Tag Archive: street orphans (the)


Library - 50So the Mayans got it wrong and we survived. Okay, to be honest unless you are some sort of deranged American prepper, zonked out Guatemalan shaman or paranoid occultist, no one expected anything different and just used it as an excuse to throw a party. The Furnace was no exception.

 

It’s been a pretty good month for me musically speaking. Firstly managing to get to a low key show in Oxford by The Everlasting Yeah, the resurfaced 4/5ths of That Petrol Emotion, thereby getting to hang out with a genuine Undertone and some really great people. (Hurrah!) I also found myself at The Barbican for the last ever Twelfth Night show, a band I had been following since 1983. I was there at …well, near the beginning and I was there at the end. (Hurrah…with lashings of echoplex, strange time changes and all the prog rock trappings) I also caught a cracking show with Super Squarecloud and Gaz Brookfield at The Victoria to mark the end of The BBC Introducing program (boo! to the BBC top brass for such a short-sighted and money driven cultural abandonment.) All in all it had already been a great month for live shows, so to line up most of my favourite locally based bands of recent times in one place was the obvious way to top things off.

 

In an unplanned addition to the night, Charlie Russell got things going with his line of punked-indie-mod acoustica, showing that if you are going to try and hold the room with just a voice and a guitar you need both the songs and charisma to back it up. This he has which is why it works. Now decamped to Brighton and still working as a part of a slightly re-jigged Dirt Royal line up it was great to see his axis of Libertines-Jam-Oasis influenced music on the bill.

 

The first full band to hit the stage were SkyBurnsRed, a band who have gone from strength to strength this year with a string of great shows, including the now legendary violin trashing slot at The Shuffle and a new e.p. as proof, if proof were needed. They are a band that really comes alive on the bigger stage and tonight they filled the room. Guitars growled, vocals rasped, violins soared, basses rumbled and drums power it all home….everything as it should be. To steal a quote from a recent review of their latest release, “It’s grunge with a classical sweep, alternative rock for the 21st century, it’s aggressive, raw and emotive, dark, elegant and sensuous, it’s the sound of SkyBurnsRed becoming the band that they have always been destined to become.” ‘Nuff said.

 

The Racket has proved that their shows are a balancing act on the part of the band. They can range from a beautiful chaos that becomes more about the spectacle than the music as everything seems to fall apart around them or tightly knit displays of gutter anthems that show their talents as songwriters and performers. With just the right amount of “influence” coursing through their blood streams, tonight,  they seemed to get it just right. Trashy anthems and a self-assured swagger (note to other bands: cocky is okay, arrogance is not so cool) – they nailed it. They are what happens when back-street punk influences inspire indie kids to take the less obvious Brit-pop sounds, mix it up with dance grooves and a large helping of attitude. They avoid the style over substance of bands like Twisted Wheel by having the songs to back it all up.

 

Enter Nudybronque. Okay, I raved unashamedly about their new three-piece format, when I first saw them at this same venue and I have to say that this show justified and even enhanced my thoughts. Some sort of transformation has taken place, particularly in front man Aiden. Faced with a crisis of how to continue after the departure of sibling Mike from the band, the work that they have put in has really paid off. Still based on really accessible pop grooves their music is now filled with a previously missing intensity. Vocally they seem to now have replaced their often-innocent sound with a post-punk ferocity, darker and more mature. The old songs are still as punchy and danceable as ever and their newer material points out interesting new areas of exploration. I flippantly commented of these newer influences that they had been hanging around with Super Squarecloud too much, but as a starting point that isn’t too far from the truth. Moving away from the straighter pop lines of their earlier work they are evolving into something really interesting as the songs get more involved, more exploratory, more complex. As long as they don’t stray too far away from the melodic groove and danceable backbeats that make up their core sound, they have got it made.

 

What can I say about The Rhubarbs? Nothing, as for at least the third time this year they failed to show up for a Swindon booking.

 

If the overall thread so far has been how far all these bands have moved on in the last year, The Street Orphans hit their stride a while ago – it’s pretty much two years ago that I bigged up their self titled e.p. –  and continue to deliver the goods. Plying a trade of a more accessible brand of indie but still able to blend in other genres, they manage to mix quality musicianship with clever songs and a wonderful understanding of dynamics. They might not display the intensity of the bands that have gone before but they are probably the one that will find an easier root into the more mainstream outlets of radio and album sales.

