GIG REVIEW: XSLF at The Victory, 3rd April

Wandering around the back of the pub while I stood and waited for the warm-up act was a man with no shoes on, manky white socks, shorts and a tshirt, who instantly reminded me of the cartoon character Beavis, only a middle-aged version.

© Steve Niblett

© Steve Niblett

I quickly realised he was the singer of the support band, Borrowed Time. The band went for it: the singer was constantly climbing the stairs next to the stage, hanging off the rope hand-rails and pulling his mic cable all over the place, nearly garrotting the guitarist. I could have done without seeing the singer’s dirty socks being thrown into the crowd however.

They played a self-titled song shouting “I’m on borrowed time, living on borrowed time; gonna make it mine.” I thought this was pretty ironic for a group of ageing punks. But I got it, and having only formed a couple of years ago they are embracing that borrowed time wholeheartedly, giving it their all with gigs throughout the summer and an appearance at a couple of festivals thrown too. Aren’t we all on borrowed time?

The set raced from one heavy punk song to the next. But the stand out song for me was ‘Primary Instincts’, maybe because I could understand more of the lyrics, maybe because it was more melodic. It showed a different depth to the band either way.

XSLF (ex-Stiff Little Fingers) meanwhile were missing for most of the night. At one point they were having a curry, later on they’d popped to Sainsbury’s. When they finally turned up the crowd of mainly middle-aged punks were well-oiled and very much up for it … except for one woman, who seemed to be enjoying repeatedly coming up behind random men, putting her hands up their tshirts and having a good feel. I think she was up for something of a different nature.

There was also a definite contingent of younger punks – dressed in Fred Perry polos and sharp haircuts – who got involved. And girls smashing into sweaty, pissed-up blokes three times their size and loving it!

This was XSLF’s first gig of 2015 and the opening night of their tour. They were in great spirits and from start to finish were completely involved with the crowd. At one point they invited everyone on stage to sing along to ‘Barbed Wire Love’, which most the crowd accepted and bloody loved!

They played a long, sweaty, ballsy set. Less shouty punk, more defiant in their lyrics, with a few guitar and drum solos thrown in. Everyone was loving it! It was a high energy and entertaining set. All coming from a band who clearly love what they do, love the crowds and the music.


GIG REVIEW: Wyyonna Ryyder, 18th February at the Barrels, Hereford

WR Barrels gigI was lucky enough to catch the album launch of Wyyonna Ryyder’s ‘Bella Loon’ at the Barrels in February.

It was a cosy night in the brewery bar and I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. I couldn’t find a seat and I was brushing shoulders with lots of fringed people with thick rimmed glasses. A great turnout is something missing from the Hereford music scene and it really was a welcome site.

The performance was entirely on a par with the band’s recording. You could say they were impressively true to record, but I’d rather say the recording process was refreshingly true to their live sound.

It is very easy to over record things, to add more than you could ever do live. Not only is it very easy but it’s pretty much commonplace. It was good to witness the same songs live – and they really were the same songs, nothing missing, nothing poorly executed. The only difference was the live show naturally showcased a bit more energy than you find on the 10-track album.

The flawless harmonies were definitely a highlight and showcased the bands dedication to getting it right. The explanation of some of the songs came across as sweet and personal but frontman JP Baron was knowingly endearing – this is a man who feels comfortable with a crowd’s eye on him, however much he played on the awkwardness of the classic English indie kid.

As far as the rest of the band is concerned, they got through the set effortlessly. The seamless performance was the result of what I can only imagine was hours in the practice room.

I normally find that album launches become pretty tiresome if the band play the whole thing from start to finish, but their energy levels were high all the way through. The grungy indie tunes really kept me listening even more so because they were so well executed.

I think you can go a few ways with live performances: You can be raw and energetic and blow everyone’s socks off with your passion; you can be perfect and leave them in awe of your musicality; or you can attempt to marry the two. The latter approach is only really achievable if you keep the extent of your ability in mind when writing songs. Wyyonna Ryyder’s performance was full of energy and full of quality. I didn’t feel at any point that anyone was trying to do something they couldn’t, which resulted in a well-established sound and a well-executed live show.

Pelican Morals

Photo © B at Gippa

Album review: Wyynona Ryyder

Wyynona Ryyder album coverAt the beginning of the month local band Wyynona Ryyder’s released their debut album ‘Bella Loon’ displaying a very British indie quirk.

The first few tracks convey a post-punk that can quickly strip back to a britpop sound and on listening further the later labelling prevails. With droning guitars, crisp drums, rumbling bass and soft English vocals, Wyynona Ryyder are a bit like a grungey four-man Jarvis Cocker.

