Worcester based singer/songwriter Sean Jeffery is an established musician on the local music scene, and has continued to perform under “new normal” circumstances, with almost daily live streams on a number of platforms.
On top of that, he’s been working on the release of his upcoming EP, set for release later this year.
Gravitational Wave, released on 26th March, is the lead single. It seemed an obvious choice, as it became popular for the online gig audiences. Of the track, Sean says “I’m a bit of a science geek, so the song first came into being when I heard on the news about the first direct observation of gravitational waves in 2015.”
From there, the lyrics took a more accessible journey into everyday reflections on relationships, while retaining the notion of travelling back in time to win over the subject of the track on the crest of the very first gravitational wave.
The song was given a chance to develop further as it, and other tracks, were test-driven during the lockdown live streams.
The track opens with a light shuffling beat and a prominent twang of a guitar riff, before the vocals kick in with Sean’s distinctive lyrics that cleverly take on a universe and space theme that deceptively tell an intriguing love story.
After the first verse and chorus, there is a moment where you feel the track is finishing, but in fact it’s just warming up, and more levels are mixed in to add more musical texture.
The song is delightfully upbeat, a fitting declaration that embraces the joy that the singer would feel if the object of their affection changed their mind and decided to give things a go. A joyful journey back in time would be taken, to this feel good soundtrack.
During the chorus and second verse, a female voice takes on an ethereal backing vocal, courtesy of former Hitchhiker band mate Anna Mason, who also provides guest guitar. It’s a track that drifts through the air with ease, it’s upbeat yet gentle, with no harsh unexpected twists or turns. It lifts your spirits and steers you away from the black hole.
Recorded and mixed in Sean’s home studio, Gravitational Wave has all the qualities needed for a heart-warming tune. Lyrically, Sean’s songwriting skills shine, and I truly believe this is where he stands out, and is the element that makes him a distinguished artist. With a lyric video on its way, and eye catching artwork created by A Level Fine Art student Megan, Sean’s daughter, this is a great introduction to the collection of tracks set to appear on the EP.
When I was a teenager, life was simple. I didn’t have social media seeping into every aspect of my life, exposing every element of my relationships to a watching pack of wolves. I didn’t know what my friends were up to after college until I saw them the next day. And I certainly wasn’t subjected to seeing what my exes were up to just days after a relationship ended. Today’s generation of teens have it tough. It’s a subject 17 year old Kieran decided to tackle in a song produced as part of an A-Level music tech course. “I Don’t Want To” is a gritty, hard hitting track about a break up, with a no holds barred approach to lyrically describing the aftermath of the relationship ending, and a subsequent betrayal.
The track opens with a voicemail, presumably the girl in question, that suggests she wants to remain friends. The rest of the song plays out as the voicemail left in reply, which cleverly reveals the story of the relationship, the break up and the events that followed.
Self taught musician Kieran plays all the guitar you hear on this track, with a cutting and whining intro that sets the mood for the unfolding story. With the track being written, recorded and produced by Kieran himself from his bedroom during lockdowns, musically it stands tall.
The lyrics are raw, powerful and honest, a fantastic work of creative genuis that spells out, without a doubt, the pain caused by the end of a relationship that once promised the world. Muted vocals replicate the tinny playback of a voicemail.
The melancholy guitar continues throughout the track, stitching hard hitting verses seamlessly into the darker chorus, where the layers of the track build and rise in tempo, as a declaration is made that there’s no going back. No amount of talking or calling will bring even a friendship back.
The second verse reveals the sting in the tail, a betrayal that uncovers why the track holds such a sinister tone.
The instrumental bridge before the final round of the chorus is majorly impressive, as Kieran expertly takes his guitar on a twisting and turning journey which really showcases his skills as a musician. An energetic drum beat builds the tension, a cacophony of pent up anger spilling audibly out. The track ends with the voicemail being deleted, signifying perhaps that despite the anger and resentment, the storyteller is not yet ready for his side to be heard.
