Being in a band is a difficult business right now. Gone are the days of going to your local record store, putting on a pair of headphones, hearing something new that you like and buying the album straight away. Bands generally rely on social media to get the word out there, and listeners now expect to get their music for nothing. Yes, there are those of us who still buy albums – I personally like to have something tangible as well as supporting hard-working bands financially.
Of course, a vital market to get interested is teens – they are the future of music in every way and have been since the 50s when “the teenager” really started to exist. You know what I mean.
It was, therefore an absolute pleasure to go to a gig and see a gaggle of teens standing at the front, adoringly watching their favourite band’s every move and singing every syllable.
I am talking about Hunter and the Bear when they appeared at Voodoo Lounge in Stamford on Friday 17th February 2017 as a warm-up gig in the run-up to the tour for their debut album “The Paper Heart”. Of course, their audience wasn’t limited to the youth of today – there was a great mix of people who seemingly followed the guys around the country! That, for me, is the mark of a band who has something a little bit special…
Supporting was Anglo-American singer/guitarist Pembroke Tenneson. He had immediate stage presence and a smile that could melt the iciest of hearts. He proceeded into a lovely acoustic set of self-written songs and covers, largely favouring Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles – a big thumbs up from me!
Lively, cheeky and engaging, he had the audience on his side within seconds, especially his two lady hecklers who I think had more on their mind than just the music! I will be seeing Tenneson again – he’s got a fair few gigs listed for this year already, so urge you to do the same!
Pembroke Tenneson’s setlist:
World Keep on Turning (Fleetwood Mac)
Look Out Below
Good to Me
Oh Well/Heartbreak Hotel (Fleetwood Mac, Elvis)
The Fracking Song
Watch Your Man
Green River/Born on the Bayou (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
I Believe in Miracles (Hot Chocolate)
A Day in the Life (The Beatles)
Just moments later, Hunter and the Bear launched themselves onto the stage in a pleasingly rock n’ roll fashion! The entire set was high energy, slowing down only slightly to catch their breath during their calmer-paced tracks.
This band has been compared to popular folk bands such as Of Monsters and Men and Mumford and Sons, but for me the guys have a much more rock edge to their style, complete with a solo from each band member (Chris’ bass solo was most excellent…!) and definitely the image to go with it. Comparisons are way too freely made on this occasion methinks!
I couldn’t stop smiling during the entire gig – the band’s energy was infectious and the effect on the crowd was that they were mentally tethered to the guys and their music throughout.
Hunter and the Bear are garnering a reputation a lot of bands these days would be envious of. They’ve got a following, they’ve got charisma and attitude, they’ve got awesome tunes, they’re getting gigs at great venues and most of all they’re selling tickets and hopefully albums aplenty.
I came away from the gig tonight feeling happier than I have in ages and with a brand new favourite band in my heart.
Hunter and the Bear’s setlist:
Who’s Gonna Hear You
Hey, My Love
Burn it Up
Blood Red Skies
I Am What I Am
You Can Talk
Won’t You Ever Come Home
Like a Runaway
My advice? Get along and see them on their upcoming tour before they’re playing venues where you can’t get close anymore!
Photos: Fi Stimpson
Words: Richard Mackman and Fi Stimpson
Dr Feelgood are an enigma of a band. The fact that they feature no original member and all current players are third generation is unusual to say the least. However, what you have on offer is a ferociously tight and joyfully authentic Rhythm and Blues outfit that does credit and is a worthy testimony to the two early classic line-ups.
Front man Robert Kane is a striking, dapper fella, almost like an action man, all starey eyed and jutting jaw. He’s not Lee Brilleaux, but who is, eh? His soft but assertive Sunderland accent is endearing yet commanding. He is also a mean harp player. Considering he has such a big set of shoes to fill, Kane performs with confidence and ease.
Guitarist Steve Walwyn is quite possibly the most consistent and focussed guitar player I have witnessed in quite some time. He plucks a rich, ripe tone from his Telecasters and with traditional player dynamics and staggering slide skills, he is enthralling to watch. He also comes across as being an incredibly genial gent.
Stand-out numbers in the set were “Back in the Night”, “If My Baby Quit Me”, “She Does It Right” and “Rolling and Tumbling” – Walwyn’s opportunity to really shine both vocally and with the bottleneck.
Phil Mitchell governs stage left wielding probably the most road-worn p bass I’ve ever seen, like some kind of rock n’ roll John Pertwee, locking in effortlessly with drummer Kevin Morris.
The crowd this evening – the Feelgood Family – are into this show 100% with a loyalty and familiarity for the material. The intimate and cosy setting of Stamford’s Voodoo Lounge is perfect.
This is only the third time I’ve seen them in recent years, but Feelgoods are always a band I’d be very keen to see again. Long may they continue.
Words by Mitch Spearing
Photos by Fi Stimpson Photography
For quite a few months now I’ve been threatening to turn up at a gig that Fi was attending. When she told me that she had played a part in arranging to get Mark Morriss to play at a venue in her local town, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Had I known I’d be asked to review it, I might have paid more attention to the song order and content both artists played, rather than simply turning up and enjoying what turned out to be a very pleasant evening.
