Status Quo | Terry And Gerry: Sheffield City Hall – live review

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Status Quo | Terry And Gerry

Sheffield City Hall

April 21st 2015

The Quo roll into town and Sheffield takes a break from the snooker to welcome the legendary (and of course mighty) rockers who played the second night of their 2015 Aquostic Tour to a packed house at the City Hall on Tuesday.

Status Quo go acoustic? It seems like an odd premise but the album of the same name, featuring twenty one acoustic covers of Quo classics performed in chronological order reached number 5 in the UK charts in 2013, their highest chart position since 1996’s 30th Anniversary album and a concert from The Roundhouse was broadcast on the Beeb and issued as a live album. Empty seats are few and far between. So even if the idea of acoustic Quo seems a little odd to me there’s no doubt the fans are on side already.

The acoustic album is an established part of the modern music business, right up there with the full album live performance and the special collector’s edition CD in a tin stuffed with imitation tickets and loads of outtakes that didn’t make the cut because they weren’t good enough. To some bands it might seem like an opportunity to cut costs and save some cash but Status Quo don’t do things that way. Apart from the five band members there is a six piece string section, two backing singers, and bass player John Edward’s son Freddie, (who has a considerable and vocal following among the Quo faithful). I think that’s everybody but there may be one or two more I missed.

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Acoustic reversioning is nothing new of course, you only have to look at the enduring success of MTV’s Unplugged sessions to realise that. I honestly thought it had died off in the late 90s (we only have free to air TV in our house) but it’s still going strong apparently, with Miley Cyrus the latest victim. Despite some remarkable performances, (Nirvana and Clapton being among the most obvious) there’s always something unedifying about the format however, an unspoken assumption that the performers in question need to stop hiding behind all that noise and play acoustically in order to prove their worth as musicians. With more than fifty years as a band Quo don’t appear to be in need of that kind of validation.

So if they’re not saving money and not seeking artistic credibility just what are Status Quo doing playing acoustically? The answer would appear to be that they are having a good time, sitting in a row, playing some favourite songs and cracking a few jokes. And why not?

First up are Terry and Gerry, Louder Than War’s favourite 80’s cow punk skiffle band complete with long black coats, shoestring ties, a washboard with one of those bits on it that sounds like the death rattle of your favourite clockwork railway engine and a ton of great little songs. Little being the operative word. Terry And Gerry seem to think that the phrase “three minute pop song” represents some kind of extreme upper limit on duration. I shoot the shortest three songs worth of pictures in history.

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They’re masters of the art of creative anachronism, starting out in the early 80s (which wasn’t a skiffle boom period), appearing on The Tube and doing several Peel sessions back in the day when peel favourite was just a preparatory instruction in the post Grand National barbecue cookbook. Having been on hiatus for several years they reformed for a 2014 Peel celebration tour. They are bursting with energy and enthusiasm, apparently overwhelmed with their reception and the fact that people haven’t left by the end of their set, and seemingly on the verge of going into a full on Gwyneth Paltrow between songs.

Their exuberance certainly strikes a chord with the audience and by the end of their set contains lashings of community singing, organised waving (some of it bimanual) and some great tunes, among them Kennedy Says, which features benedictions from a place in the sky above the White House and a posthumous pardon for the whole Bay Of Pigs thing, Clothes Shop, a hymn to the loneliness of sartorial elegance and teenage individualism.
I will confess that this was the first time I’d heard Terry and Gerry but it won’t be the last – great stuff.

Status Quo take to the stage in 5-2-6-2 formation with the flat forward line of guitar and bass, the big guys in the centre, backing singers in midfield, and the strings on the left of the defence. The songs adapt well to the new instrumentation and they the size and quality of the band mean that no two numbers sound the same, so there’s no danger of the set getting stale. Paper Plane is embellished with zydeco accordion, Rock’n’Roll is a delicate memento to the band’s heyday, Caroline is an up tempo stomp.

Of course the hits go down a storm and in this new format they sound thoroughly refreshed. Rocking All Over The World has a barrelhouse piano that transforms it into pure Rockney, Down, Down is up tempo concertina driven skiffle and Caroline has an streetwise boogie that belongs to the heyday of pub rock. It’s the less well known songs that benefit most from their new clothes however. (That of course means songs that are less well known to me – I suspect I’m the only person present who doesn’t know all the words to everything). My favourites are Rain, which fairly chugs along with a steam engine percussion and some hobo harmonica, and Don’t Drive My Car, possibly a riposte to The Beatles free and easy attitude to key sharing, with the rhythm picked out by the strings, some great backing vocals and guitar and a sort of Cossack soul vibe going on.

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If there’s any fault to be found it probably lies with the choice of venue. With the best will in the world this is music for dancing to, (not by me I hasten to add, but by others), not for staying in your seat and listening to quietly but the stewards are polite but firm, there is no stage rush and people who get up and block the view are politely asked to replant themselves. Hats off to the brave few that just ignore them – it’s a fine show but the dancers are the ones who enjoy it most.


Status Quo are on the web at They are also on Facebook.

Terry And Gerry are together at and Gerry Colvin is on his own here – They are also on Facebook and tweet as @TerryandGerry.

Sewer Rats: Waves Bar, Cleethorpes – live review

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Sewer Rats

Waves Bar, Cleethorpes

April 4th 2014

Sewer Rats make rock music that’s full of huge riffs that emerge from apromordial soup of drums and bass. idp catches them for a chat in sunny Meggies.

