Tag Archive: wyvern theatre


imgid79384560-jpg-galleryAny conversation about the Mousetrap is sure to start with its startling attributes; the record breaking run – three score years and then some, its basis on a real life murder case, the lack of any real big film production to date and the fact that the author herself thought that it would run for less than a year. It is of course Agatha Christie’s best known and best loved play but in many ways is one of her most divisive.

Supporters point to the quality of the writing, the elaborate structures within and the plot twists that became her hallmark whilst detractors often cite that the characters are too archetypal, clichéd even. But maybe we judge the piece through too much of a modern eye and should remember that the play was written at the time when the murder mystery was at its height, Christie herself had done a lot to keep the format alive. No matter where you stand on the effectiveness of the writing, any production stands or falls on the ability to bring that story to life. The play’s the thing…right?

 

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10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nNice to see that following on from last weeks flurry of live shows, this week is continuing in a similar vein, both in terms of volume and diversity. Hopefully even those who continue to fly the “nothing ever happens round here” flag will see that it is time to call it a day or at least go back to their X-Box, Facebook trolling and Game of Thrones boxed set and let the rest of us get on with the job at hand.

 

One of the more extraordinary bands of recent times has been The Jim Jones Revue who combined the furious piano playing approach of Jerry Lee Lewis with the visceral guitar style of proto-punk bands such as The MC5 and The Stooges. Well, the band may have called it a day recently but the man who provided that core sound, one that suggested a gang fight in a piano shop, Henri Herbert, can be found at The Victoria tonight.

 

An even bigger name can be found at The Wyvern Theatre as the man with the golden voice and stalwart of such bands as Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics, Paul Carrick will be running through his repertoire of blue-eyed soul and pop-rock.

 

On Friday two big line-ups go head to head within spitting distance of each other in Old Town. At The Castle, brit-pop brats The Racket spearhead a line up that caters to all things indie and modish, being joined by the mercurial melodies and flamboyant stage antics of Nudybronque, the sharp music lines of British Harlem, the jangly pop of Theo Altieri and rock and roll swagger of Portsmouth’s Sixes & Sevens.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, is Songs of Praise line up of A Way With Words, Cavalier and Leader, so prepare for a night of abrasive alt-rock, creative dynamics, indie vibes and energetic performances.

 

The Rolleston has opted for a blend of eastern European folk, sea shanties and carnival chaos with the welcome return of Calico Jack (pictured)and their colourful tales and even more colourful costumes. And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous I can also announce that Showaddywaddy can be found at The Wyvern Theatre. Time to break out the Crepes and Drapes!

 

But music isn’t just confined to the regular venues this weekend as Friday also sees the start of a two day Vintage and Retro Weekend centred on The Brunel Centre. As well as Hot-rods and Vintage cars and bikes, Car Boot and stalls, there will be guitar workshops and live sessions from a Johnny Cash Tribute act plus Sons of The Delta, HipRoute and Jimmy Lee.

 

As usual Saturday is more preoccupied with offering sounds that you are already familiar with. Guns 2 Roses will be paying tribute to that most infamous street-rock outfit at The Victoria and all things ska, punk and new wave will be on the cards from Operation 77 at The Moonrakers.

 

Tying in nicely with the aforementioned Vintage and Retro weekend, Locarno Beat recreate the classic song writing of The 60’s at The Swiss Chalet and the previous decade is well catered for with The 58 Shakes at The Queens Tap and The Rhythm Bombers at The Rolleston. Similar vibes can be found at The Victoria on Sunday with Rockabilly Rumble.

 

But it certainly isn’t the day of rest for metal fans who have a treat lined up for them as Control The Storm’s current tour plays its last show at Level 3. Atmospheric, anthemic, melodic metal is the order of the day; fans of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish will not want to miss this one. Joining them are Curvature who take a more gothic and synth driven approach and Metaprism with their wonderfully prog. slant.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday you can find Blake, an artist who manages to mix accessible Beatle-esque melodies with heartfelt lyrical messages and social awareness.

251026_474397722648292_1275993545_nRock fans should be fairly happy this week with a higher than average quota of gigs coming from their favoured genres, but that is not to say that between the louder and more shouty selections there aren’t a few other styles being well represented and at least one iconic act crossing the parish boundary as well.

