkey is becoming a slow building acoustic session, but geography and its mid-week time slot means that it is still a very hit and miss affair especially when it vies for punters with The Victoria’s Wacky Wednesday Karaoke, still horses for courses, as they say. This week’s artist was David Marx, normally found fronting AK-Poets but here in solo mode. David’s charm is a combination of his on stage banter with the audience, his ability to turn out memorable original tunes and the literary eloquence of his words and subject matter. As people and places as diverse as Caravaggio, Times Square, Augusto Sandino and Sarajevo are brought to life the mix of elegance and old school rock and roll provide two interesting extremes from which the songs are crafted. Sadly the audience for this numbered only a handful and this wasn’t helped by the fact that the second set was marred by a new intake of drinkers who found it necessary to shout over the music and even play back what appeared to be their friends doing karaoke on their phones. Not good.

 

The next day was the regular Songs of Praise show, a night that I have a vested interest in, but I will try to stay objective. Bringing original and largely unknown bands into town on a Thursday night can often be a hard sell, but I think deep down people want something more than an Iron Maiden tribute band every weekend or the usual acoustic circuit players that seem to be the easy option a lot of promoters take. First up was Cook and The Case, a London quartet who sort of defy description. With an amazing dynamic that takes the songs from pin-drop atmospheres to wailing walls of guitar sound they seem to channel Damien Rice as it does Bright Eyes heavier moments. If Paper Rose isn’t the most heartbreakingly romantic song you have ever heard (check it out before reading further – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hTK2IkSprM) then there is something wrong with you. If it had the aforementioned Rice’s name on it then it would have been a Rom-Com sound track being downloaded in its millions. And 15 people watched it being performed live, upfront and personal.

 

The middle slot was taken by local band Kitchen Sink Dramas, lyrical poignancy and social comment put to music and by now we are down to ten punters. By the time headliners The August List(pictured) took the stage the remaining 6 people just pulled their chairs across the front of the room and were treated to a very personal performance. This Oxford two-piece delivered a rousing set of old-time Americana; stompy Appalachian folk and back porch country tunes and did it with grace, humour and panache. It is a testament to how good they were that out of the small remaining audience 50% bought albums.

 

I know it isn’t always convenient to support midweek music but one day, soon, you will be looking for some new, exciting and original music to go and see and you will realise that it doesn’t actually bother coming to Swindon anymore. A sobering thought.

 

originally published at Swindon Link

 

 

 

 

10606297_674715675957087_5120512786349989203_nAfter a few of weeks with lots of great music covering a diverse range of genres to chose from, things have inevitably quietened down this week. Maybe it is a December thing where people turn their attention to saving money for Christmas, work parties and family celebrations. Then again I never know which of the following is true. Some say that it is harder to get good crowds out for gigs in winter, as people are preoccupied for the reasons I have just given. But in the summer the perception is that people are not going to gigs because it is the season of barbeques and back garden gatherings. I guess that whatever the season if you book the right bands people will make the effort. Recent weeks have shown this to be true so here’s to this week being more of the same.

 

And we are off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with a wonderful array of energetic acoustic music. If you think that acoustic music is the domain of folk club balladry, Arran sweaters and pastoral songs with medieval themes, then this is the show to put the genre firmly on the modern map. Headliners, The Wires, mix high-energy grooves with forays into more bluesy, old school traditions. Also on the bill is Ben Maggs a man who makes engaging, accessible, chart friendly music and Jimmy Moore whose recent album release has seen his musical stock transformed from a good circuit singer-songwriter into a brilliant world-roots act.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, 1000 Planets will be laying out a stall of both original material and covers by the likes of Sisters of Mercy, Killing Joke and Bauhaus. Definitely one for all the old school goths. (I used to be a goth but was thrown out for laughing!)

 

Friday really does have something for everyone, unless of course you think Nikki Minaj is the height of musical eloquence in which case you are beyond help. For everyone else there is the following to choose from. The Victoria is the place to be for something a bit funky as Felix and The Funk (pictured) play a range of Soul, Disco, Pop, Dance and Reggae from the last six decades. The Rolleston has Metalgods, who, as their name might suggest, are a tribute to 80s and 90s rock and metal but apparently steer clear of the standard fare offered by their competitors. At the Riffs Bar Acoustic Session you can find Sam Eason, a hirsute, flame haired, singer-songwriter with a touch of James Taylor, Damian Rice and His Bobness injected into his beautiful and original creations.

 

Those of a more dance orientated persuasion should note that MECA are hosing “Live Music” – a night of Hip-Hop, R’n’ B, House and club anthems from a range of artists such as DJ Longplaya, DJ Eclipse, DJ Mosco and live performances from SN Dubstation, Benji Clements and Hibbz, Young Wilson and many more.

