Jim’s Favourite Gigs/Events of 2011
On my travels this year I’ve probably seen another 200+ acts and if I wrote about all of them I could, quoting Laurie Anderson “write a book, that would be thick enough, to stun an ox”
These are the most memorable ones that I have pulled from my notes from the past year
Weak 13: You Don’t Love Me (Video Shoot), Base Studio 26/2/11
This was such a fun day out, the professionalism of the band and film crew was a joy to behold, I really don’t think people realise what a brilliant organiser Nick J Townsend is, every single extra was made to feel so important, he was clear in his direction of the shoot all day and every individual that left was thanked by Nick, warmly.
Nick always aims high and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he got there….top man!
4oz Of Groove, Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton 4/3/11
Funny, you hear a lot of funk-lite on the radio etc but I see very few bands performing it on the local circuit, I think this band are from Wolverhampton and they are very skilful musically but the undoubted star of the group is the lead singer who has a velvet soul voice and oozes charisma.
Mothers Jam, Adam & Eve, Birmingham 13/4/11
There are some dominant genres of music around the Midlands so it’s always nice to come across something completely different, I’m a sucker for a bit of avant garde and this is duo delivers a lovely, gentle slice of it.
Unusually they are a clarinet and keyboard duo, with lovely observational lyrics from what they see from their riverboat or some seemingly out of context covers, if I had to compare their sound to anyone it would probably be Robert Wyatt though I would like to think that their name has some connection to the Mothers Of Invention.
The Me! Me! Me’s?, Marrs Bar, Worcester
If you were there that night you would know why I picked this, a great punk band with a lot of stage presence and they seemed to love every minute of what they were doing. I think every song was no longer than two minutes but they won over a largely blues based crowd who are used to extended solos, no mean little feat.
Ronin, Café Bliss, Worcester 12/6/11
Excellent set on this afternoon at Café Bliss, it was supposed to be outside but the heavens opened so we were all in a cosy little space together. I haven’t heard the rockier version of Ronin but the acoustic set certainly showed some strong song writing and musicianship, to me they sounded like Argus era Wishbone Ash.
The front man Kit looked great as the archetypal rock singer, all hair and leathers but the band need to join in on the image front as well, nothing drastic but enough to make it look like they in on the act as well.
Babble, Vines Park, Droitwich 3/7/11
Babble acoustic is interesting but to get them at their best you have to get them on a night like this, with a big stage, great lighting and superb sound courtesy of Ryan Tolley.
With these ingredients in place they truly come alive with Rob Williams sparkling guitar playing and Karen Langley doing an excellent job on vocals. I love their version of I Walk On Guilded Splinters
Lady Nade, Swan Inn, Great Malvern 10/7/11
Visiting Great Malvern from Bristol, Lady Nade blew away the audience on this beautiful late summer evening. Absolutely charming stage presence and had a wonderfully warm soul/jazz voice.
The song writing is exquisite and here is one lady that would not be out of place on Later with Jools Holland, the song Kiss This Troubled Mind was instantly brilliant.
Matt Woosey, Swan Inn, Great Malvern 10/7/11
I hadn’t seen Matt Woosey for a long time but this set was better than ever and he’s always had a big reputation on the local blues scene. I doubt if there is anyone who works and gigs harder than Matt.
On show tonight was some fantastic musicianship, great storytelling blues and I have no reservation in describing Matt as a class act, whether you think you like blues or not, go and see him the next chance you get, you will not be disappointed.
Evilwitch, Marrs Bar, Worcester 23/7/11
Evilwitch were one of the acts to see in and around Worcester this year, energetic, well structured songs and often with a big, hook laden chorus made their stage shows very enjoyable, you can’t listen to the controversial Rose McCain without that chorus buzzing around your head for days afterwards.
From a stage presence point of view, the whole band have a lot of charisma and are supremely confident, can they take over the neighbouring towns and cities like they have with Worcester?…if they want to, they could do it!
Redbook, Marrs Bar, Worcester 23/7/11
There’s a lot of talent here with Sam coming up with some great keyboard lines and Gareth has a great range on vocals. They are definitely stronger as a band than as a duo as it’s difficult to translate prog structured songs to an acoustic level.
On this evening they were on very good form amidst a very strong line up tonight, with songs like Wanted and Bad News being the highlights for me.
I still think they need to take a more original direction as their influences are to close to fandom, when they are listening to Muse they write like them and then the next band they like they go in that direction for instance Lady Gaga worshipped Queen, hence her name but her own songs bear no relation to this.
They’ve got something, just needs a direction that reflects themselves more.
This Wicked Tongue, Marrs Bar, Worcester 23/7/11
There was a terrific line up at this packed night at the Marrs Bar and This Wicked Tongue were on top form.
Tina V is rapidly growing in confidence as a front woman and the band are very professional and tight. On this night the audience were loving every minute of their set and it was a night of stage invasions and they earned theirs as well.
They’ve made a big impression in the last year on their quest for wider recognition and from my neutral ears they just need to find the killer song to gain entry to the next level, with the talent in this band I wouldn’t bet against them finding it
Robinson, Marrs Bar, Worcester, 30/7/11
Another emotion charged and packed night at the Marrs Bar saw Robinson and his band on top form. Robinson is an extremely strong song writer, writing coherent stories from start to finish which is a very elusive and sort after skill.
What I will not overlook here is the strength of a fabulous band behind him, all of them with a really strong pedigree as artists in their own right, a singer would give their right arm to get talent like this to get his songs so brilliantly across to the audience
The Roving Crows, Marrs Bar, Worcester 16/9/11
I caught half a set at Vines Park earlier in the year, so I was really looking forward to this full set and I wasn’t disappointed.
Paul O’Neill is a brilliant front man who works very hard to make sure every one in the audience leaves their gig having had a bloody good time.
Celtic folk/rock fusion is not my normal listening matter but the outstanding playing is just impossible to resist, Caitlin Barrett is mesmerising on fiddle and sets the whole gig alight.
Coming soon to a town near you?…you bet, they tour extensively having just completed a tour of Ireland I’m sure they’ll be back in Worcester again soon and when they do I urge you to go and see them.
Howard James Kenny, The Public, West Bromwich 9/10/11
I’d heard a lot about Howard James Kenny so I was delighted to finally catch up with him, there are very few truly ambient acts around and doing something different to everyone else will always get the thumbs up from me.
I’d imagine some of the noisier venues this may not work but here with the state of the art sound system at The Public and a very respectful audience this was a beautiful set, with tasteful effects and a super chilled vibe.