Meeking – ‘I Am Because We Are’ album review

Meeking album launch, at Moles Bath, 2017

When Jake Meeking kindly sent me his band’s album to review, he emphasized the need to remove all distractions, put on some headphones and turn it up really loud. I considered this to be the warbling self-indulgence of artistic passion, ignored it and began listening through my laptop speakers while I set about my daily chores.

40 seconds in I hit the pause button and started checking my diary for ‘chore-free’ time when I could listen to this album the way Jake had suggested, because so distracting and enticing were those opening few seconds, I wanted to make sure my full attention was given to it.

When the time came I plugged in my headphones, turned up the volume, sat back and listened to the alt-blues-jazz-rock of sonic-artistry . The opening few bars of ‘Bigger than me’ really draw the listener in, building with teasing picking and what I believe are background synth sounds, reaching an epic crescendo as the base, drums and Jake’s voice smash into the mix.

‘Bigger than me’ is a massive “Hey! We’re Meeking and this is what we do”. The track continually drops and peaks and develops with some overlapping layers. I listened to it a few times in succession and each time found something new to pique my interest. It’s over 5 minutes long, which some might say is a ballsy move for an opening track, but it needs to be, because there’s so much too it.

Theo Stevens from Meeking, at Moles, Bath 2017
Theo Stevens from Meeking

The audio quality of the album is fantastic too and makes me think that some serious effort went into the production.

I went to the launch at Moles and track 2 ‘Bury me’ had me grinning as I watched Jake unleashed some beautiful guitar work. It kicks in around the 2min mark and is just delightful, especially if you get to watch it being played.

Cassidy Jones of Tell The Hoi joined Meeking on stage for the third number, “I am because we are”, and the title of the album. Tell The Hoi are another fantastic Bath band and were one of two acts providing support on the night.

The song starts with a bit of pace, but soon slows and becomes more lyrically emotive. The lyrics suggest a feeling of the support you get from your family when you’re facing some of life’s trickier obstacles, possibly homage to the support many artists in the pursuit of success get from their families. It also sets the pace for the next few songs, which are more peaceful than the first few anthemic numbers.

‘204’ is a big contender for my favourite track on the album. It starts with some enchanting guitar noodling, not just from Jake, but latter on from Theo Stevens too, as he throws out volleys of superb base work. This track is flipping majestic!

Jake Meeking from Meeking, performing at Moles Bath, 2017
Jake Meeking

Track 5 ‘Better man’, again is a slower number, which has some nice soft picking and simple high hat and snare brush work. Jake’s vocals stop about halfway through and allow for some sultry guitar to slowly fade the track out, which provides a fantastic through line into track 6, where things start to pick up pace again.

‘New world’ is another teaser, which builds and then drops just before the crescendo, before building up again, something Meeking have clearly developed as a talent. That’s not to say other bands don’t do the same thing, but Meeking have perfected the tease. Using some gentle guitar riffs, Jake creates an appropriate otherworldly atmosphere, which interchanges with the fuller sound of the chorus.

‘This army’ has a similar opening atmospheric riff to ‘Bury me’, but that drops away and is replaced by some slight distortion on guitar and a return to the more anthemic sounds at the beginning of the album. This is the same for the following song, ‘Wheels’, where the distorted guitar is more evident and Jake really lets loose his laudable vocals.

There is a definite signature to this album, something any band should strive to achieve in their work. Like when you listen to Hendrix or Chili Peppers, there is a quality that immediately identifies who is playing.

The penultimate track, ‘It’s over when it’s over’ has a suitable air of summing up, with elements of a wandering serenade, mixed with a hint of sadness as you realize you’ve nearly reached the end of the album. It’s 6 minutes of evocative music that somehow creates a feeling of nostalgia for an album that you only started listening to half an hour ago.

In contrast the final track is very short and a bit somber, but no less beautiful than the rest of the album and is a nice way to close. However, that being said, at the album launch, Meeking did follow it with a far more upbeat number as a final song of the night.

The gig itself was excellent, with some fantastic performances by the opening acts Tell The Hoi and Newton Country, two bands I’m happy to recommend you see live as soon as possible.

Jake was right about how to listen to this, though I can’t condone listening to anything too loud, having no distractions, my headphones on and the volume turned right up really allowed me to fully embrace the creative skill that went into it.

In all, ‘I am because we are’ is a brilliantly crafted album. I may be wrong, but I sense that real thought and effort went into each track and the way the songs are put together is perfect. The musicianship from Jake, Theo and Glenn is exquisite and it was honestly a pleasure to review.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Thank you to Soul Media for the photos

Album launch 21 October 2017

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Why should I care about what happens to Komedia?

