Thursday, 23 July 2009

Stoke Sounds Festival 2009 @ Burslem Park 1st August 2009

To celebrate our wonderful music scene, Stoke Sounds is hosting it's annual festival on August 1st in Burslem Park.
Gates open at 12 noon and will close at 10pm, and is free to enter.
Featuring artists ranging from Hang Drum performances, singer-songwriters, Gypsy Jazz, and many other local favourites.
If this wasn't enough, there'll be family orientated entertainment, street performers, fairground rides BMX and Graffiti workshops and lots more.

Full Line Up

'Out of the box Stage' running from 1.00pm - 5.30pm
Michael Colley
Jonathon Tarplee
Daniel J Nixon
Giro Junkie
Hayley Strangelove

'Bitjam Stage' running from 5.45pm - 9.45 pm
Flesh Eating Foundation
What would the Captain do?
Bitjam jamming session

'Other Stage' running 1.30pm - 5.45pm
The Rittz (acoustic set)
Chris Morallee
Sumo Kings
Sgt Wolfbanger
Mistaken for Strangers
Skinny Pigs

'Wrongpop stage' running 6.00pm - 9.30pm
M.S. Thomason
Andy Robbins
Tribal Brides of the Amazon

'Main Stage' running 1.00pm - 9.45pm
Friends of Ken
Sold Out Story
The Decision
Tequila Lips
The Vanguards
Heart of the Sun
This machine is Off
The Riots
Bleached Wail
The Fears
Come along on the day, support your local music scene and don't forget your wellies

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hawkwind @ Skyfest 12 July 2009

Review by John West

Photo by Simon Bamford

It’s a pleasant summer evening on arrival at Biddulph Grange Country park to see headline band the legendary Hawkwind celebrating some 40 years playing their own brand of cosmic space rock here at Skyfest. The band have survived many line up changes, personal tragedies and an ever changing music scene, however leader and guitarist Dave Brock has taken his band through all of this, developing and pushing the Hawk sound through many musical genres yet pioneering a sound and visual presentation which many bands site as an influence namely the Sex Pistols, Queens of the Stone Age and dance acts such as the Prodigy and the Chemical Bros.

The event has been organised by Gemma and Chris Connelly of Sky Studios based in Biddulph. It’s a well organised affair very chilled out and family orientated. The crowd although varied in age and displaying their particular interest in alternative culture be they hippies, bikers ,ravers or the interested locals it’s a nice environment to be in very much different to my experience the previous day witnessing Oasis at Wembley. This crowd are here to see Hawkwind and listen, not throw beer etc into the crowd it’s a more civilised affair.

First off were the winners of the Skyfest battle of the bands the energetic and youthful All about Eden who gave a promising performance. Next were Crave who had travelled from Northern Ireland and were well received with their particular brand of Lizzyesque rock urging the crowd to sing along and get moving. Finally Essex metal band Forevernever pulled a sizeable crowd with there nod to a Slipknot vibe going down extremely well.

As Hawkwind arrived on stage they were joined by two dancers appearing like some characters out of a greek tragedy with their white masques of death and sythes swaying on stilts to the sound of these musical warriors on the edge of time. The band were thoroughly enjoying themselves and certainly put to shame a lot of today’s bands who seem more concerned with image and hairstyles than the actual music. With Hawkwind it is very different, as the music is the important factor which is enhanced by a dazzling lightshow and projections depicting weird sci-fi landscapes, liquid projections and Manga art.

They are truly on form as they groove out fan favourites “Orgone accumulator” “Assault and battery” the anti war song “Who’s gonna win the war” and the eastern tinged “Hasan I Shaba” . The effective use of guitar and synthesizer is paramount and with a pulsating rhythm section and effective use of a theremin it’s not difficult for the audience to drift away and soak it all up discovering another musical world. Hawkwind are not rooted to hippy nostalgia they have evolved yet remain adrift from the mainstream music scene continuing their own journey of being musical pioneers and without knowing setting the trend for others to tap into and take to a wider audience. Long may they continue bringing their own brand of cosmic space age rock grooves and if you like you can get on board their spaceship. As a fitting finale they asked the organisers to get up on stage and thanked them, a very nice touch to the end of the evening. In the meantime I’m off to find a stone circle and some ley lines.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Wrongpop 22 @ Fat Cats Chien / Werewolves on motorcycles / Ox Scapula

Review by Charlotte Lunt

Photo's by Stuart F Steele

An unusually laid back Wrongpop, still basking in the summer heat opened its doors for a menagerie this evening.

Walking through the sultry venue to the stage, Chien were masked as though ready for the gallows, but they were definitely not lambs to the slaughter. Their entirely instrumental set was dramatic and dynamic from start to finish, and flowed as though they were telling a story.

Like a carefully choreographed sword fight, there was precision and excitement throughout the set, with a musical argument of ripostes and counter-ripostes; each instrument was 'shouting' to be heard. Playing with the power of an orchestra and the suspense of a thriller there was an utterly contemporary feel to the performance. Although there was no interaction with the audience, Chien were incredibly evocative and compelling to watch, and have made definite steps towards performance-art with this set.