Sewer Rats are Dean Robbins (drums), Iain Morrison (bass) and Luke Morris (guitar and vocals). They hail from the mighty city of Immingham, aka Ming or even Ming Ming to its friends, and they’ve all been playing in bands since they were in shortish trousers and now along with fellow Mingsters the Ming City Rockers and Grimsby bands like Electric Priestess, Zak Rashid, Ruby And The Knights and plenty of others they’re sitting pretty in the upper reaches of a thriving local music scene which seems to produce quality new bands at every turn.

According to their social media Sewer Rats are a stoner rock band, but that’s a label that has been put on them and to which they have acquiesced rather than one they chose for themselves. If they are stoner then they’re a new and peculiarly British offshoot, taking their lead not from the leaders of the US genre like Sleep and Kyuss (although the trio do admit to a fondness for the melodic psych of stoners Dead Meadow) but from the bands of the late 70s who provided their inspiration, the likes of Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult.

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The result is a heavy slow rock sound, at times almost industrial, heavy with lethargic distortion, at times showing signs of cross fertilisation with the spirit of punk, full of threat and menace and songs which start slowly and build inexorably into testaments of anger and rebellion.

Is there any political content?

“No. We think it’s best to steer clear of all of that. It’s just the three of us on a stage having fun and taking it seriously at the same time.”

They’ve been gathering a head of steam for some time now. After being invited to the smoke by Love Buzzards with whom they shared a bill in Sheffield they were signed by Fluffer Records of Whitechapel and they’ve become regulars at some of the sceniest venues in the capital, like The Shacklewell, The Finsbury and The Fiddler’s. Fluffer will release their new vinyl ep Moneymaker in the near future. Clearly London likes Sewer Rats.

So are they going to move down to Hoxton and leave the Humber behind them?

“Well hopefully. Or rather it’s possible, anything’s possible. And London is the best place for making music, there’s no doubt about it.”

So it seems to be mutual. A European tour may be on the cards as well.

I go to meet them at Waves in Cleethorpes on the day of the BOG Fest (that’s Best Of Grimsby to you) where they’re on the bill with many of the best bands and solo performers from the local scene at an event organised by Phil Stocks of Avenue 44 Music to raise money for Alopecia UK. By the end of the day the festival has raked in over £800 for the charity so well dones all round are in order.

Sewer Rats take the stage after a storming set from Zak Rashid and they do it so unceremoniously that when they start their first song, We Were Never The Same, many of the audience still think that they’re sound checking. It’s a great number, one of the finest pieces of minimalist rock you’ll ever encounter, kicking off with an ambling bass line which continues for a while, seemingly almost directionless, never giving any indication of the trouble brooding just below the surface. Eventually it is joined by some smudges of fuzzy guitar. At length the drums kick in and from out of the primordial soup of noise a riff emerges, uncoiling itself slowly, sometimes falling back but always finding itself again, heavy, dirty and enthralling. The crowd are all watching now. Nobody is under the impression that this is a sound check any more. We are no longer in Kansas.

And then a single burst or vocals, guttural and at times almost incomprehensible, are laid across the top of the mix. “We were never the same, me and you.” The guitar continues, on a new track now, lighter and more melodic, as if it feels that there is still further work for evolution to perform but with this simple statement the track has served its function and it seems to cave in onto itself as it peters out, dying in the mix, possibly to be found by archaeologists with trowels and brushes millions of years later.

Next up is Black Label Serotonin, one of my favourite songs to a neurotransmitter and an altogether lighter affair, it’s an extended jam with a distinct desert feel to it and an laid back guitar sound that evokes memories of the great bluesmen of the fifties, John Lee Hooker maybe or Lightnin’ Hopkins.

So Far Away ramps the volume back up, a frenzy of drums and guitar, staccato and brutal, it’s one of those songs where the central riff repeats itself so rapidly it fills the room like a huge electric heartbeat. “I tried so hard to love you, but you’re so far away” someone is singing but no one really cares because it’s not about the vocal, it’s about the riff that makes the whole room beat time with it.

I Don’t Know Where You’ve Been is the song where the band reveal their roots in seventies rock most clearly, with its driving riff and guitar this could be a lost track from the days of the bell bottomed mullet, cut up and distorted, hung from a nail in the garage and punched for a while. It’s callous and unsentimental and as it winds through the room you can sense heads starting to bang. A few more minutes of this and there’s gonna be brain matter on the carpet.

There’s no big fanfare for the closer. Luke just mumbles “Last” into the microphone and they’re straight into Skint (No Money) which opens with a fine seventies riff that gets faster and faster until it threatens to spin off and form its own band. Somehow they manage to tame it and turn it into a rapid fire blues about the joys of poverty.

And at the end they just stop dead. So there.


Sewer rats are on Facebook and BandCamp

Simple Minds @ Grimsby Auditorium – live review

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Simple Minds

Grimsby Auditorium

27th March 2015

Simple Minds are on great form, providing a timely reminder of their arena packing heyday as they open their UK tour to a packed house in Grimsby. idp reports.

We can be a mardy lot up in here in Grimsby. We think nobody loves us. We feel neglected. Apart from having Channel 5 poverty porn film crews on every street corner we don’t feature much in the mainstream media, unless we’re a key marginal with at least one candidate with alleged links to the far right. (Mentioning no names.)

We don’t get many visits from big name bands either and when we do it sometimes feels like they only bring half their kit and only really give it half their usual effort. “It’s only Grimsby lads, save some energy for Wolverhampton,” we can almost hear them say as they wait in the wings.

