Show – Vida (VidaSoul)

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I’ve seen Vida perform perhaps the most of all the bands I’ve seen this year, they gain 6 blog entries, and also played a (not blogged) garden party for me in the summer. I was pleased to finally obtain them for a radio show after a few attempts. They arrive at the studio before me; I’m searching for them when I hear their voices down a corridor. They’ve set up in a stairwell to rehearse one of the new tunes they’ve included in their repertoire for Christmas, and sound so amazing in that reverberating area I want to move the studio to them.

Instead at the allotted time we troop in to the padded box, and so begins another of my most enjoyable interviews ever. It says a lot for our local scene that many of the guests I have on the show are memorable – Pete Christie, Voodoo Vegas, Big Face Reggae to limit it to just three. Lots of interesting chat, loads of laughter, and 5 amazing acoustic renditions in the Vida way of strong cover songs. They suggest that their name might soon be changing to VidaSoul, so keep an eye out. Great stuff.

Solid Air Experiments & Accomplishments

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Field of Ponies start tonight’s Forbidden Planet. Luke, Andy & Josh are on guitars playing light hearted tunes, all instrumental and short, with Tim accompanying them on drums. While it comes across as a jam session, there has clearly been lots of thought and preparation going into the performance, Josh & Andy are watching each other intently for changes; its all very melodic, and they’re just playing around with ideas as they call it, a sketchbook of partial songs before they’re fully formed. For other 80’s music freaks think The Cure meets New Order just after Joy Division. I’m enjoying the mood, right up to where Josh needs to restring his guitar. If they find the right female vocalist they’re looking for, this could well be something….

Tim Smart does a solo set; he doesn’t know in advance what he’s going to do, so he plays a song then announces that this was his warm up, and we shouldn’t have listened to that! He proceeds to do single versions of duo songs (getting us to do the duet part) and then goes on to show off his highest pitch wails. He plays the accordion for one song, composited by stringing random French phrases together. I’m unsure what’s the funnier of the franglais phrases, the faces he’s pulling, that he’s having to stop every so often to pull the words from the book balanced on a cymbal, or that everyone else is killing themselves laughing 😉

Ali Bangay is our last performer up for the night, with Ben accompanying on drums. She has a small high voice when speaking, more than made up for when singing. She’s very active on the keyboard, making the most of the proper piano-like capabilities with full on chords and tune from either hand. She loses the words for a song, yet it doesn’t matter as the music is so good, its only her body language, face and apology afterwards that gives it away. Britney Spears’ Toxic is given a good treatment, not perhaps as twisted as Sarah Griffin’s cover, staying within the sweet voice theme, however the chords during the verse really give a strong undercurrent fitting with the lyrics. This 5-song set is a real delight to witness and listen to, so much so I was still raving about her performance the next day, which is very rare. At risk of annoying a lot of good keyboard players, I think this is the best ever pure piano work I’ve encountered on the local scene in memory. Amazing.

26 Nov Short Saturday

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Another night out, and the second chance I get to see Yellowgroove at Smokin’ Aces in as many weeks. I stick around for a set and a bit, and hence have an opportunity to hear their reworking of my favourite song, Son Of A Working Man. I like of many of their songs; this delivers all that they’d led me to believe, and its now longer, in my mind its only previous shortcoming. I leave after Loving Man, which followed a decent enough singalong cover of Mustang Sally.

I travel over to The Inferno where Willowen are playing. They are banging out decent tunes; its a bit different for a Saturday night since its acoustic while still plugged in. 6 string guitar-led with fiddle emphasis and cajon to provide the rhythm. They fit perfectly into the Bournemouth Sound stereotype, with good summery & beach sounds. I previewed their EP on the show this week as its available for free download at present from bandcamp, so get over there to gain a flavour. Another tack – they kick into a pretty faithful reproduction of traditional folk tune Drowsy Maggie before throwing in some of their own variations on that theme. I’m glad to have caught them before they come on the show in December, since I always prefer catching a band live in my research, to aid my show preparation.

Solid Air – Ladies Night

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Miss Interpreted has already been on by the time I walk in, and Veetacore are just starting, in very unplugged mode – Dan (percussion) has left it behind so its over to James (bass), Becky (vocals) and Tom (guitar). They’re very laid back, starting with the song I played on last week’s radio show, The Battle Of Dogger Bank. I’m unfamiliar with the rest of the material, there are slow ones and pacier ones all of which work for the most part.

Becky has a very clean voice, albeit she admits to struggling tonight after a couple of heavy singing sessions over the weekend. The acoustic nature also seems to be unusual for them, they say they’ve made changes to the songs; there are a few hesitant notes before they settle into some tunes. Tom also harmonises on occasion, providing a decent counterpoint. Glad to have finally seen them.

