Live – The Ninth Wave + Walt Disco at The Green Door Store

The Ninth Wave / Walt Disco, The Green Door Store Brighton, 17th November 2019

Over the years Glasgow has borne an illustrious list of musical talent and the tradition seems to be in no danger of stopping any time soon. Touring with their now complete two part debut album Infancy, The Ninth Wave arrive in Brighton bringing a slice of synth driven avant garde swathed in red lights and distorted strobes.

As an added bonus, support comes from their near neighbours Walt Disco. With a performance brimming with the glam and fervour of the 80s’ Blitz Kids, the band go from strength to strength live, adding their own brand of contemporary glittering new wave pop to the heady influences from the past. Finishing up with riff laden Drowning in your Velvet Bed, they receive the warmest of receptions. Not content with choosing between style and substance, Walt Disco have copious amounts of both, with a captivating vocal thrown in for good measure.

With their reputation building and live dates across the country selling out, The Ninth Wave are heading very conspicuously out from under the radar to grab the attention of fans and the music press alike. Their performance, like their sound, is dark and intense at first glance but there are undeniably lighter dance hooks beneath the goth-art density of tracks like Half Pure. With nostalgic nods to The Cure, Japan and possibly even Tears for Fears if they’d been up all night watching Klaus Nomi videos, the double vocal is hypnotic and urgent at the same time. With the crowd left shouting for more, their set is over all too soon and there is little doubt that they could be filling much bigger venues in the not too distant future. Theatricality aside, The Ninth Wave are developing a stockpile of strong songs and a presence that suggests greater things to come.

Get both of these bands firmly on your Christmas list… more from Walt Disco here and The Ninth Wave here

Words and photos by Siobhan

19th November 2019

Live – LIFE + Night Flowers at The Green Door Store

LIFE / Night Flowers, The Green Door Store Brighton, 11th November 2019

With venues showing mixed fortunes in opening and closing around Brighton, it’s good to see The Green Door Store continuing to play host to some packed shows across differing music genres. Tonight is a great example of that with hazy dream pop quintet Night Flowers opening up for their sonically abrasive punk pals LIFE.

There’s a buzz around both bands and Night Flowers take the opportunity to treat the crowd to songs from their new album Fortune Teller, opening with some definite 80’s guitar influences on Lotta Love and the shimmery Merry-Go-Round. Think Fleetwood Mac via Soccer Mommy and Alvvays and you have a glimpse into the embracing warmth of Night Flowers’ sound. Despite their quip that ‘You can blame LIFE if you don’t like us’ there are no worries on that score as their songs are well received and it seems they may well have picked up some new fans along the way – their perfect pop harmonies are a welcome prelude to what’s to come later in the night. Night Flowers end their set with Fireworks – the vocal rather than pyrotechnic type but still a captivating show and a clear sign that it’s well worth checking out their recorded material.

As expected, things take a slightly more disorderly turn as LIFE take to the stage and change the tempo, kicking straight into Excites Me and some fine dance moves to boot. A lot of fans have clearly come from the IDLES’ camp but if you take the music at face value it’s more akin to the wrath of Dead Kennedys mixed with the cynical humour of Half Man Half Biscuit, and definitely has some depth amongst the plethora of angry post-punk that’s filling the current airwaves. That said, LIFE are not shy of adding a political tone or tackling social issues in their music with tracks including Half Pint Fatherhood and It’s in Your Hands prompting the inevitable mosh pit and expeditions from stage to crowd. It’s a strong performance and it’s fair to say that everyone goes home happy. Also with a new album on the table, take a listen to A Picture of Good Health for more.

Check out more from LIFE here and Night Flowers here

Words and photos by Siobhan

13th November 2019

Live – Warmduscher + Lazarus Kane at Chalk

Warmduscher / Lazarus Kane, Chalk Brighton, 8th November 2019

As intro music goes, Welcome to the Jungle is up there as a bold choice and as the opening riffs kick in, Lazarus Kane hits the stage at Chalk, Brighton’s newest venue risen from the ashes of The Haunt. With an immediate crowd reaction, and it’s a big crowd, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of anticipation for the support act tonight. Having recently released the mesmeric Narcissus through Speedy Wunderground, it’s a pleasure to see its live incarnation along with a set full of equally high calibre material.

With discernible nods to Talking Heads, New Order and a spoken drawl straight from Larry Hagman’s finishing school, the Lazarus Kane ‘family’ keep energy levels high with bouncing synths, guitars and drum machines. It’s a powerful performance and it surely won’t be long before they’re taking the headline spot on bigger stages; I’m very much looking forward to seeing what comes next. For now, they leave us with a sound recommendation, ”Who’s excited for Warmduscher? They got the slickest tunes and the slickest trousers I ever saw!” And you can’t say fairer than that. 

