Gig Review: Teleman, The Junction, Cambridge, 26th October 2016 @Telemanmusic @moshimoshimusic @LunacreHQ @CambJunction

Last time I saw Teleman, it was at the Portland Arms in Cambridge. We were so close to the band, it was like a gig in my own front room. Since then, I’ve been hankering after seeing them again so jumped at the chance when they announced their gig at The Junction. This time, Music vs the World Junior joined me because she was mightily disgruntled at missing out last time…! I was more than happy to take her along – not many 13 year olds have such good taste in music!

Support act Lunacre set the tone for the evening with their unique, experimental electronic style. Deftly knocking out the tunes with incredible attention to detail, they are so focussed that they almost seem to forget the audience is there!

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They’ve only been doing their thing for a year, but these guys have a propitious future ahead of them if they carry on like this – I highly recommend seeing them before they make it so big that you can’t get close enough!

Anyway, I digress. Teleman take to a bigger stage and a considerably larger audience like fish to water, their stagecraft professionalism rising to the occasion. The bigger PA sound system and production, as well as some monumental lighting and astounding smoke effects enhance and add dimension to their songs.

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There was a mixed bag of punters – old, young kids, drop outs, students and weirdos, all of whom were absolutely enthralled whilst listening to the band. I did note that despite the ages of individuals, this was a very serious crowd and one that is difficult to pigeonhole.

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Once again the thing that struck me was the degree of “control” and subtlety that these guys have with their music, never appearing to lose their steadiness or at times hypnotic preciseness that they have with their songs. Seasoned and steady, they have clearly been doing this very well with much skilful accomplishment for quite some time (I refer you specifically to previous guise of some of the band, Pete and the Pirates).

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MVTW Junior was suitably impressed with the whole evening, never taking her eyes off the band and singing along with all her heart. Anyone who can make such an impact on that particular teenager is onto something! It was also her first experience of being starstruck whilst meeting a band – she was practically bouncing out of there afterwards, and declared that they are “very lovely people”!

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I heard not ONE error in their performance, nothing seemed out of place, or if it was they could conceal and distract. Anthemic and majestic, the new material shines brightly. If anything, the lack of intimacy and the larger expanse of space between band members in this venue enhances their pristine and almost at times mathematical approach they take with their music.

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I already can’t wait until the next time…!

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Gig Review: @WilkoJohnson at @CambridgeCornEx , 14th October 2016

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There’s very little I can say about a Wilko Johnson gig that hasn’t already been said in the majority of reviews. We all know he’s returned from the brink, against all the odds, and is still going strong. We all know what an incredible musician and songwriter he is, both with Dr Feelgood and as a solo artist. We all know that his loyal band members Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe have been chosen because they are faultless, have impressive stage presence and are exciting to listen to. I don’t really need to tell you any of that though, do I.

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Sometimes, though, even knowing all of the details like those above can’t prepare you for attending a gig which culminates in everything being resolved in your mind, where you feel perfectly relaxed to be yourself and like you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.

First off, he selected a wonderful support act in the shape of Aaron Keylock, a young Blues Prog Rock guitarist and singer with his trusty bassist and drummer by his side.

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I was blown away by this guy – he is seriously worth checking out. Here’s his new single “Against the Grain”:

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Wilko with his wild duck walk, wild eyes and even wilder guitar playing, Norman’s bass solos that make you shiver both inside and out and Howe’s bombastic, full-bodied beat tightly melded together to form a musical force that got people rising from their seats to move every muscle, pore and follicle. A good old boogie-woogie to classic blues and rock n’ roll, and all is right with the world.

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Video by Alien Outback on YouTube:

Until next time, “Bye Bye…”!

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Festival Review: Buckfest 2016 @info_buckfest

I had been looking forward to Buckfest for weeks. I was slightly disappointed that due to responsibilities that go along with being an adult I couldn’t be there from the beginning, but it meant that when I arrived at 2.30pm the festival was already in full swing, with the sun shining, people enjoying their first drinks of the day and kids enjoying the various amusements laid on for them (especially the BUCKFEST colouring boards! Genius idea!).

The first band I managed to catch were The Goodges, something of a spinoff from Soulweaver as the latter take a break. Performing well-known covers by bands such as Iron Maiden and Jet, and a fair amount of Soulweaver favourites for their regular followers. I love that they got out into the crowd and that they were clearly enjoying themselves – that kind of passion from a band is truly infectious.

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Hollowstar were, for me, one of the strongest bands of the day and I hope to see them much further up the bill in the future.

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They are amazingly polished, and they absolutely knew how to work that crowd to everyone’s advantage. I loved taking photos of them as they were interesting, fun, photogenic and varied – they made my job very easy! I’ll definitely be looking these guys up and seeing them again.

Other levels of entertainment to fit every genre were provided across the three stages, from Dale Taylor with his relaxed country/indie rock vibe…

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to the summery alternative calypso of Easydread…

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to Big Lou’s Cradle of Sound and their good old fashioned jive music…

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and everything in between. Each of the bands who played appealed to decent sized groups of the attendees, and there were always plenty of people watching, dancing and cheering appropriately.

In the ten or so minutes before The Expletives took to the stage as the penultimate band, there was a sense of anticipation and with it the gathering of a much larger crowd. Seeing a lot of folk with 70s punk rock t-shirts on was something of a harbinger for what was to follow once the band kicked in their set.

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The Expletives are a niche band, offering a grandiloquent blend of late seventies punk and new wave fare. Frontman Sean Dunleavy even acts and behaves like Jonny Rotten, and grabs the crowd by the scruff of the neck whilst his tight as a tick band deal out a constant barrage of razor sharp punk standards.

