Tag Archive: snatch it back


thumbnailI know that everything works on supply and demand, even things in the cultural and artistic realms but looking at the sheer volume of rock bands playing in town this week, it might be nice if the powers that be tried something a little more diverse from time to time. I know it sells, I know it’s a form that is still popular but maybe instead of continuously underlining the past and looking back to nostalgic heydays it might be quite exciting to look to the future and help write the next chapter. Okay, change the record I hear you cry, ironically that is a good analogy for what I am proposing. Anyway, I’ve said enough.

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31562214_2064398750484126_1469105218103878079_nWith The Swindon Shuffle still visible in the rear view mirror, and both Fieldview Festival and Festival on The Farm (other alliterative festivals are available) looming large on the horizon, it is probably understandable that it is a bit of a quieter week. Throw in pub refurbishments and a general move on the part of the punter to beer garden drinking rather than suffering the hot weather in a cramped and sweaty gig environment and I’m surprised that there any gigs on at all. And whilst gigs may be small in number, there is a great offering of original and interesting acts to be had amongst the more familiar names. Quality not quantity is definitely the order of the day…or in this case, week.

Tonight you will find Pete Jagger back at The Beehive for a night of politically infused folk originals in a similar style to James Taylor and Ralph McTell, mixed in with standards from the genre such as Paul Simon, John Martyn and even a bit of Elvis Costello if you are lucky.

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425603_10100168477043011_9295930_nThere has been a bit of a discussion in the on-line comments sections about how easy this article is to understand and extract the necessary information. One side of the argument is that the actual content is difficult to fathom out from my description and prose, opinion and attempted humour, that it would be better if the article was just an embellished list of pertinent information more akin to a listing than an article. My defence is that this column attempts to make the prospect of local live an exciting one through vividly painting what the bands are all about through prosaic description. Whilst I don’t profess to be a new Lester Bangs or Paul Morley, neither would I want this column to read like a telephone directory and hence the poetic license to colour what is effectively a musical menu. I also think that by suggesting that the average reader couldn’t follow my literary twists and turns is to actually undermine their intelligence. That’s my defence and I’m sticking to it.

 

To someone so engrossed in promoting live music performance, the idea of DJ nights might seem anathema to me. But when the DJ in question is one who still scours bargain bins and backstreet music shops to find the right hip-hop, soul, funk and rock vinyl to mix live then you know you are dealing with something above the normal club DJ spinning the same old sounds. DJ Format brings his dance floor filling skills to The Victoria tonight.

 

Friday runs from the sublime to the ridiculous. The Sublime coming in the guise of Tennessee jazz-bluesman Mark Merriman at The Beehive, back in the country on a short tour of the area. At the other extreme we have a certain X-rated act whose naughty name I can’t really mention here but who is known for toilet humour, self-deprecation, smut and catchy pop-melodies. Not for the faint hearted, easily offended or completely sober. All will make sense if you head to The Rolleston.

 

Between those extremes, Riffs Bar offer the not inconsiderable talents of roots musician and slide guitarist Kevin Brown, a man who learnt his trade from none other than Son House and is held in acclaim by the likes of Mark Knopfler. The Victoria has hi-energy neo-rockabilly with Rockabilly Rumble an authentic three-piece rockabilly outfit that does just what it says on the tin.

 

Those who like a slice of nostalgia have a choice of two tribute acts. The sounds of Johnny Cash can be heard at Level 3 whilst The Arts Centre is the place to be to re-live the majesty of Phil Lynott and the gang with Limehouse Lizzy.

 

And if you like your rock music then I should mention an event taking place in Trowbridge on Saturday. I know it’s a bit off of the radar for a local gig guide but with a heavy involvement from Swindon bands Trowbridge’s Rock Diabetes Metal Festival is worth a mention. Alongside headliners Diamond Head and Skreamer (who recently played Level 3) you can find the town represented by All Ears Avow, Harmony Disorder and Burnthru as well as Kodiak Jack and Flashfires who have both played Songs of Praise nights in the recent past.

 

But there is plenty of rock in town if you wish to support the local venues. At The Rolleston, Snatch It Back will be playing psychedelic blues rock, reminiscent of The Groundhogs of whom drummer Ken Pustelnik was a member and at The Victoria, Rorke’s Drift cover classic rock such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Aerosmith.

