nxb3 on tour – Witch Hunt at The Castle, Manchester

I’d missed Witch Hunt twice this leave already so I wasn’t going to miss them again this time especially as it looked like this would be the last chance I got before going back to work again. So I set off on the long drive to Manchester and parked up at about 7pm on one of the side streets off Oldham Road. The Castle Hotel was a Robinsons house with 5 of their own cask beers as well as 5 guests on the bar, a really good selection and I was cursing the fact that I was driving so couldn’t sample a few of the more interesting brews.

Doors were supposed to be open at 7:30 but it was after 8:00 when they started letting people in and it took a while before the first band, Factory Acts headed to the stage. They consisted of a guy on Bass and a girl on keyboards and vocals, they were Ok with some good bass playing but I thought the vocals and keyboards were rather ordinary. A decent enough first support band but no better than that, although there was one guy who would definitely disagree with me as he was dancing by himself for the whole set.

The first of the two co-headliners were Witch Hunt, one of my favourite new bands from Leeds. After they got themselves ready they started with a track that is usually played towards the end of their set, ‘Can You Believe It’ which had Louisa’s vocals gradually building in intensity to a screeching crescendo as the track came to a close. The second track was a new song which I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard before and the third was the first outing of a brand new track neither of the two having a title as yet. Back to more familiar territory now with their first single ‘Chairman’ followed by ‘Wide And Laughing’ from their current EP “Little Book Of Hate” and the superb ‘Army Man’ to finish off with. Another excellent set from a band that consistently deliver the goods every single time that I see them, Louisa with her stunning vocals and Chris with his excellent guitar playing. Their sound has recently got a bit more depth to it with the addition of Ste Anderson on drums although I think I still prefer them as a two piece, Louisa hammering away at the single drum during their set at Live at Leeds 2013 was a sight to behold.

Plan A was to leave straight after the Witch Hunt set and travel back across the M62 to The Brudenell in Leeds to try and catch Post War Glamour Girls, I had about an hour after Witch Hunt were scheduled to finish but the 40 minute late running of the gig killed that idea dead, so I decided to stay for the other co-headliner DeLooze, a band I’d never heard of before.

It’s rare that a band impresses me big time the first time I see them but DeLooze managed it, they were excellent playing a blinder of a set of goth influenced pop. I’ve no idea of the track listing on the night but I presume it was the entire track listing of the “Glass Army” CD which was released on 14 April. It made such an impression on me that when I got back home I pledged on the Glass Army CD which I’m expecting to drop through the letterbox any day now. I’ll definitely be going to see them again.

Another excellent gig which was well worth the 250 mile round trip to see.



nxb3 on tour – Penetration at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

After what must be a serious contender for gig of the year by Goy Boy McIlroy at Frankie and the Heartstrings record shop Pop Recs Ltd there was no time to hang around, the gig had gone on way longer than I had anticipated so it was a dash back to the car and a fast drive down to Stockton to The Georgian Theatre. I had really wanted to see the first support band, Newcastle Indie poppers Rexine who had impressed me the first time I saw them supporting Shonen Knife at The Cluny a year or so ago but their set had finished way before I arrived in Stockton. Main support Cyanide Pills were already half way through their set when I walked through the door of the venue so after grabbing a drink at the bar I made my way to the front to watch the last third of their set. They were pretty good and I’ll try and catch them next time they are up Newcastle way but over the last week with gigs 6 out of 7 nights, two gigs on both Friday and Saturday nights and at least a half dozen other gigs I wanted to be at this last weekend sometimes it’s not so easy to see a band that you like.