Warmduscher do indeed bring an array of slick trousers and with them a huge set of  tunes blending post punk and pulsating electro sleaze. Heading straight into Big Wilma, the party atmosphere starts and doesn’t let up for the next hour. Bringing their atypical new album Tainted Lunch on tour, the tracks are received with the reverence of old favourites with highlights in Midnight Dipper, Grape Face and the wonderfully titled Disco Peanuts. And there are some actual old favourites interspersed throughout the setlist too; the mix of thumping bass, rap and soul laden backing vocals of Standing on the Corner hard to beat.

Crossing over genres the way they do, it’s hard to define Warmduscher’s sound or style. In reality, all you need to know is that this is a band that have plucked the best elements of their past musical forays and melded them into a force of nature to be reckoned with. It’s less dirty dancing, more filthy disco – let’s hope there’s more to come. I’m always wary of slinging around the ‘gig of the year’ accolade but with these two acts in one night, this has to be a serious contender.

A double recommendation – click through for more from Warmduscher and Lazarus Kane

Words and photos by Siobhan

11th November 2019

Live – Feeder at Portsmouth Pyramids

Feeder, Portsmouth Pyramids, 1st November 2019

Tonight’s sold out show at Portsmouth Pyramids marks the start of Feeder’s UK tour in support of their new album Tallulah. There’s clearly still a lot of love on the south coast for the guys and I have to admit that, back in the day, I used to love Feeder. Seeing them play at HMV on Commercial Road to promote the single Crash back in 1997 was insanely good fun, and my mates and I never missed a show when they were in town. Though shortly after the release of their second album Yesterday Went Too Soon, both me and Feeder went our separate ways, and it would appear we’ve both changed since falling in love 23 years ago. But, 10 albums in, Feeder are still going strong and you know what? Fair play to them.

Back to the show though, and frontman Grant Nicholas announces that “Tonight is a night for new music!” A quick glance at tonight’s setlist torpedoes any hope I had of hearing an old classic such as Stereo World, Cement or W.I.T. but I’m probably the only one here who cares. Kicking things off with new album opener Youth, the set ticks along nicely enough at a steady pace. It’s only when they break into fan favourite Come Back Around that the crowd actually begins to move about a bit. Halfway through, they play Kyoto which is a lot heavier than anything else they’ve played this evening, and it’s a welcome relief from the slower material that’s come so far. Still, the end of the set draws on older material that seems to get everyone dancing (particularly Buck Rogers – the song about a CD player, player, player, etc.)

Tonight’s encore is rounded off with Just a Day, by which point teenage me feels a little sad that he didn’t get to relive those glory days by crowdsurfing to Tangerine. But, I can’t help leaving with nothing but respect for Feeder; after all these years, they’re still a great live band, and they do what they do well.

Catch the latest from Feeder here

Words by Ryan Howarth
Photos by Hannah Mesquitta

9th November 2019

Live – ARXX + Run Into The Night + LIME at The Hope & Ruin

ARXX / Run Into The Night / LIME, The Hope & Ruin Brighton, 28th October 2019

Local duo Arxx have clearly built up a strong live reputation and following to match – The Hope & Ruin is busy from early on in the evening as they return to Brighton to finish their tour on home ground. 

Opening act LIME have also been busy on the local circuit; coming together from different parts of the country but currently Brighton based, their mix of dreamy indie tunes tinged with 60s’ psychedelia gets things off to a great start. The band slot together well and their sound is experimental and cohesive at the same time. Maintaining their hard working live regime, LIME will be supporting Little Comets at Chalk on 6th November.

Breaking up the Brighton stronghold, Run Into The Night claim the middle set of the evening with a beautiful fusion of post-punk, blues and elements of Tarantino style spaghetti western. There’s so much good new music coming out of Glasgow right now and it would definitely be appropriate to add them to the list to watch out for. Another two piece who sound like there must be more of them, the band switch from Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ style indie-punk to the much slower paced recent single Mon Cheri with ease – seek out the recorded version for additional featured vocals from Martin Metcalfe (The Filthy Tongues / Goodbye Mr Mackenzie). Run Into The Night have new music and more live dates planned in 2020 – keep an eye and ear out.

By the time ARXX’ headline set comes around there is a real buzz in the venue and the crowd is not to be disappointed. Although they claim to be nervous, their performance is as confident and raucous as they come; don’t be fooled by the smiles and pastel boiler suits – these two are serious musicians and there are no holds barred as they sear between rock, country and grunge. Recent singles You Got What You Want  and Iron Lung would hold their own among much more established artists and their live show comes highly recommended. It might be a good idea to check out ARXX soon if you want to experience the intimate venue experience – bigger things are surely not too far away on the horizon now.