 

Another US musician back in the area to tour their latest album is Courtney Yasmineh (pictured) and her band who between them channel the feisty female fronted glory days of Patti Smith, Sheryl Crowe and Blondie; rock chick meets country troubadour meets pop accessibility. Catch her at The Beehive. If your thing is more of an eighties synth vibe, then head out to Riffs Bar where Syntronix will act as a time machine back to the age of jumpsuits, headbands, ironic mullets and jacket suits with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, Miami Vice style.

 

And a couple of mellowing choices to end on. Sunday sees the Indian beats and pastoral acoustic guitar of Skins and Strings at The Beehive and on Wednesday you can catch classical meets Latin guitar maestros Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at the Roaring Donkey.

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.

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So we made it then? Here we are at another last round up of the year, another year older, not necessarily wiser.  According to my loosely kept records this is the two hundred and tenth column I have written suggesting and promoting live shows around town. Add to that a few additional album reviews and the like and I make that about 150,000 words fired off into the ether hopefully to catch peoples attention and get them along to gigs. This is starting to sound like a resignation letter, fear not, it isn’t (or sorry, it isn’t… depending on your view point) I was just reflecting on how much of my musing and lyrical waxing had been sent out into the big wide world. Too much? Quite possibly!

Naturally this is a quieter week in the live gig department as people are off doing the family thing, work outings, reunions with out of town friends and the like, but t

here are still a few things that I would like to draw your attention too.

The Victoria, the venue that never seems to miss the opportunity to put on a gig or throw a party, will be moving it’s regular Wacky Wednesday to Boxing Day for the usual karaoke madness with a Christmas theme. Cheesy it maybe but the alternative is watching Len Goodman’s Perfect Christmas or re-runs of Miranda! That should put things into perspective.

More silliness continues to be on offer at The Victoria on Friday with the Kova Me Badd annual end of year extravaganza…and I use the word extravaganza quite wrongly. The best way to describe Kova Me Badd is as a parody of a cover band, think of all of the worst songs ever to feature on a “Now…” album, add bad jokes and worse costumes and you have a rough idea what to expect. Never have a band carried the tag “so bad it’s brilliant” so well.

Two nice slices of nostalgia are on offer the same night. At The Rolleston, The Hamsters from Hell will be unleashing their trade mark rhythm ‘n’ booze; words such as raucous, bawdy, chaotic and booze-fueled are sure to appear in any review of the show. Meanwhile The Beehive are offering up Gray Roots, a one off jam session featuring the stalwarts of the local scene, including – Pete Cousins, Brendan Hamley, Rob Beckinsale and Paul Henry.

Something a bit more of the moment can be found at The Victoria in the guise of SN Dubstation a band who blend trippy synths, skanking guitars and pulsing, infectious back beats into a cocktail of reggae, dance, ska and dub. More traditional fare comes from a rare outing to The Beehive by Simplee Simon, “a singer of these ageless times, with kitchen prose and gutter rhymes” as the quote goes.  Expect folk tunes, country ditties, sing-alongs, silliness and audience participation.

Those still looking for some tribute band action can have their thirst sated at The Rolleston with a bit of dual guitar classic metal as Powerslaves bring you the music of Iron Maiden.

If, by Sunday, you still are up for a bit of a Christmas shindig then the afternoon session at The Beehive is the place to keep the musical momentum going. Rumour Shed (pictured) will provide the chilled and majestic calm before the storm before The Shudders crank it up a few notches with their energetic fusion of indie infused country rock.

Later that evening The Victoria is hosting a John Lennon tribute night with a host of local bands paying homage to the man wrote some of pop music’s most iconic songs….and Imagine.

Finally, if you are still at a loose end what to do on New Years Eve, there are probably parties everywhere but of a musical note are Breeze at The Victoria,  Riffs Bar Winter Ball, (Black Tie dress code) featuring the Hi-Fidels, Echo and Riffs Traveling Dance Band and  Snatch It Back at The Rolleston, heavy psychedelic blues featuring the original Groundhogs drummer.

And finally on a personal note, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read this column, and comment on it (positively or otherwise) plus a very  special thanks to all the bands, venues, punters and promoters who have kept music alive in Swindon….and thus me in a job. Here’s to an even better 2014.