 

We The Deceiver lay generically midway between Post-Hardcore and Djent (which I have to admit I thought was a small town in Tunisia, but which is actually a gnarly, muted, low-end guitar driven style) so expect their set at The Victoria tonight to be filled with thunderous grooves, intense riffs and bombastic beats. Local support comes in the form of Roads To Nowhere, a similarly uncompromising onslaught of extreme and brutal sounds.

 

As if to balance the extremes of that gig, Keith Thompson plays The Beehive in solo mode. Rootsy, southern fried blues blending effortlessly with more homegrown influences to great effect.

 

Friday at Riffs Bar sees rock on the menu, this time from Clay Gods, a band who weave dark atmospherics, gritty grooves and lyrics equally at home delivering rock standard street sleaze as they are thought-provoking philosophizing. Joining them on the bill is The Dirty Smooth, who write tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out to, but sweet enough for the girls to dance to, and the blues fuelled alt-rock of Four Dead Crows.

 

More solid rocking options can be found at The Rolleston as Hot Flex deliver classic heavy rock and metal covers and the mercurial Bruise make a welcome return to The Beehive. Imagine the song writing sensibilities of Joni Mitchell, the dynamics and production values of Genesis and the epic pop of The Eurythmics and you only start to get a feel for what this amazing duo have to offer.

 

A Songs of Praise occasional Friday show is also to be found at The Victoria where White Lilac headline. They may look familiar, having evolved from Faye Rogers and her band but the sound is a whole quantum leap into new musical territory. The pastoral folksiness has been swapped for chiming guitars, brooding cello, distant crashing percussion, sonorous saxophones and a whole wash of gothic beauty and post punk edginess. It’s a musical transformation that you need to hear…and indeed see, to believe. Joining them is the sweeping dynamic soundscape of Familiars (pictured), a more chilled, piano driven White Lies perhaps and the shoegaze referencing but up to the moment indie of Coco Esq.

 

Saturday sees the icon I mentioned hit the stage as multi-million selling recording artist and award-winning actress, Barbara Dickson plays The Wyvern Theatre.

 

Beans on Toast may be seen to be an icon to some, albeit in a more niche and under-the-counter-culture sort of way. He brings his incisive and hung-over musical take on modern life to The Victoria before heading off to the States to play with Irish punk-folk exiles Flogging Molly. He brings with him someone you will all by now be familiar with (if not why not?) Gaz Brookfield, our very own slice of poor boy makes good and purveyor of charismatic, heartfelt and infectious songs. Ben Wiltshire and Sophie Brown get the night started.

 

Explosive, raucous, boozy, sweary and unpredictable music can be found at The Rolleston as The Hamsters From Hell celebrate their 30th Birthday Bash, probably not what your significant other had in mind as an option for St Valentines Day, but certainly a real test of a relationship. Support comes from 2 Sick Monkeys.

 

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions hosted by Mr Love and Justice are now being held at The Central Library and this month they have a couple of very special acts for you. Local roots collective S’Go mix up folk, blues and country styles with more eclectic gypsy jaunts, shanty shindigs, café jazz and everything in between. Also appearing are Lightgarden a band whose celtic jigs and eastern vocal tones are a beautiful mix of orient and occident.

 

Finally, The Roaring Donkeys Wednesday offer to break up the working week comes with a stripped back show from Kitchen Sink Dramas; poignant social comment meets infectious musicianship, wit and wisdom all in one place.

10527280_10152330974168207_4463687671351127442_nThere is quite a bit to get through this week so I will just get right to it without the usual pre-amble.

 

Starting, as usual, at The Victoria tonight, and a great alt-rock line up that marks the welcome return of SkyBurnsRed. A band known for their ability to mix heavy guitar lines and pounding backbeats with the deftness of classical strings and subtle dynamics, this much acclaimed quartet make a worthy headline. Joining them are the richly textured mix of math rock meets grunge meets melody of Dead Royalties and the dark and heavy psychedelic trip that is Black Elephant.