Lyrically this track is maturely poetic for such a young artist. The professionalism shown in the production of this track is promising for a bright future. With many more songs “pending”, this is a musician worth looking out for.
Rarely does a band come around, where everything they produce can capture the imagination of a wide range of music lovers, and draw them in like a transfixing addiction. For me, Lower Loveday do just that. New single “Is it Right?” , released on 13th November, has the same infectious appeal as previous tracks, guaranteeing to resonate with existing fans and new listeners.
The intro is high energy electro pop that brings a retro element to the track, with a repetitive click to rope you into an infectious beat. Drums soon join and already you are compelled to tap and click along. The layers of sound evolve even more when a punchy guitar riff ramps this explosive song onto another platform of greatness. Is It Right?, questions the sanity of thinking about someone all day and all night when you first start to fall for them, and whether morally, it is indeed right to be drawn in by someone who is potentially playing games.
The chorus is addictively catchy, with the lyrics easy to pick up and relate to, which moulds this track into the perfect pick me up to sing along to. It’s a mood lifter, for sure, absorbing your mood and turning up the happy vibes.
This Manchester based pop duo from Worcestershire bring energy to music life with knock out bass lines that hum along deeply under the recognisable vocals of singer Mark, and energetic vigorous beats fashioned from the drum sticks of Tom. If pure energy had a sound, Lower Loveday are the ones to create it. Their ability to collide musical particles and come up with impressive songs that wouldn’t tire on repeat, is not one to be overlooked.
The second round of the chorus leads into a moderato bridge segment, with a faster tap running alongside a vocallised question of whether a game is being played with their feelings , is it real, and is it right? , providing intellectual food for thought, although the delicious vibe of the song as a whole surely makes it dessert for the soul. A short but highly fused musical section takes us into one last round of the chorus before the song finishes abruptly with a perfectly placed full stop.
The harmony and melody piece together to create this intoxicating tonic of a track, making it akin to the feeling you get when the DJ plays “your song”.The different elements of the track flow brilliantly, making for a honey sweet indie pop tune, which is what I’ve come to expect from these guys. They just keep getting better and better…. bring on the next tune!
If , like me , music is what keeps your heart beating and fires the sparkle in your eyes , then this global pandemic would’ve smothered the flames to a damp pile of dying embers . Yes , most of my favourite local musicians continued to do live streams to keep the flickers of a flame going, but it was real life , in the flesh, live music that took the biggest blow, preventing my gently nurtured campfire from igniting into the wild bonfire I was craving . Sure, as restrictions eased , outdoor live music was once again permitted , and the temptation to dive right into “whatever/wherever” was on offer, was strong. Although I didn’t . Still unsure how it would be with limited numbers, social distancing, and a fear , albeit very mild, of good old Covid 19 , I waited. Subliminal maybe, I was waiting for the right “fit” if that makes any sense at all .
Step forward “The Firefly” in Lowesmoor. Open mic night on a Thursday kept popping up on my news feed . A few local musicians that I know and love became regulars performing there . I had to go, the pull of live music far outweighed my uncertainties of a virus that had held me captive for 4 months.
Thursday 17th September was my 5th time going and its safe to say I have found my happy place again . Let’s start with the Firefly itself . Firstly , staff are amazing . Every member of the team puts you at ease, and treats you like a member of the family popping round for a cuppa . Table booking has become essential for this popular night, and upon arrival, you are escorted to your table and encouraged to order via the app to get food and drink brought to table . As a cider drinker , my thirst served is always quenched by the variety on offer . The food menu is solely, 100% vegan . Although not a vegan myself, I have devoured the loaded fries, and a burger have gone down well within my social “bubble” too . Hand sanitiser is available throughout and around the bar, though if you order via the app you have no reason to leave your table, and to be fair, why would you want to? The setting is perfect, wooden benches, strictly limited to people in their own bubbles, subtle lights and floral decorations dotted around the outside, umbrellas on tables, it’s easy to forget where you are. Good vibes and atmosphere is oozing from this little gem, to help transport you to a better place. A place where live music is allowed.
