Archive for the ‘Live’ Category

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s a queue up the two flights of stairs half an hour before doors, and the front two rows are packed out long, long before Weekend Recovery are due on, a mere fifteen minutes after opening. Tonight’s event is something of an oddity. LA rock act Starcrawler, who are something of a hot ticket and have been since their emergence in 2015, being hailed as the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll – like so many before, and likely many to come – are playing a handful of UK headline dates in between festivals, with All Points east in London on August 28th and End of the Road on September 3rd. Having sold out Norwich and Liverpool at £15 a ticket, Leeds is a late addition to the tour, and free entry. It’s Friday night and of course it’s packed, and likely would have been if they’d charged, which is why this seems odd, even if they’re treating it as a warmup for End of the Road.

There’s nothing remotely warm-uppy or stop-gap showy about tonight, and there’s a buzz from the outset.

Weekend Recovery open with ‘There’s a Sense’, one of their poppier, woohoo-ey tunes, followed by a beefy ‘No Guts’ and they do a decent job of grabbing the crowd. Lori busts some Quattro moves as has become her style, and they look confident on the bigger stage with the larger audience. It’s the thick, fuzzy bass that fills the sound throughout the set, and they really seem to have hit their stride as a three-piece of late. Bringing on guest a vocalist for new song ‘In the Crowd’ it goes unexpectedly ragga/ska before piling into a lively rendition of ‘Going Nowhere’ that makes for an energetic finale to a set that no doubt won them some new fans, and deservedly so.

WR1.1

Weekend Recovery

I know nothing about main support Genie Genie, but they seem to have plenty of fans already, and the Bauhaus ripping off Bowie glam gloom schtick is no real surprise, although one guy with a laptop strutting around being menacing at the start of the set rather is. Then the band’s other dozen members flood onto the stage wielding saxophones galore. It’s high theatre, but highly derivative, as the black-mulleted singer tears his tattered t-shirt from his scrawny white torso as the brass honks and parps over quivering organ pipes. All the ham and oversized crucifixes can’t compensate the mediocre material with cornball schlock horror cabaret about Jack the Ripper, guv, and of course, they go down a storm as half the room chant along with endless nananana hooks and the like. There’s no accounting for taste.

G3G1

Genie Genie

The crowd are baying for Starcrawler for a good five minutes before they arrive, and hell, they arrive. Side on, I’m badly placed for photos as lithe-as-anything beanpole Arrow de Wilde is practically a sliver from this angle and keeps vanishing behind the mic stand. What the band deliver is proper old-school rock ‘n’ roll, an assimilation of glam, punk, and hair rock played with a flamboyance and an energy that’s infectious. The crowd are rabid.

SC1

Starcrawler

As the set progresses, I find myself growing less enthused: the band are lively but the moves swiftly become predictable and the material is average, and I find myself quite unmoved by the spectacle. Perhaps people are distracted by the appearance and delivery, and as such are oblivious to the fact that this is pretty middling rock fronted by the lovechild of Courtney Love and Mick Jagger. There’s no question that they’re completely committed to putting on a show, and they play hard, but there’s minimal interaction with the adoring audience. Maybe they’re too cool for that, but in a 350-capacity venue it feels a little bit superior – but, viewed from another angle, it’s a band worthy of the 2,000+ capacity O2 kicking out their festival. Either way, it’s hard to really fault Starcrawler: they deliver a solid set of proper old-school rock, and the fans love it.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a very long while since scuzz-punk rock duo Mannequin Death Squad came to our shores, and even longer since they last set foot in York – but hailing from Melbourne, Australia, it’s been quite a while since they’ve set foot anywhere outside their province, with now fewer than six lockdowns and more than 260 days under restrictions during the pandemic, which led to Victoria’s state capital to be dubbed the “world’s most locked down city”, according to the BBC. Hardly conducive conditions for a band who thrive on playing live.

MDS seems to have harnessed all of that pent-up energy for this month-long UK tour, scheduled at relatively short notice, but before they’re on, they’ve got a solid bill of local talent in support, too (let’s face it, four bands for £7, you can’t go wrong), and first on, up-and-coming KissKissKill (styled as XXK so as to avoid any iffy connotations, and who’ve been around a while but seem to be finally kicking things up a notch) prove to be a solid opener giving an assured performance. Their sound may bet kinda standard rock with some big guitar solos, but they’ve got a good level of energy and enthusiasm. Singer Gemma-Louise performs with her eyes as well as with powerful lungs, and she’s backed by some solid riffs and she bounces around a lot: they all do, apart from the bassist who hides at the back behind his straightened hair. They’re a lot of fun, and clearly have potential for great things.