 

If you prefer your music aged to perfection then you may want to catch Kent DuChaine at The Beehive. Authentic delta blues, channelling the long forgotten ghosts of the genre and played on a 1934 National steel guitar, you can almost smell the mint julep and hear the screen door slamming!

 

If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary on Friday then you should check out the Swindon Young Singer/Songwriter Showcase being held at Commonweal School, a chance to support the budding talent of the future.

 

All sorts of groovy is taking place elsewhere. At The Rolleston you can indulge in your love of all things vintage reggae, rocksteady and sixties ska with The Erin Bardwell Collective and if you haven’t secured yourself a copy of their excellent new album, Our Time, then this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Dancing shoes will also be required if you venture up to The Victoria as Felix and The Funk will be setting out a musical stall of funk, soul, pop, dance and disco floor fillers. The Swiss Chalet offer something a bit more leftfield, psychobilly to be exact, a soundclash of rockabilly and punk, ska and old school rock and roll, courtesy of The Corsairs. A different kind of footwear is required if you go to The MECA as they are running their ever popular roller disco.

 

Saturday has a couple of nice selections for those of a heavy rock persuasion, one of which, Soulmover, is a brand new outfit who aim to meld the inherent weirdness of Zappa, the soulful undercurrent of Cream and the drive and delivery of Led Zeppelin. They can be found out at Riffs Bar. At Level 3 more familiar sounds can be found as Dirty/DC play tribute to the seminal Aussie rockers AC/DC. Punk and new wave sounds are also being paid homage to firstly at The Victoria with Absolute Blondie and also at The Swiss Chalet as Distant Echo revive the greatness of The Jam.

 

Other offerings are The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s who will be spinning iconic ska and reggae tunes at The Beehive and The Teddy White Band at The Rolleston. This long established and ever evolving quintet play upbeat r’n’b, blues, beat and boogie from the 40’s to the 60’s fronted by a brilliant vocal contrast between Anish’s soaring clarity and Pete’s Waitsian, demonic deliveries. Highly recommended.

 

The Castle provides the setting for a rare outing by Black Cat, a band that even I, as someone who writes about music on a daily basis have trouble trying to describe succinctly, but who may just be Swindon’s answer to The Fall. …or possibly Black Lace! You will just have to go along and make your own mind up.

 

With the return of The Shudders (pictured) frontman from his global travels, the band are back out in gigging mode and you can find them playing The Beehive, a venue that they almost destroyed as the final act of last years Swindon Shuffle Festival, at the Sunday afternoon session. Blending lo-fi indie, country and rock into very melodic and instantly accessible creations plus some seriously good vocal harmonies and infectious grooves, this will be the perfect way to round off the weekend.

 

And, very briefly, two more for you diary. On Monday you will find the much-lauded Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at The Wyvern Theatre and on Wednesday Drew Bryant brings his elemental pop folk to The Roaring Donkey.

1486548_715081301878014_2123166531_nThere has been much discussion of late on the local music forums and social networking outlets about the nature and future of Swindon’s music scene. Much was said about how and where you put gigs on, the genres and geographic origin of the bands, the promotions and prejudices of the people organising these gigs and even the perceived cliquey nature of it all. I see supporting local music as like being in a union. Whilst there are officials and people who do the admin and organising, the union is the sum total of everyone. And if everyone got involved a bit more then maybe they would feel more included and their voice would be heard and collectively they could help make a difference.

 

So how can you get involved? The obvious one is to go to a show, gigs only work if they have a crowd of punters. If there are no shows around that you like the look of why not talk to a band and a venue about putting something on that is more to your tastes. Or help promote what is already taking place. If people using Facebook spent as much time sharing gig info with their friends as they did sharing pictures of their lunch, their cat, random political ideas and people falling over then more people would know about what great gigs we have going on. One thing that also gets overlooked is buying merchandise, for the cost of a pint or two a CD or a tee-shirt sale might make all the difference to the bands running cost for that night. The bottom line is get involved. And here are some things to get involved in.