Jemma and Annie are in Snow Wolf guise tonight. Jemma starts with a solo number, on guitar and voice before passing the guitar to Annie while she leads the duet they follow with. They continue to swap about lead vocal and guitar, I’m impressed and pleased that the between song banter is kept clean this time (for the most part – there’s a couple of slips). There’s a bit of uncertainty over their endings where they choose to hum, and don’t quite seem to know when to stop 🙂 That’s the only detraction for me from a pretty fun and beautifully sung set.

November Big Night Out

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Blues Machine @ O2 19 NovI start what portends to be a busy evening early, at the O2. The Blues Machine have offered me a ticket to come and catch them live, I’ve missed them in loads of places but the lure of an O2 set was far too tempting for me to stay away…ooh how cheap am I ? 🙂 I like their walk on. Ash (on guitar) playing a little riff as the house lights dim, walks on from stage left, he’s then joined by Dan (bass & vox) on stage right, who does a little intro speech, calls the crowd in (nice touch), and picks up the same riff. Meanwhile Josh has reached the drums to kick the opening song off.

Ash - Blues Machine @ O2 19 NovThey make use of the full stage they’ve been given, including use of the side stacks, which unfortunately aren’t spot lit by the crew, blowing their opportunity to shine a bit. They are also meandering around the portion of the stage they’ve been given like pros, and looking like they’re really enjoying themselves.

Blues Machine Doubled up @ O2 19 NovAs to the music, its well executed, confident, even if the first few are covers. During a Wishbone Ash song they do a move I’d first seen done at DMA 2011 by Evolver – switching their guitars to their backs, then lean over each other in a sort of hug to play each other’s instrument. They switch to a slow blues number, Dan’s vocal soars slightly too sweetly over the bass thumps, with the barest twiddles from the guitar. For their last number they name check each other out as each showboat solos, a nice touch. Good stuff & worth catching if one fancies a blues gig, even if tonight it seems only the young fans they’ve brought with them are appreciative.

Voodoo Vegas frontline @ O2 19 NovVoodoo Vegas are next in the line up here; they choose an all on stage entrance, backs to the crowd as the lights rise. Ash (bass) breaks into a fat riff as Lawrence (vocals) welcomes the crowd, then something happens and they reset and start again. Mishaps happen sometimes, tonight they just take it in their stride.
Voodoo Vegas action @ O2 19 NovThe music is great hard rock; there are a few new songs present to my ears before they break into King Without A Crown. This song is where they really let rip, all on the risers and posturing. Its really cool to see such a great local band on the best stage in town. They go on a harmonica led blues journey, through some rolling rock, then into So Unkind where they really hit it hard for the audience reaction.

Lawrence - Voodoo Vegas @ O2 19 NovThere is no question they are both bigging up themselves, while pumping and primping the crowd for Doors Alive, who they’ve got the gig through. Awesome sound, good stage use (they warrant the crew providing spotlights on the side stacks), and I think they’ve found themselves a new spiritual home 🙂

We’re kept waiting 30 minutes for the headline act. I don’t just want to walk out before they start – that’s what I commonly don’t like about some fans of some acts, however I have another set of gigs to get to, and really need to dash so only stay for their first song as a result of what I see as an unwarranted delay.

Doors Alive @ O2 19 NovDoors Alive start with a drum solo before keys are blended in, then joined by guitar as singer joins the stage. There seem to be vocal mic troubles so we wait further until that’s sorted out, however those sets of vintage key synths are really making some amazing noises.

Doors Alive key synths @ O2 19 Nov

Compared with Lawrence’s antics, they seem pretty pedestrian in this first song, I appreciate I’m not seeing a full representation of a set, as I split to the next gig. I later find out that this was pretty much the order of their performance; recognisable music, well reproduced, without any stage antics.

Pump Action Radio @ Inferno 19 NovDue to waiting around for Doors Alive, I arrive at the Inferno to find I’ve missed Escapefrom98. I hear they were good, punk style, and went down well with good crowd feedback. Pump Action Radio are getting set up as I arrive.  They are pumped up, with steaming tunes and massive distortion – too much for the sound system – they come across as just loud and unfortunately unintelligible, even through my decent ear plugs. Shame, as it means I make an early departure for the next gig.

Monkey Puzzle @ Glow In The JungleThere’s a massive party going on at the Winchester, facilitated by the excellent Monkey Puzzle. The event has been called Glow In The Jungle – UV lighting is in abundance, meaning face painted individuals really shine, and the crapberry doesn’t do justice. Glow sticks are also available making a cool scene.

Dan - Monkey Puzzle @ Glow In The Jungle

The music is amazing, their versions of staples such as Summertime are done as Jazz in a Turquoise mood – this is also true for e.g. Rock Steady, everything is pumped up to the max in a funk / jazz vibe. The mauve references continue as everybody is a translucent purple thanks to the lighting.