 

The story running round the room was that The Fixed had been elevated to headline due to their bar restrictive age, none of the other bands feeling that they would be in a fit state to play by the time the headline slot was due. If that was partly true, The Fixed didn’t seem out of place topping the bill. Last time I saw them their show seemed a bit forced and overly cocky. Foot on the monitor stage antics are fine if you are wearing beaten up leathers and Raybans and have the back story to go with it but when the reality is that you got a lift to the gig with you mum and tomorrow is all about finishing that English essay that is due on Monday, maybe I felt that they hadn’t paid enough dues to adopt such theatrics. But then again as an aging rocker I’m hardly their target audience so what should they care what I think? Tonight however they seemed to just get on with the business of playing the music. There was enough show to make them interesting but this time it seemed natural and didn’t detract from what they were here to do. This was a band I could take seriously, a band that doesn’t need to be followed around by tag lines relating to their age and potential. Just keep doing this and they will do just fine.

 

I also had an epiphany, a Damascene moment…well a thought.  After the show had finished I wandered upstairs to The Rolleston to catch the tail end of Metalhead, as the name implies a metal covers band. And as great as they were, in terms of showmanship and musical ability, it suddenly dawned on me why, for me, this was no comparison to what I had just witnessed. It’s a nostalgia thing and I’m not really into it. For me I’m not one for dwelling on the music of the past, of course I still play my old records, but as a live performance it brings nothing to my table. I’m more interested in seeing where music is going, picking up on new music through chance meetings at gigs, receiving demos by bands who are moving things forward, looking for the next new thing to excite me. Hearing AC/DC covers is all well and good, but I have been there, done that, bought any number of t-shirts that sadly no longer fit me. Even though I may have looked the part in their audience, I felt like I didn’t belong there.

 

Maybe the Mayans got it right after all. In a way. Maybe the world did end. The world of Swindon bands being also-rans, of our scene being the poor relation to Oxford, Bristol …anywhere for that matter. Tonight proved that a whole group of local bands have, after a learning curve of a couple of years, really hit their stride and are ready to get out their and hold their own against all comers. Let’s think of this as year zero, the hard work is done, the rough edges have been beaten off, or grafted on in some cases and it is time to show the rest of the country what we have got, and what we have got is a whole bunch of bands that are ready to go out their and create their own name, their own career, even their own mythology.

Library - 48So, it’s coming to that time again, the race for the coveted Christmas number one spot is upon us, or as it should be known, the inevitable public pedestal for Cowell’s latest crooning cash cow. You almost feel sorry for Joe McElderberry, being usurped by those nasty Rage Against The Machine fans and their shouty, sweary anarchist sentiments. You could argue that all these “let’s stick it to Simon” campaigns designed to overturn his god given right to be the Christmas number one puppet master, is just as orchestrated and convoluted as the thing it is protesting against. Maybe, but this year there is a really good alternative.

 

Gaz Brookfield has released a special version of his song Diet of Banality in an attempt to add a bit of spice to the race for the top spot. Imagine if this years Christmas number one was a rant against all those previous style over substance tunes and their dance routines, skimpy outfits, gimmicky rap-middle eights and the like. Oh the irony! Well if you all head over to Gaz’s website, Amazon or iTunes you could be part of the best piece of seasonal satire and festive japery the charts have witnessed in a long time. Do it!

 

Talking of japes, The Victoria has three less than serious acts for you tonight. Dole queue hero and anti-PC rapper Devvo headlines with the boy racer Chip Daddy and the best/worst cover band of them all, Kova Me Badd, also on the bill.

 

The Beehive hosts Sophie’s Xmas (as opposed to  + vent Sunday or E-ster, I suppose) Charity Bash which in the usual eclectic style of the venue will feature fire jugglers, street magic and music from Doeser, Missin’ Rosie, Erin Bardwell Collective to money for Swindon Sands.

 

Younger fans are being catered for at The Furnace in the form of Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 1), which has a wonderfully experimental undercurrent. Tides of Change deliver alt rock with a pop punk vibe, Sasquatch Walk does a neat line in jazzy punk disco and With Felix adds in some ambient electro-indie. Make sure you check out openers The Weekend Effect, I was really impressed with their rapped up indie groove. Interestingly enough there isn’t going to be a Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 2) but then I guess if the world is ending there really isn’t much point.

