Wille And The Bandits at The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham Nov.21st
inc. Album review ‘Grow’
Grow, is the latest release form Wille & Co. It follows the bands philosophy of lyrics reflecting life today, our loves, failures, politics, mankind and self respect. But, as they say, its the way they tell ‘em. My first listen through, left me with thinking ‘Got To Do better’ had a slightly commercialised feel to it, before ‘Gypsy Woman’ kicks in, with the dangers of forbidden love. Then, into another gear for a full on Wille special, ‘Try To Be Yourself’, gritty edged vocals pour over the galvanising instrumentation. ‘Under The Sun’ starts slowly with heartfelt lyrics, before Wille’s slide guitar takes it to another level as the voice fades away.
Unmistakable bass and percussion are provided by the mesmerizing 6 strings of Matt Brooks and spellbinding rhythms from Andy Naumanns. Wille Edwards, steel lap slide guitar worked to fabulous effect.
That slide, strongly evident in the weeping solo breaking into the mid part of ‘Why D’you Do It’ and ‘Son Of The Gun’, bracketed by dirty guitar and that gravel voice of Wille’s. ‘Keep Moving On’ opens with Matt’s double bass accenting the track, following on with his bow sawing through those heavy strings in the opening bars of ‘Forgiveness’, wonderful, I can see Matt eyes closed, lost in his dark rhythmic jungle. Wille opens ‘Angel’ with ‘Spanish’ flare before that heavy base and drum beat punches in, a superb instrumental that goes stratospheric 2 minutes in, soaring guitar, percussive outbreaks and that sticky thick base, before anchoring back into a beautiful groove and that slide into heaven, 10+ minutes of heaven.
I don’t know of another band quite like W&TB, they produce stunning sounds, favourites of the blues and roots festival circuit and now at gig’s playing previous signature songs like the lovely ‘Mammon’, alongside this new work. I’m still not fully sold on the opening, ‘Got To Do Better’, but they certainly do, the album is a superb collection of music, turn the sound up, the light down, lie on the floor and let it flow over.
Wille And The Bandits, produce a unique sound, mesmerizing, all pervading throughout the room and into everybody’s very soul. They have an enviable list of songs from multiple albums to select from, at the Hare & Hounds, Breakfree and the new Grow, provided most of the material. ‘Got To Do Better’, my least favourite of the new album, proved much better in its raw performance mode. We were treated to the bands take on Peter Green’s ‘Black Magic Woman’, Santana would weep with frustration if he heard WATB’s reworking, superb. It could only get better as we listen to the beautiful ”Mammon’ from Breakfree, gently delivered by Wille. ‘Chillout’ opens with Andy’s tongue drum, as Wille’s vocals sandpaper the mike, his slide is working its magic. Andy sits at the rear watching Matt and Wille like a hawk, controlling the tempo, as Matt uses his 6 string base in ways that would embarrass many a lead guitarist. ‘Under The Grove’ starts with a nice acoustic opening from Wille, Matt comes in taking bow to the skeletal double bass, as Andy caresses the cymbals and drums with ‘soft’ sticks. The blues charting ‘Gypsy Woman’ and rattling ‘Son Of The Gun’ fire, off Grow. The whole room is full of moving, musically intoxicated believers, as we build up to a full 10+ minutes of the fabulous ‘Angel’, which showcases all of there artistry, wonderful bass rhythms, stunning drums and the hypnotic sounds conjured up by the Wille on his lap guitar, unforgettable. BUT there’s more, they close to a version of Dire Straits, ‘Money For Nothing’, words fail me, I’ve heard it before, but I am still in awe of the sound from this band of sorcerers. Look out for them, they are festival favourites, with blues and roots particularly, once heard never forgotten; a word I hate but cannot avoid, awesome.
Supporting Wille And The Bandids at the Hare & Hounds, was local folksinger Chris Cleverley. With some self penned work and traditional songs, like, ‘Oh Shenandoaha’, and an acapella ‘Polly Vaughan’, very nicely done. I particularly liked his tale of the boy doomed forever to live in a church bell tower ‘The rafters’. A fine voice and acoustic guitar are his hallmark, I’m sure I will see more of Chris in the future.
Words & Photos by Graham Munn
Who would have thought it, a rammed to the rafters Marrs Bar on a Tuesday night all jumping on demand and hollering in unison, it could only mean one thing, the return of local ska legends Spunge!!!
It’s been awhile, far too long in fact (bar an un-announced 15 minute set a year or so ago) since Spunge graced Worcester with their blend of infectious ska pop punk, but to celebrate a newly recorded best of and twenty years in the business they’re back and sounding better than ever, but before I talk about conquering heroes there’s a couple of support acts to mention.
First to take to the floor were local post hardcore/rock n rollers, Fights And Fires, since the last time I caught the band they’ve been busy pounding Europe with their contagious racket and the constant touring really showed, the band delivered a tight and energetic set complete with wandering guitarist and a singer who spent more time in the audience than on stage. The crowd down the front showed their appreciation by bellowing along whilst the band delivered wave after wave of melodic hardcore including a glorious run through set highlight Chase The Blues. The only one criticism I can level at the band was the off microphone shouted introductions, do it once fine, but throughout the whole set, marred an otherwise impressive performance.
