Category Archives: gigs

METROPOLIS BLUE Launch

Last night, in the precious and incomparable BOILEROOM music venue in Guildford, Surrey a brand new record label was launched in style. The famous Metropolis Studios have joined the The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) to launch an exclusive record label named METROPOLIS BLUE. It is a project led by ACM students for ACM students, with guidance from industry professionals with experience in ACM and Metropolis

LKJ – a deep and bold song style & sharp confidence…

By joining ACM’s unrivaled creative industry education with the world-class status of Metropolis, ACM students will gain the exclusive experience that they need to get ahead in this competitive industry.

Chairman of ACM and Owner of Metropolis Studios Kainne Clements said: “We promised more industry-based learning and connected opportunity than any other provider and I am both excited and proud to deliver on this by launching the new record label, specific to ACM, powered by Metropolis.

And Richard Connell CEO at Metropolis Studios said: “Metropolis is renowned for sonic excellence, customer service and placing the artist at the centre of everything. We don’t just represent what the industry does, we are what the industry is doing, here and now, and I see it as a privilege to share this with the emerging talent that are the ACM students, from day 1.

The launch-night on Monday 4th March 2019 was enthusiastically attended — not solely because the first few punters through the door were promised free headphones (if they decided to join a long line) — but largely because of the incredible musical talent on offer.

Bethany – energetic…

After a wholehearted introduction from Neon Islands front-man Carlos de los Santos we heard from the amazingly talented indie singer/songwriter Leoni Jane Kennedy [LKJ] — the ACM Freddie Mercury Scholarship Recipient of 2018 — whose combinations of folk, pop, power balladry and blues united with her deep and bold song style and sharp confidence reminded us of Jefferson Starship era Grace Slick.

If you can imagine a finger-picking Melissa Etheridge, young and passionate, playing songs of desire and deception, you will be close to understanding the phenomenal talent of LKJ.

We also enjoyed Bethany Davey – whose “No Time To Lose” [shared below] is an energetic RnB number with work-rhythm patterns and massive wobbles slung around its waist… suggesting this is destined for dance-floor’s around Europe. File alongside Kele Le Roc.

Big queue for headphones…
Congratulations to all the recording artists who venture onto this exciting new student-inspired label. Wishing everyone success and achievement!

The event was sponsored by Monster.

Main Image: Presenter Carlos de los Santos of Neon Islands

Photos by @neilmach 2019 ©

Link: https://www.facebook.com/metropolisblue/

Notes: Since its opening in 1995, ACM has represented every corner of the creative industries. Metropolis Blue will act not only as a springboard for ACM students’ careers as artists, producers, managers, and entrepreneurs, but will also teach them the vital skills they need to make informed decisions about their futures.

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ACM Thursdays at Jamie’s Italian

ACM  has announced an exciting new proposition — students will be working with Jamie’s Italian, Guildford, to put on the first ever live music event at the restaurant.

JAKE MELLES

Headed up by ACM student JAKE MELLES, every week will see the acoustic singer-songwriter host an evening of acoustic music with two new guest artists featured each Thursday from 7pm.

Combining original and acoustic music, Jake expects to put on an unrivaled evening of musical entertainment which will, of course, be complemented by marvelous food and drink.

Jake said: “I’m so pleased to be working with Jamie’s Italian on this project. It’s exciting to be working in such a unique venue and to bring new music to Guildford through their platform is a very exciting prospect. I can’t wait until the launch event on 7th February – it’s going to be a fantastic show and it will be great to see the local community enjoying brilliant music and top food.”

Jamie’s Italian, Guildford, are proud to be supporting the local music scene and are excited to be working with ACM who work with the next generation of the music industry, many of them based in its Guildford campus.

General Manager, Dino Manganaro said “We cannot wait to showcase some of the amazing local talent in our restaurant and we look forward to welcoming new and old guests in to enjoy the atmosphere and try our special £13 set menu offer on the night too.”

