Show & Bmth Unplugged Quarter Final 2

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Tonight the Table Top Circus joined comedy regulars Radio Boscombe for what promised and proved to be an amusing take on Sigmund Freud for the first part of the show. It was a bit of a mix up of a show, caused by my forgetting the 6 sides of carefully prepared research, and one member of Radio Boscombe running truant and needing to be reeled in by phone.

It makes for an interesting production style, having to continually think on one’s feet and improvise nearly a full two hour presentation. We pick up on the previous show, Drive‘s theme of the night, uniforms, as a fallback ad lib when our material dries up

Thank goodness I’d prepared one element online: a phone interview with Michael-James Dent regarding Dom Remi, coupled with an exclusive preview of their new song Midnight (now available on their myspace).

Dom Remi (pronounced Ree-Mee) are the band that were formerly known as The Metropolise. The Metropolise received a lot of radio play with their brash and raw sound. The lads recognised the rawness, and have polished themselves up a bit, changing the musical direction of the band in the process.

This change in musical direction warrants a change in name, in an attempt to prevent too much comparison. So, out of the ashes that were The Metropolise, we now have the phoenix arising that is Dom Remi. They are having a series of relaunch events including a renaming gig and EP launch on 14 May in Champions.

Towards the end of the show Radio Boscombe are augmented by Livvi, who we coerce into also giving an opinion on the evening theme of uniforms.

All in all, with everything going on, I was worn out even before going up to O’Neills for this weeks installment of Bournemouth Unplugged. Again the notes presented below are exactly what I wrote on the night, and used as a basis for my live comments on the night.

We are asked to mark out of 45, 10 points for each of Originality, Stage Presence/Audience Interaction, Song Writing Ability, and Technical Ability.  5 points are to measure the Crowd Reaction, clapometer style.  Finally there is a yes/no “Star” rating – do these guys have that undefinable something (the X factor of that show’s name).

Ant HensonAnt Henson starts, with a harmonica accompaniment this time (who’s name check I miss).
They are very animated together, fitting the music.
As they slow the music down, they slow the movement down to suit.
Great having the 12 string – boosts originality, yet doing similar chord work in the main
Unsure on 12 string tuning +1 if he notices, +1 if do something about it. Does it well with Krista filling in
Stereophonics The One cover – Laid back and totally different
Worked on the harmonies with Krista? If so it shows
Cheeky little beat box thing going on

Bob FletcherBob Fletcher
Big noisy songs
Strong intro then into a spiky number, beatboxing included, much like 2 or 3 songs in one
Good crowd working for you – Like the “behind the front row” comment
Looks really pleased to be here, infectious – great with Julian
Really developed in the past couple of years – good confidence
His staple Tom Jones has been taken to the next level
Wandering over the pub after teaching the singalong section
Then a quiet finish to show off different techniques, voice and guitar

Chris WoodfordChris Woodford
Has a rack of guitars with him rather than just the twelve string
Animated despite sitting on a chair. Great dynamics.
Can just never get tired of chris’ stuff
Outstanding
(another judge has written “Masterclass”)
Real mess about of smoke on the water – adding variety through slide resonator dobro

The Sabres The Sabres
Hard job following that! So what do you do? Do what you do best & come in strong and lively
Tight on the breaks
Kept crowd – hard for last act
Ritchie good voice
Lots of audience dancing

The top three tonight were separated by 1 point, with each scoring over 100: 103, 104 and 105 by the time all judges scores are collated.  The Sabres just miss out, as Chris Woodford and Bob Fletcher take the available Semi Final places. Congratulations to both.

Show & Bournemouth Unplugged 8

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Ben Pluck (Aim To Misbehave) on HopeFMTonight I have Ben Pluck with me in the studio, he’s one quarter of Aim To Misbehave, a young band who have a heavy/death metal background, yet are reinventing themselves as a result of grabbing hold of a synth.  We have a great time talking music and other things – Ben is young, yet has lived a bit and has some great stories as a result.  He says he’s enjoyed himself, and is disappointed the rest of the band can’t make it.  He also asks for a photo with me – taken in the studio. After what seems far too short a time, the show ends and I’m off to O’Neill’s again for Bournemouth Unplugged, and my last time of judging the heats.

Sofi Reed BU heat 8Sofi Reed starts, outside of the previous billing so I was unprepared for her appearance. In my head I have to forget how amazing her recordings are and go by what I hear and see in front of me. She is confident, a booming hello to the crowd and straight into the songs. I’m tempted to say her cover is her own Breathe, it is so far departed from how I’ve heard her do it before. She chooses Dusty’s (Son Of A) Preacher Man instead, which she says is hard as she doesn’t play covers at all. For her last song Becki (Kimari Raven) is invited to duet – and its a really good performance for one rehearsal and two hours notice. Talking to her afterwards she admits she wasn’t that confident and was unprepared. Well, it didn’t come across that way at all! We also have a good laugh over some of the expressions I’ve captured on camera (not going to be repeated here).

