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November 2017 – upcoming free rock gigs – Tonochrome back in action in London (25th November); All Hail Hyena host a quadruple-headed evening in Preston with Dirty Bare Feet and Soldato plus the return of Sleepy People for their first gig in sixteen years (11th November)

2 Nov

Tonochrome, 25th November 2017

Tonochrome
The Spice of Life, 6 Moor Street, Soho, London, W1D 5NA, England
Saturday 25th November 2017, 7.30pm
– free entry – information

London progressive pop band Tonochrome have been away for a while – they were last onstage towards the end of 2013. This new gig towards the end of the month is something of a return and reshuffle – it’s their first with the newest in a run of bass players (Andres Castellanos), and an opportunity for singer Andres Razzini and his other cohorts (keyboard player Steve Holmes, drummer Jack Painting and, on guitar, transdisciplinary musical wanderer Charlie Cawood) to show us the latest developments for a promising band. Over an increasingly interesting pair of EPs, Tonochrome have explored glam pop, aspirational indie and a touch of expansive prog, building towards a definitive, textured statement. I don’t know if they’ve got there yet, but this show is free, so get in and see what they have to offer.


 
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Dirty Bare Feet + All Hail Hyena + Sleepy People + Soldato, 11th November 2017Hyena Inc. presents:
Dirty Bare Feet + All Hail Hyena + Sleepy People + Soldato
Ships And Giggles, 3 Fylde Road, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2XQ, England
Saturday 11th November 2017, 7.00pm
– free entry – information here and here

Meanwhile, up in Preston, herky-jerky odd-rock band All Hail Hyena (who’ve made an initial name for themselves by storming and/or organising assorted Tim Smith benefit gigs) continue their work as promoters Hyena Inc. via a free DIY gig celebrating “one night of pop-punk-rap-reggae-soul-psychedelic space ska nursery-rhymes rock lo-fi metal bossa-nova prog tri-fi music from four diverse and very different brilliant northern bands”. As well as putting on the night and providing the lollipops, they’re performing themselves, bringing new songs of “neon lipstick, the thrill of a stolen kiss, and powerful pop ballads infused with filthy guitars and hot sex”. The gig will be closed by another growing Preston institution, Dirty Bare Feet, playing an audience pleasing “myriad of rap, soul, reggae, dance, pop, disco and jazz”; and opened by Chorley hard rockers Soldato (“four hairy northerners making noise with wood and wire”).




 
Of most interest to me, however, is that this gig marks a long-overdue return to live action by Tyneside underground heroes Sleepy People. Teasers and tinkerers at the coalface of psychedelic pop, they’ve always been a wilfully eccentric bunch; mingling the countercultural clowning and cosmic glissandi of Gong with bursts of twinkling synth melody, pulses of ska and post-punk guitar chug, set off by moonstruck flute and held together by Paul Hope’s odd yet jaunty songs (which chunter along like sugar-frosted tank engines). The last time they trod the boards was back in 2001: reunited with original singer Tiny Wood (better known as the frontman for ongoing cult-glamsters Ultrasound) they’re seeing what the contemporary world offers them, and vice versa.

Sleepy People, 11th November 2017Despite a strong work ethic Sleepy People never got as far as they should have done during their first lease of life; partly thanks to a constant stop-start of personnel turnover (with Paul and Rachel Hope the only consistent members) but also due to their continual goofiness and repeated nose-thumbing at any conception of cool. Daevid Allen might well have applauded, but the insouciant clowning tended to obscure surprisingly thoughtful songwriting which – while it happily dipped into a soup of esoterica from Gurdjieff to Freemasonry – frequently raised an arch, quizzical eyebrow at contemporary concerns. Among the tales of the frieze of myth and of men turning themselves into birds, the Sleepies also sang about the encroachment of shopping malls, about futile attempts at freezing yourself into immortality, or about modern-day nightmares in orphanages and retirement homes. At other times they’d cast numinous halos of wonder around everyday occurrences (a winter walk home which slowly becomes freighted with significance; the joy of a child running across a beach; or, perhaps on the same beach, the uncomprehending travails of a newly-hatched turtle perilously navigating by the moon).