ACM operate a ‘learning by doing’ ethos means that students don’t wait until graduation to get real-world experience, Opportunities like this, to be held at Jamie’s Italian, Guildford, are an important part of the student experience at ACM, and the Academy feels incredibly proud of Jake for the hard work he’s put into making this a success.

With many ACM acts set to be showcased by this fantastic new event, ACM and Jamie’s Italian are excited to welcome the Guildford community to see some of the amazing talent coming out of the Academy.

World Leaders in Music Industry Education. The Academy of Contemporary Music have campuses in London, Guildford & Birmingham and offer music courses in Performance, Music Production, Songwriting & Music Business.

Links: https://www.acm.ac.uk/
https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants/guildford/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Rockgoblin – 29th October 2011 – Hob, Staines

The Hallowe’en Rock Goblin Staines is now a firm fixture on the Staines social calendar – and a very highly anticipated event. Last year’s party was simply superb… so the 2011 Hallowe’en Rock Goblin had a lot to live up to.

With six incredible musical artists covering a night-full of spooky fun and magical events, the beautiful & intelligent people of Staines crowded into the Hobgoblin in their fineries. Costumes included spectral brides, ghoulish minnies, a throng of pirates and enough zombies, vampires and monsters to coagulate the blood and give permanent nightmares!  The fun-house was decorated in a suitably gothic fashion and the party started early and went on till well past the witching hour.

First up was ‘Ravi K’ with his solo (acoustic) ‘Timber-Tones’ set. His warm and passionate vocals and honeyed guitar work went down stunningly well with the Staines in-crowd. Kicking off with the fizzy ‘My Lonely Heart’ and featuring some reflective but none-the-less jaunty numbers like ‘For the Moment’ and ‘Talk of Tonight’ it was a highly accomplished and satisfying demo of how good the ‘Timber-Tones’ ought to be. We cannot wait for more!

‘Sian Sanderson’ is a soulful and bluesy singer/songwriter with an extraordinary voice, full of innuendo and silkily suffocating anguish. Songs like ‘Long Way Home’ are passionately personal- she counts Bill Withers & Otis Redding as influences- and you can hear the results with those tense vocals wrapped around relaxed tempos and gently rippling arrangements. Sian’s songs are tucked neatly into the smooth side of the genre and reminded me of the easy listening acts of the eighties.

Next up was Swindon band ‘Nudy Bronque’ with their lavish guitar based fireworks and their post punk Britpop aspirations. Flaming hot tunes like ‘I Don’t Want Your Problems’ were pumped out to the spirited Hobgoblin crowd. With searing guitar solos and piping hot percussion, this band made a statement of intent. Juicy, crisp and tight songs … a lot of punk attitude and a formidable style and flair is all part of the ‘Nudy Bronque’ experience. Ska-sounding beat-bound chirpy clap-clap tunes (like ‘Movement’) were bright, brisk and breezy- and brought  the Staines crowd to the boil with pin-point accuracy.

Those busy bees ‘Fear No Fish’ are already Hobgoblin stalwarts and firm favourites of the Staines music aficionados . This loveable rocking trio is the  ‘Ransome’ brothers (Chris on guitar and Mike on bass) with Rob Walker on drums. Their sound has been compared to The Who & The Jam. And it’s a constant wonder how so much rich sound can be created by such a small group.  With heaps of latent and seething drum-work, songs like ‘Stay’ with those magnificent vocals from Chris and Mike, complex plots and hauntingly beautiful compositions, are inspiring and illustrious  Or take the sturdy sounds of tunes like  ‘Paint By Numbers’ with those chunks of flying metallic guitar chords and the flourishes of percussion… numbers like these, with their grungy feel and wide-screen aspect, make you realise that ‘Fear No Fish’ are musical monsters in a pond full of tiddlers. Powerful and revelatory.

Reggae-pop outfit  ‘Tree. House. Fire.’ are also Hob regulars. These Guildford boys (dressed up as swarthy pirates)  fired up the dancing demons at the Hallowe’en ball with their imaginative ska-shaped sounds and their mashed up energetic show. Songs like ‘Suburban Gangster’ have enough pliant licorice flavoured rubbery beats to  keep heads rocking, knees bouncing and neighbours complaining,  deep into the night . And those irreverent lyrics with their ‘thumbs up’ vocals are playful enough to inspire raucous choruses, and to illicit frantic applause. Brilliant.

