nxb3 on tour – The Franceens at The Fulford Arms, York

The Franceens were the main support to Mark Wynn for his EP launch gig on the night, by the time they took to the stage at about 10:15 the Saturday night pub crawlers that talked over most of the earlier Bored Housewife set had all moved on, the crowd had thinned out a bit leaving behind about 50 or so people who were there for the gig itself.
Dan announced the start of their set with some howling feedback as an intro to the set opener ‘Nothing’ then a bit of banter about putting on gigs in the pub as a promoter but not actually playing in the venue with his own band before moving on to ‘wish’ and the excellent ‘bomb’ which saw Dan running into the crowd with his guitar before a mad dash back to the stage for the vocals, then back into the crowd again to climb on top of Mark Wynn who was sitting at the side of the stage and yet another mad dash back to the mic.
Next song was Stone which saw Dan have his usual rant about people promising to go to gigs and then not turning up, he does get really wound up about this, then it was a bit more banter about a de-commissioned nuclear bunker he’d visited earlier in the day as an introduction to ‘Attack’, another of the better songs from their debut CD “Stepford Smiles”
They don’t play cover songs but they did one next, it was ‘Billy Billy’ by Mark Wynn who got dragged from his seat to do the singing, jumping around the stage, running into the audience and finishing the song off by climbing onto the drum kit which promptly collapsed in a heap. While Miles was putting the drums back together Dan says, “That’ll do, fuck it; We’re not a real band anyway”. The next song was dedicated to Daniel Lucas, one of Dan’s childhood heroes from the days when he was in a band called the Nosedivers; “Get the fucking Nosedivers back together, we will fucking tour, make it fucking happen” and they launch into a blistering version of ‘You Got It’ with Dan running through the audience again to plant a big sloppy kiss on Dans cheek shouting out “This guy’s a fucking hero, a legend. You’ve fucking got it”.
They finished the set with a couple of tracks from the “Duck and Cover” EP, the first ‘Try’ followed by ‘Pledge’ which they dedicated to the pub itself with “Give it up for York’s only decent venue that is any fucking good whatsoever, the Fulford Arms” and another incredible Franceens set came to a close with Dan taking his guitar off and putting it round the neck of some random punter to make a noise with as the song faded out.
This was another great high energy set from the band, Dan was magnificent, running around the audience with his guitar, even climbing on top of Mark Wynn for a simulated blow job and I’m liking Naomi’s bass playing more and more every time I see the band. With great tracks like bomb, attack and pledge this is very definitely a real band and I’m certain they are going places. Their relentless gigging is paying off with a set that was so tight it almost hurt.
It was my first time in the Fulford Arms since the refurb and it’s been very well done, a bigger stage, good visibility from the floor, a larger bar with 6 handpulls from small local breweries, some interesting bottled beers and even the excellent Fentimans soft drinks for those that are driving which is really appreciated as I have a 160 mile round trip drive to get to gigs here.
And with promoters like Chris Sherrington (who now runs the pub) and Dan Gott putting gigs on I’ll be going back there pretty regularly.

Top gig by a top band in a top venue, what more could you ask for?

https://www.facebook.com/TheFranceens
https://www.facebook.com/FulfordArms

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nxb3 on tour – Lach at The Duchess, York

Another York gig, there’s been a lot in the last couple of weeks. This time it was mainly to see Bored Housewife but I was also a bit intrigued by Lach so wanted to check him out too.

