Forest Swords The Wild Eyes Half Man Half Biscuit Payper Tiger Records www.bidolito.co.uk bidolito bidolito.co.uk
Forest Swords by John Robert Jones
Issue 8 February 2011
Bido Lito! February 2011
When does it become unacceptable to wish somebody ‘Happy New Year’? By the time you’re reading this, its probably early February. It cheeses me off royally when people start banging on about christmas in November so, by the same logic, going on about New Year five or six weeks after the event is a non starter. So...Happy February. A refusal to wish someone ‘Happy New Year’ does not extend, however, to a ban on discussing what you got up to on New Years Eve itself. I won’t rub your nose in it, but we had a blast at the Bido Lito! NYE do...bouncing round Static Gallery at midnight, kissing strangers to the sound of Talking Heads, all carried out in the midst of some of the most well oiled folk I’ve ever had the privilege to share an evening with. With scorching performances from The Wild Eyes, The Lucid Dream, Owls* and The Loud, as well as a free reign of DJing mashups from some of our bestest chums trust me, it was messy. There’s a legion of ‘whats gonna be bloomin’ ace next year’ polls kicking around, I think you could do little better that earmarking those four bands, as well as this month’s cover star, Forest Swords, for an exciting 12 months. With a New Year comes a new start. A chance to take stock and reflect. There’s no Nicorette patches, drinking bans or gym memberships on the cards at Bido Lito! HQ, no sir, but we thought we’d take the opportunity to make some nips and tucks to our pink pages (much less painful than nips and tucks to our pink love handles). The eagle-eyed among you will notice the loss of our middle eight section, in favor of a new News Page (page 6), alongside the Bido Lito! Dansette and our regular monthly competition and a further page of gig previews and short band features (page 20). These changes will allow us to bring you even more news on what is going on musically in our city and we hope you dig the changes. If you don’t, well, in the words of Janis Joplin, Janis - Trying a little bit harder Try (Just A Little Bit Harder). To add to the previews and recommendations for shows to check out in February, and there really are some corkers lined up (hats off to all you promoters by the way...I thought it was meant to be dead in February?!) I’d personally like to say that I can’t wait to see The Bees back in Liverpool. The band hold a special place in my heart ever since the shows we promoted for them with Nautical and Dead Young in 2007 and 2008. I’m a huge fan and I’ll throwing my Left Foot Stepdown at The Stanley Theatre this month...get yer self down. I was in London for the day yesterday and took the opportunity to harvest some of the latest Shoreditch rags for perusal on the bus home (a tenner on the national express v eighty quid on the train...what would you do?!) and was pleased to see Bido Lito! favorites Stealing Sheep featured in the latest edition of Loud And Quiet. However, upon reading the piece, I was a little disappointed to take in the writer’s observations of our city’s musical offerings, ‘Liverpool does have a tendency (from personal experiences, at least) to be somewhat musically regressive, always clinging onto something gone by and draining the life from every last pore...’ Dear dear. The guy clearly doesn’t know his onions from his shallots and its frustrating to see a publication, which I remain a fan of, allowing such mis-guided, lazy and plainly incorrect stereotypical bile through its editing process. Up yer game lads! Craig, Calm Down...Calm Down, you’re starting to sound like you give a toss. Our old cockney cousins, you’ve gotta love em. Mine’s a Cains Yozzer. Here’s to 2011 people...well, whats left of it.
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Craig G Pennington Editor
MAGAZINE LAUNCH PARTY
Volume One – Issue Eight
Editor Craig G Pennington - firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor Christopher Torpey - email@example.com Photo Editor Jennifer Pellegrini - firstname.lastname@example.org Designer Luke Avery - email@example.com Words Craig G Pennington, James Dodd, David Lynch, Sean Fell, Christopher Torpey, Philip Gofton, John Still, Katy Long, Nik Glover, The Glass Pasty, Daniel Nicholson, Richard Lewis, Anna Torpey, Jonny Davis, Alexander Court, P. Lee, Pete Robinson Photographs David Howarth, John Robert Jones, Jennifer Pellegrini, Catherine Bourne, Keith Ainsworth, John Johnson, Rob Rossington, Jane MacNeill Illustrations Jojo Norris, Gareth Arrowsmith
Adverts To advertise in Bido Lito! please contact Another Media: firstname.lastname@example.org 0151 708 2841
SATURDAY 26TH FEB THE SHIPPING FORECAST SLATER ST, LIVERPOOL DJ SETS FROM DELPHIC, KID BRITISH, GARETH BROOKS LIVE SETS FROM PICTURE BOOK, JANICE GRAHAM BAND TICKETS £10 WITH ALL PROCEEDS TO CALM BUY FROM WWW.SKIDDLE.COM
PAYPER TIGER RECORDS.
There are few artists out there right now who can render you this powerless.
“People are finally beginning to realise that they need to take control of their own lives.”
THE WILD EYES.
“Rock n roll needs to be plugged in and primal. This music is the preserve of freaks and weirdos.”
HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.
Clearly not a band moulded by contracts and obligations, HMHB have remained true to their own respected lives.
Like the evolution of the orally-transmitted song, a process stemming from the people, by the people, to the people.
It’s a pleasure to see a promoter with so much enthusiasm for what they do.
Regulars 6 NEWS
Bido Lito! Dansette Our pick of tracks for the month
Bido Lito! Launches New Podcast Bido Lito! are thrilled to announce the launch of our new monthly podcast. Presented by Deke Hardman of NXNW fame, along with Bido Lito! Editor Craig G Pennington and Assistant Editor Christopher Torpey, the hour long show will showcase music from Liverpool artists featured in the current issue of Bido Lito!, plus live sessions, guest interviews and previews of upcoming shows. Download the first show now for free from itunes or bidolito.co.uk
The Sand Band’s LP Lands THE SAND BAND’s long awaited debut album All Through The Night has arrived at last. The cover stars of the first ever Bido Lito! back in June 2010, have received heavy praise for the record from national magazines such as Q and Mojo, with The Independent saying that the record, ‘...is what the Verve might have sounded like if they’d come from Memphis. Understated and really rather lovely.’ We couldn’t agree more...order now from roughtrade.com
Kane’s got a Beady Eye on you Former Rascal and one half Last Shadow Puppet MILES KANE releases his second solo single this month. The vinyl pressing of Come Closer Closer, released on Columbia Records, features a tasty remix courtesy of Domino Record’s Steve Mason, formerly of The Beta Band. Following on from his successful homecoming at Liverpool Music Week, Miles and his band play the Kazimier on 25th February, before heading out on the road with Liam Gallagher’s, Beady Eye. Smart. mileskane.com
The Cubical are no Eurosceptics There seems to be no stopping Liverpool’s own, Waits-ian/psych wonder kids THE CUBICAL from their Napoleonic advancement across Europe. Fresh from last year’s adventure, including a summer support slot with Bob Dylan in Spain, Dan Wilson and company spend February traversing a tour from Wageningen to Bilbao. The group’s latest single Dirty Shame, Shame along with a hip shaking video (check it out online...we urge you!), is out now. Partido que baila. myspace.com/thecubicalthecubical
Big Pink Disco Party! Bido Lito! have teamed up with Liquidation @ Le Bateau, to host the upstairs at their fine soiree, each and every Saturday night. We’ll be playing the sounds of our pink pages, alongside Bido Lito!’s psych/post-punk/garage favourites and the finest new noise. We’ve given The Bido Lito! Social Club an overhaul too. With the help of Harvest Sun Promotions, The Tea Street Band will be appearing, alongside Ticks and Mashemon with Bido Lito! DJs, at The Shipping Forecast on 17th February.
The Fresh & Onlys Summer Of Love IN THE RED Taken from this San Francisco group’s scintillating LP, Play It Strange, this track forges the somewhat uncharted link between Crystal Stilts and The Doors. The missus bought me it for christmas and I played it loads on christmas day, hence it just reminds me of feeling bloated and sick...despite which, it still sounds utterly glorious. Essential.
The Wild Eyes Sweet Teardrops UNSIGNED THE WILD EYES...are...class. I’ll say it again. The Wild Eyes...are...class. This ramshackle live offering is currently streaming on their myspace. Its The Modern Lovers battling with The Stooges, with Blonde On Blonde-era Dylan wailing out front. These are gonna be mega in 2011. No lies.
Tame Impala Lucidity MODULAR RECORDS A thudding slice of ‘60s-inspired psych blues that will melt your brain faster than you can say “I saw Cream at the Twisted Wheel!” Perfect for the blowing away of those early-year cobwebs, immerse yourself in the world of these Aussie warpsters.
Karen Elson The Ghost Who Walks THIRD MAN RECORDS Not just a pretty face, Mrs Jack White chimes and swoons on this, the best track from one of the best albums released on her hubby’s label. For fans of the ghostly Cold Mountain soundtrack, this is pure, unadulterated bliss.
