Gig Review: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, 28th September 2017, Nottingham

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Nottingham, 28th September 2017

There was a frisson of excitement all the way around the arena on Thursday night as a growing crowd awaited the arrival of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. In time, they swept onto the stage and took up their places, Cave himself sitting centrally and taking a good long look at his keen audience.

With deliberate movements that matched the creeping brilliance of his lyrics, he shifted gracefully closer and closer to the edge of his seat (and the stage) throughout “Anthrocene” and “Jesus Alone”.

All of a sudden, he became a Messianic figure, poised gently over those of us next to the barrier. He was so close that I swear I could smell his aftershave and see the stitching on his very cool shoes.

As a songwriter and especially as a vocalist, Nick Cave intuitively understands and appreciates the power of overstatement. The whole set was brimming over with Cave’s dark sense of adventure – there’s no shortage of macabre humour in his songs. At certain points, he appears wracked by doom and dark-suited he strides around the stage bellowing his deep falsetto tones into the microphone.

Tupelo shuffles out with the neck hair raising results you’d expect. The Ship Song followed by Into My Arms are almost unbearable in their evocation of emotion. The Weeping Song is punctuated by orchestrated clapping, conducted by Cave himself.

It would be negligent, if not outright criminal, not to mention the Bad Seeds… what a well oiled and incredibly skilled band… in the art of subtlety, mood and sentiment. Coupled with Cave’s larger than life mutation of darkening folk blues and raw punk energy, it’s no wonder their sincere and reverent followers gravitate towards them like moths to a flame.

I cannot think of anything being in a position to rival a Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds show. It is the most generous and wondrous of gifts.

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Gig Review: Skinny Lister, 3rd May, Nottingham & 4th May, Cambridge, 2017 @SkinnyLister

Skinny Lister – Devil Heart Fight Tour with Support from AJJ band

Rescue Rooms – Nottingham 03-05-17 and The Junction – Cambridge 04-05-17

Written by Martin Tillyer, Photos by Martin Tillyer, Edited by Fi Stimpson.

The first time I saw and heard Skinny Lister was as support for Frank Turner along with Will Varley in November 2015 at Rock City – these artists are all on the Xtra Mile Recordings label.

Since that date, I have also had the pleasure of seeing them headlining on the first part of the Devil Heart Fight tour in 2016 and then as support for the Dropkick Murphys in London in January 2017.

As soon as the dates for this year’s UK tour were announced I ordered tickets for both of the shows being reviewed here, from this you can gather that yes I do like their music and I also had an idea what to expect from them.

The support – The AJJ Band from America – were new to me, having only seen one video clip on YouTube. “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” comes over as a very quirky American pop type track. I have to say that having now seen them live they are so much more than that.

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The Rescue Room gig was sold out and the room was nearly full for the AJJ set, some of crowd had obviously seen them before and knew what their shows were like.

As they came out it was obvious that there was kit sharing going on as the drummer was using Skinny Lister’s kit. I think that this was a good thing as they are then not forced to be cramped up onto a stage and left with no room to move and also allows for a quicker change over between bands, some of the more well-known bands should perhaps take note of this.

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AJJ are touring as a four-piece band and start off with “Cody’s Theme”, the first track on their latest album “The Bible 2” which soon had the crowd moving around. They then played through a mixture of back catalogue and new songs that varied in pace, the slower numbers having the crowd listening to the thoughtful lyrics which showed the band’s observations on life. They are definitely a tight band and have the audience hooked; the energy they show is highlighted near the end of the set with the singer doing forward rolls around the stage. Anyone that likes Will Varley and Beans on Toast would definitely enjoy this and I know I will go to see them on their next tour.

