Transport back to around 1996. What were you doing? What music were you into? My older sister and I were heavily into the all consuming Britpop and Indie scene. She was Blur. I was Oasis. We both loved Shed Seven . My favourite band was The Bluetones. My sister loved SPACE. I liked Space, but at the time I wanted heartfelt lyrics full of spite, regret and a sprinkling of passion that the likes of Shed Seven and The Bluetones offered up to my late teens and early 20s. Space seemed a bit of a novelty band, for want of a better word. They were fun.
The biggest shock of my life happened in 2013 when my sister passed away suddenly at the age of just 39. For me, she lives on in the music she loved, so when the opportunity rose to see Space in my home town at the beginning of this month, it’s fair to say I grabbed it with both hands. If any of you have read my reviews before, you’ll know that I don’t just hear the music, I feel it too. I connect with it, I watch the audience and notice their reactions.
After an amazing set from local support act Skewwhiff, who I’ll review separately , because, quite frankly they deserve it, the tension built as did the crowd.
As my gig buddy disappeared down at the front of the stage armed with camera, I side stepped my way into the bosom of the crowd. At the age of 42, I still can’t walk into a pub on my own, but throw me into the middle of a gig, my inhibitions go, and I lose myself to the vibe. I go to my happy place.
A good gig takes me away from the humdrum of everyday life, and my sister’s love of Space made me certain this gig would not only do that, but also transport me into an alternative universe too.
The band took to the stage to a whacky voice over, and Tommy Scott approached the microphone to go straight into “Money”, and the audience pulsed around me as the whole room got up and danced. Second song was dedicated to all the “Weird and Wonderful” people in the room, a new song I believe to go by the same name as the dedication, well received by all in the crowd.
Only two songs in and Tommy was already declaring us as a “Boss Audience” in his lovable scouse accent, and thanking us for being kind.
“Begin Again” was next up, a firey Italian themed ballad about the man who would kill for love. Despite the song being over 20 years old, it’s passion was still felt by the fans who clearly adored the original. Also, despite also being over 20 years older , front man Tommy still kept up the energy on stage that we expected. Dropping to his knees, reaching out, an eccentric character for sure.
Next up, another new song, Face Don’t Fit, with a shout out to all the outsiders who feel they don’t fit in. This song is going to be a sure fire hit amongst the fans, with lyrics that most of us relate to, a cheeky chant that “it don’t mean shit if your face don’t fit”.
Dark Clouds and Avenging Angels brought us back to the familiar much loved hits, By now, Tommy had shed his leather jacket as the crowd warmed up to sing and dance and relive their youth. A lady next to me, who decided it would be a good idea to pour her pint down my arm, was clearly well inebriated, yet, despite being picked up from the floor at least three times, still knew every word to the classics. Proof if needed that music keeps the memories alive, deep in the back of your mind.
Tommy took to the Mic to introduce the next song, after thanking the audience yet again and saying we were very kind :- “this song is about when I was a kid, it’s about me and me brother, me brother always had big muscles and was like Steve Austin, and he loved himself. and I’m the same skinny mother f@”!&r I was then.”
The song was called The Dysfunctional brother of Action Man and lived up to the introduction with an hilarious catchy tune.
A young girl called Stacey was called to the stage to join Tommy and the band with an uncanny rendition of The Ballad of Tom Jones, by far the biggest crowd pleaser of the evening so far. Vocally Stacey filled the shoes of Cerys Matthews perfectly, and the performance of the song by her and Tommy was visually entertaining and suitably funny. Just Brilliant.
Hypnotism and Mr Psycho “blew the crowd away”, as the latter song suggests, before another new face came on stage. This time, 20 year old Jordan joined Space to rap on new track Pterodactyl. The song claimed the prehistoric bird would swoop down, but we were all swooped up in excitement of being treated to a new, but recognisable sound from this underrated band.
We Gotta Get Out of This Place and Antidote came before the most well known Space song ever, grabbed our ears. “Female of the Species” has been a TV theme song and appeared in adverts, and I’m certain if you’ve never heard of Space, you would’ve heard of this. The music was intoxicating, we were being put under a spell.
Tommy lept off the stage and entered the crowd , climbing on tables and offering up the Mic to members of the crazy crowd, as the funky Latin inspired song played out to the venue. At one point I was busy filming and the screen went black, when I moved my phone away, Tommy was singing to me. A moment to remember.
Drop Dead lead us into Neighbourhood which encouraged mayhem from the crowd, I was being pushed from behind, but I didn’t care. In fact there was a lot of careless bouncing and jumping, to what seemed to be the last song of the night.
After a short minute off the stage, the band were back with Charlie M, and closed the show with the iconic Me and You Versus The World, and as the catchy chorus rang through, the audience swelled nearer the stage, jumping in time, filled with memories, nostalgia and no doubt alcohol.
The band were pure entertainment, musically and visually, they had the crowd hooked from the get go, right up to last second, leaving us buzzing and not quite believing what we had just witnessed.
After the gig, I saw an opportunity to meet the charismatic front guy. Waiting patiently as he posed for a selfie with a male fan, he turned and saw me waiting and put his arm around my shoulders. My awkward self couldn’t get the phone to take a photo, and when it did, it was dark, but good enough. After Tommy declared he looked “better in the dark”, he gave me a huge kiss on the cheek and thanked me for attending.
Jo, you were right all along, Space are awesome! And I’ll save the kiss for you when we meet again.
Saturday 4th August, a pub I was familiar with as a child due to being just round the corner from where we lived, The Virgin Tavern, opened its doors to a Worcestershire based, 5 piece classic rock covers band, Recovered.
With my 6ft teenager in tow, I was a little out of my comfort zone, not knowing what to expect, not having seen these guys before. It’s also been a while since I’ve seen live music anywhere other than The Marrs Bar, so my expectations were, perhaps unreasonably, set high.
Sure, there was no stage. The guys had set up in an area of the pub that would more than likely usually host extra tables and chairs. However, the equipment was extensive, with lighting too, and the set up and space was more than adequate.
The first set opened with an impressive teaser of music instantly recognisable as the “theme” from Pirates of the Caribbean. The teen and I were impressed. A smile on our faces before they’d even begun.
The first song was an all time favourite mine, Summer of 69 , belted out by Jamie, also on guitar. Vocal duties were handed over to Shaun for “Really Got Me” by The Kinks.. Third song on the set list was a brave choice for a band of deep voiced guys, but I surprisingly enjoyed the low range offered by Shaun as he sang Zombie, famously sung by the late Dolores O’Riordan in The Cranberries. The accompanying music held the intensity of the original song, showcasing the talent of the youngest guitar player, Jake? The crashing cymbals towards the end of the song vibrated round the pub, and from there I felt the night picked up momentum.
Songs by Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, Steppenwolf and The Troggs were more of what was expected, before Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond pushed the boundaries of rock covers but most definitely got the room up on their feet dancing.
“Teenage Kicks”, “My Sharona” and “Proud Mary” kept the spirits up in the room, all delivered to us by Shauns vocals. Jamie took the lead again for “Somebody” by Bryan Adams, before handing back to Shaun for one of my most played songs by The Beatles, “Come Together”. Weird and wacky lyrics with a sultry psychedelic backing track which was expertly delivered by the Recovered guys.
After a brief introduction of the band, the set wound down for the next track, as Shaun dedicated a beautiful rendition of Chasing Cars to a gone but not forgotten friend. Although not attempting the higher range reached by Snow Patrol frontman Gary, Shauns baritone-bass vocal suited the song perfectly. A lovely performance making a fitting tribute.