 

To celebrate our imminent doom on Friday (unless the Mayans got it wrong…my, won’t we look foolish?) There are a couple of Apocolyto-parties going on. At The Victoria, party band Breeze will be providing the soundtrack whereas The Furnace has one amazing line up for you. Briefly it goes like this, The Racket – elegantly wasted gutter anthems, Nudybronque – intelligent, intense and fired up pop, The Rhubarbs  – The Beatles on Speed, The Street Orphans – slick, sophisticated indie, SkyBurnsRed – searing and dark alt-rock with a classical sweep and The Fixed – exuberant indie.

 

Other parties come in the form of Slagerij’s very messy Christmas at TP’s; ska-punk mayhem from one of Swindon’s success stories and taking Hell Death Fury, Escape From ’98 and The Useless Eaters into oblivion with them.

 

The Beehive goes down a slightly more sedate path with the fiddlesome roots rockers State of Undress. If our are a fan of The Albion Band, Fairport Convention or even The Strawbs then this is for you.

 

Saturday brings along the annual musical curveball at The Victoria, The 12 Bands of Christmas. Each band gets to do two covers; the more out their usual comfort zone the better. Previous years have seen the Blowbacks turning Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman into a feedback-drenched tribute to Sonic Youth. Matt Kilford abandoning his usual restrained approach and screaming, “Lick my legs!” when covering PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’ and Si Hall somehow matching the stratospheric range of La Roux. Need I say more?

 

 

After the bizarre offerings of that you may want to find some nostalgic, late night comfort at The Furnace when DJ Dust will be hosting one of his irregular Level 3 reunion nights. Party like its 1993 all over again, Kurt is still alive and Strictly Come Dancing is still eleven years in the future.

 

Finally Sunday afternoon at The Beehive brings a wonderfully pairing of bands and not just because they share a drummer. Rumour Shed plays music that is wonderfully chilled, reflective, richly poetic and quietly majestic. Accompanying them are The Shudders, a band just beginning to get back into their stride after too long away and guaranteed to make you want to bop, boogie and booze in equal measure. And it’s all free.

How do you get what is officially the busiest week in Swindon’s musical history into just 700 (ish) words? Let me demonstrate.

Starting tonight out at Riffs Bar, neo-progressive rock royalty will be making a two-pronged attack on your senses in the form of Credo and Landmarq. Fans of the likes of Pendragon, Marillion and IQ should make no plans to be anywhere else. The name Larry “Mud” Morganfield might not mean much to a lot of people, but if I tell you that he is the son of blues icon Muddy Waters, is virtually indistinguishable from his fathers sound and that he is playing the Art Centre tonight, you may just want to pop along and catch a what will undoubtedly be an amazing show.

At the Beehive, the regular Acoustic Buzz Session brings you the best in roots music, this time headlined by the Bluegrass influenced Rosellys. English folk meets sumptuous Americana vocal harmonies comes courtesy of The Black Feathers and the hosts, Blind River Scare will be kicking the night off in fine style.

On Friday The MECA also gets in on the folk vibe with Foster and Allen (not to be confused with Mulligan and O’Hare) purveyors of broad appeal crossover Celtic folk and gorgeous ballads. Also to be found filed under “musical legend” Amen Corner founder Andy Fairweather-Low is at the Art Centre with his band The Low Riders. And whilst we are dealing with the town’s bigger venues, it pains me to have to tell you that Rizzle Kicks are at The Oasis.

The Beehive continues it’s tradition of booking supremely unique bands, with a return visit from Clayson and The Argonauts, a baroque and roll phenomena who, in a parallel universe, should have been bigger than the Beatles. At only 19 Laurence Jones is being hailed as the head boy of a new blues breed, rocked up sounds imbued with optimism, showmanship, feeling and groove and all free at The Rolleston, whilst next door in The Furnace, Betty and The Page will be dishing out rockabilly, old school rock and roll, swing and skiffle. Quiff-tastic!