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The room fills up to capacity as we wait for Skinny Lister to come on with most having already seen them before; it was good to see people in the crowd that we had met previously at the Bodega gig last October, it feels like a big friendly party is about to start and it does with as they come onto stage to start off with “Wanted“ the first track off Devil Heart Fight, a real upbeat punchy number. They then proceed in the usual Skinny Lister party mode through tracks take from all of their Album releases with the majority of them from Devil Heart Fight (9), Down on Deptford Broadway (7) and Forge and Flagon (6).

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Mid set they fitted in a new song “Thing Like That” which still has the typical Skinny punch too it, could well get to be a crowd favourite once more people know the lyrics.

There is a variance in pace as they slow down for some very soulful vocals from Lorna on tracks like “Bonny Away” sounding reminiscent of Sandy Denny.

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Skinny Lister certainly entertain with a flagon of rum passed out among the audience (sad to say that the Flagon had disappeared at the end of the night).

Party George, Lorna and Max’s dad, was in the crowd and Lorna set off to see him going crowd surfing in a dress, she certainly is one very brave lady.

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Scott Milsom the double bass player is certainly fitting in well having replaced Michael Camino – although I will miss his crowd surfing with the double bass.

They ended up with a three-track encore “Beat it from the chest”, “Hamburg Drunk” and “Six whiskies”, a track that should be played at the end of the night in any pub (it is on the playlist in my local).

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It was interesting to go to The Junction 2 in Cambridge to see both bands the following night to see if they could party just as hard, this gig wasn’t sold out, this was possibly because of the band Alabama 3 playing in The Junction 1 next door.

Both bands produced sets that were of the same excellent quality as the night before with some variance in the setlist order. Skinny Lister had to resort to sending a bottle of rum into the audience due to the replacement flagon they had obtained needing to be cleaned out before it can be used.

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The Skinny Lister audience is growing and I think they will soon be having to tour in larger venues, take your chance to see them in these smaller more intimate ones whilst you still can.

Both bands are very approachable and always spend time talking to the audience after the show, helping out with the merchandise sales and signing CD covers

Skinny Lister are a really hard working band and will be appearing at various festivals over the summer and continuing the Devil Heart Fight tour into Europe later in the year.

They are definitely worth seeing live – go to see them if you get the chance.

http://www.skinnylister.com/

Interview and Gig Review: The Virginmarys, Rock City, Nottingham, 15th March 2017

We met up with Ally and Danny from The Virginmarys before their gig at Rock City. Here’s what they had to say…

Fi: So guys, how did you meet?

Ally: Dan and I met years ago, we were at college together and it was a really bad course. It was a music course and it had just started out. Dan and I were kindred spirits where we were like ‘well who can I realistically play with on this course?’ I ended up moving in with Danny and his family and we have jammed ever since.

Danny: Yeah, we pretty much passed the course at my house. We got on well with the guy who was running the course, bless him, the course must have killed him because when we first turned up and he was bright-eyed and dead happy and buzzing and I think there was loads of money from the lottery that had been put into it. By the end of it, we’d go up to him and ask if we could record it at mine and he would be so stressed out with the others he would be like ‘yeah yeah go ahead’ and it was great.

Ally: We always had this dream of being a band, travelling around and we’ve had a few different bass players since we started. Matt has only recently left, due to it just being the right move for him. It’s hard work being in a band not making much money if you have a family. You kind of ask yourself where it’s going, and you have to really want to do it.

Fi: How do you know Ross?

Danny: I have known Ross for years, in Macc you know everybody. If you went there people would look at you like ‘who’s that?’ I’ve always known him and he’s a wicked bass player. He knew the songs inside out. We invited him to a gig and he played for us, and he knew the songs already.

Fi: When did you get your recording deal and what was your first release?

Ally: We got spotted on a platform like Myspace (before Myspace existed) then we got signed to some guys from LA. They thought ‘we just need to develop them, sprinkle a bit of glitter on then we will sell them on’. It’s hard to maintain your integrity and keep playing the music that you love and that you believe in. You kind of fail as a band depending on what type of character you are, there is only so long you can play what your hearts not in or you’re gonna give up or its gonna backfire.