The rock covers came crashing back to finish the set with songs by Free, Black Sabbath and Metallica before the break.
Time was ticking on by now, and the teen was itching to get back to his PlayStation, but by this point, I’d managed to get my cider covered hands on a set list, and I could see what was to come. A little bribery followed, and we were settled for the night. #mumwins
The second set opened with a song which, if you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I make no secret of loving. Sweet Child O’Mine by Guns N Roses (not such a secret Guns N Roses fan anymore, I embrace the inner rock chick). The “dance floor” by this point, was in full swing…where else but a pub in Worcester would you see ladies trying to perfect the new dance craze of Flossing to Guns N Roses? After a little persuasion, the teen helped out with the dance moves and it was clear everyone was having a brilliant time! An ACDC track led into a song I’d not heard for ages, “Inside” by Stiltskin, and from the set list infront of me, I could see it would be a set of same, songs I’d once loved but had since forgotten. Songs uncovered. Songs rediscovered. Songs Recovered. (See what I did there?)
After Black Keys “Gold on the ceiling” , a song I didn’t know but everyone else seemed to, we were treated to a second rendition of Zombie, this time performed by a girl called Lauren. She looked the part and definitely sounded the part , she was infact, awesome! After Status Quo (complete with shoulder dips), Jeff Beck and Free, the set list reached the point I’d been counting down to:-
Blink 182 – All The Small Things ✔
Oasis- Roll With It ✔
Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire ✔
The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger ✔
Stereophonics – Dakota ✔
Feeder- Buck Rodgers.✔
Boom, my years straight after college came rushing back to me!
Tom Jones’ It’s not unusual took us into an Elvis song performed by band member Nick. With Elvis wig and glasses in place, we were treated to a rendition of Suspicious Minds before final song 500 miles by The Proclaimers saw the crowd lead a conga style dance all around the pub.
With a little encouragement from what I assumed to be family and friends, the band did one more song, Run, another Snow Patrol classic which actually suits Shauns deep vocal range.
The two sets were fast tempo and heavy, and packed full of classic tune after classic tune, each delivered with fun and passion for the music they perform, a love of music clear to see, by a bunch of blokes having fun with what they do. The audience was entertained, a good night was no doubt had by all. I know these guys have performed here before and they are quite rightly loved and respected when they play.
I went with no preconceived ideas of what to expect. I left with a smile on my face and reminders of long lost songs that needed to be added back into my playlists!
Back in March 2017, I fell in love with the music of U2 after seeing tribute band U2Baby. They inspired me to write down my experience of that night, because, the performance I witnessed made me listen to U2 songs in a way I never had before, and to seek out more. It’s fair to say, I fell in love with U2 songs, as performed by U2Baby.
Their return coincided with my birthday shenanigans this year, and after reviewing every other gig I’ve been to since theirs, I’d vowed to leave my reporters notebook at home and just enjoy a night out as a crowd member with my friends for once. However, I couldn’t leave my ears, my brain and my heart at home. They go wherever I go and so yet again I’m compelled to write down my experience, after being left physically and mentally buzzing.
A rare sunny bank holiday weekend, an even rarer Saturday off for me, I woke up knowing I had an epic day ahead of me. During the day I met up with two friends I hadn’t seen for a few years, drinking wine and having a picnic down by the river.
After a quick pit stop home to refuel and change, I was out for the U2Baby gig I’d waited so long for. I’d managed to persuade some friends to join me so I knew the night was going to be as brilliant as the sun soaked, wine filled day. My photographer friend L and I had worked hard to promote this gig in our own way, desperate to provide the kind of crowd U2Baby deserved, fresh from their headline slot at a Tribute festival in Bahrain.
Support came in the form of local acoustic singer/songwriter Tash Hurdiss. Her voice is absolutely incredible, and the audience were stunned into impressed silence during her set. Particular highlights included outstanding covers of Chris Isaacs’ Wicked Game, and Space Oddity by the legend Bowie, for which she was joined onstage retrospectively by Cerys and then Chris, her band mates and also extremely talented local musicians, adding extra support with their guitar flare. Space Oddity, especially, moved most people I had the pleasure of talking to, with Tashs vocals, surprisingly deep and smouldering, lending themselves perfectly to a fitting tribute to a much loved musician. For me, a highlight was a song she wrote herself titled Josephina. From seeing her perform before, I know the song is about her best friend, and it is beautiful, brings tears to my eyes as the message of wishing her well and how much she loves her is so clear. She created a buzz, and since the gig I’ve read so many comments about how amazing the support act was. A triumph for Worcester, the Marrs Bar and those of us desperate to see local artists get the foot up they deserve.
The venue had filled up around me as everyone had been transfixed by Tash, so by 9.15pm when U2Baby took to the stage, we were ready to party.
A wicked guitar riff and energetic drum beat lead us into the first song The Fly, and some of the crowd were on their feet dancing from the outset, something I’ve not seen at a gig for so long, usually waiting until at least a few songs in. This song was the perfect opener on the night, showcasing the bands skills with reverberating guitar solos, rhythmic beats of the drums and the bass was booming. Next was I Will Follow, an early single by U2 with a more indie rock feel, with a chanting chorus that anyone can, and did, pick up on, to sing along to.
Third on the set list was Out of Control, a song written by Bono on his 18th birthday, keeping the crowd singing along and dancing with its fast tempo and wicked, almost mod/punk style verses.
More well known tracks such as Beautiful Day and Vertigo kept us all on our feet and singing along.
Lights of Home was the first song we heard from latest U2 album, Songs of Experience and for me this is where, with a slightly slower tempo and gentler backing track, the vocals of the lead singer really began shine. His voice on the higher notes leading to the title line really took hold of me, I couldn’t help but listen to every word, their meaning becoming clear to me. As I’ve said before, I fell in love with U2 songs the first time I saw U2Baby, but vocally, the tribute bands singer, Ric, resonates with me stronger than Bono himself. As I explain in that first review, U2Baby introduced me to songs I’d never heard before, so it is their version I seek out when I want to listen to a certain song for a reason. Visually too, when I watch U2 performances, I recognise the stance that Adam takes to be the same as that I’ve seen from Ash. The intensity on The Edges face perfectly merges with my memory of Simon. The powerful beats and gentle brushes I see from Larry replicate my recollection of Jon, and the encouragement of interaction from the crowd and stand behind the microphone that Bono takes, is reminiscent of Ric. I’ve done things the wrong way round, seeing U2Baby before becoming a U2 fan, but it works for me. Even down to the equipment used, these guys do not miss a trick.
More classics, Desire and New Years Day, led us into the soft opening of “The Little Things That Give You Away”, another vocal exposing song, which was delivered beautifully and had the hairs on the back of my neck standing. A favourite of mine from the new album, despite many people saying its a “safe” song. The lyrics have developed a personal meaning for me, and to hear them being sung with such emotion makes the crowd fade away so that it’s just me and the band stood in the room. Towards the end, the track picks up pace around the heartfelt vocals, so that the voice and instruments merge beautifully together alongside each other, drums and cymbals crashing, before falling away softly as the song ends. U2Baby performed it with such passion, I felt every word.
The first half of the set was finished off with Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and Until the End of the World, leaving me and the rest of the room wanting more. I didn’t even venture to the bar for fear of missing something.
