Idles – Nottingham Bodega Social Club – March 29th

It’s time to rip up the notebook (or at least to stop trying to make notes on my phone). You see, that’s what i do at gigs. Those notes help to jog the memory when I come to write about what I’ve just witnessed. I’ve got pretty rubbish recall otherwise. 

Such is the immediacy of Idles, seducing us with their every sinew, here in Nottingham at the Bodega, I’ve got to just live in this moment. For this short blast of punk, spit and throb, I’ve just got to be. Fuck my phone – I’d probably drop it in the mosh pit anyway. 

(Click on page 2 for my review..of sorts)

 

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Gregory Alan Isakov – Nottingham Bodega Social – March 27th 2017

I’ve got a busy week of gigs coming up. I’ll be reviewing some for the Leicester Mercury and some directly for Sonic Breakfast. If they’re all as great as the one I went to last night, Gregory Alan Isakov, then it’s going to be a fine, fine time. 

(Click on page 2 for the review)

Neville Staple – Return Of Judge Roughneck

I can’t claim that I knew Elizabeth well. Over the past couple of years, our paths increasingly crossed as we watched the incredible story of Leicester City FC’s impossible premier league win unfurl before our eyes. We shared food and wine at weddings and birthday parties. We laughed,smiled and focused on positive things; this was Elizabeth’s way. 

 Elizabeth had terminal cancer. From the time when this initial diagnosis surfaced, there were the inevitable ups and downs. “It’s a miracle”, she told me when the cancer in her throat was re-assessed as simple scar tissue. She fought ‘the little fucker’ with every ounce of her weakening body but I think, in our heart of hearts, we all knew it was eventually going to get her. 

 One of those moments of respite came at a festival. Elizabeth, the sister of my lovely friend Claire, joined us for an alternative music weekend at Butlin’s. In bracing Autumn wind, out on the Lincolnshire coastline, we played in table tennis tournaments and giggled because members of our gang forgot to pack their pants. 

 That weekend, I had driven to Skegness on my own. I stopped for a bite to eat in a Little Chef and noticed Neville Staple and his touring entourage on a nearby table. As cheeky as it was, I bounced into their circle with an odd request. “I’m going to watch you play this evening. Would you dedicate a song to Elizabeth? She’s not too well.”, I offered.

 I was urged to write this down on a piece of paper else Neville might forget. I wondered whether anything might be said from the stage but at least I’d tried. 

(Click on page 2 to read more of this story)

Catherine McGrath – Starting From Now

I’m not sure I care too much about discovering the new ‘Taylor Swift’. It’s not that I’m particularly dismissive about her music. She’s just somebody who’s largely passed me by. I could be wrong but I’d file her under the sort of Country crossover music that rarely registers above insipid. She’s the one they’d cover on X Factor if they wanted a week away from the R’n’B’ standards, right? I concede I’m probably doing Ms Swift a disservice.

 

So – when I receive a set of press E-mails about Northern Irish singer-songwriter, Catherine McGrath, and mention of Taylor is prominent within each release, I’m reluctant to give it a fair shot. She might be the rightful heir to the Taylor Swift crown but that don’t impress me much. Somebody reminds me that I was an early endorser of Ward Thomas (here) but I maintain that’s a different kettle of fish.

 (Click on page 2 for what I really think about Catherine)

 

The Guru Guru – Up The Wall

I’ve been casually exchanging e-mails with Emiel, the guitar player from an exciting post-rock band from Belgium, The Guru Guru, for a couple of months now. They were playing one of the fringe events when I was over in Groningen for Eurosonic. I wanted to head along but a combination of it being in a maze-like venue consisting of many rooms and alcohol (yeah, Ok, I got lost) meant I missed the chance.

(Click on page 2 to find out more about The Guru Guru)

Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin – Leicester Square Theatre – March 9th 2017

You can tell much from the conversational snippets heard when leaving the theatre.

“I wouldn’t have wanted him to be my father”, confirms one woman as she buttons up her long beige coat and throws a silk scarf around her neck. “Yes, he does have a tendency to reveal too much, doesn’t he?”, says her partner, all stiff upper lip and British reserve. I chuckle inwardly as the couple head off into the queue to buy a special limited edition CD.

It’s true that Surviving Twin, Loudon Wainwright III’s show about his relationship with his father, is brutally honest. Fans of his style wouldn’t have it any other way but those not familiar with him might have been squirming in their seats at this tender, unflinching offer. We like our own family tensions to be orderly and ‘on a plateau’ but the relationships between the Wainwright dynasty have been anything but. 

(Click on page 2 to read the rest of the review)

Oliver Sean – New York

I’m not as knowledgeable as many about the Leicester music scene – but it is the city I live in and, as such, you do tend to hear about the locally based acts with an international profile. It’s really hard to get my head around the fact that somebody played on VH1 and with MTV awards might be ‘anonymously’ living in our midst.

So, it was something of a surprise when the new music of Oliver Sean was thrust under my nose via musicsubmit, a U.S. based promotions company. They often send me tunes to listen to and then link me up directly with the artists I like. Oliver Sean is a chap from Oadby, Leicestershire.

And he has a name that would lodge in my head. It’s not something I’d easily forget. My nineteen year old son is called Oliver and his middle name is Sean. Coincidence can account for so much but this seemed beyond that. I wondered if somebody was winding me up.

(Click on page 2 to find out if it is a wind-up)