To complete a gigantic evening  we had the legendary Brighton party band ‘Floors And Walls’ giving us their amazing brew of melodic guitars and grimy vocals with those (almost) folky compositions. Pounding vibes and ‘Vincent Price’ vocals (by  Alex Adams ) seemed the perfect ending for a truly magnificent Hallowe’en feast.

A blissful night of rock sounds and invincible party-time antics. Bloody Fang-Tastic!

© Neil_Mach 28 October 2011

Links:

http://www.facebook.com/siansanderson

http://www.facebook.com/nudybronque

http://www.facebook.com/treehousefire

http://www.facebook.com/fearnofishuk

http://www.myspace.com/floorsandwalls

Lucky Toppers – The Black Hats – Live Review – Staines Hobgoblin

Take three Elvis Costello types. Give them some twanging bass. Crank up the volume so loud it sends a thermic lance up your tender-loins.  Tighten up  the sounds with a heavy gauge torque-wrench. And you have yourselves ‘The Black Hats’. As dangerous as a night out in Hackney. Swift as a switchblade in steady hands. And as formidable as a home-made zip-gun. This band takes no prisoners in a bloody relentless surge for power.  

Oxford’s most articulate pop punksters played a successful show at the Staines Hobgoblin during the summer. They may look like yobs in “Proclaimers” specs or the remnants of a twisted “Freddy and the Dreamers” lookalikey party, but they play garrulously energetic punk at high pitch, high dose levels. And they sprinkle their sounds with seasonings of ska, dub and reggae. In this sense, they are our ‘most post’ protopunk pop-star popinjays. Increasingly recognized and well received throughout their home territory, they now seem to be branching out along the Thames Valley- and they are already creating quite a stir on radio. And they are just out of the studio, having recorded with Mercury-nominated producer Sam Williams (Supergrass, Plan B, The Go Team!)

A rattling & rolling gig at The Hob got all the good people in the audience moshing and prancing and, generally, yelling to the aggregate sounds. This band look like a bunch of rock-hard ‘leave-well-alone’ nut-case bruisers with psychopathic intent. But their songs and intelligent musicianship elevates them to a higher level. Yes, they may be a bunch of amoral, discontented antisocial misfits – wearing ‘Two Ronnies’ glasses -but they are also talented, effervescent with energy and almost academic in their production.

Their big number ‘Tunnels’ rushes & crashes-  it barely hangs onto the tracks- like some kind of out-of-control cattle car upon a flimsy trackway . Driven by a Liam Gallagher-style vocal from Nick Breakspear, the jaggedly highly-wrought guitar-work adds radiating spirals of sound to the bumpy rhythms laid down by Ian Budd on bass, and the generally rickety percussion from Mark Franklin on drums.

Other Black Hats numbers like ‘Magnets’ are creatures that can trace their lineage back to ‘The Jam’ and ‘The Cure’ via ‘Simple Minds’. Bippperty beats, slide around rhythms and cutie-pie slip ups, underpin the smiling yet ultra-cynical vocals and those acid laden vitriolic lyrics. Silvery guitars slice up the atmosphere and a catchy chorus adds to the joy of the frivolous, yet desirable, songs. Yes, indeed ‘We’re all magnets … don’t you know?”

And ‘Just Fall’ helps you feel your way along it’s twisting path with a reassuringly jammy sound. But the angular motifs and progressive bass notes create hazards and unseen footfalls in the dangerous architectural sub-terrain.  Two-for-one chug-a-chug chords get toes tapping. And echoing sweetly, lofty vocals from Nick remind me of Sting at his best (Reggatta de Blanc) and now, come to think of it, his reggae guitar tones also sound a lot like Andy Summers.

Crikey, there is a lot here to be thankful for here. The Black Hats are set to top-off and rise. This is spruced up defiant and infallible punk.