Words and photos by Siobhan

30th October 2019 

Live – Bambara at Hyde Park Book Club

Bambara, Hyde Park Book Club Leeds, 23rd October 2019

Over the last few years the post-punk renaissance (should it surely not be post/post/post-punk by now?) has seen the emergence of many bands armed with strong basslines and shouty vocals, some creating some of the decade’s most vital noise, some unfortunately sounding resoundingly more derivative and pedestrian. The latter cannot be said of New York outfit Bambara who, whilst existing in this new post-punk arena, incorporate elements of noise rock and ambient music, resulting in something darker and more electrifying than many other postx3-punk groups.

Their UK tour stopped off for a show at Hyde Park Book Club, an independent café and arts space in the student area of (you guessed it) Hyde Park, Leeds, where local group Polevaulter provided support. Whilst Polevaulter got the crowd warmed up and moving, some of their potential was sadly dampened by the high levels of bass and vocal echo which resulted in them sounding a little muddy, and any atmosphere attempted by the singer who draped the microphone lead around his neck, was lost by him singing almost exclusively away from the audience, often eyes closed or looking off towards side-stage.

As a crowd made up of 70% black leather filled up the basement space where the dimmed lights shadowed the exposed cracks in the ceiling, a bottle of tequila was placed at the front of the stage; Bambara were now preparing to perform.

I use the word perform, not in a derogatory sense in that anything about them is false but, that in Reid Bateh, Bambara has a frontman with presence, his lyrics read like southern gothic literature and he delivers them with such brutal conviction and energy. Probing and swinging the mic stand like a baton, he is often perched on the edge of the stage or writhing on the floor, resembling a young Glen Danzig all in black, handsomely dishevelled, as though it’s unclear whether he just got up, or hasn’t been to bed at all. 

On stage the group are a force of nature, the songs which are mostly taken from their 2018 record Shadow on Everything sound like an impending thunderstorm ready to crack down at any moment. Drummer Blaze Bateh, who is shirtless and relentless, pummels the kit throughout the evening against the battling guitars which colour tracks Jose Tries to Leave and Doe- Eyed Girl with wailing tremors and squeals, like something from a demented spaghetti western film soundtrack.

Set closer Monument was the final moment of anarchic catharsis, the array of black leather coats now too warm to wear adorned the front monitors, as more and more bodies began to pile together, limbs flailing in every direction, often stretching out towards Reid’s preaching frame. As the song began to reach its climax, my head crashed against his, locked in yelping unison of the refrain “I wanna see your Shadow on Everything, Shadow on Everything, SHADOW ON EVERYTHING”.

If IDLES, Savages or The Fat White Family are your bag then chances are you may very well have already heard of Bambara. If not, then I cannot recommend them enough, with this set featuring new tracks such as the blistering Serafina from their forthcoming album Stray (due for release in February 2020) it looks likely that Bambara will only continue to assert themselves as one of the more dynamic rock acts of the moment.


You can watch the lyric video for Serafina below

Keep up to speed with Bambara here

Words and photos by Ryan Bell

28th October 2019

Live – Thurston Moore Group + Rattle at The Wedgewood Rooms

Thurston Moore Group / Rattle, The Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth, 20th October 2019

It’s not every week you have a true rock ‘n’ roll legend like Thurston Moore grace the stage of your local music venue, but, there he is, standing tall in front of a packed Wedgewood Rooms introducing his backing band before playing a single note. He politely informs the waiting audience that the group will perform a single song this evening, but if you’re familiar with his latest album, Spirit Counsel – a two and a half hour record featuring three tracks – this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

First up though is tonight’s support band, Rattle, from Nottingham. The duo consists of two drummers (with some vocal harmonies thrown into the mix), and you might be fooled into thinking that this is some kind of gimmick, but their music is spellbinding and we were all left in a trance, hoping for more. Their set-up may be minimal, but vocalist Katherine Eira Brown is able to create a unique sound of her own that fits beautifully in and around the tribal drumming patterns. It’s hypnotic, strange and the music transports you to another place. Rattle’s simplistic approach is helping them to build a strong following, and it’s not hard to see why they are fast gaining a reputation as one of the best live bands around, which is thoroughly well deserved.

After nearly four decades in the music business, Thurston Moore is still producing some of the most interesting and accessible alternative/avant-garde rock music to date. His last solo record, Rock n Roll Consciousness, was a perfect hit for those of us still yearning for a Sonic Youth reunion (hmm), however, his latest offering takes a slightly less straight forward approach. Entirely instrumental, Spirit Counsel is a huge album (in both length and ambition), and it’s the first track from the album that we’re treated to this evening.