Club night at Komedia, Bath

Komedia is looking for the general public to invest £350k in its future. They’ve got nearly £70k so far, but there’s only 2 weeks left for them to get the rest.

So what reasons are there to invest? Well, the first must be a 3% return on investment (ROI), which isn’t bad and better than many banks offer. Though regular business investors might look for something a bit higher. So, what’s the real incentive, why should I care about what happens to Komedia?

Let’s look at the full offer first. For a minimum £250 investment Komedia are offering the aforementioned 3% ROI, 1 vote per investor/member, members only benefits, the chance to ‘co-own a piece of Bath history’ and also to ‘be part of the solution’.

Community ownership of Komedia, Bath

That last bit could be a concern. If an organization is asking me to invest, I want to hear that there are no problems and that the future is bright. That’s why the 3% ROI is so interesting. Listing that as something you can be reasonably certain of receiving shows a bit of confidence about the future of the venue and if you look at their past awards, perhaps their confidence is well founded.

The Crowdfunder total jumped £1000 while I was writing this!

However, I needed more than just their confidence to convince me that this would be a good investment. So I contacted Komedia to find out more.

It turns out they’ve been performing better than in previous years and the financial hole they need filling, is being caused by a founding member withdrawing their investment. Whatever the reason is for them doing that, it has presented Komedia with three main choices.

  1. Close down. Bath loses a venue, people lose jobs and The Arts loses another piece of its soul.
  2. Find one or two private investors to plug the hole. This could cause events to be focused on the profit margin over artistic value and thus more hen and stag parties.
  3. Obtain community funding. This would provide the option for Komedia to connect more with the community and as such provide more of the entertainment Bath wants to see.

Komedia list other sources of capital as coming from a: ‘charity/community benefit society’ rates discount of up to 80%, audience growth due to the interest of the community investors, and ‘£100k of Big Society Capital match-funding’ available to community projects.

“Bath isn’t going to watch another one of its businesses close”

It sounds like they’ve got a good plan financially and if they can get the assistance of the people of Bath and make it work; it would undoubtedly be a genuine coup for Bath’s arts scene.

So what about the non-financial side of things? Komedia did manage to convince me that they aren’t going anywhere for a while and thus the real question is in what form will Komedia continue; as a community owned centre for the arts or as a privately funded cash cow?

With the community influence, we could hope to see a greater focus on nurturing local talent, not just in music and comedy, but perhaps in other areas of art too. Also to take into consideration is the climate of the time. It could be said that there is a national growth in movement against the objectification of women. Would community influenced programmes put an end to Komedia’s Burlesque nights? Such issues may greatly effect who goes to Komedia in the future.

Hen party at Komedia, Bath

It could be argued that the private investor ‘profit margin focused’ framework Komedia has existed on till now is largely responsible for it becoming a hen and stag party magnet in the past.

The rise in ‘Party houses’ has been a topic of recent debate in Bath and no doubt Komedia has profited from the hordes, and if I needed any push to invest it would be the chance to turn Komedia into less of a beckon for booze-tourists.

Beau Nash Cinema boarded up, Bath
Image from BBC Points West

But perhaps the real incentive hasn’t got anything to do with who goes to Komedia or the programme it offers. Perhaps the real reason people should invest is because we don’t want another boarded up building in Bath. Earlier this year The Chronicle counted nearly 40 vacant shops in the city centre. Maybe its time the people of Bath came together and said “Bath isn’t going to watch another one of its businesses close”.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Thank you to Komedia for the photos

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Baby In Vain at Moles

Andrea and Lola from Baby In Vain performing on main stage at Moles, Bath, 10 October 2017

An auditory assault met my ears as I descended the stairs to the Moles main stage. “Was this going to be a pleasant experience?” I wondered. It wasn’t going to be gentle that was for sure.

One of the best things about Moles is its story. When you watch a gig there, you’re not just seeing a band, you’re sharing in history.

Other venues come and go and yes, they show some great bands, but at Moles, you’re joining an institution that stretches back decades, you’re becoming a member of those ‘who were there’, those who stood in the same place and watched the likes of Oasis, The Cure, Radiohead and many more on their rise to stardom.

The main event that night was Baby In Vain, a 3 part band from Copenhagen. They’ve already started to make a big name for themselves across Europe and have also toured the states, supporting The Kills. Moles was the halfway point of a 16 venue tour of the UK, taking them from Aberdeen to Southampton, Cardiff to London, and everywhere between.

