Fish ‘n’ Kyps Evening

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Fish - Fish Heads @ Mr Kyp

Having had a long day (started on the 05:12 train) away in London I catch the majority of Fish and the Fishhead’s acoustic set at Mr Kyps. They’re running through some of the classic 80’s Marillion material, with Fish breaking off and telling stories, particularly when asked what happened to his head (he’s lost his trademark hair). At the point I get my head into gear he’s asking for requests, which he receives in plenty and ignores or cusses most of them away.

He decides on Jigsaw, and has to look up the words from a folder of his back catalogue, still joking all the way. His voice is still steady and sure, even if some of the high range pitches I’m familiar with from the ’80’s recordings are absent. Its all good. He takes 5 minutes to interact with the crowd with regards sex and relationships, before launching into Just Good Friends.  Something else – he’s continually chucking in references to a Mk II Jaguar he’s seen in a garage window here in town…

Fish - Vigil - Fish Heads @ Mr KypsHe shares an interesting view of Cuba and Che Guevara comparing relative freedoms against living in invisible boxes before launching into Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors – its even more relevant now than it was in 1989 when written. For this he’s walking around the crowd, telling the story through the song – he gets to the inevitable line “I’m just a voice in the crowd”, and exhilaratedly shouts “I’m in the crowd”. Things go totally silent at the close … “The deadliest weapon is truth” before the applause somewhat detracts from the moment. This perfectly leads into Fugazi – messed up world (radio rules mean I’m not about to publish the proper interpretation…).

Frankie - Frank Usher - Fish Heads @ Mr KypsFossy - Foss Paterson - Fish Heads @ Mr KypsWhat I’m enjoying  about the whole gig is that the entire big sound I’m used to from hearing the studio or live albums is being reproduced on an acoustic guitar by Frank Usher, and a RD-700SX keyboard played by Foss Paterson.

For the encore Fish breaks into Sugar Mice, with the story of how this was written in 1986 before mobile phones, about having arguments over long distance (and uber-expensive) phone calls from the USA to back home, when he’s had to beg a venue manager to be able to even make the call. This is even more special for me than the other greats he’s included tonight – it was this song that introduced me to Marillion in the first place back in 1987.

This has been an amazingly intimate gig, and so much better as a result.

Mother Ukers @ Bhone end of the ride @ ChampionsOn to the Bhone End Of The Ride event at Champions – grandmaster of Bhone Tony Foster is off to new pastures so has thrown a farewell party. Saturday Sun were on the bill, and Mother Ukers are just finishing up as I arrive, doing their usual messed about versions of classic songs.  Tone himself is in mellow mood, it’s pretty much the last many of us will see of him as he departs more or less immediately after this gig for his new home in Edinburgh.

end of a long night after a long day - thanks Cellar Bar CrewI drag myself home via the Cellar Bar, where astonishingly the Rubber Soul bands have long-since packed up for the night – it’s only just gone midnight when I arrive.  Some of the female Cellar Bar Crew wander in dressed in fabulous evening dresses, sporting Movember mo’sista moustaches.  Soon the eye-liner is out, and we all end up looking something like this…  What an awesome evening, to top off what had been an eventful (if long) day.

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Oxjam Takeover 2011 Saturday 22 October

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Oxjam 2011 logoIt was at Oxjam last year that the idea was first asked of me (by the lads from much missed Bel Casino) to write up the gigs I go to, to help promote the bands I see and big up this amazing music scene.

Now one year on, this blog has grown its own shape, and the Oxjam takeover is bigger and better than ever. Its all started for 2011 at On The Rocks, where the Grubnium DJs are starting things off, and 60 Million Postcards, where I’ve come down for an acoustic afternoon with Ness.

Si Genaro @ Oxjam - 60 million postcardsJohn Llewellyn is just finishing, Sofi Reed is just heading out having started things off, and Si Genaro takes to the stage. He’s playing some more laid back and contemplative numbers, perhaps as its an afternoon chill; Ness likes that he has a different style to many other artists. Si Genaro with Kimari Raven @ Oxjam - 60 million PostcardsAt the end he’s joined in a duet by Kimari Raven, and final song has MC Jon on stage with him.