Saturday is where a difficult choice has to be made as two of the town’s most popular bands have launch gigs for new releases and unless you believe Erwin Schrödinger, you can’t be in two places at once. Maestros of Quantum glock-rock, Super Squarecloud (pictured), are at Riffs Bar to promote their latest weird and wonderful collection of sounds that goes by the name of The Stanford Torus e.p. (highly recommended) which pushes them equally into strange experimentalism and pop accessibility at the same time. They are supported by Nudybronque, now a three-piece and more fired up and edgy than they ever were, plus a rare local outing for The Listening Device. For those not in the know, and if not, why not? The Listening Device is a wonderfully ambient, progressive rock band displaying all the technical ability that that implies and an unexpected Waitsian vocal growl on top.

Whilst that takes place, SkyBurnsRed will be launching their new music at The Furnace. Violin fueled grooves, big guitar riffs, eastern vibes and punchy memorable songs, what’s not to like? And remember, the last time they played The Furnace people were picking bits of violin out of the walls for days to come! Not to be missed. Add to that The Street Orphans will be supplying driven, dynamic indie anthems as only they can. Also on the bill, up from Portsmouth is Yours Truly, a rock band who manages to do that rare thing of combining brains with brawn, melody with muscle, rock and roll the way God intended. (I know because, he told me!)

Other options are, rhythm and blues mayhem from The Hamsters From Hell in The Rolleston, David Lynch’s new musical vehicle, The Labradors at The Fox and Hounds in Haydon Wick and any prog fans who didn’t satisfy their musical thirst earlier on in the week should head to The Victoria for  a tribute to the Fish era of Aylesbury’s favourite sons with Still-Marillion.

If ska-inspired rap/rock sounds your cup of Darjeeling then it’s The Victoria again on Sunday. Having just toured supporting Sonic Boom Six, Imperial Leisure are one hell of a party –  big tunes, an energetic live show and one of the best front men in the business. Support comes from home-grown ska-punksters Slagerij.

Final mention of the week is for The Elijah at the 12 Bar on Monday; brilliantly atmospheric, ambient post-rock that surprisingly works in screamo vocal delivery and old school shoegaze indie. Can you imagine that? No? Best go down and check them out. Similar contradictory collisions work wonders for support band If Heroes Should Fail, whilst Homeland take the more expected but no less well executed melodic hardcore route.

Apologies to the dozen or so gigs that there wasn’t room to mention, I guess this week the music scene just became a victim of its own success. Who’d have thought?

By Ed Dyer

Wet and cold Thursdays in Swindon are a tough gig. Especially if you are a band playing original material, and even more so if you happen to be one from out of town.  However, not ones to shy away from a challenge and continuing our mission to inform the people of Swindon what they should really be listening to, Songs of Praise plunged head first into the dangerous waters marked “it shouldn’t work”. Presenting a bill with 2 bands from the Midlands and a headliner who is only classed as local-ish should have been a suicidal move, however two of the bands were SOP veterans and acknowledged class acts, so we viewed it more as an educated punt.

Openers Go Lazarus had trekked down from Nuneaton, got lost in the process and became completely baffled by The Magic Roundabout when they did finally get to Swindon. But they made it in time, and although breaking their SOP cherry, they were still an experienced and skilled trio with a set of well-crafted songs.  Stylistically occupying the same space as Green Man favourites Hello Lazarus, melodic yet heavy riffs and vocals that follow suit, like indie rock on steroids, they ripped into their set with gusto and poise. It was great stuff and they will be back I am sure.

Derby’s The James Warner Prophecies are Green Man veterans, although this was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing them. And it was well worth the wait. They turned out to be one of the best live acts I have seen, with a commanding stage presence, a frontman with real character and song’s that were an amazing blend of influences. Rock, metal, indie, pop, punk, glam all gets bundled up into compositions that are melodic, motivating and muscular. And despite the variety of styles being input it all blends together perfectly to create a fairly unique and distinct sound. If I was told my life depended on making a comparison I think the best I could suggest would be Queens Of The Stone Age, with their heavy, melody driven diversity of tunes.

The night’s headliners were the reasonably local Street Orphans. A more straightforward act, they have been getting better and better over the last few years and are now a highly polished band with an armoury of pop-infused indie-rock tunes with contagious melodies. They occupy the stage with real authority, throwing themselves around and looking like they really enjoy being up there. Frontman Matt Jopling made a valiant stab at out “frontman-ing” James Warner Prophecies’ Joe but wisely settled on letting the songs carry most of the show.