Second half opened with Even Better Than The Real Thing and the epic Sunday Bloody Sunday. Then we were treated to Trip Through Your Wires, a funky little tune I’d never heard before U2Baby compelled me to go add every album to my CD collection. The harmonica gets another outing after seeing it earlier for Desire, another string to the talented bands bow, and another addition towards their accurate portrayal of the band themselves. One and Ultraviolet followed, before Kite. I took my place firmly by the side of my gig partner L for this one, knowing what meaning the song holds for her. Such an iconic song with powerful lyrics, and a symphony of music to back it up, it was impossible not to feel the emotion from L and from Ric on stage, as his own voice cracked with the purest reality of the song, with the lyric “don’t want to see you cry”, having the opposite effect causing real tears to flow, testament indeed to the band to reproduce such a personal song to the same emotional degree as the real U2. If I see someone cry, it makes me cry too, I’m an emotional, sensitive wreck and music has magical powers to evoke and bring forth every possible emotion.
Following Kite , a little side story developed. Back in May 2017, lead singer Ric joined L and myself at a Mused gig at The Marrs Bar,a relatively local Muse tribute band. Their support act that night was fronted by talented singer, Maddie. Ric thoroughly enjoyed the support act but Maddies awkward boom stand bothered him, so much so he vowed to pass on an original 60’s stand that he no longer needed himself. Easily adjustable with just one hand, the stand was the same as ones used by the likes of Hendrix, Thin Lizzy and Bono himself. True to his word, the stand was presented to Maddie by Ric that night, showing support of a new generation of musicians.
Get Out of Your Own Way turned the mood back to a positive defiance, where the room joined in with the uplifting lyrics empowering people to stick up for themselves and do what they need to do. “I can help you but it’s your fight” rang around the venue. The songs from the newest U2 album going down well with the crowd.
Crowd pleasing anthem With or Without You, led into the deep groove of Bullet the Blue Sky, where a literal spotlight was directed onto Simon as “Economy Edge” by his brother Ric as “Budget Bono”, forcing the focus rightly so on the epic skills of a very talented musician and showing again the amazing attention to detail the boys pay to recreate, as closely as they possibly can, a real live U2 performance.
Next up was Running to Stand Still transitioning into Where the Streets have no name. Without having years of being a U2 fan under my belt, the live performance had escaped my notice of this particular combination, but having now researched it, and watched, I understand the link more, an underlying note feeding one spectacularly into the other. I don’t claim to be a U2 boffin on when and where each nuance and reference comes from, but I know the guys do, and that’s one of many reasons I’m so impressed by them. With some songs, I’m seeing and hearing things for the first time via U2Baby, things that die hard fans know all about from performances by the real band, from mannerisms and quirky little ad-lib outros on certain tracks. I’m learning.
Exit saw the introduction of The Shadowman. Research before the gig, when I heard that the guys were starting to include it in their own show, revealed to me that it was a character created by Bono to help him perform Exit, a song that associated to bad times for him, and it let him step into a different persona to avoid feeling the pain. Watching videos of Bonos Shadowman, the character is mysterious, almost creepy, maybe even a little eccentric, and although Rics portrayal was perhaps slightly less obvious, there were more than enough elements amongst his movements, vocal tone and of course change of outfit to include a dapper hat, to make the character recognisable to fans. Rics version of The Shadowmans entrance onto stage was sinister and almost hypnotic, setting the tone with an apt steely glare, captivating his audience.
The final track of the set was Bad, another song I hadn’t known before seeing these guys the first time round, but have grown to love. It is a fan favourite, especially when performed live as it has complex layers that build up with the intensity of the song, showcasing each instrument, including the voice, perfectly. A song written in memory of a friend with a heroin addiction, it’s another that draws raw emotion from the performers, and a song that has everything. Beautiful musical arrangements, poetic lyrics, powerful meanings and of course notoriety after it was performed by U2 at Live Aid (if you don’t know my reference, Google it). And in true Bono style, the tune ended up with an outro, this one being Heroes by David Bowie, and from just a few lines I was desperate to hear the band play the whole song.
After a few long seconds off stage, the inevitable encore opened a selection box of three more songs. The heart warming All I Want is You, where during the line “cradle to the grave”, the pitch Rics voice hits on a certain note, is enough to make me revert back to being an obsessed teenage girl again, the vibrant and colourful rendition of Helter Skelter and the final song, dedicated to yours truly for my birthday, Elevation, a feel good end to àn epic show. Everyone was up dancing, everyone! With chants of “More” as the band took their final bow, we knew the end had come but were reluctantly letting go, losing ourselves completely in another outstanding, electrifying performance. Why did it have to end? One thing I’ve found since following the band is that the U2 fans are like one big family, all connected by the messages U2 songs hold. U2Baby bring that message to the masses. To people like me, who never has and probably never will see U2 live. Following a tribute band like this one is all inclusive, giving everyone access to the experience of being at a real U2 gig. It’s a feel good, mood lifting, friendly experience where everyone gets together to have a good time. Each member of the band is an exceptional musician in their own right, and deserve to be recognised as such, each playing an audio and visual role in the performance. Each as important as the other.
If the music doesn’t move you, you’re not listening to it right.
Worcester NEEDS to see this band again. We need the excitement. We need the feeling of comradery they bring. We need nights out as epic as they deliver.
2019? I only wish we don’t have to wait so long.
*Disclaimer… All thoughts, opinions and recollections are mine and mine alone! Any inaccuracies can be blamed on the fact that I didn’t intend to review this one so I’m relying on my memory alone of the night! (’twas my birthday night out, in case I hadn’t mentioned!)
Not quite the weekend, not feeling as relaxed and refreshed as the beginning of the week. It’s easy to forgive anyone who wants to stay in and wallow into nothingness.
But, what happens if…. you venture out? From experience, as I crawl closer to my next day off, the thought of rushing home from work to eat, get ready and go out when I have work again the next day, is not one I enjoy. However, also from experience, I often end up so glad I did make the effort.
5th April, Uncover were hosting a line up of four acts at The Marrs Bar.
First up was a young guy going by the name “Keys”. With what I noted down as “epic hair”, he oozed coolness as he and his guitar took to the stage. Unassuming on stage, he treated our ears to a collection of haunting ballads with silky soft vocals. All but one of the tracks performed were from his new EP, 24 Miles, although we did get one song not from the release, and performed without a backing track. His music offered a promise of the sound of the oceans waves, laid back, transporting us to a different, calmer, warmer and almost psychedelic place. His final track, and last track on his EP, Platforms, was my favourite of his set, a tap along, plinky stringed tune, which had me thinking of gentle raindrops in the aforementioned ocean. A nice little start to the evening.
With an upbeat musical intro, next to take the stage were Myra, a four piece band from the West Midlands, offering a little set of covers, some I knew, some I didn’t, (I can only fool myself that I’m 40 going on 20 for so long!) The female vocalist was sassy and on trend, and I particularly liked their grungier, drum beat heavy version of R U Mine by The Artic Monkeys, and the crowd pleasing “I bet you look good on the dancefloor”, with Hash Pipe by Weezer thrown inbetween. I love a good sing along and Myra offered that on the night with youth and enthusiasm, superb musicians who clearly have a future ahead of them, especially if they venture into original material too. From the covers they offered, I think I’d like the musical direction they take.