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Guitarist Richard Mackman has a ferocious sound and a never ending arsenal of poses; punk rock is a state of mind, and this man knows it.

 

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16 year old Vincent Mackie on the bass looks cool as fuck, wielding his Fender Precision with the panache of Dee Dee Ramone, for one so young he already has the look and the prowess well in place.

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The Expletives tease, insult and entice the crowd for 55 minutes; the spirit of 1977 is truly alive here this evening.

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Even contemplating attempting a Queen tribute band demands particular skills, and a certain look and likeness.

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Rock Q managed to pull it off, with an excellent Freddie impersonator, and a more than adequate Brian May, who not only had the guitar and the amp tone, but also the curly hair and curly guitar lead.

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The rhythm section, however, sagged a little – the bassist called in plenty of bum notes and the drummer was no Roger Taylor, sounding rather wooden and unfeeling with his delivery at times. Overall, though, this kind of high level tribute covers act is a tall order, and they more than got away with it.

It’s worth noting that the singer was drafted in at very short notice when the usual guy was taken ill. He’d never met the rest of the band before, and the fact that he slotted in so flawlessly and without arousing suspicion is to be applauded.

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The highlight for me was pulling off “Bohemian Rhapsody”, to the delight of an all ages and eclectic crowd – it’s not an easy song to produce live, and this lot nailed it. Nicely done.

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All in all, Buckfest is at a mere £5 serious value for money family entertainment, perfectly and creatively organised and a heck of a lot of fun. I can’t wait until 2017!

Gig Review: The Ghost Riders in the Sky at Voodoo Lounge, Stamford, 27th May 2016

It was with great anticipation that I headed down to my favourite home town venue on Friday. I was to see a band relatively new to me but who I was very excited by; The Ghost Riders in the Sky.

First on stage were a band from Cambridge called Meet Me At Dawn. As soon as they graced the stage, I spotted that bass wielding Ross was sporting a Pink Floyd t-shirt – good taste, that man!

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An excellent choice of opener, Meet Me At Dawn launched into a set of punk-rock tunes, deep lyrics in abundance and a heavy hint of Green Day’s style. I was impressed, and made sure to tell them post-gig. I’d love to see them in their home town as I can imagine they pull a great crowd in!

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Meet Me At Dawn’s self-titled EP is available now on Bandcamp, and their new single “Heartless” is out soon in all the usual places.

Next up were Cambridgeshire based Phoenix Calling – I’d heard very good things about them, but never had the chance to see them. They supported Young Guns on their recent UK tour, been featured by Johnny Doom on Kerrang! radio, and have headlined regional festivals such as The Willow Fest, reportedly going down a storm!

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What immediately struck me was their unbridled energy – vocalist Steve was all over the stage; getting photos of him was a challenge, but one that I enjoyed immensely! What these guys did particularly well was get the (albeit small) audience on side – the room suddenly filled with joy when they performed their mash-up of I’m Yours, One Love and Prince of Bel Air – anyone who can make a Jason Mraz song sound good has my vote!

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Powerful, compelling tunes are what makes up Phoenix Calling’s set. They somehow manage to compress warmth, intensity and fun into one package. The band’s rapport is genuine and heart-warming, and their passion for what they do is palpable.

You can buy their album “Forget Your Ghosts” here and see them live at various shows up and down the country, including a very recently announced gig on 2nd July at Festival Too supporting The Vamps!

Finally, the band I had been so looking forward to seeing, The Ghost Riders in the Sky, crept almost nervously onto the stage.

When I first stumbled upon them, the fact that their band name was taken from a Johnny Cash song had not gone unnoticed – I figure that anyone who likes his work is onto a good thing. I then learned that the band is the brainchild of former Gallows guitarist Steph Carter (brother Frank was also in Gallows – you may also associate him more recently with The Rattlesnakes…) and my interest increased a fair few notches!

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Fronted by singer Gillian, who I heard someone describe as a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Hermione Grainger, and with the band on an equal pegging looks-wise, this was to be a gig with something for everyone in the eye candy stakes, at the very least!

It may have been the sum of being shattered after a hard week at work + insomnia + out of work “stuff” + a few beers = a hypnotised state, but I doubt I’d have felt quite so mesmerised if some shoddy pop group or mediocre covers band had been in attendance. From the very first note, I felt as hooked on the music as the band looked.

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Every song was gracefully delivered, each note eloquently pronounced, and whenever I looked at a different member of the band they were fully immersed in what they were doing – I doubt that even an earthquake at 9.5 on the Richter scale could have stopped them playing.

Gillian has got a cracking voice – in places, she reminded me of Suzanne Vega, and at one point I thought of Maria McKee when singing “If Love is a Red Dress”. Beautiful, and matched perfectly to the both the searing rock music and that with a more sympathetic, tender feel.

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Carter describes their genre as British Americana, and having witnessed it live that makes complete sense. It’s a definite departure from his work with Gallows – it’s not so deliberate that it feels forced, though, and therefore has a natural honesty to it that is very attractive.

In essence, The Ghost Riders in the Sky brought another world to Stamford that night. I have no doubt that they are absolutely made for bigger things, but conversely they suit this venue perfectly – I just wish more people had been there to witness this phenomenal evening!

New single “Wastelands” is out now – have a listen…

You can buy (in Gillian’s words, not mine) “t-shirts and vinyls and CDs and bullshit and bullshit” here – I bought “The Death of Everything New” album on vinyl, and am waiting for some time alone when I can be fully engrossed in it.

New favourite band? I think so!