A show like this being put on as the X Factor TV juggernaut hits cruising speed and becomes topic of choice around the office water cooler presents an opportunity to illustrate an inequality in the music business. Any one of these bands has the necessary ability and personality to “make it” and are a classic example of the quality that exists in the murky world of the local gig circuit. Bands that play week in and week out, earning their stripes playing in small venues to small and select crowds, doing things the hard way, learning and developing as they go along. All the acts you hear on the radio and read about in the gossip magazines had to start somewhere, had to learn their trade and hone their skills, had to suffer the ignominy of playing to no one, losing money on road trips to distant and empty venues. So get in early on their careers, come along to a show and check out music that may make you think, may challenge you. Music that isn’t repetitive, sterilised and safe. That ultimately may be the Glastonbury headliners of the future.

My ongoing quest for new music got me thinking the other day about just how original, original bands really are. I know I have a bit of a reputation for giving cover bands a difficult ride, so maybe it is time to look at the other side of the coin. Most of the previous decades have had their own iconic movements, the psychedelic sixties, the punk/post punk seventies, the hip-hop eighties and the rave nineties. Since then it’s been more difficult to identify any new defining movements. The last ten years or so seems to have been more about a nostalgic recycling of former glories. Ironically, retro seems to be the way forward, bands seem destined to be born of their parents record collections. Modern scenes worship at the temples to past movements, be it garage-punk, vintage soul, synth-pop or what ever, it still begs a few questions for the future of music. Where is the next musical frontier to be broken? Will pop eat itself? Does rock music end not with a bang but with a boxed set whose fourth disc you never get round to playing? Food for thought!

 

If you are going to mix up recognisable genres into interesting new musical shapes, then you should take note of James Warner Prophecies (pictured) who play The Victoria tonight.  Alchemising everything from hard rock to ska, music hall to grunge, punked up folk to out and out pop; familiar building blocks maybe but brilliant new interpretations nonetheless. They are supporting The Street Orphans who do similar sterling work re-treading the musical tires of the indie-rock vehicle. Also on the bill is Go Lazarus who fashion a neat line in atmospheric alternative rock.

 

Unapologetically playing that nostalgia card I mentioned earlier, Count Bobo and The Bullion tap into an authentic ska vibe reminiscent of The Skatelites or the legendary Prince Buster. They can be found at The Beehive.

 

Folk is on the cards over at Riffs Bar.  Albion host their monthly outing that aims to recreate the same vibe as the sixties revivalists who created the Greenwich Village scene in New York. If you are looking for somewhere to try out your songs, immerse yourself in the folk scene or just chill out and hear some good music then this is the place to be.

 

The stand out act for Friday is appearing at The Beehive and again create unique songs from recognisable building blocks. Bruise are a strange art house folk rock band with the shadow of The Eurythmics looming large over them and a hint of prog throwing wonderful spanners in the works. And that is only the half of it.

 

The Riffs Bar website announces a “ A new monthly metal night showcasing the best in original metal from around the country.” Sadly it fails to list any of the bands that are being showcased so I can’t really say too much more on that one.

 

After that originality is a bit thin on the ground though I must just mention that The Victoria is playing host to a Stone Roses tribute, not because I am necessarily enthralled with tribute acts but because even after all this time these particular Mancunian candidates remain high up in my estimation. If you don’t believe me just check out my “I am the Resurrection to replace the National Anthem” Facebook page.

 

I can’t seem to find one band for Saturday that pushes any envelopes, or even nips down the post office for a book of stamps for that matter. (Okay I know it’s not that sort of envelope…I’ve read Tom Wolfe thank you very much) So lets fast-forward to Sunday afternoon at The Beehive.

 

Peter Jagger mixes up finger picked folk, Americana and blues with some wonderfully poignant and political lyrics. His view on the whole originality thing can be summed up in his quote “ I can’t see the point of driving 200 miles to sing Losing My Religion to people who will only listen if you sing Losing my Religion.” I know what you mean sir.

 

The Art Centre on Monday has rock and roll survivors Wishbone Ash. Just to avoid confusion this is the Andy Powell fronted version of the band rather than the Martin Turner fronted band that are also currently touring. Blimey, it’s like Yes all over again.

 

And finally a mention for The Stripped Back Sessions at The Victoria on Tuesday, a mixture of music in its simplest and purest forms plus the artists themselves explaining the meanings behind and reasons for their songs. This time featuring War of Roses, Reg Meuross and Ali Finneran.