Meekers at Moles October 2017
Meekers at Moles

Alas, I’d missed the opening act, Swamp, but Meekers, the main support act, had just started as I arrived. They proceeded to pelt out a series of speedy songs with hardly any breaks, giving little time to reflect on the last song before they blasted into the next.

It was simple, brutal and amazingly enjoyable, and also held some fine musicianship; but what was even more gratifying to witness, was how they embodied the spirit of grass roots rock, punk and garage bands the world over, those who don’t care if they get famous or not, they just want to have a good time and share it with others.

When it comes to Baby In Vain, the uninitiated could be forgiven for thinking ‘Oh, this is going to be a fun little set’. Bene, Lola and Andrea look harmless, but before the first note finishes, you will have no doubt that what stands before you, is nothing short of a musical leviathan.

Baby In Vain performing at Moles, Bath, October 2017

Their music is a guttural, savage, twisting of grunge rock, which doesn’t bother with a bass guitar, but features switchable rhythm and lead guitars and vocals, punchy percussion and a bit of synth.

The swapping of vocals causes you to constantly change your focus throughout the set and the effects ladened guitar shredding had me and other audience members nodding in appreciation.

They’ve been likened to B.R.M.C., and while that theme is definitely there, I was also reminded of Nirvana, not just for the sound, but for the raw emotion which comes through their songs, which are dark and often a bit sinister.

Their music isn’t pretty, but that’s what makes it beautiful, like a work of art made from burning car tyres. They’re one of those bands that ‘When you get it, you get it’, and as soon as their set had finished I wanted it to start from the beginning again immediately.

I spoke to them briefly following the set, about how music had brought them together, and was glad to hear they were taking a break and spending the following day in Bath, before heading on to Southampton for the second stage of their tour.

Please come back soon, Baby In Vain!

I’ll be back at Moles soon, for the Meeking album launch! 

Written by @LordSkitch 

Thank you to Soul Media for the photos

Reviewed on 10 October 2017

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Pink Hotel at Komedia

Pink Hotel performing at Komedia, Bath, September 2017

The ‘Hef’, rest his soul, would have told you that sex sells. Everyone knows it and arguably, that’s what Pink Hotel were selling on stage at Komedia; a pulse-pounding, sweaty display of musical titillation.

They were supported by Five By Five, All That Glitters and Tell The Hoi, the first two of which unfortunately I missed, but I was lucky enough to review All That Glitters on a previous occasion and hopefully we’ll get to see Five By Five soon.

Tell The Hoi are a band who have been about in Bath for a while now, but I’d not seen yet. Boy, was I missing out. Initially, they looked run of the mill indie, but as soon as they started playing I realized there’s more to them .

Tell The Hoi performing on stage at Komedia in Bath in September 2017
Tell The Hoi

They describe themselves as “Experimenting with psychedelic sounds and alternative structures…” and have an ambition to create new indie rock. ‘Psychedelic’ often sets off a subtle alarm bells for me, as it’s proved to mean ‘rambling nonsense’ in the past. Yes, the psychedelic aspect was there, but it wasn’t nonsense and far from rambling; rather more part of a pallet of many themes, so many, it was difficult making an association, which is great. Clearly, they’re achieving their ambition.

At times, I heard essence of Blur, Billie Idol, The Verve and in one song an ever so slight hint of Bachman-Turner of all things. Honestly, I couldn’t possibly associate them with any one artist and perhaps that’s why I’m an instant fan, that and the nostalgic amalgam of 80’s and 90’s bands they seem to embody.

Their attitude was endearing too. Harry Page, the frontman, wandered the stage with the charming swagger of someone who is there by accident, but is going to enjoy themselves.

I’m really looking forward to seeing them supporting at Meeking’s album launch in October.

A short hiatus and Pink Hotel took up their headline spot.

Sam Gotley performing at Komedia, Bath, September 2017
Sam Gotley of Pink Hotel

Sam Gotley’s hair is verging on the majestic and his look is now that of a young Dave Grohl with some, not all of, the dress sense of Steve Tyler.

 

The first song, Neon Clouds, exploded with rock fuelled enthusiasm and shook the room, leaving no doubt that the night was going to end with a kick in the cochlea and it segued beautifully into So Long Farewell, an interesting title for only the second song of the set, but hell it was good.

Their music has hints of Springstein, a bit of Alice Cooper and at times even a little Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy, all brought forward for a 21st Century audience.

It had been a while since I’d seen them and their sound has transformed, in part I feel, thanks to the added piano and Korg which brought a new scope to the songs, which, in the aforementioned erotic fashion, built with a brooding passion towards a writhing (audience included), earth-shattering… You get the picture.