Richard: You remind me of some very cool bands from the late 90s such as China Drum, Three Colours Red and Cable. Who were your early influences?

Ally: I think when I was a teenager I was always listening to the Beatles but as I got older and started picking up guitars, I kinda started getting into Three Colours Red and the Wildhearts. I like rock and punk. There’s just like a realness to it. I got taught by a guy who did blues. I love Fleetwood Mac and BB King and I always go back to it.

Fi: What do you sing about? What inspires you to put pen to paper?

Ally: It’s a communication. You are expressing yourselves in the only way – it’s kind of like a medium that seems more effective, more appealing than just speech. I was always shy as a kid, and musicians helped me with their way of expressing themselves. It would be a lot different if I only had a microphone, not instruments, and I had to do a comic routine. You have to have a persona type thing. For inspiration, it’s what’s going on in the moment. It’s a bit like a diary, and its a form of communication that helps you get thoughts across.

Danny: Our new song is called Donald Trump! (Not really…!)

*Laughter*

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Richard: The world appears to be going to hell in a handcart at the moment. Do current world events at home and abroad affect what you say in your songs?

Ally: Yeah, they kinda are what you write songs about. We have made a conscious effort with this new material to give people hope and not say how rubbish everything is. The only way it will change is people switching on and realising the power they have. We have got a lot of younger people coming to our gigs – listening and understanding they are the only ones who can change what is happening.

Danny: The first record we did we were playing a lot of classic rock clubs, but the last album wasn’t necessarily purposefully against classic rock but there are more different scenes now so since then there’s a different crowd coming on board instead of just blues rock fans. Rock is pretty broad and we’ve got a good mix of people coming along.

Fi: Do you guys find you need to have regular work as well as the band?

Ally: Bits and pieces here and there.

Danny: We seemed to have more money before we signed with labels and stuff – because you have to give away your money!

Maddy: What are the most memorable shows you’ve done to date?

Danny: Leeds and Reading on the main stage last year was pretty big, really cool for both of us. New Model Army always stand in my mind, they were amazing. It was a proper eye opener. We drank too much on that one, so we just stood there shaking and wishing we hadn’t. Justin came over and said their fans are like one band fans so they took a while to warm up to us. 

Ally: Our fans are a bit like that too – they all meet up before shows and stuff.

Danny: New Model Army’s fans make a pyramid on each others shoulders, I thought it was a rave when I saw it. We got a good reception from them and they still come and see us. Skunk Anansie were great -Mark the drummer found out my cymbals broke and gave me his, and gave me a snare drum too!

Fi: What was it that inspired you to do the People Help the People tour?

Ally: That was just an idea that came from the fact you can actually do something. We got like two tonnes of food by the end of it. It was more about the people getting together and doing something to help. It was awesome that so many people donated. It feels like you’re brought up a certain way, moulded through a system and certain things don’t seem possible, but they are and you can do it. It was amazing of you to get involved – we relied on people like you. It was really cool.

Richard: Punk rock has always traditionally been the music of resistance. What have you guys taken from Punk rock?

Danny: It’s always been a big part of us playing, it is such a broad term. Whenever we have a photo shoot or videos or record an album, we always think about what we want to sound like – bands like The Clash. It’s cool but honest.

Ally: I hope there’s always going to be a place for Punk, I’m hoping that something slips through the cracks and more people listen to it again, because it is brilliant. We wouldn’t have found it unless we listened to certain things then I wouldn’t have opened my mind. It inspired me to go on a search to express myself – people should always try to do that.

Fi: What other English bands do you rate at the moment and would recommend to us to check out?

Danny: We have a band on – it’s the first time we’ve requested a band so we’ve got The Hyena Kill, from Manchester onwards, that we chose. The Wytches are really cool.

Ally: There aren’t that many rock bands. I’ve been listening to a lot of soul and disco at the moment, it makes stuff feel passable.