© Neil_Mach
September 2011

Link:

Weyward Chile – at the ‘Wey Will Rock You’ event – The Star Guildford

Weyward Chile possesses that kind of cock-rock insolence and sweaty strutting charm that actually swoops the gals off of their feet and sets the men a-jigging. And that’s exactly what occurred at The Star Inn, Guildford on 9th Sept at the boys’ regularly hosted rock night ‘Wey Will Rock You’ (planned for the last weekend of every month.) The guys and girls were dancing and grinding  – and hollering along to the best, biggest and most bruisingingly boisterous bad ass blues rock this side of the Smokies.

Frontman lead vocalist Karl looks very much like ‘Donovan’ but he possesses the seriousness and the rustle of Robert Plant. He is as bold as he is beautiful. On the sweet lead guitar we have chancer and chief mojo-maker Korush, on the smouldering rhythm guitar we have Jack and on the power-house percussion we have Alex showing off a tantalizing new kit, with James on finger-lickinginly good bass.

Starting with an onslaught of power and strength that shakes the roof tiles off the mossy ole ‘Star, the band smash into a blistering set that can only be described as ruthless classic rock. Delivered in dollops so big, you will need an excavator and a pile-driver to make sense of the chords and chops. With songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and Jimi’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” you know what you’re going to get.  Yes, exuberant classic rock and blues.

But their own songs are also full of promise and contagious, good time, rock-ability. From their gas-bottle necking grassband country twanging, feverish ‘Go Go’  to ‘Clouds Start To Rain’ which has an elegant chord structure and a tuneful verse together with nagging guitar ripples from Korush- lightly feathering the pattering rhythms. I can’t wait for their studio album.

There was a lot of low-down, yard-dog, dice rolling type numbers, like ‘Mike’s Song’ created with roostering roistering buoyancy. And ‘I Went Down’ which is their truest ‘Bad Company’ number. It’s like running down the strip with a desolation angel on your arm, trying to get to the liquor store & grab yourself a bottle of Gentleman Jack before the big game. It’s like sluice-juiced rock-daddy headymen Aerosmith before their big-hair dandy days. When they played true honest-to-goodness rock, blues and metal.

Huge sound and energy is created by Karl as he prances the boards and teases the audience with his wild shirtless holier-than- f * ck arrogant swagger. Yes, Weyward Chile are now truly ready for stadium stardom. I can imagine these boys making a success of a West-coast tour anytime now.

Hard place dominant rock and blues for the wise and the ready…

© Neil_Mach
September 2011

Links:
http://www.weywardchile.com
http://www.myspace.com/weywardchile
http://www.youtube.com/user/WeywardChile

Foley Artist – Live at Hobgoblin, Staines – Aug 18

The craftsmen know as foley artists try to create realistic ambient sound for movies … that’s why the horses in the movies always tend to clip-clop their hooves, even when  travelling on sand or grass… the foley artist has added the sound ‘after’ filming with a couple of coconuts.  Foley Artist is also the name of a rock band that I went to see on 18 AUG at the best music venue in Middlesex – the Hobgoblin, Staines.

Foley Artist create monster sounds on a magnitude totally exceeding your expectations. Instrumentally adept, their output seems jammed firmly betwixt hardcore and hard rock – little nuggets’ of tungsten embedded between two tectonic plates. A tough nut to crack, although I hope the band eventually breaks firmly into the classic hard rock seam. At this stage vocals can be a bit hit-and-miss, but you can forgive this slight aberration as you are blown away by the style and substance of the astonishing white-hot guitar magic. In fact, their sound brings to mind – ahem – Led Zeppelin (yes, really). Bluesy, smoky, blameless, armour-piercing rock and roll, blood and flames.

