Set List Included:Unwelcome Light, Goodnight Evelyn, Hang Me High, Whisper, Pray, Moonstruck, The Itch and Crawling.
Felix White (Ex-Maccabees) and Morad Khokar recently founded Yala! Records. A London-based record label that also features exclusive club nights to provide a platform and promote new and unsigned bands who write their own material.
Friday 27th January 2017 was the 3rd Yala! club night to be held at Bermondsey Social Club. The exclusive event, limited to only 120 tickets, had long since sold out with Crows headlining with support from Abattoir Blues and special guest DJ’s.
On entering a small unassuming metal doorway in Almond Road, under the railway arches of Bermondsey you are transformed into an extremely friendly and modern venue. Directly in front of you is a stage and projector screen that dominate the far wall. A DJ booth and bar are located to the right of the stage and out through the back on the left is a cosy, covered garden area with seating and outdoor heaters.
Will White (Felix’s younger brother) provided the introductory DJ set followed by various members of The Magic Gang. The main DJ set for the evening after the bands had performed, was provided by 3 members of Foals, Yannis, Edwin and Jack.
Abattoir Blues a 5-piece from Brighton took to the stage around 9 o’clock and, as their name suggests, played an extremely heavy and gutsy half hour set.
Crows a London-based 4 -piece with singer James Cox, bass guitarist Jith Amara, guitarist Steve Goddard and drummer Laurence Rushworth. Crows emerged on the stage through a hazy but heavy blue fog that emitted from the smoke machine. The air was moody, atmospheric and dark, much like Crows music -style. Immediately front-man, James, had the audience captivated with his wide-eyed stares and aggressive gestures. He was so engaging and magnetic that unfortunately you didn’t notice the rest of the band because all your focus was on the singer. However, I am going to see the band again this weekend and I am going to make a concerted effort to observe the input from other band members. The strong bass-line to ‘Hang Me High’ and ‘The Itch’, the complex guitar in ‘Whisper’ and ‘Pray’ and the prominent drums in ‘Goodnight Evelyn’ for example.
The stage became too claustrophobic for singer, James, as he wound the microphone lead tightly around his hands and stepped down into the crowd during the track “Hang Me High”. He weaved his way slowly through the spectators, he stared wildly whilst still singing, and made his way to the back of the fearful audience before slowly returning to the stage area. After much stage-diving from James and crowd-surfing from fans the front members of the audience were becoming wild. When the band played “Whisper”, rival fans fought over the spare microphone (me included) to join in with the lyrics, “I,I,I,I, I’m breathless, I,I,I,I, I’m shaking and I,I,I,I, I’m useless!”. At this point, James, was right in the thick of the manic crowd and the fans lifted and carried him above their shoulders like a hero. Shortly after this I came off worse in the mosh pit that had developed. Surviving most of the song, I then lost my balance and reeled backwards. I found myself looking up from the floor at a sea of legs that continuously kicked and stood on me, unaware I was there. Thankfully I was rescued by 2 guys who dragged me back up to join the rest of the crowd, the right way up. The band finished with their popular track “Crawling”. The singer loomed above everyone by starting the song, stood on top of the bar, before throwing himself down into the appreciative crowd, who then carried him off over their shoulders whilst making their way to the back of the room.
I had seen Crows perform a couple of times before, so to some degree I knew what to expect. However, for my friends, this was a new experience and they all agreed Crows were amazing. One even said “I want to see them again, now!”
My favourite tracks from the evening were ‘Goodnight Evelyn’ because its my favourite track from their Unwelcome Light E.P. and ‘Hang Me High’ because the lyrics are so dark and I love the bass-line.
Oh, and my tumble in the mosh pit…I found out the next day I had 3 cracked ribs. So, a very memorable gig for me! One of my friends said the singer should have a tattoo of my broken ribs on his ribs in honour of my dedication and sacrifice!
Crows “Unwelcome Light” 5 track E.P is available on vinyl on Telharmonium Records.
Until the next adventure…
Set List Included: Paul, Umbongo, De Bom Bom, In Plastic, The Last Riddler, Fucking Butter, Pears For Lunch, Lawman, Peelers, Shoulder Pads, The Cha Cha Cha and Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage
Approaching Leeds Brudenell Club, the car park was full and the smoking and seating area outside, almost empty. This was a positive sign, as obviously the noise emanating from the building had everyone transfixed inside.
The venue was rammed, although not completely sold out. Leeds Brudenell was taking part in the Independent Venue Week #IVN17 and this gig also included 2 artists signed to the independent label, Rough Trade Records. Support bands were Mush, an extremely promising four-piece from Leeds, reminiscent of early Pixies and Breeders. Goat Girl, a London, female four-piece, gutsy guitar band with attitude. I loved the song “Country Sleaze” and especially the intro to “Scum”.