If you read my previous appraisal of the debut album by Hey You Guys! or indeed their album launch party gig, you’ll already know I’m something of a fan, well once again the band delivered a highly engaging, infectious set drawing from the aforementioned album, Gasp! Shock! Horror! and beyond, as the band showcased a couple of brand new tracks. Within seconds of the opening number, frontman Pete careered into the audience as the rest of the band laid down their brash punky foundation, from then on in there was no stopping them as they unleashed their fluid blend of spiky riffs, galloping drums and half spoken/half shouted vocals. Individual highlights are always hard to pick out but once again Difficult Second Album and the 3 Ronnies deserve a special mention.
What can I say about the main event, they delivered a fan favourite set (with a couple of newbies chucked in for good measure) of pogo inducing, fun fuelled, catchier than the common cold, ska influenced pop punk, inciting mass bounce and sing-a-longs. It’s impossible to argue with the likes of Jump On Demand, Ego, Kicking Pigeons, No Woman No Cry and Centrefold, it’s impossible not to be carried away by the groups energy, banter and delivery or the crowds bouyant enthusiasm. Spunge are one of those bands that weld a massive grin on your face right from the opening chord. You don’t go and see Spunge expecting indepth social commentary or mind blowing musicianship, you go expecting to have a good time and that’s exactly what they deliver.
A sweaty audience depart with a smile on their collective faces and a vocal hook or two that takes days to fully exorcise (actually as I write this Kicking Pigeons is still reverberating around my noggin). Let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for Spunge to return.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10
After a long week of work and a day of running around, I want a night of calm acoustic goodness, intelligent lyrics and an infectious melody or two, now sure I could ransack my CD collection and come up with dozens of releases that fill the criteria but there’s nothing like live music to calm the savage beast.
Once upon a time, seems like aeons now, Worcester’s finest venue, The Marrs Bar, used to run acoustic sessions on a Sunday evening featuring local acts and the cream of out of town talents, it was one of my favourite nights, stripped back acts giving it their all in front of (generally) an audience of music fans. During these sessions I managed to catch the likes of Jackie Levan (R.I.P.), Christopher Rees, The Songwriters Circle, Tim Rose, machine Breakers, etc alongside the best of the locals, including regular performer and firm Rhythm & Booze favourite Wes Dance among numerous others.
Wes being both a fan and regular performer of these “shhhhh……Sundays” decided it was high time the format was resurrected to showcase, not only his own new material but also the wares of a few fellow acts that he’s performed with during 2013.
The first performer of the night was recent Wes Dance collaborator and local singer-singerwriter, Leanne Haworth, now I’m shamed to say it was the first time I’ve ever caught Leanne in a solo guise, but despite the announcement of a musical sabbatical, I hope not the last. Leanne littered her short set with covers (despite having a wealth of original material to draw from), openning with Where Is My Mind (Pixies), before running though Ghosts and leaving on a simply jaw dropping rendition of The Decemberists Revenge Of The Marineer, that perhaps even bettered that of the original.
Next to tread the boards were Birmingham based guitar/violin duo Che and Katharine, performing to a rapt Worcester for the first time, mesmerizing the assemble attentive audience with their gorgeous blend of vocal harmonies, strummed acoustic and lifting strings. The duo performed a number of beautiful originals with Katharine’s vocals harmonising wonderfully with the Dylan-esque delivery of Che, seducing everyone in the room with their folky laments and a gorgeous, sparse rendition of You’re So Beautiful originally by Swedish sensations First Aid Kit.
Now I must have seen singer-songwriter Wes Dance more than most local acts, I’ve watched him perform solo, as part of Robinson and with his own band but never have I seen a more comfortable performance than the one that he delivered to The Marrs Bar, opening with Tristesa, Wes instantly settled, delivering a masterclass of song craft and penmanship, as his infatuating lyrics tumbled over the sparse acoustic guitar. From there Wes commanded the attention running through firm favourites such as Thinking Way Too Much and A Fool Should Never Drink whilst also showcasing new works such as If Time Flows Like A River. Leanne was invited back up to sing on a couple of songs, including a brilliant Moonlight before Wes is joined by violinist John-Joe Murray who backs him brilliantly with a flurry on a glorious rendition of Silver Horse, a previously unrehearsed new number and a stirring Fiesta drawing a fabulous evenings entertainment to a close.
Sunday’s were made for sessions such as Wes and friends, I hope someone takes up the challenge to regularly deliver a night of stripped down musical goodness here in Worcester.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Words: Will Munn
Video: King Dave
Photos: Ben Sanders
Skinny Lister @ Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
First visit to this well established music scene venue in Kings Heath, it will not be my last, I love the original Victorian Bar, tiled walls, and overall buzz this place exudes. Upstairs, things had already kicked off with support band with Mile Wide Stride, from Coventry and Nuneaton areas. They played a mix of rock and a little blues very effectively with a range of influences from Bowie to The Stones. Joined on stage by a saxophonist for a couple of songs, they are certainly worth looking out for in the future.