Now to the event itself. Hosted by popular local singer/songwriter Kringo Blue, the night is always opened up with a little set packed full of his signature style. Laid back, chilled out vibes with skillful, warbling guitar, Kringo offers up his own versions of songs, including a spectacular cover of Seven Nation Army, which is always my favourite. Kringos sound is unique within his covers and originals, a quality hard to find, and even harder to stick to and make a constant throughout a setlist…. Kringo makes it seem easy.
The evening is then opened up to anyone. It’s mostly a pre-booked in running order, but anyone could potentially put their name down on the night to perform a song or two. Over the weeks I’ve been going , variety has been the name of the game, with a host of familiar faces and new discoveries. Among the familiar I’ve seen, Sean Jeffery offers up a set of crowd pleasing covers, and will occasionally throw in a self penned original, with open mics being the perfect platform to get new music heard. Although Sean appears quietly unassuming, he proves he is a seasoned professional time and again, clearly dedicated to delivering a quality performance. “Blinded By The Sun” by much underrated 90s band The Seahorses comes out top for me from his eclectic range of covers. A faultless set showing commitment, and a true appreciation of quality on show.
Bobby has taken to the mic a couple of times, literally letting his hair down to belt out an insanely epic version of Chris Isaaks “Wicked Game”, with the deep and sultry voice to match. Vocally versatile, Bobby can also hit the high notes when needed, and encourages audience interaction with his version of “Old Town Road”.
Both former members of The Fidgets, Max and Ryan, have rocked up on a regular basis, mostly performing individually, but on one occasion they teamed up to do a little set of songs from the bands’ busking days, “I Feel Fine” by The Beatles being a firm favourite, songs to raise a smile.
Ryan’s solo mix includes old, new and original material, with songs that span decades, his delicate but dynamic vocals make for an adorably heartwarming set. Each of his performances will always leave the socially distanced crowd wanting more. Ryan’s versions of “It Must Be Love” and “Its a Wonderful World” have stood out for me, for the very fact his voice has moulded itself around the lyrics and claimed the songs as his own. Simply beautiful.
Max tends to pick up the pace with up tempo covers, songs that allow his personality and passion for playing, burn bright. His energy alone can warm even the coolest evenings. His distinctive voice is one of perfection for the set list he offers up, from “These Boots are Made for Walking” to “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, anyone familiar with Max would know its him singing, if just walking past the enclosed safe haven of the beer garden. To be instantly recognisable is not something every artist can claim, but this guy has individuality wrapped up in abundance. By far the highlight of his most recent set was his own song “You”, a beautiful little love song that feeds my desire of hearts and romance. Having only ever heard this song on Spotify and live streams, as released during lockdown, there was something quite poignant about hearing it played right infront of me. A natural entertainer with an infectious stage presence.
Then there’s Matt, who my “bubble” guests and I have decided would be a perfect hotel lounge bar singer due to his dusky vocals and crooning classic covers. Matt is a real cool cat, and has treated us to smoky renditions of “Mercy Mercy Me” and “Lets Stay Together “. An effortlessly awesome, easy listening set of music that actively encourages good times and social get togethers. Another laid back performer who just “delivers” and sets the mood in the aforementioned perfect setting.
To break up the line ups with some much needed girl power, Hannah Webb has teamed up with Ben Hall to add delicate harmonising vocals, and also performed a showcase of her angelic voice for a short set. In an earlier week I heard an outstanding rendition of “At Last” by a female vocalist. Portia Smith has belted out Valerie with Kringo on guitar, and the evenings have seen a real mix of instrumental talent too. There are many more that I haven’t mentioned, but honestly equally enjoyed. Live music, it’s just “my thing”, you know.
