Tag Archive: weatherstorms


10712773_10152293780256876_355188488816819957_nI think we have pretty much everything covered this week generically speaking, everything from solo roots players to big ska-dance ensembles, from old school bar bands to forward thinking musical fusions. I can’t see any cause for complaint unless you are into Tibetan free jazz or a fan of the Inuit hip-hop scene, but you can’t have everything. After all where would you put it? Anyway, on with the task at hand.

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1394432_639689642740457_554281832_nAnother quiet week in the Grand Duchy of Swindon, I guess the good weather means that many people are opting for back garden barbeques or at least the back garden of a pub rather than being confined to dark, sweaty, side rooms to watch bands play. Good news for those who want to work on their tan: bad news for working bands. Bad news for Goths for that matter.  You have to feel sorry for the old school goth in this weather… not the modern, nu-metal evolved contemporary goth who still thinks that Marilyn Manson and The Crow is the alpha and omega of the genre. I’m talking about the early eighties survivors. The ones in DMs and drainpipe jeans, Interview with a Vampire style frilly white shirt, eyeliner and Max Factor Porcelain face foundation for that recently deceased look. It must be difficult playing five a side football with your Ray-Bans on in an attempt to look like Wayne Hussey. I always think that if the temperature gets too high they will spontaneously combust or go into the whole “I’m melting” routine like the Wicked Witch of the West. Still, full marks for effort.

 

Sadly nothing remotely of that genre on this week, but there is a clash of great original music on the northern slopes of Old Town tonight. At The Beehive, Bruise (pictured) will be regaling the crowds with their wonderful cross-pollination of Joni Mitchell-esque folk, Eurythmic power-pop and a whole bunch of strange prog-rock meanderings. Believe me it will be like nothing that you have heard before.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, are Weatherstorms; atmospheric, sensual, dance tinged vibes and tonight performed stripped back and acoustic by main man James Cameron, a face you will recognise from such great acts as Old School Tie and Sam Green and The Midnight Heist. That’s at The Victoria.

 

And talking of acoustic sets, The Rolleston has Boot Led Zeppelin Acoustic, a band that none other than Sharleen Spiteri from Texas described as sounding “amazing.”

 

Friday’s big offering is seminal doo-wop group The Drifters at The Wyvern Theatre. Known for iconic songs such as Up On The Roof and Under The Boardwalk the band have survived through many incarnations but the reason for their longevity (61 years and counting) will be obvious from the first note.

 

And if the sound of 50’s New York is not to your taste, how about the timeless sounds of The Delta as The Blue Trees evoke haunting blues and a southern fried rock groove at The Beehive. More Americana at The Victoria with Cash, a tribute to the man in black himself and even speaking as someone who is not big on country music or tribute bands, this band are amazing.

 

At The Rolleston Lewis Creavan and his band will be firing off a salvo of songs from such icons as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

 

A full day of music is on offer on Saturday at The Swindon Town Football Club Legends Lounge to raise money for The Prospect Hospice and Ruby’s fat Cow Fund.  Acts include A Way With Words, Sahara Heights, 8 Minutes Later, The Illustrations and many more so check their website for full details.

 

The rest of Saturday is in the hands of standard bearers and those offering tribute. At The Victoria Felix and The Funk play floor fillers from Daft Punk to Chic and from James Brown to Jamiroquai. It’s old school ska, punk and new wave at Riffs Bar with Going Underground and at The Woodlands Edge it’s The Shoo Flies who describe themselves as a “unique covers band” which to me is quite an ironic turn of phrase, but that’s just me.

 

Bit of a treat at The Victoria on Tuesday as Brian Hogan brings Preachers Son to The Victoria. Not only does the band draw comparisons to early Thin Lizzy and the demented approach of The Jon Spenser Blues Explosion but also Brian has worked with everyone from Irish folk giants Kila (one of my highlights of a dim and distance Womad Festival) to Gavin Friday, Sinead O’Connor and even U2.

 

And as if one great Irish band isn’t enough for you, a more traditional offering from the Emerald Isle comes in the form of Patrick Street at the Arts Centre which features former members of The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Planxty and Van Morrison’s Band.

Library - 23After the doom and gloom of recent events surrounding venue closures, it’s good to see that the town can still put a full event diary in front of its discerning gig going public. Maybe it’s the fact that the rain has got slightly warmer and the Met Office is predicting another half our of sunshine sometime in late August, but what ever the reason there is plenty to choose from this week.

