Articles featuring photography by Andy Holdcroft

About Andy Holdcroft

Andy Holdcroft has contributed 307 photographs to Hot Music Live.

Andy Holdcroft has taken photographs of the following acts:


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Elevate Festival

Review

I am sure I'd have supported the Elevate Festival last evening regardless of the stellar lineup, as it was both celebrating fifty years of Coventry Haven Women's Aid & raising awareness and funds for it.

Superbly conceived & executed at the Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon by Sophie Hadlum (no stranger to these pages of course), Jennie Devine and their team, the event offered two stages of live music (one inside & a lighter "jamming" stage out in the sun) and a range of stalls. The music alone must have taken a lot of work: stellar it might have been, but following the development, you could see how COVID19 etc worked its turmoil on the intended participants, necessitating late changes, so my respect to those who pulled it all together & performed, in some cases at quite late notice. Credit too to Ian Todd for the outdoor sound & David Cornish & the Criterion team for that inside.

Inevitably given the two stages coinciding, I had to favour one over the other & the Main Stage was so stunningly compelling that I'm afraid I only caught tiny glimpses of Coventry Comhaltas with traditional Irish folk music & the delightful Posh n Becks.

I also hold my hands up to not being able to get there for more than the end of the set from World Song inside, but after that, I was glued to the following four acts: all of whom are familiar to this magazine and/or "Hot Music Live Presents". None actually requires any sort of introduction to anyone likely to be reading this I imagine.

Chessi O'Dowd played a set from her debut album ‘Wine Glass Filter' which I reviewed back in May: if you didn't get convinced to listen to this excellent record by my words then, I hope I can persuade you now. Devoid of the extra instrumentation added in the studio by the likes of Jack Blackman & Dan Sealey, the songs lose none of their power nor advocacy: Chessi is an intense performer who needs nothing but her superb voice and her guitar or ukulele. I witnessed her afterwards being repeatedly complimented by various members of the audience: many of whom I gathered had been introduced to her beautiful music for the first time.

Paradise of the Titans whose ‘Mermaid'  EP and live performance at The Tin  I reviewed towards the end of last year , is the project of Alice Weston who was last night accompanied by Matt Rheeston on generally percussive instruments (he popped up later again with Bar Pandora, though without the blue wig he deployed this time). This is a most dramatic artist: in every sense. What you see is as important as what you hear. I was watching the audience and with one single exception (shame on him), every face was intent on what was going on on stage for the entire set: which is so unusual. In fact it was a very unified set given that they played all their long & hypnotic songs straight through without breaks, let alone chatting with the audience: how each flowed into the next was most impressive.

Great as the EP is, you derive yet more from Paradise of the Titans by immersing yourself in their live performances & I recommend that to you: find yourself swimming with mermaids one moment & then transported to outer space to commune with aliens.

What can one say about how Ace Ambrose has been developing her artistry?  What we actually were treated to last night was her full (and frankly full-on) band Ace & The Oddity which included Callum McKissock on drums. If you enjoyed songs such as "Jukebox Time Machine" from her earlier & solo records (and "Hot Music Live Presents") or found her a charismatic onstage figure by herself with just a guitar, you should see & hear her with the band. Songs like that one now roar with extra passion & fury and the energy of the band is infectious. Freed of playing guitar (which in some ways is a shame as she is so good), Ace celebrates her liberation with total relish & has become almost a different performer. I have to think back to Ari Up of The Slits to find any parallels. Mind you her band are well chosen as they (especially the bass player) are pretty energetic themselves & add to overall sense of frenetic enjoyment. And the songs, many of which I've reviewed in the magazine, give them a great deal to play with.

It is instructive I think that despite the quality of the lineup, it was Bar Pandora who were headliners: based as much, if not more on the esteem in which they are already held and the buzz around their music online & on air than on band longevity: band leader Charlie Tophill confirmed to me afterwards that they have still only ever played four gigs. Not that you could tell by the confidence & panache on display. Augmented to a trio from the last time I saw them, Tom Something (a stage name I'm guessing) joined Charlie & Matt on bass & other instruments which added to the songs and brought them that much closer to the acclaimed recorded versions. While not quite as theatrical as Alice on stage, Charlie is still one who understands the power of gesture & movement to underscore what she is singing about. Her performing demeanour lies somewhere between the cool projections of Chessi or Alice and the wildness of Ace and between the four of them, they brought an interesting range of dynamics to the bill.

The Bar Pandora setlist would be familiar to those following her career, consisting in the main of her debut single & the recently issued & eponymous debut EP and so the audience were au fait with the songs already. What however also seemed to particularly delight them was the abrupt way in which Charlie ended two songs with the click of a switch on her looper: not sure I've ever heard such conclusions, but as I say, it went down well.

It was interesting who was there: many people were clearly supporters of the Haven but the musicians of Coventry & Warwickshire were out in force to support not only the cause but the musicians & that alone might tell you something of the regard in which they are held: I saw members of Shanghai Hostage, The Upsiders, Nizlopi, the Silver Wye, Gods Toys, King of the Alps, the Duck Thieves, Brass Hip Flask to name but a few.