These swindlers played a short set at The Hob (due to feeling under the weather.)  But the band provided enough material to get a reasonable idea of the quality of their sounds. Tunes like ‘Shadow Boxing’ from the ‘Gorgeous Dog’ E.P demonstrate the innovative guitar trickery and licentious  percussion. ‘Brad Pitts Beard’ is ice cold and angular. Satisfying bass-play from man-mountain Olly Nunn creates a bed of chewy textures for the finely detailed fretwork and interwoven vocals. Songs like ‘Wheaties Box’ are heavy, headstrong and banging. Laced with streaks of silvery guitar and full of time juxtapositions, with tempo-changes aplenty.

Bold bass-play, excellent guitar instrumentation from frontman Matt Searle together with the percussive fireworks from James on drums, mean that Foley Artist are ones to watch as they negotiate up the rocky road. Good luck lads.

© Neil_Mach
August 2011

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/foleyartistmusic

http://foleyartist.bandcamp.com/

Mortdelamer at Staines Hobgoblin – August 04

Finishing off a successful 9 date tour at the Hobgoblin, Staines (our favourite music venue) the Swindon based 3-piece prog-rockers “Mortdelamer”   played an amazingly invigorating and inspirational set to the happy throng. Claire (lead vocals and guitar) Joe (on bass guitar) and Sean (on drums) stormed through a set of thoroughly honed songs, properly aired and exhaustively rehearsed after days on the road.

‘Chasing Lights’ is a chiming buzz-saw wormery of textures and sub-texts. Dank themes crumble like biscuits around the molten guitars. Claire’s voice cuts through the chords and chains like acetic acid through cloth, before the number ascends into the loftiest of metal frameworks.

‘Choices’ is a gap-toothed fallen-angel of a song, distraught chords and edgy rhythms suggest a kind of corrupt architecture for Claire’s splendidly miserable vocals.

‘Mistakes’ grates like a rake dragged into a storm drain… but the kindly echoing vocal content, reminding me of Alannah Myles, lifts the song from it’s velvety sludge to a more glistening position above the shoreline.

‘Man With 2 Heads’ has a pronounced reggae beat and those other worldly vocals, before  liquid guitars leak and spill over the jaggedy moonscape. Disconcerting grinds and blinding wah-wahs add drama and potency to this outstanding track.

New song ‘Leech’ from the superb Leech E.P (I urge you to get it now) is a blues number that starts smoky in the background before becoming emblazoned with fire and ice as the composition moves on – cracking and fragmenting into explosions of pure emotion as the song reaches it’s heroic destiny.

If you like ‘Karnivool’ or ‘Skunk Anansie’ and you take your rock without sugar or cream and, preferably, bible-black, then this is definitely for you…

© Neil_Mach
August 2011

Links:

http://www.mortdelamer.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/mortdelamer
http://mortdelamer.bandcamp.com/

Cow live at Bed Bar, Woking – July 2011

“Cow” are an acoustic 4-piece soul and pop band with a California sound and a kinda sixties-style kookiness concealing a modish edge, flavoring both their sound and their image. This band would not seem out of place supporting The Mamas & the Papas  on the Ready Steady Go! show circa 1966…

The band has already ably supported the Woking ‘Modfather’ Paul Weller and has created quite a lot of buzz and excitement on the music scene. I went to see the band as they launched their superbly packaged “Sunrise” E.P at the sumptuous Bed Bar in Woking.

The band is seated in a half-circle and play acoustically, without drums. Female vocalist and guitarist – Maxine  – is located in the centre of the group, looking relaxed and regal. She provides the warmth and depth to vocals, but Mark and Ben (on guitars) provide some interesting harmonies and generally descanted sounds. Michael is twanging the bass guitar. They reminded me of the kind of band that would be warmly appreciated on the Val Doonican show! But their insightful lyrics and creative compositions, and the constant intertwining, reminded me more of songs by  Loves  Lee Arthur in Los Angeles in the 60’s … together with the delicate air of mystery that lies beyond every song, and the vaguely uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that you are being  taken up the-garden-path by the lyrical sub-texts and the arrangements.

