Gig Review: Def Leppard & Whitesnake, 19th December 2015, Sheffield Motorpoint Arena.

What happens when you put two of the biggest bands in the world in a room together with 13,500 rabid fans? The answer was provided on Saturday night at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, when both Whitesnake and Def Leppard graced the stage for our entertainment. What did we get? A spectacle of the highest degree.

Of course, the night didn’t start with either of those bands. The support was provided by Black Star Riders, who were formed in 2012 by the most recent members of Thin Lizzy who wanted to record new material under a different name.

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This band has a killer lineup – the legendary Scott Gorham on guitar along with a very energetic, charismatic Damon Johnson, Ricky Warwick on vocals doing a convincing Phil Lynott impression during the Thin Lizzy tunes, Jimmy DeGrasso on drums (who has also played for Ozzy Osborne and David Lee Roth’s bands to name but two), and exciting bassist Robbie Crane who stepped into the shoes of one Marco Mendoza last May.

Performing nine songs with barely a pause to take a breath, they displayed their vehement prowess with spirit and gusto. It was an absolute thrill to hear the four Thin Lizzy songs included in the set, particularly The Rocker for which they were joined by Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell to give another harmonic layer of guitar sound. There was an almost lump in the throat provoking nostalgia when Black Star Riders ripped into “Are You Ready” – a window in time for those of us who never got to experience Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy.

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Black Star Riders’ own material was very reminiscent of Chinatown/Renegade era Thin Lizzy recordings, with some ebullient twin lead harmonies from both guitar players. This is definitely a band I would go out of my way to see again.

Whitesnake were simultaneously brutal, with Tommy Aldridge on drums and Joel Hoekstra’s ferociously tight guitar playing, and subtle, bringing in superb four part backing vocals to enhance Coverdale’s occasional gruff, raspy tones.

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The inclusion of several choice Deep Purple cuts was an ace card; opening with no less than “Burn”, and including “Mistreated” mid way through their set were the highlights for me.

I would have liked to have experienced some of Whitesnake’s older classic “Trouble”/”Love Hunter”/”Ready & Willing” era numbers as well as the obvious hits which were present.

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A swaggerful potency I’d only heard about, but when witnessed up close, Whitesnake proved they do indeed possess such a quality. No mere hard rock band this; something way more sophisticated and multi-faceted, with world class players armed to the hilt with a back catalogue of songs spanning 40 years.

The horn throwing, camera phone waving, singing at the top of their lungs crowd were buoyed and energised by the emotion and power emanating from the whole band.

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It would be fantastic to see Whitesnake in a more intimate setting such as a concert hall, where they could be truly up close and personal with their crowd instead of the cavernous environment of an arena.

Following a highly charged set, Coverdale gave a particularly poignant farewell, saying “Don’t let anyone make you afraid!” before playing outro “We Wish You Well” from the iconic “Love Hunter” album.

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Def Leppard were completely in their element. With decades of experience behind him, Joe Elliot is the ideal frontman. Strutting around the stage like a peacock in his finest attire, he knows exactly how to present himself and work the crowd at the same time.

Guitarist Phil Collen’s physical confidence mirroring his guitar playing, Rick Savage’s strategic, tight basslines and the rambuctious lead guitar of Vivian Campbell, who I recall fondly from the Dio days, all make for a polished and perfective formula for a band who are at the top of their game.

Rick Allen’s life changing injury has been well documented, and it was good to see in person that it didn’t stop him from providing an expressive and colourful drum solo. Years of experimenting and adaptation have seriously paid off.

As the evening went on, I felt I would have liked to have heard less of a Greatest Hits package, and more of an adventurous selection of songs. Having said that, they did throw a couple of nice surprises in. The highlight of the set for me was the instrumental “Switch 625” from the superb “High and Dry” album. Having seen footage of 1983-86 era shows, the older material is considerably more feisty and exuberant with songs from the first two albums kicking some serious ass.

All in all, this was a noteworthy nostalgia trip. Def Leppard played what people wanted and expected to hear, and those people were by no means disappointed.

