Meilyr Jones – The Cookie – October 7th 2016

It’s something of a travesty that Meilyr Jones has not been the featured artist on Sonic Breakfast before. I can’t exactly work out why that is.

I first saw him play live at the fab Port Eliot festival in 2015. My eFestivals review of that can be found here. Essentially, I note that “I sit in the front row of two as Meilyr, slightly nervously, marks out his star quality for all to see. It’s just him behind a keyboard for this set and it’s another Port Eliot musical moment of which there are many.”

Later in that same summer, I see the gentle giant at Festival No. 6 (review here). Within that review, I say that, “Huw Stephens could probably have redeemed himself if he had mentioned Meilyr Jones after Catfish and the Bottlemen. I’d previously seen Meilyr do a solo set at another festival and so realised that his songs and intensity of performance mark him out as one for the future. With a full band, the impact is even greater. Sitting somewhere between Pulp and Orange Juice, Meilyr captivates all who watch him at the Estuary stage. There’s a swimming/paddling pool in this small arena that looks out to sea. It’ll be hard to keep up with this Jones.

This year, I saw him again at Port Eliot. My comments then dispatch even more praise – “Last year, the wonderful Meilyr Jones played a solo set in front of four punters (I was one) and the girls from Stealing Sheep. This year, the ‘Caught By The River’ tent is packed out for a full band performance. It’s joyful, uplifting and theatrical, delivered by a frontman with astonishing grace and style.

So – the point I’m making is that I’m quite impressed by Meilyr. Throw in the fact that his debut album, 2013, will certainly be in my top three for this year and it’s quite an omission to have not written about him to date on Sonic Breakfast. 

On Friday night, I saw him play in Leicester at the Cookie. I was expecting this to be a packed out show but double bookings led to some confusion as to whether he was playing or not. The room might have only been half full but Meilyr and band didn’t seem at all phased. In fact, they used it to their advantage.

There’s something angelic and choral about Meilyr when he stands tall, hands behind his back and produces the sweetest of sound. When he ditches the microphone and stands amidst the crowd to sing, there’s a hushed awe in the room. This is astonishing stuff. Every time that I’ve seen him live something new is added into the mix. Effortlessly, he’s able to work with his surrounds to make the greatest of impressions. 

The tour continues. You really should get a glimpse of this gentleman whilst you still can. 

 

 

 

Ellie Ford – July

Cast your mind back to July. In many ways, four months is not that long ago but for me it feels like an age. The summer was ending before it had even begun. The days were already getting shorter and darkness was beginning to creep into our humid evenings. 

I wasn’t a happy chap then. Dreams of a delightful year that had seemed like an optimistic wish in Springtime lay shattered by June. My eventful and largely destructive trip to Brighton for the Great Escape in May had perhaps been an indication of what was around the corner. 

But it wasn’t all bad. There were still the festivals. At Beat Herder in the Ribble Valley, I experienced new things. By the end of July, I was pretty much smiling again for the chug to the coast of Cornwall for the charming Port Eliot festival

All of our July’s were different. I bet we can all remember moments of joy and moments of happiness that occurred back then. I bet we can remember the new things we tried, the things we were losing and the things that were just beginning. 

I’ve been sent this new video from Ellie Ford. 

She’s from Brighton but I don’t remember seeing her on that lost weekend in May. The song is called ‘July’. Ellie’s experiences of calendar month number seven are different to mine. But, this remains a song that fluctuates between highs and lows, peaks and troughs. Centred around a harp, new instruments are added and then removed. Orchestration comes and goes. Ellie’s voice flutters.

July is the first song from Ellie’s album ‘The Other Sun’ that’s not out until Spring 2016. July suggests that things are just beginning for Ellie Ford. 

 

Will Varley – The Man Who Fell To Earth

One of my favourite festivals of this summer was the stunning Port Eliot down in Cornwall. Late one evening, in a walled garden where people drank wine and ate lobster by day, I sat in a rickety, wooden chair whilst Will Varley sang and strummed. It had been a lovely day but the lack of cloud cover now meant that it was a freezing night. A tear fell down my cheek.

I already knew that Will was good. I’d featured one of his early videos in one of my very first Sonic Breakfast posts over a year before. I hadn’t realised how good. It’s easy to dismiss him as a Frank Turner/Passenger copycat but that’s really not allowing yourself to open up to the absolute quality and humanity that exists within his songwriting. 

Take the new single ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’. The latest release from his forthcoming album, ‘Postcards from Ursa Minor’, this is a stark, simple and yet haunting tune. The video is pretty captivating as well, especially for those of us who misspent periods of our youth in setting up domino rallies and playing the board game, Mousetrap. When you find out the reasons why Will wrote the song it stands out as tragic and timely. 

This song is the story of Jose Matata, an African immigrant whose body was found in a quiet suburban street one morning after falling out of the fuselage of a British Airways plane above London in 2009, attempting to illegally gain entry to the UK. 

In 2015, people are still dying in desperation, taking risks and losing their lives because they calculate that such risk is more preferable than their current lot. 

As another sunny morning breaks, we pull back our curtains and try hard to blank such desperation from our minds. Another tear falls down my cheek. 

 

 

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.