A short time ago I was asked to co-host a session of that wonderful podcast …From the Ladder Factory an Ox, Berks, Wilts  based music show. The ensuing chaos can be found here  – Ladder 20

Some of you may be aware that I write an occasional music blog called Groovers on Manoeuvres, but how many of you realise that it is a title I stole and was originally the name of the first major UK tour by Black Country legends, The Wonder Stuff. I mention this mainly to build up to the fact that main “Stuffie” Miles Hunt is playing at The Victoria tonight, aided and abetted by his glamorous assistant and virtuosic violinist, Erica Nockalls.  Offering up rootsy versions of Wonder Stuff classics as well as between song narrations of life on the road with the band, this is a real must for anyone who remembers leaping around their bedroom to the strains of “It’s Your Money I’m After Baby” Not that I did such a thing I hasten to add. Support comes in the fine form of Gaz Brookfield.

 

Further down the hill the Zetan Spore mothership will be descending on The Beehive to turn the compact and bijou pub into a pulsating and euphoric, tribal, psy-trance rave. Blimey!

 

If you like your music a bit more brutal, then South West Hardcore has a metal show at the 12 Bar. Up from Basingstoke, headliners Blood of the Spectre do a neat line in technical metal, fast, Byzantine heavy and always on the money. Regular touring partners, Doomed From Day One and local outfit, Go Out With A Bang will be warming the crowd up for them.

 

Indie rules the roost over at Riffs Bar on Friday with the quite brilliant Street Orphans leading a line up of local talent. Hard work and great songs have made The Street Orphans one of the success stories of the last couple of years, a story whose most recent chapter saw them playing an after show party for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Also on the bill are With Felix, Fly Like Fools, The Souperstars and The Eberdeens.

 

The Parlour Kats play at The Beehive. At this point I would normally endeavour to describe what it is they do but I have read their “about” info on their website and as is often the way with self penned biography blurb, I still have no idea what they do. Best you just pop in and see for yourself.

 

If the heavier groove is your thing then The Victoria has The Thin Lizzy Experience and The Rolleston the ultimate tribute to heavy metal – Metalhead.

 

Saturday is really mixing up the options, generically speaking. The big name is Richard Street, ex-Temptations front man and his touring band at The Wyvern. At The Rolleston some of the finest white electric blues on the circuit today can be found with Innes Sibun, whilst next-door in The Furnace, The Useless Eaters will be recreating the power and the passion of the early punk era to help raise money towards a Camps International trip to Kenya for pupils from Dorcan Academy.

 

The 12 Bar sticks with it’s championing of heavier music  again in tandem with South West Hardcore who this time bring you Knotslip, an anagrammatic tribute to the Iowa nine-piece. Support comes from Christian rockers Rising From Death, but don’t worry I’m not going to go into the whole Buddhist Rap/ Shinto Indie routine again, once every couple of years is enough.

 

One band that defies easy categorisation can be found at The Beehive filling the Sunday afternoon slot. Kola Koca alchemize folk, blues, jazz, swing and rock into poignant and humorous vocal charges and sublime musical set pieces, not bad for a free gig.

 

A couple of big names from the folk world will be breezing up to the Arts Centre on Tuesday. Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick have been at the heart of bands such as The Albion Band, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Band of Hope and more recently The Imagined Village and their current live outings are still full of the energy and charm of their formative days.

 

And finally, the Wednesday Running Horse Sessions features Bateleurs; rising stars of the festival circuit and a wonderful weave of English folk, Celtic vibes and vibrant Americana.

 

Not to be out done, The 12 Bar’s Acoustica is an “open mic and acoustic showcase featuring some of the South West’s best acts.” It does, however, neglect to tell us just who those acts might be.

Review by Joy Bells

Victory is in sight

We meet at Mr Moks for a 1 o’clock all you can eat for a tenner blow out! Four women and a bloke with a back pack.  Sushi sustenance is the order of the day as we engage with other Shufflers who have the same idea, notably Rich Millen, who drummed for Black Sheep Apprentice and The Decoits and who is arguably the most dedicated shuffler, taking a round trip from Berlin to show us how it’s done! The sun comes out (again), and we stroll to The Rolleston to begin the third day of shuffling shenanigans.