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Bido Lito! February 2011
FOREST SWORDS Words: David Lynch Photography: John Robert Jones It’s a weird thought that something as tedious as redundancy could give birth to a product as inspired as FOREST SWORDS. Turns out if you give a graphic designer with a four track and a laptop a year off, the result is something as innovative as it is staggeringly beautiful (Disclaimer: Any graphic designers reading this don’t quit your job just yet). This is the case it appears for 25 year old Matt Barnes at least, who has critics foaming at the mouth with what essentially started as a hobby. After finding himself at a loose end following his job loss Matt found his passion for music returning, something he had neglected during his pursuit of a career (fuck the rat race, maaan). After putting a few of the tracks he had knocked together on the internet, he was soon contacted by New York based label Olde English Spelling Bee, offering to put out some of his work in the form of a vinyl EP. As he explains to me, this was an incredibly helpful promotional tool in itself; “OESB has its own fan base that will buy anything that’s on the label. They know what they’re getting when they buy from them.” Several pressings later and it appeared that the public liked what they heard; something even Matt himself hadn’t really expected having not yet put any excessive exertion into his musical venture. The success of these vinyl releases meant it wasn’t long until an English label wanted a piece of the action and so No Pain In Pop, a London based independent, swooped in and Paths Around released the much acclaimed album Dagger Paths. this time the frenzy of critics tripping over themselves like a gang of rabies-infested monkeys with Macs began and is, thus far, unceasing. So what is it about Forest Swords that thrusts him above all else in the saturated world of online music? One listen to Dagger Paths will tell you pretty much all you need to know. The LP doesn’t just simply avoid the concept of genre, it slaps it in the face in a club and then ignores its calls. It’s just ‘so’ Forest Swords. There are few artists out right now who can render you this powerless as mesmeric themes and meticulous loops draw you into an almost synaesthetic state throughout each and every track. Forest Sword’s music just feels visual and even rarely shows it is a product of the Wirral, as you hear the roll of the Atlantic and the roar of a sea breeze over relaxing dub beats. This is music that feels natural and therefore it’s unsurprising when Matt admits avoiding reading any reviews in order to
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not know what it is that people like about it. When he tells me; “I don’t consciously think I’ll make it sound like this or this or this,” he is the first artist I can actually believe such statements from because his music never actually does feel contrived. It feels like a visceral product, an honest statement straight from his darkest recesses, and that’s what makes it such a rare and beautiful thing. We discuss his plans to perhaps bring this splendour to a wider audience with live shows and though he admits that Liverpool is “a city built on live music,” he says that live outings are “never something that has been at the forefront of [his] mind.” Despite this, he is planning a couple of shows with No Pain In Pop in which he is looking at perhaps utilising a choir in order to replicate the numerous haunting and obscure vocal samples in his work. If such an event were to go ahead then it’s certain the clamour to attend would be overwhelming. With the popularity of Forest Swords being a direct product of the download era of music, I am keen to get his thoughts on the issue, especially on the difficulty in artists making money these days. He states that developments have “levelled the playing field” somewhat, in that everyone can get their music out there and whilst he may not now be able to make amounts of money which he can live off through music, the converse of that issue is that he would never have been discovered in the first place without the internet. As he is looking to release a new album in the Spring, which he excitedly added he is “talking to some bigger labels” over, this issue is set to affect him yet again. And yet, there is no bitterness over it hurting his paycheque, as he confesses he understands both sides of the argument (I think that means he’s downloaded before...). What we all must hope for is that if the last decade was the one that contained the ‘download boom,’ then maybe this will be the one that contains the ‘download settle down a bit now and find a bit of rhythm?’ Starting with 2011, it’s about time the whole thing got into some sort of swing in order to allow more artists a chance and remove the climate of uncertainty in the music market. If you want one thing to be sure of in the meantime though; whatever this year does hold, it’s going to be a big one for Forest Swords. myspace.com/forestswords
Bido Lito! February 2011
Bido Lito! February 2011
The Art of Independence:
PAYPER TIGER RECORDS Words: Sean Fell Photography: Jennifer Pellegrini “The time we’re in now with people voicing their opinions and daring to stand up, things like Julian Lestrange’s Wikileaks and the rioting in London over the government’s decisions, the next couple of years are going to be mad,” states Ash Hopkins. “People are finally beginning to realise that they need to take control of their own lives. It feels like for the past however many years, people have been neglecting the fact that you need to manage yourselves, not leaving it to someone else.” It’s this acknowledgement of self-management and the belief in a better place in which to exist, by Ash Hopkins and Rich Metcalf, that provides the foundation for their independent label PAYPER TIGER RECORDS. We sat down with the founding force in a dimly lit corner of an open-fire-warmed pub, comforted by the idea of music without boardrooms, demographics and financial obligations. This is a label that comes from the bottom of the heart. Step inside. With a philosophy that delves a little deeper than most, the pair admit that their way of thinking is influenced by watching stacks of documentaries by the likes of John Pilger and Adam Curtis and learning about the power of ‘choice’ in Edward Bernays’ propaganda methods, and ultimately fighting against it. The name comes from the former Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao’s description of US imperialism in 1956, where he said it ‘resembled a paper tiger - something which at first seems ferocious but could easily fall apart.’ “If people get self-organised and build their own communities then you can build your own world,” said Ash. Payper Tiger and these lofty views are not two separate things, they’re one and the same - Ash and Rich’s means of taking control of their lives and offering a choice to music fans in Liverpool, for now, and eventually elsewhere. This is an indie label with inspiring aspirations. “In the music industry there’s a lot of people who want to jump through hoops, so we just wanted to create something that was our own, where we had control over our own things,” they explain. Payper Tiger began (and still resides) in the living room of Rich and Ash. Two years, one accidental masters course and a living space that resembles Steptoe’s yard later, the tiger is ready to bare its teeth. “Last year, I saw an advert that said ‘Do you have a good business plan? If so, send your ideas to the following address and you may be awarded £3000 for each person in your business.’ So at 4am of the morning the plan is due in we finished this little plan,” laughs Ash. “Basically, we
had accidentally enrolled on a part-time business masters degree so we’ve spent the last six months handing in essays.” It’s this DIY attitude mixed with the ideology of something far greater than placing an album with nifty artwork in someone’s hand that is the beauty of Payper Tiger Records. The pair recall nights of hand-stamping track-listings on their debut free release Dead Sound (500 with another 500 waiting to be issued because of high demand) incorporating assembly lines made up of friends, and using Ash’s hand-made printing press which was made from a few bricks, some wood and tape. It’s this idea of going into the unknown day after day purely for the passion for the music that champions the ideology of an indie label. They take inspiration from Dischord Records, created by Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye nearly 30 years ago - “It’s become one of the
strongest independent labels in the world,” enthuses Rich, “It shows what an independent label can be.” In terms of sound, the label refuses to tie itself down, preferring to attach itself to artists that share the same ethics and where relationships can be built and maintained, working on the basis of trust. “We both know what we like, like when it came to The Loud we both knew we wanted to release something with them,” explains Rich. The Loud will be Payper Tiger’s first official release - a 7-inch single followed by a 12-inch six track Mini-Album. “Joe and Greg who were in The Rascals have done an amazing remix of The Loud’s Amy’s Gonna Get You under the pseudonym The Arkestra, so that’s going to be the B-side for the single. We’re really looking forward to that.” If Payper Tiger Records have their way then they could be at the forefront of a genuinely exciting time for Liverpool music and, eventually, beyond. As Ash said, “life could get a little crazy soon,” just watch Payper Tiger run along with it, soundtracking the journey. Long live the indies and those who are fighting to give us a choice in what we hear and see. myspace.com/paypertigerrecords
Saturday 12 March 7 30pm 7.
Tickets £17, £22
www ww ww.liverpoolphil.com Box Off ffi ff fice 0151 709 3789
18.03.11 The Kazimier ‘What’s Happened To Soho’ EP Release / European Tour www.thecorrespondents.co.uk
Bido Lito! February 2011
The Wild eyeS in the preserve of freaks and weirdos Words: Craig G Pennington Photography: David Howarth
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Bido Lito! February 2011 Rock n roll has its best of halcyon adventures. Those somewhat fortuitous journeys of discovery, the voyage for kindred spirit and the quest to find the likely lads with whom to share a tilt at one’s musical calling. Wrexham, via a wide-eyed awakening on a school trip in Germany, taking in York and Saddleworth...well, its unique to say the least. I’m drinking with Huw Roberts (Vocals and Guitar) and Sam Gill (Drums) at Parr Street Studios in early January and the glacial assault outside is subsiding. Together with Neal Johnson (Bass), who’s still navigating his way here, Huw and Sam create psychedelic rock music as THE WILD EYES. “We (Huw and Sam) became really good friends later in school,” Huw asserts, from behind a flopping, Mark Gardener-style fringe. “It sort of hinged on his school field trip to Germany; we both picked German ‘cos you got to go on this holiday. I took my guitar with me, I’d only been playing a year but I was already like ‘I can’t go anywhere without my guitar.’ And we just bonded, over a shared love of music. And ten years later its come full circle, we’ve both got this shared obsession with Krautrock.” An obsession that continued after Sam left their native Wrexham to study in Liverpool and Huw headed east, taking root in York. The pair communicated via a constant stream of letters and cassette’s down the M62, before a case of celestial intervention brought Neal into their lives. Huw, “I was up in York and one day I got this phone call. The guy at the other end of the phone said, ‘I heard you like early Verve? Do you wanna meet up.’ It wasn’t fashionable at all at that time to be listening to early Verve and I was like ‘yeah alright, Ill meet you tomorrow at the minster.’ So I turn up the next day at York minster and theres Neal.” At which point Neal appears in the bar, perfectly on cue, as if a divine apparition. The urge to enquire as to how Neal attained Huw’s number in the first place doesn’t come over me. The story on its own is too good. As Huw points out, “the need to come up with a tale of a Jorvic Viking coming to you in a dream and alining musical stars isn’t required,” and indeed, may appear too realistic in comparison. And so it was, The Wild Eyes were born, with Saddleworth expatriate Neal and Huw joining Sam in Liverpool around four years ago, to devise their deranged optical assault on our fair city. But, coming from Wrexham and Saddleworth, did that bring a certain perspective to their music? “Its hill music man,” Huw confirms. “I couldn’t wait to get away from Wrexham, but in a way it does you a favor, because it turns you onto rock n roll. The first time you hear it, that moment, it presents a world to you, a whole new place that you can escape into. You’re hungry for it. In a place like that, it was an event when the NME came out on a Wednesday and you were there at your newsagents waiting for it. You feed off it, saving up your dinner money to spend on singles.” “We’d be down at Our Price on a Monday, just waiting for it to open,” Sam chips in. Its a link which ties many bands from across provincial Britain; rock n roll providing an alternative, another world and a release. It can also often find young minds reaching for psychedelia. The Wild Eyes are fans and friends of Bido Lito! favorites The Lucid Dream, who still reside in their Carlisle exile, way away from the scents and distractions of the metropolis, but free to hone their own mind-bending, localised sonic universe. Huw, “In a small town its about escapism, and that probably pushes you towards psychedelia. So you take that with open arms and, with a bit of weed, some hallucinogenics, it just creates a different world to escape into.”