Alice Moki Jayne – named after Alice Coltrane, Moki Cherry and Jayne Cortez – is as inspiring as the women namechecked in its title. It takes many twists and turns throughout the performance, but for a song of this length, not once does it lose its way. It starts with Jon Liedecker creating some gentle electronic textures, before Thurston nods his head for the guitars to join in. Joining Thurston on guitar duties is James Sedwards and My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe, and together they create a lush wave of noise that makes your head swim. The wash of cymbals adds to this effect, and I can’t help but think of the intro to Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond during the opening refrain. It’s beautiful and ominous at the same time, with the delays and drones in between the riffs adding another layer of intrigue to the song.

As the song progresses, the drums gather speed and the krautrock rhythm being played with military precision eventually gives way to an ear-splitting breakdown of guitar spasms, before a sledgehammer meltdown makes a few of those around me jump in surprise. This heavier section of the song sounds like the sort of all-out-sonic-audio-war that Swans have been championing since their reformation, and it’s absolutely brutal. The guitars are played with such ferocity that they’re knocked out of tune, but the song is nearly over and who’s going to care?

After 70 minutes everything gently slows to a halt, and you can hear a pin drop. There is a pause before someone shouts “fucking brilliant!” and the crowd erupts. Our patience is rewarded, our faith in music is restored and that was one of the most Pompey endings to a show ever! Good effort all round I say.

More from Thurston Moore and check out Rattle here

Words by Ryan Howarth
Photos by Hannah Mesquitta

28th October 2019

Live – Richard Hawley + Get Cape Wear Cape Fly at Brighton Dome

Richard Hawley / Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Brighton Dome, 18th October 2019

Brighton Dome has played host to many a legendary artist over the years and Friday night saw the ridiculously talented Richard Hawley return to its stage for the last night of his current tour; what better way to take refuge from the deluge of rain outside?

First up though, the opening set belonged to another stalwart of the music scene in Sam Duckworth, better known by his superhero pseudonym Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. Having seen him perform a party-worthy set with full band at 2000 Trees in the summer, it was good to hear the other side of his skills with a powerful acoustic performance – hard to pull off in a venue this size but achieved with ease and aplomb. Not averse to combining music with a social message, Duckworth could be a credible candidate as the Billy Bragg of the next generation.

To the (thankfully) minority of the crowd having a sit down chat through his set – please just stay in the bar next time, no-one cares what you said to Mandy from HR.

Richard Hawley’s career is well documented, from his first foray into music with Treebound Story to fondly remembered 90s’ outfit The Longpigs and everyone’s favourite cardigan wielding heroes Pulp, he has worked with and inspired a whole heap of artists including Duane Eddy and The Manics. Other collaborations include famously – Arctic Monkeys (on receipt of their 2006 Mercury award Alex Turner opened his speech with the immortal line ‘Somebody call 999, Richard Hawley’s been robbed’) and not so famously – All Saints (providing the guitar solo for their cover of Chili Peppers’ Under the Bridge).

In spite of this barrage of credentials, he retains an air of humility and a grounded sense of humour that makes his set entertaining in many ways. Striking a pose as he arrives on stage, the first three songs, Off My Mind, Alone and title track Further are clear indicators that his latest album is full of his deft mix of rock and balladry that gives his tracks that feeling of reassuring warmth. His rich vocal ranges from Iggy Pop to Scott Walker in a moment and there can be no doubting his guitar skills.

The set continues with songs old and new and lots of love shown for the eloquent Tonight the Streets are Ours, the simple beauty of Open Up Your Door and the heartfelt lyrics on closer Heart of Oak. Hawley makes it look effortless but there’s nothing easy about writing songs this good, singing with an intensity that hypnotises everyone in the room and then chatting to those same people like you were in the pub with your mates. Much appreciated but still vastly underrated, Richard Hawley seems to be master of all trades, jack of none.

You can check in with Get Cape Wear Cape Fly here and find all thing Richard Hawley here

Words and photos by Siobhan

21st October 2019

Festival – Dials 2019

Dials Festival, Southsea, 5th October 2019

Returning to its now regular early October slot, Dials Festival brought another hugely impressive line up to Southsea’s Albert Road at the weekend, hosted across five venues all within a few minutes walk of each other. In a sometimes overcrowded market, it’s difficult to find a USP for a festival these days… well, how about this? Dials is run by volunteers, works hard to apply inclusivity towards artists and attendees and raises money and awareness for local mental health charity Solent Mind… now that’s a difference worth taking notice of.

