The Underground Reopening Party

Popular Music Venue Celebrates New Owners

Leah Hamer || July 18th

Babyshambles. Mystery Jets. Editors. The Underground was crowned the home of dirty indie rock and roll in the days of MySpace and MTV2. It became a cult classic with its legendary Club NME nights playing host to the tunes of forgotten noughties heroes. After its thirteen-year-old life, there were fears that the establishment would have closed, had it not been for the team behind The Exchange- who took on the new project in order to keep the iconic club alive. To celebrate their new ownership, an almighty gig was in order.

                On Friday 14th July, The Underground opened its doors for free and welcomed the talents of a variety of local artists for the evening. Soulful wonder John Dhali kicked off the evening with medley of inspiring anthems, gearing up the filtering in crowd for a hopeful night.

                Craig James Key took to the stage next with a warming voice and peaceful disposition. His sweet melodies were tickled on the strings of a shining Epiphone as the crowd sipped and swayed with him. With a mixture of original tracks like the poignant Paranoia, and some singalong numbers to such as Half The World Away, he had the perfect mixture to keep the audience entertained.

                With an array of covers under his belt, Alex Webb entered the arena next, with his engaging and decisive vocals and easy charm. With tracks like American Boy, You Know I’m No Good and While My Guitar Gently Weeps- Alex is no stranger to a challenge, clearly. With the confidence to cover such an eclectic mix, he is out to show everyone his talent for moulding and renewing even the most well-known songs.

                As a man with a personal love and passion for The Underground, it was a pleasure to see Ryan Dooley perform an intimate solo set, without the fellas of Faraday behind him. He could not praise the venue enough and complimented the new owners continuously. A voice that bubbles with nostalgia, the crowd were in adoration of Ryan’s return to the venue, as he performed both numbers from his current endeavour including Roots and Animal, and his past work with All The Young such as Today.

                Next came another artist who had found his footing at The Underground- Joey T. However, in the true fashion of an opening night- it didn’t all quite go to plan! With a series of technical difficulties, the set was forced to end before it had even begun. Yet Joey promised to return another time to give us the show we were waiting for.

                Closing up the gig were The Manalishi, armed with their band of loyal lads chanting MANA MANA MANA FUCKING LISHI. With filthy, fast rock n roll, the drinks were flying and the crowd was moshing- this is the mentality that The Manalishi always inspire. Starting off with their latest release, A Little Less Violence, the band continued to please the rowdy audience with their anthemic, loud heart-pumpers such as Out of the Blue and Sneaky Freaky. The gig came to a close as everyone’s ears were ringing and shoes were sticky- the true aftermath of The Underground. Yet it wasn’t over, the Red Stripe would keep flowing until the early hours with the DJing of Calum Murphy.

                With a following gig on the Saturday evening completing the celebrations, The Underground is back alive and kicking. Someone call Pete and Carl.

GBH will be performing at The Underground on Friday 18th August. Support comes from Adam Probert and John E SmokeDirty Rotten Souls and The Glass House Museum. Tickets on sale now through See Tickets and Music Mania. 

A Cut To The Quick

Leah Hamer | July 14th

After hiding herself away from the world of music for several years to focus on journalistic pursuits, in 2016 Emily Jones snuck out from her hiatus, picked up her guitar and arose once again to the gigging sphere. With this comeback, the pressure was on to trap her talent within a recording and so she called up the wizarding minds over at DROMA Records and UTC Studio. Together they have produced, A Cut To The Quick, the first instalment of two releases she has planned for 2017.

The raw squeaks of guitar strings open up the EP with New Year, a song that revives your hopes and expectations of life. With an earthy voice and gentle strums of her guitar, Emily is comforting and homely throughout the track. Like a wake-up call, she sings ‘new day, new hour, new start, new year’, to shake away the cobwebs of your mind and begin afresh.

The lead single, I Hope It Hurts, follows with its forceful storm of angst. It begins mellow, a building rage throughout the verse turns into this vocal inferno, complete with its bellowing reverb. The backing guitar of Jack Tasker is jazzy and smooth, and the towering drums of Sophie Bret Tasker give the track the extra volume that the lyrics require. Brutal and honest, you would be wise to not make enemy of Emily.

Penultimate track Upsticks is bluesy and comes with a wiggling beat that makes you move. There is a rebellious, smirking attitude with this track, ‘Upsticks, take your shit elsewhere.’ Tom Bath comes in with a harmonica giving it this lively, country feel. Liberating and fun, it reflects just another angle of Emily’s skill set.

One of the remarkable elements of this EP, is how daringly different it is to Emily’s live performances. Those that have caught her in person will recognise Emily to be an endearing soul with an ever-strengthening voice and charming wit as she rests her guitar across her lap and tells the crowd short anecdotes. A Cut to the Quick is an enhanced Emily- she is commanding, intimidating and superior. The addition of electronics and drums provides a melodramatic force field surrounding her voice. Jack and Sophie Bret Tasker act as her supportive side-kicks, giving her the energetic, confidence boost that truly magnifies the first three tracks of EP.

The final track, however, gives Emily her own solitary platform to present herself. Fool brings back a wave of darkening emotion, with her reflective lyrics and stripped back production. Broken and real, she does not shy away from truth. It is hard listening- you are forced to understand the words and relate to their gut wrenching meaning. As wonderful it is to see Emily brightened by further production- Fool reminds you that she is just as powerful standing alone.

With poignant subject matters, dazzling vocals and a proud, courageous attitude, A Cut to the Quick is the perfect display of Emily Jones showing the world who she is.

A Cut To The Quick is out today via DROMA Records.

Clarity By Vidorra Reviewed

After taking a short break from 'running around hitting drums or pressing space bar' as he joked, Vidorra has returned from taking exams and almost immediately hit us hard with what will no doubt become a standout tune of the summer.

Clarity is the new absolute banger from the young producer, who has already had a top year after winning the Best Young Artist award at the Music Awards of Staffordshire & Cheshire, and also appearing on The Honey Box, where he performed some of his hits live and also announced that he will be jetting off to work on his music in the USA soon.

Teaming up with Strawberry Milkshake for latest track Clarity, Vidorra proves he knows how to find the sounds that fit the moment, with this sublime tune sure to leave you dreaming about your favourite festival memories of this summer every time you hear it.

Bouncing from start to finish with an immensely catchy riff, Clarity is just another step in the right direction for this young artist who just keeps on getting better and better. And with those exams firmly out of the way now, who knows what we can look forward to finding from Vidorra next.

 

THIEVES ASYLUM SINGLE RELEASE - LOOK INSIDE

Bethan Shuff

Orange for IKYKIK, red for Reflections… Thieves Asylum switching their colour scheme to yellow on their social media could only mean one thing – a new tune in the pipeline; and we didn’t have to wait long. That evening, one year after releasing the anthemic and ever so catchy IKYKIK, Thieves Asylum released another beast of a track: Look Inside.

There’s a Thieves Asylum track for everything. Noc Noc is the soundtrack for when something badass is going down; IKYKIK is the one you scream the lyrics at your mates to; Reflections is more of a chilled groove; and well, Look Inside will well and truly knock your socks off.

A synth stutters into the track alongside Dan Thompson’s hypnotic drum beat. The slick and groovy riff swaggers in with Alex Grocock’s more subtle but charming melody behind it. Look Inside effortlessly bringing in an electronic element into indie guitar music. Joey Tomasso’s distinct, charismatic vocals ease in with an ethereal reverb making you feel like you’re being spoken to by your inner-conscience. Thieves Asylum have really pushed their creative boundaries with Look Inside, to create something a little bit different.