Despite the evenings taking on an seasonal Autumnal chill, being surrounded by like minded music lovers in a safe and cosy environment provided by The Firefly, my musical bonfire has finally had its flames fanned by some much needed LIVE music.
To all involved, I thank you. From the bottom of my soppy little heart, you don’t know how much what you all do means to me.
New month and a new band for me to review.
I’d heard a lot about The Faux Fighters. I was all set to see them last time they visited Worcester, but I wasn’t well and couldn’t make it. From what I heard after, I’d missed out. I wasn’t about to let that happen again.
This time, the band had support from local band Altered Voltage. Singer Tash, who I’ve written about before, opened the evening with three solo songs, serenading the growing crowd as the doors opened. As before, when I saw her provide support for U2Baby, Tash mesmorised everyone with her dulcet tones, again stunning everyone during her performance of Wicked Games.
She was joined on stage by her Altered Voltage band mates to perform an eclectic set of 8 songs. Being in a group transforms Tash, from being the simplistic guitar strumming songbird, into a crazy little rocker, and the foursome gel wonderfully onstage together. The songs chosen were perfect to show case the bands collective skills and knowledge of music, choosing perhaps lesser known tunes and turning them into their own. For such a young band, they had a captive audience, everyone I heard talking about them was lavashing deserved praise
. The band attracted at least two people to the dancefloor from the opening song, Wolves of Winter by Biffy Clyro, and there they stayed for the whole set. I’ve heard that Swim Down by Moose Blood is a band favourite to perform and it showed, the energy from all four members was insane and it was impossible not to fall in love with everything this band has to offer. Every time I see them perform, they have grown, evolved. And it’s exciting.
“I bet you look good on the Dancefloor” was arguably the song that ramped up the mood in the venue, calling for frantic dance moves from the crowd and onstage.
A dedication from the singer to her Dad led us into popular choice, No-one Knows by Queens of the Stone Age, before the set was concluded with Lights Out by Royal Blood,a song which has previously, aptly, caused stage malfunctions when performed by the band, inspiring their name. The only sparks that flew this time though, came from the group themselves, proving they were very worthy candidates to warm up the waiting crowd.
Since delving into this writing malarkey, I’ve found myself in a position where I’m reviewing music I’m not familiar with. Original artists are great, as their music is previously unheard by most of the people in the venue. When you’re reviewing a tribute band however, the opposite is true. Facing the mighty Faux Fighters, I felt I was wet behind the ears, a little like an outsider, if I’m honest, and the pressure to “get it right” was immense. The venue had filled with people who would know The Foo Fighters inside out, and apart from maybe two songs, I knew NOTHING!
I knew what the band looked like, I knew who the lead singer was, but I’d never watched any of their live performances, although I had caught a song they performed at The Brits this year. Their music had passed me by. Was I finally out of my depth with this one? Would I have to admit defeat? Armed with notebook,pen and a whole heap of determination, I waited.
As the screen lifted and the intro led into the opening song “No way back”, the first thing to hit me was the singers striking resemblance to Dave Grohl. Staggering infact. The two “dancers” had stayed front and centre and were joined by a friend, a small crowd forming as the band threw their energy off the stage and into the venue. No pause for breath between one song into the next, “I’ll stick around” enticed more people onto the dance floor, filling it up in front of us so we had no choice but to stand. “Up in Arms” and “My Hero” , which incidentally was the first song I recognised, followed. The music was loud, and polished. These guys were clearly professionals at what they were delivering.
The fifth song of the first set served up a little surprise. Tash from Altered Voltage and Maddie from another local band, Nexus, joined the band onstage to provide harmonic backing vocals for Sky is a Neighbourhood, the song I remembered was performed on the Brits earlier this year. The song has the perfect alt-rock pulse to suit the trio of singers now onstage and it’s fair to say this moment was certainly one that would be talked about after the show.