And if that’s not enough, the musical talent on display is a joy to discover. Channeling their inner New Order, Two Tribes gave a great performance at The Wine Vaults, as did Sarpa Salpa with their synth infused dance tunes opening the venue’s stage. I love that people come out early for Dials and support the acts playing from opening slots to headliners.

Across the road at Lord John Russell, Heebie Jeebies kicked off a relaxed atmosphere with guitars and sax aplenty while The Loft saw some some sharp drumming and grunge appeal from Dad Hair and Eno-esque experimental synth loops from Friday Night Weird Dreams.

A firm favourite on the local live circuit, Madonnatron packed the room at The Edge and did not disappoint with their unashamedly brash post punk psychedelia and razor sharp multi-vocals.

As always with Dials, I found some great new bands who I hadn’t seen before, in fact the vast majority were new to me live. Quite how I’ve managed to miss Arxx so far is a bit of a mystery but with a set including fierce grunge tracks, a dabble with country and a Eurythmics cover to boot, they’re firmly on my must see again list. Representing the increasingly impressive Bristol music scene, the discordant drawl of spikey post punk from Haze and some ethereal slacker rock from Wych Elm also both come highly recommended.

Last year, LibraLibra opened one of the smaller stages and more than made their mark at Dials. This year they made an unquestionably triumphant return with a performance so powerful it may be worth checking if the Edge of the Wedge is still standing. Vocally it’s as though Gossip have been shaken up by X-Ray Spex; this is not a band to be missed. I assume by next year they’ll be well on the way to world domination.

Hot on their heels on the main stage next door, another absolute stand out set from Glasgow’s Walt Disco. Their uniquely dark brand of art rock disco is streets ahead of many of their contemporaries, largely because their material stands up on its own and doesn’t rely solely on the performance. That said, the performance is pretty spectacular. Billy Mackenzie would be proud.

One thing that Dials does consistently well is to bring a mix of genres to the table with cross appeal for those attending, allowing different moods and styles of music to reach new ears. From boiler-suited dancealongs with BASH! to Acid Tongue’s folk influenced garage and the dulcet vocals of Megan Lara Mae (including a cover of Minnie Riperton’s Loving You that managed to avoid screeching that note) there really was something for everyone.

Bigger festivals could learn a thing or two about applying gender mix to their scheduling from Dials; the line up this year once again proved that it’s really not that hard to find quality artists across the board with Saltwater Sun and Another Sky both drawing big crowds to The Wedgewood Rooms.

And after a line up so strong, who do you pull in to headline? Kicking a final blast of  vigour into the proceedings, The Blinders took no prisoners with their closing set, a visceral assault on the senses, a last chance for the crowd to decide that they still had enough energy to take on a mosh pit, a fitting close to a brilliant day with a guest appearance on stage from the Dials Fox.

Across the last few years, Dials hasn’t started just another festival; it’s started and built up something to be etched into your diary way in advance safe in the knowledge that each event keeps getting better than the last – till next year…

For more about Dials Festival please check their website

You can find out about the work Solent Mind do here

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th October 2019

Live + Interview – Mermaidens at The Hug and Pint

Mermaidens / Velveteen Riot / Bug, The Hug and Pint Glasgow, 23rd September 2019

Ahead of their show in Glasgow, Alan caught up with Mermaidens for a chat about their new album, influences and life on the road…

Your new album, Look Me In The Eye came out a few weeks ago on 6th September, how does it feel now that the album has been released and what’s the feedback and reception been like so far?

Gussie: It feels good! We’ve been so busy that it feels a little surreal.

The album artwork is really impressive, engaging and eye-catching.  What kind of ideas did you have in terms of creating that?

Lily: I made the image for the album artwork. I really wanted it to be this kind of genderless human, that was kind of half formed and you might look at it at different times and see different faces.  It was shot on film with multiple images of our friends’ faces overlaid.

How did James Goldsmith (audio engineer/producer) utilise your sound in the studio? Did he bring out more of your sounds and experimentation?

Abe: Yeah, he’s a really helpful collaborator of ours. We’ve worked with him for around 5 years. It’s been really good to build our relationship with him. He understands what we’re trying to do.
Gussie: This is our third album with him and we made an active decision that he would be producing it.
Lily: We wanted to challenge ourselves as a group, so we wanted to push ourselves and we also wanted him to push himself. We all agreed that would be the direction.
Gussie: It was lucky that we were able to have a lot more time and we could afford to be more experimental.

I noticed you released a special guitar pedal called the ‘Moon Cycle’. Can you tell us a bit more about the creation of the pedal?