This would be the second and last gig from the Penetration tour, I’d also seen them play a very good gig the previous night in Derby at the excellent venue The Hairy Dog so I was expecting another good one. The band came on stage a little after 10:00, they had been waiting for Pauline who came into the venue just a couple of minutes before hand. They started the set with ‘Future Daze’ and ‘Life’s A Gamble’ to lots of cheering and clapping, there were also people singing along for entire songs but sadly no mosh pit. Pauline greeted the audience with “Well hello everyone, thanks for coming out tonight” then went on to thank both support bands before continuing with ‘Lovers Of Outrage’. Pauline asked who had been at the Georgian Theatre for their last gig there and a few people cheered, she went on to say it was loud, very loud, eyeball shaking and ear hurting loud and a mate later told me that he had been and the sound was so bad that he had walked out. I’m pleased to say there were no such problems this time, the sound was excellent, nicely balanced and clear vocals where I was standing which was at the front, just to the right of Pauline.
“I hope nobody gets seasick” was the introduction to the first of two fairly recent songs ‘Sea Song’ and ‘The Feeling’ then it was back to the old stuff with ‘She Is The Slave’. “Fancy doing this stuff at our age eh?” got a few chuckles from the audience before Rob played the bass intro to ‘Movement’ as a teaser and then for real. The excellent Patti Smith cover ‘Freemoney’ was next which ran into ‘Silent Community’ and ‘Don’t Dictate’ which finally got the mosh pit moving. ‘Reunion’ was introduced as “A song about reflection”, band introductions were made as Reunion faded out and a blistering version of ‘Nostalgia’ followed. The main set finished with ‘Come Into The Open’ and the regular closing track ‘Shout Above The Noise’
The band left the stage to loads of clapping and cheering for more and the band duly obliged with the same encore as at Derby, ‘Firing Squad’, ‘Danger Signs’ and finally ‘Stone Heroes’.

Another excellent gig from the band and I’m disappointed I won’t make any more of their gigs from this tour as they are really good at the moment.
If you get the chance then don’t hesitate, just go.
It will be a good one.

Upcoming shows are:
10th April Institute, Birmingham
11th April Garage, London
12th April Academy 3, Manchester
18th April The Fleece, Bristol
19th April The Globe, Cardiff
26th April ABC, Glasgow
4th May Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne
15th May Voodoo, Belfast
16th May Fibber Magees, Dublin
9th August Rebellion, Blackpool (TBC)
20th September Undercover Festival, Woking


nxb3 on tour – Islet at The Chocolate Factory, Derby

I first saw Islet at the Baltic annexe, Baltic39 in High Bridge, Newcastle in January as part of the RIFF festival closing event and was so impressed by their uniquely unorthodox experimental approach to their music I knew I had to see them again. This was easier said than done as their gigs are few and far between and even then they are usually as part of either music festivals or art exhibitions. Holy Smokes came to the rescue in the form of a gig at The Chocolate Factory in Derby. The Chocalate Factory is exactly what it says on the tin, an old industrial unit that was once home to a chocolate factory. Now the machinery has been completely removed and all the walls whitewashed to make a general exhibition, performance and arts space in the middle of an industrial area between the railway station and the town centre. I had met up with a couple of mates in the legendary Derby watering hole The Brunswick Inn for a couple of jars before the gig. We got a bit thirsty en-route to the venue so popped into the Alexandra (about 50 yards away) for a swift one and arrived at the venue around 8:15. Luckily one of the lads I met up with had lived in Derby for a couple of years and knew where the Chocolate Factory was as it was an anonymous industrial unit with no signs at all indicating what artistic treasures lay inside.

Once inside we stopped off at the bar and grabbed some bottled Jennings beer and had a quick tour of the exhibition which was a video and a photographic exhibition of boxing images by a local artist. Then it was round the corner to the performance area to see the Electronic music based support band, Ghost Twins. Not really my type of music although it was Ok when they upped the tempo and became more rock orientated. All the keyboards and drum kit got removed in record time and Islet got their gear sorted out and sound checked ready for the start of their set at 9:30.