So when a band of the calibre of Simple Minds decide to open their UK tour here it’s a big deal and the Auditorium is appropriately packed for the show well before kick off. From the moment Jim Kerr struts onto the stage in a bright red tartan frock coat (apparently he’s Scottish) it’s clear that there aren’t going to be any half measures at this show. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anybody look more pleased to be on a stage and he seems to be genuinely impressed with the response from the packed house, as well he might be because the crowd are cheering and singing along right from the start.

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With a back catalogue as long as your arm and a well received new album (last year’s Big Music) to boot Simple Minds are never going to be short of tunes to play but they do their best to pack as many as possible into the set, which allowing for the break runs to over two and a half hours of high intensity performance. Nobody leaves complaining that they didn’t get good value.

It seems to have been fashionable among reviewers of Big Music to praise the parts of the album that hark back to the band’s early output and to be slightly dismissive of songs, like the title track, that evoke the stadium filling sounds of the late eighties onwards. But if we’re being honest here then for me, (and for lots of others judging by the reactions of the crowd on the night), then it was from Sparkle In The Rain that Simple Minds really made an impact on me and I have no problem with them revisiting that era.

With Mel Gaynor’s insistently snary percussion and Andy Gillespie’s keyboards providing the underpinning for the anthemic expansiveness which nowadays characterises the Simple Minds sound, the band seem to sound even more eighties today than they did in the eighties and the new songs blend seamlessly in with the classics. I won’t claim to be a Simple Minds expert and there are plenty of occasions when I can’t decide whether we’re listening to 20th or 21st century vintage but in this relatively small venue, which has a remarkably good acoustic for bands that can crank the volume up a little, it feels that we could almost be at Wembley or The Shea with Thatcher and Reagan chatting over coffee and looking deep into each other’s eyes just down the road.

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Good though the band are, with Ged Grimes unerring on bass and of course co-founder member Charlie Burchill laying down his trademark flickering guitar alongside those already mentioned, it’s Kerr who is the undoubted star of the show, grinning like a Cheshire and constantly in motion, leaning out across the pit to hold the microphone towards the audience, bounding around the stage twirling the mic stand like a dandy with a long cane, or doing what would probably be dad dancing if I did it but which looks rather cool when he does it , he’s a non stop ball of energy chatting with front row, discussing football or waving to people in the balconies. I read in an interview that he hung out for a while with Springsteen in New York and it’s the Boss’s kind of boundless energy and inclusiveness that he displays here. At the end of the gig half the people present will feel like they have had a momentary intimacy with the star of the show, and that’s quite a skill.

The first half of the set is predominantly rock and acoustic tracks (for which the band are joined by Welsh multi-instrumentalist Catherine AD who stars when she switches to keyboards for a stately Rivers Of Ice) and the second featuring soul vocalist Sarah Brown who takes a solo on Book Of Beautiful Things and backs up magnificently on Sanctify Yourself, on which Kerr is so convincing in his role as a revivalist preacher that you wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a handful of rattlesnakes from the pocket of his black jacket (costume change during half time interval).

Highlights of the show? That’s a tough call and it’s always tempting at this point to pick an obscure track and say how nice it is to see it getting dusted off for the first time in twenty odd years and how you’ve always loved it and felt it was under appreciated but actually on the night it’s Don’t You Forget About Me which starts as a booming monster delivered across a sea of waving arms and mobile phones and gradually morphs into something small and intimate as Kerr lead a call and response singalong from a seated position at the front of the stage.

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From pure eighties over the top stadium rock to delicate and emotional choristry in two minutes or less – it’s some trick and serves to prove that for this tour Simple Minds are a band back on the top of their game. The encores end with Riders On The Storm, as dark and malevolent as the original, and finally Alive And Kicking. As we file out and wait for twenty or thirty minutes to get out of the car park I can hear a lot of people singing tunelessly in their stationary cars and the town seems quite cheerful, almost. But don’t let it fool you.


Simple Mind’s website : and they’re on Facebook and tweet as @simplemindscom

All words by idp. More work by idp can be found in his Louder Than War archive. His photography website is here and his photo blog is here.

Bingley Music Live 2014


Bingley Music Live 2014
Myrtle Park, Bingley
29th – 31st August 2014

One of the best weekends of the year, family atmosphere, great music, warm beer – it’s Bingley time!

Bingley always seems like an unlikely place to hold a music festival. For those scrabbling for their atlases it’s on the River Aire, just north of Bradford, with a skyline that bears witness to both its roots as a mill town and its status as the home of the Bradford and Bingley Building Society whose epic brutalist head office squats like a brown concrete toad in the town centre. It also boasts a curious tower with a pergola on top which looks like it could have been the inspiration for the hiding places in Assassin’s Creed.

Bingley Music Live, sponsored by Bradford Council and held annually at Myrtle Park is a proper old fashioned pop festival which since 2008 has offered three days (originally two) of quality music at ridiculously good value prices. There are no pretensions to high art here. It isn’t full of bearded hipsters or street performers reciting fragments of Shakespeare at bemused passers by or aging hippies or crazy retro people with staring eyes, it’s just families looking for a great day out listening to music in the company of their children and some warm beer.

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QRO review and images


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This year’s line up was a little more chart orientated then previously which meant doing a bit of research in advance (no bad thing for us aging photographers desperately trying to be down with the kids) but the crowds loved it all, or almost all anyway.

My previous experiences with contemporary R’n’B had led me to think that it chiefly consisted of a man pretending to be working some sort of sound desk while another man (or woman) shouted “Come on now (insert name of venue here) make some noise” and then jumping up and down in a very silly way and clapping. For extra emphasis the phrase could be varied by the addition of adjectives, for example “Come on now (insert name of venue here) make some fucking noise”. For even more emphasis the jumping and clapping could be made very silly indeed.