Kudos too to those supporting the evening who could not make it but demonstrated their intentions in other ways, including Pauline Black, The HMV Empire, Landmark Trust, Curves, Silvena Toncheva, Turtle Bay, Warwick Castle, Hollie McNish, Swan Furnishings, Helena James Fitness, Go Ape, the Slug & Lettuce & Metropolis Bar.

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"Hush! A Summer Celebration"

Review

Last evening at Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library saw the "Hush! A Summer Celebration" event, another in the series of collaborations between the Library & "Hot Music Live Presents" and the first one since the announcement of the Library's national recognition in the shape of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service: a marvellous & deserved accolade for the success of Julie Rubidge, Lucy Winter & the team at the charity which now runs it in rescuing the Library from closure, restoring it to glory & promoting such a range of community focused events including "Hush!"

Showcasing a range of artistic skills including music, the evening was another highly successful one, opening with Force of Love (Spiros Abatis) who offered us fruits of his creativity in two distinct formats: music & poetry.

This act was something of a revelation for me: recommended by Izzie herself (and he's also worked with Joe as it happens), I hadn't previously seen him perform and he is certainly a very dynamic & arresting showman who delivers his material in a way to stimulate audiences.

 If you check out his work online, you may well consider his starting point to be the more experimental end of music, but this really doesn't mean that it's so avant garde that it's inaccessible. The forms are easily engageable with & can be enjoyed on an immediate level, though it's clear how important the content & message are to him: close attention to the words brings additional rewards.

 His guitar playing (he admitted to being at the loud end of the acoustic spectrum) had many flamenco aspects to it & was an interesting mixture of the instant & the melodic. How words were passionate & gave some sort of clue to the name for his act: the concept of Love permeated the songs and poems whether for each other or the world we inhabit.

 I am not sure when I last witnessed a poem of such length being recited (though given the nature of his performance "enacted" might fit the bill more closely) without error: quite an achievement & one which consequently had a proportionate impact on the audience. A second one, also as arresting in scope & imagery was one he was working on so I think we'd all readily accept his need to read more of that one out from the text.

 I gather he'd not performed for around three years, but judging by his act & the reaction, any potential rustiness was blown away & I hope to catch him again.

 The second  item on the bill was a look at the novel writing of local author J T Wilson who gave two readings from his most recent release "Impossible Animals: or Other Outstanding Attractions" and answered questions from the audience and a handful from me on both this book, his earlier "Cemetery Drive" and his craft in general.

I wasn't sure how comfortable the audience might be in terms of asking questions (hence my preparation of a lot of my own just in case) but I was delighted to be reassured. Stimulated by the readings: which were dynamically performed with the experience and skills of someone used to the stage, there were effectively no barriers to break down & we went straight into a discussion of cryptozoology without any need for prompts etc: if the audience had not previously been familiar with the concept, they picked it up instantly from the reading. In fact so impressed with what they saw, two separate audience members suggested that Joe take this performance to the Edinburgh Fringe: an idea I suspect he'd not considered beforehand but took away as food for thought.

 Many readers will have been aware of Joe's work as a musician: featured in this magazine & in several incarnations on various volumes of "Hot Music Live Presents". How that writing interacted with his prose writing was another area those present were interested in exploring & he gave detailed accounts not only of how the different modes offered distinct opportunities to express himself, but also on his writing technique: he brought along a notebook in which initial vignettes and passages were conceived (in longhand!) and recorded for later combination into longer work and how elements of Pop Culture were so ubiquitous in his writing.

 

The headlining act, Izzie Derry will need no introduction to most readers of the magazine as we have covered her releases & gigs many times. However, although her EP launch at The Tin in March 2020 was literally the last live performance I saw let alone reviewed for a long time, it's still over two years since I've caught one of her gigs.

 And to take the theme of her closing song "Learn To Grow", her music has evolved in that period (knowing Izzie that's not a great surprise). I don't actually mean that her new material is a development (she took time out from recording her latest album to play this gig), though the evidence supports that. Izzie has mainly written the new songs on piano and as performing on that instrument last night wasn't very practical, we got a mostly older set of guitar compositions (and so got the classic Izzie show of continuous swaying motion which is so charismatic yet hard to photograph) and it is these which have developed.

 I mentioned some years ago when she unveiled her full band lineup how powerful her sound had consequently come (and at that point she started playing a Telecaster on stage) and that certainly informed recent releases which were with her band. That makes perfect sense I hope: what wasn't so predictable was the residual effect on her solo acoustic back catalogue.

 At one point last night she suggested that her songs could broadly be categorised as "sad" or "angry" (and I'm pretty sure I'd not really grasped that in any of my reviews: not least due to the beauty which to some extent distracts from that) and to a significant degree the latter has predominated in her more recent writing (I gather that it would be true for much of the new album too). Thus I was perhaps not too surprised when a song as stunning & powerful as "Fire" which is definitely an "angry" one came across as compellingly in a solo version as the band one I'd only ever previously heard her play it live: what hit me more was an even earlier song such as "Give Me A Reason To Stay" whose angry undertones are now much more to the fore: transforming my understanding of the song (which has been in my awareness for at least five years).