 

Tonight, the first day of The Beehive reopening is marked by the regular Acoustic Buzz sessions, hosted by Blind River Scares main man Tim Manning. Along with Tim’ wonderful blend of hillbilly highway meets swaggering folk you can catch the southern fried sounds of The Rosellys and the “popgrass” styling of acoustic duo Peeky Blinders. If you prefer to make your own music then why not grab your guitar, bass, violin, kazoo, spoons (other cutlery if you prefer) or what ever instrument you play and head up to The Victoria for their jam night.

 

Friday is all about big guitars, big beats and driving rhythms. Firstly a mix of original cider swilling, folk punk and Celtic bar room classics can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of Mick O’Toole (pictured), a band who look like a wonderful cross between a Brendan Behan convention and the grounds men of Downton Abbey. Sort of retro-folk chic! Wyvern Theatre is responsible for what seems like the weekly appearance in the parish of Boot Led Zeppelin. Not further description needed. And if you want to revel in a mix tape approach to the most enduring songs of the metal and classic rock genres then it’s Metalhead at The Victoria for you.

 

A few big events roll into view on Saturday. Sticking with the louder end of things for the moment, Level 3 is the scene of Dredded Vyrus Promotions Hardcore and Metal Night. Headliners, Vaults, offer incendiary riffs and an avalanche of backbeats…hardcore at its most uncompromising. Whilst Vicious Cycle offer a similar experience, the band that really caught my ear were From Dusk Till Dawn who manage to mix a bruising brutality with a wonderful ear for melody, roaring guttural, gutter vocals with soaring, clean deliveries and big choruses. Nice. Opening the night are Bear Hunt, blistering melodies, great dynamics and probably the most pained vocals you have ever heard.

During the daytime there is an open air event at Wharf Green raising awareness for local charities and featuring music by The Damned and The Dirty, Ataraxis Vibration, All Ears Avow, Jimmy Moore and others.

 

The other big event and I’m guessing one with not too much of a crossover of fans from that previously mentioned is The Erin Bardwell Collective CD Launch at The Victoria. Another slice of reggae, ska and rocksteady with an old school feel, great harmonies, positive messages, porkpie hats and exquisite song writing from the best on the circuit. Support comes from the ska/dance fusion of SN Dubstation and Pete Murphy spinning the tunes.

 

More old school vibes, this time of a rock and roll nature as 50’s revivalists Josie and The Outlaw play The Rolleston.

 

Final mention of the week goes to Billy Bingham who can be found replete with ballads and tattoos, torch songs and guyliner at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

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.

1488783_10152289534731684_309147990_n….so then I said to my editor, “So what are you going to do, not edit out a whole 170 word introductory paragraph just because you don’t agree with it’s sentiment? As if! And anyone reading the previous paragraph will surely agree with me anyway. Right, enough controversy and on with the musical recommendations and there is lots on offer this week.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria, tonight, is a bit of a deconstructed, alt-pop, leftfield, difficult to describe…thingy, of a show. Vienna Ditto is a two-piece outfit that veer between mesmerising sci-fi blues and dance-rock riffs with added atmospheric and ambient electronica, a bit like Portishead writing a Tarantino soundtrack. Also on the bill are Super Squarecloud, purveyors of warped pop and strange adventures in time signatures, plus The Clementines a newish musical vehicle driven by a whole bunch of people who used to be called Crash and The (Bandi)Coots.

 

More dance vibes emanate from The Beehive when Zetan Spore land their mothership  to spread their cosmic message through the medium of Psy-trance music, an intoxicating blend of psychedelic dance, searing guitars, tribal breaks and a tsunami of energy and positivity.

 

There can’t be many people around that haven’t heard about Shaun Buswell’s Underground Orchestra Challenge, which saw him hire, rehearse and write the music for a full orchestra recruited from commuters on the underground. Before the show heads off to the Edinburgh Fringe you have a chance to experience his PowerPoint style presentation of the whole project at The Wyvern Theatre. You also get free entry into the Indisposition of David Philips which is showing directly afterwards as part of Madame Renard’s Mini Fringe Festival.

 

Friday brings in a couple of acoustic offerings, firstly at Riffs Bar where the sometimes floating, sometimes buoyant, but always impressive music of Rob Lear is sharing the night with the similarly joyous, spiritual and absorbing Real Raj. If you prefer to stay in the heart of town then The Regent’s Acoustic Circus will feature Jimmy Moore, Benji Clements and The Crown Jewels.