Third on the agenda was Alex Lleo, a musician I’ve had the pleasure of seeing before, most recently down by the river during Worcester Music Festival. Replace the river with the sea and a sun soaked beach and that’s exactly where Alex’s self penned, heartfelt music and lyrics will take you. Think cruising along a beachfront with the soft top down, wind in your hair, and you’ll get the chilled out vibes I’m describing. Musically on a par, for me, with Paulo Nutini mixed with a little James Morrison, Alex is well known and loved in Worcester, and rightly so. With songs such as This Time Last Year, which spoke of how things have changed, to tales of looking out over New York from a penthouse apartment, we were taken on a journey through his life, a scrapbook in song form. His last song was about his 94 year old Grandad, tugging at our heartstrings with the story of visiting his empty home, described as an Aladdins cave, but without the man himself.
Headline act of the night was Theo. I’d never seen him perform before, but as he set his drum kit up on the floor in front of the audience, not on stage, I was intrigued. I moved closer, having a feeling this would be something kinda special. I wasn’t wrong. I stopped taking notes in the first minute as I was in awe of this guy. One guy, a loop pedal, a guitar and a drum kit. He started off with a few gentle notes on the guitar, then played a riff over the original few notes, looping in the background, then added more, layer upon layer. As the intensity of the looping layers of guitar riffs grew, Theo jumped wildy onto the drums, and the whole, already electrifying performance, went up another notch. Each layer forming an epic musical parade, if I hadn’t seen and heard for myself, I would’ve been forgiven for thinking several musicians stood in front of us. As each tune came to an end, Theo stripped back the layers to start a new one, fading out the drumming, right back down to a gentle strum, but never stopping, one flowed seamlessly into the next, his energy unwavering, pausing only to swig at his drink as the kaleidoscope of sound vibrated around us. His music was inspiring, my 14 year old son went away from that night with ideas forming in his own musical brain.
I would’ve sat at home doing nothing. Instead, for less than a tenner, I saw four awesome artists, and had a brilliant night out with family and friends. Life’s too short to literally Netflix and chill. Get out. Do more. You won’t regret it. Love live music? Then support your local venue. #useitorloseit
A little over a year ago, my best friend and I went along to see a tribute band at our local live music venue.
I wasn’t a fan of the band they were paying tribute to, suffice to say I’d liked some songs they’d released over the years and I owned a Greatest Hits CD, gathering dust in my CD rack.
Seeing the U2 tribute band, U2Baby, changed my life. Drastic, eh? I’m using my right to be a drama queen here, but as dramatic as it sounds, it is a true statement, and I’ll explain why.
Never before have I been compelled to write down how a gig has made me feel, turning it into a blog and setting me on the path I’m now on of writing gig reviews. Also never have I gone and actively scoured the internet to hear a song again, after hearing it performed by a tribute band. Not looking for the U2 version, but looking for a U2Baby version, as that’s the version I’d fallen in love with.
Since the Worcester gig, I have kept in touch with a couple of band members and watched their already successful career grow via social media. Unable to drive and a full time job meaning I work weekends, I’ve been unable to see them live again, but they’ve secured gigs at places such as Sporting Club Monaco, and two hugely successful “shows” at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, as well as being regular after show performers in Dublin when the real U2 are touring.
With gigs like that in their back catalogue of events, little old Worcester is honoured that they’ve decided to come back for a second time.
If you missed them last year, you have less than a month to wait to catch them this year, bigger, better and even more polished than before, and I’m giving you the opportunity to learn more about the band themselves with this little interview I’ve done with the guys ahead of their return.
So go grab a drink, put your feet up and let us do the talking.
Let me introduce you to:-
Ric as Budget Bono
Simon as Economy Edge
Jon as Low Cost Larry
Ash as Affordable Adam
Introduce yourselves, who are U2Baby and how did you form?
Ric – We are a tribute band from the West Side of London and we’ve been together in this line up for just over 3 years. The idea was formed over 15 years ago but I failed to get the right musicians together to accurately recreate the U2 experience. My brother Simon, then started playing U2 tunes and absolutely nailed the Edge’s sound. This convinced me to do a duo and well, it worked! However, the duo wasn’t quite the experience we were looking to deliver, so we looked for two more members to join. Jon and Ash fulfil drum and bass respectively and we also now have Matt on sound.
Its been over a year since Worcester have seen you and a lot has happened since then, including a new U2 album. What can the Worcester crowd expect from you this time around?
Ric – I think we’ve got a lot more accurate in our representation of LIVE U2. We’ve attended quite a few gigs since then including The Joshua Tree 2017 tour and that, well, rubs off on you! You want to do better and better and it leads to more research online and I think ultimately a better live show for us. We’ve also learned a shed load of new songs! Since we played last time I think we’ve added about 20! You can expect a few from the new album, and some real old classics and anthems too.
Simon- A lot of new sound work and “science” that happens behind the scenes. Also new clothes to match the current look, and also I have been working on the attitude of Edge’s stage presence.
Ash- Lots of new songs, better costumes and and even more attention to the little things that make up the show.
I’ve followed you since your first visit here and its fair to say you’ve gone from strength to strength with some pretty impressive gigs under your belts. Which have been your favourites individually?
Ric- My favourite has to be Dublin in 2017. We played when U2 were in town and as a result the Church was packed with U2 fans. The pressure was on, as you can imagine. It went well and we’ve been invited back this year to do the pre- and post- U2 show fan parties at the same venue. We were also videoed live for a film called Dream Out Loud documenting U2 fan stories.
Simon- For me my favourites are not the venues, but the audiences, certainly playing to a massive audience in The Church Dublin was (and will no doubt again) my personal highlight… that energy that you receive from the audience as a performer, knowing the great songs beneath you, is an incredible feeling.
Jon- Dublin, Cardiff, Marrs bar, (of course) and my local Norden Farm.. all for different reasons! Like Simon, it is all about the people.. that is the reason I do what I do. Call me an attention seeker but crowd reaction is what I live for! I can name one very specific point from a recent gig in Cardiff.. 1st song, as the first verse kicks in and, over the top of me playing, the band playing and my in-ear monitors, I hear the crowd singing… “I want to run….” I knew it was going to be a fantastic gig.!!
Ash- I have to say the Dublin ones have been my favourite, with The Cavern being a close second!
Our Facebook group was formed to promote live music in our hometown, as more and more venues close around the country. As a touring tribute band, can you give us a little insight into what you put into a gig away from your hometown? (With regards to rehearsal time, travel arrangements, what gear you bring etc)
Ric – Well we are all rehearsing continually in our own domains. I have a singing setup at home that allows me to play back our last gig and sing over the live band, as it were. Travel can be anything from a short drive to hours and hours (our record was an 11 hour drive to Switzerland for a 40 minute show!). In terms of gear its a couple of van loads if we are providing the PA system, but generally most venues supply that. We have really invested in top quality kit and use the same FX systems that U2 use on stage (albeit scaled down a little!). The sound is really important to us.
Simon- the whole process starts with identifying the specific version of a song we would like to perform, I then go through and produce our “production” materials, which include clicks and cues, and any backing material (incidental music parts) or like now, working on full orchestra for Lights of Home… after that we separately learn our parts, I build my “tone” for that song, and the “scenes” within each like chorus, verse tones etc… and then we come together to rehearse. Only when we are really happy with all of that can a song go on the setlist! So many, many hours work.
Jon – I turn up at the time they tell me to! For gear, I have everything in the correct place/bag. Has to be the same everytime, for consistency.
Ash- We like to travel with all the gear, we have two vans (which we usually fill to the brim!) as for practice, we all do our own separately and then come together when we’ve learned all the new material and then work on it as a whole and get the performance right.
Is there a collective favourite song you love performing?
