Early Night Desire

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The Worry Dolls @ Cellar Bar 6 OctIn the hope of getting an early night this Saturday due to going diving in the morning, have dropped in to the Cellar Bar first to catch The Worry Dolls. Unfortunately they haven’t started by the time I arrive and I’m still hanging around after 20 minutes. The Worry Dolls sound sweet even in the soundcheck when levels aren’t quite right. Having completed that they then leave the stage again. As it will be for another 15 minutes or so I move on elsewhere.

Brothers Grimmer @ Inferno 6 OctBrothers Grimmer joined Chinners and I in the studio a couple of weeks back, and they are doing a double slot at The Inferno tonight. I’ve missed the opening act by the time I get here, and spend the interval talking with videographer Andrew Gale about how he started and now continues (from Bournemouth Ice Rink to the O2 Bristol with Surface Festival in just over a year).

The chaps start, Michael giving it his all with the dancing while the other four guys put it all about with the story telling in the songs. I’m starting to get to know the material now; Pandora’s Box is amazingly tricky in places, awkward chords and some cleverly out of time cross beats just to mix things up. Not all hard rock, yet with enough heavy undercurrent to appease those who love the genre, they have delightful variety and style.

What is also obvious (as it was through the interview) is that this is a band that really work hard together, play hard together, and also help each other out during setup and soundcheck etc. Three family by birth, two family by choice, this is Brothers Grimmer!

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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…

Forbidden Planet’s Halloween

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Bit of a special Solid Air tonight, for halloween many are in costume of varying sorts and we have an unusual bill. We also have the usual forbidden planet visuals; the films on-screen behind the musicians are all dark and sinister.

Antonia Edgeley-Long @ Forbidden Planet 31 OctAntonia Edgeley-Long opens, for what is her farewell gig before she goes travelling. She’s playing sweet acoustic picked chords and her voice is very exposed over the top, makes for a lovely vibe, and is in real contrast to the blackness of the night and the atmosphere set by the films and us dressed and decorated peeps. Antonia Edgeley-Long with Alex 'Honest' Taylor @ forbidden Planet, 31 OctAlex “Honest” Taylor joins her for her ending, which includes Boris Pickett’s Monster Mash.

A spooky Language, Timothy! @ Forbidden Planet 31 OctLanguage, Timothy! never fail to surprise; tonight they open with a pleasing rendition of Suicide Is Painless, the M*A*S*H theme. We then have a music box intro, before Mrs P reads a sinister ghost story from a girls annual, while The Chairman overlays this with awkward synth discords and samples of girls laughing evilly, all very effective, and scarily told. Language, Timothy! @ Forbidden Planet 31 OctWe next have a rendition of my fave classic Ghost In The Machine, not heard this performed live for a while, melded into samples from The Omen. Next a spooky story from The Chairman to wound music box accompaniment followed by their ending, a tribute to Jimmy Saville, who would have been 85 today, the lament Jonny Has Gone For A Soldier

The Worry Dolls @ Forbidden Planet 31 OctThe Worry Dolls close the evening, in half acoustic mode – a laid back end to the evening, despite the large numbers of intruments involved – guitars, ukelele, bass, violin; keys & drums in the background. They have chosen sombre songs for the set tonight, still excellently arranged and orchestrated, they take a particular slant to cover Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, choosing a modal form to present it to us. Towards the end of the set they throw in some of their more lively tunes, the sort of stuff one can jig along to. Good enjoyment and contrast to the evening.

27 July Show : Empire Affair & The Worry Dolls

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Empire Affair on HopeFMAll arranged at a little short notice, this week’s show. I’d originally planned for the annual New Wine Rebroadcast that tends to happen at this time of year. This year the week changed, so I had to call in my reserve act, Empire Affair, previously warned, but with very little time for promotion. This was a double mistake, both just because I want to let my audience know with as much notice as possible to give the bands that guest for me as large a following as possible, and as Empire Affair had written saying they would love to give HopeFM through my show the exclusive on their debut EP.

This might a bit obtuse, however while Empire Affair may be new on the scene, they come from good stock, having had many years experience getting it right (sometimes wrong, but mostly right in my opinion) in a former band. They’ve finalised their sound, smartened up their act (I’ve managed to miss them live so far, my loss) yet still retained the energy and the punch of their youth.

This flamboyance comes out in the interview, I’m loving my time with them and its over literally too quickly, they can only manage the first hour of the show before they have to dash off into rock star God-dom !?! And I hold the fort for the final hour with my music choice and gig guide.

I remember The Primitives had an album, subtitled How To Squeeze 15 Elephants Into A Test Tube. With The Worry Dolls we have a similar effect with musos on the O’Neills stage, itself not the smallest stage in town.

The Worry Dolls @ O'NeillsThe lead singer Emma’s vocal talents are impressive, she hardly needs the (rather overblown tonight) PA to make herself heard over the widespread band. What I didn’t appreciate when I saw them for the first time was the guitarist hidden at the back of the stage – Jon – also known for his talents with another fave band of mine, The Neon Tigers.