Excellent sets from MNEK, Jess Glynne and Chloe Howl went some way towards dispelling that view although there were outbreaks of clappy, shouty dancey stuff at other times through the weekend, but I won’t dwell on them. There was a lot of great music on offer and I’ll concentrate on that instead.

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Discoveries of the weekend

The Strypes have been blazing a trail through the music scene for the past couple of years and gathering reviews so good that I’d started getting a bit suspicious and thinking that they couldn’t possibly be that wonderful, but of course they are that wonderful. I had intended to listen for ten minutes and then go take some photos on the other stage but I didn’t because their reinvented 60s rock pop just grabs you. Judging by the squeals in the crowd it works on girls too. It doesn’t matter who you say they remind you of because they’ve clearly done their homework and they sound like a whole generation but it’s between The Who and the Beatles and Bo Diddley and The Yardbirds and all the rest. Hailing from Cavan in Northern Ireland they are simply ridiculously good and they’re all younger than my car.

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Less well known as yet but equally good was Emma Garrett and her band on the top stage. In a fortnight when I have spent hours listening to my Kate Bush albums and seen St Vincent live at Leeds the last thing I expected on the small stage at Bingley was a female vocal that threatened to make them other two seem just a little bit ordinary. Emma has been compared to both the aforementioned singers and to Florence Welch and lots of others and she can mix rock, soul, jazz and folk into one song with just a hint of musical theatre showmanship and it sounds just perfect. Check out her SoundCloud immediately.

And an outside pick. It’s not often anyone gets booed at Bingley but Etta Bond appeared to misjudge what was required from her at a family festival and delivered a set loaded with sexual detail and other varieties of bad language and the crowd hated her and let her know about it. That’s Yorkshire for ya. Her performance and on stage demeanour didn’t do her any favours either – whether it was the fault of the sound system or whatever she sounded as flat as a pancake. Since getting home I’ve spent a couple of hours listening to her stuff and she’s a talented writer and performer who I’ve no doubt we’ll hear more of in future and in fairness to her the booking people might have figured out that a woman who tweets as C.U.N.T. is probably not going to go down well with the mums and dads.

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Old friends of the weekend

Not friends in the sense that I’ve been round their house for tea or anything but among the bands that I was already familiar with there were two standouts.

Firstly The Selecter who, legal difficulties with rivals having been dealt with are now entitled to use that name. They have original vocalists Pauline Black and Arthur Gaps Hendrickson and they delivered a set that sounded as streetwise and energetic as if it was a teenage tribute band and not the real thing at all, finishing with On My Radio and Too Much Pressure/Pressure Drop – one of the major highlights of the weekend.

As were the opening songs of the set by The South. It’s no secret that I have a fondness for elegantly witty pop and at their best The Beautiful South could deliver that in spades. They are now fronted by Alison Wheeler and Dave Hemingway and I had everything planned so I could catch the whole of their set but difficulties with the sound meant that I only got the first few songs, (which sounded wonderful). They’re on tour this autumn however so watch this space.

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Friday night saw Shed Seven make the journey all the way from York for a set of their greatest hits that served to remind us that even if the whole Britpop thing is now seen as a cultural disaster on an epic scale there were good bands around at the time who never quite got the recognition they deserved. Shed Seven were a lot smarter than some of their more illustrious contemporaries and the dry wit of frontman Rick Witters was much in evidence during their set. They also played the most energetic set of the weekend and no sooner had they taken the stage than Witter’s natural exuberance saw him almost disappear into the crowd over the barriers. Their set featured classics like Dolphin, Disco Down and Rainbows as well as a storming cover of Born To Run, a song by former rock god and now Butlin’s redcoat Bruce Springsteen.

It was the turn of rnb to take centre stage on Saturday with Example heading the bill. There’s not much point in me pretending to comment on his set except to say that the multitude loved it, there was lots of audience participation – “Come on now Bingley make some noise, jump, clap – and it culminated in a spectacular light show.

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Rounding off the weekend were Sunday night’s headliners The Pet Shop Boys who brought their Electric World Tour show to the Bingley stage complete with spectacular lights, a whole stage projection screen, dancing orange minotaurs (my favourite flavour of minotaur as it happens), massive feathered power shoulders, projection beds (really), and pzazz and razzamatazz than you can shake the z key on your keyboard at. It was a show that walked the finest of lines between superlative showmanship and embarrassing nonsense and always stayed exactly on the right side. If any greatest hits were missing I didn’t notice and nobody seemed to care and the explosion of confetti that accompanied It’s A Sin brought the festival to a fittingly spectacular close.

Same time next year?

Yes please.

Life: A Listener’s Manual

Life are from Hull.

They’re brash and punky, full of attitude but also possessed of a lyrical and melodic authority and composure that marks them out as being something a bit special.

Since forming a year ago they’ve had radio play from Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy, and Zane Lowe on Radio 1 and playlistings on XFM and Amazing Radio. They’ve also made a splash on the urban festival scene.

I’ve been trying to catch up with them for a while but they’ve been all over the country so when I heard they were planning a single launch at The Adelphi in Hull that sounded too good to miss.

The line up is Mick (guitars), Mez (vocals), Loz (bass) and Rich (drums). Mick and Mez are the mandatory brothers who provide the lyrical core of the band and whose sibling rivalry and petulance will someday rip the project asunder but for now they’re mates and they sit and chat and answer some questions before the show. On my recording I can’t tell them apart so I shall attribute their answers to LIFE.

LTW review and pictures

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Louder Than War: You’ve all been in bands before – most of you were in The Neat.

