Gig reviews page Two
The Wheel return to the Leadmill!
Sheffield Leadmill and ‘Do it Again’ album review
Words - Tony Beesley
photos - Vanessa Sorrell
Inthe tradition of just about every time I venture out for a live gig, its bloody raining! Yet, rain, fatigue and general exhaustion cannot detract or spoil an evening with the Wheel! Such is their intoxicating ‘spirit of 77 updated for the modern age’ style and appeal. Twisted Wheel have been away for a good while, and while tonight’s smaller sized Leadmill room might indicate that they may well have to re-ignite a few old fan’s interest – and enlist a new regiment of followers along the way, faith in their talents and passion for a damn good live show does not diminish even one slight twist of the wheel. In fact the smaller room intimacy makes it that more special!
They are back and here to plug new long-player ‘Do it Again’ (available on good old fashioned dependable vinyl, CD and invisible download NOW!!) and are oozing with new confidence and belief. Opening album track ‘Poppi Love’ is a declaration of disdain for the pitfalls of Opium addiction:young guitar ‘hip’ slingers and cool cats out there, take note… we need our ‘dirty’ rock ‘n rollers to stay cleaner than Keef… maaan!!!
Seeming like eons since their self-titled debut, ‘Do it Again’ is a welcome musical refresher and the results are well worth the wait. Expecting to hear a slightly revised spin on the adrenalin punk/pop rush of album number one, the pleasant surprise is that – although the trademark style and delivery of the manic three-piece is well intact – there are more added new ingredients thrown into the mix. Avoiding second album pitfalls, the Wheel manage to progress and move on whilst retaining what they do best. ‘Postman’ sounds respectfully like original Oz punks, The Saints and it works well. ‘Honey Girl’ (with echoes of ‘Credence Clearwater revival’), ‘When You’re Alone’ ,‘Merry Go round’ and ‘Double Yellow Lines’ are all musically far away from classic Wheel yet work just as effectively. On numerous plays now, I can’t honestly find any flaws or short-comings so far.
Tonight, in Sheffield, The Wheel are on form; giving the exact right vibes and tunes that we have come to love of ‘possibly the greatest band we have in 2012.’ It’s up close and personal and just how it should be: near enough to share the very air they breathe. This is how rock n’ roll thrives and surely survives’… a million miles away from the Motorpoint arena cabaret and expanse (and expense!!).
New album title track ‘Do it Again’ all Kinks chord shapes and Clash staccato delivery, album highlight ‘Ride’ and ‘Sweet 19’ – amongst other new songs - please the young and exuberant crowd just as much as first album pleasers ‘Lucy the Castle’ and ‘She’s a Weapon’, ‘We Are Us’, ‘Oh What Have You Done’, the indie/Folk ballad ‘Bouncing Bomb’ and crowd fave, ‘You Stole the Sun’. Twisted Wheel surely mean it and it transcends purely and clearly with potent immediacy. If any young band have totally absorbed and ingested the legacy of first wave punk whilst avoiding the annoyances of cartoon media-created postcard Mohawk punk, then it surely is these young Manc lads borne of the paranormal identities of classic early Jam, the first 18 months of The Clash and their fellow punk/popsters and Mancunians, Buzzcocks! Yet it never smacks of revival, plagiarism or nostalgia… it’s a continuation of great rock ‘n roll, done just right. Above all it is the sound, feel and perfect image of untainted and dangerously cool youth! The Wheel’s legacy is the under-current and relevant alternative choice to today’s supermarket music industrial conveyor belt. An opposing option to the one that the invading masses choose whilst adoring their sounds served to them by false pop prophets. ‘UK Blues’… they proclaim… and so right they achingly are!!!
Leadmill steel city Rockers!!
Justice Tonight in aid of the awareness of the Hillsborough tragedy. Sheffield Leadmill… December 3 2011
Review by Tony Beesley
Photos by (and Copyright of) Kevin Wells
Featuring Mick Jones of The Clash performing Clash songs with Pete Wylie of Wah and The Farm. Guests: John Robb of Goldblade, Richard Hawley and Jon MccLure (Reverend and the Makers)
Anticipation was high for this event. All in a good cause, to raise the awareness of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, the line up for the night was first class: but no one can deny that the star of the show was Mick Jones and a chance to hear him perform Clash classics for the first time since he was ousted from The Clash in 1983. Giving a few interviews beforehand (Mick told the NME that ‘Stay Free’ was gonna be included along with ‘Armagidon Time’, but not giving away any more clues), I was a little unsure how things would turn out. Luckily not a sour vibe in any shape or form could be detected in a 2011 Mick Jones-led Clash tribute. In fact it was bloody perfect!
Arriving at the Leadmill after a few jars in the packed Howard boozer up the road which was full of elder Clash fans it didn’t take long before the mood was set for a great time to be had by all. The Farm rode their ‘Groovy Train’ and got the crowd unified with their most well-known song ‘All Together Now’. A few heart-felt words from singer Peter Hooton about that tragic day at Hillsborough all those years ago reminded us why this event was taking place. The effects of that day are still being felt by families of survivors and those that were there to this day. The positive side to it all is that events like this are taking place, raising awareness and keeping the memory of those lost alive.
Before the main attraction and our big treat of the decade, so far, we get a passionate (as always) Pete Wylie of Wah perform his classic singles ‘Come Back’ (the sound of 1984 personified for me) and ‘The Story of the Blues’ along with a few other songs of his, including the scathing no-holds-barred ‘When Margaret Thatcher dies’. Pete understandably gets angry when someone childishly throws something at him, but nothing can spoil the buzz already in place. The night would have been worth it all alone for Pete Wylie’s short set, never-mind what else was in store!
So what Clash songs are we going to hear? How are they going to come across? Can Mick still cut it with his Clash compositions? Are his musical partners going to do the songs justice? All doubts are swept away with ease as we are treat to renditions of ‘Train in Vain’, the Pete Wylie-led ‘Stay Free’, a crowd singalong version of ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’, ‘Bankrobber’, ‘Brand New Cadillac’ (with Sheffield's own, Richard Hawley giving it his very best) and ‘Working For the Clampdown’. I could have gone home a very happy man already, but when the drum intro to ‘Janie Jones’ kicked in, the adrenaline level hit the roof. ‘Armagidon Time’ was in there too. The last time I heard Mick play this was with The Clash as the crowd were milling out after their ‘London Calling’ date up the road at the Top Rank. The years quickly peeled away tonight. ‘Should I stay or Should I go’? Likely, I am here to the end!
It was a real once in a lifetime treat for us Clash fanatics. Seeing Mick still retaining that guitar-wielding swagger of old, playing these songs so close to his and our hearts, made me smile from ear to ear. There is something special about Clash songs when performed live and this ensemble of dedicated musicians and supporters of the cause did them proud. They release a certain unique spark and an unavoidable release of energy. Clash songs also transcend time and location. They really do take you away to a different place and for that reason (amongst many) I will always remain a passionate fan of The Clash’s legacy. Justice Tonight was a continuation of it all. I reckon if there is such a thing as absolution and a release from the torment of being hurt and traumatised or losing a loved one on that terrible day in 1989, then the soundtrack would surely be this. And if a certain Joseph Mellor was looking down our way from that great Rock 'n Roll band rehearsal in the sky, well… I am pretty damn sure that he would agree!
The Return of the Fat White Duke - 25/6/11 Interval Bar Sheffield
Review by Fraser Smith
Towards the end of the 70's, in a disused basement, on West Street in Sheffield. Something happened to the local music scene. In the days before the Arctic Monkey's parents had even met one another, THE LIMIT CLUB was born.....This is what happens when a group of confused 17 year olds, met up again in their home town - 33 years later.
Left: The Star of the show... Sir Duke -Michael Day
On entry I marvelled at the 'who's - who, from the original Sheffield unsigned and indie scene. Once so serious and moody, now generally grey haired or bald, with substantially thicker waistlines. The strangest thing was Repulsive Aliens, talking to Negatives etc.. and SMILING!!
The evening was to mark the homecoming of one of Sheffields own..Michael Day (The fat white duke, once so very very thin!) Who has lived and worked in San Fransisco now for over 25 years, who was home with his beautiful family. To visit his beautiful mum!
The show opened with an explosive performance of 'We are Sparta FC', by the band who would be playing with all tonights guests. The band strangely are 'Sparta FC. Tudor (Guitars) Jon Wills (Bass Guitar and vocals, ex Tsi -Tsa) and Tony Armitage (Drums, vocals ex Stunt Kites). They treated us to a fabulous opening set, including The Jam, The Clash, Undertones, Sex Pistols, Ramones. And of course their anthemic version of Talking Heads Psycho Killer.
Enter John R. Allen - former vocalist with legendary Sheffield punks 'Stunt Kites'. Dressed in a suit, and holding his lyric sheets in one hand, and his bi - focals in the other, John could have just as easily been your friendly 'GP' as a Sheffield Legend!! When he started to sing 'Holidays in the Sun' I realise why he chose music over the hypocratic oath! John, has always been a bit 'Geilgudesque'. In that he can hold an audience in his hand quite easily..But without moving. None of the passion and torment has gone from his unique voice. And, although a very dear friend of mine I have to say he was amazing. The band were with him all the way too. Stand out tune..for me, was 'Public Image'.
Right: ex Stunt Kite vocalist John Robert Allen
Next up was the man himself, Dayz! (ex Tsi Tsa) straight into, 'White light white heat' .... Impressive, then. 'Borstal Breakout', eat your heart out James Percey, the crowd LOVED it. Particularly Mrs Day (mum) who was moshing with the best of them. A very touching moment was when the band were joined by Daisy's two sons, for a Tsi Tsa song..Mrs Day must have been bursting with pride, her son singing, her grandsons on guitar and drums. And her nephew on bass!
The lads all stayed onstage and were joined by former Negative Fraser Charlesworth and played out with the Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop' SUPERB!!!
The night closed with Pete Eason, vocal hero in bands like The Negatives, Yah - Boo, and Person to Person. Currently still giving it some with new outfit 'The Wildcats'. Pete started with John Peel (God)'s favourite song of all time. 'Teenage Kicks' and gave us flashes of why he's still as good now as he was back in the day. 'Electric Waltz' (Once single of the week in NME), was also a special treat.
So, as it turned out, that gang of moody teens, hey we didnt turn out bad - a night, I will never ever forget. Thanks for a great evening guys. But most of all, thanks for being my friends.
Adam Ant – Sheffield O2 Academy – May 24 2011: Review by Andy Coles, photos by Kevin Wells.
Adam Ant. Legend. Icon. Ticket in hand, I’m not expecting much from him if I’m being honest. A few slurred songs? Stumbling through the between songs banter? Maybe several cabaret versions of ‘Ant Rap’ and ‘Prince Charming’? How wrong could I have been?
This is faaar beyond what I’ve been expecting. Oh this is good. VERY good.
For starters I was half-expecting to be climbing the stairs to the smaller room upstairs for a ‘lightly- attended’ intimate gig but instead I find myself along with the many others walking along Arundel Gate and heading for the main venue. I should have known that this fondly remembered Pop STAR (and let’s not forget HOW big a star he was) could still fill a decent sized room. Inside, the place is pretty full looking with punks, 80’s survivors and even teenagers who have come along with parents out of curiosity or blackmail.
As the lights dip, Adam’s latest backing band take to the stage to loud and affectionate cheers and applause and the opening bass notes to old punk era Ants’ favourite ‘Plastic Surgery’, as featured in Derek Jarman’s controversial ‘Jubilee’ film, begin to boom out over the PA, played in a style that I always find reminiscent of ‘Stonehenge’ from ‘Spinal Tap’. Some of the audience may never have heard this pre-fame song before. And then there’s Adam, revitalised and sharp looking in his braided military jacket and Napoleon hat (yeah), on the ball and looking ready to take us on.
He looks great and soaks up the affection like the star he still is.The pace of the song becomes more rapid fire and has the punkier-looking members of the audience smiling like Cheshire cats; it’s an excellent choice of opening number that sets the tone for the evening. Up next is ‘Dog Eat Dog’, instantly recognised by everyone in the room and one of Adam’s first (and finest) chart hits following the rebirth of the Ants, after Malcolm McLaren hijacked his musicians to form Bow Wow Wow and ending up coming off second best and bloody nosed. If the purpose of its’ early showing in the setlist is to get the Pop-lovers onboard, it’s a tactic that works to great effect as the whole grinning crowd submits to this screaming shot across the bows. Middle aged mums sing along with the same fervour as they had as teens back in the day.
What surprises me is the inclusion of many numbers from the earlier incarnations of the band, pre-white stripe so to speak and over the next couple of hours songs such as ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Catholic Day’ and ‘Cleopatra’ all get an airing in a gig that is definitely more rock n’ roll than cheese. Adam delivers them with the energy of a much younger man, though the high kicks and jumps are now noticeably absent from his stage moves. Songs such as ‘Deutscher Girls’ are accompanied with “ooh la, la, las” to great effect by the two backing singers, Georgie and Twinkle, moonlighting from their own band Poussez Posse (ahem), who are subjected to much ribbing and tormenting by the main man during their several reappearances and costume changes throughout the gig.
One story told in-between songs has a dig at Live Aid and Saint Bono’s social and political aspirations much to the crowd’s amusement. The Boomtown Rats don’t come out of it much better either. Classic numbers that make the setlist are ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’, ‘Antmusic’, ‘Goody Two Shoes’ (from his solo career) and ‘Stand and Deliver’, all of them greeted by an ever appreciative crowd. Adam occasionally reminds us of his Number One hits and I only wish long time guitarist and ally Marco Pirroni was here to share the glory too. The more obscure songs are greeted with as much enthusiasm as the hits and the show never flags throughout, in fact the pace picks up if anything.
After ending the main set with the superb ‘Fall In’, the band return and forcefully drag us along with a few more numbers, including a singalong version of ‘Prince Charming’ (no, come back, it’s good!) and a fantastic cover version of T-Rex’ ‘Get It On’ that runs smoothly into The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’. No Fun? This is great. Finishing with ‘Physical (You’re So)’, Adam and the band leave with huge grinning faces. They KNOW they’ve done a good job and as we crunch through the sea of plastic glasses towards the exits, WE know it too. Antmusic for Sexpeople. Bloody marvellous.
The Monicans/The Hosts - Sheffield Leadmill March 25 2011. Review by Tony Beesley
This is a big event for the headliners (and also for the supporting cast). Put together by Sheffield promoter and man with his finger on the pulse of local cutting edge music, Ben Hartley, this isn’t the first time the Monicans have played on the Leadmill stage, but it is certainly their most anticipated and important one so far! After playing all over the city and it’s out of town venues for the last year or so, this being the fifth time I have had the pleasure of seeing them too, the three-piece are now at a crossroads of moving up the ladder and gaining wide appeal whilst displaying their much-earned confidence and musical creativity to the fans and uninitiated.A lot rests on tonight’s performance and there is an air of something’s going to happen soon for the band, so fingers firmly crossed.
Missing the earlier line-up of support bands ‘Blue Lips Feel’ and ‘Oblong’, I catch the bulk of the penultimate act The Hosts who give a good performance of catchy tunes with a flair not that unlike early Pulp with an identity of their own. The place is quite full by now with expectations quite high for the headliners: to whom I have great confidence in their ability to pull this one off. With a full crowd, including a certain Richard Hawley in attendance, the Monicans arrive on stage on time and ready to deliver.
What follows is a set of Monicans set faves ‘Horizon’, ‘N.S.E.W’, ‘Angeline’ and ‘So Unsure’ etc played with a greater scope and depth than has been possible at smaller venues. Given this size of place, the sound of the Monicans truly comes alive and does not take long at all to win over the audience. New songs are played and a string section accompanies the band, stretching the musical ratio to panoramic stature.
As always the instrumental performances are spot on and no individual nuances are lost in the transformation of the Monicans set from small bar to larger venue. With a slightly nervous, but visually relaxed presence, the Monicans sweep all before them with all the vigour and surety of a band on the verge of something really special. They now have a full set of fully-formed songs crying out for an official debut album: lets hope this arrives soon and manages to capture the wave of optimism and excitement surrounding the band. I'm counting down the days!
Spiders Rotherham Live at Dickens 18 March 2011- Review by Tony Beesley
This event was the last of the reputable ‘Hang the DJ’ Indie nights put on by local mover and scenester Scott Eades and in the tradition of past Fridays of a classy DJ set of Indie scene tunes - old and new - book-ended by a local band strutting their stuff, tonight tops off a great series of nights that are a shame to say goodbye to!
The supporting bands this time around are Panacea and The Failed Theory, one of which I saw deliver a set of well-received covers (Oasis, Smiths etc) and a few of their own tunes for their very first public outing: don’t ask me which band this was, so excuse my ignorance, but well done to the band for giving it their all!
In truth, it was headliners, Spiders that I had come for. Anyone who is familiar with my review rants will know about my soft spot for these guys and my unwillingness to give up on their, hopefully, eventual ascent to bigger things than playing Rotherham on a Friday night: not that I think that’s a bad thing. I love the small venue intimate atmosphere and earnest intentions of this kind of thing that guys like Spiders and Scott Eades pull off so naturally: but ultimately it won’t pay the bills and get the well-deserved true recognition that this gang ought to achieve! For now, though, as drummer Adam tells me, this is “Something we have wanted to do, for ourselves and our friends, put our own show on just to have a good time and show people what we can do.” In all aspects they pull off their intentions and give us a great lasting reminder of how good a little gig in good company can be on a Friday night.
Kicking off nervously, a kind of trademark for the guys, by second song in, ‘False Expressions’ all signs of musical stage fright are thrown out of the window as the guys surge forward with the confidence of knowing that they are playing the right tunes to the right people at the right time. Support throughout the set is high and deservedly so. Self compositions ‘Where does this Leave us Now’ and ‘Subtle Differences’ are joined by crowd pleasing covers ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by The Cure (given a note for note recreation and delivery of genuine pre-Goth era 1979 Cure: closing my eyes and I am back to that Sheffield Poly Cure gig all those years ago) and the Mod/Folk anthem of ‘Town Called Malice’ which brings the house down and gives singer/guitarist Rob Tingle the perfect chance to impress us with his uncanny life-like series of Wellerisms. Musical confidence by now is at its peak and my eternal Spiders fave ‘Dangerously Close to What I Want’ is performed just as sublime as ever: cheers guys! If I have one wish for the band, musically, it is for them to ingest a little more of the same kind of energetic musical expression that this ‘classic’ evokes. In my humble opinion, for what its worth, that would be the key to honing, what is already, a near perfect set into something that transcends even further the buzz of Spiders-inflicted Rock n’ Roll. In short, less Mersey Beat and more Rhythm and Blues!
For a three piece, Spiders really do give it their all and are in good suitable company in a select line of said sized line-ups. Comparisons with The Jam are complimentary and are never over-used within their musical template, no more than say Weller did himself with his 1977 Punk apeings of his idols Townsend and The Who! Spiders have a talented knack of writing catchy pop tunes with an individual Indie-styled approach, never leaning too far on that miss-placed musical idiom (Indie) that I swear may not truly exist! They have the real potential to go far… lets hope the right ears may be listening sometime soon and sign them up. In the meantime, I remain a fan just hoping for that moment, but also revelling in the fact that we can see a fantastic band like these play small venues for next to nothing! You never know, one day, they may throw in a cover of Larry Williams (via the Jam) frantic Rhythm and Blues number ‘Slow Down’, something I can now own up to, that I have secretly been wishing to happen ever since (hearing the song was once amongst their repertoire) and catching the guys almost a year ago outside a local boozer!
The following review is a first-hand account at what occurred. It does not affect my continuing support for the local live music scene and the Live at Dickens venue, which I believe has been doing a fantastic job of providing, often FREE, gigs to a great appreciative public.
The Violet May: Raw Fusion festival Rotherham Live at Dickens, February 26th 2011 Review by Tony Beesley
My second outing to the Dickens this weekend and it’s a totally different affair this time around. This was the much-touted admirable Raw Festival of local bands with Sheffield bad boys The Violet May being a substantial crowd puller. I can’t vouch for the proceedings prior to 9.30pm as we found out on the way there that there was no alcohol to be served until after 10.30pm, so we downed some pints in a nearby drinking hole, aiming to catch The Violet May play their first gig in 3 months. I am not gonna get drawn into the whole politics of why there was no alcohol allowed etc – apparently some loop-hole in the licensing laws was in place – but all I can say is having no beer on for a Rock n’ Roll show on a Saturday night is absolutely crazy no matter which way you look at it!
Violet May singer Chris McClure tells me he is nervous as this is their first gig in 3 months, but promises us we will get a good gig… and we all know what that means with these guys. With the prospect of all the stops being pulled out, we relish the scent of Rock n’ Roll danger that has just entered the building. Throw out the kids now!!!
The band take the stage to a fairly full crowd, far better than last night’s poor turn out, and I reckon we are in for a treat. We are hanging at a cliff edge of expectation as they plug in, strap on their guitars and kick into a new number, a song with all the trademarks of the band’s superb style. Next up is debut single ‘Bright or Better’ and all’s going well. Chris goes into a rant about the Rotherham Council in relation to the no alcohol being served and keeps asking “Is the bar open yet.” Typically, stood right at the front centre, we get soaked with a bottle of water he throws at us, resulting in some young lasses getting upset and departing to go home and get changed…. Ha Ha! Another new song kicks in and signs of Chris’s restless need to express himself start to show: a few tugs at the Live at Dickens sign above him are followed shortly after by him reaching up and pulling it down. No shock there then… to us anyhow! The fag is lit and before you know it is removed from his mouth by a pissed off barmaid, while the bar manager paces up and down ranting and pointing at the band. From here it all goes crazy. One woman, who appears to be involved in the promotion of the vent is almost in tears and is distraught; security are looming and guitarist Jono is prompted by someone to stop playing as Chris nudges him to continue, which is what we all want. We shout ‘carry on’, but the plugs are pulled. Coincidently an announcement has to be made about all under 18’s having to now leave the building, but as Chris asks “Can we carry on playing after”, he is told NO!
So The Violet May down instruments and depart. Jono tells me that Chris is now allegedly banned from the venue? As we stand around and festival officials pace about, security mingle around and another band set up their equipment, fans of The Violet May are just arriving to be told they won’t be playing. It’s all over for us so we leave. Outside the police pull up to check for any remaining under-age kids present. I can’t help thinking “Is this really what live music is about, a controlled, policed and sober environment where any signs of unruly, out of line behaviour will be punished, fined and banned for daring to inject any element of danger to the show. Is this 1976 and a scene almost parallel to the filth and fury of the widespread banning and hysteria of the Sex Pistols live outings? Or is it 2011, many years later and we are being denied the chance to lose ourselves within the unpredictability of a genuine Punk Rock performance of attitude, danger and upsetting the damn apple cart." I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I am not alone in being pissed off at being treat like some censored imbeciles who are expected to watch a so-called event of Raw Fusion, alcohol-free and health and safety taken to the extreme and be denied the fun and joy of experiencing a band that are quite probably the most relevant vein of Rock’s long heritage of rebellion and hedonistic abandon we have today! We sod off home, get out some drinks and raise our glasses to The Violet May as the ghosts of Strummer, Morrison and Cobain nod in unified agreement for our Rock n’ Roll cause. Long live the spirit of the revolt, it may get unplugged, it may get rationally explained away and excused…. But IT WILL NOT GO AWAY!!!!
The Monicans/ Whitemoor Rotherham Live at Dickens 25 February 2011
Review by Tony Beesley
It’s a typical rainy Friday evening in Rotherham town. At the edges of typical Friday booze-binge night out sits the Dickens venue, the scene of many notable gigs of the last 18 months or so: The last die-hard hope for live music in the town. The place is sparsely attended, the lager is over-priced cans but, as usual, in the best tradition of the venue, the bands are FREE to watch, making up for a six quid trio of cans on this wet dire night in the heart of broken Rotherham! The taste of survival for the venue (the last bastion of hope for keeping a fine tradition of live music alive and well in the town) and of holding out to the last is evident. This is the last-chance saloon and the music goes on!
Only the truly dedicated have turned out to watch this 2011 rock n’ roll show. We don’t mind being in short attendance, though we would welcome far greater support from others to keep this place alive and well for the future, and to give these bands the welcome they deserve. Even our quickly depleting cash flow for the Fosters is all in a good cause… a lost cause? Hopefully not!
I am told that one band has pulled out: however, Whitemoor are here and perform with no loss of confidence. I arrive to catch six or seven songs from their new album, which we bought from singer Ben Ryan after their set. Whitemoor are a four-piece singer/guitar/bass/drums Rock band through and through. They have written an album of accomplished, well structured songs with readily recognisable hooks and tunes: shades of early U2 spring to mind. Rockers such as ‘Thrill Words’, ‘Artifacts’and others surround mid-pace numbers like ‘The Element of Surprise.’ They play with confidence and note-perfect ease and wouldn’t be out of place on the bigger stages of the gig circuits. A notable support slot on a nationwide tour should do the trick. If you like Indie Rock with anthemic hooks and hints of Manics styled chorus’s you will most likely take Whitemoor to your heart. Well worth keeping an eye on for sure.
Next up are one of Sheffield’s greatest bands of recent years and certainly, in my opinion, one of the most original of all. I make no secret of it; I am a great fan of the Monicans and want to tell the world how great they are! A three piece who produce a soundtrack of massive expanse, the sound of multi-layered left-field guitars being created live right there on stage with one guitarist, the tremolo sound of the bass and unrelenting drums holding together the unique structures of Monicans songs. This band are special… they deliver and surpass all expectations. They are a three piece but sound like an acid-drenched rock n’ roll orchestra.
Kicking off with a new tune, the set coasts along more evident Psychedelic tones this time around: the spiky set fave ‘Angeline’ is only played on special request and ‘The Water’ is also omitted. ‘Horizon’ (one of my faves) is present as is ‘My Love’ but it is the middle section of ‘So Unsure’ where the flow arrives at ‘a saucer full of secrets’ territory… prog-psyche with a Post-Punk template is being explored here. Close your eyes and the Haights of Astbury aren’t far away! I am keen to learn where the next batch of songs will take the Monicans. Retaining their individualism and unique and quirky approach to song-writing will surely push the boundaries of Monican Rock even further and the ‘Horizon’ looks extremely promising. An album is needed. The band are ready, the time is right! I can’t wait!
So the night ends almost straight away afterwards. The experience has been positive and we have been transported to a place that promises much more. Two great bands playing to what must have been around twenty people or so yet again for free. The treat is all ours. Thanks to the bands, the enthusiasm and commitment of DJ Scott Eades and Monicans gang leader Ben Hartley and the venue itself. What is the future here? Will we be able to have this privilege for much longer? The loss, if it does occur of this venue and its musical socialising… a proper Rock venue with all barriers broken down, where you can meet your friends and experience the excitement of live music being created and performed right there six foot in front of you, would be critical. Screw the out of town Motorpoint Arena (what a rotten well-described title that is) and all of its senseless herding of weekend Q-reading drones. We want Rock n’ Roll here on our doorstep, in this small room where outstanding talents like the Monicans can perform… amazingly we have had a pedigree of huge talent play in our town for FREE for 18 months and it could all slip away from our lives forever.
I go outside; it’s pissing it down proper now. We scarper for a taxi and glide past the plastered drunken bingers of Friday night/Saturday morning utopia. They don’t know what they are missing!
The Human League, Sheffield O2 Academy, Sunday 12 December 2010 Review by Andy Coles, photos by Kevin Wells and Andy Coles.
They’re back… and what a long wait it’s been. Apart from the odd concert here and there, it’s been nine years since the last album ‘Secrets’ and, one recent snow-enforced gig cancellation later, The Human League are returning to Sheffield for tonight’s home fixture. Not a moment to lose then.
Praise first for support band (We Are) Performance, who could go on to great things with the right breaks. Have a listen to their album ‘Red Brick Heart’ if ‘electro-indie’, in the vein of The Killers, is your thing. Standout track ‘The Living’ would make a good starting point for curious listeners. Good stuff.
photo copyright: Kevin Wells
The Human League take to the stage to a warm reception, like the meeting of old friends, and offer up a new number from the forthcoming album ‘Credo’ to kick off the proceedings. The new song, ‘Electric Shock’, is reminiscent of ‘Stuck On Repeat’ by Little Boots and brings the trademark League sound into the 21 Century. The music is poppy and electronic and has influenced a whole new generation of artists, including Little Boots herself and La Roux. The band, still comprising of Philip, Susan and Joanne (plus an ever-changing line-up of backing musicians), seems to have been together forever but they still manage to deliver the goods (albeit on a less-regular basis these days).
The first ‘old face’ to appear is ‘Open Your Heart’ from their biggest album ‘Dare’ and what follows is an excellent cherry-picked selection of their hits (and some near misses) from across the years, including ‘Mirror Man’, ‘The Lebanon’, Louise’, ‘Love Action’ and ‘Tell Me When’. The back catalogue of quality songs that the League possesses means that they could have filled another set with completely recognisable numbers.
The stage looks excellent, moodily lit with accompanying images on the screens behind the band. Things have moved on technically since Adrian Wright (former ‘Director of Visuals’) used to project slides to enhance the songs and so nowadays we are treated to videos of sightseeing tourist sheep in sunglasses taking photos of the audience as we listen to ‘Sound of -
photo copyright: Andy Coles
the Crowd’ (crowd/flock, get it?) and huge moving eyes staring at us. Even Adolf Hitler makes a guest appearance. ‘Seconds’, about the assassination of JFK, is visually enhanced by clocks whose hands run rapidly backwards, as if counting down to the act itself. The three front members of the band also go through several costume changes, disappearing and re-appearing on stage during instrumental breaks.
Fans of the original Marsh and Ware-era band are treated to pioneering debut single ‘Being Boiled’, which is followed by ‘Empire State Human’, both songs showing a wacky/kitsch side to the music that I feel was lost after the split and subsequent rebirth. Good to hear those again. The fact that they have been kept in the setlist just shows what great songs they are.
photo copyright: Kevin Wells
Recent single ‘Night People’, also from ‘Credo’, is given an airing and sounds better than when I first heard it; a real grower that is the younger sibling of ‘Sound Of The Crowd’ and a song that points to good things for the new album in March 2011.
The band encores with ‘Together In Electric Dreams’, not a Human League song and certainly not one of my favourites, but it does give the mainly middle aged audience a chance to sing along and get all nostalgic. All in all, this was a superb night and was a gig that showed that regardless of how musical trends change, good songs and catchy melodies will always survive them. This was the sixth time that I’ve seen the band and no doubt it won’t be the last. See you there next time.
Salvo/The Monicans/Spiders Rotherham Live at Dickens Nov 26 2010-11-27
Review by Tony Beesley, photos by kind permission of Shine Photography
Been looking forward to this one for a while: even the sub zero temperatures and the threat of snow couldn’t put me off. Seen Spiders a few times over the year and always manage to impress, a damned good hard-working young band with a dab hand at catchy tunes and a classic 3-piece line up. Saw the Monicans back in the summer and enjoyed them too. Wasn’t quite sure what it was that attracted me to their music and style but I liked them. Since accumulating some tracks on disc of both bands I have got to know a healthy selection of their songs. Not heard Salvo, but can hold good faith in them by the good company they keep. Monicans right-hand man Ben Hartley informs me they can deliver so all looks promising.
Spiders have been in the studio all week re-recording their set list and fine-tuning the songs arrangements etc. Halfway through their set this starts to really show. Some fine spangly lead guitar backed by a strong rhythm section coming to the fore. My friend Gary declares the word ‘Television, they have been listening to Television’ and maybe they have or have not, the delivery of prime Tom Verlaine led Televison circa ‘Marquee Moon’ is there and that’s no mean compliment. Although never being a massive fan of Television, but owning their work for many years but never truly warming to them, listening to Spiders take on an almost progressive Punk sound, I must deep down love the band. As Gary recommends too, ‘Get ‘Marquee Moon’ out and played this weekend Tony’ and that I will. It’s this new confidence that impresses me a lot and having been passed a CD of Spiders brand new studio work from drummer Adam, I can’t wait to give it a spin.
The Spiders trademark Indie/Punk/pop is still on show ‘Every time You Look at me’ and ‘False Expression’ sounding as good as ever, but I have a sneaky feeling the band are heading into new territory and maturing fast. A New York sound is filtering through in the middle of the set: the result is positive and impressive… any music fans out there who haven’t had the pleasure of Spiders yet, you really don’t know what you are missing.
Another 3-piece band The Monicans are next, a powerhouse drummer, Peter Hook reincarnated into the female form bass player and a moody David Byrne-esque charismatic lead singer/guitarist. No other ingredients are needed. The Monicans unique blend of Post-Punk, earthy folk leanings and …. And something else I can’t quite put my finger on… but I love it. Everything sounds perfect, a musical cross-roads of everything that is musically relevant in 2010 and the future. The Monicans sweep us into new places… swirling and persistent guitar lines played faultlessly but not with shiny accomplishment, more of a mesmerising addictive trance-like state… Prog-Punk anyone??? ‘Beacon’ is the most representative of this style. I catch myself looking around for a hidden second guitarist, thankfully there is none.
The template is complete. ‘Angeline’ is one of my favourites: here accompanied by two mates on relaxed backing vocals. It all works and unlike much of the band’s songs is short and sharp but like the rest of them leaves you yearning for more. ‘The Water’ chips in almost like The Doors ‘Love her Madly’ but soon kicks in with it’s own identity, another little gem. The Monicans are truly something special; I can’t rate them high enough. The world is gonna suddenly wake up one day and be obsessed by the band and rightly so. Get with ‘em, they are the biz!!!
Salvo? Christ they look like a hybrid of the Strokes, Hanoi Rocks and dare I say it Def Leppard or some dodgy HM Glam band: leathers, almost poodle-styled hair and a couldn’t care less Rock n’ Roll image… but can they Rock out man. Salvo? Love ‘em too. The sounds of New York’s progressive Punk scene and a healthy dose of the ghost of the New York Dolls is well and truly alive tonight. I don’t know any of their songs by title as yet and this is my first impression but I can highly recommend these guys. Playing to a small gathering like this on a late November night, they take the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame by the horns and rip into it with pure unadulterated abandon. I like these a lot and will certainly be checking them out again.
So... three exceptional upcoming bands playing their hearts out to a small crowd of fans in a intimate local venue that thankfully seems to be riding the storm of the present trend of pub and venue closure disease, all for FREE!!! Not often do you get a collective of fantastic bands on one night without paying a penny. No one lets the side down, all excel and all entertain past all expectations. It feels like we have been treat to something very special and that’s true, we have. Anyone that doesn’t get it must be suffering from living rigormotis. Can we have this lot here again?
Outside that threat of snow has arrived for real. It’s freezing cold, four weeks to Christmas and we have had a special Xmas prezzie already. The snow will remind us in years to come of how great it was.
Artery,Sheffield O2 Academy, 20 November 2010.
Review by Andy Coles, Photos by kind permission of bitterapplephotography
Waves of soaring synth sounds fill the air and dramatic blue lights sweep the stage as we await the arrival of one of Sheffield’s hidden gems, post-punk favourites Artery on a return to home turf. Expectations were high as the band has always been excellent in a live capacity and this was an evening that didn’t disappoint. Straight into jaw-dropping new number ‘Civilisation’, it was instantly apparent that the new line-up are as tight together as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm…all thundering drums, pumping bass and sweeping keyboards, topped off with the superb guitar (and cowbell!) playing of Murray Fenton (Sheffield’s own version of John McGeoch…yes, he’s that good) and the charismatic intense stage presence of frontman Mark Gouldthorpe whose stage moves, all mock-crucifixion and Rotten-like intimidating stares, are always fascinating to watch.
The new numbers fit effortlessly amongst the old favourites (‘The Slide’, ‘Into The Garden’, ‘One Afternoon in a Hot Air Balloon’) and are delivered with a passion that musicians half these blokes’ ages would be proud of, reminding us that this is a band that should be up there in terms of fame with their better known local contemporaries from the 1980’s (The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire) and one that continues to excite in creative terms. Recently released song ‘Who’s Afraid of David Lynch?’ would blow away anything currently emerging in the music scene. After all, this was the band that made Jarvis Cocker realise what he wanted to do for a career once he’d seen them play live. But, that was then and this is now (to paraphrase another 80’s Sheffield band) and the Sheffield music scene has moved on. Artery remains one of the best bands (if not the best band that the city has on offer).
After the opening number, Gouldthorpe assured us that if things sounded half as good in the audience as it did on stage then we were “in for a good night” and he wasn’t kidding. To see if that was the case, towards the end of ‘Into The Garden’, he leaped the barrier at the front and stood amongst the onlookers, staring stage-wards. Satisfied, he returned in time for the next number. New wave band Squeeze were playing the larger venue downstairs on the same night and a humorous request by someone in the audience for ‘Up The Junction’ was greeted by a raised two-fingered salute.
The music has evolved over the years and it was good to hear that the new line-up favour the keyboards high up in the mix, on such numbers as 'Unfaithful Girlfriend' as sometimes these have been lost when the band plays live. Combined with the onslaught of the other instruments, this has updated the Artery sound but it is still a sound that remains instantly recognisable as their own.
Set closer, and audience favourite, ‘Afterwards’ was greeted with huge enthusiasm and is a song that shows that Artery should have been huge back in the day (as we all know it’s sometimes about being in the right place at the right time) but will always be huge in the hearts of their dedicated following. I hope they still WILL be huge one day and kept watching the door as I didn’t want anyone else to come in tonight; I really do want this band as my own! The new material is as exciting as the old stuff and is definitely worth checking out, if you like your music on the Banshees/Magazine/Joy Division side. Buy the ‘Standing Still’ E.P., it really is brilliant.
Twisted Wheel Sheffield Leadmill 19th November 2010 by Tony Beesley
Photos from the band’s February gig on the Steel stage by Kevin Wells.
(For more Twisted Wheel photos check out the book 'This is Our Generation Calling' available on this site)
Unveiling a new line up with only the leader singer/guitarist Jonny Brown remaining, the classic 3 piece Twisted Wheel from Oldham show they still have what it takes to a Leadmill crowd on a dreary November Friday night. New members Stephen Evans on bass and Eoghan Clifford on drums have certainly made themselves at home well and tonight’s gig convinces me that all is well in the Wheel camp.
Twisted Wheel played the smaller Steel stage earlier this year but have now claimed the main room to showcase their high energised rock n’ roll set. Blending a pot purée of frantic Rhythm and Blues, Punk, Indie Rock and Mod into their own individual sound, the band still have the confidence and talent to make it much further in the biz! Based on tonight's excellent set, mixing the bulk of their debut album with a scattering of new songs, Twisted Wheel have so much to offer and I personally want to have it all!
Opening up with single ‘Lucy the Castle’ the front of the stage soon erupted into an electrified throng of singalong fans, leaping bodies and excitable stage invaders: hats off to the Manchester posse who - some being friends of the band - were keen to show their exuberance and love of Twisted Wheel. A sing-along onstage with Jonny Brown resulted in one young lad being escorted off by three bouncers before being ejected from the venue. This kind of over-reaction is becoming more prevalent at Rock gigs of late: Health and Safety rules are stifling the Rock n’ Roll live experience and whilst fingers can’t be pointed as to who exactly is to blame, I wonder how far is it gonna go before we are really treat like clones and told not to get over-excited with the live music on show…Do not move until the show is over and the like? To be fair, the security guys and venues staff only do their jobs, but it still indicates how controlled and monitored live music actually is. Relax the policies to suit the style of the band performing in my opinion… in other words enter at your own risk!
Back to the Wheel: the energy of the band continued unabated throughout, only the solo rendition of ‘Bouncing Bomb’ and the pure Mancunian pronounced ‘Strife’ slowing things down. ‘She’s a Weapon’, ‘We are Us’, ‘Let them have it all’, ‘You stole the Sun’ and one of my faves ‘Oh what have you done’ are all here. The dynamic energy oozes from the stage and feeds through all willing participants creating a true Punk Rock injected experience. All the frenetic speed of the best in UK first wave Punk have been thrown into the recipe book… think Slaughter and the Dogs, The Clash and The Jam meeting a healthy does of sixties beat sensibilty and a slight extra sprinkling of the more recent sounds of the Arctic Monkeys and ‘Rock n’ Roll Star’ template song Oasis and you’re nearly there. But… above all it’s the final delivery and serving that belongs to the Wheel and in all instances, be it on disc or onstage, the band retain their own true identity. Along with a handful of UK young bands out there at the moment, I have high hopes for the Wheel and can’t wait to hear their new stuff come out. Second album stumbling block scenario should not be the case with these guys. I foresee them going from strength to strength. Take note: the future of Rock music is in good and capable hands. Let’s not let it get crushed by the political correctness of the modern world!!!
The Boys Sheffield Corporation October 23rd 2010 Review by Tony Beesley. Photos by Brian Houghton and Kevin Wells
The Boys played their very first gig to a who’s who of Punk in September 1976- Strummer and Jones, Chelsea’s Gene October, members of Generation X and I wouldn’t be surprised if Boys fan Mr Weller was hanging around too. The first Punk band to gain a solid major record contract, the band tragically missed first division status, and what would have been well deserved critical acclaim, when Elvis died in August 77, and RCA records (who happened to own The Boys label NEMS) plowed every little bit of plastic available to produce as much Presley vinyl as was possible. The Boys first album - a gem of a record - was put on the back burner and appeared afterwards (not that long in real terms, but in 1977 a month or two was just enough time for the music press to influence a naïve punk-hungry public into believing that The Boys were not part of the leading punk pack)… or something like that! Three more well written albums followed, the best being 1978's 'Alternative Chartbusters' which boldly went where not many of the class of 76 dared go - and the band went from strength to strength musically, though by the time of their last album 'Boys only', so much had changed musically and culturally in the UK that their punky pop seemed wrongly displaced and out of time to a public of new romantic-loving Thatcherite music fans! Sadly but nevitably a split followed.
2005 and the band reformed and their legend grew and the Boys status in the minds of music fans has changed a lot since their punk heyday. Much loved around Europe and fondly remembered by aging punks of a certain musical persuasion; the less hardcore-minded punk fan, the band continue to perform, and occasionally record under varying guises. This gig marks The Boys first visit back to Sheffield since their January 1980 Ramones support slot at the Top Rank. Expectations were high, the excitement level was formidable and I myself had been looking forward to this gig for quite some time. I was not disappointed.
Honest John Plain and Duncan 'Kid' Reid by Kevin Wells
Opening up with ‘Alternative Chartbusters’ song ‘TCP’ the charm and talent of the band was still in solid form: the band just make you smile and immediately transport you to Boys land. Lead singer Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid plays bass too, a not so easy combination. His energy and boyish charm explodes from the stage (and the speaker he kept standing on at the front of us). Looking as youthful as any 52 year old could possibly ever look, Duncan captivates us all, none more than eternal Boys fan… my very good friend Jools, who never stops smiling from set opener to closing song. It’s one of those magic nights, one to really remember and worth the wait in every way. A manificent return!
Honest John Plain plays guitar just as effortlessly as ever, Casino Steele on keyboards, along with the rest of the band, providing those familiar harmonies that separated the band from many of their 70’s new wave contemporaries. ‘U.S.I’, ‘Soda Pressing’, ‘Cop Cars’, ‘Kamikaze’, ‘Terminal Love’, Lennon's 'I call your name', ‘Rue Morgue’, ‘Weekend’, ‘Living in the City’ and two of my own faves ‘Do the contract’ and 1978 single ‘Brickfield Nights’ all hit the right spots. Add to these, and others, their most instantly recognisable song ‘First time’- a song only The Boys could lyrically pull off during punks’ no future air of decay and oft negativity - along with debut 45 ‘I don’t care’ and their most identifiably punk song ‘Sick on you’ (punk tongue held firmly to the corner of the cheek) and we are presented with a truly classic gig set list!
Are The Boys relevant in 2010? YES they certainly are. Their unpoliticised brand of punky rhythm and blues tinged with sixties-influenced songwriting stand the test of any decade. Every modern, and recent times, pop/punk band… the clueless American slacker pop of teen comedy soundtracks, each and every indie flavour of the month... all take note: The Boys are the masters of this timeless pop that identifies punk as being just as closely related to the sounds of sixties pop, the Small Faces and Hamburg era Beatles as it is to the New York Dolls and Iggy Pop. The Boys play punk as cheeky, mischievous fun with a healthy dose of schoolboy humour, never tying their words and music to any agendas of the day. And that’s what helps them sound just as fresh this yearas in 1977 and every year to come. Long may they perform. It’s been a long wait for The Boys to come back to Yorkshire… but worth it in every way. Thanks to The Boys and Steve Metcalfe for making the journey possible.
Special showing...This is Our Generation calling at the Dickens Friday September 24th Review byTony Beesley/Photos by Nicol Garnon
starring The Violet May and co-starring Spiders
special guest star.... Ian Deakin
supporting cast at the bar and near the front
may contain some scenes of un-politically correct nature and may cause offence to some non-smokers and anti Rock n' Roll lobby groups
There was a real rock n' roll show last Friday at the Rotherham Live at Dickens venue... no corporate arena herdes and programme grabbers... rude and pig ignorant security staff, over-priced beer and being treat like fucking numbers and visa card receipts... no NONE OF THAT!!! as The Violet May... todays' greatest live band on the go are in town at a no fancy trimmings great little venue and bar... aided and abetted by a trio of young and talented lads called Spiders.... and another set of earnest musicians I thought was called Jo Klaxon!!! sorry Jo!
The band I thought was called Jo Klaxon kick off the show, well trained and determined to impress all... good things may come of 'em.
Spiders follow on with a set of their very best self-penned numbers and their crowd pleaser 'That's entertainment' in the middle, just right for a Friday night bash! Their confidence grows after three numbers and the crowd start to respond... 'Everytime you look at me', 'Start to lose control' and Romance is how tragic this is' join their most vibrant and exciting composition 'Dangerously close to what I want'... this is how it should be... we love it!!!
The Violet May are also keenly anticiptated... I have been counting the days down for this gig and these two bands and I know some others who have been doing likewise...
Chris and Jono by Nicol Garnon
Singer Chris probes his space... he needs to know what is around him... it may not remain depending which way it all goes.... then the show begins: This is Rock n' Roll calling... don't contemplate ignoring it: it's here, its in yer face and it means having a great time... the outside world and all of their rules don't count in here... we don't care!!!! if you don't like the buzz, don't press the button... and you know if anyone says different its all lies... 'Jennifer lies' infact...
A gang of us understand all of this: some look on with unsurety... some just wanna be entertained... and that's all great as its every great thing about live music that's on display here tonight... its unpredictable and fun and performed with a rare intensity...a rush, a high and a wall of melodic sound... if it passes through you and you don't get it... you may not recover: you may need electric shock treatment.... and what a drummer and ryhthm section this band have!
Watching The Violet May and their live set may get you wet, may encourage you to let go of your inhibitions and kick out the posing value of looking your best on a Friday night out... it may well disrupt your expectations...??? we don't know? its all here, ready to be embraced... take it on board, bring these songs into your life, kiss the attitude and feel free of 2010 and its ongoing bondage of rules and fears... this is the Violet May calling... kicking down the door, don't bother replacing it as the shows ready to roll further... the credits may be running but the movie has only just begun!!!