We start with a change in the previously advertised schedule. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight was to feature one of the most popular bands on their roster, The James Warner Prophecies, but sadly their travel plans for some European festival dates mean that they are no longer available. But fear not, their replacement comes in the shape of False Gods who alchemize elements of Muse and The Manics to make their music an intriguing proposition. Headliners Empire manage to blend pop melody into hard and angular rock deliveries and opening the night is Babies vs. Rabies, who are like nothing you have experienced before, unless you have come across music that is in turn hypnotic, oppressive, violent, atmospheric, brutal and car crash beautiful, sort of like a cross between an art-punk band and a napalm strike. Or a concerto for guitar and hand grenade!

The Hive has similarly original music on offer in the form of The Blue Trees, a stripped back, lo-fi, roots rock sound that will appeal to fans of The Black Keys, the Black Crows and even some bands with other colours in their title.

True legends can be found at The Wyvern Theatre when Colin Blunstone and virtuoso organist Rod Argent lead The Zombies through all the classics. Fifty years on and the band still sound amazing. Those with more of a jazz leaning might wish to head for the Arts Centre as The Bateman Brothers, aided by a host of famous friends, pay tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Staying at The Arts Centre for Friday and it’s the welcome return of Lotte Mullan; story telling, contemporary folk and famous for her “inside the music business blog.” Musically think Laura Marling meets Loretta Lynn, but her stories make her more like the Bridget Jones of the music industry. More folk can be found at The Beehive with Bateleurs, this time a sort of trans-Atlantic blend that makes you think that if Dylan had not been born alongside Highway 61 but had embraced the A1 in the same mythical fashion, these songs might have been the result.

Two big events happening on Saturday, firstly the Fieldview Festival Launch show at The Victoria. Fieldview is one of the success stories of the local festival scene and their launch show will give you a taste of the event to come, a host of acts to catch including the channeling of the spirits of long forgotten delta bluesmen by Sam Green and The Midnight Heist and the Cameron Brothers (the people who brought you Old School Tie) current brilliant musical vehicle, Weatherstorms.

Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Refuge gig at the Museum and Art Gallery where a combination of some stunning music, a very worthy cause and a wonderfully intimate setting made for an unforgettable night out. Following last years success, this years event, to raise money for Swindon Women’s Aid, will take place at Christ Church, Old Town and features the harmonious arrangements and velvet vocals of Emily Barker and Red Clay Halo (pictured), the mathy-acoustic intricacies of Jen Olive, the emotionally rich and beautifully economical songs of Colour The Atlas and the pin drop talents of Faye Rogers. I can’t recommend this show highly enough.

The place to be on Monday is in the garden of The Running Horse as their Acoustic Garden show is an all day celebration of the brilliant music they host their through out the year. This cast of thousands, okay, cast of many, includes Gilmore n’ Jaz, Louise Latham, Alice Offley, Benji Clements and Ethemia. And that’s not the half of it, so get down there for more music than you can shake a shaky thing at.

On Tuesday, drummer Dave Betts brings his Latin Jazz Quartet to Baker Street; so put your dancing shoes on and revel in this wonderful jazz, funk and Latin fusion driven by by Dave’s kit and congas, timbales and tablas. Very exotic!

There are many ways to make an impact, musically speaking. In our younger days as musicians and music fans we were probably drawn to the power of certain types of music, the roar of metal, the chain saw guitars and attitude of punk, the dark majesty of goth or the primordial force that was grunge. But as the cliché says, less is more. However it is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés that cliché is probably untrue. Hang on; I think I have lost the thread a bit. What I’m trying to say is that some times music is at it’s most potent when it is doing almost nothing at all, careful, we almost ended up in Ronan Keating territory. Damn, that was close.

 

Anyway, my point is that this week contains more than a few bands whose method of attack is not the “turn it up to eleven” approach but one of musical osmosis, being able to create songs that seek to envelop you, songs that are gently absorbed into your very soul.

 

Take Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, who not only take the prize for the furthest travelled band for a Songs of Praise show (Newcastle) but who manage to conjure soft, ethereal charms to create airs of melancholy and mystery that fall somewhere between ancient folk traditions and a hazy dreamlike state. The perfect support comes from Salisbury’s Gallant Tailors who again weave timeless folk threads and Rumour Shed’s sensuous baroque acoustica. All that happens at The Victoria tonight.

 

At The Beehive, meanwhile, The Letters will be blending a root Americana sound (think The Rainmakers rather than Dwight Yokam…thankfully) with occasional forays into British Invasion territory. It is both big and clever.