LIFE: The Neat was Mez, Loz and Rich, but without Mick. The rest of us are older than him and we’ve been in a few bands. He’s only nineteen.

LTW: You’ve been together about a year and it’s been pretty busy. Is it all a bit of a blur or do you feel in control?

LIFE: It’s gone real fast but I think we’re one of those bands that will always want to stay in control. Partly because of who we are. Partly because of coming from Hull. If we were in the East End of London and waltzing about getting pissed all day maybe we’d be less in control but we’re from Hull and we all have full time jobs and we like to stay in charge of things. We all have to balance our day jobs and the band but at the moment the music is our main aim. We’ve had some fantastic gigs – Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Live At Leeds, Dot To Dot Festival, Camden Rocks.

LTW: I saw the videos of you at Live At Leeds. How did it feel playing in front of what looks like a full house at the Academy? You don’t look phased by it.

LIFE: There were two thousand three hundred people there! Obviously they weren’t all there for us but you’ve got to go out there and enjoy it. We were really surprised when we saw how full it was. Kodaline were the headliners, we were first band up. We were expecting people to come in in dribs and drabs and we’d have to try to get them to come to the front but we went out and the place was at capacity almost.

LTW: All the press materials I get through from your management begin with the words “Hull punks Life” but you don’t seem to be a band that’s that too bothered about genre.

LIFE: I think if you stick to one genre you’re limiting yourself as to what you can do. We all contribute equally to the band’s sound and we’re all influenced by different things. We get called punks and we do have some of the punk ethos about us. We grew up listening to a lot of music with punk at its heart (because our Dad was in new wave bands and we listened to his record collection but we listened to a lot of other stuff too. Still do.

LTW: Your songs sound like you put some effort into creating them. They’re not just chucked together like some. The new single Take Off With You sounds almost like three songs in one. Did it grow organically from a single idea of are you more deliberate than that when you’re writing new material?

LIFE: It’s actually one of our most spontaneous songs. I had this riff that I had had knocking around for a while and I was playing it and Mez heard it and then we got a lyric on it and it just took off from there. We put a lot of work into it though because it had this vibe that felt like if we tweak this we can build it up nicely into something special. It felt like it had potential. We’re pretty happy with it, especially the big chorus, because a lot of choruses can be a bit wet and we wanted it to have some power and emotion.

LTW: Your single Money sounds quite political. Are you a political band?

LIFE: We do take an interest in politics. I don’t think that lyric is political in the sense that it’s about the government but it is a bit of a tirade against moneyed people, people who don’t have to give a fuck because they’ve got silver spoons in their mouths.

LTW: Your PR mentions an interest in pop culture. Anything from Steinbeck to Breaking Bad it says, which is the high end of low culture. Who’s the culture fan?

LIFE: That would be both of us because we write the lyrics. We both read a lot. At the moment we’re reading a lot of the beat poets and writers who hung out with them. We like Ferlinghetti and Bukowksi and we try and work little references to what we’ve been reading into our songs. We try not to be pretentious though, we just like a bit of wordplay. We’ve got a song called Ginsberger for example. And a line that mentions Kerouac. We try to give it a modern twist.

LTW: Can your drummer really rip an apple in two?

LIFE: He can. Yeah. We don’t know how he does it.

LTW: You’ve been working with Nick Hodgson from the Kaiser Chiefs.

LIFE: Well we go back quite far with him, over five years. He helped us with The Neat and we connect. He’s a Leeds guy and he saw something in us. He likens us to the Kaiser Chiefs when they were raw and touring the clubs. He’s great to work with because he knows his stuff and when he’s excited by what you’re doing that’s a great feeling. People in bands are always excited by what they’re doing but to have someone like Nick excited too, that validates what you’re feeling yourselves.

LTW: Steve Lamacq said last year that the music business is too metropolitan and that bands from the provinces, he specifically mentioned Hull bands, tend to get ignored.

LIFE: I think it’s definitely the case. There’s a lot more going on here than you might think. There are a lot of good bands in Hull. Daze and Babies who are playing tonight to start with, and Mother and The Talks. The drummer from Drowners is from Hull too. If you read the papers and listen to the radio you’d think there were only two cities in Britain – London and Birmingham. And the industry can become lazy. A lot of rich kids in London start up bands in Dalston and that’s where the record companies are. When we go to London we have A&R men come in and we’ve had some interest. But try and get an A&R man to come to Hull for a little gig. Different matter. We always get asked when are you moving to London.

LTW: So you’re Hull through and through.

LIFE: It’s an underdog city. We won’t let it get ignored.

LTW: How do you go about finding the things you need? Management, studios, rehearsal space, venues? Is Hull good for music making?

LIFE: Pretty good. There’s a music place in town called the Warren, they’ve just started Warren Records there, they support a lot of bands and then there’s this place, The Adelphi, and there’s Mark who’s done wonders with the Humber Street Sess. He’s been nominated for a festival award now, and of course Hull being 2017 City of Culture, that’s going to make a difference. It’s bound to bring people in – the fruit market area is buzzing. So long as it’s not just a fad, it’s got to spread out into the rest of the city. You can still walk down Whitefriargate and every shop is boarded up.

LTW: You played the main stage at the Freedom Festival. It was your eighth gig. How did that feel?

LIFE: It was a proud moment – in front of our home crowd. It was our first time on a big stage. We were on early but it was still good. It feels very different on a big stage. Some gigs we’ve played in London have been tiny rooms up three flights of stairs over pubs. The Dot To Dot Festival gig was tiny too. Capacity sixty, there were people on the stage with us.