Sam Gotley fronting Pink Hotel at Komedia in Bath, in September 2017

 

Many of the songs seemed to have underlying themes of love and sexual encounters, some good, others dubious, like in the song ‘She doesn’t know’ and ‘Dressed in leather’.

Jamie Wales from Pink Hotel, performing at Komedia, Bath, in September 2017

They unleashed a couple of new tracks, including ‘Heaven’ and ‘My friend Mary’, the latter of which had a very pleasing reminiscent air of Green Day’s album “American Idiot”.

The crowd loved them, I loved them, what more can you ask for? Probably a record contract. Hopefully, that won’t be far off.

A final word about the venue. I have to hand it to Komedia, passed experiences of the sound quality at the venue had left me apprehensive about tonight’s gig, but they nailed it, with a fantastic sound mix and a lighting display that at times had me thinking I was in Tron. My faith is restored in this venue.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 27 September 2017

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@G_Morph GOES PUNK @thenestbath

People often ask me why I chose Bath. In an ocean of galaxies, containing an ocean of stars, containing countless habitable (and not so habitable) worlds, I Galmorphagorph chose a small town in the west of England in which to avoid those who seek to imprison or destroy me. The reason is simple. Earth is unfathomably dull.

In the trans-galactic community Earth is a lonely waterlogged ball of mewling infantile civilisations, so bewildered and in awe of the shape and function of the universe that most seek to avoid thinking about it altogether. Extra-Planetary beings such as myself visit this place much in the same way you’d visit the Lake District or hike up one of your several unremarkable mountains. It’s just a thing to do on the weekend and for the most part you’re just ruining the scenery with your loudly coloured wind-breakers. Bath reflects that dullness in its beige architecture and its unique absence of any kind of meaningful struggle. If you seek a space criminal, you wouldn’t start by checking the information centre at the base of this galaxies ‘Ben Nevis’. Though… if they ever do, Humanity is of course doomed.

It was therefore a surprise when, perched as I often am in a tree, I was slapped in the face by a flyer for a ‘Punk night’ caught in the gusts of Hurricane Doris. The small square of paper greeted me with four middle-aged men grinning goofily and with a subtle mischief that suggests they’d just urinated in my drink and were waiting to see if I’d noticed. ‘CULTURE SHOCK with special guests Best of British Suicide, Skinners and Atterkop. I am at best only glancingly familiar with the concepts, music, culture and history of Punk, so what better way to inform myself then to dive into the belly of this particular Uuthyan Fangbeast and destroy it from within? That Friday night, I made for The Nest.

The Nest remains unchanged from my last visit, save for the puddle on the floor which has since been downgraded from ‘Gushing torrent’ to ‘Minor Spillage’, though charmingly it still remains. Having observed a laughable attempt at science fiction through a strangers window, I was inspired to disguise myself as a human by wearing ones skin. It didn’t take me long to find an Estate Agent. Wearing his skin took some trial and error, and while I may not have looked particularly appealing, I was passable. The Nest is dark, and I quickly discovered that at Punk events, a healthy complexion is, if anything, a sign of weakness. Tattoos, dreadlocks and faces seemingly hewn from the living rock were rife. I wonder that I may not have even needed the skin suit after all.

The man on the door requested 10 English pounds for entry. I whispered to him one of the ‘9 Cosmic Truths’, and in his incapacitated, frothing moment of supreme comprehension I slipped in without paying.

The first band on were SKINNERS, who the flyer described as ‘Spazzed-out hardcore punk from Bath’. All of those self-descriptors were appropriate, but the one’s I’d use would be altogether more accurate. A frizzy haired drummer thundered away behind his drum kit, the guitarist and bassist seemed like children nervously looking at their parents during a school play. The singer, shirtless and lithesome screamed inaudibly through their songs which lasted about as long as it took to introduce them.

‘Right, this song is about going to London, sleeping on people’s couches and getting scabies’

‘This song is called Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck’

This demented and near orgiastic display of cacophonous noise and offensive language was so blatant in its intention that I almost had to respect it, until I realised it was going to be quite a while before they stopped. This was truly a singer at war with his audience, and a backline at war with themselves.

Following that was BEST OF BRITISH SUICIDE, a band name inviting you to roll your eyes so hard that it gives you a headache. The Drummer, while impressive, showed disproportionate commitment to the music being performed, however his deft drumming and relentless work ethic left me impressed. The bassist looked to the singer for guidance, and the guitarist/singer proceeded to bathe the room in tuneless passive aggression for 30 straight minutes. Like a Payroll Accountant and Jarvis Cocker got fused together in a teleportation accident, the songs were listless and decidedly lacking in bite. If the first band were all about assaulting your senses, this band were all about sighing loudly until your senses move out of their way in the staff kitchen.