Werewolves on motorcycles put pedal to the metal from the moment they were on the stage. Their breakneck speed really pulled the crowd in, greeting them with their rock-edged music, and ‘for one night only’ an in-house dancer who at times was preying to the Werewolves God.

With intricate rhythms and an almost desperate momentum, their set was a short sharp shock for the assembled crowd. Their urgency on stage was demanding, and it was definitely attention grabbing. Playing to a packed house Werewolves took no prisoners as the crowd nodded along in a trance like state, and with this authority over the audience their set seemed to finish almost before it began.

As their final gig of a European tour and to shouts of “Welcome home” Ox Scapula were this evening’s nonchalant head-line. With a crisp delivery and a clarity and fluidity that I’ve not seen in previous performances, they bathed the audience in sound. It would be difficult to accuse Ox Scapula of being melodic, there is magnetism in their music, that may well take a while to draw you in but nevertheless it does.

As they presented many familiar tracks they also showed the technical precision with which they play and construct their music. Rather than demanding attention, Ox crawl under your skin and take up residence like an itch that can never be scratched enough. Tonight was a
sublime return.

Werewolves on motorcycles
Ox Scapula

Friday, 3 July 2009

LiViD 'One' Album review

Review by Robbie Dennison

Image courtesy of LiViD

Things a Livid review should mention:

- LA, 1984.
- A fug of hairspray and the smell of leather.
- The Darkness
- Revolving drummers, pointy guitars and all that.

Lazy journalism loves nothing more than a band out of time - shooting lycra-clad fish in a leopard print barrel. Yet the fact that Livid have stuck doggedly to their (LA) guns for the best part of a decade suggests that they regard themselves as more than a passing fad, and the fact that they regularly pack the Sugarmill should tell you that plenty of people see something more than glorified Mötley Crüe revivalists. So it seems reasonable to afford “One”, the band’s debut album, more than just a pile of wisecracks and a “nice try guys”.

For me, the real attraction of the whole hair metal oeuvre was the balls-out-of-the-bath dirty great riffs and choruses. Admit privately to yourself that at some point you may well have drunkenly howled as “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” or even - whisper it - “Living on a Prayer” thunders on at the local dubious discotheque. That’s why the only real disappointment of “One” is the fact that it lacks one or two tracks that have the brazen ambition, let alone the beer-swilling melodic appeal, that hallmarks those songs. The component parts are there – preening singer, strutting guitarist, rock solid rhythm section – but things somehow fall short in terms of unabashed TUNES.

To be fair, there are no poor tracks here and certainly nothing to dislike, which is a virtue in itself considering the band’s theatrical context and the danger of straying into the neighbouring territory mawkish “oooooohIloveyoubaby” crap. It’s clear that everything has been very carefully planned, and relatively speaking this album is streets ahead of the stuff turned out by many other bands from these parts, and indeed by a good number of bands currently being fauned over by the NME et al. Livid certainly have the building blocks in place, and the presence of a few nailed-on singles for album number two could well yet see them getting the rewards for their dedication.

Dinosaur pile up / Bleached WAiL@ The Box, Crewe 25th June 2009

Review by Chloe West

Image courtesy of Dinosaur pile up

The Box, quite literal in name, is a smart little venue positioned in the centre of Crewe. Adorned from wall to wall in posters, they display an A-Z of music’s finest; although where Rachael Stevens fits into this is anyone’s guess. Put this together with the other quirky additions dotted around the venue creates an atmosphere throbbing with potential. Anyway, enough on the cosmetics of the cubic establishment, Bleached Wail were the nights main support and provided a complimentary set to headliners Dinosaur Pile Up. The band’s front pair may be unassuming in stature, but big in sound, producing a fast, full on succession of songs from start to finish. Singer Gus is blessed with powerfully unique vocals which roll out his taleful lyrics. It is at this point which a review would generally define a band’s genre in a few simple terms, but with Bleached Wail this is no easy task. They sample elements of punk, ska, pop, indie and beyond, effortlessly, and quite plainly are creating a definition of their own. Just need a nifty little phrase for it now.

Unfortunately, the running times at The Box tend to go on past many a punters bed time, and a crowd which was already thinning through out Bleached Wail’s set, became well and truly bone dry for Dinosaur Pile Up. Even a quick reference from frontman Matt for seated viewers to brave the dancefloor for Jacko, (bless his plastic soul), didn’t lure any movement. Their name inspired by a scene from King Kong, the Leeds three piece have been associated with a so called ‘grunge revival’. However, DPU are lacking in many a ‘grunge’ worthy trait of yester year; no over grown, lank hair, baggy clothing or a greasy teen following are to be seen. Instead a cleaner cut, fairly respectable band throw out the ‘get on the monitor and smash the equipment up’ style tune. Whether there is still space in the vicious music market for this new evolution only time will tell, but we can at least hope that the next time the trio play in this neck of the woods, more fans get the chance to sink their teeth into Dinosaur Pile Up.