When main act, Girl Band took to the stage they instantly set the tone for the evening with their latest single, “Paul”. The Dublin four-piece, started with an exceptionally heavy bass-line and the opening lyrics “Better not ask, a bleached moustache has given us a rash…”. Singer, Dara Kiely , a charismatic front-man, who captured the crowd’s attention immediately and managed to hold it all the way through the gig. In-between songs he added his own anecdotes and at one point shouted “Yorrrrkkshire!” to which the crowd gladly chanted back in unison “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire!”
Instantaneously hit by a wall of sound that was so intensely loud, every solid object vibrated along to the bass, including the walls and floor. An unmanageable combination of angst, chaos and calm. In-between songs, hecklers in the crowd shouted “Louder, louder!” One of the crowd-pleasing tracks of the evening was “Pears for Lunch”. With Dara’s vocal style it’s only possible to catch fragments of lyrics; but when you do it immediately puts a smile on your face. “I look crap with my top off” and “like corn on the gob” are just some of the words that I singled out. I regretted not getting closer to the stage as the amount of pedal work , distortion and reverb used by the bass player, Daniel Fox and guitarist, Alan Duggan, would have been fascinating to watch. But I was more than happy to appreciate it from the steps near the back where I still had a good view of the band. As the gig continued the strobe-lighting increased, along with the volume. The packed crowd looked like a swarm of insects flailing around at the foot of the stage. The band finished with the epic “Why Do They Hide Their Bodies In My Garage”.
All in all, an absolutely amazing gig and a very happy audience. I’d go and see any of these three guitar bands again in the blink of an eye.
My favourite tracks of the evening: “Lawman” and “Pears for Lunch”.
Girl Band’s album “Holding Hands With Jamie” is available now on Rough Trade Records.
Until the next adventure…
Set List: Cinema, I’m Still Believing, Kopter, Fast Silver, Fall Out of Love, Clouds That Cover the Sun, Dream Orchestrator, Heart Skips a Beat, Clear Shot, Motoring, Jungle Games, Dead and Gone, Another Dimension, Join the Dots.
TOY released their third album, “Clear Shot” in October last year on Heavenly Recordings. The London-based, independent record label, founded by Jeff Barrett, held a four-day festival in Hebden Bridge to showcase their current bands. The festival returned to the Trades Club after celebrating their 25th anniversary there in 2016. This years’ weekend event started on Thursday 19th January and finished on Sunday 22nd January. Headlining bands were, Duke Garwood, Hooton Tennis Club, TOY and Temples, respectively. Unfortunately I missed out on the full weekend tickets, as they sold out so quickly, but I managed to get hold of a ticket for Saturday night.
I was determined to see TOY again, after discovering them in November last year and been absolutely captivated by them and their music (see my review from November 2016 TOY at The Wardrobe, Leeds 26.11.2016). I purchased their album “Clear Shot” as I left the gig and played it to death (if that’s possible). After a couple of weeks I ordered their previous albums, “Toy” and “Join the Dots” – they had made that much of an impression, my only regret was that I hadn’t discovered them sooner.
Having never been to the Trades Club at Hebden Bridge before, I was pleasantly surprised by the venue. It had lots of character with a lovely welcoming atmosphere and all the staff were really friendly. The support band on Saturday were Britain, a boy-girl duo from Preston who were very reminiscent of Cocteau Twins.
I was extremely lucky as I managed to get the best spot in the crowd…right in the middle and at the front. TOY started their set with the atmospheric song “Cinema” from their latest album. This was followed by “I’m Still Believing”, one of the band’s shorter and catchier songs. Straight away they had you hooked, as each band member put their heart and soul into the performance and each one added their character and personality. You just wish you could watch the gig five times over, so you could concentrate on just one band member each time, because you don’t know who to watch next. Singer/guitarist, Tom Dougall, was absolutely spellbinding to watch, he was so intriguing and mysterious, his vocals were gentle, yet strong and reassuring. He has a real presence. Dominic O’Dair, the lead guitarist, I could watch all day, he is a talented guitarist and so passionate about the music and his performance, a real perfectionist. Bass player, Maxim ‘Panda’ Barron has lots of personality and that really comes across in the gig. A couple of times he leapt from the stage and was enveloped by the appreciative crowd. The bass-line is so strong and prominent in many of the songs, for example “Join the Dots”. Keyboard-player, Max Oscarnold, is the newest member of the band, his input gave the band a psychedelic edge but also fused the band together . Drummer, Charlie Salvidge, is one of the most energetic drummers I have seen in a while. His input, especially in the song “Dead and Gone” was incredible. The band collectively were so strong and well co-ordinated, melodic but also raw and moody, powered by adrenaline.
