Pale Grey – Late Night

It’s hard to believe it was just two weeks ago that I was in Groningen; it feels longer. I’m sure that as 2018 progresses I’ll continue to curse myself for the bands I missed whilst at Eurosonic. There was so much going on though so I do have an excuse.

One such band that I missed was Pale Grey. This was despite some lovely communication with Max from their record label/booking agency, JauneOrange, heartily encouraging me to head along to the Huize Maas on Thursday.

It appears that ‘Pale’ is this year’s prefix for a cool band name (taking the place of ‘Crystal’ perhaps?). Despite coming from quite different genres, there were three ‘Pale’ bands at Eurosonic. To a casual outsider, it might prove challenging to distinguish between Pale Grey, Pale Honey and Pale Waves. 

The confusion gets even more complex when you consider that Pale Grey’s latest album, which has a Europe-wide release in March, is called ‘Waves’. And when you receive a press release saying ‘some acts are impossible to categorise. Pale Grey are one of those bands‘, the temptation is to throw your hands up in the air with despair. 

But that’d be foolish. You’d miss out on the music of Pale Grey which very much speaks for itself. “Through the lyrics and the melody, Pale Grey works to reconcile the air with the ground, the aerial with the carnal“, says the slightly pompous PR statement surrounding the band. It’s all about combinations and fusions apparently. Let’s listen. 

Latest single, Late Night, is compelling. Pale Grey’s songs don’t typically feature rap but this one’s got Serengeti involved. We descend with the band into an alcohol-infused stupor, a drunken stumble home from an excessive night out. 

My favourite of their single releases from the upcoming album, Seasons, is a short and stunning consideration of how life passes all of us by so quickly. It’s quite different to ‘Late Night’ and you begin to see the complexities of a band refusing to be pigeon-holed. 

The album has had a release in their native Belgium. I’m looking forward to hearing more when it’s released here. 



ESNS 2018 preview – Millionaire

As I mentioned yesterday (here), I’ve got a last minute press invite to Eurosonic Noorderslag next week in Groningen. I can’t wait until I’m once again on those cold streets drinking coffee and beer with music fans from around Europe. 


There are a massive number of acts scheduled to play over the course of the festival. Even if I’d had more time to peruse the line up it’s inevitable that I would overlook something I’d really be keen on. I’ve asked mates with more of a handle on these things than I’ve currently got to send me their tips. Obviously, I’ll follow my nose as well and refuse to be too structured with my plans. That’s where the most joy can come from. 

I asked a random word generator for a word this morning and got ‘maggot’. I asked a random number generator for a number between one and thirty and got ‘ten’. I logged onto the ESNS line up page (here) and counted ten acts down from ‘MAG’ in their alphabetical list. 

‘Millionaire’, a rock band from Belgium, is what my lucky dial landed upon. 

I can’t help thinking that ‘Millionaire’ are not a typical ESNS band. Many acts that are scheduled to appear might be considered up and coming. They’ll be making use of their time in Groningen to build industry contacts and to make links that’ll further their careers. 

But Tim Vanhamel, the main man behind Millionaire, arguably has better links than most who’ll be around next week. This is a guy who played guitar in dEUS. Millionaire have toured with Queens Of The Stone Age, Muse and Foo Fighters. Tim’s even written a tune for Eagles Of Death Metal. On one level, it’s hard to see what gain there might be for Millionaire in playing ESNS.

They’ve been away for some time though. A decade is a long time in this fickle industry, Third album, Sciencing, came out last year when many had given up hope of seeing Millionaire again. I’m sure that fans of the band welcomed the release and lapped it up but nostalgic references to glory days will only get you so far. 

And so it begins again; the incessant touring and the re-building of a fan base. I’m looking forward to their show at ESNS Play. It’ll be an opportunity to see a rock craftsman with undeniable pedigree at work. 

Millionaire play ESNS Play on Friday 19th January between 22.40 and 23.20

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)

ESNS 2017 – Glints – Dread

Randomly picking my itinerary at Eurosonic Noorderslag seemed like a good idea at the time. Check back on this post (here) for an explanation of how I asked Facebook friends to pick the must-see acts in Groningen this year. 

Steve Parker is a wonderful acoustic singer-songwriter based here in Leicester. A couple of years ago, I featured this lovely man on Sonic Breakfast (here). He was the second person on my wall to come up with a combination of letter and number. “G8”, he typed, possibly referencing the assembly of world powers. 

Steve had picked Glints , otherworldly hip-hop from Belgium. Steve is a tolerant sort when it comes to music so I’ve no doubt he’ll approve.

(Click on page 2 to find out more about Glints)

Eurovision – Part one

I love the Eurovision Song Contest. I realise that such amour sets me apart from a bulk of my friends. But I can’t help myself. Bucks Fizz made my mind up on this and then Bardo pushed me one step further into what has been a lifelong appreciation of the quirks, the drama, the politics and the utter spectacle.

In recent years, I have hosted Eurovision food parties (complete with bags of Maltesers for the entry from Malta). I have insisted that birthday parties and camping trips have had a healthy gap in their schedules so that I can enjoy the contest. If this is hopeless and sad then I am guilty as charged. Diggi Loo Diggi Ley. 

Imagine my delighted squeal, when this week i was sent an advance copy of this year’s Eurovision double CD. This years contest is coming from Copenhagen. Across two semi finals and a final in May, 37 countries are taking part in the extravaganza. And over the next four days of this Easter break, I’m going to give you my views on their entries. Clearly, a considerable part of the Eurovision charm derives from the stage performances and I won’t be seeing this but each day I’ll post videos to two of the more extreme visions of Euro unity – just to whet appetites for next month. 

So, without further ado, “let’s get this show on the road… ”


1. Albania – Hersi – One Night’s Anger

A pleasant enough start to proceedings here. A folky start with a sweet female vocal from Hersi gives way to a faux rock climax. I can almost forgive the naff guitar solo plonked in the middle. ‘Keep calm and think twice‘, sings Hersi and I wonder if I might actually be a bit mad. 


2. Armenia – Aram – Not Alone

An excrutiatingly dull piano led ballad from the Armenians in which a little bird is encouraged not to cry. It almost goes into a dubstep rock thing towards the end. This isn’t a winner in my book – which probably means it stands a great chance.


3. Austria – Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix

This is epic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. It’s straight out of a Sean Connery era James Bond soundtrack. I’m not sure if Conchita is male or female based upon this vocal performance. Shirley Bassey will no doubt be envious she wasn’t born in Vienna.


4. Azerbaijan – Dilara Kazimova – Start A Fire

Four tunes in and already I’m losing the will to live. What is it with all of these piano led ballads? Where’s the quirkiness and the bizarre? This tune would struggle to even make an album of Coldplay B sides. Again, this probably gives it a chance of winning.


5. Belgium – Axel Hirsoux – Mother

More piano. Axel’s ‘coming home‘ because he’s ‘broken hearted’ and now he’s singing a frankly eerie love song to his Mum. Think Norman Bates humming a tune from The Phantom Of The Opera in a shower and you probably get the picture. Hilariously creepy.


6. Belarus – Teo – Cheesecake

Here we go. This is more like it. From an initial ‘Yeah Baby‘ through to mention of Patrick Swayze, this grooves along to a chorus that states, ‘I’m trying to be your sweet cheesecake‘. Pure nonsense. It also has an annoying duck like Kazoo sound. Fun but appalling.


7. Switzerland – Sebalter – Hunter Of Stars

Whistling over the top of banjo’s. Upbeat fiddles and handclaps. What we have here is a sub-standard Mumford & Sons – and I think Mumford & Sons are shit. ‘I am the hunter, you are the prey. Tonight I’m going to eat you up‘, sings Sebalter and I’m almost won over by the songs cannibalistic urges.


8. Germany – Elaiza – Is It Right? 

A poppy oompah tune. It is very much not right. But, it’s a completely inoffensive three minutes and thus will probably do quite well. Enough said. 


9. Denmark – Basim – Cliche Love Song

Clearly, Denmark aren’t keen to host the Eurovision again next year. Basim proceeds to spew cliches in an upbeat pop number that references ‘Katy Perry‘ and ‘putting your hands up‘. They’ll be dancing in the aisles of the sanitorium to this one.


 And already, we’re a quarter of the way there. Tomorrow, I’ll give my comments on Ruth Lorenzo’s Spanish entry and tell all about my brief meeting with her in a Leicester car park. And I’ll also be looking at the UK entry from Leicestershire based, Molly. People from Leicestershire always do well in Eurovision (just ask old Engelbert) so I’m expecting great things. 

The two videos for today very much pick themselves. Be astounded by the sinister entry from Belgium and giggle at Belarus’ cheesy cake.