 

The Victoria on Saturday has a very special show, paying tribute to the late great Ian “Jock” Kerr. Not only was Jock a brilliant musician and regular live performer he was also a keen supporter of local music, a regular fixture either side of The Victoria’s bar and someone who brought laughter and no small amount of bemusement to all who came into contact with him. As a tribute to the man, to mark his untimely passing and to raise money for both a headstone and to help support his daughter, I urge anyone who knew him to gather in celebration of “Yer Auld Pal.” The music like the man himself will range from genially boisterous to just plain silly thanks to The Racket, British Harlem and Kova Me Badd.

 

Rock music is also on offer at The Queens Tap with Shepherds Pie who play the best of classic rock from the past 40 years and Lewis Creaven will be offering up blues, retro and southern rock standards at The Rolleston. Those looking for a beautiful noise could do a lot worse than head out to Riffs Bar for a night with Ruff Diamond playing tribute to namesake Neil.

 

Please note that the Peloton gig recently advertised at The Royal Oak is cancelled due to the recent closure of the venue.

 

Two offerings to round the week off are acoustic and electric blends of bluegrass, Cajun and Americana from Sons of The Delta at The Beehive on Sunday and a solo show from David Marx at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

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426615_307388412659174_1530646521_nA bit of a Curates Egg for seekers of original music this week and those not familiar with Victorian satire should Google the phrase immediately. If, however, you are one of those people that are content to hear music with an already existing pedigree, then you will have a field day. But, tonight at least, there is something truly original on offer. Songs of Praise at The Victoria is always striving to bring in bands that tick boxes to do with boundary pushing attitudes, uniqueness and fresh sounds and tonight they have excelled themselves.

 

Nudybronque is a band that have built up quite a reputation over the last few years, evolving from a perfectly pleasant punk-pop four-piece to a truly mesmerising experimental indie band and the release of their latest e.p. Moondog merely confirmed them to be a band writing some of the best tunes in their field today. Tonight they are joined by Port Erin, another band who have striven to push the boundaries of their own musical development, these days plying a musical trade of space and atmospherics, subtle dynamics and an almost jazz inflected quality. Opening the show is Oui Legionnaires, a band that almost defies generic pigeonholing instead preferring to invent their own terms such as puzzle-pop and yelpcore. No idea what that means? No, me neither, may it’s best you check them out.

 

Something far more describable is at The Beehive in the guise of Robert Brown, a troubadour whose style falls on the less fey side of Nick Drake and the sweeter edge of Jimmy Page.

 

The big event for Friday is the Ocelot Magazines Eighth Birthday bash at The Victoria. Being a publication with strong connections to the local music scene, you can imagine that they are able to pull in the best bands around and this line-up is a bit of a corker. Headlining is the newly re-emerged Racket, now fully embracing their brit-pop leanings and elevated to a five piece but with all the live swagger and attitude that you associate with the band of old. Vienna Ditto offers a contrasting sheen of wild-eyed rockabilly riffs and sparse, atmospheric electronica whilst looking like collaboration between a mad scientist and a jazz chantress. Boss Cloth brings the noise, as it were, a heavy yet melodic wave of grunged rock riffs and drum dynamics. Opening the night will be Chip Daddy (pictured) a man as well known for his outrageous off stage stunts as he is for his onstage rap parody.

 

Rumbustious…that’s a good word isn’t it? Rumbustious music can be found at The Beehive courtesy of M.O.D. who play Balkan inspired folk using everything from washboards to double bass, harmoniums to clarinets and will be playing songs from last years wonderfully titled Travelling at The Speed of Cattle. If something smoother is called for, Benji Clements will be playing in full band mode at The Royal Oak and the ska and reggae creations of SN Dubstation can be found at The Liquor Lounge.

 

Other options are the rock, blues and swing standards of The Teddy White Band at The Rolleston and classic covers from Switch at The New Inn.

 

On Saturday, Level 3 features a night of music in memory of DJ, radio presenter and all round good egg, Tom Humber who sadly passed away a year ago. As a devoted rock and metal fan he would certainly have approved of the bands paying tribute; melodic trash metallers In The Absence of Light, heavy biker-rock with a dash of Southern charm from Eye For and Eye and Dodging the Bullet playing iconic rock covers. Meanwhile next door at The Rolleston Metal Gods cover similar musical ground and the music of Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame, is being re-visited at The Victoria.

 

Reggae music is being celebrated by The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive and more pop and rock standards can be had from In It For The Money who re-launch the band at Riffs Bar and Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Session re-locate to the bandstand in Old Town Gardens and from 5pm you can have fun in the sun (you never know) with acoustic music from Blake, Rob Beckinsale and as ever your hosts, Mr Love and Justice.

Final mention of the week goes to those dapper acoustic Latin-jazzmen, Gilmore’n’Jaz who play the Roaring Donkey on Wednesday and whom I can’t recommend highly enough.