Things can only be improved by the ongoing reunion with Tiny (who actually rejoined for part of the band’s final stint as Blue Apple Boy around 2002 before they called it a day). Striving to be Wakefield’s own David Bowie and its David Thomas; possessed of a hulking, dramatic stage presence; singing in foreboding and flinty tones like a pop crooner reincarnated as a battlefield crow… he’s always been the best, and the edgiest, foil for Paul’s songwriting. The tail end of the Blue Apple Boy period saw them writing together, Tiny’s more personalised art-punk anguish proving the perfect sour complement to Paul’s sweet, playful tunefulness: let’s hope that they’ve kept that up for the revival.

As for Sleepy People on the web, they’ve still got much to improve on their Facebook page (you’re better off checking them out on Wikipedia) and embeddable delights are few and scattered. Here’s what I could come up with, though – a twirl through Halfway World (with Tiny’s original replacement Phil Sears); recent rough’n’ready rehearsal footage of Every Wave Is Higher On The Beach and Nicky’s Little Army; and half an hour of grainy, raucous footage of a Tiny-fronted band lineup in 1993 (complete with three-fifths of the original Ultrasound).





 

June 2016 – upcoming London gigs – Horsefight, Godzilla Black and HVMAN in New Cross (23rd); Victoria Park Singers, Kemper Norton, Settembre and Paul Reynolds take Daylight Music (25th); Copperhead Lucy and Boy And A Balloon play MAP Studio Cafe (26th)

20 Jun

Quick snapshots of three more shows for the week – a spiky south London rock gig, a warm/eclectic Daylight event, and an Americana/art-busk evening at MAP…

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Horsefight/Godzilla Black/HVMAN @ New Cross Inn, 23rd June 2016

New Cross Inn presents:
Horsefight + Godzilla Black + HVMAN
New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road, New Cross, London, SE14 6AS, England
Thursday 23rd June 2016, 7.00pm
information

Tight as fuck, gonzoid and with Berlin, Brisbane and London in their veins, Horsefight let their glam-prog/psychobilly/New Wave songs pogo about on giant spidery legs. They sound like a superimposition of The Fall, King Crimson and The Cramps, call themselves “obnoxious bounce music” and deliver songs on the verge of seizure, twitching over the Fall from Eden and going into near-hysterics about Derren Brown. A band up for hurling themselves into the heat of any given moment, they’ll eyeball it for a second and wet their lips before assembling a rapid strategy. They exist somewhere between spontaneity, rapid brainwork and the magnesium flare which upsets it all.



 

Still establishing themselves as one of the capital’s sharpest and wittiest propositions, Godzilla Black bring their snappy blare to New Cross, sounding like a horns-and-swagger big band that’s been carved up in a Peckinpah shootout and come out of it both crazed and leaner. Part sharp-dressed schizoid men, part lysergic spy movie cocktail, with an edging of amplifier hiss and flesh frenzy: the neurotic beast in the impeccable suit.



 
Up against these guys, and promising “big brash pop tunes with a sharp-edged alternative rock aftertaste”, HVMAN used to write glam-punk songs about beautiful people and E-numbers, full of blipping synths, dry songspiel asides and strutting guitar. They’ve now stirred in a deeper, rougher, and more yearning tone, some hurt-child dramatics, and the odd garnishing of bluesy resonator guitar. They’ve also added a new singer, Kane, who fits in with this sudden injection of classic-rock melodrama: although exactly how he bounces off the insouciant detachment of the band’s other singer, Louise, remains to be seen. For now, HVMAN (while citing Imagine Dragons, YYYs, Hurts and Talking Heads) suggest a clash of Ultrasound and The Flying Lizards over a few Eddie Vedder daydreams.