Lily: We were recording and throwing some ideas around about some fun things we could do, as we wanted to do something special for the release of the album, so we thought we’d build a guitar pedal. In the recording of the album we were playing heaps of modulation pedals, especially with the guitar tone, so we were like, let’s make a pedal that does that.
Gussie: When we were talking about this idea, I did a quick Google looking for female pedal makers, just out of curiosity, and there’s not very many. That was an interest of ours to work with our friend who makes amps and pedals and is sort of just starting out and we wanted to give her a bit of a platform

(Further details regarding the ‘Moon Cycle’ pedal can be found here)

You’ve been touring Europe for most of the past month and you also visited earlier this year.  Are there any places or venues you’ve really enjoyed visiting on the tour so far?

Abe: Glasgow has been really cool.  We’ve also noticed there’s really good vegan food here!
Gussie: People are really friendly here as well.
Abe: We’ve also really enjoyed being in Europe as well. It feels like we get pampered here, which is quite enjoyable.
Gussie: They really like to show you their local food and local alcohol and they really want to make it a more memorable time, which is special.

When you were starting a band, did you have any particular influences?

Gussie: Lots. We have some crossovers but we have some different music tastes though, which makes for a really unique sound. I think our influences show through in our individual playing style. We definitely had a few particular artists and songs that we used as like a recording inspiration.
Lily: I guess our crossovers, especially between us, are like PJ Harvey, these like strong song writing characters, who maybe stylistically we don’t emulate, but their power really inspires us.
Abe: We like Warpaint a lot, but I think back to the point of us having different music tastes, I think when people ask us what’s our influences, I don’t think we intend to make any type of music, obviously everyone is absorbing music all the time and you’re regurgitating it in some way, we’re not trying to sound like anyone, we’re just making each react to each other.
Gussie: We got introduced to The Slits during this album. That was a really inspiring guitar and listening experience for me.

Have you got any plans for the rest of this year and on to next year?

Gussie: Yep, after the tour we’re going back to New Zealand and we’ll do a small tour to release the album. Then we’re chilling out for a bit – Christmas and stuff.
Lily: Summer holidays, we deserve a little rest and then it’s on to the festival season.
Abe: We’re playing a festival called Laneway.

Would you be quite keen to come back to the UK for festivals?

Definitely. There’s some amazing festivals over here. That’s the hope for next year…

Onto the gig…

Monday at The Hug and Pint – the title of Arab Strap’s fifth album and also the inspiration behind the name of tonight’s venue – The Hug and Pint. Coincidentally, tonight’s gig is also on a Monday.

When entering the venue, you can easily see why it’s spoken of fondly – there’s a welcoming atmosphere and the upstairs area includes a highly rated, award winning kitchen and bar, which has an exclusively vegan menu and plenty of tasty options to feast on. Heading down into the basement where the music venue is located, you’re immediately greeted with lots of posters adorning the walls of upcoming gigs around the Glasgow area, showing the vibrancy of a diverse music scene in the city.

The music begins with a recently formed band called Bug, who set the tone for a great night ahead with their songs about Goblins and other songs so fresh that the titles are still to be decided.

Next up are Velveteen Riot, who blend soft vocals with a crescendo of guitars and drums.  Highlights include a recently released single called Peaches and their fierce set closer Model Girl. They even manage to squeeze in a superb cover of Be My Baby, originally released by The Ronettes.

Mermaidens close the night with a setlist containing songs from all three of their albums. The venue may be small and intimate, but the sound is near perfect and really showcases the in-depth power of Mermaidens’ music. With Gussie Larkin on guitar/vocals, Lily West on bass/vocals, complimented by Abe Hollingsworth on drums, the songs sound excellent in a live setting and tracks from their new album, Look Me In The Eye are particular standouts such as I Might Disappear, Bastards and Millennia.

Concluding their tour with a selection of gigs around the UK and Europe for the remaining dates in September, Mermaidens will then head back to New Zealand to play Laneway Festival in Auckland on 27 January 2020. Judging from tonight’s stellar performance and their catalogue of songs released so far, it won’t be long until Mermaidens are a regular name included on major festival line-ups throughout the world.

For further details regarding Mermaidens’ music and their upcoming gigs, please visit their Bandcamp page. Their record label, Flying Nun Records, are also worth checking out for more great recommendations of music coming out from New Zealand.

Words, interview and photos by Alan Campbell

27th September 2019

Live – Gary Numan + KANGA at Worthing Assembly Hall

Gary Numan / KANGA, Worthing Assembly Hall, 24th September 2019 

40 years on since he hit the album number 1 slot with The Pleasure Principle, Gary Numan is still selling out venues with his (R)evolution tour. With an army of loyal fans returning night after night, there is rapport and respect between artist and audience, creating a warm atmosphere on a cold, wet evening.