Ric- I think we are enjoying the new songs because none of us have any preconceptions…. They are all hitting us at the same time
Simon – I think Streets is an awesome collective piece. It brings together strong backing track content, massive drums, great guitar riff and bass parts including classic Moog Taurus. Not to mention the lyrical content.
Jon- I think drummers just like playing! There are some stand out songs for me. The intro to Streets is just so powerful, I love it. I like the heavy, full on tunes like Until the end of the world/The fly, of course, but I really like the dynamics of Iris, Invisible and the middle – 8 sections where everything drops before we go off again.. I love the dynamic journey.
Ash- We all have our favourites, I think as a band we like playing the ones that get the crowd going the most.
And on the flip side, each U2 song showcases talents of different band members, which are your individual favourites to perform and why?
Ric- I like the big ballads…. One, With or Without You and even the newer one’s like The Little Things That Give You Away. Intensely personal songs, like Kite and Iris, are also favourites as they tap into my emotions and deliver a highly connected experience to the audience.
Simon- Until the End of the World (because of the great solo).
Jon- I love all the classics. Larry has many signature rhythms, so for me to try to emulate any of those is fantastic, (not that I aways get them right!) I love 40, especially the end.. basically all of them!
Ash- My personal favourite is The Streets, as I get to play my Taurus (a kind of piano you play with your feet) and its such a big sounding song and always gets the crowd going.
How often do you get together to rehearse?
Ric- We get together every two weeks for about 5-6 hours solid – we come prepared so that we can just rattle through the older songs and spend more time on new things.
Simon – Quite a lot… usually tuesdays. We are very lucky with the rehearsal space we are allowed to use.
Ash-We usually rehearse more when we have gigs coming up or like at the moment, as we are adding lots of new songs from the new album.
How long does it take you to learn a new song to add into your repertoire?
Ric- It can really vary from a single run through together and its nailed, through to weeks of rehearsing them to get them bedded in. There’s no real average as it depends on the song complexity.
Simon – Depends on the song… Lights of Home is already several weeks into the development process and we haven’t played a single note together on it yet!
Jon- Completely depends on the song.. but for some reason I need to play it at rehearsal, record it and listen back before I can get under the skin of it.
Ash- Not too long, we are all experienced musicians and have had lots of practice in learning material.
How far do you go to achieve an authentic U2 experience? (For example, most expensive piece of kit purchased, or replica outfit etc)
Ric- Ha ha ha – don’t go there! The last leather jacket I bought was about £1500. I think that’s close to the price of some of the items of equipment. Put it this way the band has made a major investment in authentic equipment including signature guitars, AXE FX guitar systems, Manley vocal processing…. If he changes his sunglasses again I will go spare….
Simon – Its a scary thing to look at what we have spent to produce this show. My guitar rig (whilst smaller!) is practically identical to the real thing.
Jon- no-where near the level of the others!
Ash – Well!!!! I’ve had my Adam jackets custom made, I used to work for a costume department and I sew, so I make some of the shirts etc. All the equipment I use is as close to what Adam uses as I can afford! I now have 3 of his basses, one I made and I bought the others, the most expensive being the new purple sparkly Fender Precision which actually melted my credit card!!!
Seeing the real U2 perform must be a surreal experience for you. Do you find yourselves taking mental notes of things or are you able to switch off the “personas” and enjoy the show?
Ric- Switch off completely when at a live show. That’s what YouTube is there for. When I’m there my phone is tucked away in my pocket and I just live for the moment.
Simon – When I saw them at the O2 in London during I+e tour, I really studied, but I could… I was about 5 feet from The Edge…. bass was intense. But at Twickenham on the Joshua Tree Tour 2017, I was a little further back, and really enjoyed the audience experience.
Jon – I can’t fully enjoy any gig as I just want to be up on stage.
Ash – Unfortunately I never switch off, I take seeing them as a way to improve my performance.
Music is pure emotion, and some songs have personal meanings to me, do you have songs that relate to times in your lives that you find harder to perform, or maybe even a joy to perform as it reminds you of good times?
Ric – Yes – Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own and Kite almost make me cry when singing. They take me to some very personal memories. That’s all I’m saying!
Simon- All of these songs have a lot of interwoven meanings and special aspects for me. I am regularly floored by the emotion in some!
Jon – my main memory is my girlfriend at the time playing me Under a blood red sky sometime in about 1984, then the iconic performance of Bad at Live aid the year after.
Ash- City Of Blinding lights is the one for me, has great memories
Do you get nerves before a show?
Ric – Good nerves yes. Really just want to deliver the best show we can as people have paid good money to see it. It’s not nerves over the quality of what we do but just nerves that drive us forward really.
Simon- I don’t think I’ve ever got “nerves” before… excitement yes, but not nerves…
Jon – I get apprehensive, usually during the day. sometime more about forgetting something.. I have a recurring dream about rushing to get something from the dressing room and trying to get back in time for the first song!! that’s been going on for years!
Ash- Not really
Every band has a diva, who is yours and why?
Simon- Guess… LOL. I think its Jon, closely followed by Ric. But he has to..
Ric -I agree with Simon… My diva’ness comes out of my persona… whereas Jon is a true Diva.
Jon – Very funny EDGE!! I can read you know!!
Ash- Being diplomatic, I think we are all a bit, It’s just the nature of the job!
Onstage, do you tend to stick to your U2 alter egos, or will we see a little glimpse of the guys behind the band?
Ric – We’re just us playing the music of U2. Sure we try to copy the visual elements of movement and so forth. But we don’t try to copy accents and stuff… so you are really seeing us recreating iconic U2 moments.
Simon- Unless something goes wrong, I try to stay in character… but usually by the end of a gig, people are just enjoying the music so much, we can relax a little.
Jon – I can only look miserable for a few minutes!! (that’s a joke, of course). I struggle to do much other than play in time and play the right bit of the song! I spend most of the gig with my eyes closed listening to the ‘Click’, trying to concentrate, so in that regard, I am not like Larry at all.
Ash – Hopefully not, otherwise I’m not doing my job!!! We are a U2 show not a bunch of guys playing U2 songs. I like to think we are more of a replica than a tribute.
The Marrs Bar is a fairly intimate venue, and you have also played at some big festivals. Do you have a preference between big festivals or up close and personal gigs?
Ric – They are both brilliant. I don’t mind either way. It can be great playing to a small group of 50 or to a massive crowd of 1000s…. We’d put on the same show regardless.
Simon – Like I said earlier, it’s not so much the venue, but the audience. I like to play to an excited audience. If we get to do that… it’s all good. “wherever”
Jon – I prefer the intimate where I can see people are enjoying it, even better if can hear them singing.. 🙂
Ash – I love both, you get something different from every venue and audience.
Worcester, we are in for a real treat. Whether you are a U2 fan or not, this will be a show worth seeing, because it is a “show”. A performance of epic proportions that any live music lover will appreciate. Also, you’ll be supporting a live music venue in our hometown that I have grown to love since starting on this new venture of reviewing gigs. The sound, the buzz, the atmosphere when the venue is full. I’d be lost without it.
I’ve been counting down the days to see U2Baby again, and I hope you’ll a join me on the ride. I’ll be there, With or without you, but I’m hoping it’ll be with you.
Saturday 5th May, it’s a date, see you there 😉
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Back in December, 2017, I heard about a new live music venue opening in Worcester.