At 9:25 they made their way to the back of the hall and with hand bells ringing, all the band members wandered through the crowd towards the stage area with the bells becoming increasingly loud as they approached the stage. The drums were the first to start, very quietly at first then getting progressively louder as Emma started leaping around and yelping the vocals to the magnificent ‘This Fortune’ which is the stunning opening track of the set. ‘Ringerz’ was next with Mark taking over the lead vocals now for the rest of the gig and Emma moving over to be second drummer. As the track started she was drumming on the lighting gantry, one of the monitors then back on the gantry before starting on the drums proper as well as providing backing vocals to Mark. Ringerz continued into a slower more melodic (at times) track and as it faded to the end Mark says that song was called ‘Triangulation Station’, it is about a triangulation station which got a few blank looks from the audience. He went on to say “thanks for having us, who got given a chocolate on the way in?” Someone shouted out no and Mark says “WTF, you should get back there and say what is wrong with him!” They started the slow build up into the magnificent ‘Iris’ which saw Mark throwing and dragging his keyboard around the stage (well the area of the floor that served as a stage) and after another round of thanks to the Format festival and Holy Smokes the heavy drum intro of ‘Tripping through the Blue Room Part I’ preceeded ‘part II’ and the last track of the set was ‘Carlos’.

This was another top notch gig from this uniquely different band, a shorter set than the last time I saw them in Newcastle but I wasn’t complaining as it meant I could see most of another gig in the centre of town straight after they finished. This is yet another band on the must see again list which really is getting quite long now…


nxb3 on tour – Goy Boy McIlroy at Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland

The first of two gigs tonight was this absolute cracker in Frankie & The Heartstrings record shop in Fawcett Street, Sunderland. Not a massive turnout in the shop when the band took to the stage at about 8pm after the set by support “Simpsons Abattoir band” fronted by Frog from the now defunct Kubichek; but the people that were there got a real visual and audio treat from a band that deserve to be much much bigger in their native north east.

They took to the stage and David introduced the band with “Hello we’re Goy Boy McIlroy, in a small intimate setting you might think the pressure is on us to perform well but the pressure is really on you to enjoy yourselves, so just relax, we’ll take all the pressure off, We’ll play the music and you can just enjoy it. That’s it simple relationship and they immediately kicked off their set with the killer ‘Social Mobility Blues’ an excellent track they’ve only started playing recently. David was behaving himself until they started ‘Agoraphobia’ then he was off on one of his many wanders through the audience, climbing up on the sofas, wrapping himself up in a blanket then wandering back to the stage where he curled up into a ball under the blanket as the song played out. Another old one in the form of Psychological Plaything was followed by a new slower track that I don’t know the name of but which sounded really good. The upcoming new single ‘Redemption Caramel’ came next followed by ‘another new one ‘Midnight Crisis’ which saw David dash off towards the back of the shop with the mic in hand. Frankie was behind the crowd pulling slack in the lead but the junction box the lead was plugged into went flying across the floor and straight into someone’s foot and the mic lead went flying with the vocals coming to a dead stop. Frankie was straight on the case though tracing the lead back and putting it back in place. David meanwhile was in the road outside the shop chasing three passers by.
By the end of the track David was back at the stage, seriously out of breath but after a bit of banter to help him recover it was straight into a string of old tracks starting with ‘Ro-Langs’, ‘The Pilgrim’ and ‘Black Glove’ with David here there and everywhere, even hiding away in the bands back stage chill out room for a while during one of the songs. They had planned to do God’s Calling but in the end it was dropped from the set and they finished off the gig with ‘Writhing’ their previous single. David was at it again, rearranging the sofas behind the crowd then grabbing half a dozen people and pulling them one by one into the space between them. I was number 6 and he got his bottle of water and poured it into my mouth then did the same to the others, as the song picked up the pace he grabbed a few of the six and they all collapsed into a heap onto the sofa on the right hand side while singing the lyric “you’re going down” then he grabbed onto me and he pulled me over onto the other sofa while hanging onto my lower legs. The song faded out, everyone got back up and David thanked everyone for coming out and plugged their appearance at Stockton Calling on 19 April.
Are we officially friends David asked Dave Harper as he was sorting the leads out at the end of the gig. Dave shook his head but that didn’t put David off, we’ll just give it a couple of weeks then, and that was it. The end of an absolutely brilliant gig that really was the dogs bollocks. Best I’ve seen at pop Recs Ltd by a long way and if you don’t want to get caught up in David’s antics then don’t stand at the front in the middle of the stage. Me, I never learn I’ll be at the front next chance I get.


