To steal a well known phrase (from a program I admit is a guilty pleasure!) FAB-U-LOUS, Wildwood Kin were simply stunning and after just a single show and one album behind they them have joined my list of most loved artists that also includes Mostly Autumn, Marillion, Kristy Gallacher and Steve Walwyn (with or without Dr. Feelgood) and after my years of following these wonderful artists that must tell you how impressed I was.
After my big exhibition a couple of days ago (will write about my feelings on that night soon) and my proposed semi-retirement from the gig stuff so glad I had already arranged this one and now just itching to see them play again.
As a bonus we also had two other amazing artists on the bill with a local girl who just gets better and better opening up proceedings Taylor-Louise, full of confidence with such amazing vocals at times soulful and delicate at others power packed and with occasionally shades of Tracy Chapman she wowed the crowd with a set of original numbers showcasing her impressive song writing skills such as 'Twenty Three' which just rolled along and a soul soaked ‘Jealous Eyes' and adding a touch of country to an inspired (thought it was an original on the night, thank God for research!) cover of Beyonce's ‘Daddy Lessons'.
Next up Speak, Brother with a set full of emotion and at times rousing anthemic numbers with an occasional nod to The Edge for me in the guitar stakes and a superb mix of folk and rock (even for me a touch of The Pineapple Thief style prog rock at times), fine harmonies with plenty of light and shade moving from slow-burning to pumped, up-lifting rockers and the frontman did a great job and getting the audience involved and splitting the floor into two halves with each half singing different lyrics at the same time was inspired
Standouts for me a stirring ‘Empire' and the unusually titled and beautifully mellow ‘Pond Boy' and loved the banter with the singer about the chance of a mosh pit during the set and some bright spark shouting out "a polite mosh pit", the second great set of the night.
Talking of great sets where to start with the magical headliners Wildwood Kin, well at the start I suppose! and so after walking casually onto stage to a roar of approval Beth, Emillie and Meghann took their places, Meghann in the centre on standup drum kit keeping the rocking beat of ‘Warrior Daughter' charging along with Emillie on guitar and Beth on Keys and bouzouki adding wonderful musical layers on either side.
The harmony and lead vocals throughout from this americana/folk/roots band (lets just call it wonderful music!) were the best I have ever heard live (nod to the sound guys as well) and both this and the overall musicality of the group with at its core that amazing drum work (covering so many styles) left me a little in awe of their talent while the emotion and spirituality in the music also left a big impression.
Lead vocals were swapped around all set so all three had chances to shine on both voice and instrument with gorgeous melodies and passion throughout, occasionally for me I heard echoes of Enya and possibly a drop of Corrs like Celtic magic to their sound and even on the rockier numbers a touch of The Bangles but all of this added to their very own sound gave them a truly distinctive style.
Every number was a stand out and the set included all of the bands unbelievably assured and brilliant 2017 debut album Turning Tides, ‘Run' was uplifting, so catchy and a crisp foot tapping delight, ‘The Author' was slightly more delicate, still upbeat with simply magical angelic vocals.
When the ladies slowed it right down the magic just increased as with the exquisite and tranquil ‘Dove' with its incredible vocal harmonies and atmospheric keyboard layers and ‘Hold On' where that Enya like sound came into its own and its stirring, positive lyrics were a thing of joy along with more heavenly vocals.
When they up the tempo it works just as well with the soul tinged ‘Steady My Heart' the flowing folky magic of album title track ‘Turning Tides' with its fab acoustic guitar work giving it extra groove, the more rocky ‘Taking Hold' which adds strong electric lead guitar including for me cleverly throwing in a few nods to the classic Spirit In The Sky riff and a soaring ‘Circumstance'.
Two covers from their brand new EP Voices of Equilibrium their own takes on some of their favourite numbers made the set and Stevie Wonders ‘Higher Ground' turned into almost a gospel number with such feeling and more rocking lead guitar and an amazing version of Tracy Chapman classic ‘Talkin' Bout a Revolution' were both inspired.
Encore ‘The Valley' was a beautiful low-key end to an amazing set, full of hope and joy which left you with a wonderful feeling in the heart.
You probably get the idea, I loved this set so much and in my 40 years of loving live music I have never seen a better live performance or one that has had more of an impact on me, unbelievable, stirring and heart warming stuff.
A Catch 22 Promotions promotion ...
