Sansara HopeFM Show & gigs

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Sansara @ Hope FM, 20 Feb 2013

Sansara @ Hope FM, 20 Feb 2013Sansara were one of the bands I’d yet to have the pleasure of hearing live – no more after tonight. They perform four songs live (ambient acoustic), we have another from their first EP, and there is plenty of talk and laughter about their next upcoming release, videos made and making, a tattoo fund- and awareness-raiser, and their various gigs. The full show can be heard on mixcloud.

Krista Green @ O'Neills, 20 Feb 2013On to O’Neills where Krista Green is playing some tunes accompanying herself on ukelele. She’s later joined by Leo on tambourine as she plays out songs from her latest (live) album.

A quick trip to the Anvil for a catch up with Sansara after the show to sort out some further details. The open mic / grand jam is uninspiring so I’m not tempted to stick around and head back to O’Neills.

Blue Demon @ O'Neills, 20 Feb 2013Comedy duo Blue Demon are performing their last ever set of four songs as one of them is moving away up North. As its a celebration the rowdy juice has been flowing a bit making it more novelty than duo.

Si Genaro @ O'Neills, 20 Feb 2013Si Genaro is our penultimate act, rare for him to be at O’Neils on a totally Lost It Wednesday night as he comperes the Tuesday Night revolving Door Open mic night here. Leo again shares some of the songs with him. He’s on good form tonight, he’s also been roped in as compere also, so Leo introduces him with what Si describes as his best intro ever. I don’t really need to write about his music here, as he’s doing all the usual beat boxing, medleys / mixtures and amusing talk between the songs.

The last act are More Than Solitary – I apologise to Taff and Jack before they go on as I leave for the evening, missing their set.

Brothers Grimmer Late Night Special

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Brothers Grimmer @ The Sloop 19 Feb 2013Its a Tuesday night, I’ve wandered across town to The Sloop for their open mic, after another great early evening with my church small group. The Sloop have started something a little different, in that they are providing a slot for a band to try out, with the hope of gaining a (paid) Friday or Saturday night slot. This is however at the tail end of the open mic, which means its nearly 11:30 by the time a very slimmed down (in more than one way) Brothers Grimmer start their set.

Brothers Grimmer have slimmed down to a four piece, their former second guitarist has called it an end for now, so its left to Bo-bo (Shawn), Macko (Mike), Embryopup (Lee) and Guru (Matt) to perform the tunes. The second diet tonight is the minimal amount of equipment they’re using – Matt’s drum kit is just snare and bass with a few cymbals, there’s a couple of amps and that’s it!

Macko balances - Brothers Grimmer @ The Sloop, 19 FebNo matter, the music is still good, the stories behind the songs are more clearly heard here at The Sloop than at certain other venues I’ve heard Brothers Grimmer play at. The odd layout of The Sloop plays into dancer Macko’s arms, he effectively makes three small dance floors of the various areas – very much “in the round”!

Brothers Grimmer @ The Sloop 19 Feb 2013The sound is still very full on for what is now “just a three piece” band; even on reduced kit Matt is busy, Lee providing a full sound even with just a small combo. Brothers Grimmer staples are here, with a few of the newer material (new album being recorded) and a cover scattered about, even a band with as good originals as these have to cover material just to get the gigs in today’s tribute obsessed world. After a too short 40 minute set (as we’re all tired at this hour) they call it a night, shame as this has been good.

Solid Air Acoustic Dreamscapes

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Chris Hopgood @ Solid Air @ Cellar Bar 18 feb 2013 The amazing Chris Hopgood is on stage when I arrive after a fun earlier skittles evening with my dive club friends. Toby Thorne (All About Tobe) has already played (yes, I missed his set) and is also marvelling at Chris‘ clever techniques and delicate finger picking. Chris is playing Roseflower, the title track from his wonderful album, then Wrecking Ball (another he played live on the radio show late last year) then into the instrumental song Brian (for his son). While Chris might be missing wingman David Lambert tonight, his performance is not lacking in any way, another great example of how fantastic one man and a simple acoustic guitar can be.

Yui Karlberg @ Solid Air @ Cellar Bar, 18 feb 2013Last act tonight is Yui Karlberg, who’s brought a bass player along for the ride, together they’re playing some rather funky tunes, bit of slapbeat on the acoustic, later on the bass too, with Yui‘s falsetto voice rising over the top of every thing, sometimes clear lyrics, at other times cool wails and “ahhs”. Rendering covers or originals, while blending in sound mixtures from other songs, in this unique vocal style. The overall effect is very dreamy, if you allow your mind to wander while the entrancing sounds work their way around you.

Mr Kyps Sunday Night

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Martin Kitcher invited us along to a little reunion he was playing at – The Rolling Drunks, The Toads and the Martin Kitcher Band. Its something different to do so I wander across town and arrive in time just to hear the opening speil then into the music

The Toads @ Mr Kyps, 17 Feb 2013Its visually interesting to note three piece rock band The Toads are left handed on both guitar and bass. I’m unsure on all the titles and wonder about covers, Dear Prudence is one, fairly straight with little gloss added to offer originality. No name checks to help me help you with any names. Slower tempos allow plenty of space for the drums to throw in fills and rills, of which there are enough to retain some interest. Things wake up a bit as blues harpist Carl Wilson is invited to join The Toads, and the blues breaks into more like Rhythm & Blues. Their last song is given an introduction – I miss the title, it was a single they produced 30 or so years ago, and its again fairly active with walking bass and good lively blues harp. Unpromising plod of a start redeemed by the livelier second half of the set.