 Generally that dynamic applies to the changes Izzie has wrought & impacts in various ways: songs have certain elements of menace in their playing with more ominous riffs and even more ominous dramatic pauses. Her voice too has evolved: still confident in her upper register which has always been a characteristic of her singing, now her lower range is coming to the fore more: perhaps stimulated by the changes in writing style, or maybe to some extent exploration: when I raised the issue with her afterwards, she primarily credited a desire to refresh the older material with any changes she had made to performing it.

 That said, Izzie has written two songs on the guitar for the new album & gave us our first chance to hear one live and it was a most potent one: definitely from the "angry" category and delivered appropriately. I gather that much of the album is in this mode & apparently informed by personal experiences: I did raise my condolences with Izzie at having gone through negative interactions in this manner, but her response was that at least she got some powerful songs out of it, so if she can process them so positively then I think we can just sit back & enjoy her artistry without too much angst on her behalf.

 What we are getting is a tendency not to mince her words nor hold back lyrically: I don't think anyone will be mistaking her messages. That said, it's Izzie Derry we are discussing here and though her gloves may be off these days, the result is not mindless abuse but considered reproaches to those who've wronged her & a disinclination to demean herself by sinking to their level: above all she's not abandoned the compassion & humanity of her work and it now sits alongside defiance.

 Izzie Derry on solo acoustic guitar is a stunning live act in such a beautiful & intimate space which actively rewards her sound & strengths & the audience were greatly moved by what they experienced. However great last night was, I wonder how often we'll be getting to hear it in the future? Given her live work in recent years & the nature of the new album, it's hard to imagine solo gigs like this being the norm: and that's fine by me as I'm glad she's moving on & developing her potential. That such nights have a special magic is undeniable & if you've never caught one, I suggest that you take advantage of others she might play. Equally Izzie is clearly (however much she is still beloved in Coventry & Warwickshire) a more national name now: she has a professional & personal base in Brighton is playing all over the country, building a wider audience: no wonder her album will be funded by her successful Kickstarter campaign.

 Her next local gig is on 29th June for Sofar Sounds & I assume that will be a solo performance too….

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Granny's Attic & Greg Brice at Stratford Playhouse Folk Club

Review

Thanks to (adverse) fate, I've not actually written about a live Greg Brice gig in the magazine before, which is quite embarrassing given his status as one of the most accomplished local blues guitarists & writers. One track (not really representative of this side of his talent) called "Tonight Matthew" by his group Fallow Man appears on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Four' but with the approaching (he's hoping for September) release of his debut solo album, we'll have recorded examples of his craft to share & review in addition to this account of last evening's set at Stratford Playhouse Folk Club.

Sticking exclusively to a single acoustic guitar (nevertheless retuned as required) for the night, Greg demonstrated why he has the reputation he has: he's as good, if not even better than the tales you may have heard.

What impressed me, as it does with those who share this trait, is how Greg uses his skills & virtuosity to serve songs & his creativity: there is no grandstanding nor tedious extended soloing.

What also intrigued me is his style: at least as exemplified by what he played last evening: most songs, despite many being contemporary original compositions or covers of later-written material, had a 1920s feel to them: it's a distinctive move & one which I think pays off as it separates him from other excellent blues musicians. Although there were dips into this source era, most of his set was from his upcoming album (which by the sound of it is a tasteful balance between respect for the traditions of the genre while refreshing it with lyrics tackling contemporary concerns & indeed his own biography) and stripped back as the tracks were in this context (I am looking forwards to the full arrangement of a gospel number in particular), each had its own unique character. Equally the covers added points of interest and novelty from an opening intricate Chet Atkins instrumental (and of course he wasn't a blues writer as such) to excellent & original reworkings of more well known tracks such as Professor Longhair's "Tipitina" (originally a piano piece)  or Ray Charles' "Hallelujah I Love Her So".

At this point, you're presumably expecting a review of headliners the award winning Granny's Attic. And so was I. Unfortunately, guitarist George Sansome had been taken ill, thus reducing the lineup by a third. Remaining members Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (melodeon, concertina & vocals) and Lewis Wood (violin) might have been forgiven for tendering their apologies given the apparent impossibility of rendering their intricately crafted arrangements with such a high percentage of the elements missing. Not so: to their immense credit, they honoured the gig & rather than disappoint the audience or let them down with inadequate performances of the material, offered a solo set from each of themselves instead. Although each drew heavily on their own previously released solo albums for this purpose, neither could have been terribly prepared let alone rehearsed for this eventuality & that neither seemed to forget anything nor make errors under such semi-improvised circumstances is a tribute to their skills as much as doing what they did is one to their commitment: and for which public thanks are appropriate.