First band tonight is Bored Housewife, a punk/folk crossover band consisting of Justin McKeown on vocals/guitar and Meabh McDonnell on vocals/flute accompanied by their backing band The Daytime Drinkers. They greet the crowd with a big “hello, It’s amazing so many people made it down on such a shitty night”, and it was a really horrible night, cold driving rain just like for the other gigs I was in York for during the last couple of days; Chris Helme and Louise Distras. They start the set with ‘Gaylord Friend’, a new song called ‘Kids and Magazines’ and ‘TV song’ as a prelude to the great ‘You think you’re class’ and ‘A Minor Song’. Justin introduced the next song as for anyone who has ever had a crap job, he wrote it while working nightshift in a mental home apparently, the brilliant ‘Laugh, Laugh, Clap Your Hands’. They played a quiet song next about Justin playing GTA back in Northern Ireland followed by a song about a rabbit and another love song called by some strange coincidence ‘Another love song’. Two more songs to finish the set now and they are both classics, the first ‘I Wanna Fall In Love’ had the crowd laughing to the lyrics and the set closer ‘I Met A Girl’ had the crowd singing along. This was a terrific set, great songs packed with some wickedly incisive lyrics and razor sharp observations. A lot of these tracks were taken from their bedroom bootleg “To Horny To Sleep, Too Tired To Wank” available to download from Bandcamp.

Boss Caine was next up, one man and his acoustic guitar playing a selection of Country influenced Folk songs. He got a good reaction from the audience but he didn’t quite do it for me on the night, I’ve never been a fan of country music and maybe that put me off, his singing and guitar playing were good though, I think I’m going to have to see him again before making up my mind about him.

Lach was headlining tonight, an Expat American from New York City now holed up in Edinburgh. He strolled onto the stage holding onto a big mug of tea, greeted everyone with a big hello then says “what’s with the fucking barrier here, it’s crazy, I dream that someone would rush the stage” which got him a few laughs. He got a big Yee Hah from the audience then the man with the mug of tea launched straight into ‘Coffee Black’ and ‘Teenage Alcoholic’. A bit of a story now about how he was a fan of UK popular culture while still living in the states and was looking forward to hearing about The Clash, The Jam and Monty Python when he arrived over here and there was the Eagles on the Radio, Cheers and Friends on the TV and Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin on the Magazine covers so he wrote the next song about it, called ‘Ungrateful’. The next song called ‘Ghost’ was dedicated to both support bands and included the line “and the crowd, well they talked through every song” and he stopped, dead quiet for about 3 seconds and all you could hear was the low hum of audience chatter which quickly died down as they took the hint. He got the whole audience singing along to ‘Spiderman’ then started talking about the next days gig in Hull, good luck someone shouts out and Lach says “What the fuck do I do in Hull all day?”
A couple of new songs that he hoped to record in Sheffield later in the tour were next, the first of which was ‘Blue Johnny’ which he introduced as “an autobiographical tune from the 1800s when a cowboy zombie came to kill me”, I think he may have dropped a tab or two too many when he wrote that one. The second of the new songs was ‘The Chase’ which he wrote about someone he knew back in New York. He started talking about rock star biographies now, comparing different ones and having a bit of a rant about Tom Petty’s autobiography before the rock and roll song ‘Kiss Loves You’. Not many people knew what he was singing about and most people got their mobile phones out so he stopped the song, had a bit of a chat about it and started it again, with footnotes, to explain what the hell he was going on about. A blues song called ‘I Am The Prisoner’ was followed by ‘In The Kitchen’ a song about where you always end up at parties and the more melodic ‘Waltz In Blue’.
He then asked what the audience wanted to hear and someone shouted out ‘Stunned’ from the CD Ramshackle Heart so we got that next. Another story now, this time about the second university he got kicked out of in Boston which led nicely into the next song ‘Antenna’. He finished with ‘Drinking Beers With Mom Everything’s Alright!’ breaking off halfway through for yet another story before the end of the gig which lasted for well over an hour.