Billed as a music cafe-bar , it was offering live music events, food, rehearsal space for bands. It sounded like my ideal hangout. I also heard that it only had a capacity of 80, which was split between 2 “rooms”, the main bar area, and a room off to the side where bands would perform. It was hard to visualise but I was desperate to check it out. In their first few months they hosted several gigs and the feedback I was hearing was only adding to my desire to go, but gigs clashed with other commitments.
Until Friday 30th March. Good Friday. My son was away, my other half was working, I had a free pass!
Paradiddles, the new venue developed over two years by Kit and Rachel, is a space designed for socialising, relaxing and offering an interactive space for creative arts. That particular night, professional West Midlands function band, Polkadot Robot, were hosting a “Bandeoke” night. Band members Kerry, Chris and Crag replaced their usual singer Lucy, with a host of guest singers brave enough to take to the stage to sing one of the songs that had been listed on social media in the previous weeks.
Arriving early so L could set up her camera equipment, the bar area was already filling up, but despite the cold, wet, weather, the atmosphere inside was warm and welcoming. In the second room, the band were setting up and sound checking. The room seemed small and I was still intrigued and apprehensive as to how the evening would pan out.
Opening the night was Ed Steelefox, locally known for his DJ skills rather than singing, treating us to a rendition of Sweet Disposition. Around me the room had filled, but it didn’t feel cramped, it felt “inclusive” , everyone there to share a fun night of live music, smiles and laughter, including the owners.
As the night progressed, singers young and old took to the stage, covering a wide range of musical genres. We had the likes of Paulina singing Holiday by Green Day, a very charismatic performer full of stage presence and confidence that had the crowd singing along.
Becki brought sass to Tainted Love and Valerie with a surprisingly powerful voice from her little frame, a lovely soulful voice that belonged in the spotlight.
Having only recently ventured into this live music blogging malarkey, I’ve become familiar with names of people involved in the local music scene, and Paradiddles gave me the opportunity to put faces to names. Chris Burton took to the stage to sing Welcome to the Monkey House, a song drummer Crag was so adamant no-one would choose, he vowed to eat his shoe if they did. True to his word, Crag swallowed a piece of shaved off Converse with a drink, certifiably confirming this as the most random night I’ve blogged about.
Owner Kit also took to the stage, with the energy to match his choice of song, Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes, his long hair flowing wildy across his face until it was tamed by the introduction of his woolly hat. The crowd was singing along, everyone having so much fun.
One of my favourite songs, Mr Brightside was performed by Jess, who is in her own local band The Social Outcasts. She was followed by another young and upcoming local artist, Alec, from 3WOD , who put his heart and soul into a version of “Hate to say I told you so” by The Hives, showing the expression and passion of a born performer.
As the evening went on, a few singers that had signed up to sing weren’t there, but there was no shortage of brave souls offering to step up to the stage, meaning we got unprepared performances of songs such as Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. Beer in hand, belting out the words, these were the true stars of the night, stepping in so that the party didn’t stop.
Some singers were awesome, others just there to have fun, some rather tipsy, but no-one judged, criticised or berated anyone onstage, the general consensus was that everyone enjoyed everyone who performed. As each “performer” took the stage, the audience changed, making way for friends and family members to savour the enjoyment of seeing their nearest and dearest having an amazing time.
The second half kicked off with the crowd helping Jess out with Ghostbusters, you seriously couldn’t get a wider variety of music packed into one night. The Power of Love sung by Siãn, Parklife sung by Emilie and Summer of 69 performed by Allan, amongst others got the bandeoke treatment. Becki, with Man, I feel like a woman and Mercy, and Paulina with 1985 and Pour Some Sugar on me, came back for more of the adrenaline rush being in the spotlight was offering.
A guy named Chris shocked everyone by hitting the high notes usually left to The Darkness frontman Justin when he sang “I believe in a thing called love” and was clearly a crowd pleaser as he sang two more songs to the cheers and encouragement of the cosy gathering crowd. Loving the attention and enjoying being on stage…fully embracing the whole feel of the evening.
Two young girls sang together, choosing 2003 song “Are you gonna be girl” by Jet, showing that it was an evening that everyone could get involved with, whatever their musical tastes of preferences.
The night ended with Alec heroically learning Rock and Roll Star in just ten minutes after the original singer didn’t show, and left the crowd singing along with an epic 90s anthem.
Polkadot Robot were flawless throughout the whole evening, despite the change in tempo and genre, they kept going effortlessly from one song to the next, showcasing their skill and talent and loving every minute of it! No technical issues, no lull, no loss of energy. Full speed from start to finish. The venue was perfect for the occasion, as I popped to the bar the music could still be heard and enjoyed by those wishing to stay seated in the bar area, under the cymbal lightshades and next to Animal from The Muppets playing the drums in the door way.
Bandeoke is not a concept I’d ever come across before, but the organisation and execution of the event has definitely made me want to go along to future gigs at Paradiddles, and any other events where I’ll see Polkadot Robot. 10/10 to all involved.
Paradiddles are quoted as saying that they believe in music being “The Great Communicator” , and from my position at the back of the room, watching and listening to everything going on, they have well and truly created the space they wanted to, which was based around “music, connectivity and communication” . For that night at least, we were all connected by the love, fun and buzz created by music.
What will you be doing this time next week?..
Will you be sat at home watching The Voice, a TV entertainment show centred around finding a new musical artist? You’d be watching that because you like music, right? Or will you be sat in a pub with your mates, the music so loud you can barely even hear each other anyway, so you decide to get up and dance but the song that comes on next is really not to your taste?
Can I make a suggestion? Get down to your local music venues and go see some “LIVE” music.
What will I be doing? Well, you see, I’m lucky, because my local music venue just happens to be hosting a gig by my favourite tribute band.
Mused return to The Marrs Bar on Saturday 3rd March and I for one, can not wait!
I have never seen MUSE live. They only really came into my musical life in 2015, and since then, I’ve not had the money, or the time to sit on the phone trying to get tickets to fulfil my desire to see them. I love Muse. They are my go-to band when life is a bit, well, what can I say, crap? The iconic vocals of Matt Bellamy and the thrashing musical beats their songs provide and offer the perfect “scream it out” therapy.
I have, however, seen MUSED. And shall I tell you something? They are awesome!
So in the run up to their return to Worcester, I thought I’d talk to the guys and let them tell you why you should come along and see them.
Introduce yourselves, who are Mused and how did you form?
We are Carl (Matt), Stu (Chris) & Chris (Dom) – Mused first formed about 5 years ago and the band has had a few changes over the years with Carl joining us 3 years ago and Stu about 2 1/2 years ago.
We originally formed with an old school friend of mine (Chris) when we set up a punk covers band, we auditioned for a bass player and after a few sessions we realised how much we loved performing Muse songs, this then evolved us into a MUSE Tribute band as at the time there wasn’t one! Our singer left and that was when Carl auditioned and got the part. When our bass player left, Carl’s friend Stu came along to a studio and we just clicked instantly! The rest is history, we went from strength to strength over the years and now really enjoy what we do, and are all good friends which makes it good fun too!
I love that the band themselves are all good friends and that Mused was born from a love of performing Muse songs. The band members themselves have seen Muse live a few times, from Wembley, Ricoh Arena & LG Arena, so they know how the real band put on an electrifying performance. I can only imagine the atmosphere at a real Muse gig, but through Mused I can experience an accurate audio representation. Matt Bellamy hits high notes like no other artist I know, but Carl, well, you’ll just have to come and see for yourselves. I have so many favourite songs by Muse and I love to hear Mused play each of them, Psycho being a personal favourite, going back to my earlier “scream it out” comment. I wonder which the boys like performing…
Do you have a collective favorite Muse song to perform?