Lewis (who sounded less than well himself) turns out to have a solo act based (unsurprisingly) around solo violin and spanned a far old range of traditional hornpipes, step dances etc from across the country with quite a few self penned tunes.

Cohen also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of folk songs (none of which I'd ever heard before & most of which were downright peculiar in words, structure or both) as well as a charismatic stage presence. What was delightful however was how far off the folk piste he ventured: into the work of Scott Joplin & Vesta Tilley (it's true!) for example.  Both seemed to revel slightly in being "allowed" to play material which would never have been in a Granny's Attic setlist & both sets were therefore excellent showcases for their personal enthusiasms as well as broader skills. It's always superb to witness musicians with love for what they play & an eagerness to explore music & it's commendable that this is Doug Armstrong's booking policy for the club.

So we actually got, instead of the anticipated set, something much rarer & that I think makes up (more than makes up?) for any sense of disappointment: that said, despite their planned strategy, they gained the confidence during the night to (re)combine at the end for two guitarless renditions of tracks from the latest group album. At this point there is a huge trap for the poor reviewer as both sounded so good that one is tempted to say they sounded fine without the guitar: but I'm betting that they sound even better when it's there. We also got a glimpse into the dynamics of the band when they got together at the end: where both had (understandably) been quite static playing solo, concentrating hard on the performance, they both bounded around when together: a glimpse of what might have been & no doubt will be again & reflecting their underlying glee for what they do.

So: a gig which only partially matched its assumptions & expectations yet ironically not in a way which can ultimately be held against anyone: in fact what we got instead probably exceeded some of them & personally I'd take witnessing a unique gig (if it's this good of course) any day. Though that it was illness which caused this, is unfortunate & we wish George a speedy recovery so they can revert to Plan A.

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Street Arts Project gig

Review

As you'll know from previous writing in the magazine & the inclusion on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Eight' of "Wake Me Up Tomorrow", the title track from the second album from Street Arts Project , I'm an admirer and supporter of this Stratford based organisation working with the homeless and vulnerable citizens of that town.

So I was delighted to be invited last evening to a celebration of their work at the Lifeways Garden: an idyllic spot for some fine June evening music as part of a "Midsummer Gathering" organised by the Art Rising Collective.

I must first of all emphasise that the focus of the event was the performance of a group of seven of the project members: none of them trained musicians. It was their ideas & stories which gave birth to all the songs we heard & those on the albums.

Professional musicians who support & enable the writing were there too: Nigel Clark (on rhythm guitar), Jack Blackman (lead guitar) and Katherine Abbott (bass guitar) & their playing anchored the songs and in Jack's case he added the occasional tasteful fill or short solo to give songs a little variety & texture: however they literally took back seat to the project members: you could barely see them on the stage. (The other long term member of the team, Wes Finch, unfortunately could not be present as he was on a pilgrimage of his own).

You might expect the group members to have mainly concentrated upon singing, but some also contributed guitar & keyboards.

Considering that few of them had performed on a stage before an audience, their confidence was most impressive (and I guess building such a quality is one of the purposes of the project) and project founder Doug Armstrong commented to me how impressed he was that they all came in at the right times so well. I wonder therefore what exactly was going on here: could this be a little less of instilling new skills in people & more of unlocking existing innate musicality which had been allowed to remain dormant by their circumstances?

Perhaps even more impressive were the actual songs. Firstly, one might expect novice songwriters to cling to the familiar & create songs similar to ones they knew already: but I honestly didn't hear anything which reminded me of a well known song.

This may in part have been due to the nature of the lyrics: really strong & purposeful, usually commenced by individuals & then developed collectively, and often painfully honest, telling of fear of violence on the streets, episodes of worrying about others and especially one which defiantly stated the writer's "own truth" in the face of that of others. Yet for all the inevitable negativity within the stories themselves, most songs were also ultimately optimistic to some degree: not necessarily in a mindless & unrealistic way, but in small ways which can be made to come to pass, especially through the agency of the writers.

What is also very well worth pointing out is that the vast majority of the songs played were so new that they do not appear on either album: this is a dynamic group moving forwards at a pace: of the couple of previously released songs which did make the setlist, I was delighted to hear "Wake Me Up Tomorrow" and their "theme song" "All Gonna Get There In The End" (from the debut 'Hope' album) which saw Doug join the performers on stage.

It would be remiss in finishing not to mention the partners of Street Arts: many of whom were represented last evening. Not only is the partnership between group members & professional musicians essential, but the project itself, like many such working in the community, could not carry out its work without linking with the likes of: Stratford Town Trust, Stratford upon Avon Foodbank, Art Rising Collective, Escape Arts, the hosts of the evening Lifeways, Copernicana (a local Polish community group) or Socks & Chocs The succinct speeches by Doug & fellow project founder Jackie Lines also helped put everything into context & draw a clear picture of how the various organisations & initiatives worked together.

