Just Another Friday Night on the Town(s)

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Soul Baby @ Christchurch FestivalChristchurch Festival this weekend, started off in style by the Bournemouth Ukelele Social – a kerfuffle at the gate means I hear them from afar rather than in the tent. Sounds good though. Soul Baby are a big attraction here, coupled with the start time (8 30) there is a half capacity crowd in this place, not bad for what is normally a quiet Friday night start.

No wonder they draw a crowd, half of them work at one of the big firms I’m town so they all come out, plus the music is good – soul covers in the main, with other matching tracks thrown in. Plus the visual attraction of four leading ladies on vocal harmonies, backed up by solid backline, no wonder they are popular.

Mils Malone and the Magic Tones at SpyreReally enjoyable, all the better for having Ness with me, however we need to depart (meaning we miss headline Pronghorn) as its been a busy evening so far what with running the kids craft club and all. A quick toast top up and I head out to Spyre where Looking Through Glass are launching their second album She’s My Co-Pilot.

Mils Malone and the Magic Tones are on stage as I walk in, good solid pop/rock, and I’m liking what I’m hearing for the two songs I catch at the end of their set. An overlong interlude and Looking Through Glass take their places. As expected they are dressed smart with their trademark retro-throwback monotone look. Their sound has really developed and settled into a good groove.

Looking Through Glass at SpyreDave has crystal clear vocals that float easily over the smooth sounds from the band, with trumpet accentuating the music. Kelly is also harmonising and backing on occasion, a welcome addition. They’re gigging the whole album tonight, in order. If you liked the EP (The Cycle Never Ends) you’ll love this fellow. Standout tracks: 1993, For My Baby. If you’ve not come across them before, check them out.

Big Face Reggae at Smokin AcesThey take a break and I take the opportunity to see Big Face Reggae at Smokin’ Aces. It’s also Martin Roberts’ and others birthdays so a big party atmosphere. Big Face Reggae are great as ever, and there’s something about having the band in your face (or you in their face) as you’re skanking around. Afterwards end up in the Cellar Bar with more mates just hanging around. Great night, despite the late finish.

Blue & Acoustic Rock


Saturday night and a late start in Chaplins with Paint It Blue. Please vote for them in The New Brunswick Battle Of The Blues competition – they’re in the top 9 already. To vote, need to start watching then vote on 9 videos, hopefully giving Paint It Blue a 5 out of 5. Voting closes on 28 February.

Paint It Blue Cellar Bar

Ok that’s the shameless plug out of the way, the music as ever is a good groove, I totally run out of superlatives to describe their sound, so I won’t bother here this time. Suffice to say, even if you’re not a fan of the blues, just being at any live performance of these guys is a great experience

Another step up in the game for them – T-shirts and more have joined the merch available from the band – and they’re telling us about it, giving name and gig checks etc. All good, and something that I’ve really noticed has been lacking in the 10’s of acts I’ve recently seen… 😉

After a transitory journey I find myself in a brand new venue for me, and a surprising one – The Ship in Christchurch. Time for a brief venue report.

I’d previously come here perhaps once for a drink. The place is unrecognisable, and a lot larger than I remember from perhaps that one time.

It’s been tastefully decorated in a muted colour scheme, with a modest number of dining tables at the back with booth setups and upholstered benches in the front drinking bar. The nature of the refit is unfortunately reflected in the drinks prices – my staple squash is initially charged at £1, when delivered it’s in a half pint. Favourably this is quickly fixed to a pint following a brief complaint, however beware of that one!

This little episode marks The Ship as the most expensive place I’ve been to in the conurbation; to be fair there are signs up that belie my experience – “champagne is for drinking, not for restaurants to make a killing, enjoy our house champagne, £4.60 a glass”.

The Frequency on HopeFM

Enough of this good venue, The Frequency were featured on the show a few weeks back. They played some of their new acoustic numbers, while I played their previous incarnation’s CD tracks. I commented on air then (didn’t blog for some reason) about the unusual nature of their acoustic setup – 3 acoustic guitars, 3 superior harmonising voices, and acoustic percussion.

By the time I arrive the band are about to go into their third set, which they begin by announcing the latest coup by manager Tony – a support slot for Ocean Colour Scene in Southampton’s Guildhall in a couple of weeks. Talking to Tony this has borne fruit from a bit of luck a year or so ago, and lots of persistent hard work following up on that luck.

The band set is lively, by nature of this type of venue they’re including large numbers of covers in the tunes played; their own songs seamlessly fit into the mould set, and gain the same amount of audience appeal.  The audience are lively, talkative and above all (for the last Oasis cover) dancing, swaying and hugging all over – it’s a totally different scene to that I’m used to in the music bars in Bournemouth, but then this is the massed Saturday night out.

Afterwards, the lads are heading back for an afterparty – despite receiving a generous invite, I decline and slope home after a busy day with another one to follow.