They played most tracks from their new album with some older songs such as the epic, “Kopter” and “Fall Out of Love”. My favourite songs of the night, “Dead and Gone”…Tom Dougall, I could listen to you singing this all night! “I’m Still Believing” because it is so catchy but matter of fact at the same time. “Join the Dots” simply because it is an amazing track and you just don’t want it to end. That’s the great thing about TOY, their music has been described as being confronted by a great wall of sound. Different effects, angles, arrangements and elements create a variety of layers and textures. In addition, when you hear them play, their music just builds and builds until it escalates into something far better than you imagined or anticipated.
Going to see this band is real escapism and that’s what I love about them the most. You don’t want the experience to end, whilst at the same time you realise how very special it is.
Heavenly Recordings…Believe In Magic!
Until the next adventure…
My last live music gig for 2016 and what a way to finish, seeing one of my long-standing bands from the Crookes area of Sheffield, at my favourite Yorkshire music venue, Leeds Brudenell.
The approach to the Brudenell Club was illuminated with two giant reindeer, a teddy bear and snowman all positioned on the entrance roof (see photo). Inside was equally decorated for Christmas and the pizza van in the car park, not wanting to be left out, was adorned with tinsel and lights.
The venue was heaving as Every Time I Die played an ear-splitting set to a sold out main room. While The Crookes performed in the equally packed, adjoining Games Room. The Crookes must have devoted the day to dressing the stage with decorations including a Christmas tree, lights, tinsel, presents, a speaker with the words “Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals”and a black backdrop with round white lights, to give the impression of a snowy night, finished the theme. Oh, and not forgetting free mince pies on the merch stall.
First up were local three-piece band Common Dogs, consisting of drummer, bass guitarist and singer/guitarist. They appeared to be quite nervous to start with, which is a shame as their influences, The Strokes and Foals anticipated for a great night. Unfortunately, they lost the crowd when they covered Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. They need to stick to their own material. I especially liked the first song they have ever written which they ended their set with (unfortunately I didn’t catch the title of it).
The second support band were The Hot Soles. A duo from Sheffield featuring drummer Richard Birkin and guitarist/singer Kieran Wardle; they walked on to the theme from Grandstand – it certainly grabbed the audience. Their aggressive soul sound was dominant, strong and loud, blended with the singer’s amazing powerful and unique voice. I noticed the band had everyone’s full attention from the first song, including people who had been propping up the bar seconds earlier. In-between songs the singer engaged the audience with his witty anecdotes and at one point managed to order a drink from the bar whilst he continued to play guitar. I overheard a girl next to me tell her friend that she wanted to learn how to play drums after seeing them play. A good recommendation if ever I heard one!
I have seen The Crookes perform many times over the last five years. The first time was when they played with The Heartbreaks at The Queens Social Club in Sheffield (whatever happened to them? I used to love Save Our Souls). It’s so interesting to see the gradual progression of a band. I feel a sense of pride when the crowd sings the lyrics back to the band , God knows how it makes The Crookes feel! Now with four albums under their belts they are spoilt for choice which tracks to play, but manage a mixture from all four and a couple from their first EP, “Dreams Of Another Day”. They really are coordinated as a band, they look amazing and sound flawless. George, singer/bass player with his engaging vocals and mesmerising wobbly head gestures. Daniel, guitarist/keyboard player, always appears quiet and aloof but then catches someone singing back his lyrics which makes him smile. Tom, guitarist, is energetic and always smiling while singing backing vocals. Newest member Adam, drummer, sings happily and rhythmically moves to the music. True to their word that it would be a Crookes Christmas Tour, the set included songs such as: Afterglow, Maybe in the Dark, I Wanna Waste My Time On You and Sofie all with a sprinkling of their Christmas songs including: You’re Just Like Christmas, You Bring The Snow and It’s Just Not Christmas Without You. It was great to hear some of their older songs like “The Collier’s Wife” and “Backstreet Lovers” which the crowd loved and happily sang back to them. The encore, which ended the hour and a half set, was “Santa Baby” merged with their famous crowd pleaser, “Yes, Yes We’re Magicians” which everyone followed the lead of singer George, to click their fingers along to.
The Crookes have just finished their 150th gig this year at The Queen’s Social Club in Sheffield on 17th December 2016. Their first three albums: Chasing After Ghosts, Hold Fast and Soapbox are all available through Fierce Panda Records and their current album, Lucky Ones is available on Anywhere Records.
Until the next adventure…