Tag Archive: robert brown


12654486_10153972441136757_7705425637639042490_nAnother busy week ahead for our music venues so I will get straight on with things, stopping only to mention that this is my 300th gig guide for the paper. Ballpark figures make that about 250, 000 words (if you include the extra reviews I throw in) a high percentage of them the likes of “ethereal,” “effervescent,” “fruition” and “plethora,” …blimey, no wonder I get called pretentious!

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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.

10622848_701261516623318_3187721206277794022_nI suppose that I have to accept that the public perception of me is someone who spends all of his time bemoaning the state of original music in the town, stopping only briefly to sleep, eat cheese and play the B-sides of rare New Model Army records I have collected over the years. Whilst that is sadly not that far from the truth, it does mean that I am thrilled to notice that this weeks gig offers are almost exclusively original music and even the few tributes on offer appear to be something a bit off the beaten track. It may not please everyone but it does make at least one aging, music hack very happy.

 

Billy Bingham has been a familiar, unkempt face on the acoustic circuit for longer than his boyish looks would suggest, now he can be found fronting the dystopian rock soundscapers Ghost of Machines (pictured) who headline at The Victoria tonight. Support comes from Brit-pop two-piece Carnival and guitarist Edward Witcomb.

 

If something more dance driven is your preference then the Zetan Spore mother ship will be landing once more at The Beehive. A truly psychedelic, full on psytrance rave mixing electronica and guitars, tribal dance and the sounds of deep space to deliver an energetic even euphoric experience. A more traditional sound comes in the form of the Crowdys Hill School Ceilidh at The Moonrakers. As a school fundraiser this dance features The Cowshed Ceilidh Collective complete with live caller, so put on your dancing trousers and prepare to Strip The Willow or get stuck into a Dashing White Sergeant (steady on!)

 

Friday is one for the folk and acoustic types with plenty of contemporary sounds on offer and not a Fair Isle sweater or finger in the ear singing style to be found. Promoting his latest album, Human Herdings, Marc O’Reilly can be found at The Victoria blending fragile folk and emotive blues reminiscent of the likes of John Martyn or Bon Iver and with a string of major festivals and the weight of the national radio tastemakers behind him, this is obviously going to be a bit special. However, not to be outdone, Riffs Bar Acoustic Session has a bit of a coup in Darren Hodge. I first saw Darren as a semi finalist at the Radio 2 Young Folk Awards and when you experience his mesmerising blend of old time blues, bluegrass picking, vibrant jazz and folk you will realise that this is a chap with a bright future ahead. Support comes from fellow acoustic troubadour Sophie Curtis.

 

If that wasn’t enough a bonafide musical legend rolls into town as Steeleye Span’s legendary fiddle player Peter Knight leads his new musical vehicle, Gigspanner, through acoustic music that flirts with everything from eastern European, French, Cajun, African and even Aboriginal sounds. This is roots music, world music, global folk…call it what you will, at its finest.

 

Another emerging singer songwriter can be found at The Beehive. Robert Brown is a collector of world music styles with which he infuses his brilliant song crafting and virtuoso finger picking style, the result a cross between Nick Drake and Jimmy Page with a well stamped passport. More established sounds can be found in the inimitable electric blues selections of The Mike Hoddinott Blues Allstars at The Rolleston and Talon, a tribute to The Eagles at The Wyvern Theatre. Also of note you can catch ska covers and originals with the No-Marks at The Castle.

 

On Saturday Buswell will be subjecting The Victoria to it’s lush orchestral pop and given the recent self-imposed challenges of their erstwhile leader, expect there to be an element of surprise and spontaneity in the bands line up. Support comes from ex-Flaming Moes frontman Erik Nyberg now trading in mellow Nordic-indie pop as Last Box of Sparklers, guitarist Matt Adey and DJ Bobby The Persuader spinning tunes into the early hours.

 

At The GW, Jimmy Moore will be playing a show to launch his debut album The Good Times, so if a cross between The City and The Colour and Frank Turner sound like your thing, this is the party to be at plus there is a chance to pick up a limited special edition version of the album.

 

The rest of the week very briefly. Sunday at Riffs a host of artists, including Emmy Fearon, Josh Heather and Young Wilson line up to raise money for Children in Need, and The Swamp Marshalls play Celtic bluegrass at The Beehive.