Ooo- there’s loads!! We always love Psycho, and have just reintroduced Supremacy which is great to do, we also love to do the old back catalogue like Muscle Museum & Deadstar.
Both times I’ve previously seen Mused perform has been at my local live music venue The Marrs Bar. Easily accessible using public transport, with parking nearby, it’s ideal for me as its literally at the bottom of my road, walking distance. Mused have been fortunate enough to play festivals and small venues alike. Returning to venues they have played before is a positive sign that they enjoy it, and that the crowds will turn up to support them.
What has been your most memorable gig as Mused to date and why?
We love it at The Marrs Bar, this is one of our faves as its always a great crowd, and the staff are so easy to work with. We also love the big Festivals that we do over the summer months, its always great to see a crowd of thousands enjoy what we do 🙂
You’ve played Worcester a few times now, what can my home town expect from you guys this time around?
I would say a slicker performance! We always push to obtain perfection in what we do, Supremacy is a new track we’ve not done there before, and we’ve also put back in Hyper Music.
It sounds like Worcester is in for a fantastic show. What I’ve noticed about Mused, is that rather than trying to replicate Muse tracks straight from the albums, a lot of time and effort is put into recreating the live Muse concert experience , with the way they go from one song to the next. Carl has captured the essence of Matt perfectly, and from certain angles, the visual similarities are uncanny. I decided to ask them a bit more about how they learn the songs and recreate an overall Muse experience, aswell as digging down deeper into their rehearsal process.
Muse seem to be getting a bit of stick for their latest releases, Dig Down and Thought Contagion.. Personally I embrace the new sound, are you looking forward to the new album and learning new songs?
Yes definitely! We love Thought Contagion and do plan on doing it asap, but its just getting time to learn it in-between gigs and personal life! We are waiting to see how the track is done live so we pull off a live Muse performance!
How long on average does it take you guys to learn a new track?
Not long actually, we tend to learn it ourselves at home, watch live performances and then get together to work on it together, generally gets done in a day.
Aside from Muse, who else musically inspires you?
Crikey, Loads! – Black Sabbath, Older punk bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, and new bands like Marmozets, Vukovi, The Joy Formidable.
Do you all enter a “character mode” when on stage to deliver a more accurate portrayal of Muse or is the stage presence natural now, as you really do a fantastic job?
Haha, well we do our best to look and dress the part, plus we put in as much stage presence as Muse for the show, do but we do keep our own personalities, hence Carl & Stu with Birmingham accents!!
Mused obviously love what they do, and its clear to see they have fun on stage as much as the crowd have fun watching them. I love that they “keep it real” with their own personalities shining through.
When the quality of the music speaks for itself, they can afford to relax and enjoy what they do. Even more exciting news about next weeks gig, Mused have enlisted local hard rock band Nexus to be their support act.
For me at least, Mused have Supremacy in the tribute band field.
The day the world lost the most flamboyant, influential, iconic and trail blazing British singer/songwriter the universe has ever seen. After a career spanning five decades, every music lover I know was devastated by the loss of David Bowie. His music was, and of course still is, instantly recognisable. After his death, our airwaves were inundated with plays of his most famous hits, with no less than 8 of his songs ending up in the January 2016 top 100 UK charts. I never had an opportunity to see Bowie live, I don’t imagine many of you reading this did. By the time I was born, his musical career had already surpassed 10 years.
Fast forward to 17th February 2018.
The Marrs Bar, Worcester.
Bowie Tribute act “Aladdinsane” came to play.
Billed as the greatest Bowie tribute in the UK and beyond, Paul Henderson and his band had big space boots to fill.
Opening aptly with Space Oddity, which was indeed Bowie’s first top 5 entry into the UK singles chart in July 1969, Paul, dressed in simple white shirt and black waistcoat, took to the stage with the famous line of “Ground control to Major Tom” and it became instantly apparent that the billing had been correct. Bowie used his natural baritone singing voice to storytell his songs, often not even trying to hide his heavy English accent. Yet his pitch and range was phenomenal. Paul was recreating that in his opening number, clearly showing years of dedication and real admiration for the man he was portraying. Paul once appeared on Stars in their Eyes, and having seen that performance, which in itself was spot on, its clear to see that since then, Paul has worked away at this persona and its paid off. So, an iconic song to open with, brave almost as its so well known, but absolutely the right choice to reel us in.
After greeting the crowd and announcing it was their first time in Worcester, we were treated to Starman and then into Ashes to Ashes. The guitar is put down and Paul is able to showcase the moves and mannerisms of Bowie, and as the song peaks, the actions are more dramatic, and the whole sound and vision of Bowie that his advertising posters claim to offer, are showcased to their full extent. Although confident and out-going, I often thought Bowie always had a slight awkwardness onstage, which Paul carried out perfectly. The twitch of the head, the stilted but everso dramatic arm movements, it was uncanny.
The tempo raised with a perfect rendition of Fame, fading out to strains of “War, what is it good for?”, exaggerated dance moves only added to the experience we were being treated to. I didn’t know the next two songs, Be My Wife and Boys Keep Swinging but, I have no doubt they were as vocally close to the originals as we’ll ever be lucky enough to hear, but I was soon brought back to familiarity with Let’s Dance and Changes.
The Man who Sold the World and Moonage Daydream led up to the end of the first set, a personal favourite of mine, Life on Mars, delivered impeccably, suitably emotional.
During the interval, I took a moment to look around. My trusty photographer friend L had found out that a fair few people there had travelled from Paul’s home town and surrounding areas, and there was a handful of our own local crowd there. Everyone was buzzing about what they’d seen so far, eagerly waiting for more.
The second set came with an outfit change, more of the ilk of Bowie’s Glam Rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust. “The Jean Genie” from the 1973 album “Aladdin Sane” saw the crowd get on their feet and there they stayed for the rest of the evening. “Ziggy Stardust” and “Stay” led into “Heroes”, which saw Paul come to the front of the stage and the subtle backing music left his impeccable vocals exposed. We were treated to a bit of Sax with a rendition of ” Sorrow”, followed by “Time”. A song I didn’t know, but felt very show tune, and Paul gave a stage show performance, dropping to his knees and giving all the emotion the song called for.
Another crowd pleaser was “China Girl”. By now the dancing crowd were in full swing, and I noticed a girl dancing barefoot with her partner, younger than me but clearly loving the iconic music as much as the older crowd. A woman with long blond hair danced alone, the music clearly running through her veins. Hello Spaceboy, John I’m only Dancing, All the Young Dudes and Queen Bitch followed, taking us to the last song of the night, Rebel Rebel. A rocky tune to dance to, some of the band went out onto the dance floor and the crowd were left wanting more. A short walk off stage led to an encore of White Light/White Heat, another song I didn’t know, but one that I’ll now forever remember.
Every gig I’ve been to since starting my blogging, I’ve enjoyed. Well, I’ve actually loved. I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I was invited to review a gig and it wasn’t to my taste. I’m hoping I never have to find out.
On 21st December I went along to the Uncover Xmas Party at local live venue The Marrs Bar. Four acts were on the billing, and out of those four, I’d only ever seen one before.
In summary, here’s how the night went.