Sam, “Its completely hinged in the music. If you wanted to go somewhere, you had to put a record on.” The Wild Eyes early incarnations where particularly fluid, including a drummer who, according to Neal, “...moved to China to just get as far away from us as fucking possible...” and eventually, after the frustration of, as Huw puts it, “trying to find a drummer, one that wasn’t mentally ill and off having secret babies or whatever,” the band reverted to another tactic. “In the end we gave up on trying to find a drummer and concentrated instead on making drum backing loops. They were really crude, there was literally just one drum beat that we could make that would go round and round.” Huw, “But it converged with a year when we were listening to a lot of Krautrock and I was absolutely obsessed with the ‘Neu-beat’” (which Sam demonstrates on the table with consummate ease...more on that shortly), “so it worked well for what we were doing and led us down a path where we could try to blend the bigger sounds of rock n roll with space, and probably made us a bit more modern or forward looking, which we’ve always tried to be.” A forward moving outlook which allowed them to combine live drums via Sam, with the drum loop backing tracks that, upon early outings had been particularly divisive, resulting in the band “clearing a few places out.” Huw, “Yeah, we were probably more extreme than we thought we were. To us it was just normal.” After a while Sam picked up his guitar less and less, preferring to sit behind the kit playing along to the drum beats, before eventually playing the tracks live himself. And it is here where The Wild Eyes strangeness comes to the fore, they are a diverse beast. Their New Year’s Eve live performance at Static Gallery saw the band give a masterclass in psych-infused, pop hooked garage...it was The Stooges circa-1968, with Huw, a wild, lean Welsh Iggy. I Look Good On You, is as sexy and essential as The Stones at their Pamela-Des-Barres-cavorting best. Yet, the band’s minimal recorded output to date, could be the glorious long lost demo tapes of Kember and Pierce; Kosmos hinting at Sound Of Confusion’s cerebral inducement. The Wild Eyes present the possibility of a band on the cusp of carving their own impression in the rock face of their influences. And this is a carving that, rest assured, will be rough round the edges, with sagging, drug heavy bags under lustful eyes. Its one imbued with the danger of rock music at its seductive best. Music can often now be seen as too calculated, too careerist and just too fucking prim. A situation Huw laments, “Rock n roll needs to be plugged in and primal. This music is the preserve of freaks and weirdos, it belongs to us. The money men got hold of it a long time ago and they still let the freaks and weirdos run it while they could make money out of it, whereas now, that’s been cut out and its getting further and further away. It used to be that kids took sanctuary in this music and lost themselves in it. You want to see a band that excites you and thats so limited now.” When Neal says that, “...you’ve got to transcend your influences,” you know that this band are comfortable with what they are looking to achieve. The challenge presented currently is to hone their two divine personas, into a coherent and equally attractive whole, the sensual and attractive persona of Jane from ‘The Three Faces Of Eve.’ I’m confident that she’ll be tasty as hell. myspace.com/thewildeyesuk
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Bido Lito! February 2011
HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT “We used to play the rock clubs in Birkenhead to try and piss people off…we were punks see. The crowds liked us though, we didn’t know what to do then!”
Nigel Blackwell’s HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT are a much-discussed obscurity of a band. Often mythologised, it’s hard to know facts from the obvious falsifications. Did Nigel really break the band up at the height of their success because their schedule was interfering with his daytime television habits? Is there really a HMHB cover band from Sunderland called ‘It Ain’t Half Man, Mum!’? And you’ve all heard the story behind the band twice turning down Channel 4’s advances to have them appear on The Tube… The band have been described by Andy Kershaw as, ‘The most authentic British band since The Clash,’ and John Peel cited HMHB as a national treasure. But few in attendance at those early gigs could’ve had the forethought to imagine that now, twenty seven years and eleven albums later, the band would still be making music. Nigel himself can’t explain how or why the band has lasted; “Around here in the eighties, you were either a smack-head or in a band,” Nigel tells me as we chat over a cup of tea in Birkenhead Park. “Playing in a band was just something to
get us through the day, we didn’t expect anything to come of it.” The band’s first record, Back in the D.H.S.S was recorded at Vulcan Studios where Nigel was working as caretaker. “A fella had set up a little studio in one of the rooms,” Nigel says. “Before he advertised it to the proper bands he used us as his guinea pigs to test his equipment.” Released through the enigmatic Probe Plus label, the record became the biggest selling independent album of the year, selling over 200,000 copies. A £30 investment had gone a long way. The song’s themes found an unlikely niche in Thatcher’s Britain, Nigel’s satirical lyrics sent up middle class society and D-list celebrities and their melodies were perfectly hummable. Don’t call him a songwriter though; “I hate that term, ‘songwriter’, it makes me think of sitting on a stool under a spotlight with an acoustic guitar. I just write about the things I know, it’s all I can do.” In combining popular references with the names of lesser known British towns (see CSI:Ambelside and Trouble Over Bridgwater), Nigel has a canny way of chronicling two of his greatest passions in life; television and small-town England. Despite the band playing to sell-out crowds at the London Astoria and other major venues, the band’s infrequent and sporadic tour dates typically see them pass through towns and villages in Yorkshire and Lancashire. I ask Nigel if
Words: James Dodd Illustration: Jojo Norris
coming from Birkenhead, a town forever shadowed by Liverpool, has had an influence over the band’s habitual existence. “To an extent yeah, definitely,” Nigel says considerately. “It does my head in when we’re referred to as a Liverpool band, Birkenhead isn’t a suburb, and it’s a lot different to a city. That’s what I love about England, I can cycle from one town to another and each will be their own microcosm with their own identity and culture.” It would be senseless to argue that HMHB are a band without influence, dismissive of their observable punk roots. I can’t think of any other band though, that could, or rather would, chant the line ‘Husker Du Du Du, Captain Beefheart, ELO,’ to the melody of Black Lace’s Agadoo; it’s reference points like this, that can strike a chord with the average British listener. The band’s loyal fan base describe gigs as a religious experience, with the crowd chanting back each of Nigel’s words. A fan base that reputedly includes Robbie Williams, Tracey Emin and Pam Ferris. Though there is no indication that the above mentioned celebrity trio have ever spoken of their adoration publicly, one well-known name championed HMHB from the very beginning. John Peel invited the band to record twelve sessions for his show and the relationship between the two was one of sincere respect. “Peel was the Peter Pan of music,” Nigel muses. “He spanned music as a whole. New bands don’t get the same recognition now he’s gone.” Clearly not a band moulded by contracts and obligations, HMHB have remained true to their own respective lives. Spanning three decades of music and ever-changing trends isn’t easy for a band. But as long as the world keeps turning and the fickle ways of society are documented, Nigel and HMHB have the ammunition to carry on, albeit at their own, stuttering pace.