“Sunrise” the ‘Side A’ on Cow’s new E.P. is like a sixties fruit-cup of love. Not unlike anything by the Mamas & the Papas in aspirations or moodiness. At first glance, this could be put down as a light pop song, but by rubbing its delicate surface, it reveals darker secrets. There is a flourishing yet controlled burst of chukka-chukka rhythms set amongst a profusion of squelchy guitars, but the flamenco style beats and the pervasive chords get heads nodding and feet tapping.

“New Day” ( this song went town well at Wembley Arena when Cow supported Paul Weller) is a foam-wrapped eerily haunting song, shrouded in mysterious folksy froth. And ‘One in B’ sounded like a less funky ‘Long Train Runnin’ (‘Dooble Brothers’).  This song evoked (for me) memories of joss sticks, turtle-necks and snuggling up in your Afghan, on quilted cushions, listening to Jefferson Airplane.

“Get To Luv You” sounds every bit as dippy and preppy as anything by the Partridge Family – a saccharine sweet and high-pitched jaunt. If the haunting emotions bring a tear to your eye and a slight ache to your heart, never mind, because the songs are joyful and  tender enough to lighten your mood and put a shake in your hipsters. Perhaps I could have done with some keyboards to ‘flesh the sound out’ – it felt a little like a watercolor wash at times. But, nonetheless, enjoyable.

“Fragile Foundations” has lustrous autumn gold vocals from Maxine against mellow chords and feel good bass lines.  ‘leaving ain’t no good when you’re misunderstood‘ she sings, while lofty harmonies provided by Ben tend to lift you to a higher place.
Gentle ‘Donovan’ style sweet sixties vibrations linger long after in your mind, even once the sweet chorus finishes…

Passionate, inspiring, folksy, Amercican style sixties soul – from this intimate and creative group. For your gentler side!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Links:

http://www.cowmusic.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/cowuk
http://www.reverbnation.com/cowuk

Redfest Festival Report – 22nd-23rd July 2011

Now in its fifth year, Redfest is fast becoming one of the best ‘smaller’ festivals in the UK , and has built up an enviable reputation for bringing breakthrough artists to the fore- last year the headliners were Enter Shikari  and Hadouken – this year The Futures, Modestep, We Are The Ocean , The Qemists and The Skints wowed and wooed the crowds.

I cannot pile on enough praise for the organisers of this superb festival. It is intimate, relaxed and quintessentially, fun. It attracts a lively, youthful and attractive crowd. It is set in a gorgeous location at Robins Hill Farm, near Redhill Surrey. Good healthy food stalls line the event area, and friendly efficient staff / volunteers are helpful and charming. A superb chill-out zone, a great bar, a dance tent and some thrilling  ‘side-shows’ also add to the fun.  I can also confirm that the bookers for this festival are right on the money- this year’s festival sensation was Ed Sheeran – who is currently riding high in the charts – and yet was an early booking for Redfest.

The weather held up for the duration and even became balmy at times.The music and atmosphere was, as usual, perfectly sublime. The smaller venue – the red and white tent ‘introduction’ was hot and hectic … a lot of energy and fizz for all those involved. One of the standout acts at this stage were, for me, the high kicking antics of Lecarla –  tense, tight and trend-setting!

Some great DJ sets were available for the sweet and easy party-goers in the chill-out tent and these included Mike Chadwick and Matt Weeks.

Up on the main stage Modestep on Friday night blew away the reveller’s cobwebs and bounced the bones. Before them Brighton’s ‘Floors and Walls’ played a generous and vibrant set to the jubilant Surrey crowd.

Festival goers were in for more treats on Saturday as Ryan Keen stepped up to the stage- he is supporting Ed Sheeran this season and has been granted a valuable residency at Ronnie Scott’s. Ryan’s rich comortable tones helped warm and wake up the crowd.

Then ‘Hold Your Horse Is’ pounded our eardrums with their fierce yet controlled sound attack  – Redfest was one of three fests for this hugely popular band over the weekend. And milk, honey and mellow fruitfulness were provided by the delightful Pearl and the Puppets.