 

On Friday the Victoria remains in its chilled mind set with Weatherstorms. Two thirds of this band is half of what was Old School Tie, which sounds a bit like a question from Ask The Family but I’m sure you can work out the maths. The new vehicle for the Cameron Brothers is as exciting and dynamic as their previous band but here the sound is based in a slightly more mellow place which makes those occasional euphoric flights of sonic fancy all the more delicious.

 

The Beehive by comparision opts for the soulful southern blues of the young and energetic Liam Tarpy Band, not just another local rock band who have decided that the two genres are interchangeable and just play their old songs at half the speed: this is the real deal. The M.E.C.A. is offering The Switch It On Festival, a family orientated event featuring live music from the likes of Angel and DJ Rugrat plus street dance from The Twist and Pulse Dance Company, comedy and a hair cutting competition.

 

Band of the moment, The Jefferson Brick (formerly Wet William) will be playing the “Strokes for the next generation” card over at Riffs Bar on Saturday, all explosive energy and youthful bravado (damn them) and don’t think the Dickens reference passed me buy either, extra marks for that. Based on the reception they received at The Shuffle a couple of weeks ago, this is a band that is already picking up quite a following. Support comes from Pete Docherty’s go to guy when it comes to tour supports, Alan Wass and kicking the night off will be the Canary Club.

 

You know that you are going to get something good when an artist cites Carole King, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Amy McDonald as her influence, but the quality of Sam Holmes song-crafting easily shows this to be no mere boast, I would also add Suzanne Vega to that list and you can check out here wonderful sound at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon.

 

The week rounds off at The Running Horse on Wednesday with a bit of a gem. Irish charmer Polly Barrett (pictured) will be showing why her beautiful folk-pop creations are receiving such plaudits and Steve Leigh in the guise of Kitchen Sink Drama’s will be offering his acoustic insights that take in social observations, political rants, wit and wisdom.

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.

 

 

There were elements of both curiosity and familiarity that drew me to the gig that night, that and the fact that it was the only real option for quality live music in a town obsessed with tired classic rock cover bands and forty-somethings who still believe punk never died. Curiosity came in the desire to check out ex-Old School Tie front man, James Cameron’s new band, the familiarity in the safe knowledge that headliners The Icarus Youth always deliver.

One unexpected dose of familiarity came as opening band Adepto Futui, who I must confess I though was going to be a solo artist, took the stage and a recognisable face loomed large amongst their ranks. Many years ago I used to watch an acoustic blues duo called Apple (if memory serves) and it was none other than guitarist Shed Judd (owner of the best white ‘fro since Jeff Lynn) who was strapping on an electric six string and preparing to lead his band through their debut gig, and what a gig it was too. Rocked out blues is a pretty hit or miss affair. Mostly it is the last bastion of mulletted, rock rhythm guitarists who mistakenly believe that just because the two genres share the same musical alphabet they can easily mutate from one to the other. Wrong! Blues is an attitude, a feeling, and a voice – not something you can assemble like the colours on a Rubik’s Cube. Adepto Futui, however, fired through a set of songs that not only did them proud, but that would stand up to scrutiny from the drinking dens of the Mississippi Delta to the smoky clubs of Chicago and everywhere in between.

One of the main selling points, having taken for granted the quality the songs, was that the band was top of its game. Too many bands are happy to be a beat and a lead guitar but here were a band of musical equals, tight rhythms and cascading piano holding their own allowing the guitar to do it’s job from blistering riffs, staccato jabs or to drop out altogether. When you have a band that is that on the groove, it just works. Local “blues” pretenders take note!

I get the feeling that if James Cameron could clone himself he would be able to just form a band by himself and take all the musical roles, such is his musical dexterity and command of technology but that would be a lonely and indulgent existence and as Weatherstorms ran through their set, it’s clear that making music with like minded individuals is the right vehicle for him. There were touches of the euphoric sound that flavoured his previous band but here was something more chilled but no less as impressive. Switching between keyboards, acoustic guitar and vocals and aided and abetted by only drums and vocals, he still showed his ability to blend delicate soundscapes that build into massive pieces of sonic architecture and then drop back into quiet, hushed atmospheres. Curiosity satisfied, this is a band I will be seeing many more times.