XXK2XXK1

KissKissKill

Ketamine Kow bring mouth frothing energy and aggression. They’ve had their songs shared on Twitter by Sleaford Mods. The front-cunt’s proper mental and the songs are almost secondary to the spasmodic energy as he charges around maniacally, getting in people’s faces and generally creating a disruptive energy. I mean, there seems to be something not quite right about the guy, but this is the spectacle of a performer who lives every second of the performance for real. Like a young Iggy Pop, it’s all for the moment. There are some squalling riffs and pounding percussion going on behind the manic screaming and shouting. Ketamine Kow could well be the new Baby Godzilla: with the exception of the drummer, who also provides strong second vocals, the band spend as much time in the crowd than on stage, the singer everywhere all at once, hollering from the back of the room, leering in and looming over the crowd, or writhing on the floor. Skinny white boys with gangly limbs, you can’t imagine that being in a band is likely to help any of the members of Ketamine Kow to pull: they’re sweary, sweaty, raw, authentic punk, and so, so angry – and fucking brilliant.

KK1KK2

Ketamine Kow

The Bricks Draw the Line at the start of the set, and they seem to get sharper, more solid, more meaty with every outing, and singer Gemma is more confident and more commanding than ever. The sound is a perfect amalgamation of juggernaut bass with choppy stuttering riffs that splinter onto shards, with heavy hints of Gang of Four and Wire with martial beats. In terms of performance, Gemma doesn’t ‘do’ much – no bouncing about, no, posing: she doesn’t have to. The voice is immense, and is all the presence, allowing the three middle-aged blokes (no criticism, especially as they’re clearly having a blast playing the songs and have the sound absolutely nailed) to fade into the noisy background.

Bricks 2Bricks1

It’s gone 10:45 when Mannequin Death Squad start, but when they do it’s incendiary: the set is back to back killers, heavily raiding their 2016 debut mini-album ‘Eat Hate Regurgitate’ alongside songs released on-line since and brand new material, too. They’re loud and they’re tight with a full sound, the dual vocals really defining the sound over the big, grungy riffs. They play hard and fierce. ‘Sick’ lands third before a new track off the forthcoming debut album. Elly’s eyes lol up into her head as she kicks out the riffs. The mid-set instrument switch seems to take it up a notch, and Dan steps out from behind the drums to take over the guitar and lead vocals, and stomps the stage fiercely. Meanwhile, the hi hat’s fucked and zip on her trousers is bust, but still Elly doesn’t miss a beat. They’re committed, alright. Live shows don’t come better than this.

MDS2MDS3MDS1

Mannequin Death Squad

Things are running late and curfews are a kicker for most venues these days, especially those in residential areas, so they’re forced to truncate the set a little – and so what it lacks in duration, they compensate in energy, turning the small venue into a total sweatbox as they deliver the title track from their forthcoming debut album, ‘Super Mental Psycho’ as the penultimate song, and it’s blistering. We’re all wiped and melting by the end, and while there’s no chance of an encore, the rush to the merch and to chat to the band after showed the level of appreciation. And rightly so – they’re one of those bands who never disappoint.

Christopher Nosnibor

Bands above a certain size rarely come to York. It may boast two universities, but it’s a small city with a small catchment, and with its proximity to Leeds and only one larger venue which is very much geared to more sedate / seated gigs by the likes of Mike and the Mechanics and Katie Melua (that The Manic Street Preachers played there earlier this year probably says more about the band’s career trajectory than anything). So The Mission – who comfortably play circa 2,000 capacity venues around the UK and major festivals in mainland Europe, where they still really love a certain strain of alternative rock (and I don’t just mean so-called goth) – playing a warm-up show in a 300-capacity venue is a big deal, and it’s hardly surprising it sold out in a matter of days.

The prospect of no support, and instead, two sets from The Mission only made the prospect sweeter, and one of the reasons fans are so loyal to the band is because they’re a great live act who, through Wayne’s affable charm, create an outstanding rapport during their shows.

On a personal level – and I’m here as a paying punter – there’s an added layer off special here: The Mission were the first band I properly got into, aged thirteen, and the first ‘proper’ gig I attended was at Sheffield City Hall in March 1990 while touring Carved in Sand. I was way, way back in the back row of the top balcony. The band looked tiny: they were fucking miles away. But it was a great show, with two -or was it three encores, featuring ‘1969’ and ‘Like a Hurricane’ and ‘Shelter from the Storm’. The support act, I would later learn, was Salvation, and thus began my voyage into the alternative musical world. There is no way that I would have imagined that thirty-two years later I would be standing in a venue that’s a fifteen-minute walk from my house and which I’ve been to countless times, standing in the front row, no barrier, within touching distance of this band. And over this time, my appreciation of Craig Adams has grown immensely: one of the original Sisters, as well as bassist for The Alarm and Spear of Destiny, he has to be one of the solidest players going, the absolute king of beefy, on-the-beat grooves. It’s a shame he’s barely audible during the first set. But then, there isn’t much that is above Wayne’s guitar, and most of that is a wall of feedback.