This was another brilliant set, some great songs, a genuinely funny guy with some really great interesting stories scattered throughout the set, continually going off on a tangent to completely unrelated subjects. I’ll be looking out for him again and I hope he gets another series on Radio 4 soon too.

nxb3 on tour – Chris Helme at The Basement, York

Tonight’s gig was at another new venue for me, The Basement which is a tiny venue beneath the cinema right in the middle of York city centre. We arrived in town just after lunch time to a grey cold day, the sky steadily darkening all the time so we made a bee line for a couple of shops we wanted to check out in the touristy Shambles area. The rain didn’t take long to start so after taking refuge in The Hop for a couple of beers and a pizza we decided to head for the venue. There were still about four hours to kill before the show was due to start so we passed the time by watching Wolf of Wall Street which finished about 30 minutes before the doors were due to open. Doors were about 5 minutes late but we were among the first in and bagged a good spot on the long bench running the entire length of the stage running parallel to and about 2 feet away from stage front.

The first support set was from TE Morris who usually fronts band Her Name is Calla but tonight he was doing a solo acoustic set. He took to the stage at about 8:15 and the opening track was ‘The Long Distance Runner’ from his CD from the middle of last year “And You Were The Hunter” followed by an excellent cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running up That Hill’. A couple more tracks from “And You Were The Hunter”, ‘Haven’ and ‘I Was The Last One’ before the last track of the set ‘Your Life in Pictures’. This was a good acoustic set interspersed with a few amusing anecdotes from an experienced and accomplished front man. Her Name is Calla, who were already on my list of ‘Bands I need to see soon’ moved up a couple of notches in the priority list after this really good performance.

Laura Kidd, also known as She Makes War was next up to deliver her superb brand of gloom pop sporting her brand new sparkly Gibson guitar and she started her set with the ukelele intro to ‘Shields and Daggers’ followed by ‘Olympian’ taken from her first two CD’s “Disarm” and “Little Battles” respectively. A new song was next but she didn’t get very far with it as she messed it up, she started it again from the beginning but my tired old ears couldn’t discern any difference from the first attempt. I really liked this song but she didn’t introduce it by name, although ‘Drown me out’ would be a good guess as it was constantly repeated in the chorus. This track will probably appear on her 3rd studio CD which is currently in the process of being recorded. Back to the old stuff with ‘Delete’ and an appearance from the drum that caused her so much discomfort on the train ride up to York from Bristol. Another song that I didn’t recognise was next so it’s probably another from the 3rd CD, I’m not so sure about this one, it certainly wasn’t as good and catchy as Drown me out. That was the last of the new tracks and it was back to the old favourites with ‘Slow Puncture’ and finishing off with the excellent ‘In This Boat’ and ‘Scared to Capsize’. After the set Laura went round the audience handing out cards and talking with people in the crowd, not only a fantastically talented musician but also a musician that cares about her audience. Brilliant!!

Chris Helme and his band took to the stage just before 10pm, after saying hello to the audience the first thing he did was to get the crowd to show their appreciation for the two excellent supports. He started the set with the track Blindeye from his solo CD “The Rookery” and followed it up with a couple of old Yards songs called ‘Last High’ and ‘See the Lights’. During the intro to ‘See The Lights’ Chris had a bit of a rant about people talking through the music, especially as the next track was a quiet one, most people took notice but a couple unfortunately did not. A new song, never played live before called ‘World of my Own’ from the forthcoming new album was next, followed by ‘Sailing Home’. After some random girl interrupted a bemused Chris as he was preparing to start the next track to tell him that he was good, the Bass intro to ‘Tell me That I’m Wrong’ kicked in leading to some excellent electric guitar playing from Christian. Another old Yards song was next, the very quiet ‘Superhuman’ followed by the much heavier ‘The Spindle and the Cauldron’ and ‘Longway Round’ both also from The Rookery. Two more quiet tracks followed, ‘Set in Stone’ with some more excellent electric guitar playing from Christian and the nominal last song of their set which was ‘Darkest Days’ which saw Christian switch from electric to slide guitar. The band never left the stage just went straight into the encore which started with ‘Pleased’ with yet more excellent electric guitar from Christian, followed by another new song from the new album and finishing off with ‘Summer Girl’ to round off another brilliant gig.