LTW: You’ve been touring pretty hard lately. You played London on March 19th and Dundee on the 20th. That’s a good stretch. And there was a band there that really hated you? Like a big rivalry?

LIFE: Yeah we made it but we were exhausted. The rivalry thing was because Dundee and Hull were both up for City of Culture and Hull won. It wasn’t a real rivalry, just a bit of fun.

LTW: Did you enjoy touring? Could you get used to it?

LIFE: Yeah we loved it. That was our first experience of back to back gigs and that’s very different to playing spread out gigs. Playing. Sleeping in the van while someone drives. Playing again. It starts to feel like doing a job.

LTW: And what’s next for Life?

LIFE: We’ve got some good festivals coming up. Wicker Man, Kendall Calling, Boardmasters. And then a big tour in October. And we’ll be recording for a potential release in 2015.

LTW: Thanks guys. I’ll let you get on now.

So I let them carry on getting ready for the show and go for a wander. Outside the venue people are beginning to gather and when I get back there’s getting to be a bit of a buzz about the place.

First up are Daze who describe themselves as shoe gaze psychedelic rock and whose fuzz heavy riffs unwind echoing and powerful across the room, full of desert atmospherics and poppy choruses. They’re followed by Babies who by way of contrast give us a set of booming surfer punk proof, if it were needed, that there is a lot of talent in this city and a lot of diversity too.

By the time Life take the stage the place is packed – they’ve clearly got a local following building up. The set opens with In Citrus, a big slab of straight up and down rock, not subtle but brutal and very effective. It’s a great opener, sending out a message that this is a night when few if any prisoners will be taken.

The set list contains all the singles that I have been playing now for weeks and which have become part of my personal soundtrack – the vindictive Money, and Crawling which sounds like a piece of classic Pub Rock. There’s also I Wanna Forget which starts slow and build to a chorus which could come straight out of The Ramones songbook.

The band are as tight as you could wish and Mez, when he’s not reading poetry is an utterly compelling vocalist, part strutting Jagger, part vulnerable Doherty, part confrontational Jesson, a mixture of feral restlessness and sly intensity and old fashioned showmanship. He’s not easy to photograph because one minute he’s deep in the crowd on the floor, the next he’s climbing the drum kit and finding out just how low those beams in the roof at the Adelphi really are, but through it all you get the impression that there’s a lot of skilful image management going on here.

I remember what they said in the interview about being in control. The band have the happy knack of looking spontaneous and transgressive while staying firmly in charge of what they do. It’s a good trick that will carry them far. Don’t doubt that for a moment.

Of course the climax to the show is new single Take Off With You and it’s a blinder. I’m not going to try and put a label on it. You listen to it. It reminds me of a long lost Talking Heads track but you may hear something else completely. Whatever it is, it’s great and Life are a band on the way up, there’s not much doubt of it.

Watch this space.

Even if it’s a space in Hull.


Daze are on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud. Babies are on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud

Life’s website is here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter

All words by idp. More work by idp can be found in his Louder Than War archive. His photography website is here and his photo blog is here.

Mark Lanegan: Leeds – live review


Mark Lanegan
Leeds College Of Music
3rd November 2013

A night of gravel voiced alt country blues in leeds with Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood

It’s an unusual arrangement for a convert venue, The Leeds College of Music. After climbing several flights of stairs I expected to be somewhere up in the gods looking down on the performers on a distant stage way down below. To enter the auditorium on the same level as the performance area, (there’s no raised stage), came as a bit of a shock. It’s a very serious venue too, plain and austere with high ceiling and white walls and as it happened that was well suited to an evening with Mark Lanegan, supported by Duke Garwood and Lyenn, which at times resembled a recital as much as a gig and was none the worse for that.


If there was any doubt that the focus was on the music and not the personalities of the performers it was dispelled from the outset by some of the darkest lighting I’ve ever seen at a gig. A handful of red spots high up in the rigging, a couple of scarlet leds on the stage and that was it. It would be nice to be poetic, given the sombre tone of the material, and say that the stage looked as though it was drenched in blood but in fact what it resembled most was a performance at the bottom of a tank of cherryade.

QRO review and images

Opener for the night was Lyenn whose songs, performed with guitar, are fragile things, referencing folk motifs and they heyday of prog. He may have been an unknown quantity to most of the audience at the start and have ended his set with a song which seemed to consist mostly of shouting but he had certainly won people over by the end of his short set and there were plenty of people checking out his stuff at the merch desk afterwards.

Neither Lanegan nor Duke Garwood the English blues musician with whom he collaborated on this year’s Black Pudding album are given to banter or chit chat with the audience or outlandish showmanship. They both stand very still and deliver their songs with great calm, Lanegan clutching the microphone and stand two handed and arching his body slightly towards it lending him (in a darkened room) a slight resemblance to Jarvis Cocker.


And the material is portentous and menacing. Dominated by tracks from Black Pudding, the effect accentuated by the darkness of the auditorium, it was powerful stuff. The audience was as silent as the crowd at any classical gig I’ve ever been to, on the edge of their seats at times. At one point I heard a boiled sweet being unwrapped about five rows away and I half expected someone to say shhhh, but they made enough noise between songs to dispel any impression that the gig was in any way a disappointment.

Duke Garwood performed solo, his voice quiet, guitar sometimes bluesy and disorted, sometimes crystal clear, laying delicate fills over deeply reverberative bass notes, songs whose simple melodies recalled Leonard Cohen’s Recent Songs. He picked up a big silver resonator for Manchester Special.