Everyone present was an epitome of the spirit of the project: delighted for the participants & genuinely appreciative of the music. I imagine that one worry for them is that responses might be patronising to some degree: well that wasn't evident last evening nor can it be found this end. The songs are original & powerful in their own right. They deserve a listen as they are the voices of people too frequently denied one & whose perceptions & perspectives are as valid as anyone else's and often stronger: personally speaking I would compare their writing ability & courage in getting up on stage for the first time with my own: and that adds to my respect.

These are good writers right now: where they will each take that, who can say. It would be good if this could have transformative effects. In terms of performance skills, they have at the moment further to travel: the strength & support of the collective helped a lot last night as it tends to in life generally. It would be great if for some or all of them, this was the start of another journey in that respect.

In the meantime, judging by what we heard, there presumably will be a third album in due course.

If you would like to support or get involved with Street Arts, please visit their website at

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Roxanne de Bastion, Bar Pandora & Zoe Konez at The Tin

Review

As I've got out more in recent weeks to see live music again, I've been most fortunate to catch some artists whose reputations were made in the late 1970s such as The Monochrome Set, The Undertones & Hugh Cornwell. I enjoyed their gigs enormously, as I wrote in the magazine, though I suspect my reviews won't have much impact on their public profiles.

Last night I was most fortunate however to witness musicians whose reputations are being made right before our eyes (and ears) and whose profiles will definitely be much higher by the year's end: how exciting to be a witness at this stage.

I've written here of both Roxanne de Bastion (who already has a nationally known name) and Bar Pandora, a name which is increasingly on the lips of the most discerning Coventry & Warwickshire music lovers and I was fortunate indeed to catch them last night at The Tin.

First up actually was Zoe Konez who is touring with Roxanne as part of her band, playing guitar, but who also writes & releases her own material & so played a short opening set as a solo artists. An engaging & warm performer, the highlight was her skills on acoustic guitar, deploying a wide range of tricky techniques to tastefully underpin her original songs, several of which were created during lockdown by asking her Patreon followers (some of whom were present)  to suggest ideas. My only disappointment was that her very quiet singing voice (no fault to the sound at The Tin which was superb again all evening despite the challenges of some unusual instrumentation) meant that the lyrics, on which she had presumably spent time & effort, were not easy to decipher.

As I've said, Bar Pandora are the name to watch for 2022 locally: there is a huge buzz about Charlie Tophill's project & people (including other renowned local musicians) were in the audience yesterday primarily for their set. I have been beating myself up a little over not having seen them live yet, as a big fan of the singles, but since I gather this was only their third gig, maybe my considerable enthusiasm was making me unreasonably frustrated in this respect.

On this occasion, despite normally being a trio, Charlie played as duo alongside drummer Matt Rheeston. The absence of a bass player (in fact none of the acts featured one which is unusual) didn't seem to adversely affect their performance: in fact talking with Charlie afterwards, it seemed that it gave them the chance to explore the songs in new ways compared with the recorded versions & they relished that.

In fact they seemed to relish playing full stop. Here's some advice for you: if you enjoyed the singles (and I gave them very positive reviews) then Bar Pandora's mesmerising live incarnation is going to knock your socks off. Charlie has an immense charisma & stage presence and the way they played off each other to realise her unusual & haunting compositions was breath taking. The confidence & love with which they approached material they clearly inhabited fully & were able to interpret it in new ways are hallmarks of the finest musical hearts & minds. No wonder they are the talk of the town & if you've not seen them yet: please do.

Normally artists can be a little wary of following support acts that good, but not only was Roxanne very complimentary about Bar Pandora but she clearly had no sense of competition, but respect and the confidence in her own considerable skills not to feel threatened (if you have not yet had the chance to read my interview with her, please do: there is a passionate articulation in there of her sense of community in music).

In fact Roxanne is also a highly charismatic performer, but appropriately with her own style which she is clearly totally comfortable with & is completely different to Charlie's.

I could be crude here in my classification, but to me musicians might be placed in one of two categories: those desperate to emulate others & hence meet the expectations of the mainstream industry, media & audiences compared to those with the confidence, courage & values to dare to be different, to be themselves & rejoice in that. Anyone who has read my writing will know my preference in this respect and if the mainstream managed to pull in thousands to Coventry last weekend to wallow in the former, The Tin by offering artists like these the chance to play locally is making a stand for the latter.

Accompanied by a flexible & versatile band which in addition to Zoe featured Maddy Hamilton on  ‘cello (which was a pleasing surprise) and Jay Chakravorty on keyboards, guitar & percussion, Roxanne switched between her beautiful Rickenbacker and keyboards with a few numbers at the microphone sans instrument.

There is so much one could say about her set. Starting with one of her strongest & best known songs "Erase" was a bold statement of intent & one I raise my hat to. Drawing on both her debut ‘Heirlooms & Hearsay' and her current ‘You & Me, We are the Same' and encompassing tracks such as "Ordinary Love", "Molecules", "Heavy Lifting", "I Remember Everything" and "London I Miss You" which you might know already, the range of instruments & combinations available made for a set as big on variety as it was quality.