Kicking off with the dystopian My Name is Ruin, the set comprises songs spanning Numan’s various decades in the music industry; something for everyone without being reliant on the bigger hits, though those are smattered throughout the evening and inevitably draw a huge response. Despite the obvious showmanship from the frontman, this is very much an interactive performance from the whole band and classic tracks Down in the Park and Cars receive a robust guitar update to compliment  the well loved electronica base.

Proving that technology can beat us all, there are a couple of song alterations and delays accompanied by a knowing cheer of understanding as Numan berates having to rely on Apple products. He must be aware though that the crowd are on his side whatever course things take and that many have followed his journey through the rich and lean years. Closing the pre-encore set with the track that started it all, the instantly recognisable bars of Are ‘Friends’ Electric? are a stark reminder of just how important its release was back in 1979; it really did break boundaries and opened mainstream doors for a whole array of artists to follow, the influences of which are still apparent today.

A special mention goes to opening act KANGA, an LA based composer, artist, and music programmer. It’s unsurprising to find that she has also worked on films as the sparse lighting and frenetic performance scream futuristic cinematography. KANGA’s self-released EP Eternal Daughter is out now. Her supporting role on this tour will undoubtedly attract a new audience; a smart choice.

An evening full of energy and entertainment, Numan looks content and confident in his newer music; the tour has debuted a new track Intruder and another album is planned for 2020. Doubtless the Numan army will follow where he leads.

Check Gary Numan’s official website for more details on the album campaign and tour dates through to the end of October

Updates and links to KANGA’s EP can be found here

Words and photos by Siobhan

26th September 2019

Live + Interview – Olympia at Patterns

Olympia / Ciaran Lavery, Patterns Brighton, 11th September 2019

Fast making a name for herself as a respected songwriter and performer, Olympia – aka Olivia Bartley – is back on the road touring worldwide with her new album Flamingo. I caught up with her before her show at Patterns in Brighton and, as well as chatting about the London congestion charge and the lure of the fairground rides on the pier, we talked about her love of music, playing live and creating something new…

How did it all start for you and what keeps you going in the music business?

I loved playing music, I used to download Joni Mitchell tabs off the internet and I would just play. I didn’t know guitar, I’m self-taught and I would just experiment. It was like an itch trying to play what I thought I could hear and that led me here. Now I know a little bit more and it’s like the more you know the less discovery there is so I think what drives me is I’m curious about everything, I still have that sense of discovery, like what if I try this and this and this…

So what happened was I was playing in Melbourne and a musician found one of my songs, she was quite popular and she just went on social media and said ‘what do you all think?’ and it sort of started an avalanche and here I am. What keeps me going is that I can only do it when I’m excited. I’m not in it for the money or the women!

Is social media generally a good or bad thing for you, it sounds like it helped you get started?

I do have periods when I’ll just turn all the apps off my phone. It can be great or a necessary evil but I think that you’ve got to look after your mental health so if you’re not feeling great you shouldn’t feel you have to look at it.

You’ve been out a lot already on tour this year and you’ve got more dates coming up. How do you deal with that, what are the highs and lows?

The good thing is you work so hard every day towards making it happen and those hours on stage are the most important and the most joyful, you do all of it just for that – to be playing every day, because in Australia the population’s smaller so you don’t get to play every night like you would here. It’s so great to be playing every day and I feel my fingers getting harder and my skills getting better. I do feel tired but I feel that it’s a privilege.

When you toured with Julia Jacklin you definitely picked up lots of new fans in the UK. How did that come about, did you know each other already?

I hadn’t met her before, we have mutual friends and they kept saying ‘you’ll love each other’ and she’s great. It felt like Julia was really generous in spirit and it was so wonderful of her to take me on tour with her.

You’ve been to Brighton before – do you get to see much of the places you play while you’re there?

I’m lucky because I’ve been to Brighton a few times, it started with The Great Escape. Brighton’s very like Melbourne and I always feel instantly at ease here. Tomorrow we head to Paris then Amsterdam, Berlin, then Reeperbahn Festival before we do an Australian tour.

How different are the crowds at festivals from gigs?

It’s so different. It’s great to have an audience who probably would never have heard you before, it’s so varied, what I love about festivals is summer and the openness, especially where there’s one stage where people come and sit and they’re often just music lovers open to new things.

When you’re writing is it always from experience or drawn from things you see?

There’s a great quote ‘Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the only reason I do it is because I’ve done it before and I know that I’ve done it’. My writing is things I’ve collected from the world, usually a metaphor or visual metaphor… I saw this picture of red honey from Utah, so what had happened was this beekeeper thought ‘I’ll just save money and feed my bees sugar’ and he got candy canes because bees love sugar and it ruined the honey and every bee in Utah. We have such an effect on each other as people that you sort of shape each other, if you’re with someone long enough you can become a bit of each other and I thought about that and it became the song Honey but it’s more about humans than bees.