Finally I’d like to thank the couple to the left and just behind me for continually talking through the set of all three bands. The two supports were too polite to remark about this but it really pissed Chris Helme off and he had a rant about audience chatter before starting ‘See The Lights’ which culminated in him shouting out “Shut The Fuck Up”. The audience started clapping and cheering at this and the female half of this couple of cretins to my left noticed everybody else clapping so she started clapping too, never once interrupting the conversation with her partner, totally oblivious to the fact Chris was telling her to be quiet. She even carried on talking after Chris had started the next track but the spells of silence became progressively longer until she was eventually only talking in the time between tracks. Mr and Mrs gobshite eventually got bored of talking over the bands singing & playing halfway through the track ‘Longway Round’ which was about 35 minutes into Chris’s set so they picked up their gear and went, much to the relief of everyone else around them.
This was a sold out show in the 100 capacity basement to 98 people who wanted to see and hear some excellent music and to 2 people who weren’t interested in any of the bands, just in talking to each other. The girl was tall and slim, wearing black trousers and a long sleeve black jumper. She was standing at the front of the crowd, just behind the long bench, directly in front of where Chris, the electric guitarist from Chris Helme’s band was sitting on the stage. I don’t know her name but if by some remote possibility you recognise yourself from this description then everything in this paragraph is directed to you. Next time you want to go to a gig, do the bands and the rest of the audience a big favour – and stay at home.

Links:

http://temorris.co.uk/
http://hernameiscalla.com/
http://www.shemakeswar.com/
http://chrishelme.co.uk/

nxb3 on tour – Max Raptor at The Duchess, York

This was the fourth time I’ve seen Max Raptor in the last 10 months and it was another great performance by the band from Burton on Trent. They are usually described as a punk band but to me they are more of a punk/metal hybrid who have successfully carved out a niche between the two genres.
The band took to the stage at about 9:50 and Will greeted the audience with “Hello York, how you all doing”, following up with “gather round and bring yourselves in” to the smallish crowd scattered around the venue. The opening track of the set was the usual ‘Obey the Whips’ from their debut mini album “Portraits” which was followed by their first single ‘Breakers’ taken from their first full CD, “Mothers Ruin”. It was back to Portraits for ‘The Alarm’, a track I’ve never seen them play live before followed by the brilliant ‘Patron Saint of Nothing’ which saw Will trying to whip the crowd up into a pogoing frenzy but not really succeeding. It was back to Mothers Ruin for a run of tracks back to back starting with the great ‘Back of a Barrel Wave’, followed by ‘Must Work Harder’, ‘Grace and Favours’ and ‘Evangeline’. A bit of warming up the crowd to help sing ‘England Breathes’ and then they finished off with the brilliant ‘The King is dead’ which is still one of the best tracks I’ve seen played live these last couple of years.
The band put an enormous amount of effort and energy into getting the smallish crowd worked up into a decent mosh pit and although it kicked off a few times it was never sustained, dying away after a minute or so. They kept on trying though, right up to the end of the set but the crowd only responded sporadically and only when Will was encouraging them.
The set was only 40 minutes and should have been longer for the headline act, especially as the gig finished around 10:30. ‘Beasts’ and ‘The Great and the Good’ were glaring ommisions from the setlist, maybe if the crowd reaction had been better they would have been done as an encore .
It can’t be long before these lads break through and start getting much larger crowds to their gigs, they definitely deserve to be getting more recognition and attention than they are receiving now.
It’s the only time I’ll catch this tour but I’ll definitely be seeing them again later in the year.

http://maxraptor.co.uk/

https://en-gb.facebook.com/maxraptor

nxb3 on tour – Loaded 44 at The Duchess, York

This was originally supposed to be a gig by the UK Subs but they pulled out a week or so before hand. The main support Loaded 44 took over the headline slot and they were supported by three local bands, of which I missed the first two and arrived half way through the set by The Franceens. Chris the manager of the venue was even on the door to give back a £3 refund to anyone who had bought advance tickets for the Subs.