An infectious dancey beat with James Perry’s grumbling bass line and that same funky riffage carries you from the chorus to the next verse, where the lads experiment more with the synth. Frontman Joey said ‘We experimented with a lot of synth sounds with Sam Bloor (Record Producer). We are working on another dimension to our live set to make things bigger’. The build up to the breakdown explores more new sounds and effects, both instrumentally and vocally, creating a vortex of trippy psychedelia. I think the addition of a synth to Thieves Asylum would be a massive step in the right direction, giving them even more versatility and scope for experimentation.

There are some exciting things in the Thieves Asylum pipeline, including new singles, new artwork designs and a new big gig announcement for Summer 2017. 

Look Inside is available to listen to here, and it will be out on all major platforms on June 30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpui0ykdvwc&feature=youtu.be

INDIGO SINGLE RELEASE - POWER OF THE SEA

Bethan Shuff

The first strum flows out of the speakers, tremolo wavering the note as it’s followed by another, and another, and another as the notes ebb and flow in and out. Power of the Sea is here. Light cymbals wash over the track as Jim delicately floats over them; Elliot’s deep, strong voice creeps in, ‘the blood runs deep, it’s deeper than the talk is cheap; cheaper than the lies you keep’. Cool and confident vocals with cleverly constructed lyrics have a grasp on you that leave you needing more of the charming and enticing vocals. The wavering guitar sneaks back into the forefront with some elusive harmonies flickering behind it, the subtle thud of the kickdrum hiding behind the cymbals still twinkling. The instrumental is meticulous and clean, Elliot need not sing as the music completely does the talking for him. If you didn’t know Indigo, you’d never believe me if I told you they were a two piece as the amount of thought gone into it and the amount of noise on the other side of it is immense. Every note hit in the breakdowns makes you internally shout ‘YES’; the creativity an exploration still holds a strong and compelling groove that makes you nod your head or rock from side to side. The bridge is as powerful as the rest, imagine the peak of a storm with the waves crashing over the cliff face; Jim throwing is some Matt Helders’-esque backing vocals echoing Elliot. Finally, all is calm, Elliot sings softly as the music quietens, slowly slipping back into the darkness until another time. Indigo released Power of the Sea on June 17th at their single launch gig at The Exchange alongside Jay Johnson, Kitsune and FLIIIS, and it went down a treat with the crowd. Get yourself outside on a warm summer evening and stick this on, I promise you will fall in love.

The first strum flows out of the speakers, tremolo wavering the note as it’s followed by another, and another, and another as the notes ebb and flow in and out. Power of the Sea is here.

Light cymbals wash over the track as Jim delicately floats over them; Elliot’s deep, strong voice creeps in, ‘the blood runs deep, it’s deeper than the talk is cheap; cheaper than the lies you keep’. Cool and confident vocals with cleverly constructed lyrics have a grasp on you that leave you needing more of the charming and enticing vocals.

The wavering guitar sneaks back into the forefront with some elusive harmonies flickering behind it, the subtle thud of the kickdrum hiding behind the cymbals still twinkling. The instrumental is meticulous and clean, Elliot need not sing as the music completely does the talking for him. If you didn’t know Indigo, you’d never believe me if I told you they were a two piece as the amount of thought gone into it and the amount of noise on the other side of it is immense. Every note hit in the breakdowns makes you internally shout ‘YES’; the creativity an exploration still holds a strong and compelling groove that makes you nod your head or rock from side to side.

The bridge is as powerful as the rest, imagine the peak of a storm with the waves crashing over the cliff face; Jim throwing is some Matt Helders’-esque backing vocals echoing Elliot. Finally, all is calm, Elliot sings softly as the music quietens, slowly slipping back into the darkness until another time.

Indigo released Power of the Sea on June 17th at their single launch gig at The Exchange alongside Jay Johnson, Kitsune and FLIIIS, and it went down a treat with the crowd. Get yourself outside on a warm summer evening and stick this on, I promise you will fall in love.

THE HONEY BOX SEASON 1 CLIMAX AND REVIEW

Bethan Shuff

One studio, seven episodes, twenty one acts and one massive crew family later, The Honey Box season one is almost, I said almost, over.

The Honey Box is a unique live music experience, streamed live from King Street Studios once a month in front of an intimate audience. Bottlecraft are on hand to provide you with refreshing craft beers (or Capri-Suns) while three of Staffordshire and Cheshire’s incredibly talented musicians and bands take to the stages of King Street Studios each episode to perform three songs each.

The buzz of the first ever episode consumed everyone that walked through the door; Ben McManus and Leah Hamer chatting away to everyone and letting the first audience of The Honey Box know how it’s all going to go down; Pete Herbert and Russ Coppock of PH Productions running about between camera crew members; Chris Wilson describing the differences between an IPA and a lager.

Episode One saw politically-fuelled rapper Mumbo Jimbo joined for one track by fellow exit Pupils member Average Joe, speaking poetically yet powerfully, making grime accessible. Mumbo Jimbo was met by the sweet electronic sounds of Berlin-born Macious, who has been welcomed with open arms into the Stoke music scene, the crowd mesmerised by his hands pressing buttons and creating trance-inducing beats. Headlining the show was the country-rock vibes of 3-piece The Kings Pistol, celebrating their new album Songs from the Ghost Road and chatting about the importance and sentimental value of vinyl.

Episode Two saw a sea of festive jumpers, just one week before Christmas Day. Everyone was in high holiday spirits and raring to get into the show. This episode saw country singer, and first female artist on the show Narn, followed by the relaxed and mellow electronic creations from Lost Russle with precariously balanced synths atop of upturned mugs. Headlining was Nixon Tate and The Honey Club, who had thrown five singles at us in 2016 and we couldn’t wait to hear some of them live on The Honey Box. It wasn’t just The Honey Box that had a buzz around it though (pardon the pun); the nominations for The Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire were also slowly getting announced, with the nominees for Best Music Video being announced live on air and a couple of nominees in the audience who didn’t have a clue! The Honey Box is always full of fun surprises. 

In Episode Three, Jay Johnson mesmerised Ben Mcmanus with his impressive pedal board and looper skills. ‘He’s like a one man army, it’s like there’s a thousand of him. Behind this curtain there are 15 other Jay Johnson’s all with pedals and stuff’ Ben tells us. However, there aren’t 15 other Jay’s behind the curtain, just the one Jay who can sing with the power and energy of 15 other people. The delicate voice of Rachel Ferguson captivated the room; you could have heard a pin drop and daren’t move in case it disrupted the beauty of the moment. Finally was some smooth soul from the boys at Malthouse, teasing us with Out With The Old, taken from their new EP Extracts of the Soul. It was like we were no longer at King Street Studios, but at a funky little bar in New Orleans; the band have the ability to completely take you to another place with their music.

February’s show, Episode Four, was a Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire special, less than a week before the event. It featured three nominated artists including Megan Dixon-Hood, nominated for Best Solo Act, John Dhali, up against Megan for the title of Best Solo Act as well as Best Music Video, and Alter Eden up against John for Best Music Video as well as Best Rock Band. Megan took home Best Single last year for Early Morning Riser, and there’s no questioning why, with her ethereal vocals over her powerful piano. John Dhali makes the soul of everyone he meets smile, taking sunshine wherever he goes; winning Best Solo Act two years running and taking the title of Best Music Video for Only One at the Music Awards 2017, The Honey Box showed everyone why he deserved to be nominated. Alter Eden headlined the fourth episode, and were the heaviest act to feature on the show so far. Stage presence and performance is a top priority for the band, with frontman Nick Pilgrim even bringing in a step to enhance his performance so he could bounce around a bit more. There’s a reason they ended up winning Best Rock Band.