Bido Lito! February 2011
Liverpool Acoustic From The People, To The People, By The People Words: Philip Gofton Illustration: Gareth Arrowsmith
Whether we like it or not we are children of capitalism. We awake each morning to find that our world has...changed from yesterday. As we simple folk meander through ethereal dreamscapes, the capitalist machine is busily chugging away. The tabloids conjure fresh trivial scandals that are about as newsworthy as ‘AN EFFIGY OF JESUS FOUND IN A POTATO’, advertisers construct fresh and exciting ways for us to part with our money while the greedy fingers of the mutant SiCo corp moulds and projects their subservient ‘pop-stars’ into every crevasse of the mass-media until they trespass our very subconscious. Even the NME, the longsince bastion of the ‘thinking-man’s’ choice of musical literature, constructs ‘cool-lists’ to help us filter-out those meddling artists who were just ‘so...last...year’. In the early 1960’s, the principles of ‘folk’ music culture were based around a rejection of what was felt to be a particularly pollutant, capitalist-influenced musical hegemony. Popular music commentator Keir Keightley describes it as, ‘emblematic of all that was wrong with modern life: soulless songs and suspect success, manufactured teen idols and manipulated masses.’ Hmm...not much has changed then. However, dear reader, fear not. As we, the perceptive and individualistic members of society, hold our umbrellas aloft to shield ourselves from the barrage of banal that rains down from the heavens, there is a resistance spawned from the grass-roots. The ideology of our cause? To detail the culture ‘of’ the people, ‘for’ the people. It seems folk/roots/acoustic aficionado Graham Holland is also privy to this notion as by April of 2008, it became personally clear that a proficient platform for the contemporary folk underground was needed and taking matters into his own hands, he created the LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC website. Primarily to be used as a “central resource for acoustic music events in the Greater Merseyside area,” it’s encyclopedic thoroughness goes even further in assisting “musicians looking for acoustic gigs or open mic events, lovers of acoustic music who just want to go out and listen to real music in its rawest form and promoters who run their own events wanting to keep up to date with the scene.” In other words, its serves as a one-
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stop-shop database for every folkie remotely interested or active in the scene. Whereas other genrespecific sites may treat their content with hyperbolic claims to sell the site or the artists, Liverpool Acoustic is less crass than that. Is that the idea or is that just the ‘folk’ way? Graham Holland explains...“I’m a firm believer in the old mantra ‘Content is King’ and aim to provide quality content that the visitors want to see. That’s not to say I don’t hype the website from time to time, but I try to be fair to everyone who approaches me with a request for publicity.” Liverpool Acoustic’s ‘cool-list’ is a little less contrived, shall we say, offering an alphabetic rundown that profiles all the major troubadours making waves in our region. For Graham, it’s an exhaustive “labour of love.” Having suckled on the folk bottle from an early age, absorbing the likes of Ewan MacColl, Jacqui and Bridie, and Leon Rosselson, he now feeds with it. From co-hosting the open floor poetry and acoustic music event Come Strut Your Stuff for the past 10 years, February 2009 then Live As a “natural gave birth to Liverpool Acoustic Live. off-shoot” to Liverpool Acoustic and celebrating it’s two year anniversary next month, The View Two Gallery holds a monthly residence featuring the cream of local talent alongside artists from across the pond. So who should we be keeping tabs on locally? “Hannah Peel, Lizzie Nunnery, T-J & Murphy, KCO, and Jessicas Ghost are all from the horse’s mouth. I’ll throw in The City Walls and The Springtime Anchorage for good measure.” So there it is. There’s no duping of the masses here. No pursuit in affluence, glory or acclaim can replace the crown of creation. It’s always been the folk tradition to take from, then give back to. Isn’t that how the equilibrium remains stable? Like the evolution of the orally-transmitted song, a process stemming ‘from’ the people, ‘by’ the people, ‘to’ the people. Remember, as we meander through ethereal dreamscapes, the culture-machine is busily chugging away... liverpoolacoustic.co.uk
Bido Lito! February 2011
Where The Wild Things Are...
Words: John Still Photography: Untitled, From the series The Inhabitants, 2009. © Catherine Bourne Meet SAL, the brains behind WHIPLASH, the premier extreme metal night in the North-West. Since 2001, Whiplash has grown from an offthe-cuff discussion on the Wirral, to bringing some of the leading lights of the death-metal scene to Liverpool. Frankly, before meeting Sal, I felt I’d be a little out of my comfort zone. The stories surrounding these genres have become ingrained in musical folklore, taking in everything from church burnings, onstage ritual sacrifice to inter-band murders. As with any myth, there are embellishments, but the tales combined with the onstage theatrics and guttural noises have gone to make the darker side of the metal spectrum one of the most subversive forms of an extreme genre. Preconceptions are rarely ever proved justified and mine were shattered upon meeting Sal, a warm and friendly mother of two, who happens to have a passion for the heaviest of heavy metal music. “Whiplash started in Stairways on the Wirral, where I knew the manager. I was dancing to Pantera, but they played the Prodigy straight after. I was gutted, and had a bit of a drunken rant
and the manager asked if I could do better! He offered me a night, which I named after a Metallica song, and it went from there.” After this inauspicious nascence, Whiplash became an established club night, with Sal as resident DJ. After a while friends started approaching Sal to put live music on. “The first live band show was a bit of a disaster, they turned up and we didn’t have microphones or leads for them, but it was all ok in the end.” The first move into Liverpool came in 2001 to Hannahs Bar, before moving to Heaven and Hell and to the Zanzibar. Scene luminaries such as Gorerotted, Behemoth and Pungent Stench all played Whiplash, before a massive coup for Sal; Decapitated playing the Zanzibar in 2005, just months before a bus crash killed drummer, Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka, and left vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek in a coma. The Decapitated show was the last Whiplash for four years, with Sal taking time to expand her family and move up in her day job. However, in 2009, Whiplash was resurrected, “I got to the point when I didn’t know who I was anymore, I was just getting on at
work but wanted something else. So Whiplash came back.” Since it’s return, Whiplash has gone from strength to strength, attracting some of the biggest names in extreme metal and Sal seems to be relishing a return to promoting, “The bands always say nice things, they always want to come back.” No surprise given the effort Sal takes in looking after her bands, “I always cater for them, I’ll do a massive shop at the supermarket to make sure all members of the team are catered for. It’s good to treat bands well. In the past I’ve sourced pigs blood for bands shows, I’ve taken a band member to the STI clinic. I’ve had to buy nineteen cotton towels. Once we had a band with a vegan singer, so I made her a completely vegan chocolate cake. She actually cried, she was so pleased someone had gone out of their way to cater for her. All the bands ask to come back, so we’re doing something right.” Throughout the interview, the passion Sal has for Whiplash almost bubbles over. She is aware of the music she promotes, but is eager for there to be an outlet for it in this region. Liverpool is never noted for its
contribution to extreme music (despite being onetime home to Carcass and Anathema), but Sal finds a healthy audience from this city and beyond, “We’ve had people come from across the UK for these shows, and we have bands from across the world asking to come over.” In 2011, Whiplash continues to attract extreme metal deities to its stage, with a performance from Egyptian-mythology obsessed Nile on 9th February to kickstart the year. Sal knows that she is not providing music for the masses (not yet anyway), and understands the limited appeal such a brutal form of music can have, but is keen that people don’t dismiss it out of hand, “I’d encourage people just to try it. If you just think it’s noise, and many do, then that’s fine, but it’s when people dismiss the genre without trying it that gets annoying.” It’s a pleasure to see a promoter with so much love for what they do, regardless of genre, and Sal’s enthusiasm alone is enough to see why Whiplash has become one of the leading lights to the fans of extreme metal. Whiplash4music.com
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Bido Lito! February 2011
The Glass Pasty Post-it Notes From The Cultural Abyss “Lets Play Darts” This month I emerge from the wings of 2010, I take to the stage with the sound of Dutch Hard House reverberating through the audience, I stand at the oche of popular culture, my paunch jutting out with Olympian poise, my eyes on the prize and my sovereigns gleaming under labour club lights, I caress each arrow with my jittery sausage fingers and I take aim. Fly my pretties, fly! That’s right gentle reader in uncertain times and the sub standard offerings from The FTSE Premier League we turn to that sacred sport of the Gods – Darts. The game that has everything from the worst pun-tastic commentary team in human history to the on screen camaraderie and borderline flirting between medallion
wearing arrows icon Bobby George and former nu music disc jockey Colin Murray. The former so in love with the sport that he has designed his house in the shape of a dart flight. Then there’s the wives, chain smoking, treble drinking, double sinking, hardly thinking Goddesses cheering their brave warriors into battle. Get on the darts bus people, destination happiness. Discontent Fracas Blues 2010 produced the coldest Christmas Eve on record and there is no doubt that it will be remembered as The Winter of Winter, when temperatures dropped and the roads iced over with an almost annual feel. As usual in this Fair Isle bedlam ensued, people queued round the block at their local Home and Bargain, panic bought
Nik Glover Comic Book Icons: Hellblazer
Alan Moore created John Constantine, the Scouse warlock, to fulfil a long-standing desire to create a character that looked like Sting. It’s odd to think that one of the comic genre’s best loved rogues began life as an avatar of the former lead singer of the Police. Constantine debuted in Moore’s first really significant piece of work, his revolutionary stint writing Swamp Thing. Constantine appeared as a consultant mage, occasionally helping Swamp Thing in his search for the truth of his condition. He was always eye-catching, but to fully flesh out a character like Constantine required a little more elbow room. This he received when Vertigo launched his own title, Hellblazer
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(Moore had originally wanted to call it Hellraiser, but legal complications with Clive Barker’s series intervened). Hellblazer is the longest running of Vertigo’s titles, and has spawned a not-terrible, but not in any way similar film (the rubber stamp of any great comic’s success). John Constantine is not a superhero. Perhaps he’s an anti-hero in the purest sense, in the same way that Milton’s Lucifer is, in that we are never entirely sure of his motives, or that he is even driven by some kind of guiding principle to do what he does. In Constantine’s world, things happen. His friends tend to die, usually in gruesome ways, and often as a direct result of his actions.