Mark Lanegan opened with five straight songs from Black Pudding, making them each more doom laden and intense than the last, but it was clear that he was enjoying himself, smiling occasionally between lines as he rocked gently at the mike. His voice was at times almost impossibly deep. It is conventional to reference Tom Waits or Nick Cave in this context but it was Kris Kristofferson that came to mind on the night. Cold Molly in particular benefitted from live performance. On the album it’s a fairly light weight number but live and with the addition of some funky bass it was transformed into a powerful and unsettling invocation to an unresponsive mistress.

The band was versatile, with Garwood on saxophone, Lyenn on bass, plus guitar and a cello and violin section that doubled up when occasion demanded on percussion and harmony. The addition of the cello was particularly apt – it added a depth and colour to the music which complemented the roughness of Lanegan’s delivery especially on a gorgeous Phantasmagoria Blues, which together with it’s Blues Funeral partner The Gravedigger’s Song formed the dark heart of the show before a run of covers taken from the recent Imitations album.


There’s something very appealing about listening to Lanegan singing other people’s songs. With his own material he can compose melodies to suit his own capabilities and limitations but with covers he has to make that bit more effort and lean into the lyric just a little. The traditional Cherry Tree Carol is a simple song onto which Lanegan loaded a great deal of emotional content – it threatened to topple but held up. Mack The Knife was delivered with just guitar accompaniment and fittingly included the rarely performed final verse – “There are some who are in darkness and the others are in light, and you see the ones in brightness, those in darkness drop from sight” but the revelation of the night was You Only Live Twice, the Barry and Bricusse number which has always seemed like the lightest and least significant of Bond themes until Lanegan invested it with a menace and caress that few could have imagined it would be capable of sustaining. It was followed by Solitaire, a deadweight song whose base metal heart even Lanegan could not alchemise into gold.

A version of Satellite Of Love in tribute to Lou Reed followed, made the more poignant for me by the fact that the last time I heard the song performed live, by Reed himself, was in another hall primarily designed for classical music, the Liverpool Philharmonic. That was a great night with Reed an hour late and in a foul mood and furious at the audience for slow hand clapping. “I waited years for you” he said before launching into an unidentifiable twenty minute jam as a punishment for our temerity.

Lanegan’s main set ended with one of the highlights of the night – a bluesy version of OV Wright’s Southern Soul classic On Jesus Program and after leaving the stage briefly he returned with just his guitarist for a fine version of The Screaming Trees’ Halo Of Ashes which drew a huge cheer from an audience who had clearly enjoyed an excellent show.

Kate Nash: The Institute, Birmingham – live review


Kate Nash
The Institute, Birmingham
11th October 2013

Kate Nash took The Institute by storm with her new indie punk sound – backed by a great line up of The Tuts and Vulkano.

The last thing my wife always says to me before I leave with my cameras for a gig is – Have you got your ear plugs? It’s not intended as a slight on the artists involved it’s just that down in the pit you often end up very close to the speakers and the results can be literally deafening. On Friday night as I opened the door and she asked the usual question and I just shrugged and said ‘Hey, it’s a Kate Nash gig. How loud can it be?”

And the answer to that question is …. a lot louder than you think.


Having made her name as a composer and performer of witty and quirky songs about relationships delivered almost parlando, full of humour and spiced with just enough home truths to make girls love her and boys feel uncomfortable Nash lost her record deal with Universal and had to crowd fund her latest album Girl Talk, but instead of sticking to formula and playing safe she has used the new found artistic freedom to reinvent herself and her sound.


Drawing inspiration from the Riot Grrl movement and her own previous involvement in the indie/punk scene (she used to play bass in side project punk band The Receders) the new Kate Nash is a performer far removed from the dreamy, wistful popstrel of Foundations and Mouthwash. This Kate Nash is an all together louder, more abrasive, punkier performer. The new album has had mixed reviews, being dismissed as punk feminism light in some quarters but live it’s a different matter and backed by a first rate ‘all girl band’ (not a phrase I’m entirely happy using but it seemed to be the epithet of choice on the night so I’ll use it here) Nash delivered a storming set at Birmingham’s Institute on Friday.


First up, on a night when the stage is dominated by female performers were The Tuts, an ‘all girl’ three hander from Hayes who sound a little like a female version of the Libertines and quickly get the crowd on side with a high energy dose of melodic punk ska. While not always subtle – ‘If you’ve got a shit boyfriend, get rid of that boyfriend’ they yell before the (unsurprisingly titled) Dump Your Boyfriend – they have great tunes and should be a name to reckon with in the future.


They are followed by Vulkano, a female duo (with a young gentleman bass player in tow but frankly this just smacks of tokenism) from Sweden with a great line in post punk indypop and a singer who also plays lead drums which is an unusual combination. They’re two fifths of Those Dancing Days but considerably harder edged. Their songs are about Wolves and Spiders and lead singer Cissi Efraimsson makes some great noises, including an impressive selection of animal influenced barks and yelps and a red Indian warble which rapidly becomes a feature of the night while hitting the drums extremely hard. Possibly they have upset her.


Kate Nash is backed by the regulation girl band dressed in black while she herself has an extraordinary dress made of brightly coloured hearts. I am not a fashion blogger but the dress is fabulous and should get its own show and Kate Nash wears it very nicely. Nash’s new style is fast, angry indy punk, which suits the new songs just fine. They’re not her subtlest work and they work a lot better live than they do on the album where their relative simplicity is more of a problem. Here they function as a perfect canvas for Nash and the band to lean into and make some great music around, and the wilder and more exuberant the performance the better they sound although older songs like Foundations and Mouthwash fare less well, the lyric getting somewhat lost in the mix.

