Tag Archive: wonder stuff (the)


Kirk-Brandon-aKoustiK-Promo2016.jpgNothing ever happens in this town. It must be true, after all you hear it said over and over again. Though it is difficult to justify such a statement as I prepare to list over 20 different gigs in the space of under a week. So with no further ado…

Tonight, The Victoria plays host to a slew of indie bands headed by chaps of the moment Getrz. This young musical gang weave punk swagger through sharp indie cool and they are joined by No Hot Ashes’ eclectic and wide-ranging sonics, the cinematic and sweeping sounds of We Are Parkas, and Freakouts kick the night off in explosive fashion.

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If I were looking for an analogy to sum up the performance it would be this. Remember when you were a kid and those dreaded visits from aged aunts always resulted in the comment, hasn’t he grown? Well, in a way that is a quick sound bite for Gaz’s performance tonight. Those too familiar with an artists work are probably the ones that least notice over all growth and artists rarely see, or at least acknowledge it in themselves. The last time I caught one of his gigs, to paraphrase a line from one of his songs, it wasn’t, “the right place at the right time” and about 8 months had passed even since I watched him being totally ignored by the denizens of that trendy pub full of fake tan and just the right designer labels. Tonight, however, as the support to Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls moonlighting from The Wonder Stuff, it was exactly the right crowd.

What was immediately obvious, to get back to the opening statement, was what a step up he had made, both with the recent batch of songs from the Tell It To The Beer album, but also his stage presence. Always blessed with warmth, a self-deprecating humour and the ability to communicate with an audience between songs, playing to an appreciative audience, many who had come along as much to see him as the main act judging by the amount of people singing along, proved to be the obvious confidence boost. The result was a charismatic performer hitting his stride with ease.

Accompanied by studio collaborator and occasional stage guest, Ben Wain, the violin flourishes that he brought to the song hit the musical nail on the head. I don’t want to use the L-word too readily, but at the more frantic reaches of the set the two were reminiscent of a stripped down….well, lets just say in the song writing stakes, Mark Chapman had better watch his back. Call it what you will, agit-folk, nu-folk, anti-folk, the increasing bite in his songs find him more and more heading into the Frank Turner, Billy Bragg territory, the fact that at the front of the crowd I notice both New Model Army and  Attila The Stockbroker be-shirted folk lapping the songs up is a sure sign of this.

A show doesn’t just carry on charm alone but Gaz does have the songs to back it up. Songs drawn from personal experience, songs that are wistful tales, stories with wonderful resolution and if not always exactly filled with optimism, certainly flavoured with a reflective contentment. The message – it’s as much the failings and the failures as the successes that shapes who we are.

On that note, amongst a clutch of great songs, one in particular is just brilliant. A poignant two fingers up, a real triumph over adversity, a bittersweet personal tale summed up by the title, Be the Bigger Man. This is a song that should be played at school assemblies for its positivity and message. That said, all the favourites from the previous album, Trial and Error, also get an outing, Diet of Banality, West Country Song and Thin make an appearance and the sum total is set of strong, relatable and well rounded songs, infectious choruses and meaningful storylines. Suffice it to say, the boy done good.

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.