super noodles and stayed home by the log fire for romantic nights in with their laptops. The icy heart of darkness descended and mirrored the political mood sweeping the nation; the harrowing scenes of Prince Charles and his Duchess of Cornwall will live on in our collective memory. The slight inconvenience suffered and minor criminal damage to their limousine after a night watching Michael McIntyre with Joe Public convinced the nation that the students had indeed gone too far and the usual British conservative backlash kicked in. Prophetic/Pathetic Gentle reader its time to look beneath the pastry casing and gaze balls deep into our crystals. What cultural offerings will 2011 bring? Music: It appears this year’s saviours set to drink from the fountain
Sometimes they make questionable moral choices (to sacrifice their integrity to feed drug addictions), other times they are punished simply for knowing John Constantine. He is an itinerant, moving from one pub to another, busying himself in Council Estate refuse pipes and needle parks; friends are only friends when he needs them, and are to be discarded like fag ends. Like every long running comic, Hellblazer has passed through different stages, its central character showing very different faces. In the early Alan Moore archetype, he is reckless, dangerous, and supremely funny. For Garth Ennis (Preacher), Constantine’s recklessness cuts deep, leaving behind it ghosts of dead lovers and friends, and, for a while, it appears his ego (and, by extension, his whole reason for living) has been crushed. Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets)
of musical genius are the hotly tipped Vaccines. Related to The Horrors, tipped by both the NME and The BBC and championed by power folk imbecile Mumford himself, watch this space for massive disappointment and conventional turd reflux. In fact such magazine hyperbole and borderline record company propaganda has been so frequent in recent years that it has started to rival Wimbledon, Cider, general whinging about the weather and Jeremy Clarkson for quintessential Britishness. Film: Times are tough, so expect films about Aliens and the Royal Family to guide us through such choppy waters, oh and good old traditional family values will be pumped into our minds at every opportunity, suspend your disbelief reader: the future is ours. Until next time …
re-created him as a shadowy spook who followed in the wake of tragedy, keeping the very worst company (neo-Nazi’s, sado-masochistic sociopaths) and occasionally seeming to ‘do the right thing,’ even if for very questionable reasons. If there is a soul inside John Constantine, it is akin to that of a Chester Himes street hood, feeling his way around bloody situations, occasionally glancing at a moral compass (more to see which way the wind is blowing than to where the needle points) and eventually triumphing, against all odds, and never without a question: What will become of us all, when the inevitable cheque arrives for a life of sinning and, what’s worse, sinning when you know someone is watching? And who gets to pay? And in what currency? And can I crash at yours for a few days?
Guest Column Daniel Nicolson, Editor, Boss Mag
January, let’s face it, is undoubtedly the drabbest month of the year. You don’t need me to tell you that. You’ll be reminded of it every time your alarm clock goes off during this most dull of periods. It’s quite possibly the fun police’s way of balancing out the excessive joys that December brings. You have, of course, got a plethora of Christmas parties to pick from. This year’s BOSS Mag bash was at Belle Vue greyhound track. Adequately described by one of the lads as a cross between Primark and Battersea Dogs Home. Throw into the mix a few obligatory family dos and pints with under-the-thumb-mates having their annual drink you’re already looking at an above average number of nights out for even the most active man-about-town. But it’s our city’s musicians - perhaps more than artists from elsewhere - who like to push the metaphorical boat out in the final weeks of the year. Each festive period our local favourites seem to come out to play. Which for us lads who put together BOSS - a Liverpool FC/music/going out fanzine with a particular penchant for anyone with an L post code - makes it a busy time. With Cast’s illustrious returning shows squeezing into the tail end of November, the month, as far as live music was concerned officially started with The Farm on the 4th. There was anticipation for the gig of course, the lads always put on a good show, but there was equal excitement for the after show ‘secret’ rave, which delivered on more levels than one. It kicked off an incredibly Scouse few weeks with, amongst others, the Bunnymen (back on form), McCartney (privileged), Pete Wylie (bring back the Classic nights), The Real People (Bootleicious) and Ian McNabb (is the aftershow still going?) stealing the light. We even managed to conjure up an excuse to miss Newcastle away (wasn’t too hard) to take in Arcade Fire in Manchester. There honestly wasn’t a bad gig amongst them. So with all the other nights December has to offer you’re left with hapless January unashamedly sulking in it’s shadow. The poor relation. The blag jumper of the calendar world; little context and barely an outing in it’s shoddy self. I can try to conjure up some positives. Obviously this a music mag, but BOSS is first and foremost a Liverpool FC publication. So please forgive me as I take this opportunity to exhale a massive public sigh of relief at the appointment of Kenny. But away from the club, which for the first time seems like a football club again, I’m struggling to find a light. It looks like the the road works on the top of Aigburth Road are about to come to an end but is that worth getting out the left over crackers for? Probably not. Wake me up in February.
STORE NOW OPEN
BUY ONLINE: WWW.WEAVERSDOOR.COM 1 CAVERN WALKS HARRINGTON STREET LIVERPOOL L2 6RE TEL: 0151 236 6001
Bido Lito! February 2011
LONE WOLF STEALInG SHEEP - OWLS* Harvest Sun Promotions have curated somewhat of a haunted farmyard with their ‘Sounds of The Wilderness’. Featuring Bella Union darling and Wild Beasts (missed a trick there lads...?!) tour support LONE WOLF, with STEALING SHEEP (who celebrate their new EP at the show) and OWLS*. The Kazimier - 5th February - Tickets from Probe Records
BRITISH SEA POWER Flying high on praise for their latest LP, Valhalla Dancehall, the UKs finest proponents of odd-yet-perfect nautical rock return to Liverpool. Previous performances at a disused fort on the Wirral and aboard a chugging Mersey Ferry are put to one side, in favor of the safer confines of Stanley Theatre. Stanley Theatre - 19th February - Tickets from hmvtickets.com
Craft is an art that has been overlooked by a generation of musicians, for whom a good old thrashing of the only three chords they know, and an unintelligible roar down the mic, constitutes cutting edge songcraft. That is a criticism that cannot be levelled at DEAD CITIES, a collective whose catalogue of stripped-back acoustic songs portray an aptitude for the poetic, thoughtful, lovelorn lament. These songs also demonstrate an impressive musical talent possessed by the band’s three members, a fact proven if you’ve ever seen Dead Cities playing live. With vocalist Martin Stillwell up front with his acoustic guitar and winsome voice, drummer Oli Hughes and bassist Ryan Wyatt juggle an assortment of instruments, often mid-song, to create the intricate melodies the songs are built on. After some encouraging support spots in 2010 (most notably with John Smith at St. George’s Hall), this year looks like the year that Dead Cities will spread their wings. Their most recognisable number, Old Man, has the bounce of The Band and some catchy mandolin licks, and Hours, Dead Cities and The Killer Wave all have a distinct Badly Drawn Boy feel to them. With a selection of these available for download on the group’s bandcamp, why are you sitting there still reading? Get to it! deadcities.bandcamp.com
Resident of every ‘cool-list-one-to-watch-hot-as-lava’ prediction cast thus far in 2011, JAMES BLAKE is set to go stellar this year. While such predictions can often be held with as much regard as those of Michael Fish, we are still hooked on Limit To Your Love’s aching beauty. Catch him playing records @ Chibuku... The Masque - 5th February - Tickets from 3 Beat Records & Resurrection
LE SAVY FAV DIRE WOLFE As part of their first birthday celebrations, Wingwalker present the revered LES SAVY FAV, who bring their compelling noise to the city as part of an extensive world tour. 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends was one of the most critically acclaimed LPs of the noughties and last years’ Root For Ruin maintained the standard. The Kazimier - 26th February - Tickets from ticketweb.co.uk
CHAPEL CLUB DAVID’S LYRE Riding the crest of a wave created by their excellent single releases, most recently All The Eastern Girls, shoegazers par excellence CHAPEL CLUB embark on a headline tour in support of the hugely anticipated Palace LP. Tickets are sure to move fast, following their outing at Liverpool Music Week. O2 Academy - 4th February - Tickets from ticketweb.co.uk
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The Rise Of General Mezmar
The Wirral has quietly produced dozens of great bands over the past few years and in THE RISE OF GENERAL MEZMAR, the peninsula starts the New Year in a very healthy position indeed. Combining Creedence inspired guitar work with Doors-esque lyrical imagery, TROGM create the kind of bluesy psychedelia usually reserved for our neighbours ‘cross the pond. The band recently recorded their first demo and lead track, The Lucid Dream, is a real standout. A pounding rhythm section and relentless lead guitar is topped with a subtle, harmonious verse culminating in a brilliantly simple, and effective Stones inspired chorus. Should Nuggets be compiled for a new generation, The Lucid Dream should certainly be included. Unlike other psych revival bands that have failed in winning over new audiences, TROGM, I think, have knowingly succeeded in creating a contemporary psych sound with all the influence of the genre’s luminaries. The five piece, who are yet to take their sound to the stage, are keen to distance themselves from established crowds and circuits. “We want to move forward and for people to hear us,” says the band’s singer/guitarist Karl Gill. “It’s important to stay ambitious though, we don’t want to be playing to the same crowds every week,” he adds. If the band’s demo is a taste of things to come, escaping this city’s walls should be no bother at all. myspace.con/theriseofgeneralmezmar
FEBRUARY TUESDAYS Parr Jazz ft special international guests every week from 7:30pm WEDNESDAYS The Quiz with a £50 prize, from 8:30pm THURSDAYS Studio 2 Stereo vintage soul, wacked-out beats and obscure music
from around the globe, from 8:00pm