This is a minor quibble in a fine show however. Nash clearly has a great easy stage presence and a loyal following – the Institute is packed – and the crowd hang on her every phrase. When she leaves the stage at the end of the main set, following a stage invasion and some of the funniest crowd surfing I’ve seen in ages, the chant is not Encore or More but ‘Where the fuck is Kate?’ which seems to be appreciated by the lady herself when she returns for a finale performance of Merry Happy, one of the few among her old songs which sound pretty much like their original selves on the night.


The Tuts can be found on their website Facebook, Twitter and BandCamp pages.

Vulkano are on Facebook and Twitter.

Kate Nash’s website is here. She’s also on Facebook and Twitter.

Art Brut: New Adelphi, Hull – live review



Art Brut
The New Adelphi, Hull
29th September 2013

Classic rock band Art Brut barnstorm their visit Hull’s New Adelphi.

My first time at the New Adelphi in Hull. I’d been told it was tiny but it’s much smaller than that, one of those proper little rock and roll venues the are disappearing fast. It’s basically an end terrace with the downstairs rooms knocked into one, bright blue and pink walls, a mural at the back of the stage and an array of lights hanging from the ceiling that look like they were made out of catering jam tins.


There are concrete beams in the roof, one of which passes directly above the front of the stage, causing lead singer and extreme ironist in chief Eddie Argos to raise a hand to ascertain its location at the start of each song before essaying one of his trademark pogos. As a six foot fourer who has had to wear a stupid looking collar on three occasions as a result of low ceilings I worry for him.

Openers on the night are local guitar and drum duo The Glass Delusion whose set is made up of great, fast, loud one minute songs about literature, the importance of not being buried alive and their disdain for tribute acts. Great fun and I’m nominating them for a special award as the band who sound least like their web material when you hear them live. Following on are La Bete Blooms, usually a five piece, tonight playing as a four, harmonic post punk tinged with some delicate pop sensibility. It’s a great bill put together by Screaming Tarts who bring a lot of good music over to the east coast where god knows we need it.

Having arrived at the gig knowing that I liked Art Brut what takes me by surprise when they arrive on stage is how much I like them. They manage to go from being an amusing band that I rather like and approve of to being one of my favourites in the space of the set. I think this is because I’d mostly though of them up to now as ironists. I hadn’t really appreciated what a good noise they make and what a barnstorming over the top show performance we were in for.


On CD the band are almost subdued, mostly present to service the lyric but live they are tight, wild, disciplined and raucous, not by turns but all at the same time which is a tough combination to pull off. Proceedings are inevitably dominated by front man Eddie Argos, who delivers his lines with the accompaniment of an impressive repertoire theatrical gurning and gesticulation.

All the favourites are there – including Formed A Band, Emily Kane and My Little Brother but best song of the night is the newest Arizona Bay, a nod in the direction of Bill Hicks which has a great deranged swagger to it. The spoken interludes and commentaries which last only a few seconds on CD become extended monologues lasting several minutes in some cases. During Modern Art he steps down from the stage and out into the crowd, having everyone sit or crouch down while he leans over them and exuberantly narrates the story of his visit to the Van Gogh Museum like a particularly enthusiastic nursery teacher trying to whip some enthusiasm into story time.

The irony is still a big part of the show of course – not just the straightforward stuff either but a special kind of multilayered reflexive irony which has always been present in their work -‘This is my real singing voice, I’m not being ironic’ Argos declaims on Formed A Band.


During his Modern Art soliloquy he explains to the audience that he has lost the thread of the story and has improvised himself into a corner he doesn’t know how to get out of, only to admit a few moments later when the laugh has been won that in fact he knows exactly where he is headed because the impression of spontaneity is of course an artifice and the same monologue, including this bit, can be found word for word on the CDs available (at remarkably good prices) on the table to our left.

Most importantly the band look like they’re having a great time. Argos points out that they have two new members on board and he takes great delight in confounding them by departing from the set list for what appear to be unrehearsed songs. ‘Play one the drummer knows’ someone shouts from the back during a moment of confusion. Argos enjoys it too and repeats it in case anyone missed out. It’s my favourite heckle at a gig in ages and all the more enjoyable because of the sneaking suspicion that maybe nobody shouted it at all and Argos just made it up and it’s part of the regular show.


Art Brut can be found at their website and at their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace pages.

La Bete Blooms are on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

The Glass Delusion are at their website and at their Facebook and BandCamp pages.

The Lincolnshire Food Festival 2013


Down at Meridian Point there were some seriously good aromas wafting on the breeze and plenty of entertainment too with top chefs like Franck Pontais and Nigel Brown presenting giving masterclasses and musician and entrepreneur Levi Roots telling his story, singing songs and rustling up some tasty West Indian delicacies.


Exhibitors included top local producers and retailers including Peaks Top Farm of New Waltham with some amazing locally produced fruit wines, Spinney Kitchen of Brigg with their amazing selection of teas and coffees (and especially a fabulously smokey Lapsang Souchong, and Katies Cupcakes of Cleethorpes with lots of delicious baked goodies for weddings, parties and other functions!



There were so many good things on offer it would takje forever to list them all them all but we took home some fantastic cookies from the Real Tea & Coffee Company of Ruskington and of course some great recipe books signed by their authors including none other than Mr Levi Roots himself. Levi had brought his guitar along and treated us to a rousing chorus of the Reggae Reggae Sauce song as well as sharing his story and advising everyone to go out and confront the dragon’s in their own lives.

So if you’re getting sound advice and good food all at once that’s got to be a day well spent hasn’t it? We look forward to next year with anticipation.


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