The Sabres BU heat 8The Sabres are next on stage, Richie stridently calls out the tracks, lots of name checks and audience inclusion – they know what’s needed to gain and then keep a crowd, even though they’re sitting down which instantly sets a different tone from standing to perform. Their energy is infectious, they are playing big chords and also intricate picks, Richie drops his pick then recovers it barely missing a beat in the process (I wasn’t going to mention that, then he did – yes I had noticed and was going to gloss over it Rich!)
I Want You Back by the Oysterband is their cover, featuring very high vocals that Rich admits after he can’t fully pull off – I hadn’t noticed though.

Phil King BU Heat 8Phil J King closes this stage of the competition, as another entrant hasn’t turned up. As a solo guitarist one could think there are limitations to what’s possible. Phil is one of those players who can disprove that – that just one man and a guitar, harmonica and voice can provide so much entertainment seems unfair. His songs are uplifting, lively and positive. Counting Crows’ Rain King is his choice of cover, and it fits his voice and mood of his set pretty perfectly. He holds a high note in a chorus, and generates some complimentary shouts as a result.

With all the acts tonight, I’m generally familiar with the songs, which ironically means I have to be harsher on myself for the judge scoring than if I was unfamiliar – I know what all the acts are capable of, and trying to ignore that preconception is hard, when we’re asked to go on the performances we see. Hence I feel those I know have to work harder than those I don’t to impress me, so I can stay true to myself and remain fair.

Si Genaro BU heat 8 entertainsSi Genaro closes the evening in his own inimitable style. He has originals and covers a plenty, thrown together with beatboxing, chants, lyrics, all interspersed with anecdotes; he says he went out with Rhianna for a week, which is how he learnt one particular song he’s doing. Looking him, it’s hard to put together the noises with the lip movements, its all so slickly done.

Curiousity @ Mr Kyps

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…Made it to a gig at Mr Kyps before it started, which is two rarities for me in one sentence – got to be a winner! I’m surprised at the capacity crowd for what to me was a poorly advertised night – I even struggled to find a door time – however there are two local bands here I’ve been wanting to see for some time so worth the effort to drag myself past my other popular venues to reach this one.

Kings of Hearts are very energetic with their music, solid and heavy, yet melodic rock. Rhythmic bass lines, catchy guitar picks & riffs, tight drums, epic choruses, everything that is good about rock is here.
Even better, lead vocalist Phil’s lyrics are clear and audible, a bonus in this day and age of mumbled, shouted or just generally distorted vocal lines.

With Kings of Hearts finally I hear a band that are able to give name checks clearly throughout their performance, it’s a shame they’re not actively working the crowd to the potential their music delivers; the applause is there for them, just not the mad banging or pogoing I’d expect to accompany these guys.

Another rare nicety – a guitar needs tuning, and there’s no spare, so the guys just jam until it’s ready, finishing off by jumping straight into another not-yet hit, tight. To me, that’s the other thing missing – I don’t know Kings of Hearts stuff; I think I’d like to based on this performance – they’re just not giving me the titles, the set transitions are so slick. Good stuff. 

The set is over far too quickly for me – a very good sign.

A short break and on with The Sabres. I was a big fan of the previous incarnation Hoffman Sloth, and had picked up early Sabres tracks from the much missed Dorset Rock Online site.

Straight in after announcement into Out Of My Mind, another energetic number yet this time attemping to slightly engage this audience, who still  just seem to be happy supping their beers and rocking along.

These guys again are tight, no wonder considering their heritage. This time round, lead Richie seems to have learnt that complex lyrics and complex guitar work don’t go well together, and keeps them segregated
He’s also there with the name checks and promo stuff – something one has to do when playing a crowd that might not have come out for you.

There are clearly some other previous incarnation fans here, when The Sabres break into an older number the place starts waking up a bit at the front, although by this time there seems to be a bit more space around…

Again, the set is over all to quickly for me, although listening around some weren’t overly enthused by the show – pooh to them I say, I enjoyed it.

On to Mirrorkicks, down from London. I’ve not come out to see these guys, as regulars here will know my focus is on locally sourced music. They open with a sad-rock mellow number, which while not a fave of mine (or the crowd by the lacklustre applause) is well executed.

Another 3 piece,  Mirrorkicks have their 4th man – a synth – providing continuity between songs. The bass player is fairly active compared with the movement of the other bands, strolling around the stage as he underpins band intrumentals and speeches from said 4th man. Unfortunately these are the only clear vocals, except when the music quietens and lead Edwin sings almost a capella, where his voice comes across very cleanly.

Things also wake up at this juncture, while the wailing lyrical style continues the bass and drums kick up into a comparitive frenzy.  These types of numbers also go down with the remaining crowd (it’s definitely thinned out a bit, 60 at a rough guess, down from “feeling full”)

My overall feeling is that these guys are probably great to listen to album-wise, the live performance I’ve witnessed tonight just isn’t there for them to shine out to me as a London band hoping to make it outside. …Alice is a case in point. A beautifully appealing song, chords to really cut you, heart rending lyrics sung with real passion, a fantastic anthem, and the crowd seem to agree.

Maybe I’ve set the bar too high; they are good and tight, as have all bands been tonight, I’m just not sure I’ve been entertained. Just as I write this near the end of the set, we get a funky number started by the synth, and things wake up; the last song is really lively by comparison to all the other stuff, much more appealing to this hacks tastes!