We arrive about half way through Alice Offley’s set. This woman is gorgeous and gifted. She put in a powerful performance at last year’s shuffle and she just goes from strength to strength. Her versatile voice gives you goose-bumps stretching effortlessly through notes at different ends of the scale and her ballerina hands dance around the piano keys with ease. She writes from the heart and I love her song ‘Black Dog’ filled with the passion of a survivor.

Antonio Lulic is a story telling singer from ‘up North’, sharing intimate moments between his songs to relate how and why he wrote them. In ‘The City of Austin Texas’ he imparts the miseries of breaking up with his girlfriend, in ‘Sobering Up’ he remembers the turning point that prompted him to make the transition between poor, drunk musician to rich, drunk musician. If he were washing powder he’d be concentrated non bio with his gravelly voice and bright guitar stripping down his life’s laundry on the wash board of experience to dry in the sun.

Starlight City quickly follows. They give a practiced, high energy performance; this is The Undertones partying with Big Country from four guys who work well casting a pop punk spell. They keep the late Sunday afternoon audience awake despite Siesta’s calling. I have to admit I’m beginning to flag and apologise to Browfort for not staying to listen to what I’m told is a brilliant set.

 

Frankie lets me sleep on her settee for a couple of hours. I’m out like a light and come round with the sound of children playing in the street and the brain cell lubricating smell of coffee. Batteries charged we freshen up and head back down town; this time to The Furnace for the last leg of the Swindon Shuffle Showdown. We’re nearly there and I’m half wishing there was another day to go. The Light Grenades, a funky four piece with an electronic beat infusing competent guitar and laid back vocals are playing when we arrive. People filter into the Furnace as behind the scenes lighting and sound are being fine-tuned and hello, Swindon’s very own events archivists, Swindon Viewpoint arrive and start filming the whole event. It’s all turning into something really rather special. That and the £2 shorts offer, that’s spirits not Bermuda! Salute the Magpie are five lads from Trowbridge bringing new meaning to the Old Wives tale of hailing Magpie’s to avoid bad luck. They remind me of The Strokes, strong vocals and anthemy guitar riffs surfing an indie sound.

There’s a lot of music to get through tonight and we’re already running late when The Starkers take to the stage. This is a dynamic performance by three brazen boys loving what they do and wanting you to love it too. Jingly guitar jumps out of honey harmonies and a grungy bang of anachronistic, modern/old completely brilliant music emerges, smashes itself against the dark Furnace walls and bounds about in my brain a bit. Fab! Fab! Fab!  

Like the increasingly amazing fireworks that explode as the countdown to Midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, the bands on tonight’s line up are some of the best bands in Wiltshire (and Witney). The Street Orphans pick up their instruments and suddenly complex rhythm changes are waging war on mediocrity. Their perky EP is on my iPod and their classic rock pop blending an indie beat saw me complete the Reading half marathon this year. It’s 10.30 and there are still three more bands to play.

I’ve been a fan of SkyburnsRed for a while and their layer cake of delicious sounds feature orchestral rock and savvy fiddle sandwiching garage and grunge and squashing it down so that it squirts out the sides. Blimin’ good stuff! So excited by their performance are they that they engage in a little Luddite like instrument destruction, ending their set with a stage littered with bits of broken violin…but it keeps them off the street!

Following on quickly are Plummie and The Racket. Wearing my newly acquired Racket badge, I feel decidedly fan like and am pretty impressed by how much better they are than when I saw them a few months ago. Effing and C**nting are par for the course and anyway didn’t DH Lawrence go to court to give us the right to swear in a creative context? Whatever…the raw riffs of the guitar slam into the vocals like a steel ball into a block of flats along with a few pints of beer giving the band a sticky impromptu shower. The Furnace is living up to its name. It’s hot down here!

Finally, taking to the stage at 11, when in reality the whole show should be winding down are The Black Hats. Guitars with attitude, drums smashing through in your face vocals, brilliantly crafted songs with articulate lyrics. At the end all I and everyone else could do was whoop for more. And yes that was me screaming for ‘We write things down’. Thank you for playing it! And that was it, well almost…we finished our shorts, well £2 was too tempting and started home. The streets were deserted although we did see two members of SkyBurnsRed walking by the Town Hall. ‘SKYBURNSRED’ I shouted excitedly, they waved back in the distance. Swindon has so much talent.

Wondering home I look up at the sky and see a shooting star. My wish…well let’s just say it has something to do with music and next years shuffle…