I read a rather mediocre "Guardian" review of the new album: too brief to carry much weight, it was not terribly polite about her debut though accurately reported the range of styles on this one (produced by Bernard Butler). Of course artists develop (and I'm sure the producer had some effect) but I think they missed the point that each album to some degree is the story of a separate family member now gone which accounts for why they might sound different to each other as they sought to capture the essence of those invoked: both in highly moving ways it must be said. So you do get songs in contrasting styles with very distinct arrangements immaculately delivered, including the very raw & basic main set closer "Red & White Blood Cells". Each one seemed appropriate for its subject and not some sort of exercise in demonstrating how sophisticated & diverse the writer's vision was. You could write a list of the styles deployed (and The Guardian did) but ultimately the arrangements were there to realise the songs & if that made for a most stimulating and varied set, then that's both our fortune and part of Roxanne's appeal.

During the last few days, the news that Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" has become a hit again has certainly been food for my thoughts. Comparisons can be odious: I have no idea how Charlie nor Roxanne would take being compared to her & in truth at best their music can only be regarded as being a bit like some of hers in terms of sound etc (though some musing about God is in common).. However it makes you think how terribly difficult it is for truly original women writer/performers to combine creating challenging & profound music with commercial success: Kate Bush frankly is a colossal exception (and one who has attracted some unflattering epithets down the years from those who've felt threatened by her talent): others are obliged to perform the work of others or cram themselves into restrictive templates  of the business' making or operate on the fringes within narrow genres. She managed to create a body of stunning work which can be difficult to follow sonically at times let alone lyrically & still have hits. Both Charlie & Roxanne are devising, in their own highly individual ways, work of comparable originality and integrity without compromise: I wonder how far they can go towards broader success? Roxanne is of course further down the road than Charlie at the moment & Kate shows that such success is not entirely unprecedented: though sadly extremely rare. It would be uplifting to think they both could: they deserve to.

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From the back catalogue

The Undertones & Hugh Cornwell

Review

As those of you who were kind enough to read my interview with Paul McLoone last week (and what an interesting one that was for me to enact) will ...
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The Monochrome Set & The Pristines at The Tin

Review

As anticipated in my interview with Bid last month, yesterday evening saw a magnificent gig at the Tin with the Monochrome Set being supported by The ...
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Clemency live at The Muse

Review

Sadly it's been a couple of years since I was last able to post an article on the splendid Clemency (it was their February 2020 gig at ...
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"Hush! A Shakespearean Celebration"

Review

 Last evening saw the follow up to the highly successful "Hush! A Spring Celebration" collaboration between "Hot Music Live Presents" and Earlsdon ...
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Trevor Babajack Steger & Wes Finch at Stratford Playhouse Folk Club

Review

Last evening's Stratford Playhouse Folk Club meeting was as intriguing a juxtaposition of two talents as its predecessors.
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Levi Washington & The Old Flames live on Leamington Bandstand

Review

I can't quite believe that here I am, writing my third live review in four days… an idea which has been unthinkable for so long.
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"Hush! A Spring Celebration" at Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library

Review

It's gives me a extra frisson of pleasure to be able not only to publish my second live review in the space of three days but one about an event ...
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John Kirkpatrick & Jen Waghorn at Stratford Playhouse Folk Club

Review

Having reported on last month's inaugural Stratford Playhouse Folk Club gig, I was delighted to make its follow up as well.
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Martin Carthy & Jack Blackman at Stratford Playhouse Folk Club

Review

My tendency as you know is to focus in particularly on local Coventry & Warwickshire artists for my reviews: in the last couple of years certainly ...
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Catch up with John Rivers

Feature

I am delighted to report that this week a plaque was erected on the original site of Woodbine Street Recording Studio by Leamington Town Council, ...
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King of the Alps live

Review

Last night was another little milestone for me: my first pub-based gig for two years.
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The Catenary Wires, Pete Astor, The Pristines and The Sunbathers

Review

The other day, while reviewing the new Chessi O'Dowd single, "The Pines", I commented that the first gig I had scheduled which was cancelled by ...
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The Mintakaa Collective live at the Daimler Powerhouse

Review

If you enjoyed "Auriga" by Mintakaa on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six' then it's a fair assumption that you'd be interested in ...
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Wes Finch on Stratford Bandstand

Review

I'm sorry to say that I'd never previously attended one of the summer Sunday afternoon concerts on the Bandstand in Stratford before but ...
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"Art in the Park" 2021

Photo gallery

To be honest, as delighted as I was that live music in some quantity was back at an expanded "Art in the Park" (two stages rather than the usual ...
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"2 Tone and Rock Against Racism" event

Review

In my recent review of the "Women Pioneers" event at Coventry Cathedral, I drew your attention to its companion event centring on the 2 Tone ...
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"Female Pioneers"

Review

Saturday night was another real landmark for me: my first Saturday evening out since the pandemic struck.
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Record Store Day 2021

