nxb3 on tour – Goy Boy McIlroy at KU Bar, Stockton

There are quite a few excellent bands that I’ve discovered by pure accident. Goy Boy McIlroy are one such band, I first saw them at The independent in Sunderland supporting the magnificent Chapman Family in December last year. I was so impressed I went to see their headline show at The Forum in Darlington then to their support slot at the Post War Glamour Girls gig at The Head of Steam in Newcastle. Their live shows are consistently brilliant and they are now one of the bands I constantly track for upcoming gigs that I can get to. So it was with a sense of anticipation that I headed down to Stockton to see them play a main support slot for Dexters at the KU Bar.

Not much of a crowd when I arrived at 10:20, virtually the two support bands and me. The first support, The Port Authority came on at 10:30 and played a decent set to about a dozen. People were coming in steadily now and when Goy Boy McIlroy took to the stage at around 11:15 the crowd had doubled in size with more coming in all the time. They kicked off the set with Agoraphobia and David wasted no time getting into the audience and taking a swipe or two at the mirror ball. He was back on stage for Psychological Plaything then back in the audience during the third song which I didn’t recognise so maybe it’s a new one. Ro-Langs was next followed by The Pilgrim and David was back in the audience again. He even ended up in the bands backstage room with the door shut for a while, continuing with the vocals all the way through. A bit of chat with the audience followed for David to catch his breath then it was straight into Black Glove and the set closer was The Actor.

This was another great gig by Goy Boy McIlroy who are fast becoming one of my favourite bands. It’s not often you get the chance to see such a great band play to small crowds in intimate venues like this. They are playing to dozens when they should be playing to hundreds, get to see them before they’re playing in big bland Academy type venues.

They need to start doing some more longer headline shows so we can get The Preacher back into the set, also tracks such as Peasants, Iconoclasm, God’s Calling and John the Revelator were sadly missed.



nxb3 on tour – Pony and Trap at the Blues Bar, Harrogate

There are a couple of great two piece bands playing around Yorkshire at the moment, one of them is Pony and Trap from York. Sally Rafferty does the vocals and a smattering of drums while Tom Meyer plays the guitar. They first came to my attention when I saw them supporting Bow Wow Wow at Fibbers in York in April last year. I next saw them supporting Charlotte Church in July last year, first at The Brudenell in Leeds and then at Fibbers in York again the next day. Recent shows have been playing outside HMV Harrogate last month as part of their artist of the week promotion and last night at the Blues Bar.

The Blues Bar is a small pub in the centre of Harrogate, that from the looks of it used to be a small shop. The bands play in front of the large window area and there are a few tables between the ‘stage’ and corner bar. It has live music on pretty much every day and a decent range of cask beers which helps to make it a very popular bar in town.

Pony and Trap took to the stage at about 6:30 on the Sunday afternoon and kicked off their set with the usual opening tracks John Green then Patsy and the Plasticine Cake. Ground Rules came next followed by an ace cover of the Undertones Teenage Kicks. Where The Hell Have You Been was next up followed by I Can’t See You, Mice and Men and People Like You. The last two songs were Coming Over (my personal favourite) and KKKQUE to finish.

Their particular brand of post punk inspired catchy pop songs went down well with the Sunday evening drinkers and I look forward to catching up with them again.
Once their set was finished then it was straight off to Leeds to see Rolo Tomassi at The Brudenell, but that’s another story…



nxb3 on tour – The Computers at the Brickyard, Carlisle

I’ve been a big fan of The Computers raucous, high energy live shows for the last couple of years ever since seeing them support The Duke Spirit in Newcastle in May 2011. I was so impressed with this first gig that I went to see Hot Snakes at Newcastle in December 2011 just to see The Computers supporting them. As luck would have it Hot Snakes were excellent as well so that was a great gig. When The Computers were announced as support for the Pulled Apart By Horses tour in February 2012 I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It was off to Carlisle for a pre tour warm up gig before catching the tour in Newcastle and Sheffield. This tour was superb, the Carlisle and Newcastle shows making it into my top 10 gigs of 2012.

So it is with more than a little trepidation that I’m making my way to Carlisle (again) to see them on the Love Triangles, Hate Squares tour after an apparent major change of musical direction. I’ve resisted the temptation to listen to the new CD before going to the gig so I can try to make an unbiased judgement on the night.

At about 10:30 The Computers take to the stage. The white outfits of previous tours have gone to be replaced by dark maroon suits as has the black fronted bass drum with ‘The Computers’ written across the top. It’s been replaced by a nice new shiny white one.