The groovy beat and winding guitars in Generator headed up another run of crowd pleasing favourites. The songs were delivered with so much passion, I had to wonder how I’d gotten through life without ever hearing them before. It certainly was the kind of music I like, and the Faux Fighters were expertly serving me each song in perfectly digestible ear splitting, throat tearing morsels of awesomeness. As the first set came to end with “Stacked Actors”, the venue was fit to burst, as more people joined the Faux party, long since ditching a Peaky Blinders event that had happened earlier that evening, to join us while dressed in their finest outfits.
As I’ve admitted to not knowing much about the Foo Fighters, I took the opportunity to talk to the people around me who clearly did. The best testament a tribute act can get is that of a die hard fan of the original band. One guy I chatted to had seen the Foos several times live, each ticket costing him an arm and a leg, but in his opinion, worth every penny. He did however then say, “but for a tenner I’ve seen these guys, the music is just as good, he bloody looks like Dave, it might as well be the real thing”. Out of the mouths of fans.
The band came roaring back onto stage and into the limelight with the power of wild lion. “Rope” opened the set, then into “Breakout” which , from assessing the adoring crowd, was a winner with the fans. By this point , the guy behind me had noticed me frantically taking notes, desperate to capture the atmosphere I was feeling there and then, and decided to take it upon himself to remind me to add “potatoes” to my shopping list, a joke that became a running theme throughout the rest of the evening. “Learn to Fly” was jam packed full of rip roaring riffs, causing the swaying crowd to sing, dance, jump and bounce in unison. Blokes hugging, songs have meanings to people, and if a tribute act can successfully convey the same meaning to a person as the original artist, then that’s proof indeed that they must be doing something right.
The guys took the opportunity inbetween songs to do a few birthday wishes to crowd members before going into “For all the cows” , prompting the guy behind me to tell me to add milk to my now hypothetical comedic shopping list. Two more songs ran into a wind down “Wheels” and I really studied what was going on around me and on stage. The crowd was literally buzzing, as if the ground beneath them was electrified, making them jump around uncontrollably. They were loving it. The band members looked professional, they looked as though they were performing to thousands, not hundreds, they looked like the real deal to my eyes, my eyes that would only recognise Dave Grohl on a Foo Fighters poster. I guess what I’m trying to say is that they looked like they belonged up there on that stage. As far as I was concerned, they might as well of been the real deal. Not knowing enough of their music before hand to make a comparison, I could only go on my feeling on the night itself. It was a good feeling. Not one person remained seated. All eyes and ears were on the band. If anyone left early, I sure as hell didn’t notice. All I saw were more and more people squeeze onto the dancefloor as each drum bashing, guitar screeching, vocal powered song went by.
They have the ability to turn a small dance floor into a heaving mosh pit. That’s admirable!
After All My Life and Arlandria, thanks was given to my partner in crime Sarah, for taking the photos. Sarah is one of those die hard, life long fans of The Foo Fighters, and having heard her talk about these guys before, I knew I’d be in for a treat.
By the time they reached “Best of you”, I was a mental, hot and sweaty mess. I got adopted by the guys that had been around us all evening and whisked into the middle of the dance floor in a long line of bouncing bodies and intertwined arms. The songs outtro lasted an eternity, with strains of “woah ooh-oh” from the crowd continuing long after the song had finished, reaching its climax with a Mexican wave of adoring arms showing how much the music was being appreciated. If that had been the last song of the set, I have a feeling we would still be there now. I have only ever experienced that kind of reaction to one song before, and that is when Shed Seven finished a live gig with “Chasing Rainbows” , and the chorus continues long after the band has milked the adoration, left the stage and the crowd is back out in the street heading home . It’s epic. It’s belonging. It’s what music does. It’s what good bands evoke.
“Pretender” took the already manic crowd to a whole other level, before more screaming vocals on Run led into Monkey Wrench and then the finale song “Everlong” leaving the crowd wanting more. But there was no more to give. The guys had put everything they’d got into that performance, leaving it lingering within everyone that was there to witness a tour worthy show.