Five shows in and the excitement of the Music Awards wearing off, we all needed our Honey Box fix to bring us back on a high, and it did exactly that. Best Young Act winner, 17-year-old Vidorra got behind his Mac and decks to show the intimate Honey Box audience and the viewers of the world wide web just how much talent he has at such a young age. Julia Mosley, former vocalist of Reagal, is going solo with just her piano and powerful Kate Bush-esque vocals, enchanting the viewers with her confidence, passion and impressive vocal range. Best Act boys Psyence squeezed themselves into the stage space for a Cold Blooded Killer performance. Psyence always give 110% in their shows, blowing up a generator at last years’ Lymelight festival and tearing up The Exchange at their EP launch; whilst The Honey Box audience may be a little more reserved than Psyence’s usual crowd, everyone fell in love with their psychedelic guitars and trippy synths.

Best Urban Act, Blazer, told us all about his beats in Episode Six, flowing his tongue twisting lyrics with ease over beats he and his friends have crafted. Country singer Samantha Lloyd with her signature red guitar serenaded us with upbeat country pop, a song of heartbreak and a teaser of a new EP that she’s currently working on. Headlining Episode Six was everyone’s favourite powerhouse duo Indigo. Despite there being only two of them, the boys know how to make a noise that will rattle your core with their contagious riffs, thunderous drums and energetic vocals. Devil’s Treasure will be forever stuck in your head, along with their latest release Power of the Sea.

Episode Seven, held in May, hosted folk/pop acoustic artist Chris Reale, whose soft voice and descriptive lyrics likened him a little to Ed Sheeran, but yet remained worlds apart in his individual and unique style. Prior to this episode of The Honey Box, I had seen 18-year-old Emily Kate perform a lot of covers, but not too many originals, so to hear her own material on the show was a refreshing experience as she performed three tracks from her new EP Bag of Dreams. Her gentle vocals floating over softly picked guitar strings create an atmosphere so haunting and make the hairs on your arms stand on end. With the largest of smiles on her face that no-one would have been able to wipe off was Sheena Bratt with her band Venus Rising. As they played jolly and upbeat tracks, Sheena couldn’t help but dance her way through the songs, tapping away as she sung with enthusiasm and excitement.

On July 2nd, The Honey Box will hold its eighth and final episode of Season One before a short break as Season Two plans get hatched. On the bill we have not three, but four incredible local acts for you, including rapper and freestyler L.F.E, who will also be releasing his debut EP in July. Episode Eight will also feature the wonderful Emily Jones, also releasing an EP in July entitled A Cut To The Quick, consisting of fiery, angsty tracks about bitchy girls, no-good boys and growing up. Onyda is another lovely lady on the line-up, who played Glastonbury festival this year as well as releasing a cracking single Young and Stupid earlier in June. Headlining the season finale is the mighty King Kula. After rebranding themselves from Lost Soul Experiment to King Kula, the band underwent a sound revamp too, their latest release Strange Love is an interesting and swanky number, and if you haven’t seen the video for it yet, you need to. These four fantastic acts can be seen live, together, all in one room, for one hour only, streamed live on the internet with a limited number of tickets available to witness the magic live.

If you want to be a part of the season finale of The Honey Box, Stoke’s unique live music experience, grab a ticket. 

CAMENS SINGLE RELEASE

Bethan Shuff

Camens – Redolence – Single Review

This summer, all of our favourite indie bands have dabbled in a bit of pop; Kasabian’s new album, Kings of Leon’s new stuff, even Liam Gallagher’s Wall of Glass has a bit of an electronic/pop feel.

After the release of their debut ‘Boys Will Stray’ back in April, Camen’s are on the same wavelength as the big names. Redolence is described as ‘the second chapter in the manifesto’ and it provides that feel-good, groovy vibe that makes for a good old dance.

Scott Powell’s cheery voice behind the picks of guitar notes opens the track, it gives the strange feeling of listening to music underwater. The vocals are cleverly switched to bring them into the forefront as the drums kick in, like you’ve resurfaced and can hear everything clearly for what it is. It’s like a microcosm for how everything we see is often filtered, be it Instagram selfies, media or news, you see and hear what people want you to see and hear.

Each section of Redolence gains momentum and quickens, becoming more dancey and upbeat, the chorus having a bit of a Two Door Cinema Club feel in it’s up tempo melodic guitars. Scott’s powerful voice cuts through the dramatic pauses in between the vivacious instrumentals.

Redolence fills you with hope and happiness; an empowering track that you need to listen to first thing in the morning to get you out of bed and feeling productive.It has that get-up-and-go motivation behind it and the musicians’ passion and positivity is felt in every note. It’s that festival summer song that will fill an entire field of people with a buzz.

You can catch Camens at both Latitude Festival & Boardmasters this summer.

Get up and dance to Redolence by Camens, out Friday 23 June.

THE CARRIERS SAY GOODBYE WITH UNDERGROUND HEADLINE

Bethan Shuff

The Carriers @ The Underground 16.06.17

On Friday night, The Underground hosted the farewell gig for The Carriers. The band have been buzzing in Stoke for the past two years and the members are now parting ways to complete more new and exciting projects. There was absolutely no way The Carriers we going to go quietly.

Opening the gig was three-piece girl band Spoil Sport, with Agatha Riley, Megan Cartwright and Tiff Plant who was standing in on guitar for Fliss Harrison. The girls formed three months ago, but have already created a strong girlpower persona and empowering set. Dark and moody melodies and melancholic vocals set the tone for the evening. This was a lot of people’s first time witnessing Spoil Sport’s music, and despite their short set, they impressed many with their cover of Crying Clown by The Wytches and slotting in the unlikely choice of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball into another track.

Returning to the venue that hosted their first gig back in February was Misovia, a band fronted by Sam Johnson, who got to play with his new band and his (now) old band in one night. Misovia channel a very different sound to The Carriers, in that they’re very ambient and focused on timings and melodies, exploring different tunings and patterns. Each gig they’ve played has consisted of tracks set to be recorded for their upcoming EP. Despite a broken bass string mid-set, there was no stopping the lads. ‘Jake, Charlie and Rich, play some ambient shit while I go find a new bass’, to which Jake began to play Pirates of the Caribbean drowned in delay. Armed with anew bass, the show must go on. Guitarist’s Charlie and Jake bounced off each other sharing the lead guitar role and going solo crazy given half an opportunity combined with Rich’s intricate and experimental drumming and Sam’s funky bass lines makes Misovia an intriguing band. Rumour has it they have some news for us soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Main support came from Rewenge, who had a bag of new tunes for us to wrap our ears around after the release of their home recorded EP Rewenge 432 earlier this month. Monkeys on the Hill and Spiral Eyes continue to be favourites in their upbeat sets; each individual’s personality and influences materialising in the tracks. Looking back on one of Rewenge’s first gigs opening the show and watching them perform a main support slot, it is clear that they are deserving of the promotion. The band has really developed in its sound and the members have all grown into their roles, Ellis confidently announcing ‘We’re fucking Rewenge’ before erupting into his next track. Another unlikely cover of the night was the one and only Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight, in which Ellis did not miss a single word, which deserves a congratulations in my books.

Taking to the stage for the final time together, but certainly not as individuals, was The Carriers, gracing us with their punky goodness for one last time (unless you’ve bagged one of their albums which features every song they’ve ever written together). Ben makes an exciting frontman, suited and booted in a full suit, complete with waistcoat and bow tie, juxtaposed by his fluorescent pink hair and energetic, erratic dancing – you almost get tired just watching him bounce around the stage. Each and every band mate had a smile on their face as they performed, despite them going their separate ways to embark on new endeavours, it’s obvious that they all love creating music. Sam will be taking his bass skills over to Misovia, whereas Ben is now drumming for indie band Marquee and there’s no way Ryan and Jack are going to sit still for long. After an exhausting performance, The Underground bid The Carriers a fond farewell. Reunion gig in a couple years maybe? Let’s hope so.