Review

It is unfortunate that catching every artist on a multi musician event isn't always possible, but the short time I was able to be at the Record ...
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Ellie Gowers at Kenilworth Arts Festival

Review

Strange and wonderful times: I find myself today writing my second live report inside a week.
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Stone Bear at Leamington Canal Festival

Review

It seems almost unreal and a bit transgressive to find myself writing a live review after so many months of reviewing the recorded activities of ...
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"Happy Christmas, All Will Be Fine" by King of the Alps

Review

It was only yesterday when Facebook reminded me that it was exactly twelve months since I had last see King of the Alps play live.
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Wes Finch Trio at Kenilworth Arts Festival

Review

Somewhat to my surprise, yesterday afternoon I found myself enjoying live music in the actual physical presence of the musicians creating it for the ...
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Wes Finch's Leap Year Gig: Live Album

Review

Some six months ago, I wrote what to date is my penultimate live review for the magazine: concerning Wes Finch's Leap Year gig.
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Woodbine Street Recording Studio

Feature

In my latest feature on how local music related businesses are coping with, adapting to & evolving through the current circumstances, I am looking at ...
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Dr.Um

Feature

Back in March, I shared some of my reflections, fears & thoughts about the impact of lockdown on the local music scene & more or less left it on a ...
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Naomi Beth

Feature

After the success of my recent features on Ian Todd & Chloë Boehm, here is another one I think you'll find interesting & I think topical.
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Launch gig for the 'Take It From Me' EP by Izzie Derry

Review

If you are anything like me, among the myriad challenges to our communities currently being presented, the probable curtailment of live music for ...
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Wes Finch's Leap Year gig

Review

February 29th is an unusual date.
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Clemency live at the Town House

Review

I expect we all agree that music can actually do things to us & for us: improve our mood & morale, lift our spirits, transform our psyches.
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"Greatest of Partners" by Kirsty Clarke

Review

Welcome to another of my series of reviews of Coventry & Warwickshire musicians whom I hold in very high regard yet have hitherto failed to review in ...
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Titine La Voix Live

Review

It has been far too long since I had last caught a full Titine La Voix live set.
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The Old Number 7 Band at the Railway Inn

Review

What a great way to start off 2020.
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Brass Hip Flask live

Review

It is always a challenge finding the right words for any review: trying to describe one medium in another is itself tricky & then if you review ...
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Tigermask live at The Town House

Review

I have to admit from the start that I found writing a review which captures the essence of Tigermask adequately, having seen him play at the Town ...
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TwoManTing

Review

Watching TwoManTing last night at the Town House in Leamington, one of my immediate thoughts was "it's been too long" since I last saw them live.
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The Will Ball Trio at the Town House

Review

This review in some ways is able to address an omission among my pieces for "Hot Music Live": although I have alluded to Will Ball in respect of his ...
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The Hatstand Band

Review

Although I have seen them play before, and greatly enjoyed their performances, I have not actually ever given them a full review for some reason (I ...
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The Mechanicals Band with special guest Ellie Gowers

Review

Well here I am again, this time reviewing not one but two artists on whom I fear I may have already used up my supply of appropriate superlatives in ...
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Sam McNulty with Angelo Cardone & Bill Cameron

Review

Few "Hot Music Live" readers will need introducing to the name nor talents of Sam McNulty.
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Burning Salt

Review

One of the issues which is a perennial worry for me in writing for "Hot Music Live" is how to cover even the most excellent of artists, the ones we ...
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Merrymaker with Rosie Samaras

Review

The gig at the Magic Lantern last night was described by venue creator & owner Adrian Gains as "one of the best nights we have had so far.
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Ross Darby live at the Magic Lantern

Review

I am a big fan of the performing & writing of Ross Darby so it was a big pleasure to get another chance to review him for this magazine on the ...
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Shanghai Hostage with their special guests Brass Hip Flask

Review

I should really like first of all to voice my appreciation to the members of both Shanghai Hostage & Brass Hip Flask.
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Godiva Festival 2019: a personal reflection

Review

I could, I suppose, run through every act I saw & enjoyed at the 2019 Godiva Festival in detail which would give them the credit they thoroughly ...
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Taylor-Louise & Abz Winter

Review

Another cracking evening which saw the grand musical talent of Warwickshire displayed on several levels.
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Holly & the Hounds

Review

I have reviewed the consummate musicianship of Holly Hewitt & David Page for "Hot Music Live" on several occasions, though it isn't, I admit, ...
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Man Made Moon supported by Noah Dobbie

Review

Here I go again: another evening spent in the company of really talented musicians who not only perform in a way that touches my soul but objectively ...
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Shanade with guests Nicky Ager & Aaron Dudfield

Review

By now I'm sure you'll be aware of the many bees in my bonnet as I tend to repeat  much the same obsessions in most reviews, so when I ...
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Evergreen at the Magic Lantern

Review

I flatter myself that some of you may remember my reviewing the Hansel Brothers in the past for "Hot Music Live" (most recently on February 10th).
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Jake Rizzo supported by Henery