Qemists - Redfest 2011

Incredibly talented reggae/ska band ‘The Skints’ played a truly awesome set and got the party rolling in the green fields. The pure energy of this band was incredibly contagious as the crowd skanked and ska-voovied to the volatile vibes and those heady beats. Lead man Joshua Waters Rudge complemented the festival crowd for the most magnificent mosh-pit he had witnessed all season.

Heavy hitters Hampshire based band ‘Canterbury’ put on an incredible show, turning up the volume and turning on the audience with a thunderous kapowing, rolling performance.

Then ‘The Qemists’ created chaos in the fields with their happy vortex of musical madness-  as they charged through the kind of set that made everyone wanna boing and pronk like springboks  on the loose. Specializing in heavy chords, majestic and magnificent arrangements, and urban vibes set against a flurry of relentless crusading dance-floor beats on drum and bass. The resulting sounds were over the top- but elegantly powerful in scale and ambition nonethelesss.

All these acts created the buzz and energy necessary for the barn-storming climax of this festival, with carrot-topped  Ed Sheeran, who came onto the stage and almost immediately created a spectacle of fire and daring – and the massed audience went mad-for-it.  ‘Futures’ topped off the weekend with a triumphant and resoundingly successful show…   I literally cannot wait for next Redfest!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles Live at The Hobgoblin, Staines

On Saturday night we caught up with the Leeds based orchestral pop band Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles,  at our fantastic local music venue – The Hobgoblin, Staines.

Ostensibly, this band is simply Ben Hatfield (vocals, guitar) and Alex Pinder (percussion and drums). But the duo employs everything from a six piece setup to a full-on symphony orchestra to add both depth and infinite flavour to their endlessly colourful productions. When I saw the troop at The Hob,  Neil Balfour was on keys adding  texture and classical motifs to the compositions, and Dan added to the beat with a bluesy-sounding bass. Additionally, there was violin from string quartet player Hannah Elizabeth Want and rambunctious trombone from scholar Tom I’Anson, both instruments creating a warmth and a special character to  the broader sounds, adding a rather splendid and luxurious element. These music college graduates have obviously resolved to tip over the apple-cart of the music establishment and add their own cultured and refined twist to the proceedings.

Sometimes leaning towards folk – and at other times rock – but always on the orchestral and mellow side of the tracks, we enjoyed tunes like ‘White Houses’ which starts with imploring bass-baritone lyrics set against a lush accompaniment of ponderously sad notes that plink out from the lonely keys like stained tears dribbling down mossy walls. Feathery imagery is provided by the soft trombone.

Or ‘One Stormy Night’ which exhibits the artistic intentions of the band’s arrangements with soft shimmering guitar echoing across a silvery landscape created by those lush orchestral manoeuvres. Supple lipped vocals accentuate the lyrics as the pace almost imperceptibly picks up and gradually, and evermore gradually, until the song becomes a rock piece, creatively clouded by the classical images that abound.

Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles have clear electric folk aspirations and the ‘big hitter’ of the night at the Hob was the song ‘Follow’ with that jaunty pony-riding beat and feel good chorus sung in a round. The country fizzy-jig formula was magnified exuberantly by shining violin-play from Hannah and foot tapping percussion from Alex.

Other songs like  ‘Fly Far Away’ have pounding insistent beats and earthy textures whilst others, like ‘Stranger’ are moodier and complex set-pieces.

Bringing to mind Canadian folk rockers ‘Crash Test Dummies’ crossed with 2010 ‘Plastic Beach’ era ‘Gorillaz’ this band is set for stardom. I can easily see them on the world stage collecting themselves a  “Grammy”  in a couple of years time. It brings a tiny tear to my eye- as an ‘oldie’ – because I nostalgically think that Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles are this year’s answer to that never-sufficiently-praised nor properly lauded English progressive rock band ‘Renaissance’ – albeit with a ‘Brad Roberts’ sounding lead vocalist instead  of the five-octave vocal range of Annie Haslam. But the same eloquence, attention to detail, poetry and classical aspirations are present in the musical treasure-box that Ben and Alex have on offer.

Mind changing, game altering stuff.

© Neil_Mach
February 2011

Link

http://www.myspace.com/arthurrigby

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