Vocalist JP Baron displays his personality through the 10 tracks pretty well and is probably the most appealing element in terms of originality. The simplicity of the lyrics  of ‘In this House’ struck me and they really do capture that feeling of frustration you get from doing nothing and are brilliantly understated. Melodically I find this one the most memorable, but strangely the best way to describe the melody is by saying ‘it’s cute’. Maybe that’s an unusual thing to remark but it is cute!

The lyrics throughout the album have a very particular tone. There’s an edge of humour in most tracks, which is subtle and simple. Perhaps it’s the lovely connection with childhood that the content has in some places, especially in ‘G.O. Blues’. Some of the vocal delivery is nicely awkwardly British, which offsets the grungey fuzz of the distorted guitars.

Wyynona Ryyder are at their best when they consider their dynamics; ‘Perfect Uncle’ shows them at full pelt and stripped back. The build up of ‘Wasted Journey’ is both simple and compelling. The harmonies in its chorus are quirky. Which is something you could say about the whole album in all fairness.

I tried to find stand out tracks – the chorus of ‘Taff’ is catchy as well as interesting and the first track ‘What’s Wrong?’ is the best display of their songwriting abilities – but to be honest there aren’t really any, they have their sound pretty well nailed and are reasonably consistent in their songwriting. There’s enough personality and grunge sensibility in their well-trodden indie context that Wyynona Ryyder manage to come out the other side with something new to offer.

Download the album direct from the band:

Pelican Morals

NMTBullocks gig nights return to Hereford

EMPIRE PROMO1 copyOne of Hereford’s premier music promotors returns tonight with a blistering line-up of alternative rock.

Headliners EMP!RE take to the stage for the Nevermind The Bullocks comeback gig at Hereford’s Jailhouse, bringing killer melodies and virtuosic vocals to town.

This sub-genre defying band have been described by Kerrang as ‘the best new voice in rock’.

EMP!RE are supported on the main stage by three local acts: Richa, an alt-rock four-piece; Worcestershire psych-rockers Holy, who are destined for big things; and the Hereford-Bristol-based Aulos, complete the bill with an instrumental set featuring Gameboys.

Gig-goers will also be treated to a second stage of acoustic music throughout the evening, featuring Footdragger, Rope & Field, Bren Haze, Vaginapocalypse and Claire Perkins.

Founded in 2005, Nevermind The Bullocks not-for-profit gig nights have been a showcase for local talent and the best of the underground indie scene.

Doors open at 8:00pm. The first 30 people through the door will also receive a complimentary NMTBullocks glow in the dark plectrum!

Tickets: £4 before 9pm and £5 thereafter.

Gig review: Sex Pistols Experience

“The security are there to protect you from us,” snarled singer Johnny Rotter.

Ed finishes the night in his own mercurial style.

Yes 1977 made a welcome return to the Starlite Rooms on Friday night.

Paul Stevens and Steve Niblettt, better known as Nitelite Promotions, punked up Estadio Edgar pairing legendary Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle actor Ed Tudor-Pole with the Sex Pistols Experience. Some of the 180 punters on the sidelines looked nervous as old-fangled punk pumped into JLS and 1D’d eardrums. The band took disbelief in their stride, mounting a continuous sonic assault spliced with copious expletives.

Expecting a mellowed performance from Ed Tudor-Pole and his battered guitar (in keeping with the passing of Pete Seeger) I was astounded that he attacked the £ashtonbury Festival for refusing to book him because he was ‘too punk’, while others turn him down for not being punk enough.

How you can criticise a hard working family as they struggle to bale-up bank statements after £ashtonbury sells out each year, I do not know!

New century Ed has more in common with Iggy Pop than the fresh-faced actor of the early seventies. His song about murdering a girl and stuffing her in a car boot may have baffled the audience but I’m sure it had deep meaning, somewhere. Lambasting the crowd mid-set, he left the stage to take on audience members, then began an impromptu sing-along before hurtling off-stage after more numbers, taking out an expensive microphone on the way. All-in-all the brilliance factor was intermittent, spoilt by a haphazard delivery and a less than scintillating guitar technique.

All was forgiven with the arrival of the Sex Pistols Experience, who quickly spurred on mosh pit mayhem, ensuring that beer sales rocketed as pints flew all over shirts, floor and ceiling. Even those oddballs seen near a Pakistani flag on the Meadow End the next day (before it disappeared amid a cloud of acrid smoke) danced frenetically to ‘Anarchy’. The few mere onlookers wilted under Mr Rotter’s sarcastic tongue: “Why doncha slip into sumfink more comfortable – like a COMA?”

A storming set ended with Ed coming back on to sing his ‘Swords of a Thousand Men’ hit. This combination of hard rocking young cover band and an aging punk figurehead needs fine tuning (and possibly a mite less solo R&R in the green room) but no one was in any doubt that we’d like them back at Estadio Edgar soon.