M1M2

In fact, the sound isn’t great, the vocals distorting at certain frequencies being a real issue, especially for anyone without earplugs. And holy fuck, is it hot. It was getting warm before the band took to the stage, as the smoke began to fill the space: that stuff seems to trap heat like a blanket, but with the aircon inexplicably switched off, two or three songs in and everyone is melting. The first set is a bit of a mixed bag of more recent material, with some unexpected gems from the deeper depths of the back catalogue, with their cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ landing early, and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Die’, ‘And the Dance Goes on’ and ‘Into the Blue’ sparking hard-hitting nostalgia (I’d completely forgotten being on holiday in the Lake District when non-album single ‘Into the Blue’ was released and having my parents drive to Keswick where I purchased the 7”, 12” and CD and my father thinking I was absolutely nuts). I expect many of those present will each have uniquely personal memories connected to various songs, and to the band overall.

M3

They fumbled their way around at times, but rather than detracting, only added to the charm of the intimate show, which felt like a gathering of friends more than anything. Very hot, sweaty friends, with hundreds of old goths sweating out pints faster than they could be drunk.

The second set was a straight run-through of their upcoming German festival set, and as such, was an hour a quarter of solid back-to-back hits and bangers. They’ve got the sound sorted and everything feels altogether more together, perhaps in part because they’re playing material that’s much more familiar. Either way, it feels almost like a different gig. Only every bit as hot as the last one. Craig actually took his beanie off for this, and Wayne had had a change of shirt, the lucky sod. By now the place was hotter than Satan’s sphincter after a phaal. The inclusion of ‘Naked and Savage’ was a pleasant surprise, and the number of people piling up on shoulders during ‘Tower of Strength’ was a joy to behold, before they wrapped up as is standard with a belting ‘Deliverance’.

M5

They weren’t done there, either, throwing in an encore with another three songs, including an apposite ‘Heat’ and racing to the finish with ‘Hungry as the Hunter’. And right there, in that instant, we’re back in 1990. Carved in Sand may not have been their best album, but at the time, the band had hit a commercial peak and those songs will forever be tied to that time. The Mission aren’t purely a heritage act by any means, but they’re as aware as any one of the 400 fans here tonight that the body of work they assembled between 1986 and 1991is something special, and tonight was special.

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s no escaping politics and economics, even when you go to gigs as your primary mode of escape from life. When people are struggling to make ends meet, going out is a luxury for many. This is truly a tragedy. With the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being billed (because everything has to have a name, a brand now), crippling pubs and clubs and individuals alike as hard as Covid restrictions and lockdowns did, gigs like this are incredibly welcome: a showcase of emerging local talent for a quid, at a venue where a decent hand-pulled (local) pint costs £4.

Perspex in particular have been building quite a buzz in recent months, but had almost completely bypassed me, so curiosity coupled with the simple urge to go and see some live music meant that a quid seemed like a safe enough punt, especially when the venue’s in easy walking distance.

Given that it’s a race night on which Madness are playing at the racecourse and there’s a sold-out gig at The Vaults with other rising local talents, it’s an impressive turnout at the 400-capacity venue as Captain Starlet take the stage.

Christ, they look young. Like bands starting out in 1979. Ill-fitting shirts and striped t-shirts, Vox and Rickenbacker guitars. They’ve not yet figured out haircuts or grown into their faces, but have fashioned some tidy indie tunes. It’s a bit jangly, a bit C86, it’s well played but ultimately kinda middling. And then it goes country, and all the moustache and suit-sporting Nick Cave rip-offs start having a hoedown down the front. I realise I don’t understand anything anymore.

Captain Starlet

Captain Starlet

Trueman start off promisingly, with some bold sax action reminiscent of the Psychedelic Furs. But it rapidly descends into a quality performance of average music. My mate suggests Razorlight as a comparison, and he’s right. There’s much movement and arm waving from the sixth-formers down the front.

People really love bland shit. I know I should be supportive of new bands, but these reek entitlement. They’re not as good as they think they are.