Where's Billy? @ Inferno 19 NovBack to the Inferno, where Where’s Billy? are playing a rock ballad. By all accounts in the crowd, they’ve been amazing, however vocals are suffering from the blown out speakers of the PA too. Their next song is jumped up rock, musical with good lead guitar riff and a strutting bass line. Shame these lads are from Kent (as their photographer Jenna informs me) – would like to see them again. Apparently they play the inferno semi-regularly, so keep an eye out for them.

Brothers Grimmer @ Inferno 19 Nov

Brothers Grimmer are finishing the night at the Inferno. I like their intro “we’re Brothers Grimmer and we’re gonna rock you” then get straight on with the heavy music (again affected by abysmal vocals thanks to the PA). Music is good though, decent chord sequences and progressions leading to a tuneful performance. Visual entertainments are again provided by their break dancer – at one point he holds himself on a single hand for what seems like a whole chorus – excellent balance control.

Brothers Grimmer @ Inferno 19 NovAfter they’ve performed a pretty brilliant rendition of Jethro Tull’s Living In The Past, I depart to hopefully catch the Deltorers at the Cellar Bar. I return soon after as the Deltorers have finished their set already (they only had a short set of material), and Brothers Grimmer are still rocking out big style, with some serious moshing action by the drunks in the corner. Makes for a great end for a good music evening albeit I’ve only seen 7 of the 10 bands I’d hoped for; I head back to the Cellar Bar for an after night-out hang out with some mates.

Yellowgroove @ Smokin’ Aces

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Yellowgroove @ Smokin Aces 18 NovThis is Yellowgroove‘s debut at Smokin’ Aces – it’s to be followed up with their second gig here, next week. They start the second set with Hero Wanted – I’ve missed the first set due to being late. They also perform Wheels of Fire, which was acoustically debuted on the show they came on, on Wednesday. Its good hearing the full-on version on stage, even with the cut back sound that’s needed here.

Yellowgroove window of sound @ Smokin Aces 18 NovHaving said that, its not as cut back as bands normally include here – they don’t have any small amps, so they’ve stacked everything up in the window – this gives them even less room on the small stage than normal, not that one would notice, they’re still moving about as normal, its just a few paces, rather than strutting across the whole stage as they would normally do….

Their progressive song Avalon starts more laid back, yet still aggressive and passionate, just ‘cos they can’t move a lot doesn’t mean they’re not still putting everything into the performance. As the progressive nature takes hold, Avalon is seriously moving on. Surprisingly they don’t do an encore; I was seriously hoping for a repeat of personal fave Son Of A Working Man (which they started with tonight, looking at the set list). The lads tell me since new drummer Chris has joined, they’ve extended it (something I’ve wanted for a while with this great yet short song) with a drum section. Oh well, another time :).

Trev's Yellowgroove Birthday Cake @ Smokin' Aces 18 NovI then spend some time hanging about enjoying the Smokin’ Aces vibe, DJ Jevon playing some cool tunes, all part of Trevor Hill‘s (Dorset Music Awards, Devils Music) birthday celebration – Yellowgroove have even made him a ‘Y’ shaped cake…a brilliant touch capping a brilliant night out.

HopeFM party & The Frequency

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Bit of a different evening tonight – started with a Cheese and Wine ceremony for HopeFM, where numbers of supporters, sponsors and presenters were gathered for a networking evening and “thank you” session. A short video of some of the work HopeFM is doing was shown, I for one didn’t realise that YMCA residents and Bournemouth Uni Students were regularly attending training courses, building media skills, and personal abilities (e.g. self confidence, in the case of many of the people that were vox-popped on the showreel).

There were also some awards; I won a prize for my contribution to the station – again all I can do is down to both the fans of the show, and the musical guests that I have coming in, so the credit is at worst shared with you all, at best it all goes to you for enabling my show to happen…

I was also representing the company I work for, they’d made a sizable donation right at the beginning of the year, and as a result I was asked to invite someone along with me. The Marketing Vice President (Paul Sinderberry) accepted my invitation, and afterwards said he’s not only had an enjoyable evening, was also impressed by what we are doing with the station, and other projects and programmes the YMCA runs.

After that, dropped into the Cellar Bar where The Frequency were performing a set after The Worry Dolls. They have been really productive in their rehearsal sessions, with amny new songs being written. Three were performed tonight, I think I heard two of them, and they slotted in pretty perfectly into the bill – no real messes there, even though one was only finalised on the Tuesday before.

I had a chance to catch up with the lads afterwards, as well as some of the Chaplins & Cellar Bar regulars, then dropped home for an early night (for the Cellar) – was still after midnight! The only thing to mar the night? I forgot to bring my phone with me, so no rubbish photos of the night to provide visual interest…

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