Tim Somerfield @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsTim Somerfield takes Si’s place, again staying chilled at the start. Saying he’s chilled though, there’s a lot of fast left hand fretwork going on in conjunction with the chorded right hand. Tim picks up the pace and goes more upbeat toward the end, making more of the crowd that have turned up for him.

Chris Woodford @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsThe penultimate artist this afternoon is senor Woodford, just him and his 12 string guitar, playing it as brilliantly as ever, though he seems to only do a short set.

Krista Green @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsKrista Green dashes in, cold off the street having busked for a while, provides great musical entertainment, yet its time for us to leave, having been here for a few hours, Ness needs to get home and I prepare for the night to come…

Sofi Reed @ Oxjam - SpyreI start the night at The Spyre, where Sofi Reed is kicking things off for the evening, having also started it all earlier at 60 Million Postcards. There are a few lighting and power problems – as I walk in Sofi ends her first song with no PA, which she wittily and humourously blames on my walking in, in this intimate environment. She plays favourite Breathe, then Broken Windows. As she starts the latter, the room descends into darkness as everything trips out. She soldiers on totally alone, in the dark, and still sounds fantastic!

MC Pat Page with County Hospital
Ed Pope back in Bournemouth

County Hospital @ Oxjam - WinchesterOn to The Winchester, where County Hospital are in full swing. They play their first song they ever played here in the Winch at their first gig, Mystery Shopper. The enigmatic Ed Pope is back in town, giving it large on the drums, its also great seeing Tim so relaxed and enjoying himself at this first County Hospital gig in town for a while. Luke on bass seems just one big grin. Pat Page joins them for one song as a guest MC, something different again, while Tim mucks about on an iPad. Slipping into their closer, Clare joins the stage to add some vocal changes to what has possibly been the best and most intense performance I’ve seen them give, ever.

Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThe happiest band in Bournemouth, probably (Not Made In China) are in Smokin Aces starting off the nights festivities. DJ Trev from the Blind Pig Hot Swing Floor Show is hosting this evening. Not Made In China start as they mean to go on, straight into an African style guitar led swing / calypso. Trevor Hill introduces Not Made In China @ Oxjam - Smokin AcesThey also have some great harmonies going on.

Martin Roberts - Safari Park @ Oxjam - WinchesterBack to The Winchester and Safari Park (yet another band the irrepressible Martin Roberts has formed) have replaced Powdered Cows on the bill. I’ve not heard this 3 piece before, all three sing, Martin is on bass with this one. They are playing eminently accessible music, tuneful and enjoyable, not at all the quirky yet fun material I was expecting from knowing the other acts Martin is behind.

Trac Pawley introduces Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreOn again to The Spyre. Trac Pawley of Language, Timothy! is hosting the Spyre, with The Chairman providing musical interludes. Masters Of None (Chris Woodford and Jeven) are halfway through their set, making good magic on their dual guitars. Masters Of None @ Oxjam - SpyreIts all instrumental, which makes it all the more special, especially since Chris takes it on himself to barrack some of the audience (well, Mischa and myself) in this great venue. 

Mischa @ Oxjam - SpyreMischa is on next, he’s lost his Merry Men this time and is performing solo, however he’s promised a few changes to his set as a result. He starts strong, announcing a feed line I gave him regarding DMA (billed as soloist and came with a band) whereas now he’s billed with band and is himself. Nice when people take what you say and reuse it ! Back to the music, as expected he’s animated and energretic, even though he’s come back from Devon, just for this gig. The Bands That Saved My Life is a song I don’t think I’ve heard before, though I must have done, full of angst yet still upbeat and happy. Love it.