They launch straight into Bring me the head of a hipster, they hadn’t even got half way through the song and Al had taken up position with one foot on the stage and the other on the barrier, doing the splits over a 2+ foot wide gap that he maintained right until Rhythm Revue, three songs later. During the intro to the second song, Love Triangles, Hate Squares Al introduces the band, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen – We are the Mother Fucking Computers!’ Next up it’s straight into Mr Saturday Night which runs straight into a track from their first CD, Rhythm Revue. Al decides it’s now about time he went into the crowd so he jumps from the barrier down onto the dance floor (with guitar) and starts playing and singing at the back of the room. This was the first of four excursions into the audience and was classic The Computers. Rhythm Revue then morphs into a blistering version of surfin bird, and it’s back onstage and straight into Selina Chinese without pausing for breath. The band take a bit of a breather during the intro to Nothing to Say then it’s straight into the excellent Disco Sucks followed by Call on You! which sees Al back in the audience again.
Last song of the main set is Music Is Dead with Al back in the audience yet again, splitting the crown into two halves. When the music kicked in for the second part of the song the crowd went wild with the mosh pit extending right to the back of the room. The track finished with Al standing and singing on the bar at the back of the venue.

The crowd immediately started chanting for one more tune, but the band came back on and did three, the first of which was a version of When a Man Loves A Woman. Second encore was a cover version of Stand By Me by The Clash. I didn’t recognise the last encore but it was another classic Computers track with Al still managing to scream along right to the end some 55 minutes after they started.

This was a very very good gig but it could have and should have been better. Why do a cover version of an average Clash song when their own hit Group Identity would have gone down an absolute storm as an encore. There were other classic omissions from the set list such as Where Do I Fit In?, I’ve Got What It Takes and Blood Is Thicker, their inclusion would have made the set more balanced and not so heavily biased towards the new CD.

Why was the tour based so heavily in the Midlands and the South? There was only one date in Scotland (Glasgow) and the Carlisle date in Northern England. What about Newcastle, York, Leeds etc?

At the end of the day it was a very good and enjoyable show but not a great one. The new material while good, lacks the hard edge of the first CD which for me is what set The Computers apart as a really special band.

I’m pleased to say that Screaming Al Kershaw is still living up to his name, and I’ll be going to see them again the next chance I get. 



nxb3 on tour – Live at Leeds 2013

Welcome to the blog, It is intended to highlight periodic reviews of gigs I attend around the north east of England. I’ve never reviewed a gig, wrote a blog or had a website before so it will be a bit rough round the edges but it will hopefully improve with time.

I’ve been going to gigs since the mid/late 70’s, mainly to see metal/punk/indie and alternative bands but some other genres as well. I work offshore so 7 months of the year is a no gig zone and in the remaining 5 months I have to fit in everything else so my gig attending is usually in short frenetic bursts usually in the Newcastle/York/Leeds area but I also regularly cover Carlisle/Sunderland/Middlesbrough/Wakefield with the occasional excursion further afield to Sheffield/Manchester/Birmingham/Edinburgh/Glasgow.

You can keep track of my gig schedule on twitter @nxb3 or on songkick at http://www.songkick.com/users/nxb

The first gig I’m going to review is Live at Leeds 2013. I’ve never been to this festival before and wasn’t planning to go until the Mashup festival in Northumberland was cancelled due to expected bad weather and the date moved to when I was offshore. That left a big gap in my planned schedule and Live at Leeds stepped in to fill that gap nicely.

So I left home around 9:30 in the morning to drive down to Leeds, parked up near Hyde Park just after 11:15 and headed off to the CityMuseum for the wristband exchange. There were a few dozen people hanging around outside but no queues and I got the wristband straight away. There was no hint of the huge queues that would form later on in the afternoon as thousands of people all converged into the area.

At 11:40 we were let into the first venue, Leeds Met Uni Stage 2 for the first band of the day, Tokyo Corner from Huddersfield. They came onstage bang on midday and immediately impressed with their brand of bluesy rock and roll. A good start to LAL2013 and then it was round to the Faversham to catch Battle Lines with the taunts of the Met security guys “you not staying them? Is the beer no good?” ringing in my ears.

I’d picked Battle Lines as the next band as Witch Hunt are supporting them at Fibbers in York on 18 May and I was considering going to this show just to see the support. So Battle Lines came on stage rather hesitantly and kicked off with a lacklustre keyboards heavy number which set the tone for the rest of their set. The tempo picked up a bit towards the end but still not my kind of music I’m afraid and Carly is lacking a bit in stage presence for a front person. If I do go to York then I’ll be leaving after Witch Hunt. First Miss.

Next it was A Nation of Shopkeepers to see Night Engine who had been billed as an art rock ‘Franz Ferdinand’ type of band. This description got my interest as I was a huge fan of the first FF CD so wanted to give them a try. As I walked past the City Museum the queue for the wrist band exchange was getting into full swing snaking a long way around the square with a (luckily) much smaller queue to get into ANOS.