 

Elsewhere NewQuay Times bring low-slung Americana to The Queens Tap and Ode and The Bebops will be attempting to answer the age-old question “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on The Bedpost Overnight?” through the medium of audience participation skiffle at The Victoria. Louder options come in the shape of slick ska from The Nomarks at The Beehive and the masters of mayhem, riotous rhythm and boozy blues, The Hamsters From Hell will be laying waste to The Rolleston and it’s near vicinity.

 

If you are of the heavy rock and metal persuasion then there is only one place for you to be on Saturday as a host of bands line up for an all-dayer at Basement 73. Metal is the main order of the day with Malefice, Sleep Inertia, Harmony Disorder and many more satisfying the needs of the pure metalhead whilst some variation comes from the dark, post-punk of Strength in Blunders, the grungier edge of Burnthru and Boss Cloth, the cross genre blends of The Damned and The Dirty and impressive alt-rock of All Ears Avow.

Apart from that it is all slightly less boundary pushing with The Victoria hosting a tribute to AC/DC, The Ashford Road Club featuring the songs of Adele, The Great Nothing playing rock covers at The Queens Tap and Built For Comfort treating The Rolleston to some Chicago blues classics.

 

If you want to get out and get some fresh air on Sunday then a stroll to the bandstand in the Old Town Gardens will reward you with something a bit special. Skins and Strings (pictured) are a two-piece instrumental set up who mix the exotic sound of tabla drums with pastoral acoustic guitar, the perfect musical blend of orient and occident.

 

Similarly exotic sounds can be found at The Check Inn in Wroughton with the Latin infused, acoustic jazz of Gilmore’n’Jaz. If something more “in your face” as the youth of today might say, is required then the fired up, electric blues standards of The Lewis Creavan Band at The White Hart might be the answer.

 

Finally the musical week ends in perfect fashion at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with another outing for Benji Clements whose skilful and soulful blends of groove-laden and funky standards and originals is a great way the to take your mind off of the midweek blues.

1970727_759281224090815_510702344_nI was presented with the perfect analogy the other day of why if you go to a gig you should support the whole evening. Obviously courtesy and support for grassroots music should be enough but whilst running the merchandise stand at a recent gig, this wonderful bit of karma unfolded. The first band had just finished, lets call them Band X, and a punter came over to the desk to check out the CD’s on offer, picking up one by the band who had just left the stage. “Did you see the opening act?” I enquired. “ No, I was in the upstairs bar, I don’t bother with support acts, I’m only here to see Band X” It came as a bit of a blow then when I informed him that whilst he was up in the top bar he had totally missed the band he had travelled, all the way from Birmingham as it happened, to see. Why he had assumed that Band X were headlining is anybody’s guess, he was even drinking in a bar with posters advertising the nights running order. So the obvious moral of the story is support all the bands on the bill, not only are you sure not to miss the act you have come to see, you may just pick up some new music as well. And so endeth todays lesson.

It’s a bit of a quiet week on the live music front, but there are a few gems to be found if you know where to look and tonight at The Victoria is the ideal place to start. Californian legends Ugly Duckling blend a range of urban sounds, 80’s hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz with humour and a feel-good factor that has found them acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Also on the bill are Lusty and Swindon’s own DJ/producer Para.

The American invasion continues down at The Rolleston as “ Glam Rock survivor” Adam Bomb (pictured) plays the last date of his European tour there. Adam has a CV that reads like a who’s who of rock royalty, having worked with everyone from Hanoi Rocks and Motorhead to The Wildhearts, John Paul Jones and even reggae giants Steel Pulse. His is a show that reminds you of what rock and roll is all about, razor wire riffs, attitude soaked stage presence, and his trademark love of pyrotechnics. Support comes Rocket Box and Nick Felix.

Jazz, folk and blues meet head on at The Beehive in the music of Portsmouth duo Walker Broad, which I thought was a pun (walk abroad?) until I realised that it is actually the surnames of the players. Expect Latin infuse foot tappers, jazz folk ballads and a few pure blues numbers.