TruemanTrueman 2

Trueman & the Indoor League

Perspex: great name, sharp look (some of them are the suit and shades wearing posers who were getting down to Captain Starlet), lame, forgettable songs. I persevere for a while before retiring to the bar. They’re still audible, and actually sound better from there, but still ultimately forgettable. There’s a steady trickle of departures during their set, so it’s not just me. They weren’t terrible, just terribly average, and when there are a million average bands knocking about, there’s simply no need for any more.

Perspex

Perspex

But for all that, it was a good night: people enjoyed themselves without interfering with others or spoiling their nights. People enjoyed the bands and didn’t gab on through them, and the vibe was good. The bands played well and the sound was good, so much credit is due to bands, fans and venue. There’s definitely a market there, and potentially, a large one. I wish them all the best of luck.

Christopher Nosnibor

Seems like gigs at the Vaults are cursed when I go. Just as headliners Witch of the East cancelled the last time I was down, so PAK40 have had to bail due to Covid. Yep, over two years on and it’s still having a significant impact on live music. But the good news is that REDFYRN are worth turning out for, as previous outings have shown, and even prior to PAK40’s withdrawal, it had the air of a double-header.

It’s fucking melting. I mean, I’m drinking cider, it’s that mafting. And I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it. My skin is like a sieve or muslin bag. It must be absolutely punishing on stage.

Openers Beswick get off to a bit of a ragged start. But then, it is their first gig in three years, and they’re not looking like the kind of band who get tour-tight. It would be wrong to complain about the lack of guitar definition with a black metal band, and they lean towards the lower, slower end, where everything slips into a sludgy mid-range mesh, thanks to the five-string bass and seven-string guitar and the most fuckedest cymbal I’ve seen in use in a long time.

Bes 1Bes 2

Beswick

The main vocalist has three distinct styles: a penetrating, shivering squawk, a low growl, and a cleanish, atonal punk snarling shout, which actually works at least half of the time as they swing towards a dingy punk style at various points during the set. They do seem like a band in a bit of a stylistic quandary as they slither hither and thither, but they’re solid entertainment. The final song is a nod to their previous incarnation as Tokechamber, and sees the set conclude with billowing drone doom chords and feedback. I would have happily watched that for an hour.

REDFYRN start as they mean to go on, bringing the riffs slow and steady, with more five-string bass groove through an immense effects rack. The bassist has bounding energy, smashing every note with fists and feet, and the weighty guitars contrast with the soaring vocals. Big brave but stoner with a bluesy twist, chunky gritty riffs.

Red 1Red 2

REDFYRN

The solos aren’t overdone, and showcase the fact Cat Redfern is an excellent guitarist on a technical level as well as being a heavy hitter. She plays with only a handful of pedals, but a lot of crunch and a big dense sound and big volume.

A big hairy moshpit happened during the last song, and the half dozen beardy guys going crackers down the front was enough to bring the band back for one more, and they encore with ‘Unreal’, to an even more vibrant response. For a hot Thursday night when people would have likely been lured to a beer garden to toast the announcement of the Prime Minister’s departure, albeit at some time in the future, and for a stand-in headline slot, REDFYRN delivered a commanding performance and owned the night. Having only recently found themselves in headline slots, REDFYRN look ready to take it to the next level.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s always good to be back at Wharf Chambers, and this actually my first visit this year. Since my last trip, the cost of a train from York to Leeds has absolutely rocketed. It wasn’t that long ago that an off-peak day return for the 23-minute journey was about eleven quid. Now it’s more than £17, plus booking fee. Pre-lockdown, late 2019, it was around £15. This is the cost-of living crisis and inflation in sharp relief. It may only be a couple of quid, but as a percentage, it’s substantial, and when you apply the same kind of increase to everything… My dayjob pay hasn’t gone up by anything like as much, and we know that rail workers’ wages haven’t. But the consequence is that I have to be more selective about what gigs I travel to attend, which means in turn lower attendance for live acts, and less beer sold by venues, and so on. Thankfully, with shows at Wharf Chambers, I can offset the travel costs with decent hand-pulled beer at £3.40 a pint. When was the last time you paid under £3.50 for a pint?

It’s not all about the cheap beer, of course. Live music is always about more than just the music, though: it’s about the whole experience, and Wharf Chambers is a great venue with a great vibe that hosts great bands, and there are two on tonight’s bill.

Fuzz Lightyear are infinitely better than their somewhat flippant name, which doesn’t particularly convey what they do. Sure, there’s distortion, but the guitars take second seat to busy, heavyweight drumming on songs that feature abundant tempo changes, and are weighty, and shouty. Post rock collides with Fugazi. I’m a sucker for the full tom roll rhythm, and the drummer absolutely nails it on the third song. There’s a dash of Trail of Dead in the mix, and the bassist’s manic eyes are as compelling as anything. It’s a solid set, with a lot of range, that sets things up nicely ahead of the headliners.