My words can only say so much about a performance like this. My words are no substitute to actually being there. The photos can capture a small snap shot of the evening, but you have to be there to feel the heat, and the passion from the band and it’s fans.
To The Faux Fighters themselves, well done and thank you. You were kinda epic!
Follow the band:-
Friday 17th August
Uncover presents Heinz-sight, White Noise Cinema, Sam Hollis and friends, and Skewwhiff.
First up on the night was solo artist Heinz-sight. Having seen him ordering a drink at the bar before his set, I could sense nerves from this guy as he took to the stage, with spot light and all eyes firmly on him. Even seasoned professional performers get nerves, and to me, this shows a sign of true passion for spilling their thoughts out to strangers from a stage, with nowhere to run and hide. Opening track “Needle in a haystack” was a jolly little tune, with an infectious hook that drew you in , and original lines such as ” Bet your lips taste so sweet, a thousand different flavours of Rowntrees. I know that line, is pure cheese, but sometimes cheese is just what the world needs ” put a smile on my face and of those around me. “Music Man” was next up, with a military march drum beat behind the first chorus, the artist showed a mix of genres and lyrically it felt like we were being shown the pages of his diary. Clearly, I think, autobiographical words made into a mix tape of sounds during his set list. A selection of songs from previous EPs and his current one “Indie-sctructable” . Music Man was definitely a toe tapper, with empowering words- “so many people trying to get you down, the trick is not to show your frown”.
More tracks “Indie-vidual” , “Sulk” (which was a recognisable tantrum turned into a song, awesome!) and “Ghost”- written about an ex , reinforced my suspicions that the words we were hearing were personal and somewhat private, but he had a story to tell and he wanted to tell it!
“Give it” was the sets closing song, with its electro pop back track , it’s clever lyrics told of modern image, how social media plays a part, and the set was concluded with a little speech about body image, and how we should all be who we are without bowing to the pressure of social medias unrealistic expectations.
Next up were White Noise Cinema, a 6 piece band with so much equipment on stage it was unbelievable. I’m not technical with instruments but to the untrained eye, there were drums, 2 guitars, 3 keyboardy “things” , one with a set of side drums. I didn’t know where to look! Now I’ll admit to not catching the titles of some songs so, writers privileges taken to describe them! The opening song, perhaps “More than us”, had me intrigued from the get go. Every instrument played a major role in creating an epic sound blasting throughout the venue. The band members themselves, like the collection of instruments, were varied, from the topless drummer, to the unassuming singer with a surprisingly powerful voice, the mix worked. The second song, introduced more musical delights, introducing tambourine and megaphone to the cacophony of delights, intertwined with the epic guitar riffs we were hearing.
The third song was a little softer, perhaps entitled Ghosts, the singer also picked up a guitar,I’m sure I spotted a maraca, and I was feeling Maroon 5 vibes, although the guitarist on the left hand side of the stage would be suited to a Muse tribute band, my eyes and ears were often drawn to him. The fourth song we heard is ear marked to be released later in the year as a single, and again took my mind to Muse, this time the song “Madness” was emulated in my head . It’s guttural beat winds right down Nirvana style before surging back up with a vengeance.
A song about mental illness, Thin Skin perhaps, ended the set with floor thumping power. The creativity from this band is something I’ve never seen before and I’m excited to follow their career from now on. I was accompanied by two critical teens on this occasion , and both of them loved White Noise Cinema, praise indeed!