FRIDAYS 04 Lucas Castro eclectic mix of beats, from 9:00pm 11 Penguin Club live indie/rock music ft Ali Ingle + guests from 9:00pm 18 Anglicana live music ft The Grande from 9:00pm 25 Claude presents The Phonetics plus guests from 9:00pm SATURDAYS 05 CMWMSMDM ft R+R beat boxing from 9:00pm 12 Still Groovin’ Records ft Mark Kennedy + guests from 9:00pm 19 Under the Influence presents Threshold Festival acts from 9:00pm 26 Live Music ft Ashville, Salamandas + guests from 9:00pm SUNDAYS 06 Solitaire indie/folk hosted by Thomas J Speight from 8:00pm 13 Threshold Festival after show party with Kid Blast from 9:00pm 20 Steve Macfarlane music in the afternoon from 5:00pm 27 Soul4Soul live soul music and Djs from 7:00pm visit us on facebook for more information
Parr Street Studios 33 – 45 Parr Street Liverpool L1 4JN
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Bido Lito! February 2011
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
The Wicked Whispers – El Toro! Eva Petersen - Howard Be Thy Name Static Gallery The marriage between Liverpool and psychedelia is as renowned as the reasons remain obscure. From scenetrailblazers The Beatles, post-punk ‘shroom-heads The Teardrop Explodes, to our West Coast revisionist neighbours The Coral, it seems that some secret elixir casts an hallucinogenic veil over Merseyside. Although in recent years the vintage-synth appears to have shunted the hammond off its perch, bands like Owls* and By The Sea still exist within the parameters of the psychedelic doctrine by leaving the door ajar to realms of the unearthly and the blissed-out. Tonight’s gathering focuses upon a return to the roots of the movement by recapturing the halcyon days of London’s UFO club and San Francisco’s The Matrix, birthplaces of those throbbing oil-projections. Thus, the visual mad-hatter himself HOWARD BE THY NAME, has been drafted-in to service the proceedings with a slice of his formidable Project O.R. multimedia show. Unfortunately for tonight’s opener EVA PETERSEN, her performance is muted by a temperature so chilling it could probably stop the aging process and she seems positively relieved when her set concludes. As the numbers grow, the thaw begins and EL TORO! hasten the process with a charged set fusing snotty Back From The Graveera garage-rock, with a tomb-raiding rockabilly pulse scavenged from the carcass of singer Jimmy O’s former band The Straightjackets. Following a strange interlude by a lightsaberwielding Howard, event organisers THE WICKED WHISPERS take to the stage. It seems nothing much has changed since the dismantling of singer Michael Murphy’s hotly-tipped prototype Whiskey Headshot, as The Whispers revel in a ‘60s pastiche so severe that one wonders how a band
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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (John Johnson)
solely living in the past can successfully carve out a future. Moreover, the bands they seek to emulate, The Doors, Love, were non-conformists striving to unearth new frontiers by destroying the old. Isn’t that what psychedelia was/is all about? To walk the tightrope of the dangerous unknown, teetering upon the brink of insanity before all the walls start crumbling down? Maybe I’m just missing their point. Inevitably, it’s left to the godfather of warped theatrics, ARTHUR BROWN, to deliver tonight’s most accomplished performance. Hand-picking a set from a career spanning four decades and 22 million album sales, it’s still apparent why rock’s royalty (from Alice Cooper to Bruce Dickinson) cite Brown as a major influence. While his incendiary showmanship may have succumbed to the biological clock, his voice is left to lead the charge as wild falsettos soar and carpet-bomb like a Thin White Dukeera Bowie, over ‘60s freak-outs and dub-reggae stomps. Brown’s signature tune Fire even becomes a distraction stood against feral interpretations of Dylan’s Hard Rain and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You. You With his two glaring white eye-balls breaching the darkness, it’s though a deranged
sermon is being conducted from the stage. So was The Grasshopper’s Feast a success? Well it becomes problematic to try and replicate a bygone scene as liberal as the UFO days when one has to vacate the premises for a smoke, though it doesn’t mean that all attempts are in vain. The Wicked Whispers are trying to conjure a visual/ sonic vibe: other Liverpool club nights should take note. Philip Gofton
CARIBOU The Kazimier
The arrival of Dan Snaith and his band could not be more highly anticipated as is shown by the sellout crowd at the Kazimier tonight. The venue is buzzing with a real party atmosphere that at times threatens to intrude on the intensity of the live music experience. CARIBOU make a low-key entrance so underwhelming that only those paying close attention notice what the hell is going on. It is soon evident that the volume is far too quiet and first song Kali is all but drowned out by the hum of the crowd. Audio misfires
like this can completely destroy the vibe, particularly with music so geared towards the dancefloor, but once the audience is locked into step, the trademark Caribou performance gets underway. The songs are so loose the band threaten to fall out of time. but crucially they never do. This seems to be a conscious decision to let the songs become something of their own. They are stretched and skewed out of shape into warped psychedelic jams that seem to exist beyond their means before being whipped back into shape by the motoric krautrock drums. The seeds sewn by Caribou’s latest album Swim are baked in warmth and drenched in underwater synths to create a sound that washes over you. The set tonight contains a bold variety of songs from Snaith’s repertoire and the older songs benefit greatly from live experimentation, bridging the gap between the soundscapes of old and the tropical grooves of the new. There is a sense that Caribou have really learned how to enjoy themselves over the course of this mammoth tour. As they approach the final few shows they prove that they have really mastered the delicate balance between accurate
Reviews Bido Lito! February 2011 reproduction and improvisation. This is the sound of musicians really enjoying themselves and Dan Snaith’s songwriting is at an all time high, which is a real compliment when you consider the strength of his back catalogue. The songs have a great urgency about them that makes you feel compelled to enter the band’s headspace. Once on the same frequency it is difficult not to wave your arms, bounce and generally lose your inhibitions in their presence. When they finally play Sun, the Kazimier crowd is completely sold on this vibe and the place goes nuts. The praise lavished on Caribou’s latest album Swim has certainly been overwhelming, but it’s performances like this that more than prove its worth. To create such an aurally rich record and follow it with a live show that manages to capture that same warmth, and simultaneously throw away the rulebook and become its own animal, is the mark of a true professional at the top of his game. Jonny Davis
THE FARM The Bo Weevils O2 Academy For a glorious week in March 1991, THE FARM’s debut album Spartacus occupied the plum spot at the top of the UK Album Charts. Even more impressive, it went straight in at number one. Putting that in some kind of context, at the beginning of that year, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection and Elton John’s Greatest Hits had been vying with each other for the top spot and remained in the top ten for months. With Madchester frenzy finally on the wane, (the eponymously titled The La’s was a stake in the coffin), the rise and rise of The Farm was an excuse for nothing less than an explosion of civic pride. I was one of those proud denizens who took them to my youthful powdered bosom. The last time I went to see them was in 1991 when I skipped school to watch them at de
Montfort University. At our first Farm gig, my sister and I were like Pixie and Dixie with little Peter Hootons in our eyes. We even blagged our way into the aftershow party at a hot Leicester nitespot, even after initially being turned away by a door harridan (‘We’re WITH the band. Can’t you tell by our accents?’) Back to the 2010 gig, and there may not have been much snapping of whippers going on in that room, but that’s because they weren’t invited. This gig belonged to the fans. I have to say that my sister and I thought that local boys THE BO WEEVILS were magnificent. I predict great things for them, but, err… what’s with the name fellas? Couldn’t you change it to something that doesn’t remind people of The Grumbleweeds? It’s a well trodden path: Nirvana realised that Fecal Matter probably wouldn’t get much airplay on Radio Washington. Even The Farm went in for a bit of identity tinkering... On that note, The Farm opened with
Stepping Stone which I have to admit was never one of my favourites. The Spartacus numbers are more suited to Peter Hooton’s voice, which, I’m glad to report remains as choirboy-ish as ever. Spartacus is full of cracking, funky tunes, and even without the wonderful Paula David on backing vocals (who did at least as much as the rest of the band to create The Farm ‘sound’), the band recreated them faithfully. Don’t Let Me Down is a real rabble rouser, Family of Man an exhilarating crowd pleaser; Groovy Train, Train with Keith Mullin’s iconic intro, was and is a joy; but the night was of course all about All Together Now. This song has been re-mixed, re-released, and regurgitated, but like Irn-Bru, the original is best. It is a very clever song; the sampling is genius; Lord Hooton of Bold Street’s voice is simply heartbreaking; and its references and anthemic qualities mean that it will never go out of fashion. It was always obvious that there were music industry heavyweights behind The Farm. Their meeting with Graham
Bido Lito! February 2011
McPherson (aka Suggs) was fortuitous indeed. However it has always been a source of some annoyance to me that both they and Madness failed to garner the plaudits that they deserved. All Together Now could not have been written by a bunch of lucky scallies (nor could Madness’s Tomorrow’s Just Another Day come to that.) There may not have been many giddy powdered youths in that room, but there was a great deal of unadulterated joy, and yes, still, a shedload of civic pride. Anna Torpey
ABE VIGODA Mother Earth
The Shipping Forecast On a rainy Monday night, deep in The Hold of the Shipping Forecast, the four-piece ABE VIGODA, who hail from the always ominous sounding Inland Empire of California, were bringing a much needed blast of energy and sunshine to an otherwise damp and dreary Liverpool evening. Now, if you’re particularly knowledgeable of actors
The Farm (Kieth Ainsworth)