Cheshire Band Begin Work On Album

REBEL Editorial || June 15th

Sonic A.M have entered into the studio with Producer Joe Meekums (Los Campesinos, Everything Everything) to begin work on their debut album.

Exactly a year on from recording their last release, 'What We Do When We Do Nothing' - Sonic A.M have begun work on their first album. It's being recorded at Oxbow Studios in Salford by Producer Joe Meekums, who's worked with acts such as Los Campesinos and Everything Everything. The album has been a work in progress since the bands inception two years ago and is described by the band as 'A chaotic, aggressive take on the rose-tinted lifestyle of the middle class.' A first single is expected soon.

Band member James Farmer said "It's been a long time in the works - we've had a few songs written before the band was even fully formed so it's cathartic to get them recorded the quality we've always wanted to"

"We've been playing the songs live for a while so it was no problem getting some live takes down, mostly in one evening. The rest of the time has been overdubbing some extra bits and tinkering with the sounds"

Farmer explained how Sonic AM have sat on the album tracks for some time, but have been in no rush to get the record out there, instead taking the time to make sure they were ready as a band for the release.

"The album has been around since not long after we got together - we tried recording it a few times but soon realised we just weren't ready for it. We'd spent most of the time since recording 'What We Do When We Do Nothing' talking about what to do next and not coming to many conclusions - I think it was probably the fact we have something like 50 songs ready to be recorded. We were put in touch with Joe after playing a gig in Salford and after what seemed like weeks of deliberation we were in the studio. The bulk of it was recorded live in about 12 hours on a hot summers day - next to a broken radiator stuck on full heat! We were so hot that day that I think the heat is actually audible on the record - Ross nearly passed out! We can't wait for people to hear it.'

To get the anticipation soaring even more, take a listen to the band's 2016 EP 'What We Do When We Do Nothing', which earned them a Best Rock Band nomination at the Music Awards of Staffordshire & Cheshire 2017.

Onyda Unveils New Song 'Young And Stupid'

Leah Hamer || June 3rd

After causing a stir with her huge single, No Answers, the evocative and enchanting Onyda has returned with yet another daring piece of craftsmanship.

Her latest track, Young and Stupid, was released this evening to the world, and it manages to be just as mesmerising as her former work.

A distorted giggle and squeak open the track before a trancing beat vibrates, readying you for Onyda’s breathless voice. She haunts you with lyrics of a care-free life of youth that comes tumbling down. Beginning with a simple verse reminiscing in the days of harmless fun and teenage freedom, it all takes a sharp turn in the chorus and reveals a world that has become a far darker place.

The simplistic synth adds a protruding atmosphere into her vision throughout. With her stunning high voice combined with distorted backing vocals, her presence is demanding even through mere speakers.

Her concept is elaborated with an aesthetically seductive video, acting as the accompanying visual to Onyda’s lyrical narration, representing the honest reality of life. Beginning as an endless party of cigarettes and colour, it all turns south as Onyda chops off her long blue hair and we see a downward spiral of mistakes and misfortune.

After speaking to Onyda, it is clear that this song is far more poignant than it may appear to an outside eye. ‘With both the song and video I just wanted to be as honest as possible, the whole thing is a mirror image of my life (dare I say) and my friends lives too. I made a conscious effort to not sugar coat anything and put it forward in a sort of crass and direct way which may divide opinions but I poured my heart into it completely. I tried to make it into something people around me could identify with, like it's not meant to be 'cool' or serve any other purpose than that!’

As a performer, producer, director, editor, storyteller, artist and inspiration - Onyda has proved her worth in more ways than one with Young and Stupid.

Onyda’s Young and Stupid is available now to download, and the accompanying video will soon follow.

POLIPTIK HEADLINE THE FULL MOON, NEWCASTLE 27.05.17

Bethan Shuff

Arriving at The Full Moon for the first time since my first ever music journalism experience 18 months previous, I was already excited to return to where it all began. The venue has been given a new lease of life as a music venue and Core Promotions had an epic night of experimental rock for us.

First on stage was Mancunian three-piece Cosmic Shambles (technically four-piece if you include the giant skull with tinsel eyes that took centre stage). The bands versatility made light work of switching up between covers of Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Stooges and The Animals as well as introducing us to their own tracks with the funky riffs of Fly Away and their raunchier It’s All Over Now, their first and latest release as a band. The out-of-town band had managed to pull in a crowd from the streets of Newcastle-under-Lyme that just seemed to keep growing throughout the set.

Local lads Misovia opened the set with the mammoth seven minute track Untitled 5, which has become a bit of a signature opening for the band, and one that everyone remembers with its diverse and experimental explorations. Misovia continued the set with a further four tracks – collectively the tracks they played are what they are hoping to record for their debut EP, which range from the melodic Why Bother, the instrumental track that is yet to be named, and the progressive Retrospect. Together the band have enough pedals to open their own store, all of which are carefully selected for specific tracks to create the perfect tones and effects – I often wonder how they remember which pedal to press when, but they manage it with minimal effort while performing their high-energy sets fuelled by dirty riffs and complex drum fills.

Goya took their performance one step further, bringing in their own lights and light technician to project the perfect atmosphere for their dark and moody set. The strum of a guitar, alongside a streak of light behind guitarist, Jase, broke the darkness of the pitch black stage and the stillness of the band. Not a single word or lyric spoken, the instrumental trio captivated the audience with their innovative performance and compositions. For the most part, the set was choreographed so that the tracks almost rolled into one continuous song, holding the last note of one and sinking into the first note of the next. Both visually and instrumentally, Goya provided an interesting and conceptual performance which had the audience in complete trance.

Headlining the ‘Night Tripper’ night was Poliptik. After recently releasing their EP ‘In A Sense’, Poliptik have gigged relentlessly, and don’t look to be stopping any time soon. Their high-powered set had everyone on the dance floor grooving to their new music, and it wasn’t long before drummer, Ryan, was topless. Frontman John Blair is the kind of guy that’s friends with anyone and everyone, so between all the microphone swinging and loud, powerful vocals, John was down on the dance floor himself having a boogie with everyone that had come to see his band. Hearing the In A Sense EP live is a totally different experience to hearing the recorded and refined counterpart, their strong live performance of their psychedelic rock tracks are full of blood, sweat and tears and the band expends every ounce of energy they have to give it their all for their devout and ever-growing fan base. 

A DAY AT NEWCASTLE JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL

Leah Hamer

Celebrating its twelfth year in business, the much loved Newcastle Jazz & Blues Festival, returned last Bank Holiday weekend to bring some groove into the town. Taking place from Friday 26th- Monday 29th, in venues big and small all over Newcastle, the weekend gave everybody an opportunity to boogie. 

Alongside the music, the streets were uplifted with a variety of tasty treats from the Artisan Market on the Saturday, a vinyl overload from VIP Record Fairs on the Sunday, and a host of fun fair rides and the Annual Charity & Plant Market that took place on the Monday. 
My main experience of the festival, however, took place on the Sunday evening, beginning at Brooklyn Sports Bar and Grill, where the humungous group, Greg Murray and the Seven Wonders, had taken over half of the complex and left fans spilling out onto the streets. With their cheery, upbeat feel for life, it was easy to understand how they conjured their own personal street party. 

Down the road was the soulful wonder that is John Dhali, performing in Yates. Catching his final song of the set, a cover of Whisky In The Jar, the entire crowd was booming with joy over John’s enthusiasm and big heart. 

Walking down the Iron Market, there was a sense of erratic confusion from myself as I wondered who to see next, the options were all too overwhelming and exciting as music poured from venues across the street. I hovered by the open windows of Cappello Lounge to hear a three-piece made up of a trumpet, double bass and electric guitar playing soothing, sensual background music to customers drinking their cocktails and devouring tapas. 
Moving onto Bar Social, I was forced to elbow my way through to see the Brassociety. A mammoth collection of golden instruments stood in front of me, playing hearty covers with energy and red faces. Each of the seven members was kitted out in matching blue and pink uniforms performing with might and pride. 