Once inside it was absolutely packed and heaving in front of the bar area and only thinned out slightly in front of the tiny square of floor space that served as a stage. The band came on to a subdued audience reaction but their infectious indie pop soon got the crowd going and the cheering and screamers really started mid way through the set. By the time their set ended the crowd was completely won over and they left the stage to thunderous applause. Another good band.

Next stop was Mine at Leeds Uni to see Blackeye. I had been intrigued by their comparisons to Garbage so definitely wanted to see them. Couldn’t hear much of the vocals of the first song as they were way too low in the mix, this was put right after the first track. Some really good indie pop songs including the great I just wanna fuck the night away but they went offstage after only 18 minutes when they ran out of songs, they really need to write some more. Another Hit.

I wasn’t sure what to do after Blackeye finished 12 minutes early, then I noticed that there was a band due to come on at Stylus as I walked past on the way out. I decided to check them out so waited for Department M to take to the stage. More electronica which is not my scene so watched 15 minutes then left. Another Miss.

It was back to Stage 2 for Witch Hunt next but I would be too early so decided to watch the band before them as well. This turned out to be Findlay, who like most of the bands so far I had not heard of before the festival. Findlay was a revelation, a gorgeous voice, hugely confident with a massive stage presence, stalking around the stage like a wild animal possessed. This was a great set and I’ll be watching out for more of her gigs in future. Only downside was another short set, only 23 minutes. Another Hit, Got to see her again.

Next up on Stage 2 was Witch Hunt, the main reason that I was at LAL2013 in the first place. I’d seen them in Newcastle a few weeks before hand and was hugely impressed. Tonight they were even better, a magnificent set with stunning vocals from Louisa. It’s hard to believe that these songs are just performed by Louisa and Chris by themselves. I’ll be seeing them again, probably many times over. Massive Hit.

It was back to Mine at Leeds Uni next to see Max Raptor, a rock/punk band from Burton. Another band that I didn’t know of before and another great set to a half empty room, most of the crowd had travelled up with the band, they must have brought a bus with them or something. From the off Max Raptor put everything into this gig working the crowd, encouraging the mosh pit which grew from 2 people at the start to half the crowd by the finale which was a magnificent track called The King Is Dead. Superb show and another band I’ll be watching for gigs that I can get to. Another hit.

It was an hour until the next band so I had a walk through town, picked up some food in the form of a box of noodles from Wok and go (excellent) and then made my way to Milos for the great Kleine Schweine. I got to the bar and you could hardly get through the door and that was 20 minutes before the band was due to hit the 4 square meters of floorspace that served as a stage. I got myself positioned nicely at the end of the bar just far enough away to avoid getting hit in the face with a guitar every now and again. The place was heaving and as the band were preparing to start Neil chipped in with “Can about 100 people please fuck off” as there literally was hardly room to move in a venue that’s not much bigger than a rabbit hutch. So the band kicked off the set with The hills are alive with the sound of Husak and stormed through the set with hardly any space to move. Neil nearly went into the drums at one point, a mic stand did go into the drum kit, one of the drums fell over and still they partied on. The gig was a magnificient triumph of chaotic mayhem. They really need to find a bigger bar next year or else I’ll be queueing up outside at opening time to make sure I get in.

I took some time out from LAL2013 after Kleine Schweine and went up to the Library where Berlin Black were playing the 10th anniversary sheepish gig in the upstairs room. The very first sheepish gig was played by screaming banshee aircrew who subsequently split into Berlin Black who were to headline and into Partly Faithful who were to be the support. Partly faithful couldn’t play because their guitarist Anouska Haze was ill and was undergoing surgery in hospital. Lost souls played as support to replace Partly Faithful but were late taking to the stage which had a knock on effect with later gigs at LAL2013. So Berlin Black took to the stage around 9pm and stormed through an excellent 1 hour set then came back for a couple of encores with Ed Banshee of Partly Faithful joining the band onstage for the first encore.

I had hoped to catch Hawk Eyes at Mine but arrived to see about the last 30 seconds of their set because of the delays at the Library gig. I was starting to feel knackered by this time (I can’t keep going all night anymore like I used to be able to) so stayed at Mine to see Sky Larkin, a band I haven’t seen since the halcyon days when they supported Forward Russia at the George many years ago. Sky Larkin played a good set and then it was time to drive back north after a great day out.

There were a few bands that I wanted to see but missed, such as Savages but the clashes were minimised by seeing Post War Glamour Girls and PINS the night before at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. They were both bands that I wanted to see and seeing both of them the day before made the whole scheduling process easier to sort out.

All in all a great festival with magnificent sets from the two highlights Witch Hunt and Kleine Schweine with honourable mentions to Max Raptor and Findlay.

If work permits then I’ll definitely be back next year.