Review

Another wonderful night of song writing craft & passionate performances at the Magic Lantern last evening & two more great local musicians who ...
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Helen McCookerybook with the Sunbathers & Peter Hall

Review

What a beautiful evening's entertainment & soul sustenance of original music at the Tin.
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Burning Salt at the Magic Lantern

Review

What an interesting & subtle band Burning Salt are.
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Kristy Gallacher with Rob Halligan

Review

 In 1996 Elvis Costello held an event he called "A Case For Song" which was filmed for the BBC: collaborating with a range of other musicians but ...
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Stone Bear supported by Ollie Lawrence

Review

It is always really great to have new talent introduced to you & it is a clear & highly  admirable feature of much of the music scene locally that ...
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Toby Marks & Andrew Heath present "Motion"

Review

Who likes being out of their comfort zone? As reading my reviews in "Hot Music Live" will show, I can mostly find some words (if any words can ever ...
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Calton Kelly & Callum Mckissock

Review

The keynote description being used at the Calton Kelly gig last night at the Magic Lantern  was "lush" and who am I to argue with that? I could use ...
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Jack O'Bones & Taylor-Louise at the Copper Pot

Review

What a difference a day makes: after the intimate & cool jazz I experienced on Friday night with the Jazz Apples at the Magic Lantern, twenty-fours ...
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Izzie Derry & Hannah Woof return to the Magic Lantern

Review

 Under normal circumstances, reviewing, or attempting to review, precisely the same musicians I had less than four months ago (see my review on 18th ...
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Retroville at the Magic Lantern

Review

It was nearly a year ago (January 28th 2018) that I reported in the pages of "Hot Music Live" that Holly Hewitt & David Page of Retroville were ...
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Wrongmas 2018

Review

Every Yuletide, Johnny Satsangi of APE Promotions gifts to us is a multi artist gig at the Zephyr Lounge under the "Wrongmas" banner, always promoted ...
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Clemency at the Magic Lantern

Review

I find myself drifting into describing gigs at the Magic Lantern as "magical": unfortunately the label is accurate.
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Izzie Derry & Hannah Woof at the Magic Lantern

Review

You can keep your headphones & your immersive sound systems.
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The Mechanicals Band at the Magic Lantern

Review

There are few finer feelings than being immersed in the finest music in an intimate setting so it not merely impacts on your hearing but defines your ...
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HEAD Relaunch event

Review

If people think that the closure last autumn of Leamington's HEAD Records was a blow to the music lovers of Leamington: they were wrong.
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"Alternative Sounds" celebration event

Review

The purposes of this event were several: having released a four track EP and two 21 track albums of "the cream of Coventry & Warwickshire music, ...
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Honky Tonk Rose at the Oak House

Review

I have seen locally based Country supergroup Honky Tonk Rose several times since their formation.
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Oliver Darling at the Town House

Review

It was several years ago that I first saw the excellent trash/garage/rock & roll band the Dirty Robbers & frankly loved them.
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Reverend Robert at the Town House, Leamington

Review

This was something of a coup for Jonny Roden's "Tunehouse at the Townhouse" night: a really interesting specialist musician from Charleston, ...
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The Matadors: our area's Joe Meek band

Feature

Most readers of this piece will know of Joe Meek & his revolutionary production techniques, but fewer will be aware of his work with one of the top ...
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Honorary Doctorates for Delia Derbyshire & Pete Chambers

News

The practice of universities awarding honorary qualifications often seems to result in the famous, rich, powerful & previously honoured getting ...
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Dave Pepper "Sounding Off" at Coventry Music Museum

Feature

It is not easy to think of a musician who has graced so many bands of such quality & influence & featuring such diverse styles over 40 odd years as ...
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Stone Bear at the Townhouse

Review

 Some of you may have noticed a gig on at The Squirrel in Coventry on Saturday 21st October entitled "Anthony Harty featuring Sam McNulty and ...
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"Alternative Sounds" EP launch

News

On Thursday 21st September 2017, Coventry Music Museum officially launched its own eponymous record label, the first release being a limited edition ...
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The Shapes at the Zephyr Lounge

Review

Readers will recollect how in 2016, Leamington's favourite punk band The Shapes reconvened from around the world to celebrate their 39th ...
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Morocco Dave at Coventry Music Museum

Feature

 On Saturday 6th August 2017, the latest Artist of the Month was unveiled at Coventry Music Museum.
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Godiva Festival 2017: a personal perspective

Review

I have spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out how on earth to capture my Godiva Festival 2017 experience in one concise article (I was there ...
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Dill's "Sounding Off" session

It was a real privilege to be present today at the Big Lottery funded "Sounding Off" session at Coventry Music Museum by local legend Stephen Davies, ...
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Whizzy "Sounding Off"

This month's Artist of the Month at Coventry Music Museum is rapper Whizzy (Damon-Lee Smallridge) and as is customary, he came into the Museum ...
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