 

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On the other side of the fuzz pedal, Daylight Music are striving even harder than usual this week to merge community music, pop experimentation, and wood/string/space acoustica. Since this is the third or fourth time this season that they’ve put a scratch-choir singing pop hits on the bill (and the first time they’ve had one as the headliner), I was about to complain about a Daylight cosiness epidemic. Having had a look further down the list of the weekend’s acts I’d rather applaud them for their guile, their stealth and their soft-power persuasiveness. I shouldn’t have doubted them.

Daylight Music 229, 25th June 2016

Arctic Circle presents:
Daylight Music 229 – Midsummer Madness: Victoria Park Singers, Kemper Norton + Settembre + Paul Reynolds
Union Chapel, 19b Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, England
Saturday 25th June 2016, 12.00pm
free event (suggested donation: £5.00) – information

“Obviously Daylight Music should hail the solstice; it’s the most Daylight possible!

The Victoria Park Singers are a big community choir, singing a special selection of summer melodies, including songs by Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Marvin Gaye.

“The ‘coastal slurtronic folk’ of Cornishman-turned-Brightonian Kemper Norton uses digital and analogue hardware and software, acoustic instruments , field recordings and traditional song to explore neglected or original areas of landscape and folklore. His most recent album, ‘Loor’, was inspired by real and imagined cities from childhood, bathed in traditional folk, found sounds and community chants, celebrations and invocations. ‘Loor’ (which is Cornish for moon) represents the next ambitious transmission in the expanding audio landscape that Kemper Norton is creating. The songs on the album are a loose trilogy of nocturnal encounters, searches and awakenings, often with Kemper Norton revisiting old foes from previous albums and encouraging new treacherous encounters. Today he also performs his solstice inspired songs.


Settembre is a duo formed in 2015 by London-based Italian musicians Angela Cicchetti (vocals) and Ivan Imperiali (guitar). They take the essence of Italy’s songwriting tradition, and reshape it with elements from the great Brazilian, Spanish and Portuguese schools, creating a delightful combination of delicate singing and classical guitar informed by cantautori, fado, bossa and choro forms amongst others.

“Also this week, Paul Reynolds (usually to be found as the guitarist of Vespers) will be at the piano, weaving his chilled improvisations and atmospheric melodies through Daylight’s Summer celebration.”


 
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Copperhead Lucy + Boy And A Balloon @ MAP Studio Cafe, 26th June 2016Copperhead Lucy + Boy And A Balloon
MAP Studio Café, 46 Grafton Road, Kentish Town, London, NW5 3DU, England
Sunday 26th June 2016, 8.00pm
information

Further north in Camden, Map Studio Cafe continues the live sessions from local bands with a show by Americana quartet Copperhead Lucy. As they describe themselves, Copperhead Lucy were “formed after a chance encounter in a cello shop in Camden and based around the delicate voice and songs of Abigail Newis… (their) songs describe lives sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, often morbid, set to a backdrop of junkyard drums, double bass and smoking hot guitar lines. Taking inspiration from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Portishead and PJ Harvey, the songs run from ethereal whispers to raucous, tantrumic shouts.”

Here are a couple of videos, the second being a recording of the band’s first gig, back at Kentish Town’s Abbey in 2011 (a short, drunken stagger away from Map).



 
In support is Adam Hall, otherwise known as Boy And A Balloon (who played a Daylight Music show earlier in the month). Bringing his experience both as street musician and soul/pop session man to bear on a growing aesthetic of spontaneous roughness, Adam plays his own deliberately simple songs through a battered three-quarters-scale nylon-string guitar and a scratchy-toned broken-signalled busker’s amp, pursuing a philosophy of “songwriting will shine through roughness”, drawing on his own thirty-year span choice of pop music (from the ’40s to the ’70s) and musing on “the innocent and inevitable loss of something human, precious and innocent – so apparent in today’s fast paced and overwhelming technological world.”


 

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