Spiders @ Oxjam - WinchesterSpiders are another new band to me, they are playing good solid rock pop when I walk in to The Winchester. Strong drums and bass work with guitar riffing over the top. These guys then grab Ed Pope for his sax skills and they break into a form of jazz funk number for his appearance. The two guitarists are sharing vocals across songs since both have decent voices. We also have some dance moves being busted at the front of the crowd, good stuff.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=234519013269120&set=a.230707500316938.61483.100001330690156&type=3&theaterI catch the last 3 songs of Empire Affair‘s set at Champions. I’m personally pleased to see a largish crowd here too. The lads are giving it large and loud, I’m pleased I made the detour to visit. Neil is doing just about everything he can to inject energy and verve into the performance, which the others resolve with their pumping tunes.

Mutant Vinyl front line @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsI arrive at 60 Million Postcards in time for Mutant Vinyl‘s set, just missing the ends of both Kentucky Fight Club at Smokin Aces, and Dirty Jerkers here at 60 Million Postcards. Mutant Vinyl announce this as their reunion, and its a bit different than their last gig in town, full 6 piece plus roadie Mitch. They are funking around with the rhythms something amazing, Mutant Vinyl back line @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcardswith Ed’s lyrical eloquence interspersed with little sax solos in the opening number. All this while being able to hear “f… all” through the monitors (as he puts it). As expected there’s a full crowd here all in anticipation of the return, covering the full length of the long bar at the start, and quite reaching to the door by the middle of the set. Crowd to the doors @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsAt the end Acid Honey is inevitably thrown in, however totally remixed live and thrown around, both pumped up, then taken to a chilled out vibe, as Pat takes to the stage briefly to MC some stuff. The band carry on building a crescendo from chilled to full on crashing rock chords at the end, to immense applause and cheers. Mutant Vinyl are back (for this one night only, at least)!Mutant Vinyl Sax break @ Oxjam - 60 Million Postcards

Peace, Love & Gloves @ Oxjam - On The RocksOn The Rocks has Peace, Love and Gloves doing their rock thing to their usual huge crowd of people, all jumping around to the incessant beats. They also feature MCs doing bits and pieces of the vocal line, turning an otherwise three piece into five. Having heard a very early demo tape, almost acoustic in nature, I’m impressed with their live set, and the huge energy they produce from stage, send into the rowd, thhen feed off to push for a better gig and show

Michael Wookey @ Oxjam - SpyreI started the evening at The Spyre, and end here (well, almost), right at the very end of Michael Wookey‘s set, and manage to hear his encore, which is a simple number on onmichord and vocal synthsizer. He’s also shirtless when I walk in, I hear afterwards it was as intense a performance as an artist can offer; right on the boundaries of music and fine art, and is loved all the more as a result.

DO(MI) @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsJet down to catch the last last act – Disco’s Out (Murders In) at 60 Million Postcards again (running a little late). Like so many of the acts tonight, they are really going for it and giving out one of their best sets ever. The usual unusual costumes are evident; they end in grand style, with Martin ending up on the drum kit hiding in the ceiling… DO(MI) finale @ Oxjam - 60 Million PostcardsA great party end to a great party night, with DJs on after to continue into the small hours.

I head on to Smokin Aces just to see what’s happening, and really enjoy the set played by DJ L33R0y, though I can only stand the pace until 2am or so, having been out for nearly 12 hours!

In all, 6 venues, 8 comperes/DJs, 17 bands and artists all crammed into 1 day/evening … How cool and together is this music scene in Bournemouth?!?  – please remember the Oxjam Bournemouth CD is available on bandcamp – 22 tracks for £5.

Bad Apples @ Champions 24 Sep

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JoElle are just finishing as I walk in. I’m liking their cool rolling blues guitar riffs coupled with female vocals.

Charlie Hole @ Champions 24 SepNext up is Charlie Hole, I’ve not seen this fella (who’s sickeningly talented for one so young) for a while. He starts with a couple of mellow tunes on the piano, before switching to guitar for some slightly livelier songs. He has a great voice, and is audibly clear tonight, important as his songs tell good stories.