nxb3 on tour – Penetration at The Hairy Dog, Derby

It’s been a while since I last saw Penetration at the Durham Punk Festival in September 2012 so when this latest tour was announced I was hoping to see them a few times along the way. As more and more dates were released it became apparent that all the dates within travelling distance (and I do travel a long way to gigs) were when I was scheduled to be working offshore apart from the Georgian Theatre in Stockton. The only other realistic gig was Derby but I was already committed to another gig at The Chocolate Factory in Derby and didn’t want to back out. I got myself a ticket ‘just in case’ and in the days before the gig, I took to twitter to try and get some time separation between the two gigs. Before travelling down I got confirmation the band at the chocolate factory was due to start at 21:30 and Penetration were due to start their set at 22:15 so doing both gigs was tight but do-able.

The gig at the Chocolate Factory finished at 22:10 so then it was a fast walk across town (I’m too old and knackered and the docs to heavy to run) and I got to the Hairy Dog at 22:25. I couldn’t hear the band but went straight upstairs, and found myself a good position to watch the band in front of Pauline about 5 rows back from the stage.

There was a bit of banter between the audience and Pauline going on about a plectrum for some reason and once that had finished they played one of their newer songs which has been a part of their set for the last couple of years, ‘The Feeling’. I thought this was a bit weak when I first heard it but have got to admit it has been steadily growing on me ever since. That was the one and only new song, everything else taken from “Moving Targets” and “Coming Up For Air” the first of which was ‘She Is The Slave’. Pauline says “We will get more new ones but we guess people want to hear the old ones and people would get very pissed off if we did a whole new set” and the band launch straight into Movement. Pauline asks the sound engineer to put a bit of echo on for the start of ‘Free Money’ and follow that up with ‘Silent Community’ and ‘Don’t Dictate’ which got the small mosh pit right at the front quite a bit bigger. A bit more banter while Pauline sat down for a breather and introduced Reunion and Nostalgia then it was straight into ‘Come Into The open’ and the main set closed with the usual ‘Shout Above The Noise’
The band walked off the side of the stage into a darkened room but came back out almost immediately. “Well here we are says Pauline, lets do a few more” and they let rip with ‘Firing Squad’ which had everyone else singing along. ‘Danger Signs’ quickly followed and the excellent ‘Stone Heroes finished the gig off.

I since found out that I only missed 3 tracks, Future Daze, Lovers Of Outrage and Sea Song.

This was one of the better Penetration gigs that I have been to, the band clearly enjoyed themselves playing the gig with Rob especially smiling and laughing. Right from the moment I walked into the room there was a mosh pit going down the front which only got bigger as the gig progressed. Not many talkers around me either with everyone’s attention fixed firmly on the band.

To the casual passer by The Hairy Dog is a bit tatty and run down so won’t get much passing trade, but don’t let that fool you, the list of forthcoming bands was huge with some pretty big names on the list, the upstairs room where they hold the gigs is a decent size at about 150 capacity and the sound where I was standing was excellent. There was a large banner outside advertising the Springhead Brewery but I wasn’t expecting much in the way of their beers to be on. How wrong was I about that, “The Leveller” and “Maid Marian” were both excellent and there was a third available as well as a hand pump not in use at the time.

I’d love to be a regular at The Hairy Dog but unfortunately that won’t happen as the stupidly expensive cost of the train ticket to Derby was three (yes 3) times the price I paid for the hotel room for the night.

I don’t suppose you can relocate The Hairy Dog about 180 miles to the north?

Use it don’t lose it Derby, you have a really good pub and venue here.


The gig was recorded by someone in the audience and can be found here: