The Young ‘Uns – Be The Man

It’s been four years since I first saw The Young ‘Uns play live at Musicport up in Whitby. I recall that their set was a real highlight of the festival, something I captured in my EFestivals review (here).

 I said:

 “Saturday afternoon and I take a chance in the theatre with The Young ‘Uns from Teeside. The programme simply tells me that these are ‘one of the most sought after folk acts today’ and that they bring ‘abiding enthusiasm for traditional song’. Those familiar with the ‘translate the programme’ game we often play at festivals would suspect slim pickings from this description. This could well translate as ‘Once played Cockles and Mussels to rapturous applause at a folk club in Durham’. But, this set is a lesson in sometimes going with the flow. Sometimes acapella, sometimes with accompaniment from accordion and guitar, this trio of twenty-something men banter so effortlessly on stage that the captive audience are dragged into their jolly world. Songs about political struggles of yesteryear mix in with emotive tales of love to ensure that, by the end of their set, the audience are standing on their seats demanding more. Folking great.”

(Click on page 2 to read about fantastic new work by the Young ‘Uns)

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Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Nottingham Rescue Rooms – Monday 21st November

Time is flying by. A whole week has passed since I saw the incredible Rag ‘N’ Bone Man at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms. I suspected it was going to be a splendid gig and I wasn’t disappointed. 

I first spotted Rory Graham, the brilliant bearded big guy, over three years ago in the Chai Wallah’s tent at Shambala festival. In my eFestivals review (here) I said, “Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is bigged up by the compere and rightfully so. The crowd exchange knowing glances. Here we have a splendid, soulful voice with the ability to shake a room, something that’s rooted firmly in a bluesy past and yet made modern by the presence of a mixing DJ. I note that Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is about to accompany Bastille on their Autumn tour. I hope that that crowd appreciate him half as much as the crowd in here.”

Fast forward to the summer that’s just passed and I caught Rory again, this time at the lovely Barn On The Farm festival. I reviewed that one for eFestivals as well (here) and commented that, “over on the outdoor stage, there were also many highlights. I first saw Rag ‘n’ Bone a few years ago on a small stage at Shambala. Even back then, you could tell Rory Graham was an impressive presence. In recent years, he’s honed his craft and added a band of fine musicians. The bassy blues of his booming voice prove to be a fine choice of Sunday evening headline set on this stage.”

It was nice to now finally get the chance to see a set away from the festival field. 

It’s a packed room. I guess a combination of hard work and releasing a steady stream of quality-laden EP’s have got Rory to this point. There’s a noticeably mixed age range in the crowd. The kids push to the front whilst the older gig-goers, perhaps having caught Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s electrifying, recent  performance on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ hang around toward the back. Couples grab their spot at the upper tier balcony and peer down on the balding and not so balding heads below.

Rory takes to the stage confidently holding a guitar. With immense power, he launches his rocket of a voice into a soulful sonic boom. Every corner of the Rescue Rooms is filled with the bounce and reverberation of this wondrous gospel melt. Our knees are weakened and we’re almost down on them before the first verse is complete. The band join Rory on stage, fire up their own instruments, and we’re given brief respite from our near submission. 

There’s quite a few new songs played. An album is due for release, perhaps early next year, and this is a chance to road-test some of that material. On first listen, you’d guess that those music industry insiders who’ve marked Rag ‘N’ Bone Man in their BBC Sound of 2017 nominations know what they’re playing with. Mark my words – I have no insight but Rory’s going to be pushing for a top three place.

I’m touched by the humility on offer. “I’ve hardly ever played Nottingham before and I was genuinely worried about how many people might turn up”, he ponders in a break between the songs. Surely, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man knows by now that these are not things to worry about? But, his style is not about arrogant swagger; it’s more about a polished and gentle confidence that sometimes belies the boom of his voice. He’s not afraid to mention his Mum’s critique of his songwriting or the fact that he has a friend going through a dark time. We want our pop stars to be ‘human’ and the laidback Rory connects generously. His band, session musicians no doubt with perfect pedigree, allow Rory to take the limelight. It’s a sign of their accomplished ability that you barely notice the complexities of what they play.

It’s all over far too soon. As we file out, the sense of joy about what we’ve just witnessed is palpable. “We’ll never see him on a stage that small again”, says one. “That massive guy is about to really get massive”, says another. 

And I have to concur, they’re probably right. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felix Hagan & The Family – Kiss The Misfits

We’re halfway through another busy, working week. I’m pretty lucky that I enjoy my day job even though it can sometimes be pretty intense and busy. Tomorrow, I’m up before 6 to head to London for the second time this week. Tomorrow, I’ll have to wear a suit. I clock up the train miles. 

 But, I mustn’t grumble because doing this day job means I can cover (in part) the costs of my hectic social life. And this week, my social life (where I get to muse about music) has been pretty active. It shows no sign of abating this coming weekend either.

 I took advantage of being down in London for a ‘day job’ meeting to nip across to BBC 6 music’s live ‘Bloc Party’ show at Maida Vale. My brief reflections for eGigs are here

 Last night, I saw Squeeze and John Cooper Clarke at De Montfort Hall in Leicester. My review for the Leicester Mercury is here

This coming weekend, I’m heading off to Skegness to cover Butlins Alternative Weekender for EFestivals. I concede it’s not a shabby life. 

 I love my social life. I can whip off the suit and tie to mix with the people I really want to mix with. I can ‘Kiss The Misfits’. The theatrical, exuberant happiness of Felix Hagan & The Family’s tune, from their EP of the same name that’s coming out at the end of November, leaves the listener in no doubt which camp they’re in. 

 

This is an embrace of staying up all night, of exploring the darker recesses of pubs and nightclubs and of not worrying where the next pay cheque is coming from. 


 

Sweet Billy Pilgrim – The Donkey – 18th September

Autumn’s on the way. That means that I’m going to start posting on Sonic Breakfast with gay abandon. 

My goodness fuck. What a summer it has been. At some point I’ll link into all of the festivals I’ve reviewed on eFestivals to prove that I’ve not been slacking even though persistent perusers of SB might think otherwise. 

Favourite festivals this year weren’t about the music per se. Port Eliot... Go to this should it happen next year.. Stunning.. Festival No. 6.. In the same ball park (and I still need to finish my review). 

Regardless, I do love the lovely music scene at home in Leicester… And my Mercury review for Sweet Billy Pilgrim says loads in a few words about why this transition from Summer to Autumn is broadly welcomed in this part of LE3. Photo’s courtesy of Phil Bull.

 T’is the season to be gig going and what better way to kick that off than with this fine band of thrash-pastellers. 

 

 

King Capisce – Never Spoken

My review from last weeks Spring Off The Tracks festival is complete and published here.

I’m on the festival treadmill now, running ever faster to keep up with the demands of pretty much doing one a weekend throughout the summer. Later today, I head across to Cheltenham for the Wychwood festival.

If Off The Tracks taught me anything (I think I was aware of this anyway) it was to not be fearful of jazz-rock experimentation. A few years ago, a band described in a programme in such a way would have had me running for the hills afraid that I had finally lost my marbles.

But, Sheffield- based, King Kapisce are described as jazz-rock and they were one of the OTT highlights. To call them jazz-rock omits the other influences that mix into this cauldron. It was impossible not to tap a foot, to shake a head or to stroke a beard (I don’t have one but the man sitting behind me didn’t seem to mind) over the sounds they created.

They normally have two sax players to pump stacks of soul over a complex mesh of drum and guitar-led sound. But at OTT, they offer humble apologies for one of the band has left them for a holiday in America. We didn’t need to know this. There’s enough going on without needing more.

King Capisce make instrumental music. Their new record is ‘The Future Cannot Be Born Yet, It Is Waiting For The Past To Die’.

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast might have noticed that I’m somebody who often gets excited about lyrics. The fact that King Kapisce are completely instrumental is not a hindrance. I closed my eyes during their set and let my imagination run wild. I climbed that tree and jumped across the tops. I threw myself from that plane and flapped my arms like an eagle with wings. I surfed on that wave until it washed over me.

Try it out yourself. Where might this take you?

 

 

Liverpool Sound City – Erotic Market

A week today, I’ll be heading to Liverpool for Sound City. I went last year and had an absolute ball. It was my first festival of an epic summer in which I reviewed eighteen for eFestivals. This summer won’t be quite as crazy but it’s still going to be busy.

 There are hundreds of bands that play over the Sound City weekend (Thursday to Saturday). It’s pure bliss for a new music fanatic to have such quantity and quality across 25 venues in one city – though agonising to deal with the clashes. Many of these acts harbour ambitions to be the next big thing – and some will actually break through. Picking which ones is a task that I’m not going to indulge in – my ears aren’t tuned that way – but you could stick a pin in the donkey’s arse (or a map of Liverpool) and quality would bounce back at you from whatever of the city venues you found yourself in.

In the build up to next Thursday, I plan to write about a few of the acts who have caught my eye – this won’t be your Kodaline, Clean Bandit, Hold Steady or Jagwar Ma’s who, whilst exciting live, are more known than most. This’ll be the acts that really might have otherwise passed you by. It won’t be a daily feature – for I’ve also got a Micah P Hinson gig to preview and another Leicester showcase to feature – it’s more of a finger into the bag of sherbet.

Erotic Market are the first act to be playing at Nation on Thursday evening. They take to the stage at 8PM. I’m not a Liverpool local but I understand that Nation is a club, a big warehouse like shed that’s home to the ‘Cream’ nightclubbing brand. It’s a new venue for Liverpool Sound City.

Erotic Market are a French duo formed in May 2012 by Marine Pellegrini and Lucas Garnier. Both musicians for more than 10 years, they perfected their skills in contemporary jazz bands and a first joint venture, N’Relax.

A few weeks ago, I was sent a preview of their forthcoming album, ‘Blahblahrians’.  It’s a chewy meat of a record. You’ve got to masticate away at the gristle to get to the tenderness. I’m not entirely sure that I’m there yet. The obvious comparison to draw is to M.I.A. but to do so potentially limits the scope of this record. On first listen, one song merges into another with little respite – but, on further investigation, the subtleties, intelligence and humour start to come to the fore. With titles like ‘retro retardo’, ‘I want to be some booty’, ‘Clitacasm’ and ‘Weird arabic stuff’, it’s worth perservering with. I’ve got no doubt that these are tunes that take on a whole new angle when played live – which is why Erotic Market are high on my schedule.

 Still need convincing?  I’ll end with a couple of extracts from their press release. Surely something is lost in translation here? Or perhaps it’s not? 

Grasping Erotic Market music is like that strange, penetrating dream of unknown music which is, each time, neither quite the same one nor a different one. It’s like saying again that beauty is always strange and is the magnificent essence of genuineness. It’s the odd, elusive feeling of remembering those tunes without knowing them at all, recognizing the vigorous rock garage music, the bright triturations of electro, the groove of hiphop…’

‘Erotic Market is a go fast. A racing car that designs its own routes, spinning past illogical scenery, between sensual, suggestive eroticism and a clearcut, flashy market. A space where we can feel in turn fully within and without this world. An allegory of contemporary life that often tosses us from the one to the other end.’ 

 I prefer to call it a chewy meat.