Bad Apples are a bit of a supergroup, formed by drummer Jimmy Copley, with Micky Moody as slide guitar virtuoso, Ian Jennings on bass, Mick Rogers guitar and lead vocals by Robert Hart.

Bad Apples @ Champions 24 SepThey play some laid back blues to start, slow beat with strong bass – Ian plays a string bass rather than bass guitar. Lead vocalist Rob is full of the posturising, the gig is being filmed so he plays up a lot to the camera, which makes for good entertainment. They slip easily into Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Cold Shot, then Muddy Waters Dirty Little Schoolgirl.

Bad Apples @ Champions, Mick Rogers solo songAfter JJ Cale we move into a Hand Jive / Magic Bus medley, then a Mick Rogers rock and roll solo while the stage is reset – exit the string bass and slide guitar, Jimmy joins the duo with Mick, then enter bass guitar and telecaster for original slow blues. Towards the end the pace is picked up, the slide guitar re-entries first as solo by Micky, then a switch to own signature guitar (Bad Apples @ Champions, Micky Moody "named" guitar fretboardMicky Moody on the fretboard, as picked up by photo) for some real good stomp stuff.

An amazing gig for a debut performance, admittedly hardly surprising considering the lineage and heritage of the individuals (Manfred Mann, Whitesnake, Jeff Beck, Go West and Tears For Fears all feature in the commentary. Towards the end drummer Jimmy Copley is lauded as the inspiring creator of the band, and plays some awesome solos on the kit. Great to hear, hope they play town again.

Dubheart @ Cellar Bar Sat 24 SepOn the way home, inevitably drop into the Cellar Bar, where Dubheart are creating a massive storm with their beats, rhythms and overall great reggae sound.

Sat 30 July Zaardvark & True Swamp Neglect

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Zaardvark @ Champions 30 JulyAfter the HopeFM fundraiser, Champions beckons as Zaardvark are on stage. Even though I nicked their set list when they played my birthday garden party, I’m still unsure of the titles, however all of their music is again well executed with supposedly awkward rhythms that work well, and a jazz funk vibe from Andy’s bass and Mark’s guitar and effects. He’s using a bottle neck at some points, totally unique with the way the effects processing interprets the sounds

True Swamp Neglect @ champions 30 JulyI’d totally managed to miss True Swamp Neglect when I started doing LiveWire Live five years ago – they were just about stopping gigging as I was really starting in earnest. This reunion has been brought about by those members who’ve moved abroad coming back for a couple of weeks, so tonight is a chance to hear (with only a couple of rehearsals) what were at one time the second best band in Bournemouth, as tipped by BhOne’s Tone. A huge number of fans have obviously also taken the same opportunity as Champions is packed in the band area, and all those are going absolutely nuts with applause.

Ian on Theremin: True Swamp Neglect The music is grungy in nature thanks to some good underlying continuous bass sustains. The lyrical melodies totally belie what is going on with the three guitars, which are sticking with the sustained chords for the most part. Then there are the groove moments, heavy with effects, this is definitely music with substance to be chilled to when listening. What I find interesting is that these guys get on and do the music without the theatrics and stage presence (save a shoe on the mic stand?!?) that many of todays generation of bands indulge in, and which I enjoy. Great all the same.

Bhone Birthday Fundraiser – Final (5th) gig.

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Bit of a car malfunction so I arrive just in time to miss Saturday Sun. Talking with them and Martin from Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) (who’s trumpeting with Mutant Vinyl tonight) they had a great time and apparently ran with a good set.

Blackwater Caravan

Blackwater Caravan bhone bdayBlackwater Caravan are on stage when I walk in. I caused a bit of controversy at the Dorset Music Awards when I didn’t recognise their talent then. They are kicking some munged up grunge – distorted vocals are wailed out, accompanied by what sounds like a fuzzboxed bass and screaming totally overblown guitar, which turns out is a problem with the PA system.