Lastly, you recently did an industry workshop giving advice to new and emerging artists – is there a definitive piece of advice?

I loved doing it, I have a lot of young artists contact me and my main thing is ‘Get ready to work’. We’re all different but I can just say for me I need to write 9-5, don’t wait for inspiration, it’s not a burden, if you feel good or feel bad just write through it because it’s not just your craft, it’s also getting better at the skills of writing… read books that no-one’s reading, listen to bands no-one’s talking about…

Great advice and if you haven’t heard Olympia yet, definitely take on board the bit about listening to new things. The gig later that night was one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to in a while…

Opening up the evening, newly local Ciaran Lavery proved that one man and his guitar is all that’s needed to hold the attention of the crowd. With a cluster of beautifully written songs and chats about his childhood, the set felt like an intimate gathering of friends, and kudos must go to the listeners for just listening and not providing the usual humdrum of background conversation that infects so many gigs, particularly support slots. With a feel of Leonard Cohen in a seaside town, Ciaran will be one to look out for on the Brighton circuit.

Heading straight into a set filled with hypnotic psych pop tunes, Olympia drew the audience deeper into an already happy and relaxed atmosphere. Mixing tracks old and new, her hints to the nostalgia of music past are clear to hear but take on a new twist that brings things bang up to date. With inter-song tales of sharks in the bath and intriguing all hours visits received by a neighbour, the ambient mood continued as the band worked their way between two different setlists for added surprise (to them as much as us), an end of set cover of Rock n Roll Suicide an added bonus.

The songs on Flamingo get better with each listen. From the New York new wave feel of Star City to the quieter tones of Nervous Riders and a personal favourite in Shoot to Forget (think Yeah Yeah Yeahs fused with Alvvays), the album is a grower and a welcome addition to any record collection. The Australian scene has thrown out some really cool and competent musicians over the past few years with the aforementioned Julia Jacklin, Nice Biscuit and King Gizzard (not forgetting their Lizard Wizard) to name but a few – undoubtedly Olympia has joined the list of artists ensuring that it remains very firmly highlighted on the map of new music you should ignore at your peril.  

For more from Olympia and Ciaran Lavery just follow the links here

Words, interview and photos by Siobhan

13th September 2019


Live – Lucia at Bridge of Allan Library

Lucia, Bridge Of Allan Library Stirling, 8th September 2019

Far from the days of being hushed by the librarian, the brilliant Get it Loud in Libraries project brings live music to regional libraries, particularly in areas away from the usual big venues, allowing people of all ages to access some great music in a very different environment to the norm. The scheme also provides opportunities for young people to gain practical experience in the music sector by getting involved with the event management and marketing of the gigs.

With a keen eye for new talent, the project has put on an impressive roster of artists including BC Camplight, Fontaines DC and The Orielles. Yesterday the fabulous Lucia paid a visit to Bridge of Allan Library in Stirling. Alan Campbell was there to capture their performance amongst the paperbacks for us; gallery below.

You can find out more about Get it Loud in Libraries here

Connect with Lucia and watch their recent performance of Flames at Kendal Calling below

Photos by Alan Campbell

9th September 2019

Live – Bodega + Working Men’s Club at Concorde 2

Bodega / Working Men’s Club, Concorde 2 Brighton, 27th August 2019

Tuesday night saw a much anticipated line up arrive at Brighton’s Concorde 2 in the sweltering heat. The support slot was filled by Working Men’s Club, fast gaining a following and live reputation of their own. With a short but sweet set, they brought bags of energy and pulled in a good crowd. Pending headline dates of their own will paint a fuller picture of their potential.

Playing to a now packed room, headliners Bodega’s performance was in no way hampered by the temperature as they leapt around the stage and beyond. Their sound is quintessentially New York art pop and that’s meant in a very complimentary way. Double drums are always welcome, more so when you have two drummers channelling the spirits of Moe Tucker and Animal combined. Bodega’s sound overall is like the lovechild of Talking Heads and Devo attending a frenzied dance party with a welcoming electronic host.

Incorporating favourites Shiny New Model and Jack in Titanic, the music was visually enhanced by the stage show and their hour long set (excluding encore) was warmly received – in more ways than one. Some bands just don’t look like they’re having fun. Bodega look like they’re living their best lives and it’s impossible not to join in; catch them live if you can.

Bodega are playing at Esquires in Bedford tonight (29th August) then head to End of the Road Festival tomorrow (30th August) before commencing their US tour dates – check out all things Bodega here and catch up with Working Men’s Club here.

Words and photos by Siobhan

29th August 2019