The main support was Atterkop, a deft and extremely well rehearsed ska-punk band: the musicians were tight, the singer was energetic, the whole thing was completely unmemorable. If punk is so known for its messy, raw passionate expression, seeing a band play with such mathematical precision seems to rob the music of that which defines it. Sometimes music can be too perfect, and no better example is there than Punk that greatness can be found in imperfection.

Finally, the headlining act, CULTURE SHOCK! The four middle-aged grinning flyer-men took the stage and began to play. They, I understand, are legends in the scene, forged in the fires of an era ruled by a cold and merciless, inexplicably elected sub-queen who’s profound effect on the economy and society are still felt today; an era that you seem to be willingly repeating out of some sort of perverse masochistic nostalgia to a time when there was something fun to culturally kick against. Seeing these weathered, gnarled men giving it their all stoked my appetite. Truly this is a Band who’s mere physical countenance makes you yearn for cured meat.

What they also sated was my hunger for knowledge, and in watching these four pieces of pale screaming chorizo howl jubilantly through their 80s punk oeuvre and routinely rebuke the audience for their addiction to ‘The Media’, I found myself stirred. I looked at the young men and women hurling themselves around and on top of the audience, the old Punk stalwarts in grimaced and focused meditation as they swung their heads and felt for the first time my wanting to join them. They awoke in me my sense of righteous anger, at the Galactic Parliament who’s lies are poisoning the minds of the outer systems. Of the sycophantic Th’uls and their pathetic appeasement of the Star-Eater. Many may disagree with the actions I took that led to my exile, but for once I realised that in some form, each band was speaking my language (though not literally, for humans lack the trifurcated tongue), the language of rage. Also the music was pretty good.

I walked the streets that night for a while, gazing upon the homogenous limestone that comprises most of Bath’s structure, bathed in sodium street light under a starless sky. This time, however, the City had a different and more vibrant hue. Earth may seem a dull little marble in an infinite cosmos, but its lowly inhabitants can paint their music with a colour that even I, until tonight, had yet to see: the colour of rebellion. It’s bold, its messy, and it’s always in their palette so long as they never forget to use it, and I believe there’s never been a better time to begin wetting their brushes. I, Galmorphagorph, shall enjoy watching that.

Written by @G_Morph

Reviewed on 24 February 2017

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@AlcunaWilds ambient trip hop @TheOakBath

Alcuna WIlds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017

Friday night and news was everywhere that the Foo Fighters were playing a not so secret gig in Frome. Had we been invited? You bet we hadn’t! Anyway, we had more important things to do, like watching Bob Ross in an effort to prepare ourselves for our Friday night gig.

Bob Ross

Why Bob Ross? Mostly, because like any sane person, we appreciate the infinite wisdom Bob bestowed on us and the soothing sound of his oil on canvass voice, but mostly it was to get us in the mood for a band who describe themselves as ‘ambient trip hop’.

We arrived just as the support act were packing up, but not too late to pick up their EP and have a chat. They’re called Stillwave and to be honest, on getting home and listening to the EP, we regret not seeing their set. If you like Editors, you’ll easily enjoy Stillwave. Have a listen here.

A mature crowd had packed into The Royal Oak to see Alcuna Wilds and they waited patiently while the band prepared. Aside from the usual drums, bass and lead setup, Alcuna Wilds had brought two synths, a sample pad, a four foot pedal board and a laptop.

Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017

The set started up with a trip into Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters and built some gentle cymbal work with careful guitar picking over soft synth, before breaking into a fantastic bass led groove, which was finally topped off with Nadja’s angelic, swaying vocals. Towards the end of this opening section Pete Barnes used his lead guitar to simulate the sound of a gale, stirring memories of Storm Doris earlier in the week. Whatever the intention, the opening salvo left us wondering where we’d be taken next.

Pete Barnes from Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak in Bath, February 2017
Pete Barnes from Alcuna Wilds performing at The Royal Oak

The songs were captivating and swung from tranquil arias to bouncing jaunts, perfectly depicting the “ambient trip hop” description we’d read.

Each member of the band is clearly skilled in their area, but like in so many art works it’s the coming together which yields the true beauty. The seamless union of technology and human artistry produced a mesmerizing performance.