who portrayed secondary characters in The Godfather, you’ll be right in thinking that they are named after the very same Abe Vigoda, who had a penchant for placing the heads of dead horses in the beds of unsuspecting victims. The name though is thankfully where any similarity between the band and their namesake ends. After a convinving opener from local group MOTHER EARTH, the stage was ready to be taken by Abe Vigoda who kicked off with Crush, the title track off their latest album of the same name, which started the show with a bang. Considering that this was the beginning of the week they had managed to draw in a surprisingly large crowd, which just shows the sort of audience that a band of this calibre can attract regardless of whether it’s a Monday or a Friday night. Musically they have a tremendous bounce, but it’s tempered by some really heavy rhythm which prevents it from ever spinning too far out of control. Key to this is the drumming which was just superb. Listening to it and watching I couldn’t help but think of the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson in terms of style and just sheer raw energy. To top it all, as if there wasn’t enough already, there was even more rhythm laid on with the aid of a drum machine, which also allowed the drummer to get out from behind his kit and get shredding on guitar. This is a band that knows how to really work the audience, for after multiple encores, the crowd and myself included, were left still wanting more, which says it all about the sheer quality of their material and delivery of it. If you missed them this time, there’s no
excuse not to catch them when they’re next back in Liverpool, otherwise they may well just call up their namesake to put you right. Alexander Court
The Moguls We Walk In Straight Lines The Shipping Forecast The Shipping Forecast is one of those tiny venues where you can’t help but feel like you’re only here because someone’s let you in on a secret, as you wander downstairs in to a small room, dominated by a bar and a very low stage that may as well be a big step. Under the warm orange lights you feel instantly at home, making it an excellent choice for Blown Drum Records’ launch party. And still, the whole event seems very secretive – few posters decorate the walls, and there’s an air of modesty about the whole get-up. First on the bill are WE WALK IN STRAIGHT LINES, or a quarter of them at least. According to frontman Jonny Russell, the drummer hasn’t turned up, so instead we’ll be treated to a solo performance from him. Thinking back on it, it might have been a well planned publicity stunt, but nevertheless – it works, as Russell engages the audience completely with his nervous chatter. His music is completely overwhelming – filled with power and desperation, and has a subtle, dark tone that is completely intriguing. The vocals are rich and warm, equalling the strength of the music without straining
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Reviews Bido Lito! February 2011 at all. Two other members step on stage for a while – playing an assorted collection of percussion instruments, their simplicity adding another level of obscure intensity to the songs, defining the swells and subtlety of the music. Even at 25%, We Walk in Straight Lines are a formidable addition to Liverpool’s music scene. If you need a bandwagon to jump on, jump on this one – and quick. It won’t disappoint. THE MOGULS have a tough act to follow, but straight away it’s evident they’ll pull it off with style. Mixing crunchy guitars and catchy riffs, The Moguls are light and upbeat, and enjoyable to listen to. Bound To Happen is a beautiful piece, coupling melodic keys with distant, confused, almost other-worldly vocals, creating a truly effective and gripping song, without making you want to cry. It’s impossible to not tap your feet or nod your head with the beat, or even just to smile when hearing 24 Hours In Paris. They retain a raw, crispness in the vocals that stops them from sounding too ‘mainstream’ and gives them the edge over most other bands attempting that style, and they deserve that edge completely. SPEED PETS are the last of what has been an amazing line up, and prove to be a fitting finish. Moving away from the traditional guitar bands that have entertained us, Speed Pets provide a more digital sound. French Cinema sounds like what would happen if Kraftwerk met The Cure (it’s a good thing, I promise), and Valium At School wouldn’t sound out of place on a later Radiohead album. The vocals stand apart from the melodies, as if the two weren’t made for each other but conveniently work, but were layered instead of mixed. Speed Pets are sharp and attractive, not masking any sound beneath another. Their simplicity does them nothing but favours, emphasizing every note and encouraging you to listen to what happens next. Each song has a dull weariness, almost apathetic in style, like the notes really couldn’t be bothered being played, which works surprisingly well, balancing and possibly countering how ‘electrical’ the
Speed Pets (Rob Rossington)
oval-mouthed facial expression accompanied with head nodding and up-turned thumbs...you can tell he’s loving it. And with early outings for Magical Mystery Tour Tour, Baby You Can Drive My Car and One After 909, so too are the amassed throng of diehards, blaggers and rich buggers (the latter being the few who forked out 1000 quid for a ticket on Ebay this afternoon). It’s impossible really to be objective about the whole scenario. McCartney’s role in the history of popular music and the history of our city is unquestionable, and the set list reads like a roll call of rock standards. His band, musically, are untouchable - even if on occasion the stage moves do get a little ‘Richie Sambora’ (that’s a very low buttoned shirt) and when they scream into Jet second song in, flashes of a nasty collision with a bedside table are too hard to fight... Yet we all know that’s what you get with McCartney: he’s undeniably become somewhat of a pastiche of
songs sound and giving them sinister warmth, like you’re being lulled in to a false sense of security. It’s a bit disturbing, but you’re allowed to enjoy it. Blown Drum did well with this one. Katy Long
PAUL McCARTNEY O2 Academy
So, it’s Christmas, and the ice clings to the pavement like a viscous coat of vandal grease. Inside the O2 Academy the atmosphere is almost spiritual, and TV cameras with lenses whipped from a space observatory have commandeered the balcony, accompanied by gleaming spotlights which pierce through the dark with such force you’re expecting Rowan Atkinson to be shot at the back of the stage...then, PAUL McCARTNEY skips forward. “We’ve been around the weerld this year, so coming back here is just greet,” he proclaims. He’s scoused up to the max and he’s doing that familiar
Bido Lito! February 2011
himself, the slightly embarrassing uncle at the Christmas party, but you cut him some slack because you know that, in his day, he was a pretty cool cat. And tonight is indeed that Christmas party, and if Christmas isn’t a time for nostalgia and sentimentality, a chance to gather around old uncle Paul as he serenades us and reminds us of the good times, then when is? And sentimentality is high on the cards this evening, as McCartney leads tributes to both John Lennon, with a medley of A Day In The Life and Give Peace A Chance, and George Harrison, as a ukulele-led rendition of Something gradually emerges as a moving homage to Harrison’s finest Beatle-era work. “Me and George used to hang round in Speke and we had this little classical guitar party piece which went a little like this...” (cue baroque-ian noodling) “and it eventually became...” at which point McCartney moves into the introduction to Blackbird, performed solo on acoustic guitar. And that’s the thing with McCartney this evening, and McCartney in general, that for each attempt to launch into a rendition of “Baby face....you’ve got the cutest little...” (and tonight that happens twice), for each attempt at a ukulele-led Russian stomp (which happens once), those upturned thumbs and Glastonbury wellies, he’ll then turn round and play an utter heart-stopping classic. He frustrates, because for every Frog Chorus (which gladly isn’t attempted this evening) there’s a hundred Yesterday’s Yesterday (which thankfully is). But, that’s Paul McCartney...old uncle
Reviews Paul. You wish he didn’t do those things, but he does, and I suppose that makes him who he is. He’ll always have the last laugh, as indeed he does tonight, with encores Day Tripper Tripper, I Saw Her Standing There, Get Back, Yesterday, Yesterday Lady Madonna and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Band Merry Crimbo Uncle Paul. Craig G Pennington
Alessi’s Ark – Dead Cities The Kazimier Being the proprietor of a Mercurynominated album can bring a certain amount of pressure, but try telling that to Conor O’Brien. Tonight, on the last leg of a UK tour, he and his fellow VILLAGERS demonstrated all the reasons why Becoming A Jackal was one of the slow-burning hits of 2010, full of haunting, playful songs of loss, longing and acceptance, and delivered with as much charm and deadpan humour as would be expected of the successor to Neil Hannon’s man-pop crown. From the moment O’Brien descends from the Gods, armed with a glass of red and a grin, he has the complete attention of the room, even though it takes a ‘SSH!’ from him to quell the excited hubbub, as he stands, eyes closed, poised to break the silence with a beleaguered vocal. That O’Brien is doing this to a crowd of 200 appreciative souls hanging on his every utterance, and that the silence is as profound as a church hall, is a credit not only to the layers of intrigue
Villagers (Jane Macneil)
and emotion on the album, but also to the confidence of the man who was, until recently, just a guitarist in someone else’s band. Deftly picking his way through Becoming A Jackal, before being joined by the rest of the band for real opener I Saw The Dead, O’Brien picked up on the threads of his predecessors on stage, the sweetness of London duo ALESSI’S ARK, and the intricate folk sway of local boys DEAD CITIES. Bare and simple songs were the
order of the day, with Villagers showing a knack for adding deft touches to the sombre melodies that unwittingly reel you in, every song unravelling like a mini opera. Yet, despite a seeming lack of flair, it was Villagers’ undoubted musical prowess that dominated, with the music flowing rather than being dragged out of the instruments. Home and Pieces, with all its wolf howls, seem to trickle by, building to a crescendo almost unnoticed: it isn’t
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Bido Lito! February 2011