Next up Dirty Old Folkers, what can I say about this renowned bunch of Brummy’s. Folkish, with a huge sense of comedy, political satire, and plain filth! None of that’s a problem, they are an immensely entertaining band complete with their own dance troupe, a panda and death. ( this is one cloaked skeleton with some very nifty moves) Opening with a nod to our governing alliance, ‘Big Society’ makes a worthy comment on our brave new world. ‘Bonus’ bring a bit of bluegrass to liven up the poor bankers world. Fellow Brummy’s Sabbath decorate the background to ‘Lord of The Rings’ with War Pig, ably orchestrated by Stuart. Mike, Clive, Matt, Llias and Hannah, make up the band. A definite revisit in the future.
So, Skinny Lister, a party on stage,floor and street. If you want a forget it all, bloody good night out, get along to one of their gigs. This band is one of the hardest working on the festival circuit, guaranteed to raise a crowd from its alcoholic infused slumber into a dancing frenzy. New addition to Dan, Lorna, Max, Sam and Dan (d/bass) is Dave with full drum set. Their sea and folk songs are delivered with full on punk energy, flagon to hand, rum on tap. Forge & Flagon provides most of the songs, with a sprinkling from an impending new album to be released next spring. Mayhem takes over for jigs like ‘If The Gaff Don’t let Us Down’ and ‘Rollin’ Over’, as Lorna flirts with the whole room. Sam blasts out the rousing ‘John Kanaka’, inviting the responses as all join in. Colours, is a simply beautiful song, narrated by Lorna and Dan, Lorna shows the true quality of her voice in ‘Bonny Away’, a lovely lament. A momentary quiet before bursting into the manic ’40lb Wedding’. Interspersed with all that were new songs, a frenetic ‘War’ and ‘City’. Skinny gigs are not ones where you sit quietly in the corner, to enjoy the music accompanied by a pie and a pint. You go to be intoxicated with music that demands your attention, pulling you onto the floor of heaving bodies. Let your hair down and enjoy the ride, no-one can see you in the dark!
Words And Photos by Graham Munn
3 Daft Monkeys @ Gloucester Guild Hall 09/11
supported by The Leylines
Having seen this band at Lakefest back in the summer festival season, I knew this was going to be good. There was no disappointment, in fact it would be in my top 5 gigs of the year, and that list is quite long. I would not break down the top 5 as different genres, venues and crowds, all have a bearing.
First, the supporting band, The Leylines, a 5 piece band unashamedly heavily influenced by The Levellers. This band is shiny and new, but extremely well polished. You would not believe they had played 4 times and this was their first gig they were pretty damn good. The band consists of violinist Hannah, Drummer, and the 3 guitars of, Steve Fowell, lead vocals and acoustic., Matt Wilkins, lead acoustic, Pete Fealey, bass and James Dyer on drums. The band emanates from Weston Super Mare area, and play original music, but succumbed to their interpretation of ‘Fifteen Years’. This band is definitely one to watch, they have good stage presence and sound fine.
The 3 Daft Monkeys have been together in essence for 12 years, with 8 albums behind them. The latest being ‘Of Stones And Bones‘, released in October.
Their numbers are no longer 3, as an original member, Richie Mulryne, percussion, has rejoined Tim Ashton, 12 string acoustic, Athene Roberts, violin and Lukas Drinkwater on bass. Tim takes the lead in vocals.
So that’s the background, the performance is an intoxicating whirl of frenetic folk law. There is a gypsy like quality to the music, pebble dashed with tales of dark deeds, and mysterious legends anchored in their Cornish homeland. The band exploded into life with ‘Perfect Strangers’, ‘Civilised Debauchery’, and the wonderful ‘Agnes The Giant Killer’, taken from the new album. The attending troupe of acolytes were here for a party and it didn’t take long before the barrel burst into life. Tales were plucked from their collection of releases, Antiqued And Arcane, Social Vertigo, Huobadilla providing a maelstrom of musical mayhem. ‘Days Of The Dance’, from A&A starts with Athene and Lukas waltzing around as her bow caresses the strings of the violin, Tim retells of a deadly dancing disease, before all hell breaks loose and the room goes mad with jumping whirring revellers. The whole floor was literally heaving, I could not hold a camera steady, instantly infectious, a plague of fleas would not induce such a reaction. I must mention Richie and his wonderful ‘compact drum set, played almost throughout, by hand percussive strikes, with all the enthusiasm of a Keith Moon. ‘Social Vertigo’ momentarily closed the set, but there was no way the band could have escaped the building, ‘Houbadillia’ recharged the engines and away the floor bounced, finally ending on ‘Antiquated And The Arcane’ led by Athene on vocals.
The whole performance absolute magic, by the time you read this the tour may have slipped out of reach, I can only implore you to look for future dates and I am sure next years festivals will see their return; brilliant entertaining band, making memorable music. I highly recommend OfStones And Bones and the previous release Antiquated And The Arcane.
Words And Photos By Graham Munn