 

Finally Songs of Praise Unplugged at The Roaring Donkey features the soaring acoustic punk of Si Hall and the more considered and delicate tones of Mel Hughes.

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.

The first two big local festivals of the summer may have come and gone, both to great success I might add, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to quieten down just yet. Far from it as there is still a lot of brilliant music to check out over the next seven days.

 

Kicking off tonight in our usual starting point and it’s time for another intriguing line up from Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Continuing their theme of acquiring great out of town acts, tonight headliners I’m Designer are something pretty different. Mixing up semi-stoner riffs, swamp rock sleaze and a punky garage vibe, these guys make an amazing sound. If that wasn’t enough, down from Derbyshire to add to the onslaught are The James Warner Prophecies, a band whose blend of eclectic pop-metal with all the trimmings I cannot recommend enough. Local bands are represented by the raw, raucous, cranked up blues of Adepto Futui –  and it’s all free.

 

If you drew a Venn Diagram that included Nick Drake, Jimmy Page and Davy Graham, it would be hard to imagine many people who would form the group where all three intersect. Robert Brown is one such person and his exotic blend of chilled rock meets acoustic folk can be experienced at The Beehive tonight.

 

On Friday, the two biggest venues in town go head to head. The Oasis has pulled off a bit of a coup by securing Biffy Clyro who use this as a warm up gig for a string of summer festival appearances. This Scottish three piece blend slightly progy-alt-rock with post-hardcore drive, if you can get tickets for this, do so, I guarantee that it will be your gig of the year. “Mon The Biff” as their fans are given to chanting. The MECA are appealing to a totally different audience by hosting an 80’s themed roller disco, so truly something for everyone there.

 

Falling in between these two extreme parameters are a host of other great gigs. At Riffs Bar, for instance, the younger bands get their chance to shine, headed by the slightly angular, slightly staccato indie vibes of The Fixed as well as one of my favourite bands of recent times, The Street Orphans.

 

Something a bit more laid back comes in the form of a three-piece Kangaroo Moon at The Beehive.  Trancey, dancey, chilled, joyous and richly melodic, this is the perfect sound track for these gentle summer evenings. At The Victoria a brilliant line up has been assembled as a teaser for The Field View Festival, the local music event success story of recent times. It is headlined by ska-reggae-skank party band, The 360 and also featuring a welcome return to Swindon for the awesome Motherload, but I recommend that you get there early enough to catch the opening acts as well. Sam Green was last seen at The Victoria playing a tribute to Robert Johnson at The Dead at 27 show but is back playing his own set that ranges from heart on the sleeve folk to punk barn dance stomps. Weatherstorms is the brilliant new musical vehicle for ex-Old School Tie’s Cameron brothers and I can tell you from experience that this is a band that you need to experience.

 

The Furnace is playing host to a band being hailed as the start of a grunge revival, Fighting With Wire. Successors to the likes of Silverchair or Pearl Jam rather than Nirvana and occasional straying into the same territory as Mr Grohl’s current concern these guys put on an awesome live show both visually and sonically. Support comes from the self-proclaimed spearhead of post-music, Mr Hello and His Honesty Club plus The Starkers and Oxygen Thief. (You can tell something about a line up when someone as great as Oxygen Thief is merely the opening act!)

 

Also highlighting the coming SOLAM festival as well as raising money for a recent fire at the hosting Roves Farm site, The 12 Bar has an all-dayer including Bateleurs, new band Albion, SkyBurnsRed, Missin’ Rosie, The Vooz and Aural Candy.

 

Following in the footsteps of American bluegrass and country influenced bands such as The Lovell Sisters, Larkin Poe and even The Dixie Chicks, you may be surprised to learn that the Toy Hearts who play The Arts Centre are not from Austin, Nashville or somewhere in The Appalachians, but are actually from Birmingham, England such is the authenticity of their luscious sound.

 

Before I run out of space, a few quick mentions go to Gaz Brookfield who is the Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive and Swiss band November 7 at The Victoria. If a mix of old school metal riffs with dark gothic overtones is your cup of Darjeeling, then you know where to be.