These guys are placing a lot of energy into what they’re doing, and there are moments of solo brilliance. Their intros and outros are nicely segued, one song cleverly merges into the next at one point. Lead Zac’s solos are well performed, and he chooses a good set of effects for those, what I get lost in is when he switches to rhythm pieces and the previously mentioned over-volumed distortion mashes over his vocals.

There also seem to have been problems with the guitar, it needs tuning after nearly every song, and I’m pretty sure that not every song is in a different tuning. Towards the end of the set the PA gets sorted and the over-distortion is reduced, allowing us to appreciate Zac’s vocal talents more effectively, and talent there is a plenty, it’s just not been that great a showcase due to the lack of PA clarity earlier.

Rapids!

Rapids! bhone bdayThese start with their strongest track from the EP that impressed me so much. High amount of movement, catchy tunes, clear vocals, loads going on, impressive from the outset. Something must be going on backstage, lead Matt let’s the impressiveness slip during the gap by mentioning something about a guitar amp, I miss th exact coment but its clear the rest of the band don’t like this, which I think is funny.

Maybe he’s using whatever it a a goad to spur him on, he’s certainly putting a lot in to tonight’s performance, as are the rest of the band. Halfway through the second track there is some amazing bass work shaking the room, who would think that a slow alternation between two notes would be so powerful. They seem to be going down well with the crowd too, lengthy applause follows each song, possibly something to do with the really catchy keyboard/synth work, one song in particular is very 80’s in appeal (thinking Simple Minds here)

Matt Rapids! Closeup bhone bdayMatt has an interesting mic technique – he uses an upright stand when not on synth, holding the mic with both hands, looking up into the air rather than at anyone in the audience. He also has what looks like frustration but what I think is just his eccentric tendancies, jumping about, or standing on the spot kicking his knees together, putting on an in places alarming show. Their intros are also worked out – they tend to be quite sparse e.g. Drums on rims, guitar just picked staccato through a simple effect, then the full song comes in, eiter gently blending or gloriously crashing, either way entirely appropriate to the tune concerned.

Mutant Vinyl

Mutant Vinyl bhone bdayThese guys have grown so much through the various gigs they’ve played since the last time I saw them. Heavy and melodic at the start, they allow the art to shine through the music throughout. Dread is their homage to dub beat, its at once instantly memorable, yet promising of distant things – I think its very Egyptian in its stance, rather than Jamaican, then they throw in a grunge riff just to make things more interesting than they already were. Its also tonight’s first outing for Ed’s sax, more on this later.

I say this as next up is Wind That Woke Our Baby, some could call it soft rock however it has much in similar with some of the China Crisis in my memory. Mark (lead guitar) has a “pretty” riff for this one (I’m allowed to use pretty – that’s how Ed described it) then it builds into a more rootsy rock, all along Mark’s riff continues – very much like a koto sound from his guitar. Next there is more sax and this time Mark’s using a drum stick in right hand to create some chords. It then progresses into a rolling rock beat from drums while sax is sprayed all over, in a musical sense!

The next song is a Kings Of Leon cover, Knocked Up, and pin drop silence is requested, this is because guest vocalist introduced as Kya starts very quietly, while the music gently plays in the background, very melodic bass work leading the song on. This gentle start builds into a crescendo, which explodes in the third chorus. Martin Roberts is invited up for a special bhone 5th birthday version of Acid Honey. This should normally start with a sax solo over a steady drum beat then bass kicks in with a single note rhythm. Thanks to Martin this is a sax and trumpet solo, both playing the same riff in time, in the same octave. Great start well rehearsed and executed.

Mutant Vinyl Crowd Surf bhone bdayFor the sax break after the first verse, Martin and Ed take turns to have a playoff, before Martin switches to megaphone, another is invited up to play guitar while Ed grabs a third guitar. Meanwhile the band are all jamming out together while Ed calls for (and gets) a mosh pit. For their encore, they claim to have no material, until deciding to go with Guns Of Brixton, inviting Rob and Claire on stage to jam. Towards the end some crowd surfing goes on, before a glorious shambles of an end involving guitars, leads, sticks, amps and bundling.

