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.

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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
Moonshine
Broken Wings
Back Down To Earth
Night Like This
Halcyon
Brothers
Kaleidoscopic
Strawberry
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.

Solid Air Show & Standup

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Great show tonight with Solid Air’s Connie, Jorge joins us to plug the Afro Tallawah gig with Solid Air, we have a host of Cuban and Celtic fusion music representing the other bands he’s been involved with.

The second part of the show is with Alex, aka Nesboy Productions, and some of the work he’s produced with others, particularly Hazey and the J’s. Its really interesting hearing about some of the behind the scenes work that goes on.

Martin Roberts does standup as an alligator @ Chaplins 14 Nov

On to the Chaplins open mic, where amongst others, Martin Roberts is doing a standup turn. This is something else – starting with a treatise on the number of pizza places in Christchurch, and the large number of martial arts courses available, coupled with a large coverage sewage works, leads on to the Mutant Ninja Hero Turtles. Catch up with some of his material on youtube

Acoustic Solid Air

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Charlie Hole @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberCharlie Hole appreciates an appreciative audience and says so when comparing us to the restaurant crowds he’s normally in front of nowadays. He’s the third artist in this special acoustic line started by Pete Read and Fran Milner – the front stage area of the Cellar Bar is filled with chairs, candle lights flicker in jars for an ambience reminiscent of Sirius evenings so many years ago.

Charlie has a great voice; the sound set up perfectly for his guitar style with rich tenor tones, and clear high notes. He has many standout songs, his take on Hey Yeah (Outkast) is something else, and a very short song, Birthday, has cut-to-the-heart lyrics that really make one ponder.

Douglas Firs @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberFor the first time in a long time (about 4 years by their reckoning) The Douglas Firs are gracing Solid Air. The intervening time has been filled with tours in Canada and the United States, where more writing has also been a feature. Much of that material is offered to us tonight, still enchanted, haunting, contemplative yet also poking fun at the falsities we construct around ourselves.

Pete Christie @ Solid Air, 12 NovemberOur masterclass in acoustic performance is granted tonight by Pete Christie, starting with the introduction to Ballad Of An Ordinary Man, where the chords are looped with a small amount of slide, to then allow chord picking over the top.

Pete Christie with Fran Milner @ Solid Air, 12 November

What I like is that the looping isn’t the main thing, its just a method to showcase Pete’s guitar skills, voice and clever lyrics within a bigger framework than the single guitar would normally allow.


Fran Milner
 provides keyboard and vocal harmony work for Normal Shade Of Blue just adding to the musical magic that tops off this great acoustic evening.

Ant Henson Leaving Party

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Si Genaro @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovSi Genaro is on stage back-announcing Rachel Henson‘s Imaginary Jam Band as I walk in, he then takes the music floor with a couple of surprisingly decent and straightforward tunes – he’s giving the beat-boxing a miss (apart from the last song of six) instead playing and singing his songs au naturel. Something that works well is whistling between his teeth, with a touch of reverb its very atmospheric. Shows that as well as being the performance, he can also be a performer.

Hannah Robinson @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovHannah Robinson starts her set with Monster, and continues with some more great work. Its better hearing her in this folk club venue, even though its noisier than a normal folk club evening, its still quieter than the music pubs and clubs she normally frequents. Her voice is very clear, the guitar work very open and delicate.

Ant Henson @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovAfter a short interval (where I take the opportunity to catch up with some of the great and the good in the room) Ant Henson takes to the stage. I’ve not heard him in such a long time; I realise I’ve missed the rotund sounds from his 12 string when I hear them again.

Ant Henson with Nicky Hann @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 Nov

He’s inviting various people to join him in songs, Tom Francis starts with him on Djembe, first joiner is Nicky Hann on flute for something fairly contemplative; they explain that she was the one that really got him gigging through a Parisian busking tour years back. Ant Henson and Fran Milner's helping hands @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovLeo joins next, he’s accompanied Ant with percussion pretty much everytime he’s played recently. They all leave and Fran Milner joins Ant, to “cover his mistakes on piano”, as he puts it. He does a cover of an Our Blinkered Eyes song, Glass Eyed Doors. Ant Henson with Tom Flanery & Si Genaro duelling harmonicas @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 NovNext up are  Tom Flanery and Si Genaro on duelling harmonicas as the pace picks up, such that the music is fast and furious by the time Tom Francis and Leo rejoin on percussion for 20 42, a supposed spoof song that kept its place in Ant’s set as its turned out he likes it.

Ant Henson with Tom Francis, Tom Flanery, Stephen King Leo @ Ant Henson leaving do, Centre Stage 11 Nov

A good evening, and a great send off.

I drop into Chaplins Bar on the way home, and Adam Phillips (Asp, Fish Out Of Water) has the whole bar clapping and hollering as he finishes an energetic song.

Alex Cope @ Chaplins, 11 November

Alex Cope is running the night for Andy Stock, and closes the evening, playing a few covers, and also inserting a lot of his own material, in the style of some of the covers

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