until these songs have been and gone, and you’re on your way back down from somewhere near the ceiling, that you realise the high that they transport you to. And therein lies the triumph of Becoming A Jackal; Jackal one of restraint; one that isn’t in your face and over the top, but subtle. There were, naturally, lulls in the performance, where your mind drifted to wondering why they hadn’t played best track Ship Of Promises, Promises and if the mulled wine on offer was any good. But the end result was wholesomely satisfying, as we watched O’Brien wring every last drop of emotion out of set-closers The Meaning Of The Ritual and Twenty-Seven Starngers, Starngers with that uneasy sense of tension lingering even as he made his stately way back up the stairs, glass raised in salute. It was at this point, watching the last hemline of his corduroys disappearing behind the closing curtain of Liverpool Music Week 2010, that I realised the scale of what I’d just witnessed; a performance of infinite deftness, showcasing a superbly-paced record, akin to seeing a Casanova-era Divine Comedy in full flow, albeit with less whimsy and more structure. Never has understated been so overwhelming, proving that these Villagers are not just for local people. Christopher Torpey
TTHE FUTUREHEADS Frankie and the Heartstrings The Shipping Forecast Despite a having a name that evokes a blue velvet-clad 1950s doo-wop group, FRANKIE AND THE HEARTSTRINGS operate in much the same territory as tonight’s headliners and fellow Sunderland natives. The hotly-tipped five-piece have much of the same punked-up melodies of the ‘Heads and Maxïmo Park about them, albeit played much slower. Aside from the bass player’s Davy Crockett hat (especially incongruous in a lowceilinged basement), the main visual focus is singer Frankie Francis as he bobs around the stage flopping his copious fringe from side to side. Singing in a post-punk yelp that sounds like Siouxsie Sioux going through a particularly emotional episode, the former pub landlord looks about as far removed from Al Murray as humanly possible. Similar to fellow North Easterner Bryan Ferry, yet avoiding the loucheness of Ferry’s lounge lizard act, the keyboards supply a sprinkling Hunger’s of Roxy Music’s sighing ennui. Hunger call-and-response chorus receives the best reception of the set, while final Fragile descends track, the delicate Fragile,
into coruscating feedback chaos after its carefully crafted verses. Considering the outside temperature has dipped below freezing, The Hold is pleasantly toasty for THE FUTUREHEADS’ arrival. Decent Days And Nights, Nights thrown in surprisingly early, sets the venue alight as the dozens of T-shirts flogged from the merch stand begin pogoing frenetically. ‘Have you had any snow?’ singer Barry Hyde enquires, met with an audience furrowing its brow trying to recall if the city has. Introduced as a tribute to the 9ft tall snow statue of ‘a giant cock and balls made in the park that was demolished by hooligans’, Heartbeat Song, Song from this year’s The Chaos LP, throws emotive choruses into the mix, while I Can Do That batters along with ruthless efficiency, the majority of the track powered by the rhythm section alone. Elsewhere, cautionary tale Worry About it Later, introduced as ‘a song about casual sex’, slows the pace to highlight the band’s polyphonic harmonies, the angular mackem barbershop vocals of old still much in evidence, now buoyed with heart-swelling choruses. Despite the intimate venue and the highly partisan crowd, hits are dispatched with aplomb, with Beginning Of The Twist, one of their finest 45s, barreling along superbly. Skip To The
The Futureheads (Kieth Ainsworth)
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End is possibly the nearest they have come to classic rock, boasting an almost Stonesy swagger, while Stupid And Shallow scrambles along with the manic energy of a cat trying to avoid oncoming traffic. A jagged rendition of Carnival Kids spits even more venom than on record, setting the audience up for the now traditional sing-along of Hounds Of Love. With the audience split in two to provide the backing vocals, this is staged with limited success as the crowd joyously bellows the song as one. The ‘Heads brevity ensures that they cram a resumé of their entire career thus far into one adrenalinefuelled hour, simultaneously reminding the crowd just how strong their back catalogue is along the way. Richard Lewis
THE ACORN Mojo
THE ACORN are a Canadian band with a growing reputation for their affecting and delicate indie sound. Formed in 2003 and currently touring their third album No Ghost, in Mojo’s cosy and intimate surroundings they seemed in high spirits as they came onto the small stage. They are a band who have attracted much praise since the release of their second long-player Glory Hope Mountain and have supporters as diverse as Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Kanye West (the latter has been known to have waxed lyrical about the group’s hit Crooked Legs). Legs Since their last offering though, the Rolf Klausenerfronted 4-piece have matured their sound and arrived with a new body of work to show off. Though they started the set with the laid-back psychedelia of Flood from the first album, they were quick to bring out their latest work through the likes of Cobbled From Dust and Kindling To Cremation. Cremation The former is a slowly pulsating number with a chiming melody, complemented nicely by Klausener’s yearning vocals. The latter is similarly pleasant and well-crafted but also demonstrates lyrically how accomplished The Acorn are as songwriters. The line ‘and this
Bido Lito! February 2011
The Coral (John Johnson)
is how you pass the time away’ has a certain soporific quality to it which typifies much of No Ghost. There is still the signature atmospheric, hypnotic sound that sets them apart from their contemporaries, but new ground has been explored and musically they have ventured further afield than in the past. In Misplaced they kick away slightly from the floaty ambience associated with their sound, and seamlessly switch modes to a more upbeat, crisp rhythm, whereas in No Ghost, they offer guitar hooks from the top of the fret-board which bring to mind The Foals as much as anyone. Yet while this allows The Acorn to display a broader range and gives the impression they have the ideas to progress further still, it also hints at their limitations. There are weaker tracks on the album such as Almanac and I Made The Law where there seems to be a loss of focus. The former is a curious track and although calling it filler might be a touch harsh, it is one that doesn’t really blossom. It feels in parts like The Acorn have failed where Midlake have succeeded with 2010’s Acts Of Man. There is plenty of beauty on offer for the most part, and this
was a performance easily capable of attracting the uninitiated. Judging by the positive reaction in Mojo, there will be plenty who followed up their interest too. The Acorn are a band very much still on a journey and have not yet produced their masterpiece. They are hit and miss and are not yet the finished article but if the journey alone is this alluring then they are well worth persevering with. Don’t be surprised if, in a couple of years, they reach a wider audience with a record which not only makes people sit up and take notice but has a lasting influence on the world of indie rock. Pete Robinson
Cherry Ghost – Neville Skelly Mountford Hall First on tonight’s bill is Liverpool’s most pronounced hidden musical gem, NEVILLE SKELLY. It is no coincidence that the direction which more recent Coral shows have taken, and also the musical changes that they have gone through, has coincided with Neville becoming an ever present Coral
support in recent times. The two are stylistically and artistically entwined and one would expect take influence from similar record collections. There is a blissful melancholy feel to the set which is perfectly suited to the occasion. The covers which are mixed in with original numbers are inspired and complement the set perfectly, with my personal set highlight being Jackson C Frank’s Blues Run the Game. There are also searing, towering renditions of songs made famous by Nina Simone and Woody Guthrie, but performed in Neville’s own inimitable style. His voice is warm and brooding, being allowed space and being perfectly complemented by his supremely tasteful backing band. CHERRY GHOST were a strange choice of support. It would be wrong to expect support bands to be too similar to the main attraction but the modern rock, which takes in too many different styles, seemed at odds with what the crowd tonight either expected or wanted to see. The opening song sounded like Knocked Up by Kings of Leon, and one later song was much too similar to Coldplay’s Yellow than is allowed. There were better moments,
for instance the faster numbers and some nice guitar lines, but overall they passed the room by and were much too fleeting. THE CORAL’s new album Butterfly House has been met with staggering critical acclaim, and justifiably so: it marks a creative peak and shows one of the most vital bands of their age at their best. The recent shows in The Lowry and Philharmonic Hall were perfectly suited to this new record and more recent sound of the band, which has changed since their early days. The zany Captain Beefheart madness of their debut has, over time, taken a more elegant and mature form. This is not to say that either style is better or worse but the change must be taken into consideration when talking about their live shows. The departure of Bill Ryder Jones has taken away an intensity which was evident on their earlier work, to be replaced with more technical and sober playing, such is apparent throughout Butterfly House. House Early highlights were Roving Jewel and In The Rain, which was followed by Byrdsy new effort Million Miles Away. Away Byrds comparisons are endless and their influence can be heard throughout tonight’s set. Falling All Around You felt like the best parts of John Denver and vividly illustrated the world class songwriter which James Skelly has become. The psychedelic backwards guitar at the start of Things We Said Today was inventive and worked well while Goodbye made it clear that the Coral are not completely removed from their early roots. One criticism could be that the overall sound levels may have been slightly low as conversation was easily had over even the heaviest parts of the set, but this is no fault of the band as has been the case in more than one recent show at this venue, something which would be best addressed sooner rather than later. P.Lee
FEBRUARY 2011 Wed 2nd Teddy Thompson, David Ford, TJ & Murphy Thu 3rd
Shakedown (Ink) Translucent (Loft)
Chibuku Ft. Annie Mac, Hype, Abandon Silence
Nile, Melechesh, Dew Scented, Zonaria
Thu 10th Mixed Bag (Ink) Devil Sold His Soul (Loft) Fri 11th
The Fire Within tour Ft. Hippys On The Hill
Thu 17th Mixed Bag Fri 18th
Shakedown (Ink) Fine Young Firecrackers (Ink) Young Rebel Set, Cattle & Cane, Bunny Munro (Loft)
Sat 19th Chibuku Ft. Kele (Bloc Party) Live, High Contrast Thu 24th Mixed Bag Fri 25th
Dub Cartel Ft. Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Reso, Dalema
Sat 26th Circus Ft. John Digweed, Yousef, Seth Troxler ////TICKETS: skiddle.com //// skiddle.com//ticketweb.co.uk//ticketline.com//seetickets.com//// //ticketweb.co.uk// //ticketweb.co.uk ticketweb.co.uk//ticketline.com //ticketline.com//seetickets.com // ////