Friday’s acoustic offering at Riffs Bar features a couple of tried and tested local acts in the shape of Ian O’Regan and Drew Bryant.  The former is a dexterous bluesman, whilst the later is an old school folk troubadour with a wonderful Donovan-esque vibe to his songs. Something heavier this way comes…well to The Rolleston at least, as new (ish) kids on the rock block, Broken Image, serves up a generous helping of classic rock covers.

Riffs Bar on Saturday offers something rather tasty, well if you like your prog rock that is. And why wouldn’t you when you have Credo on the bill? Not only are they a brilliant neo-progressive rock band, it is front man Marks birthday and so a whole bunch of genre stalwarts have rallied to the cause. Andy Sears, one time frontman with Twelfth Night will be there as will Comedy of Errors, neatly described in one review as Floyd meets Muse in The Court of The Gentle Giant (unpick the references from that.) Ex – Tinyfish chaps Robert Ramsey and Simon Godfrey are along for the ride, as are Also Eden’s Rich Harding and Simon Rogers. In short it is a showcase of almost everyone who matters in the contemporary progressive rock world.

Other options are blistering electric blues-rock at The Rolleston with Innes Sibun or a whole range of genres and eras covered by party band Switch at The Royal Oak.

Tuesday sees former Mike and The Mechanics and Ace frontman, Paul Carrack grace the stage of the Wyvern Theatre and The Roaring Donkey sees the week out on Wednesday with the liquid gold vocal talents of Sophia Bovell.

993496_10151749777031146_1227491858_nSo there I was looking for inspiration to write this opening paragraph, trawling the Internet for interesting facts from which to spring into wondrous literary prose or at least amusing anecdote. Sadly, for all it’s billions of facts and articles the internet doesn’t seem to work like that and most of the information to be found between the postings of cats who look a bit like Hitler and the latest Justin Bieber antics seem an exercise in pointlessness and posture. I say most, as there were a few interesting nuggets to be found. For example did you know that David Bowie invented Connect 4? Air conditioning is actually helping to prevent global warming by cooling the earth. The fact that Mount Rushmore resembles famous American presidents is pure coincidence. Chicken pies actually came before the egg sandwich.  114% of the statistics found online are exaggerated for comic affect. Some of these might not be true, it’s like Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg, “not all quotes found on the Internet are accurate.”

With that in mind the best place to find out what is going on musically is here. I have done all the rigorous checking for you and can assure you that this 100% accurate, subject to change, the information given to me by promoters, the fickleness of musicians and natural disasters!

Tonight at The Victoria, Songs of Praise throw another loud and shouty collection of bands into the mix. The AK-Poets will be gracing the headline spot for their trade mark show of riotous, razor wire rock ‘n’roll riffing, meticulous melodies and more alliterative descriptions than you can throw a thesaurus at. Support is courtesy of the wonderfully named punk ‘n’roll outfit, Molotov Sexbomb and the opening salvo comes hard and heavy from Headcount. Old school rock and roll is back on the menu it would seem.

Something a bit more soothing can be found at The Beehive as Mambo Jambo mix up roots and world music styles into a cultural diverse musical odyssey. If something altogether funkier is your thing then The Soul Strutters at Baker Street is the place to be.

On Friday we have offerings that run from the sublime to the ridiculous. At one end we have Metalhead playing rock and metal classics at The Victoria and at the other it’s Showaddywaddy at The Wyvern Theatre. Blimey! In between those extremes you can find the eerie, understated acoustica of We Ghosts at The Beehive, whilst The Rolleston opts for fired up electric blues-rock with Keith Thompson and his band. Keith has worked with everyone from a pre-Motorhead Mick “Wurzel” Burston to Ruby Turner so musical quality is guaranteed.

Out at Riffs Bar the regular acoustic session features Jenny Bracey and Last Flight Home.  After trawling trough the copious amount of information on offer for this gig I can tell you that the former is a singer-songwriter and the latter is a new musical vehicle for Missin’ Rosie frontman Joe Rendell. That is all.