Fi: What are your plans for the rest of 2017 and beyond?

Ally: We will release a lot of music on EPs and a new album. The reaction has been amazing. You can sometimes just get lost in this world of thinking it’s going to be great and this is going to work, but it’s hard to plan, you just get lost in the jargon and nothing really happens.

Danny: Divides went really well -it was amazing to work with Gil Norton, we all love him. It’s weird to think he’s such good friends with Ally, that he’ll just call up for a chat. That album was awesome. We would probably still be promoting it now, but after Matty went we started to write new stuff instead of using Divides – it just feels right to do new stuff now.

Fi: Thanks guys – looking forward to hearing the new stuff and to seeing you on stage very soon indeed!

Gig review:

The Virginmarys are very difficult to pigeonhole, as are their audience. There is the feral energy of punk rock, some kind of blues sludginess going on and an immediately focused intensity that only a three piece band is able to present you with.

Ally Dickaty’s voice at times reminds me of Dan McCafferty of Nazareth. There is a brash yet melodic sensibility to their songs and a tightness that puts the hairs up on the back of your neck.

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Drummer Danny Dolan, apparently suffering from a ferocious chest infection, lays into his traps with the same sort of panache you’d expect from a rockabilly drummer, sometimes standing up and being hunched over his kit. I imagine he gets through a fair few cymbals!

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Bassist Ross Massey, the new boy, presents a Flea-like figure, a skilled fingerstyle player who exhibits a commanding persona stage left.

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We get 18 songs, several of which I’m not familiar with, but the sign of a great band is that it does not matter – the energy and delivery entice you in.

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Highlights for me include opener “Dead Man’s Shoes”, the China Drum-esque “Just a Ride”, “Free to Do Whatever They Say”, “Ends Don’t Mend” and finale “Bang Bang Bang”.

There is something very timeless, working class and ‘English’ about what they do. Hearing Ally’s M-accent in the songs is very endearing, a refreshing change from that American whine we are all too familiar with.

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The Virginmarys are a very likeable band and one that you can be reassured I will see again this year.

Black Star Riders, 14th March 2017, Rock City, Nottingham – review by Martin Tillyer

Black Star Riders supported by Backyard Babies and Gun, Rock City, Nottingham,14th March 2017

Having been away for the weekend watching a selection of tribute bands at Legends of Rock ‘Yarmageddon’, I came home on Monday evening to a message offering me the chance to go see the Black Star Riders at one of my favourite venues. I knew I wouldn’t turn it down.

I had not seen either of the support bands before so it was going to be interesting to see what the build up to the headliners was going to be like.

Gun came on with the crowd already building up, they brought their own blend of traditional British rock (Scottish to be more precise).

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Their set had a good balance from their back catalogue including the cover of Cameo’s “Word Up” and a cracking new track “She Knows” from Gun’s forthcoming album.

Set:

Let It Shine

Word Up!

Don’t Say It’s Over

Better Days

She Knows

Steal Your Fire

Shame On You.

Band – Dante Gizzi, Vocals – Jools Gizzi, Guitar – Tommy Gentry, Guitar – Andy Carr, Bass – Paul McManus, Drums

Following these were Swedish rockers Backyard Babies, This was a band I hadn’t previously heard of. From the start they were into a set that had far more pace with a harder edged rock with a heavily Punk influenced sound, bringing to mind bands such as Hanoi Rocks.

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Set:

Th1rte3n or Nothing

Dysfunctional Professional

The Clash

Brand New Hate

Bloody Tears

Nomadic

Minus Celsius

Look At You

Band – Nicke Borg, Vocal – Dregen, Guitar – Johan Blomqvist, Bass – Peder Carlsson, Drums

Each of the support acts played for about 40 minutes, leaving about 30 mins until the Black Star Riders which soon went by. This was to be the third time I had seen them – the first was at Download. At that time I had not heard of them, but did initially think they sounded like a good Thin Lizzy covers band (we were not near enough to really see the stage and the weather was shocking)! I was so impressed with their original music, and when I returned home to investigate them and found that they had Scott Gorham on guitar it became a lot more obvious why! I bought the first album at that point. At that time the set was actually split 60 – 40 % of new tracks to the old Lizzy tracks.

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Tonight, they started off the set with the title track of the new album “Heavy Fire” before leading into “Bloodshot” and “The Killer Instinct”. It was then back to the new album for “Dancing with The Wrong Girl”.

It is becoming obvious that they are a really tight unit giving their own blend of rock still with Irish influences which you would expect with Ricky as a front man.

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“Soldierstown” and “Hey Judas” lead to two more of the new tracks, “When the Night Comes In” and “Cold War Love” which is a slower number, one of my favourites from the new album.

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“All Hell Breaks Loose” speeds it up again next, followed by a track that I, perhaps controversially, feel didn’t need to be in the set, “The Boys are Back in Town”. Time has moved on and now into their third album they are definitely a band in their own right and in my opinion they don’t need to keep the Lizzy Link going.

Back then to “Hoodoo Voodoo”, “Who Rides the Tiger”, another faster punchier number, followed by “Blindsided”.

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“Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed” and “Testify or Say Goodbye” from “Heavy Fire” lead into penultimate tracks “Kingdom of the Lost” and “Bound for Glory”.

With the finale of “Finest Hour”, BSR had been on stage for well over an hour and I wish it could have lasted much longer – an amazing performance as I had expected.

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I did hear people saying at the end they wished they had played more Thin Lizzy… but to me, they are the BLACK STAR RIDERS and nothing else is required.

Thank you, until the next time…

Review and photos by Martin Tillyer

Editor: Fi Stimpson

Gig Review: Sleaford Mods, Rock City, 3rd November 2016 @SleafordMods @Rock_City_Notts

Words: Richard Mackman

Photos: Fi Stimpson

An edgy sense of anticipation was apparent as I entered Rock City on 3rd November 2016. The venue was filling up with a veritable horde of punters. It’s the kind of gig where it’s alright to be weird, because everyone’s a bit fucking weird here.

The electronic punk duo take the stage to a victorious acclamation from the closely packed crowd. I feel that this is an act coming into their prime now, who are clearly relishing their time in the spotlight as a venerated phenomenon.

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What we get tonight is a much more oblique set than a year ago –  less of the obvious and more of the unusual, including 3 brand new ditties replete with suitably pithy sarcastic expletives and which were more than enough to have me eagerly anticipating their next release.

Williamson’s antics this evening (he’s got some brand-new moves) as he hustles himself around the stage conjure an image of a baboon with Tourette’s.

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The geezer operating the devil’s karaoke, Andrew Fearn, lurks in the background like a minacious persona, Beck’s bottle tightly in fist, aiding and abetting.

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Sleaford Mods are almost impossible to pigeonhole. A band that divide opinion, just like fucking Marmite. We witness a caustic blend of Crass-age Punk copulating with Cooper Clarke on Meth and Lydon trussed up in the boot of your car with Cirrhosis itch.

Jason Williamson is for real. In his words… “What you’ve got to remember, when you leave here tonight, is that you didn’t come here to see Sleaford Mods – we came here to see you”.

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Gig Review: Spector, Basement at Rock City, Nottingham, 28th May 2016

Spector, Basement at Rock City, 28th May 2016

At 7.30pm when I arrived at Rock City for Friday night’s show on Spector’s “Tenner” tour, there was hardly anyone present and for a while I wondered if this would be a show with a shockingly poor attendance. Even when Fred MacPherson and Jed Cullen entertained the crowd with their DJ set (ok, in my opinion the tunes were questionable but that’s just down to my musical taste), no-one seemed to be showing much of an interest. My worries were soon allayed as the crowd gradually grew and became more eager, whooping and shouting for their much-loved Spector to arrive onto stage. At 8.30pm precisely, they did exactly that, much to mass unrivalled joy.

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From the onset, and with a look of a very well dressed gent crossed with a science professor, Macpherson instructs the crowd as a tutor does his lectures and they respond with vigorous rapture as if they are the most motivated students ever known. Performing experiments as “Never Fade Away”, “Friday Night, Don’t Let It Ever End” and “Chevy Thunder” results in an explosion of voices from the crowd and the arrival of a few extra worried looking security personnel after the first song!

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Macpherson quickly and willingly succumbs to the clamours of the crowd and gets up close and personal. His crowd interaction is second to none, with personal dedications for the 23rd anniversary of the couple in front of me (her advice for a long marriage? “be happy, love each other and the rest will follow”), the two French girls who have journeyed to the UK for three Spector gigs, and for birthday girl Rebecca who is beautifully serenaded. No band is under any obligation to do this kind of thing, so it’s a heart-warming sight to witness one who does.

There is a constant buzz in the air, a certain charisma emanating from the stage and a charged energy in the eclectic crowd (teenage girls through to men in their late 50s and everything in-between). Every single song whips the crowd into a frenzy during which it’s difficult at times to tell one jumping, bellowing body from the next!

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Following this 90-minute not entirely scientific experiment, I conclude that the whole evening depicted a love connecting the band directly to the audience, where the feeling between each party was entirely mutual.

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If you ever feel a little bit lost, head for a Spector gig – I have no doubt that it will provide several moments of clarity and an overriding sense of all being right with the world. A point in time to cling to, that’s for sure.

Gig Review: @TheBluetones @Rock_City_Notts , 30th April 2016

The Bluetones, Rock City, Nottingham, 30th April 2016

The Ruffs

The first support came from local band The Ruffs. Singer Connor Spray looks like Stu Macher from Scream, but thankfully doesn’t appear to be the murderous type, especially when it comes to his songs.

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A band whose music is firmly rooted in the traditional indie style, they are a cross between The Verve and Oasis with endless natural energy for their on-stage endeavours. Strong, distinctive vocals are at the forefront of a set of catchy tunes that make your feet tap involuntarily.

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It’s clear that some of the crowd know and love this band already, and they get an excellent reception all ‘round! Much deserved, I say.

Nigel Clarke

It was very pleasant to see Dodgy’s Nigel Clarke wander onto stage armed with his acoustic guitar. Even better was the realisation that his voice hadn’t wavered over time and that the crowd was up for joining in.

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Nigel performed some of his solo tunes and upcoming new songs from Dodgy, promised for release later in 2016. I doubt he could have got away with not playing some much-loved older songs – “In a Room”, “Staying Out for the Summer” and “Good Enough” transposed well to one man and his guitar.

The collective mood was immediately lifted, and the audience were enjoying being 20 years younger again!

The Bluetones

I shall commence with a confession. I’ve never seen The Bluetones live before, despite being a consistent listener and lover of their music for the past 21 years. I did see Mark Morriss do a brilliant, intimate solo gig in Stamford a few years back, but have always felt that I missed out big time on seeing the band back in the day, so when the second leg of the 20th Anniversary Jukebox Tour was announced I was 100% determined to be in attendance, no matter what.

Walking out onto stage, it struck me that none of the guys seem to have aged at all, which adds to the feeling of stepping back a couple of decades in time. Having said that, although this is something of a trip down memory lane, it doesn’t feel entirely like reminiscence as the music is still hugely relevant and wouldn’t be out of place as a new release – these are songs that stand the test of time.

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Frontman Mark Morriss has an irresistible charm and audience-deprecating humour which does the opposite of alienating, it merely brings about another level of affection directed from the floor to the stage.

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Selecting songs for this particular jukebox must have been joyful yet difficult with their prolific back catalogue to choose from. They ended up with the perfect mix of the more obvious songs that the punters would hope for along with some of the lesser-known tracks such as “Fast Boy”, “Never Going Nowhere” and the very beautiful “Tiger Lily”.

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Multi-faceted guitarist Adam Devlin really colours in the songs with his intricate, craftful six-string skills.

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What I love about The Bluetones is the indie jollity and the fact there is none of that brash Madchester vibe to go with it. There is a certain sophistication to this band, enhanced by elements of The Mutton Birds, The Monkees (particularly Pleasant Valley Sunday) and gentler moments of The Jam.

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After “Firefly” came a tribute to Prince as the guys slotted “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” into their set. This was preceded by a short speech from Mark about enjoying while we’ve got while it’s here, with the band’s merch stand as an example… cue much laughter!

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In conclusion, and in the deliberately sarcastic words of Mark Morriss himself, this gig was “quite nice”.

Set List:

Talking to Clarry

Are You Blue or Are You Blind?

Cut Some Rug

Mudslide

The Fountainhead

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Marblehead Johnson

Sleazy Bed Track

Fast Boy

Never Goin’ Nowhere

Bluetonic

Tiger Lily

Carnt be Trusted

Solomon Bites the Worm

Firefly

I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Prince)

Slight Return

After Hours

Encore:

The Simple Things segueing into Express Yourself (Madonna)

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Gig Review: Therapy? @therapyofficial at @rescuerooms , 12th March 2016 by @moff76

Words and pictures by Adam Moffat.

Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms saw the final date of Ireland’s alternative rock pioneers Therapy? playing their Infernal Love album tour.

“Infernal Love” is the band’s third album following on from “Nurse” and the massive “Troublegum”. It received mixed reviews on its release in 1995 as it showed a change in direction from the bouncier, punkier “Troublegum” to a more groove laden sound.

There was a big turn-out of Therapy?’s loyal following and the Rescue Rooms was packed out.

The band walked on to a rapturous reception and opened with “Infernal Love”’s title track “Epilepsy”. The heavy opening riffs and “I’ve Got a Problem” creating an instant sea of bouncing bodies and singing voices. The intro rolled straight into one of the album’s finest features, “Stories”.

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Andy Cairnes was his usual witty self, engaging the crowd between songs. From here the set blasted through for 35 minutes of dark twisting melancholy until the end of “Loose”, when Andy called an abrupt stop to proceedings as some unlucky punter in the pit was taken ill. Much puzzlement in the crowd as the band called for paramedics and the unfortunate fella was stretchered out.

45 minutes later the band came back to the stage and launched into their cover of Hüsker Dü’s “Diane”, leading the crowd in a massive sing song, it was as though the band had never left the stage. With “30 Seconds” closing the Infernal Love set we rolled straight into a best of the rest set.

New songs “Still Hurts”, “Tides” and “Deathstimate” were plugged into the set next to classics like “Nausea” and “Teethgrinder” from the album “Nurse”. What came next was “Potato Junkie” with the crowd screaming the “James Joyce is fucking my sister” refrain so loud it threatened to drown the band themselves out. When the crowd’s singing died down we were reminded of a legend lost late last year Mr Lemmy Kilminster with a pit filling “Ace of Spades”, which they segued perfectly back into the end of “Potato Junkie”, the audience an ecstatic mass of sweaty flailing limbs.

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You couldn’t wipe the shit eating grin off of Michael McKeegan’s face with a Brillo pad as he played his winding bass lines. Therapy? had some extra help tonight as guitar tech Stevie Firth filled in on second guitar and keyboard duties giving the music an extra dimension.

The closing finale of “Troublegum” trio “Screamager”, “Knives” and “Nowhere” showed Neil Cooper’s amazing drumming; he was hitting his drums so hard that it threatened to break the skins with every beat. The crowd was sent off into the cold night with croaky throats and massive smiles.

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All in, an excellent end to the Infernal Love tour and a fantastic performance despite the earlier incident. The band took it in their stride and showed why they are one of the best live bands in the world and I for one can’t wait for the next chapter in the dark twisted world that is THERAPY?

Gig Review: Stiff Little Fingers @RigidDigits at @Rock_City_Notts , 11th March 2016 #MusicIsEverything

Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts

The last time I saw Ricky Warwick was when Black Star Riders supported Def Leppard & Whitesnake in December 2015.

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He was a great frontman then, and brought the same required elements this evening, including BSR bassist Robbie Crane as part of his band The Fighting Hearts.

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The majority of the crowd didn’t know the songs, and even seemed slightly apprehensive at the start, but were soon won over with the superlative Rock and Celtic Punk tunes.

The highlight for me was hearing Finest Hour by Black Star Riders again – can’t help loving that band!

It was a pleasure to see these guys on a more accessible stage, and I reckon they definitely procured a few new fans tonight!

Stiff Little Fingers

Perfectly coiffed Mohicans and checked trouser wearing men who I’m pretty sure used to have Mohicans, teenagers with their dads, Goths, bearded Vikings, and couples who have grown together with the music… that was the makeup of tonight’s crowd. An eclectic mix indeed!

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It’s not about the look, though… it’s about the passion, the fire, the energy, the strong statements about Irish politics and other pertinent subjects, the lack of fear and the mutual fondness and respect. Every single person was there for one reason alone… Belfast’s own Stiff Little Fingers.

The moment Jake, Ali, Steve and Ian strode onto the stage, their audience erupted with fierce joy, showing their loyalty and adoration for this band who have been doing their thing since 1977. Incidentally, that’s before I was born, and there were people there tonight who were a lot younger than me – nice to know the older Punk bands are still corralling a new following!

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Tonight’s gig was like a short story, each song a chapter depicting the world of Stiff Little Fingers. There was much hilarity when Burns lamented about arriving over here too late for the Brit Awards. Jake pointed out that Adele’s mantelpiece must be huge, then went on to say that they don’t believe in awards… they “believe in the power of guitar and drums”! This prompted a rip-roaring cheer and a good old pogoing session!

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Favourites “Nobody’s Hero” and “Barbed Wire Love” went down a storm – it was truly wonderful watching the loving crowd sing and wave along to these iconic tunes. In fact, the audience was in my opinion better than a choir – I haven’t heard a group of people sing so loud without microphones since I saw The Wailers!

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I was mesmerised tonight – there were guitar solos to die for, the bass repeatedly sent shivers down my spine (McMordie’s hands were so blurred that I thought I could see a mirage!), the lean, vigorous drums were relentless and Jake’s affable nature, humorous and entertaining anecdotes and formidable stage presence ensured the careening music, sturdy vocals and profound lyrics meshed together to form the perfect tale.

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I can’t review this evening without mentioning Jake’s battle with Depression. He wrote the song “No Going Back” as a self-help guide, and had to be talked into recording it by Ali. He’s thankful for that, especially as he’s had countless people express their gratitude for putting their feelings into words. I can personally vouch for the fact that “The first step to getting better is talking about it”, and must admit to feeling a little emotional, as at that moment in time everyone there was reconciled to supporting those with mental health issues. I therefore extend my own appreciation to Burns for bravely wearing his heart on his sleeve.

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Just as I thought the pace was about to wane, the energy turned up a notch with “Tin Soldier” and “Suspect Device” (which has become a favourite of mine, largely thanks to my other half’s band The Expletives selecting the song for their set – I’m confident that Jake would agree they do a grand job!)

Stiff Little Fingers returned for a two song encore, and with a particularly feisty rendition of “Alternative Ulster”, the book was closed on the evening’s narrative.

I left with an overriding feeling that Punk most definitely hasn’t gone away – both this band and their music consistently stand the test of time in their collective rally against injustice, and we are with them all the way.