Opening act was Valence. Three lads from Malvern who took to the stage with the aim to entertain us. Their music was fun pop-punk, and reminiscent of a much cooler version of Busted, without the cheesy jumps and kicks around the stage. Musically, one of their songs reminded me of 90s band EMF, whose alternative sound saw me through my college days. They were having fun, and that translated well to the cosy crowd that had braved the winter elements. The lads closed their set after thanking the audience for their support of unsigned bands, with a great rendition of All The Small Things by Blink 182, giving us a chance to have a sing along.
Next onstage was the beautiful one woman band, Poppy WS. A barefooted vision in red took to the stage and in her opening song alone, a rhythmic cover of Falling, she played several instruments effortlessly, guitar, keyboard, tambourine.. the list goes on. I was fascinated by her use of the looping pedal, and I believe it was her first time using it live onstage. I’ve seen one used once before, by an Ed Sheeran tribute act, but Poppy used it in a more obvious way, melodically layering percussion sounds and vocal harmonies over the background of her tracks. My playlist at home doesn’t contain many female artists, for no real reason, but Poppy’s voice was mesmerising and I will definitely go and see her again. Her own songs were quirky but catchy, and had a realness about them that you can only feel when an artist has lived and breathed what they write about. Her style was classical mixed with blues mixed with an individuality I can’t liken to anyone else. I will forever remember her set as Snow White floating barefoot through a mystical forest. It was magical.
Third on the billing was Plastic Scene, a young five-piece band, of which two had suitably donned the classic Christmas jumpers to evoke the party mood. Their first song had me feeling vibes of The Verve, and the vocalist front and centre did little to deter the image of Richard Ashcroft as his hair was as dark and floppy as my mind had remembered the man himself. They describe themselves as a psych-rock band, and although they wholly stood still on stage, the image and the sound worked well. Laid back, in control, easy to listen to. I was intrigued to hear more but unfortunately their set was cut slightly short due to over running technical issues, but they did themselves proud. Thourougly enjoyed what they had to offer.
The final act of the night was the one I’d seen before and was the one that had dragged me out on a cold winters night, Skewwhiff. I’ve seen this band several times, most recently when they were support act to one of my idols, Mark Morriss of The Bluetones, at a venue in Malvern a couple of years back. Skewwhiff never disappoint. The first time I saw them, I purchased their CD “Nice Little Upper”. I can’t really pin point what genre I’d put them in, but suffice to say, its feel good music. You cannot stop your feet from tapping and your shoulders shimmying. Mix the music with lead vocalist Beanies energy onstage and you will enjoy the show. She bounces around with infectious enthusiasm. Her vocal range is phenomenal, and each song is peppered with musical vocal gymnastics I couldn’t even dare to replicate. A song I remember from previous times I’ve seen them, “Its Obvious”, had a small group of ladies up dancing and singing along, proving these guys have a well deserved and established fan base. Shewwhiff are awesome. Each time I see them, I like them even more. Its not hard to see why they’ve performed various festivals and have been support act to some top acts. Local band done good, and I think they’ve only just scratched the surface of the recognition they deserve.
So overall, an awesome night, new music to explore and happy festive memories! Well done to all involved. Here’s to more in 2018.
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Sometimes in life, opportunities come along that are too good not to take. Big or small, you should grab them with both hands. On Friday 15th December, such an opportunity arose, in the form of going to see a tribute act with my best friend S.
The event had been advertised heavily on social media. By all accounts, it was the first gig by local promotion company “Tribute”. Its fair to say, the gig seemed to be receiving its fair share of attention, both positive and negative. As a firm believer of supporting local, live music events, I was delighted to have the opportunity to see for myself. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? A chance to make mistakes and learn from them, yes?
The Ed Sheeran experience is basically a guy called Jack, who just so happens to be an auburn haired singer who can play a guitar or two.
I like Ed Sheeran, my son is a huge fan. His music is personal, from the heart, autobiographical to the point where its publicly known who he’s writing and singing about, so I admit to being dubious about an act claiming to give the Ed experience. Part of seeing Ed Sheeran perform is knowing that the words are real, and he feels them. Could someone singing those lyrics really be able to convey the meaning if they weren’t personal to them? I was keen to find out.
The gig was held at a relatively small village hall, but upon entering the venue, it proved to have ample space to hold the expected audience. Seats were available for those that wanted them, which it seemed most people did, but that suited us just fine as S had recently hurt her ankle in an “ice” incident.
The crowd was a mixed age group, with families, friends and loved ones out for a night of entertainment plugged as a Christmas Party. The venue was suitably decorated and the good vibe atmosphere certainly helped me feel festive.
The show opened with a delightful duo, Polly Edwards and Kringo Blue. We were treated to a host of covers that suited Polly’s sultry voice to a tee. I’d seen these guys advertised at local venues before but never had the opportunity to see them. I’m now glad I have and will actively make an effort to see them again .
There was a chance to grab a drink and a bite to eat before the main event, and the choice of drinks was vast and reasonably priced, and the Jamaican food on offer, from West Brom based Jamrock Catering was delicious. All I heard while stood in the swiftly moving queue was postive.
When Jack, as Ed, came on stage, the similarity was actually surprising. In photos I’d seen he “resembled” Ed, but on stage he took on the Ed persona perfectly. The way he held his guitar, and the laid back attitude he had was spot on. He dressed like Ed, held himself like Ed and when he started to sing, he sounded as close to hearing Ed Sheeran sing live as you could expect to get. Seriously, he was born to be Ed! He was a one man band, switching between different guitars for different songs, seamlessly from one song to another, he was a pro. His show was also the first time I’d experienced live looping in action. I’ve since discovered it’s a replica of the loop station Ed uses. I’m not into tech, and definitely not up on the technical terms, but it seems a sound, snippet, run of notes, a vocal sound, can be recorded then played back on a rhythmic loop behind the main track and vocals. Simple things, but I was transfixed. Jacks beat boxing and rap sections were brilliant and the audience were captivated.
Jack performed songs spanning Eds whole career, but it was the more recent ones that got people abandoning their chairs and making a dance floor right in front of the stage. Once the audience was on its feet, Jack commanded the stage and the already pitch perfect show ramped up a notch. As it had been billed as a Christmas Party, the crowd became vocal about wanting a Christmas song. Jack admitted to knowing the first part of Fairytale of New York and happily obligied us to a verse which was received with festive cheers.
His rendition of “Sing” was quite possibly the highlight of my evening. A song I know and love due to the fact it’s probably the longest bit of “rapping” I know every single word to! Understandably, it was a crowd pleaser.
His final song and encore was recent hit “Shape of You”, by which point,the two pints of cider had kicked in and I could no longer sit still so up I got, and danced alone as S rested her ankle. I was pleased to see that in doing so, I’d encouraged the ladies that were seated behind us to get up for a boogie. The accuracy and attention to detail of Jacks whole performance meant my initial concerns of whether I’d “feel” the emotion of Eds lyrics, became a distant memory. He is an absolutely outstanding performer whose down to earth demeanour helped portray the visual experience of the real Ed.
S and I ended the night waiting for our taxi in the local pub car park, treating the sleepy village of Hallow to an Ed inspired rendition of Fairytale of New York. Brilliant end to a brilliant night out.
My conclusion,the evening was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The support act went down well, the sound quality in the hall was awesome and actually pleasantly surprised me, and if there were any technical hitches, I didn’t notice them.
Tickets for the real Ed Sheeran sell out in minutes. If you can’t get hold of them, Jack really is a truly accurate substitute.
And as for the event organisers, a huge WELL DONE! I’m excited to see where this venture takes them. After getting the chance to briefly chat to main man Matthew, it seems he has big ideas and I wish him all the best.