A night of rock hosted by Catch 22 Promotions in association with Warwick University societies Rock Soc and Band Soc.
The night will be headlined by award winning Spanish rockers Agoraphobia, who visit the UK for the first time hot on the heels of their acclaimed debut LP "Incoming Noise". Agoraphobia is a band on the rise with an incredible, powerful live show.
Midlands melodic death metal outfit The Face Of Ruin will provide support. Winners of 2016's Metal to the Masses competition, they blend catchy, melodic, but brutal riffs with an unpredictable sense of energy and fun.
Cultureblood and Incarnal, two upcoming rock bands provided by the University of Warwick Band Society will open the night, and the event will finish with DJs from both Band Soc and Rock Soc who will keep the riffs coming until late.
14+ event (under 18s must be accompanied by an adult)
A Catch 22 Promotions promotion ...
A triple-header presented by Catch 22 Promotions showcasing three of the most talented upcoming bands that rock has to offer.
Luna Kiss is a band that dares to dream and refuses to be limited by expectation. Their live shows are guaranteed to include drama, energy and creativity and the contrasting dynamics of their music makes them a fascinating band to watch.
Award winning Spanish rockers Agoraphobia visit the UK for the first time hot on the heels of their acclaimed debut LP "Incoming Noise". Agoraphobia is a band on the rise with an incredible, powerful live show.
The Ellipsis are an exciting, versatile young rock band featuring distinctive vocals and boundless energy in their live performances.
Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.
I hope that many of you will recollect the words of "Hot Music Live's" Paul Englefield in July when he reviewed the ENGRAM track "Karl Marx" (a 2015 single but reviewed in the context of being a track on the "Alternative Sounds Volume Two" compilation): "a crisply chilling political observation" said Paul which pleased the band so much that it now appears on their webpage.
Now, 22 years into their career, ENGRAM release their debut album, appropriately named "Das Kapital" (out on 31st October in fact). ENGRAM members Martin Bowes (ATTRITION, Cage Studio, Two Gods Records, "Alternative Sounds") and John Costello have been working separately & in occasional collaboration in experimental music for over 30 years: their first ENGRAM release was a version of "What Am I?" in 1996.
I hate trying to slot original music into genres, even if it does help readers of reviews get a handle on a song or album (for which read "I find it hard to assign genres"), so I'll go with what ENGRAM self describe themselves as: "an atypical mix of minimal wave, body music, soundtrack tonalities and lush melodies, bound with washes of dark electronics". Or even "it is a synthesis of two very different personalities thinking in unison; it contains many surprises, few rules and no fixed poles, posing questions but withholding answers" And then there's "If H. R. Giger would have been a musician instead of a painter, this is the music he would have composed…"
Thank you ENGRAM for helping me out there.
In 2013 a new version of "What Am I?" along with "Law of Betrayal" and "Hi Teikei No" came out & as mentioned, in 2015 came "Karl Marx": 'Invasion, Infiltration, Intimidation...' for the electro dancefloor.
So on to "Das Kapital" which includes versions of all previously released ENGRAMsongs plus seven previously unheard ones.
The track which instantly stuck in my head was "Exquisite Corpse": named of course for the (in)famous surrealist game & the model helped generate the song's own lyrics: in fact one wonders how much the approach underpins both the album as a whole & the general technique of ENGRAM. I doubt I'll easily tire of this one.
"Highgate Part Two" manages another connection with Marx while evoking the atmospherics of the cemetery itself: this might make an excellent basis for a soundtrack to as yet unimagined film.
The German(ic) "Eyn Irren Tot-Final" shifts restlessly and has passages of rocklike power & attack, yet never for long. I'm not sure I quite understand what it's trying to convey but trying to work it out is more interesting than getting any meaning handed to you on a plate. The Japanese titled "Hi Teikei No" (it means "fresh" apparently) possesses its own enigma: hushed vocals never precisely reveal their message...
If "Karl Marx" is "crisply chilling" then the newer "Razor Inside" raises the threat level to a higher & more immediate level: this album never lets you settle: one moment you are sitting quietly trying to decode a message tantalisingly out of reach, the next you are urged to collect your belongings & make for the hills. This is music for the children of the cast of Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" maybe.
This is a very strange (in a good way) and unique set: you can dance to it, yet you can also lie in a darkened room & let it flow over you. It makes you think. An album for the head & the heart & the feet. ENGRAM are planning their first ever live shows... I wonder what they'll be like?
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