*Photos of Def Leppard to follow!*

Words by Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World. All images were taken by and are copyright to Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World – please do not use any image without prior consent.

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Gig Review: Killing Joke, The Institute, Birmingham, 31st October 2015 @Killingjokeband #MusicIsEverything

Quite the most appropriate band to see on Hallowe’en, Killing Joke are unique; almost unclassifiable. Some say Punk, some say Industrial, some say Goth – I say none and yet all of the above.

This Autumn, we see them touring their brand new album “Pylon”, possibly their most important and potent record since 1994’s “Pandemonium”.

Right from the off, the mix hammering out of the PA was bordering on sonic violence. Commencing with an almost gleeful version of “The Wait” and lurching into the hypnotic and relentless “Autonomous Zone”, Jaz Coleman fervidly demonstrated himself around the stage like a demented Hindu God.

DSC_0226Pausing briefly to greet the audience, there was a poignant moment in which Coleman reminded us that Hallowe’en was the time when we remember the dead, before the band crashed into the extremely pertinent “Absent Friends”.

DSC_0435Tonight’s set is an eclectic mix of brutal gems garnered from the last 30 plus years of their back catalogue. However, the jewel in the apocalyptic crown of tonight’s performance was “I Am the Virus”, the new anthem for a world going to Hell in a handcart.

Never a band who can be accused of predictability or commerciality, the inclusion of “Eighties” and “Love Like Blood” this evening were both somewhat unexpected but nonetheless warmly welcomed.

DSC_0333Killing Joke’s industrial brand of heavy metal disco and their vigorously expressive political commentary has illimitable relevance, and as such the band is in many ways still in their creative prime. And Hosanna to that!

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Gig review: The Wildhearts, Rock City, Nottingham, 17th September 2015 @TheWildhearts @GingerWildheart

Twenty years ago, we were in the midst of the triumphant days of Britrock with a plethora of epic UK bands, carving out an entire scene that was very much all our own.

Colourful and varied artists such as Therapy?, 3 Colours Red, Ash, The Almighty , Joyrider, Headswim and Terrorvision occupied the rock consciousness and curveballed their way into the charts as a feisty alternative to Britpop.

However, the crown of the whole mid-nineties movement belonged to The Wildhearts. The song writing was in a different class, and Ginger Wildheart never fell into the predictability or complacence that some of the other bands were guilty of.

The Wildhearts Rock City 17 Sep 15 (9)The 1995 “P.H.U.Q.” album that they treat us to tonight in its entirety demonstrates a marked evolution from the iconic first album, “Earth vs” with a feverish amalgamation of The Ramones, The Cardiacs, XTC, 1967 era Beatles, and a side order of crushing Metallica style riffingtons.

The band is on form, with the addition of Random Jon Poole on bass this time around, they chop out the album in short order, and the hardcore loyal crowd responds with blissful enthusiasm.

The Wildhearts Rock City 17 Sep 15 (12)Highlights for me were the rarely heard “Just in Lust”, “Caprice” with its chorus that delivers like rainbow powder contrasted with a belligerent and twisting groove, “Jonesing for Jones”, and the highly emotive “In Lilly’s Garden”.

The Wildhearts Rock City 17 Sep 15 (23)For some reason, the curfew at Rock City was ridiculously early again so the encore, certainly compared to Manchester the following night, was not as plentiful. However, the “Cheers” theme tune was something of an unexpected apogee, as was a fiery version of “Vanilla Radio”.

The Wildhearts Rock City 17 Sep 15 (27)Set List:

  • I Wanna Go Where the People Go
  • V-Day
  • Just in Lust
  • Baby Strange
  • Nita Nitro
  • Jonesing for Jones
  • Woah Shit, You Got Through
  • Cold Patootie Tango
  • Caprice
  • Be My Drug
  • Naivety Play
  • In Lilly’s Garden
  • Getting It / Don’t Worry ’bout Me

Encore:

  • Vanilla Radio
  • Sick of Drugs
  • Mazel Tov Cocktail
  • Cheers (Gary Portnoy cover)
  • My Baby Is a Headfuck
  • Suckerpunch

Twenty five years on, The Wildhearts are still a force to be reckoned with. Past glories aside, one would be optimistic for a release of new material. Here’s hoping Ginger’s unbridled creativity will allow for this in the not too distant future.

The Wildhearts Rock City 17 Sep 15 (6)All images here were taken by and are copyright to Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World. If you wish to use any image, please ask for prior consent. Thank you.

Peterborough Beer Fest 2015 – the bands and the revellers, part three.

When I was told by the lovely organisers of Peterborough Beer Fest that I could have a press pass, what I was most looking forward to was seeing local and upcoming bands and musicians.

Apart from the open mic night on Tuesday which I sadly couldn’t attend, the lineup on Saturday 29th August was the best opportunity to do just that, with the music starting at 2pm and going right through till 10.30pm!

I was very disappointed to miss the first act, Doug Heath, but have watched his performance via Hereward TV and he did a great job! His set was a lovely, chilled out start to the musical entertainment for the day! You can watch him and all the other bands for the day via YouTube – starting at 1hr51 minutes here. Enjoy!

I arrived shortly after The Lartey Sisters had taken to the stage, and they were singing one of my favourite Dolly Parton songs – “Jolene”. Suffice to say, I liked these girls immediately. They then went on to perform “Old Man” by Neil Young, and I was hooked!

DSC_8652Other songs in the set were “Mrs Robinson”, “Here Comes the Sun” and one I wish I’d arrived in time for – “Big Yellow Taxi”. The beautiful melodic vocals from Faye & Ashleigh, and Faye’s rather lovely acoustic guitar playing are worthy of comments received by Steve Harley who champions these girls… “Inspirational. Doesn’t happen very often. Special. Unique.”

DSC_8644Check out The Lartey Sisters on facebook for gig updates and such like!

Next on stage was Nick Corney with his band The Buzz Rats. I had already listened to and enjoyed their upcoming EP,  “The Perfect Landing”, so was looking forward to this!

DSC_8730It must be pretty nervewracking getting on stage at the best of times, but when it’s to perform songs you’ve written yourself I think it’s got to be even more so! Nick & co. had an air of confidence and I sensed the enjoyment they felt from being on stage together – this was lovely to see!

DSC_8697The songs came across very well, and they had an audience (albeit fairly small) who were listening intently and rewarding with appropriate levels of applause! Personally, I very much enjoyed this set, with songs from both EPs such as “Smoky Joe” and title track from the upcoming EP “”The Perfect Landing”.

DSC_8782I’ve got to give a special mention to guitarist and harmonica player Chris (pictured above), as rarely have I seen that much energy on a stage, and it was a pleasure to witness! Good stuff indeed!

If you’re interested in seeing Nick Corney and The Buzz Rats for yourself, head along to The Brewery Tap on 18th September for their EP launch – I reckon you’ll love ’em!

Up next was out of town solo artist The Lone Groover. With a mix of original songs and covers, all with a folk/country feel from this ex-punk, there was a good variety of songs to nod the head to and other songs to sing along to.

DSC_8794This one man band gave renditions of “Young Americans” and “Eton Rifles”, and later providing an admission that “I was wasting my youth in punk rock bands when I should have been a country singer.” – so, someone with a sense of humour and the bravery to get out there on his own in front of an unknown beer-fuelled crowd! Kudos to him! For further info on The Lone Groover, drop a like on his facebook page.

DSC_8818After a break of an hour or so, it was time to get back to the barrier, front and centre stage for the next band, The Tin Pigeons. By now, the crowd was gathering and they were ready for a good sing and dance. I can think of no better band to provide the necessary service!

DSC_8857I’m trying not to be too over the top with the compliments within this review, but it’s not easy, as these lads are absolutely brilliant – fun to listen to, entertaining to watch, easy to like their personalities, and generally an absolute joy!

DSC_8862Kicking off with an immediately rowdy version of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Tell it to Me”, then going quickly into their own song “Old Rosie” (complete with deliciously low bass vocals), the audience was on board straight away and really got into the spirit of the barn dance feel – there simply aren’t enough barn dances nowadays, right?!

DSC_8874The rest of the set was equally as raucous, with a good balance of original songs and covers including a quite brilliant version of “Folsom Prison Blues” – can’t beat a bit of Johnny Cash!

DSC_8904Right, you get the picture, I love this band. Maybe you will, too! Go check ’em out on twitter & facebook and find out for yourselves!

Somehow, we were suddenly about to see the last live band of the week – as I said at the beginning of part one, it was over so quickly! So, it had to be a band who would keep people in high spirits for the remainder of the night! Who better than local covers band The Replicas to provide the necessary tunage?!

DSC_8970Bursting onto the stage and commencing their set with “One Step Beyond”, proceeding to captivate and delight the audience with other popular songs such as “Geno”, “She’s Electric”, “Disco 2000”, “Town Called Malice” and completing the night’s, and the week’s, festivities with “Nightboat to Cairo”, this really was a great choice for headliner!

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The Replicas have got a few upcoming gigs in the Peterborough area, so keep up to date with their whereabouts on facebook and get along to see them if you can!

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DSC_9012 DSC_8969Thank you to everyone for reading and sharing my reviews, and a final MASSIVE thank you to all at Peterborough Beer Fest for their organisation and hospitality – every one of you is amazing, and without you the event simply wouldn’t happen! Long may it continue!

Here are some of Saturday night’s revellers…

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DSC_9022All photos were taken by and are copyright to Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World. Please do not use any image without prior consent. Thank you!

Peterborough Beer Fest – the bands and the revellers, part two. @borobeerfest

After the ace night I had at Peterborough Beer Fest on Thursday, I was really looking forward to what Friday night had to offer!

Due on stage were a band I had wanted to see for a while, a band I’d seen twice before and who I very much enjoyed, and a band I had never heard of until they were announced as headliners!

I arrived a little late, and by the time I made it to the stage the Palmerston Ukulele Band were already in full swing with a really great crowd singing along to the fifth track in their set, “I Can See Clearly” – it was a lovely sight and sound to behold!

DSC_8006Sixteen members strong, the guys and gals proceeded to sing and play their little hearts out to songs such as “Bring Me Sunshine”, “Teenage Kicks”, “King of the Swingers” (from Jungle Book), “These Boots are Made for Walking”, “Norwegian Wood” and “Que Sera Sera”.

DSC_8029Every single person in that tent seemed to be singing along, and maybe some people outside the tent, too! It was energetic, noisy, hilarious in places (a group of wives & friends of the band threw their knickers on stage at one point… yes, really!), and most of all it was a LOT of fun!

DSC_8116If you’d like to know more about these fabulous people, head along to their facebook page, or even better, go to The Palmerston Arms on a Thursday evening to see them in the flesh and even join in!

Next on stage were Peterborough gig circuit regulars Dizzy Miss Lizzys. These guys really know what they’re doing – all with extensive experience in various bands and with, they seem to be at their most comfortable when on stage. Performing a wide range of popular songs such as “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Brown Sugar”, “Purple Haze”, “Back in Black” and the finale “Hey Jude”, there was no risk of a crowd who was bored, and every chance of people getting involved!

DSC_8381Singer and guitarist Gizz Butt was clearly focused and self-assured, and full of charisma. It was obvious he revels in being in the limelight (especially when performing those epic guitar solos) – and who can blame him?!

DSC_8322Indeed, the whole band are immensely skilled musicians – Si Martin on vocals and bass, James Cluer on guitar and vocals, and Fozzy on drums (what a drummer – you seriously have to witness what that man can do!). With the addition of Simon Russell on keys and John Mosely on percussion, this was a perfect formula.

DSC_8312 DSC_8386 DSC_8399If you’d like to keep up with the whereabouts of Dizzy Miss Lizzys, drop in to their facebook page where all gig announcements happen! Enjoy – I promise you will!

Onto the final act of the evening, a band hailing from Lincoln called The Activators. This was the band I’d never heard of, and I was intrigued to see what they had to offer, especially as they’ve performed gigs far and wide, including a show in Paris!

DSC_8608This band’s set was largely originals, interspersed with some covers that suited their style perfectly, namely “Ghost Town” and “Rock the Casbah” – these went down a storm!

DSC_8582Now, bear in mind that the audience for the night had just heard a shedload of songs they knew and loved, and had expended a ton of energy at the same time. Coupled with the fact that the majority had consumed more beer than is probably normal even for your average Friday night out, and this resulted in something of a difficult crowd. This was a massive shame, as the band was keen to do their thing – full of verve and ebullience, and do their thing they did, regardless of the tricky so-and-so’s before them!! The mark of true professionals, I think! The boys and girl done good!

DSC_8572DSC_8580 DSC_8592 DSC_8596You might like to know more about The Activators, and go to one of their gigs for yourself – if so, head over to their website or facebook and twitter accounts to keep up to date with goings on! Definitely worth an outing, in my opinion!

Don’t forget, you can catch up with everything you missed via Hereward TV on their YouTube channel, so make sure you head on over there! If you’re interested in volunteering for Hereward TV, get to their website to find out more!

Whilst you wait for part 3 (the final part!) of my Peterborough Beer Fest review, have a gander at some photos of people who were in attendance who kindly allowed me to take their pictures!

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DSC_8228All photos were taken by and are copyright to Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World. Please do not use any image without prior consent. Thank you!

Peterborough Beer Fest 2015 – the bands & the revellers, part one.

You know what it’s like – you wait months for something you’re really looking forward to, and suddenly it’s all over, seemingly with the blink of an eye.

That’s my overwhelming and lingering memory of Peterborough Beer Fest 2015 – just how fast did the week go?! I’m sure someone sped up time for a while there!

DSC_8135I sadly wasn’t able to attend every day, so wasn’t able to witness every band, but there is always a way to bring the music to the masses – wonderful new community hub Hereward TV were at PBF for its entirety, talking to a variety of brewers and organisers, and also filming every single musical act!

You can catch up with everything you missed on their YouTube channel, so make sure you head on over there! If you’re interested in volunteering for Hereward TV, get to their website to find out more! It’s extremely worthwhile.

Anyway, I digress, so onto the bands I did manage to see…

I arrived at 7pm on Thursday evening, just in time to see string quartet The Stringlers. I had been wanting to see these girls for some time, so was very much looking forward to this.

DSC_7426From the outset, this band had the audience in the palm of their hand, kicking off with The Stranglers’ No More Heroes then going straight into a Beatles medley – Get Back, Blackbird and Eleanor Rigby. A brilliant start, with the crowd singing along to the wonderfully skilled instrumentals.

DSC_7389Other particular favourites from the set were Sweet Child o’ Mine, Bat Out of Hell and Bohemian Rhapsody, all of which had the audience singing at the top of their lungs – Kat, Di, Helen & Emily really know how to capture a crowd and keep them there!

DSC_7434I can’t wait to see The Stringlers again, and if you want to keep up with them you can follow them on facebook.

Headlining on Thursday night was a band I’ve seen a lot in the past few months – The Expletives. However, rarely on an actual stage as they mainly perform from the cramped corner of whatever pub they’re in.

DSC_7477It’s difficult for me to review The Expletives without being accused of some bias, because the guys are good friends of mine! I can’t lie, though – they are brilliant. Sean works the stage exactly as it should be worked, and the crowd quickly respond to their infectious and obvious enjoyment.

DSC_7643The Expletives effortlessly yet aggressively (in a good way) bashed their way through a 30-song strong set including Tainted Love, Babylon’s Burning, Hanging on the Telephone, Anarchy in the UK, Gordon is a Moron, and finishing with Blitzkrieg Bop – all performed with much aplomb and all getting the audience singing, shouting and dancing along!

DSC_7499I’d love to see these guys get a headline slot on the Friday or Saturday night in future – I reckon they’d go down even more of a storm! If you want to see The Expletives again, they gig a lot in the Greater Peterborough area, so give their facebook or twitter pages a follow to keep up to date with their whereabouts!

DSC_7534Keep an eye on the blog for installments two and three of Peterborough Beer Fest, but in the meantime here are a few photos of revellers from Thursday… enjoy!

DSC_7345 DSC_7346 DSC_7347 DSC_7350 DSC_7353 DSC_7355 DSC_7460 DSC_7461 DSC_7684 DSC_7909 DSC_7936All photos were taken by and are copyright to Fi Stimpson / Music vs. The World. Please do not use any image without prior consent. Thank you!

Peterborough Beer Fest: Live Music Schedule @borobeerfest

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Tuesday 25th August:

7.30pm to 10.45pm – Open Mic Night

Wednesday 26th August:

8pm to 9pm & 9.30pm to 10.45pm – Grumpy Old Men

Thursday 27th August:

7.30pm to 9pm – The Stringlers

9.15pm to 10.45pm – The Expletives

Friday 28th August:

4pm to 5.30pm – Palmerston Ukulele Band

7.30pm to 9pm – Dizzy Miss Lizzys

9.15pm to 10.45pm – The Activators

Saturday 29th August:

2pm to 3pm – Doug Heath

3pm to 4pm – The Lartey Sisters

4pm to 5pm – Nick Corney and The Buzz Rats

5pm to 6pm – The Lone Groover

7.30pm to 8.50pm – The Tin Pigeons

9pm to 10.30pm – The Replicas

I hope to see lots of people down there supporting the beer fest as a whole – drink plenty (but responsibly!), soak up the atmosphere and try to see as many of these bands as you can! Above all, have a wonderful time! Enjoy!

Peterborough Beer Fest: Focus on… The Replicas @borobeerfest

This year’s Peterborough Beer Fest kicks off on Tuesday 25th August with a trade session, opening up to the public afterwards with an open mic night for those staying into the evening.

The band who will close the musical side of the beer fest on Saturday 29th August is Ska, Soul, Punk, and Indie influenced band The Replicas.

ReplicasThis is a band whose aim is “to leave you with a taste of the songs you remember”. They perform songs by much-loved bands such as The Jam, The Who, The Small faces, Madness, The Specials and many more. Definitely something for everyone, that’s for sure!

The Replicas’ high energy gigs have ensured they’ve always got a good strong crowd who make their presence very well known by singing and dancing along to the songs they know and love!

Replicas 1The Replicas will be on stage 9.00pm to 10.30pm, and this promises to be an excellent end to the night and a definite must-see act!

Peterborough Beer Fest: Focus on… The Tin Pigeons @borobeerfest

This year’s Peterborough Beer Fest kicks off on Tuesday 25th August with a trade session, opening up to the public afterwards with an open mic night for those staying into the evening.

The penultimate band on Saturday 29th August is one I’ve seen before when they were busking on Stamford’s High Street. The Tin Pigeons captured my attention then, and I’m very excited at the prospect of seeing them again!

Tin PigeonsPhotograph courtesy of the official Peterborough Beer Festival website.

Using traditional folk instruments such as a mandolin and a banjo enhances and authenticates this band’s indie-folk style, and produces a sound that will get your foot tapping and your head nodding at the very least!

They do a good mixture of original tunes and covers, and their own EP, “All’s Spent“, is currently available on iTunes. Have a listen to their song “Salinas” here… I particularly love those deep harmonies.

The Tin Pigeons will be on stage 7.30pm to 8.50pm – definitely one not to miss!!

Peterborough Beer Fest: Focus on… The Lone Groover @borobeerfest

This year’s Peterborough Beer Fest kicks off on Tuesday 25th August with a trade session, opening up to the public afterwards with an open mic night for those staying into the evening.

The next act on Saturday 29th August, is The Lone Groover, a one man band who puts energy, personality and the feel good factor into his performance of classic punk, folk n’ bop.

Lone Groover (4)In his own words: “Let’s be clear. I’m not a solo artist, I’m a one man group. There’s a subtle difference. I wanna walk like The Clash and sound like Bob Dylan.”

Lone Groover (2)From what I’ve seen and heard, he does pull it off, and I can’t wait to see in person if he lives up to his desires! He’ll be on stage from 5pm to 6pm, so grab a beer and come along!

Have a listen for yourselves in advance…