1374371_626819517396714_494436571_nAs a wise man once said, “The boys are back in town,” and they definitely are, the boys in this case being The Racket. It’s probably been a year since we last saw the band in all their glory and as is often the way, as soon as they hit that stage again you realize just how big a whole their absence left in the local music scene.

 

Their sound is still a rowdy blend of brit-pop and back street, punked up indie, but now, possibly under the influence of new guitarist Jordan O’Sullivan, it is the former that forms the core of their sound. They have always had the riffs and the tunes but now they deliver them through cleaner guitar lines and tighter playing, a combination that has stepped the band up a level or two, at least.

 

Besides the musical rebalancing, visually the band work better as well. Now with great guitar players on either side of him to hold the fort, Plummie is free to concentrate on being the front man, a role that he was born to play. Either with his guitar strapped on or just clutching the mic stand, the extra freedom to play the part really adds to the show. And what a show it is. Hook laden salvos from Jordan, garage indie wah-wah sleaze from Johnny, George at the back hammering out rock-rave beats and Jim’s subtle runs locking rhythm and melody together as only a great bassist can.

 

If you thought The Racket were good before, make sure you see the new improved recipe; without loosing that endearing swagger and cocky stage persona, they have matured a lot more than the year they have been away would suggest. Maybe they met the devil at a crossroads just south of Burnage and sold their souls to him. Now all they have to do is find their Alan Magee.

1374371_626819517396714_494436571_nIf you type the letters S M E and L into Google the first thing that is returned as the most common search in the world is Smells Like Teen Spirit, a song that is just about 23 years old. Why do I bring this up? Well, it is twenty years ago since Kurt Cobain took his own life but still he is all around us. In many ways Nirvana, and the grunge scene it was part of, was the last musical style that seemed to really change the musical landscape. Like hip-hop, punk and rock’n’rock before it, the impact was immeasurable, but what have the last twenty years given us? Whilst great music has continued to be made, why haven’t we seen the radical changes in music that previous revolutionary movements would suggest?

 

If you are waiting for answers, I don’t really have them. Maybe it is the fact that music is so “on-demand” it’s like Christmas everyday and you can have whatever music you want, when you want it, largely for free. Maybe it’s time to fight back and make a scene, it all it’s meanings. Grunge, Hip-Hop, rave, baggy, punk all grew from small acorns, maybe it’s time to get behind live music again, storm the barricades of apathy and make something happen…maybe even in Swindon.  Still, enough of the rhetoric.

 

Starting out at Riffs Bar, tonight is one for the rock fans and All Ears Avow lead the musical charge. Having risen from the ashes of progressive metal maestros Mortdelamer but now with an eye on a snappier alt-rock delivery, the band elegantly blend the dexterity of their previous incarnation with the accessibility of the latter. Support comes from pop-punkers Highly Personal and

Cavalier, a band that with just a few shows under their belt are already sounding on a lot of the right peoples radars.

 

The Beehive will be hosting the dustbowl era Americana of The Open Secrets who will make you feel like you are sipping whisky in a bar in North Carolina with Ryan Adams jamming Carter Family tunes in the background. Reginald Road will be playing roots rock reggae at The Queens Tap and The Beaujacks come all the way over from Eindhoven to treat The Victoria to everything from Led Zeppelin to The Rolling Stones to ZZ Top.

 

Fans of psychedelic blues and highly charged R’n’B will want to be at The Rolleston on Friday for Snatch It Back and if a further reference point were needed the band features original Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustelnik so you will have some idea what to expect. At the Royal Oak, The Cover Addicts will be playing hits from the 50’s to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions Jenny Bracey and Sadie Fleming feature, though as usual any details of the show are a closely guarded secret so I suggest you contact the venue for further information.

 

What I can be a bit more certain about is the event that they have at the venue on the Saturday. In an effort to help fund a trip to Kenya for the Younite Outreach Project and continue it’s objective of helping improve the lives of those less fortunate, there is a fund raising show featuring British Harlem, a  wonderful blend of punk infused, quintessentially English indie with soulful transatlantic vibes. Also on the bill are Theo Altieri, Bianca Polizzi, The Primaveras, The Debuts and The Illustrations. Great music and a worthy cause.

 

More great original music is to be had at The Castle with the return of The Racket (pictured). Back out as a five piece, the band known for their uncompromising, last gang in town attitude, punked up indie cool and cocky live swagger will come as breath of….sweaty, cigarette fumed, booze soaked air.

 

The Victoria has a tribute to Texas groove-metallers Pantera and at The Rolleston The Dark Eyes “bridge the gap between rock and pop with originals and covers.” Their words not mine. More covers are to be had at The Woodlands Edge with Switch.

 

Sunday sees Ezio return to The Victoria a band that specialize in emotive, deep and meaningful music and lyrics that are honest and which will strike a chord (pardon the pun) with the audience.