The UK Subs don’t have the best of luck in York, they cancelled a gig on 15 December 2012 at Fibbers because of low ticket sales, at the time the promoter never offered an alternative smaller venue such as the Duchess or Stereo and I’m sure they weren’t the only possibilities in town.

Loaded 44 arrived onstage at about 9:45 to a sparse crowd of around 30 people which included the support bands. They kicked off the set with their usual opener “We saved the world today” with the vocals a little low in the mix. Beki introduced the band and it was straight into “Let’s get away” followed by “Last drink”. A couple of minutes pause to get the vocals increased a tad and “Generation idiot” was next followed by “When I’m with you”. “Something for Nothing” ran straight into “Bad News” then “Life’s wasted”, the excellent “Drop that bomb”, “Breakdown” and the main set closed with “10 years!”
The band didn’t even get to leave the stage, there may have been only 30 people there but they made a hell of a lot of noise shouting for more so the band duly obliged with “Radio” followed by “Say Nothin” and “I’ve got no name”.
This was a good gig with the band giving everything they had to get the small crowd to liven up a bit but they just weren’t responding. It can’t have been easy for Loaded 44 as the UK Subs are a big band to stand in for, especially with a small lack lustre crowd but they persevered and made the best of it.

Definitely worth the drive down to York.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/LOADED-44/117191444960499

http://www.last.fm/search?q=Loaded+44&from=ac

nxb3 on tour – Berlin Black at The Duchess, York

Berlin Black are another of those bands that I first saw supporting someone else, I was sufficiently impressed with their support slot for O Children at Stereo to see them again and now track them full time for any gigs that I can get to. This particular gig was part of the aftershow party for the DV8 festival, it wasn’t a scheduled part of the festival and was only added around lunchtime on the day with free entry after 22:30 once the band had completed their sound check. They are a glam / post punk / new wave type of band with heavy influences from The Banshees, Cure and Bauhaus, they have a dynamic frontman in the shape of Chris Tuke who spends most of the gig dancing all around the stage or climbing on the barriers and PA stacks.

The band took to the stage at 22:45, about 10 minutes after Wilko Johnson had closed the DV8 festival next door at Fibbers. Alex started the intro to ‘All Fall Down’ with the others joining in sequentially and Chris joining in with the vocals last of all for a rousing version of the track. Chris thanked everyone for staying out after the festival had finished and also the promoter Chris Sherrington for the last minute addition to the line up which was due to Hawk Eyes not being able to make it. The next track was ‘Step Inside’ which was followed by a new song called ‘Nothing More’. ‘Tired Of You’ was next followed by ‘Big Riff’ and the thumping bass line of the intro to ‘It’s Only Natural’. The classic ‘Burn It Down’ was followed by ‘Take It From Me’. After a false start they played ‘We Get Tired’ and ‘The Only Ones’ closed the main set. The band left the stage after this but only for a few moments as the cheering for more was so loud. The single encore was an amazing version of ‘Roses’ which saw Chris climb on top of the PA stacks one side of the stage then climb down, cross the stage then climb up the stack on the other side. After a minute or two he climbed off the stack and went round the back of, then through the crowd to get back on stage by climbing over the main barrier in front of the stage.

It was an excellent set which lasted about 45 minutes, I wish I’d been able to see more of the bands from the actual festival itself but things were pretty hectic around this time with lots of gig conflicts so hard choices had to be made. I’ll miss their support slot on Friday at Fibbers due to another gig conflict but I’m still well pleased with this gig, it really was worth driving down to York at the last minute to see it. Their debut full length CD was due out at the end of July but it’s been delayed by a couple of weeks due to a plumbing leak in their ‘studio’. It should be a great listen when it finally appears.