Let’s start with the venue. The Voodoo Lounge, downstairs at Mama Liz’s in Stamford… I had only been to Stamford once before on a dreary Sunday afternoon about 25 or so years ago where I recall visiting an antiques fair. Someone I spoke to on Saturday evening told me that Stamford itself hadn’t changed much!
The Voodoo Lounge is a cellar bar which to me was reminiscent of downstairs at the Clarendon Hotel in Hammersmith, if anyone has ever been, or remembers it… that was certainly somewhere that I spent many a drunken Saturday night before dashing to get the last train home. But anyway, I digress. The staff at the venue were friendly and bar prices seemed reasonable for the couple of drinks I had.
The first act up for the evening was a fella called Richard Gombault. I was told that he was local and that in a previous life he had been in a band called Midget. His set was entertaining with a little bit of banter with the crowd.
He did make mention of being in Midget, and played a song which he said was a hit of theirs in Japan, which he’d had to extend for the purposes of a solo play. He impressed me enough to enquire with Fi as to who he was, so that I could try and find out if he any music available on that well-known fruit based online store.
The Reflection Stared
Twice as Shy
Some Stars Never Fade
God Only Knows (very good beach boys cover)
All Fall Down
Richard was well received and seemed comfortable playing in front of this type of audience.
We didn’t have to wait long before Mark took to the stage. I’m sure that most of you will know Mark as the lead singer of The Bluetones, and possibly like me, know very little of his solo work.
If you attended hoping for a succession of the better known Bluetones songs, you would be disappointed. If you went with an open mind, then in my opinion, you would have left feeling happy with what you had seen and looking forward to the next time you might get to see Mark play.
I had seen Mark play with the Bluetones a couple of times before and knew that he was an excellent front man. What I didn’t know was how good he was with his own ability to play guitar, and keep the audience amused with a witty dialogue throughout the whole show.
As the evening went on, it was obvious that Mark was enjoying himself, but I did find myself wondering where he felt more at home… here, on a small stage playing to a crowd of probably no more than 100… Or the previous Saturday evening, playing in front of a few thousand when The Bluetones were a support act for The Happy Mondays at the Derby Arena.
One little tip, should you decide to go and see Mark play, is that if you buy him a drink (I believe Jack Daniels and coke is his tipple of choice…) you might even get to request a song. We got treated to half a version of “Benny and the Jets” after a young lady in the crowd handed him a drink.
Highlights for me were half a version of “Slight Return” done in a reggae styley and a song that I think was called “Travelodge Breakfast in a Bag” which, although short on lyrics, was what Mark said it was really like for a solo artist living life on the road.
Summing up, Mark is very good value and provides an enjoyable evening’s entertainment… Whether he uses the same stories every night, or whether he has a locker full of tales that he can draw on depending on the time /venue /crowd, I don’t know. I guess I’ll get to find that out the next time I see him. The obligatory encore was taken as a request from the crowd though I suspect it was going to be played anyway, once it had been called out.
Digging a Hole
It’s Hard to be Good All the Time
This is the Lie (and That’s the Truth)
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Cut Some Rug
Sleazy Bed Track
On the Friday just past I went to see a David Bowie Tribute Band called Aladdinsane. Here is the set list: After All Five Years Starman Boys Keep Swinging Golden Years Life On Mars Moonage Daydream Drive In Saturday Look Back In Anger China Girl Queen Bitch Rock N Roll Suicide Diamond Dogs Ashes […]
On Saturday 12th June 2016, Bryan Ferry came to Stamford town… with a band amounting to the population of a small village, he was certainly well prepared for the 10,000-odd people who had turned up to see the former Roxy Music singer.
Kicking off with “Avonmore”, Ferry shifts smoothly into “Driving Me Wild” and follows it up with a swoon-worthy performance of “Slave to Love”. It’s difficult to believe that moments beforehand he was reportedly having a snooze backstage. If that’s true, there was no evidence of post-nap wooziness! What a pro!
The remainder of the set list did not disappoint, with a mix of his solo work, popular and much-loved Roxy Music songs and covers that he and his incredible band (those backing singers – they got soul! Amazing voices!) made their own.
The crowd were on top form – fuelled by a slightly boozy, slightly hazy, slightly drizzly afternoon and whatever delights were on the picnic tables, they were singing every word and dancing the night away. All the while, thousands of adoring eyes were locked on Bryan Ferry’s every deliberately mesmerising move.
Highlights of the show were “While My Heart is Still Beating” and “Virginia Plain” – it’s verging on the surreal to hear songs you know and love in such majestic setting, and I won’t forget it in a hurry!
Driving Me Wild
Slave to Love
Don’t Stop the Dance
Bob Dylan’s Dream
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Stronger Through the Years
Take a Chance with Me
While My Heart Is Still Beating
If There Is Something
More Than This
Love Is the Drug
Both Ends Burning
Let’s Stick Together
Do the Strand
Editions of You
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!