I wandered over to The Foyer next to see a real gem perform, Front Page News. These guys were old school cool- the proper business. With wise smiles, bopping beats and deep course vocals- they showed everyone how it’s really done. As they’ve been playing for far longer than I’ve been on this earth, I was in awe of their ability and knowledge of true jazz and blues. 
Throughout the rest of the night, I dipped my toe in each venue to sample a taster of what was on offer- from Chris Bevington and Friends at Blakey’s Café Bar to The Cartellos at The Black Friar, the festival allowed me to bar hop and experience a glimmer of every act in a short space of time. 

As the night drew to a close, I settled at a brand new venue, Hogarths, a stunning gin paradise decorated in antique paintings, rich mahogany walls, with glowing chandeliers and a lively atmosphere. On top of the balcony, were The 45 Sound- a local sixties cover band playing classic Northern Soul and Mod tunes all night long. They were beyond talented, each member at the height of their ability, and gave the entire venue those feel-good dance songs like Begging You and I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Teamed with a glass of gin and a singing crowd, they closed my night of Jazz & Blues perfectly. 

FILTH - PLAY THAT FILTHY MUSIC - EP REVIEW

Leah Hamer

After appearing on the scene just a few short months ago, at a debut gig at The Underground, local grunge kids, Filth, have been getting around the joint like a dirty, little rumour. So it was only a matter of time before the boys got themselves down to Riff Factory to entrap their sound on a few recorded files. 

To debut themselves to the world, they have created a four-track EP, Play That Filthy Music. And my god is it filthy. 

The self-titled opener kills you with a spacy beginning before plunging into a grizzly little riff, with distorted effects and punchy, accented vocals from singer Joe. Simplistic lyrics like Keep it filthy/Keep it wrong, suit their image and the blunt, brutal nature of the track. With its marvel of a riff, it gives you hope for what is to come. 

Fade Out follows. A psychedelic, trancing synth trickles into your mind before the deep guitar of Lewis Fernough infiltrates this sound and turns the track into this raging Black Rebel Motorcycle Club meets Slaves number. Now I wanna scream/I wanna shout/But I won’t fade out- repetitive and basic lyrics are used again but are effective when tied in with the engrossing mixture of guitar and synth melodies. Lewis shows his pizzazz again during a later high-pitched screeching solo. 

Third track, SDA (standing for Sex, Drugs and Alcohol), is another rough and raunchy piece of experimental, grunge rock. Aggressive and weighty, it has a steady, nodding beat and harsh vocals. It doesn’t hold the same level of excitement as Filth or Fade Out, yet it is a good filler to hold the EP together. 

A provocative riff opens up their closing track, Bitch, a brave and punky display of their worth. Demanding drum beats, a nifty bass line, alongside its smart hook and yet another bludgeoning guitar melody, Bitch is an ideal summary of the EP and the sound of Filth. 
With Play That Filthy Music, Filth have definitely found their forte.  

You can listen to Play That Filthy Music by Filth here:  https://soundcloud.com/filth_uk/sets/playthatfilthymusic 

Marquee Debut Reviewed

Bethan Shuff || May 29th

Fresh on the scene in March 2017, Marquee made their debut appearance at the Sugarmill the following month supporting The Albion, followed by supporting London band Judas in May. This month they released their debut single, Do What You Need, alongside B-side Playground Tales and they’re two very contrasting numbers.

Do What You Need opens with a slow finger picked guitar, winding through the notes like an old soul ballad, washy cymbals fluttering in the background while in the foreground Callum Lightfoot’s vocals swim through the speakers. As a home recorded track, it’s rough and ready; the imperfections adding character and reminding you that music isn’t always about being the best, it’s about having fun, self-expression and having a laugh with your mates. A cheeky little Oasis lyric sneaked into the track with ‘so take what you need and be on your way’, with Kieran Breese harmonising in the catchy chorus. Do What You Need is a relatively slow track, with a strong guitar presence and vocals being the heart of the track, providing a glance at what Marquee have in store for us.

Upon hearing B-side Playground Tales, I wanted to shake the band and ask them why they didn’t release this as the single. A funky, fast-paced Arctic Monkeys style bass line with the kick of a drum and the punch of a guitar gives you something to really bop along to. It’s a more up-tempo number with Kieran singing lead with a swagger to his voice and Callum bringing up the backing. Half the length of its A-Side, Playground Tales only gives you a minute and a half to have a dance; it’s a track I can see the lads playing at a gig and it’s the one where the beers go flying so that arms are free to boogie.

Having released two tracks already after only being together for two months, I’m intrigued to know what Marque have up their sleeve next.

Fancy A Fruit Shoot?

Latest Banger From Bonsai

Lee Barber

Get ready for a tropical dance storm with Stoke indie boys Bonsai's latest release Fruit Shoot, full hard hitting drums and serious swagger-dance guitars, some thought-provoking vocals and a good old fashioned indie banger ending.

Dropping in instantly from a short introduction, front man Chris Hough doesn't mess about in getting his lyrics out there, and is possibly in his finest form as a singer, proving that he has not only the entertaining front man side covered, but the lyrics and the voice, too.

Guitar licks throughout the verses are simply impossible not to jig along to, while the chorus has an innate ability to whisk you away. It's quite strange, that the music in the chorus somehow feels like a gateway into the thoughts and feelings of Chris Hough; when you really take in the lyrics you find yourself suddenly rather sombre, as Hough sings lyrics which on some level we all secretly feel ourselves. Hats off to a song-writer willing to admit he's 'bricking it a bit about getting old alone.'

After two minutes of sneaky finger magic on the old gweets beneath Chris Hough's fine vocals, it's time for Bonsai to do what Bonsai do best: drop the beats that gets the whole room going crazy. And they certainly do it in style on Fruit Shoot; make sure you go and catch these guys live soon - the outro to Fruit Shoot is pure indie mosh material.

Dirty Rotten Souls Are Back

Leah Hamer || May 20th

After locking themselves away in UTC Studio over February, two-piece Dirty Rotten Souls emerged into the light with four brand new tracks under their belt. After the success of their last release, Pure Bliss, back in March, they so kindly dropped their next addition, I Smell A Rat, earlier this month.

A face full of grizzly guitar hits you in one-second-flat, and doesn’t ease up for the next thirty seconds. With ground-shaking drums penetrating your ears, the introduction gives you a nasty little taste of that rotting rock you’ve been missing. The vocals of Mark Bailey rage and roar over the crashing cymbals of Danny Nicholson, and it is easy to hear that this is another one of their classic, angst anthems.

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During the chorus, you can pick up on the clever lines that Mark incorporates throughout the song, ‘You’re never more than ten feet from a rat/That’s what my counsellor says.’ It’s this dramatic wit, combined with a dense demonstration of skill that makes Dirty Rotten Souls such a high-ranked band within this scene.

Smart, powerful and intensely wild, I Smell A Rat, is fine proof that Dirty Rotten Souls spent their time in studio captivity very wisely.  

LYMELIGHT FESTIVAL - SUNDAY MAIN STAGE REVIEW

Reviewers : Bethan Shuff, Emily Jones, Leah Hamer, John MacLeod. Photographers : Bethan Shuff, Chris Hollingworth, Mark Vyse

11:45-12:15 

Piccolos, saxophones, guitars, keys, percussion, drums - these are the items that greeted the eyes of passers-by on the sunny, Sunday morning of Lymelight, all courtesy of traditional, Celtic folk group- Greensward. Full of life, the band executed an exciting performance, filled with enjoyment and passion that was transported onto the audience members equally. 