It’s the usual pre-dominance of standards and nostalgia on Saturday with a couple of exceptions. Towing the line are 1000 Planets at The Victoria with a set of punk, goth and new wave blasts from the past, The Great Nothing play rock classics at The Rolleston after which if you move down stairs to Basement 73 you will get another set of classic rock and metal from Dodging The Bullet. Meanwhile, at The Greyhound you will find Bombshell playing, wait for it….rock covers, anyone see a pattern forming here?

If you are looking for something to break the cycle, Splat The Rat play Folk Beat at The Castle, a blend of modern folk acoustica put to a world music back beat.

Also moving to the beat of their own drum is Nudybronque who launch their new e.p. at Riffs Bar.  After months holed up in a secret location in Old Town they have emerged with a more diverse sound, a raft of great songs, a shiny new CD and the same brand of charisma, lunatic charm and stage presence that got them noticed in the first place. To help them celebrate the night they have invited some of their favourite acts to join them. The Get Outs will play punked out rock, The Interceptors, infectious ska and Faye Rogers provides a gentle acoustic start to the evening.

More delicate acoustic sounds can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday in the shape of tousle hair troubadour Billyjon.

1012061_10151336558167168_224323729_nSo as we turn the corner from a cold and very wet January to a, probably, just as cold and wet February, at least the first buds of musical growth are starting to appear in the local venues. January is always musically slow but this week there is a lot more to tell you about than in previous weeks so I shall just get down to business, stop procrastinating, cease dilly-dallying around, quit the filibustering, postpone no longer…in short, get on with it.

Although with their roots in more conventional mainstream sounds, the Talk in Code that heads into 2014 are a sassy blend of synth washed, indie-dance and guitar driven pop sensibilities. Not a bad way to kick the week off. They are joined by alt-rock, new comers, A Way With Words and acoustic artist, Daniel James and all this happens at The Victoria tonight.

At The Beehive is Tennessee’s very own Mark Merriman, a world-renowned guitarist who has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Frank Evans and Wishbone Ash’s Andy Powell.

Lots to choose from on Friday and the birth of a new venture to help bring something new and vibrant to town. Under the direction of two of the areas most established players, The Regent is now hosting acoustic sessions and the first one kicks off in fine style with an acoustic set from the guys of False Gods and the long awaited re-emergence of The Racket main man Plummie.

The other regular Friday night acoustic session at Riffs Bar will feature the delights of Nick Tann (pictured), a jazz inflected, soaring and soulful player armed with a disarming wit and shirts whose loudness might cause a few health and safety violations. He is joined by the stripped back acoustic funk of the puntastic With Nell and I, a slick and musically elegant band with a vocal that will stop you in your tracks.

Other acoustic offerings come in the form of the furious, folk party that is Grubby Jack at The Rolleston. Traditional songs from the folk, Americana and Celtic songbooks, delivered with infectious aplomb and cheeky charm by this talented trio.

Right, if you prefer your music more fired up and electrified…as it were, you can either catch The Star Men, a tribute to all things seventies Glam at The Victoria or for something more current and original, The AK-Poets continue their tour by descending upon The Beehive for a night of razor wire riffs, raucous rock and murderous melody. It’s brash, it’s boisterous…it’s brilliant.

Although I bemoan the amount of classic rock cover bands that come through this town (lets not get on that one again though) The Victoria this Saturday night offers the chance to see, if not the fresh face, at least the hard bitten snarl and contemptuous growl of the genres current cutting edge. This double header features Stonewire and Four Wheel Drive, festival stalwarts, hard hitting classic rockers and the most exciting live show ever to pull on a pair of biker boots.

Meanwhile Reginald Road, a mix of punky ska and reggae rock, will be firing up The Queens Tap with a set of originals and classics, The Rolleston features Dickie Reed and The Royal Oak is the place for a night of fun covers with Penfold. Fans of the 80’s will want to head out to Riffs Bar for the synthy sounds and nostalgic themes of Syntronix.

More pop, rock and indie covers come courtesy of Switch at The Kings in Old Town on Sunday and those with who remember the glory days of rock will do well to get tickets for Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash at The Wyvern Theatre. Founder member Martin, not only looks back at four decades of music, faithfully reproducing all the bands classics but also offers up brand new music into the mix. If the word Argus conjures up more than a Brighton newspaper, then this is the show for you.