To sum up, all bands tonight have represented a new breed of talent rising through the ranks, rather than out and out rock as many over the past days have been, all these acts are bringing something different to the party. Does this represent a change in focus for music in Bournemouth?

Bhone Birthday Fundraiser – 4th gig

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By the time I arrive in Champions (slightly late through doing some dive club activities for BSAC), Zaardvark are already playing. I’m disappointed I’ve missed Yaaard‘s set, since I’ve not heard Chris Catlin doing things before, and I hear he’s one of the most appreciated remixers in town. I also gave gig 3 a miss through other commitments.

Zaardvark

Zaardvark bhone BdayI love their instrumental tunes, even though there are are no names delivered, these are knocked out pretty smartly. It’s quite funny as none of the lads want to speak, they just want to get on with the music. Dave (behind the drumkit) is perhaps the most likely to be a front man, yet he takes a step back in Zaardvark to put the music first.

Having said that about the tightness of the sound, one intro is muffed – Dave’s excuse is that’s what happens when he tries not to count out loud – small wonder really, it’s in a five beats to the bar time signature, with awkward cross-rhythms within that.

There are loads of effects also being generated on top of the music from this eclectic three piece outfit, the fourth man is a composite of an ipad with a click track and pre-recorded synth, a sampler driven by this footswitch, and Mark’s array of foot pedals, pre-programmed to match the track sequence.

The last song is indicative of their electro jazz style. Rather than just have a click track, they’ve opted for a click with synth overtones, therefore lots of electronic twiddly sound generator bits mixed into it. These are then mixed with heavily effect loaded guitar and bass.

The crowd, that seem to have heard these guys many times before, go appropriately nutty. Talking afterwards, not all the pieces have titles, and Zaardvark are building up to having them all presented together in an Opus, so they are all essentially different  movements of the same grand work. Good stuff, and look forward to that gig.

Matt Marr

Matt Marr bhone bdayAs these guys step out from the green room, I’m surprised to see friends Ed Pope and Martin Ruddock walk on stage. I’d previously looked for a band listing and not found one, so falsely assumed it would be Matt Marr doing a solo set (not that I’ve seen him before, either).

The opener is pretty heavy, then there’s a bit of kerfuffle because things don’t work initially as Matt switches to an acoustic, they’re then straight into a rock and roll inspired track. A switch back to electric rhythm guitar and we’re back to the heavy stuff, this time the keys are just about audible over the hugely loud guitar work.

Another electric to acoustic switch, using the same lead for both guitars must cause a problem for Paul on the mixing desk which probably why the levels are all over the place each time there’s a switch. Its only a mild distraction, I can just about make enough of the vocals to hear the stories in the songs, and these are songs with a story, showing there’s a talented song writer within Matt.

The latter half of the set is different, more pop focussed rather than heavy, with very catchy choral licks, this vein continues for the rest of the set, very punchy drums, and lively poppy music with it.

At the end Matt announces the band, Ed Pope on bass, Martin Ruddock on guitar and backing vocals, Grim Reaper on keys, Dixie on drums (when Matt says he needs no introduction Dixie gets his own little cheer). Matt himself as you’ve hopefully gathered is on guitar and vocals.

Dutch Husband

Dutch Husband bhone bdayTony from bhone gives Dutch Husband a huge build up, and understandably so for this reunion gig. I don’t think I’ve seen them live before, they were in the studio a long time back when I wasn’t able to make it; I loved the show they did when I listened back; their tracks have been regularly featured on the show ever since, even though they’ve not been together for some time.

There is a long pause after their opening track, turns out lead guitar Paul’s amp has blown and a replacement is hastily arranged. Apparently tech difficulties were a regular feature of Dutch Husband gigs when they were gigging.