Martin Kitcher Band @ Mr Kyps 17 feb 2013Things wake up a lot with The Martin Kitcher Band. I can overlook the words on stage (they’re worked into the act), there isn’t much movement, yet the music more than makes up for this. Strange as the empirical tempo is slow, yet the songs are captivating, lyrics amusing and prose-like, lots going on within the five piece. Third song Laughter Time has reggae beats, the guys (who’ve not been together for a long time) seem to break into their stride for this, and enjoy things more and more as the gig progresses. You know its been a good set when it ends all too soon and you’re left wanting more, this is definitely the case for me here.

The Rolling Drunks @ Mr Kyps 17 feb 2013The Rolling Drunks kick off with a fast paced Louie Louie and continue trotting out fast blues and rock n roll tracks, all covers and all performed pretty expertly, it might be a reunion gig yet it feels like these are all musos at the top of their game. Its also all a bit of a laugh – many friends, family and fans are here, big pants are being thrown on stage (unusual for the local gigs I go to) to be adorned as head ornaments by the afore-noted Carl Wilson (its his birthday gig). Mr Kyps feels pretty full too, perhaps 150 punters jigging along, even those at the back, all induced by the great stomp of the music.

Pop Punk & Blues

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The first act on in the Inferno  tonight were 9 Left Behind, I missed them due to being at a family party out of town and apparently they were really good for their first gig ever. Thanks to 9 Left Behind the Inferno is pretty full in this, the live music back portion of the room.

Skyway Avenue @ Inferno, 16 Feb 2013 Skyway Avenue are our second act and put on a decent performance, steady pop punk rock, fairly energetic within the band, four young lads giving it loud on the instruments. Considering the beats of the songs themselves are of fairly modest tempo they ‘re putting on a commendable and decent set of tunes. These hampered slightly by the overpowering bass compared with the guitars, themselves which overshadow the vocals, though rhythm guitar admits to not singing as much as normal due to colds etc. Still manages to provide some lively jumping around for the band all the same.

Escape From 98 @ Inferno 16 Feb 2013Last band tonight are Escape From 98; I’m here doing penance for being abroad when they were guests on Hope FM’s LiveWire Live (mixcloud repeat here), a fact they remind me of when I arrive. Furious tempo from all of them led by Mandy, with all three of Lennon, James and Lee taking opportunities to run around like mad things (visual – picks and stands flying all over the place), particularly with new song Rat Race, given a debut airing second into the set here at the Inferno. The pace is relentless, minimal shouts between the songs spare of encouraging shouting along and dancing, each song barely seconds away from its precedent. Chorus again is excellent, even if my “No!” refrain isn’t catching on yet. I’m not allowed to mention that an otherwise tidy and tight set is let down by the unplanned encore of Ben’s Mum, brought out of retirement. Excellent fun again.

Paint It Blue @ Cellar Bar, 16 feb 2013The Cellar Bar beckons for Paint It Blue are again filling the floor with their fans thanks to their amazing renditions of rootsy blues, whether ballads, staples or rockier numbers. This is the first time I’ve seen paint It Blue in a long time, and Fish is with them again providing that additional dimension with his blues harp. It later transpires this is Ian’s last gig as Paint It Blue‘s bass player so there are a few resultant farewells. Another great end to a good night.

Eleven:XI In The Cellar Bar

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Eleven:XI logoPaul and Wally from Eleven:XI dropped into the radio show this week to promote their material and this particular gig, their first here for a few months. I’ve missed earlier act Turn Of The Century Falcon through having a night in with Mrs H, so I’m pleased that I’ve arrived before Eleven:XI‘s kick off. Eleven:XI trying to get a start on at The Cellar BarThere’s a couple of false starts thanks to some whistling monitors; we soon get over this and into the set proper, ignoring subsequent PA hassles as troupers do🙂

Starting with smooth pop number Heaven And Back with a decent hook line, all material is penned by lead guitar and vocalist Paul Read, some new, some older resurrected songs in a new guise for Eleven:XI. Next up is Deep Blue Water, a slower beat reggae influenced song, giving ample demonstration of the harmonised vocals between Paul and Carly.

Eleven:XI @ Cellar Bar, 15 feb 2013Third song is another smooth pop style, Looking Out For Number One before we’re treated to a new song Broken Wings as Chris switches to acoustic rhythm guitar. This is an outstanding song and has already become one of my favourites, thanks to an early demo CD used on the radio show. Now Carly leaves the stage turning the chaps into a four piece, the music is still good and great listening top tunage. For Halcyon Days (another featured on the radio show) Eleven:XI are back to the five piece format, this time Paul more clearly leading Carly’s alto harmonies in this psychedelic number

Eleven:XI in four piece guise @ Cellar Bar, 15 Feb 2013More reggae with Brothers And Sisters before we reach a close with Kaleidoscopic Dreams, a sure bet for a sample single if ever there was one from the vast range of styles Eleven:XI exhibit. Ending with Strawberry Fields as the four piece, then Fast Train, this has been a most excellent evening for live original music, just from Eleven:XI alone.

Eleven:XI are:
Paul Read – Guitar & Vocals
Carly Green – Vocals
Joe Bushby – Drums
Chris Skerman – Rhythm Guitar
Wally Wallis – Bass

Setlist (as abbreviated):
Heaven And Back
Deep Blue Water
Number One
Broken Wings
Back Down To Earth
Night Like This
Fast Train

Isobel Thatcher

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Isobel Thatcher @ Chaplins 12 FebI arrive in Chaplins, after a pleasant time with my church small group, in time for Isobel Thatcher‘s second set of the evening . Mixing covers with her own material, Isobel has a great voice that shadows and complements her well-thought-through guitar playing. With a deeper vocal range than some, and not sultry like others can be accused of, she’s commanding in the room, yet not over powering; she exhibits little of the angst others feel they have to demonstrate. As a consequence listening to Isobel of an evening is a really enjoyable experience.

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