12:30-13:00

‘The sun is shining and we’re alive’, and what more do we need? These were the words of the humble John Dhali as he greeted us all with his usual beaming smile and empowering optimism. Harnessing the glowing weather, John uplifted the lives of every passer-by and audience member. With tracks like Straight Talking and his latest single Here, he held the crowd in his arms with his soulful voice and inspiring lyrics. Yet it was his foot-tapping power anthem, Only One, that made the biggest impact - with everyone clapping and singing along in pure joy. 

13:15-13:45

A mane of wild, fiery hair stepped to the stage, backed by a huge band of companions, travelling all the way from Leeds - this was how Ingrid Schwartz arrived. With a compelling set-list of hard and soft, country-folk, Ingrid showed everyone her keen ability to create a mood and atmosphere with tracks like Meet Me Halfway and Give It All. Switching back and forth from her ukulele to guitar, Ingrid and her team brightened up the town with ease. 

14:00-14:30 

After forming just over five years ago, The Taskers have one killer catalogue of tracks to play with. So at their main stage performance, they had no trouble in showing us their diverse mixture of skills and styles - with soft-rock tracks like The Wolf, to stunning, heart-throb numbers like Joy. With three vocalists in the band - there was democracy in the set-list, giving the strong and different vocals of Jack Tasker, Sophie Bret-Tasker and Laura Ellement, their own time to shine.  

14:45-15:15

Now when it comes to solely instrumental bands, it can be very hard to maintain a crowd’s interest without the stimulation of lyrics. Umbrellabird don’t abide by that however. With crazy skills in every element of their performance, the local three-piece blew everyone away on their keys, drums and guitar. Artistic and experimental - it was a wonder to see their creativity exploding on stage.  

15:30-16:00

Megan Dixon-Hood is the voice that makes heads turn. From the very top of the Iron Market, her harrowing vocals could be heard, until one by one, she entrapped the people of Newcastle in her haunting web, and all had to stop their daily routine to witness this enchantress in performance. With her trusty band behind her, drama and volume poured out of the stage with mystical tracks like Abigail and Drown. Ending with her latest single, With Time, Megan once again showed us her ability to express herself, in the most magical of ways. 

16:20-16:50 

As the evening grew on, it was time to welcome back the bands to the stage - beginning with dirty, catchy indie slingers, Alma. With a cool, young image and set-list of banging, riff-based tunes- it is easy to understand why the four-piece will attract such a healthy crowd. Throwing in some wise covers like Peace’s Lovesick, the band honed in on the growing, pop-grunge scene that is circling the scene today. A special hats off to their front man, Jack Fraiser Kennedy, for powering through the set despite his bass strap falling off at least twice per track. Champion. 

17:10-17:40 

A little later into the afternoon saw the turn of Shakedown Stockholm, a popular rising band from Winsford. Complete with a heavy seven-piece line-up (including two female lead vocalists), Shakedown Stockholm were nothing like any of the acts that had taken to the stage before them. Their tracks ‘Forgive, Forget’ and ‘Who Says I?’ rang out across the town, ensuring that they could be heard from miles around. They’re a band worthy of your attention and even more worthy of the Hippy Hippy Shake Company, naming a Lymelight Festival milkshake special after them (which is still available, by the way).

18:00-18:30 

Local rockers The Manalishi were up next, with their usual blend of high energy material including ‘Outta The Blue’ and ‘Scream’, both taken from their current album, along with newer tracks ‘A Little Less violence’ and ‘History’. Their crowd, made up of fans old and new, sung along loudly and proudly to ‘Tell Tale Signs’ as vocalist and guitarist Josh Alcock resisted the urge to sing out their sweary accompanying chant. With a new album in the pipeline and the band’s popularity growing in Manchester, it appears as though the next few months will be extremely important for The Manalishi and their career as a band.

18:50-19:20 

The Kitsune are in a unique position at Lymelight, being the only three-piece band not to feature a drummer, instead using electronic drums which pound away, chasing Kit (vocals & guitar), Dale (synths) & Joe (bass) throughout their swirling set of confident, angular riffs, earworm lyrics, and dreamy soundscapes.  Even between songs, ethereal sounds play before the band kick in alongside them.  Between the music and Kit Popple’s lone, almost haunting, vocals, Kitsune have taken elements of an eighties aesthetic and brilliantly dragged it into the 2010s.  As dusk began to draw in, the band played a measured, confident set, beginning with ‘High Heels‘ and, via ‘Suicide Saturdays’ (featuring a guitar which is pleasingly - if not mathematically - sparse and so very effective), and finished on Sera Shot - an absolute, adrenaline-fuelled banger.  More, please!

19:40-20:10

We Few’s set at Lymelight was not just a stellar performance, but a farewell gig to their drummer Chris Williams, who couldn’t have had a better send off from his band. Their casual, nonchalant attitudes were maintained for the duration of their riff-driven tracks, stompy drums and gritty vocals in songs like ‘Alter Ego’. Tom Machin was a top frontman, putting on a show, singing into the cameras and waving the mic stand above his head in a true rockstar manner. 

20:30-21:00 

Filthy rock duo Dirty Rotten Souls had a last minute call in after Fake War couldn’t perform, and the lads whipped something up for the crowd, good and proper. Thunderous drums and grungy guitars, even without a bass the two-piece create one hell of a storm with a Royal Blood kind of vibe that shakes you to the core.

21:20-22:00 

The penultimate act of the day were The Gurus, performing songs both from their current EP ‘A Good Idea, At The Time’ a long with some of their popular back catalogue, including ‘Dogmatic’ and previous single ‘I Don’t Mind’. As frontman Jimmy Hackley’s vocals rang out into the night, the festival’s first drops of rain began to fall, soaking the crowds that had gathered at the front of the stage that night. Some ran for cover under nearby balconies but many stayed put, choosing to be damp all for the sake of local music. 

22:20-23:05 

In the words of Psyence themselves, that set ‘went off like a fireworks factory’ and I couldn’t have said it better myself. The dreamy synth tones send all listeners into a deep, hypnotic trance that you’re never coming out of. Tracks from their latest EP A New Dawn show a maturity in their sound, and how they really know the direction they’re going in. As each song was played, the momentum just kept building in every swing of Jamie B’s bass, every strum of Jamie C’s guitar; Joe just a blur of hair and sticks as he thrashed the drums, Ben jumping between synth and tambourine, and Steve Pye spreading the Psyence love. At the end of every fireworks show, there’s a grand finale, and Psyence’s set followed the same rule and it exploded with Jamie B jumping onto the bass amp and Ben grabbing his synth off the stand and still playing with just the one hand, the stage was chaotic and there was something mad going on wherever you looked. Simply put, Psyence smashed it – without blowing anything up this year.

John Dhali Double Up

REBEL TAKES A LOOK AT TWO NEW TRACKS FROM JOHN DHALI

Leah Hamer // May 17th

Here

A towering build-up of foot tapping and a murmuring acoustic guitar leads to the breakthrough of John Dhali’s hopeful vocals, appearing through the dark beats like a glimmer of sun in the grey clouds. As the track grows, an aggressive passion courses through John’s voice- gruffly angelic and bravely optimistic. As he sings lines like ‘There ain’t no better canvas I can paint and there ain’t no better story I can write’, it becomes so blatant how adoring John is of music as an art form.

With every track that John conjures, he unleashes a beam of light in the process of recording, giving every listener an immediate detoxifying boost with every play. Here is no different. In the glorious middle-eight, John’s falsetto is utterly entrancing. Already at this early stage in his career, he has truly discovered the key to creating harmonious and beautiful music.

Taste

A week ago, John took the liberty of sharing another track with the world, Taste. Recorded live with Samsara Sessions, with whom John has previously worked with, overnight the song and its accompanying video, received adoration across the scene. Opening with the strums of a blue ukulele, the camera pans upwards to see John with a thoughtful frown and dewy eye in a field of green. His darling voice appears singing a heartfelt declaration, ‘It’s not you my love, it’s something inside of me…

The song continues to seep into your pores and infiltrate your cells. To sit alone and watch it on a screen is an intimate and evoking experience, as the lyrics become dually heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. In the same sense to Here, Taste is an unleashing of emotions and feelings that need to be voiced, but in contrast to his previous release, Taste is completely stripped back. In just one single live performance, with no smoke and mirrors, and no embellishment, John Dhali has found a way to capture us all, once again. 

Don't Call Me Ishmael Album Launch Success

Home Of The Honey Box Provides Perfect Setting For Sell Out Show

John MacLeod || May 12th

A warm evening in May at King Street Studios - the venue for Messrs. Haubus, Plant, Tasker, Tasker, and Wilcox to complete the birthing process of their new album, ‘I’m Broken, But I’m Fine’.  A hardy crowd gathered in the intimate room more commonly known to us as the venue for Honey Box Live, and were first greeted by the impressively-stocked DCMI merch stall, and the magnificent Chris Wilson of BottleCraft, dispensing all varieties of drink-based refreshments (well, not all varieties - I for one failed to spot any crème de menthe).  It wasn’t just a warm evening, the venue soon became a veritable hothouse, and the running theme of the evening soon became ‘People Taking Their Jackets Off And Panting’.

As we circulated amongst the crowd of people, a plot was revealed to myself & Emily Jones, asking if we’d mind being the MCs for the evening, seeing as the gig‘s audio was being live-streamed on King Street Studios‘ Facebook page.  It’s good, then, that The Jones & I have developed a rapport over the last few months, although that doesn’t mean that we didn’t kinda haphazardly introduce Kez Liddle, who opened the evening’s music…

I’ve seen Kez Liddle play a few times now, the first time being when she played at The Exchange for an Oxjam charity event, and then a short time later when she supported my band Attack Of The Vapours, again at The Exchange.  Since then, each set she’s played has become more confident (also - quite significant guitar-envy at the hollow-body telecaster electric she has adopted for her shows).  Kez is one of those solo artists whose soft, sing-song whisper has an ability to silence a room and hold it in thrall, which makes the studio at King Street the perfect venue for her.  Her songs are lyrically captivating, undercut by hypnotic guitar patterns, notably ‘You & I‘, and ‘Enough‘, and she even slipped a cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Twilight’ into proceedings.  Finishing on ‘Heartbreak Dealer‘, Liddle completed a perfect set, the spell only being broken when the lights raised and music started playing over the PA.

A short break whilst Maddy Storm got her mic & effects pedals ready, inadvertently setting the stage for a swift bout of slapstick comedy.  Maddy’s mic is set quite low, and as Emily & I took to the stage to introduce her (in a smoother manner than before, might I add), I couldn’t help noticing that the mic was pointing squarely at the buttons of my waistcoat, so I squatted a bit.  After I dished out some ludicrous nonsense from my lunging position, crouching down to approximately half Emily’s height, she gave a very professional introduction to Maddy.  I know my place in this double-act.

This is my first time seeing Maddy Storm play live, and as she began, she triggered yet another wave of hollow-body telecaster electric guitar-envy.  The guitar was drenched in watery phaser effects, and the theme of her songs seemed very much tailored to the sound, with songs such as ‘Shoreline’, ‘Water’, and ‘Tempest’.   Storm’s voice runs through many dynamics, starting low and intense, and reaching heights worthy of both Tim & Jeff Buckley, which again matched the sounds emanating from her guitar amp.  Stylistically, her music was ethereal and swirling, and as she ended her set with ‘To The Sun’ the guitar effects were pushed to their limit, but also somehow turning the simple act of retuning her guitar into a part of the music.  Maddy Storm plays some great riffs during this (as she does throughout the whole set), unfortunately the phaser ever so slightly overwhelms the end of the song.  This does not mar her performance, however, and her set was a collection of powerful, evocative, and enthralling songs.

Another break while DCMI get their instruments tuned & ready, do a quick sound check, and then it’s one last go on stage for Emily & me to introduce them.  I, of course, opted for stupidity & satirical telegram-reading (you had to be there, I’m not explaining it now), leaving Emily to pay a heartfelt tribute to an inspiring & brilliant group of people.  And so their show began…

Gary Wilcox and Jack Tasker opened the show on their own by playing, almost perversely, the final track on their new record, ‘Mile End‘.  As Wilcox would go on to say, they would be playing ‘I’m Broken, But I’m Fine’ in its entirety, but not in the right order.  As the song came to an end, they were joined by Rob Haubus, Matt Plant, and Sophie Bret Tasker, and they launched into ‘King And Queen Of America‘, catapulting the band into a mammoth, 17-song set of new songs, songs from their previous album ‘Underdog Songs’, and even a few covers thrown in for good measure.

Don’t Call Me Ishmael, fresh from their brilliant Lymelight Festival set the previous Saturday, were almost born ready, it seems.  It is a golden project, a superb platform for songs that veer between personal, current-event soap-boxing, and story-telling.  Their show not only launched the new album, it showcased the sheer variety of songwriting & musical talents of everyone involved.  The first thing that hits you when they’re firing from all cylinders is that this is not just a collection of people, they‘ve almost weaponised themselves into a unit, and there‘s no stopping them.

Gary Wilcox is a calm, entertaining presence in DCMI shows, with comedic timing that is equal to his music skills, and it is a blessing for him to be playing a show such as this, which gives him more room to talk than a festival set ordinarily does.  That he has pulled this project together, and given it the scale it deserves, is a huge achievement.  His performance on this evening was spirited, and if you’re not roused (and almost breathless) by the time he closes ‘Lessons In Equality, Pt. 1’ then I’m going to have to assume that you’re an android.  In songs such as ‘In A Previous Life I Painted Portraits’, ‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’, and ‘The Bugler’, Wilcox demonstrates songs that tell stories to a level worthy of Colin Meloy from The Decemberists, and the performances of those songs at this show did them justice.

Rob Haubus is a new member of the band, playing bass guitar expertly, having only played four shows with DCMI at this point (five by the time this is published), and he joins drummer & vocalist Sophie Bret Tasker in quality stage talk, negating any need for a heckler from the audience.  The set is peppered with asides from the two of them while Wilcox talk between songs, and makes the evening all the more enjoyable.

Jack Tasker is invaluable in these shows, and indeed the DCMI project - in him, Gary Wilcox has found a perfect collaborator.  Shredding guitars, playing piano, singing backing vocals, and providing songwriting challenges for Wilcox, (“On ‘Underdog Songs’, it was write a seven-minute nautical death-epic”, says Gary, “This time it was, write a song with the title ‘Here Lie The Bones Of Heroes‘…”)  His steady presence on the stage is like an anchor.  

Similarly, multi-instrumentalist Matt Plant is quiet & understated alongside his bandmates, but his expert touch throughout DCMI’s show is invaluable.  His violin sings, swoops, and soars throughout the set, and the man can rock a bouzouki, a feat not many can manage.  His, like Jack Tasker‘s, is a steadying hand.

The stand-out moment in the show, for me, is ‘To The Moon’.  It’s an emotional staple both of the record and of the show, and Wilcox states that his voice in the song provides the pessimism, while Sophie’s voice is the optimism.  Having discussed the state of the nations with Gary on several occasions over the last few months, we have been at similar low ebbs on the subject, I knew where this song was coming from.  It was a beautiful performance, and I was wiping away tears as the song ended.  The combination of those chorus lyrics with SBT’s voice singing them, and that musical arrangement underpinning them, is startlingly emotive.

No mention of a DCMI show can be complete without giving praise to Sophie Bret Tasker.  Not content with pin-sharp, rock-solid drumming, her backing vocals are unassailable.  She doesn’t just sing backing vocals, she lives them, so that ‘The Bugler’ is seemingly enacted both her and Gary, and it is ever likely that the narrative of ‘To The Moon’ is split the way it is, because her performances always give everything, which is what the song demands.  You can’t sing it half-heartedly, and she sings with passion.

The show “ends” with the aforementioned ‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’, released as a single last year as the album was completed, and after cries of “MORE!” they put a proper end to proceedings with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s ‘All You Fascists‘.  You can‘t help singing along to “ALL YOU FASCISTS ARE BOUND TO LOSE…” as much out of blind hope that they‘re right as anything!

The night ends jubilant and we walk sweatily into the refreshing night air, wringing out our clothes & eagerly awaiting the first play of ‘I’m Broken, But I’m Fine’ on our stereos at home…

LYMELIGHT FESTIVAL - SATURDAY MAIN STAGE REVIEW

Reviewers : Leah Hamer, Bethan Shuff, Emily Jones. Photographers : Bethan Shuff, Chris Hollingworth, Mark Vyse

11:00-11:30

Emily Jones opened the main stage on the sunny Saturday morning with her collection of angry rants about boys and bitching sung in such an empowering way that it makes you feel like a strong, independent woman just listening to her. Emily recently wrote a review, describing an artist as hard-not-to-adore, and I can’t help but label Emily with the same phrase. Emily’s lyrics are down-to-earth, not sugar-coated, and completely honest, making her relatable and lovable. 

11:45-12:15

Signal 1’s Star Search winner Callum Mountford followed singing a variety of soulful covers including The Beatles – Blackbird and Maren Morris – My Church, which had a real gospel feel to it, like there should have been a choir stood behind him. Callum’s diverse vocals have the ability to take on almost anything and turn it into his own.

12.30-13.00

Next up was four-piece rock outfit Don’t Call Me Ishmael, with their set of supercharged originals taken from both their debut album and their brand new second album ‘I’m broken, but I’m fine’. They pulled in a crowd to be proud of, entertaining passersby with songs ‘King and Queen of America’, ‘The Provincial Athlete Throws A Race’ and ‘Sum Of My Parts’, with one young member of the audience promptly bursting into an improvised breakdance mid-set. DCMI were exactly what was needed for the lunch time bustle in the town, kicking the festival up a gear and causing quite the stir. 

13:15-13:45 

Emily Kate had a jam packed set of over 10 tracks, covering pop classics like Billie Jean by Michael Jackson and Jolene by Dolly Parton. A few original tracks from her EP ‘Bag of Dreams’, including Bag of Dreams and I Love You, were slotted into the set list and sung with a dainty voice in such a delicate way that it may break if you were to touch it. 

14:00-14:30 

At 2pm Jay Johnson took to the stage and his songs created an atmosphere that was felt the entire length of the High Street, by anyone who could hear the powerful vocals in tracks like Under The Sun and Jigsaw Piece. Jigsaw Piece always mesmerises every individual lucky enough to hear it live as they watch Jay construct the track using his Looper before their very eyes, watching it develop from one layer to the next.

14.45-15.15

Staffordshire & Cheshire's Best Young Act of 2016 Callum Jackson continued a dazzling run of form with a great performance on the main stage, beneath the wonderful sun and in front a receptive crowd. Jackson, who played self penned hits such as Home, also gave the audience a few covers to sing along to, least not Mark Crawford, this years Best Electronic Act, who was in awe of Callum's set, being sure to introduce himself after the set. Perhaps a electronic-pop fusion collaboration glistens on the horizon for local music lovers

15:30-16:00 

The King’s Pistol were next up to the stage, bellowing their twisted folk-rock across the centre of town. Despite the folk origins, there is an edginess to their melodies and a dirtiness to their rhythms which has made them so popular amongst a diverse range of fans. Meaty and hearty- their set satisfied the afternoon crowd, leaving them begging for more. 

16:20-16:50

In a complete contrast to the previous act, electronic maestro, Macious set up his decks and laptop in place of the guitars that had just graced the stage. At four o’clock in the afternoon, in the middle of Newcastle town centre, may not be the most conventional setting for an artist of this nature- but that is the joy of Lymelight. Translucent, popping beats spread across the stage as Macious enchanted his synths with his magical fingers, turning heads with every button pressed. #bestdayever

17.10-17.40

Stepping up to fill the Macious shaped hole were Divenire, an alternative/indie four piece fronted by former acoustic soloist Dom Morgan. The band really seem to have developed their own original sound, which can be heard in their recent singles ‘Arcade’ and ‘Caravan’. Divenire kept the Lymelight momentum flowing, making those around want to hear more.

18.00-18.30

One of John MacLeod’s aspirations after his performance on the acoustic stage at last year’s festival, was to bring Attack Of The Vapours to the main stage – with a full band. On Saturday evening, that is exactly what he got to do. With an interchangeable list of members and a popular debut EP under their belts, Attack Of The Vapours are very much an interesting and unique outfit. With John MacLeod fronting the entire thing and a successful, albeit hilarious, performance on the acoustic stage earlier in the day, AOTV main stage set was by all means a success. MacLeod’s confidence was noticeable, as was his enjoyment, as he performed a strong set of originals including newer tracks ‘Sierra Bravo’ and ‘Forty Eight’. In his final number, MacLeod even managed to gain audience participation from the crowd, ensuring that the band left the stage with smiles all round.

18:50-19:20 

Pop-punkers, The Overcast, claimed the stage next, with their striking vocals and charming attitudes. As well as rocking out to their weighty, powerful tracks like Misery Loves Company (and it’s better under lock and key), the guys even had time to sneak in a little-known and vastly underplayed cover…I said maybe…performed in a way utterly unrecognisable to the side-burned Gallagher worshipers of the world. 

19:40-20:10 

Two-piece, Indigo, alighted the stage with their inferno of sparking indie bangers. Radiating riffs and silky, smooth vocals came from frontman Elliot Wilcox, whilst Jim Windsor caused a storm on the drums. With a bubbling set-list ranging from the dark and catchy, Devil’s Treasure, to the strong and sturdy, Power of the Sea, Indigo’s maturity and growth throughout the past year, is clearly visible. 

20:30-21:00 

With a sinister sincerity, King Kula stepped up and wormed their riffs into the minds of every innocent audience member. With gruff vocals and dark lyrics at hand, Jordan Gifford twists you around his little finger, until you hypnotically sway and swing to their latest single, Strange Love. A dangerously cool performance, from an even more dangerous and cool band. As almighty as always. 

21:20-22:00

Taking the main support was Thieves Asylum, opening with their latest release Reflections, a classic indie tune not too dissimilar to Kasabian’s old stuff. You could see the energy flowing through Joe Tomasso as he sung down the mic the choruses of their anthemic tunes. IKYKIK steals the heart of anyone who hears it and recruits more members to the ever-growing Thieves Fanclub with its punchy chorus and James Perry’s brainwashing bass line. Alex’s grooving guitar riffs and Dan’s raucous drums, combined with Tomasso’s casual vocals and Perry, well, being Perry and playing up to the cameras, make Thieves Asylum difficult not to love.

22.20-23.05

Wrapping up the Saturday night of Lymelight Festival 2017 were Moscow, a band who are rarely seen out of hibernation. Vocalist and local music figurehead Nic Andrews, was (as he always is) on full frontal frontman form. He’s a real showman with the entire package required to front a rock band, including underrated and, frankly, some of the best cow bell skills I’ve seen in a long time. Performing a set which included tracks from their ‘Pack Animals’ EP, Moscow had everyone’s eyes and ears firmly fixed on them, bringing the second night of the festival to an outstanding close.