As I’m not familiar with their live material, I’m unprepared for what follows. One song I discover afterwards [thanks Zaardvark] is called Map Of The Map courtesy of True Swamp Neglect (youtube link) has the refrain Aaah, the DH regulars know what’s coming and go mad in the appropriate moments, also joining in at the end with Aaahs on cue.

The songs are punchy and rocky, with generally New Order-esque bass lines from Imogen. They all rock out with huge sniles on their faces in the musical interludes between lyrics.

Then again we have true grunge numbers like White Teeth, where the guitars aren’t doing much as all the melody comes from a tiny keyboard, meanwhile there’s a large mosh thing going on in the front.  Good heavy and serious rock gig, and totally enjoyable. However I leave early to reach a totally different party vibe at O’Neills – sort of Big Face Reggae doing a sort of acoustic set.

Big Face Reggae

Big Face Posse O'NeillsI say sort of Big Face Reggae (perhaps should be called Big Face Posse) as there are a load of extras joining them on stage. Sort of acoustic as there’s lots of other things going on.

Its Fiona’s (O’Neill’s manager) birthday, and there’s a total party vibe as a result, walking in just before midnight I’d expect a few drunks, seems everybody is totally merry and has been for most of the evening, hence the mood is electric and glorious. 

Catching up with Si Crockett afterwards (leader of Big Face Reggae) he’s played so many gigs over this weekend, his fingers are worn, blistered and cracked, both as a result of guitar work but mainly from percussion.  He says he doesn’t care though, such has been the time he’s had over the break.

Taking my leave again, I head over to Chaplins on the way home, where Fiona Fox has played a set.  She’s only just finished by the time I get there, we spend a bit of time just hanging out and having a laugh with others.  By all accounts she’s just played her best gig ever, she was great, the crowd were great with her, so she is totally on a high, which is great (yes I know there’s a lot of great there!)

Great [sic] stuff all round.

Bhone Fundraiser – 2nd gig

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Champions is hosting 5 nights of fundraising gigs for a celebration of Bhone‘s fifth birthday. Beneficiaries are Julia’s House and Poole Hospital Charity. Tonight features a Betika reunion gig as a special headline, and Mrs H (Ness) has joined me as a result. I’ll be including her thoughts as one liner entries as we go through.

Head Of A Cuban Trojan are just setting up when I arrive – I’ve missed Grott Party, who have done a set more aimed at fun and amusement as judged by some who saw them – titles like Fat Girl and Gadaffi (changed from Mugabe to remain topical).

There’s a good buzz about, many clearly here for the headline act’s first and last gig f’or a while (vocalist and flautist etc Carolyn has a job in Thailand, and husband Will (bass, backing singer) is going with her).

Head Of A Cuban Trojan

Head Of A Cuban Trojan bhoneNot heard these guys before, though have heard about them; formed from remnants of Dutch Husband some time ago. Playfully artistic rock, they have some massive chording intro thing going on with the music; they are wearing Royalty masks in honour of today’s Royal wedding.

Loads of effects make up a sad rock style to their opener, which leads into a softer ballad start as lead singer and guitarist Lee switches to a stand-mounted megaphone before the mic to distort his sound – I like the mounting to a stand feature – means he can still play guitar while using the megaphone, something others could perhaps learn from.

Obviously this limits the movement, which had been lively, Imogen meanwhile has switched from bass to what I think is a cornet requiring her to also remain static in front of a mic stand for this number.

This latter playing she achieves while left handed tapping her bass through a fuzz box – interesting multi-use I’ve not heard before. Third track is more of a heavy thumper, still with clear lyrics over suitable distortion

They move into an incredibly melodic set of music, frivolous sounding yet with solid vocals over it all

The only song title I catch is Streets Of London, their closing number, this features the brass again, this time loop double recorded and over dubbed live mixed with the guitar bass drums and dual vocals. Would quite like to hear these guys again.

The one line low down from Ness: I didn’t like them, but thought they were good at what they did.