Special praise should go to Simon their two week old drummer, that is to say he only had two weeks of rehearsal before the tour. His stolid percussive work melded perfectly with his band mates. Jordy, on synth, bass and laptop provided enough enthusiasm for a full festival as he bobbed along and Nadja proved not just to have an amazing voice, but charming stage presence too.

We’d briefly met lead guitarist, Pete last year, when his other band Galleons supported Effra at the Bath Fringe Festival. You can read that review here. Pete delivered a brilliant display, buoyed on by his parents who were seeing him gigging for the first time.

Alcuna Wilds have just released a new EP, are planning some summer festivals in the UK and possibly a full album later in the year, which we look forward to hearing.

 

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 24 February 2017

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Don’t Play With Guns @MolesBath

Don't Play With Guns performing on stage at Moles in Bath in February 2017

Thursday night STEREO at Moles. We were there to watch Don’t Play With Guns, but first our ears were subjected to two dubious support acts, who exploded a cacophony on stage, while butchering Nirvana and Massive Attack covers.

To be fair, they were enthusiastic and probably quite newly formed, so we’ll forgive them; this time, and review them properly at a later date.

So moving swiftly on from the shaky opening acts, lets talk about Don’t Play With Guns (DPWG). The anti-gun lobbyists, came armed with a camera crew, all adorned with DPWG t-shirts and ready to cover the gig from every conceivable angle and this is important; and we’ll explain why in a moment.

They started with a song called “We are who we are”, which was nice, mellow and smooth, but irritating, because it sounds similar to another popular song, yet we couldn’t place it. The second song, “Before she realizes” was an emotive piece in much the same vein as the opener.

Things started to get a little louder in song three, building up to the second half of their set where the gig got decidedly more interesting. Song four (I missed the song names around this area) was another number which sounded similar to a popular song, but this time we managed to figure out what song it was, “Killing in the name”. The next sounded like Slipknot’s, “Spit it out” with Angus, the frontman, executing a trademark Corey Taylor crowd interaction moment, followed by a rendition of “SpongeBob Squarepants”, another Corey trademark moment.

At this point, we realized just how reliant on other artist’s crowd-pleasing numbers DPWG are. Should we be offended? The answer is “No.”

Yes, a lot of the set was covers, including an actual performance of “Killing in the name” and an excellent execution of “Voodoo Child” and the rest of the songs sounded very much like reworkings of other people’s material; but when you’re competing in an industry where every note has already been played in probably every conceivable order, things are going to sound similar.

What’s more, it’s clever; not ripping off other people’s songs, that isn’t clever, but arguably the quickest way to become successful is to find someone who has become successful and repeat whatever it is they did. Now add the camera crew I mentioned earlier, there to gather footage of the band playing on the same stage Oasis, The Cure and a host of well-known bands have played, including Massive Attack; putting free EPs out for people to grab and asking someone to come and review their gig, makes this one of the smartest bands I’ve seen in a long time.

So many bands believe they will become superstars just through sheer talent. Nope. It takes hard work and a business mentality too.

Don't Play With Guns performing at Moles in Bath in February 2017

But, let’s put business plans to one side and talk about actual talent.

Angus Brick’s vocals are delightful, a cross between Eddie Vedder and Finley Quaye and he has superb skills when it comes to getting an audience involved. We already sang Jack Whitby’s praises in the last review featuring DPWG and it was a solid performance from Callum Brundle on percussion, but a special mention goes to Chris Nesbitt, who absolutely smashed the cover of Jimi’s “Voodoo Child”, along with some other creative moments.

They haven’t quite developed the level of lyrical brilliance of Bohemian Rhapsody, but never-the-less, their lyricism is still a lot better than some of the main stream crud you hear on the radio every day.

The band gels fantastically, but they still have a lot of work to do, there were a couple of dodgy harmonies and they need more of their own material. Their set list could possibly also do with some reworking. The first two songs didn’t match with the later numbers and resulted in a slightly slowish start to the set, rather than an explosion of energy that they clearly have within them. However, considering how recently they formed, this was an outstanding performance and sets them up well for the future, if they have the drive and a bit of luck.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 2 February 2017

Listen to Don’t Play With Guns on Spotify

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Sam Green & The Midnight Heist @theoakBath

Sam Green & The Midnight Heist performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The Christmas lull is done, the office parties are over, the students are back and we’re on the gig scene once more. Our first outing of the year was to The Royal Oak on Lower Bristol Road to see the brilliant Sam Green & The Midnight Heist.

The venue was packed; not difficult on a Friday night, but considering how long it was from everyone’s last payday it was impressive and testament to Sam’s ability to bring in a crowd.