The local connection of the headline band comes from the much hailed Kulucci March, a band that seemed to arrived fully formed on the local scene, made massive waves and then disappeared as abruptly as they had arrived. It did seem inevitable that some of those musicians would rise again, and The Icarus Youth is proof of that. Mixing big harmony indie, rock drives and subtle urban attitudes, their “Indie Rock and Rhyme” as they describe it reflects everything that is cool and contemporary. Guitars play intricate lines but stay just the right side of the mathy bandwagon, preferring to wander between melodic hooks and big rock power chords whilst the bass lines add weight and occasionally unexpected funkiness to the proceedings. Across the top of the music, straight vocal deliveries mutate into quirky rap and then get driven to their logical conclusion as everyone piles into to create big close harmony choruses. As I said, The Icarus Youth encapsulate everything that seems so now, in their music, image and attitude: utterly listenable, eminently watchable and a fascinating prospect who seem to have a bright future ahead of them.

It seems like this is the week to be out on the town if you are a fan of the heavier end of the music spectrum. So without even stopping to have a dig at even a single cover band, (which I was again this week accused of belittling in a rather bizarre confrontation in Co-op, of all places!) it’s eyes down for a full house.Starting as we mean to go on, Riffs Bar is hosting another heat of it’s Bloodstock Battle of The Bands tonight which sees Without Consequence, Acts of Brutality and Brink of Reason all fighting it out for places in the semi final.The 12 Bar also chips in its fair share tonight, headlining are Bristol band, The Chimerical, who manage to mix the accessibility of Britpop with the sucker punch of grunge. A band who I can’t recommend highly enough, SkyBurnsRed, take the middle slot, blending alt-rock power with eastern rhythms and wonderful violin washes and kicking off are IX, all cinematic metal and industrial soundscapes; imagine Trent Reznor writing songs for Opeth.It’s all about bands and burlesque at The Victoria, the music this time coming in the shape of rockabilly outfit, Josie and The Outlaw, and if Celtic fringed folk-rock is more your thing then get down the Beehive for a bit of Missin’ Rosie.

Friday at The Victoria is all about the most contemporary of sounds. The Icarus Youth will be bringing their brilliant weave of rock, urban and alternative sounds, always a brilliant live experience, supporting is a familiar face launching a new musical vehicle. After 7 years fronting the eight legged rave that was Old School Tie, James Cameron wastes no time in unleashing Weather Storms on the world, a blend of dub, electronic, garage and epic post rock.

It’s all about the old school punk at Riffs Bar with Useless Eaters and a welcome return to these parts for Nobodys Heroes who between them deliver the sound and the spirit of the first generation punk movement.

Okay, now two quick questions. Anyone remember Toploader? Anyone able to name anything other than “that damned song?” Thought not. Well, they are at The MECA, but for my money it’s worth getting there early to catch support band A&T, an eclectic firestorm of hip-hop, funk and rock.

Staying at The MECA for Saturday and it’s your chance to indulge yourself in a bit of New Wave of British Heavy Metal with ODS – Oliver/Dawson Saxon, supported by the biggest band ever to come out of Whitley Bay, Tygers of Pan Tang. Patched denim jacket? Check! Ammo belt? Check! Whiff of Patchouli Oil and Old Holborn? Check! Ahh…those were the days. If you can’t afford the real thing Metalhead at The Rolleston (again!) come a close second.

Things get really heavy down at The 12 Bar with South-West Hardcore’s regular outing catering for all things musical aggressive with The Hotel Ambush, The Argent Dawn, Moments Before Oblivion and Go Out With a Bang. In strict competition for a slice of the same audience, The Furnace takes a more pop-punk, but nevertheless feisty tack with ScreamDontWhisper! Third Place Victory, Boy Set Sail and Sell Your Sky.

Something a bit different can be found in the form of The Reggae Riddim Club at The Victoria.

And after all that loud and shouty stuff, Sunday will seem like an oasis of tranquillity. The Beehive’s afternoon slot is filed with local swing blues stalwarts, The Teddy White Band and The Arts Centre’s regular Lazy Sunday Afternoon show features the historically aware, pop-folk residents Mr Love and Justice and guests Daniel James plus Americana meets Old World folk from Bateleurs.

And if that is your sort of thing, cap it off with a trip to The Rolleston that evening to catch the infectious, virtuosic and foot-stompingly upbeat, Grubby Jack.

The week rounds off on Wednesday with two options. Theo Altieri and Ian Payne play the Running Horse session whilst at The Victoria, Sierra Hurtt and her band alchemize everything from chilled folk to blues and from cool Latin to jazz to sultry soul and come off like a less ethereal and more worldly-wise Sade.