Animal Talent Show

Animal Talent Show are our third act tonight, guitar led with synths featuring heavily courtesy of Henrie (back in town for a few days)

Animal Talent Show bhoneThey have some active fans with them – at one point a gently thrown shoe lands on stage (in lead Nick’s face) – he takes this in his stride and seems to not miss a beat.

In the main the twin guitars of Nick and Alfie stick to chord work and simple melodies, leaving a lot of room available for those aforementioned synths to feature.

This reduction of screaming guitars give the music some big appeal, light major chords making a very positive sound, even as drums and bass laydown a heavier foundation. There’s also visual interest – lots of interaction and enthusiastic movement from stage, encouraging the audience to jig around accordingly.

It helps that things are just so musical and with strong beats and rhythms. Discos, and Disguises before that are particularly notable, I recognise them particularly from the last time I saw Animal Talent Show, possibly over a year ago.

That’s one drawback, Nick is engaging with us a lot yet he’s not passing on the song titles – he seems to be spending a lot of time needing to retune (presumably as the guitar hasn’t acclimatised to the heat in here)  – I’ve caught up on the titles afterwards for the post – having said all that, they don’t make a point of titles.

For example, the first song they ever did is a great example of their sound, musical, rhythms and melodies from the guitars and bass, with pretty keyboard pipe-organ sounds over the top, with engaging lyrics added in. What do they call it bu First Song!

Shame they can’t gig in the area that often, they do a great set and put on a good show.

They finish with New One, appropriately enough a new song, this contains some complex and interesting syncopation, while still being as melodic as those that have gone before. This time there is some dischordant work in the chorus, lyrical melody clashing in a pleasant way with Alfie and Henrie’s lead melodies.

One line low down from Ness: I like them, kinda.

Betika

I have a confession to make here – I was relatively late into Betika on the local scene – they were the first ever guests on the LiveWire Live show when HopeFM first started its 24/7 broadcast, back in 2006. While I’d seen them live quite a few times since, I’m still not totally familiar with their non-recorded back catalogue material.

Betika bhoneIts been quite amusing reading the facebook comments in the lead up to this gig as varous members have been relearning the material. The rehearsing has payed off, this is fast and furious, the guys are kicking up a storm from the off; Bob Hope has such energy, its as if their nearly 2 year gap has been spent waiting for this moment. Hatred is also picked up two levels above the album energy.

There is not one single person being static on stage – all are dancing around, or jigging on the spot when tied to a mic singing or whatever – Rich (drums) is obviously the exception being sat down, even so he’s animated behind the kit. When not playing music, the line made up by Kerrie, Carolyn, Martin and Imogen are utilising all sorts of unusually shaped shakers (lettuce or banana anyone?)

All of this just makes me wonder how we’ve managed on the local scene without these guys providing an example of something to aspire to both in musical ability and stage performance, coupled as Betika songs are with Dave’s witty, insightful and incisive lyrics and Carolyn’s harmonies to them.

Another thing I’m enjoying is that they’re not sticking just the recorded material, for example The Candidate and Peter Marfan feature alongside Dormitor and Twenty Five, all pumped up to 11 and beyond on tempo and vehemence.

Something unexpected for an encore – Happy Monday’s Step On. Imogen is now on bass rather than Will, Mark swaps his guitar for a labcoat and Betika‘s original guitarist Chris (Little Boat) steps up. For their second encore Volkspiotr is chosen, really allows Hubcap & Kerrie to shine on their synths. This clearly isn’t enough for this appreciative audience, so a third and fourth encore are called for. Their third encore song is unknown to me yet it turns out it was a cover of Hands originally by True Swamp Neglect, the fourth encore gives us a final ending of all with By Default, so many of us know it, its great to hear everyone singing and acting along.

An awesome gig, Ness’ one line low down: Yep, really good (she gives a thumbs up, despite the late hour).

Thanks to Tone and the rest of the bhone team for a great effort in providing these 5 great gigs in 5 days

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