Paul Hopkins playing double bass at The Royal Oak in Bath in January 2017

On this particular evening, ‘The Midnight Heist’ were replaced by a couple of more than able locals, including the ever-ebuliant Paul Hopkins, who showed a double bass is more than an instrument, it’s a dancing partner.

 

Sam utilizes a number of guitar techniques in his performances, some subtle others less so and more blisteringly fast and dexterous, but by far his best comes out when playing lap style and he showed this by dishing out a heap of swaggering blues-folk-roots concoctions. It was an auditory feast for the audience, hearing the blending of guitar and Sam’s soft yet rich vocals, with a peppering of double bass and percussion, all garnished with a helping of harmonica blasts.

 

Sam admitted this was a very rough and ready set, though you could hardly tell and to the audience it was proof of the quality of the musicians, as between songs he briefly informed the band of what they’d be playing next, whispering “…this one’s in A♭” as they began executing another flawless piece.

Some of the songs draw attention to themes like societal obsessions over capitalism, such as in the song “Money“, but without being at all preachy, where as others (most) are a bit more “Let’s get crazy and jump around”.

Sam Green performing at The Royal Oak in Bath

The only annoyance with the evening was that we missed the opening few songs, not by accident, but because past experiences have taught us The Royal Oak rarely start a gig at the advertised time.

That aside, it was a deft display of improvisational prowess on the part of the band and another inspirational performance from Sam Green. If you didn’t see them, don’t worry, you only have to wait till April to see Sam when he’s on tour. No more gigs till then unfortunately.

However, the release of his new solo album is imminent, so watch his page to see when. Even better than that though is the news that preparation has begun for a full band album following the April tour. So there’s a lot for fans to get excited about in the coming months.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 20 January 2017

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MATT WOOSEY @TheNestBath

Matt Woosey performing at The Nest, Bath, December 2016

As Matt Woosey and his band assembled on stage at The Nest, I pondered on what I was about to hear. Considering how talented he is solo, I was bemused as to what need he had for a drummer, bass player, a lead guitarist and another fellow on piano and sporting an extra lead guitar?

Matt Woosey’s prolific gigging has garnered him many exquisite musical partnerships, resulting in different line-ups each time he’s visited Bath, but I’d never seen him perform with a full band. I expect it to be good, but how good?

The old crowd favorite Cruel Disposition was the first track out the gates and immediately it became clear what these extra musicians were bringing. I hadn’t thought Matt’s music could get any better than I’d heard in the past, but I was glad to be surprised. In fact, I was more than surprised, I was gobsmacked.

Matt Woosey singing British Blues, The Nest, Bath, 2016

Matt now lives in Germany and he’d brought three German friends on tour and roped in Dave Small, an old drumming friend. Even with the heavy compliment of Continental songsters, this was far from any EuroVision song entry.

Over the proceeding hour Matt’s ensemble disgorged a set which mesmerized the crowd. Yes, there was a fuller sound provided by the band, but there was more than that. The two additional guitarists nearly stole the show with their dueling and the piano, bass and drums really enriched Matt’s British Blues sound.

Many of the songs are written from the heart, stemming from Matt’s personal experiences and this emotive material was borne out in sometimes gritty, sometimes smooth songs which changed in tempo and mood, drawing the audience in and then exploding out. Matt’s slightly rusted vocals were still there, but this time backed by Dave who showed that his talents extend further than just percussive deftness.

Matt Woosey guitarPossibly the greatest sign of how hard Matt works is shown by his guitar, not necessarily his great playing, but by the actual worn area around the sound hole. This is clearly a man who will play till his dying day.

You might’ve been put off by The Nest‘s £8 entry fee for this gig, which when compared to other cheaper events would appear steep, but this was definitely a case of getting what you paid for and then some.

We have Max Webster, promoter for RMT Music Promotions to thank for this superb gig and yes, if you weren’t there you have indeed missed a truly spellbinding performance, but do not despair, because Matt returns to the UK in March 2017. Till then you will have to make do with listening to his music online. Black Smoke Rising definitely made one of the best encore numbers I’ve seen in a long time and probably left more than a few audience members feeling they’d experienced something exceptional.

Hopefully, with the right people taking notice, coupled with his unyielding dedication, Matt will go on to be one of the true greats of British music. People in years to come will say things like “Remember when we saw him play at The Nest?”.

Support for Matt Woosey was provided on the night by Luke De-Sciscio.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 15th December 2016

Photos courtesy of Jamie Worsfold

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@TheButtcheeks at @TheNestBath

Satan's Buttcheeks back stage at The Nest, Bath

Like Christmas, Satan’s Buttcheeks appear but once a year and like moths drawn to a UV painted glowing appendage the crowd assembled at The Nest, to “Get weird” as the lyrics of the opening song go, with a band who jokingly, but some would argue deservingly, call themselves “Bath’s ‘Greatest ever band'”.