Tonight their sound is good, and I like being given the chance to fully appreciate what they should sound like. What I can’t convey here is the camararderie they display between songs. I don’t know and can’t tell if they’re telling the truth about when they say they’ve written this song or that song about other members of the band, however I don’t really mind, it all makes for a good craic.

Talentcall Band Semi Final

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Talentcall 2011 logoI received a quick phone call from a friend in the music scene – can I get to the O2 tonight to judge another music competition.  My answer was “Yes”, even though I didn’t know anything about the competition in question.  Talentcall is happening during the summer, spread out over the weeks, with junior nights, senior nights, band nights, soloist nights and so on.  Tonight is a band night, means 7 bands get to play for 20-25 minutes (i.e. 3/4 songs) and we just have to give a mark out of 100.  All the marks get added up between the three judges and the best band goes through to a semi final at the Pavilion in October, I think.

My quandary is, how to award 100 marks?  Using my previous experience I jotted down some criteria to award 10 points to each of: Originality, Variety of set, Crowd Response (before (4) & after (6)), Technical Ability, Song Writing ability, Stage Presence (entertainment), Band Look (uniform etc) and Crowd Interaction.  I also had a No, Maybe, Yes in my “who do I like best / have they done enough to warrant the next stage / would I want to see them again” in case of ties. Then just multiply by 1.25 to turn out of 80 to out of 100.

 The following notes are more or less what I wrote about each act, I’ve edited them here for clarity only. 

Realm Essence

Realm Essence Talentcall O2These guys are a DJ & MCs. They have a slow start, lots (far too much) of “hold tight” shouts when nothing is really happening. I like the colour match hoodie & hat uniform. Its a bit of a shambolic start – but is this shambles part of their act? I can’t make out the rap words (1st) (2nd). I like the shout to the front row to get them involved. Then a shambles again as 3rd man Dan joins, there are good beats as he comes on, then they lose it and start something else. The DJ is doing good clever stuff, and the MC’s are tight together within the beats. Not a lot of Variety or Originality, apart from being a rap outfit rather than a band. In short they are OK once they get going. See again /good enough? No

Voice Of Reason

Voice Of Reason Talentcall O2Dramatic OTT spoof / parody introductory backing track, then they jump onto the stage. The PA is a bit slow on drums & vox during the first song. Well high energy, and they segue the first two songs nicely. They give a decent introduction to the drummer, with him standing on the kit while he’s name dropped, then on into the rest of the song. The drumming itself is very busy, and the drummer is sort of ok on those busy bits (many drummers lose timing when busy). There is very good use of the stage, side risers, foldbacks etc. In short energetic rock well presented. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes.

Sepia Daze

Sepia Daze Talentcall O2No walk-on, they’re already on stage. Energetic, with a good audience at the start, and then they work them near throughout. Unclear vocals means they lose out on their Songwriting score. They have an OK look, ‘uniform’ hair & black, but not standout. Some demonstration of variety, they’re the first act to do so. They lose a bit on the Technical too, I’m really not a fan of untrimmed guitar strings as they just look messy and tell me they don’t care overmuch about appearances. They gain on Originality with constant synth/keys. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes

The Worry Dolls

The Worry Dolls Talentcall O2PA problems with lead female vocals (& the viola). Despite that the band handle it well and make a good recovery. Their look isn’t particularly coordinated. Highly Original – viola, ukelele, keys, guit (x2), mandolin, bass, drums. Technically the viola sounds flat, although this is OK once the PA is fixed. Also high Variety between songs. Unfortunately not much Crowd Interaction during the rest of the set after good example while the PA was missing at the beginning. Very tight for a “loose” band. Good songs & clear strong vox (after PA fixed). Ending of song four unclear. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes – would probably upgrade that to a Yes.

Shades Are Grey

Shades Are Gray Talentcall O2Only band noted to give a facebook shout.  I’m not a fan of the wailed lyric, especially when the vocals are unclear. Bass & guitar not really engaging crowd, indeed the bassist had his back to rest of band during first two songs. Good trying to get crowd involved throughout. Not really together, comes across as too self indulgent hard emo. Crowd like them though. See again /good enough? No

Brothers Grimmer

Brothers Grimmer Talentcall O2Delayed start through apparent dicking around. Interesting having a dedicated dancer – really works the crowd. Tight, good drumming. Not much to lyrics. Well played, amazingly danced. Tight band. High technical ability score – particularly becuase of the dancer and the clever instrument work / tightness. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes – would probably be my other yes.

Sketches Of The Adverse

Sketches Of The Adverse Talentcall O2Overall technically OK, and with OK songs. Nothing stand out or that grabs me about it, not a lot of interaction or stage presence for me. Do they know timing seems to be adrift (first song?). One thing I’d say to them direct: Don’t big up another band as your crowd interaction example. To my estimation it breaks up a little in the breakdowns See again /good enough? No

So there we have it, seven bands, the eventual winners are announced as Brothers Grimmer – well done fellas (and everyone for reaching this stage of this competition).  My personal faves (by a couple of points) were The Worry Dolls, would like to see them again, although will perenially have PA problems with the size and type of their band, no doubt.

I dash off since I want to see Disco’s Out Murder’s In at the Inferno (they’re doing a double header with Big Face Reggae).  More about that in another post…