Fuzz 1

Fuzz Lightyear

Deaf Kids start gently with something of an ambient intro. It’s dark, and they move as shadows. There are drums played with elbows amidst drone noise. And it builds… and builds… and then it bursts. And how!

The Brazilian trio aren’t your staple Neurot act: instead of slow-lugubrious, rust-stained metal, this is a band with a vibrancy and an energy that’s positively eye-popping. It’s as if they’ve bottled everything since the release of their last album, Metaprogramação and are finally letting it all out. The set feels less like a succession of songs than a continuous overall work. They play in almost complete darkness. Briefly, there’s a percussive break that’s almost a mellow conga, but then it builds again before it explodes. The set is punctuated by bursts of noise, and – additional djembe breaks aside – it sounds like there are two drummers… There’s just ss much percussion, and so much urgency, and so much energy.

Kids 2Kids 1

Deaf Kids

And I realise on reflection, as I relive the immense buzz of the show, that chuntering about the price of trains from York to Leeds is likely nothing compared to the effort of transporting a band from Brazil to play in post-Brexit Britain in a venue with a sub-200 capacity. Really, we’re spoiled. I can only hope we continue to be.

Christopher Nosnibor

It may sound perverse, but I find metal gigs to be highly therapeutic. I suppose it’s the escapism – the release of fury from the stage working like some kind of Reiki, drawing the tension out and casting it into the air.

I didn’t really do much research beforehand – because sometimes, it’s nice just to rock up, see some bands, and drink some beer. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. It’s bloody boiling, which means I’m going to bee needing quite a bit of beer to keep hydrated, and I arrive just in time to get a pint in before the first act.

Grunk are pretty much classic grind, with two vocalists. They’re raw and ragged, with a lot of drum, but not a lot of guitar. They’ve plenty of grunt and humour, too. They’re not very good, but aren’t trying to be, quipping about the proper bands being on after, and they’re a fun opener, their set concluding with the rotund main shouter rolling around on the floor in front of the stage.

It wouldn’t be a proper dirty metal gig in / near Leeds without Steve Myles doing something, and here he’s Sulking, doing shouting instead of drumming for a change. Instrumentally, Sulk are another guitar and drum setup, but sound altogether more meaty, and consequently all the more grindy. Their tightly-structured songs pack all the heft, all the pace, and Myles pages the stage menacingly while delivering raw-throated rage. They’re absolutely brutal, and one of the best bands of the night.

DSC_3593DSC_3589

Sulk

It’s been a few years since I last caught Deathmace. They’re very much at the thrash end of the spectrum, with some frenzied guitar solos, and a sound filled out with a second guitar and bass, too. Too earnest to be truly menacing, the singer speaks normally between songs but growls the song titles when announcing them, and made me think of the recent movie, Metal Lords. They’re very obviously complete metal nerds (although the drummer is wearing a Yes T-shirt), singing about death, coffins, maggots and large fish, but can genuinely play, and being a local band with a strong following, go down a storm.

It’s truly oven-like in the venue by now, and everyone clears out to the beer garden, and consequently most of them miss the first half of Wolfbastard’s set, which is definitely their loss. The trio’s scratchy bass sound blends into the incendiary treble of the overloading guitar wall of noise. Bassist Si’s barking vocal contrasts with the guitarist Dez’s sandpapered screech, and it’s a stonking set off crusty black metal, which is exactly what I came for.

DSC_3612

Wolfbastard

Cryptic Shift are big hair and pointy guitars, and the first thought is ‘Megadeth’. It so happens that’s also my second thought, too. Granted, they’re a bit more death/black than that, but seem to take the remainder of their cues from Venom. They’re supremely technical and super-serious and megafast, but the bass sounds like arse and there’s so much endless harmonics and fretwanking it’s… well, of course it’s a matter of taste, but the singer plays every inch of the fretboard, and uses all 36 pedals, and it’s impressive and all, but it’s just not particularly fun. They drink a lot of water.

DSC_3629

Cryptic Shift

For Foetal Juice front man Dez, this is his second set of the night, and what a set it is. Foetal Juice are grind heavyweights in every way. Without the restriction of an instrument, Dez charges back and forth across the stage, fist pumping and finger pointed. There’s little commentary required: it’s death metal, played as it should be, and they sound exactly as the name suggests. They slam down the heavy noise relentlessly, and it’s a magnificently riffy, gnarly affair, and a mosh frenzy ensues. Fucking yes. This is what we came for.

 DSC_3687DSC_3682

Foetal Juice