This was a one off gig at The Nest, not part of their usual weekly schedule and full credit to them for booking a band who rehearse once a year, seldom have the same line up, stick their lyrics to the lighting rig, come with NO support acts and have a rider of chicken breasts, whiskey and tabasco sauce. It was a gamble on their part and one that paid off, because there is no better way to describe this band other than, awesome!

Ross "The Boss" Brown drummer for Satan's Buttcheeks
Ross “The Boss” Brown

If you’re expecting poetry exploring the nature of being then you’re going to be disappointed. “Breath in, breath out, eyes front, balls out!” that’s the level we’re at. However, when compared to James Arthur’s cryptic love yodeling, “I held your hair back when you were throwing up” Satan’s Buttcheeks can be considered veritable laureates.

It was clear what type of gigs this was going to be as audience members started to cheer while the band, though obscured by a curtain, took to the stage. “Buttcheeks!”, “Whoop, whoop!” “You suck!” were the calls; showing there was to be a definite degree of in-joking and audience participation.

Whether on purpose or accident the farce began immediately as “Balls Out” started, then crumbled as various members of the band came in at different points, then stopped; and then started again, paused; and then carried on as if nothing had happened. Whether this was accidental, due to the aforementioned one day of rehearsal or intentional to add to what is a chaotic mass of day-glow shenanigans the crowd loved it.

However ludicrous they may seem their music is astonishingly good with ear-bending guitar solos, complex song structures and dynamic and progressive melodies which build up to earth-shattering crescendos, with added penny whistle. Whatever weird voodoo they’re transmitting, it seems to be working as the audience threw themselves about in euphoric adulation.

Oli Fenton, Ross Brown and Dan Gildersleeve from Satan's Buttcheeks
Oli Fenton, Ross Brown and Dan Gildersleeve

At one point, the band attempted a vocal harmony… The least said about that the better.

With names like “Satan is my osteopath”, “I am ham”, “Rot in Pieces” and “Rambo McMango chutney” their songs could be likened to pre-pubescent school yard limericks, however they clearly weren’t written to be analyzed by literary scholars, so who cares?

But that’s enough generalization, lets get personal.

The lead vocalist, Alex Good, while not demonstrating a fantastic range is a great front man and will happily play the ring leader when it comes to peer-pressuring audience members into performing acts of a questionable hygienic nature. (I’m just going to leave that for you to wonder about)

Satan's Buttcheeks audience members
Some of the audience

Next up, the lead guitarist, Oli Fenton, whose guitar work is extraordinary. Many of Bath’s music adoring public will have seen him performing his magic in other outfits, such as: Thousand Monkeys and The Guitarlai Lamas, but none of those acts compare to the ferociousness of his finger-play when soloing during the song “Put it in your mouth”. Don’t believe me? Listen to it here from 1:25 – 1:45. It could very well make you appreciate having ears more than you ever thought possible.

Oli’s grandstanding is only made possible by the solid lump of muscular rhythm that is Dan Gildersleeve who is as staunch in appearance as he is in his underpinning of the songs. Though it has been said he can benchpress anyone and for years the band have been threatening to have him do it on stage, yet again the audience were not to witness the feat.

Since the departure of Ben Butcher, one of the founding members of the band, who went to Sydney to scare patients of ERs by greeting them with the line “Hello, I’m Dr Butcher”, there have been a number of bassists who have donned the war paint and stepped in to the UV light of a Buttcheeks gig. All credit to Dan Spink, who learned a full set with only one rehearsal.

Finally, Ross “The Boss” Brown, who though difficult to see, thundered away at the drums from the dark at the rear of the stage, supplying the explosive percussion that topped off what cannot be denied as being the most interesting, exciting and fun gig of the year.

It’s a pity they only come once a year, but maybe that’s what makes it so special and also how they always manage to pack out whichever venue they perform in. They named the gig ‘The curtain call’, hinting that after a decade and nearly 13 gigs, they might be calling an end to the band, but we certainly hope not as nowhere near enough people have experienced the beauty and glory of Satan’s Buttcheeks.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 3rd December 2016

Find more photos on the @BathGigs Facebook page

Upcoming gigs at The Nest

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Want a gig/venue reviewed? Let us know. Otherwise if you just want to vent your spleen about something (music related) or give praise for a band or venue, do it here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.