Third up on the stage was singer /songwriter Sam Hollis and friends. A quirky bunch of 5 guys with three guitars, a keyboard and drums between them, and with a set list of 7 equally quirky songs. We were treated to a little “uni lads vibe”. Singer Sam was heavily reminiscent, in the way he dresses and moved on stage, to Jarvis Cocker, a little eccentric compared to one of his band mates who looked like he’d just got out of bed! This isn’t a bad thing, oh no, it added to the feel of the set and made for interesting viewing. The songs again were written from experience, relationships being an obvious choice, although guitar heavy Deep Again seemed to focus on a best friends betrayal. “Love Dreams” was my favourite song of their set, full of attitude and smoky bar sass. Collectively these guys are very competent musicians producing musically unique songs they can be proud of. They seem to focus on the band’s sound as a whole without the need for too many instrumental solos, although Ciaran on keyboard (who I’ve reviewed before as a solo artist under his stage name “Keys”) got a little mention and a nod to his skills in the 6th song. Closing song 21st Century saw the bed head guitarist sit on the floor, following a quirky little back to the audience dance move. Groovy numbers from these likeable lads with a lot to offer. Definitely ones to watch.
Headline act Skewwhiff have also had the pleasure of being reviewed by me before so I’m not needing to do an in-depth report of this gig, although, it’s fair to say, each time I see this foursome, I love them a little bit more each time.
This band, who musically refuse to sit in just the one genre box, and are loved and supported locally, deserve to have huge success. Festival favourites across the country, the music is infectious and relatable. Their set of 13 songs should be an album, as each song seamlessly links to another creating a radio ready play list for anyone seeking feel good music to sing and dance to. Not that any of us can keep up with the vocal talents of lead singer Beanie, aka Hannah. Third song on the set “Gizmo”, shows how this talented lady can lend her delicate vocals to all kinds of music styles, ska, punk, and yes, she can even rap. Each band member, with Beanie on vocals, Hogey on guitar, Sammy on bass and Glazz on drums, is professional on stage and their hard work and commitment to their own songs is clear to hear. By the fourth song, Sam Hollis and friends took to the dance floor and entertained us with their moves as one hit after another kept the good times flowing. It is impossible not to boogie either on the dance floor or in your seat to these guys, their catchy numbers flow into you, hooking their little sound waves into your nerves and muscles and make you move to the music.
As a proud owner of Skewwhiffs long player CD “Nice Little Upper”, I’ve loved tracks such as Startrite, and Skidaddle, for a long time, since it’s release in 2014 infact, a firm favourite being “Its Obvious” , a song about the paradise of equality in a relationship, the beauty of being equal but different. However I’m always looking for new music and I’m hoping there’s a new release on the horizon featuring tracks such as the cheeky “Doll Parts” and the encore “Hey Mister”. If you’ve never seen these guys live before, you need to. Their style cannot be pin pointed so appeal to such a wide audience! You’ll want to be at the front of the crowd, but you’ll have to push past me to get there!
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!
A trio of musical talent converged on The Marrs Bar for another evening of entertainment.
Kicking off the evening was Ewan Pollock. A young artist from Scotland who has been on my radar for a couple of years. I first saw him at The Old Pheasant, but more recently I’ve caught snippets as I pass him while on my lunch break as he busks on the streets of Worcester. Ewans voice is a deep and husky growl (think Kelly Jones of The Stereophonics) and his selection of covers showcased this perfectly. Starting off with Come Together, stripped right back and accompanied by a lazy guitar, Ewan took us on a wonderful tour of songs we love, sung in his own, unique way. Cast No Shadow led us into his only original song of the evening which is currently untitled, but arguably his best track on the night amongst the rest of the awesomeness he delivered. A song about ending a relationship, with a girl whose smile he would once run a mile to see. She used and abused him, and the story concludes that she’s no good for him. “Welcome No More” would be an apt title for this beautifully penned tune. Candy by Paolo Nutini led to the set finale, a charming rendition of Linger by The Cranberries, proving that this lads voice works with any song. I would love to hear more of his own stuff, I know it’s out there.
Next on the agenda was four piece band the Shaun Grant selective. These guys proved that it’s not just the younger generation that can get the room shaking as their collection of Honkey Tonk Blues mixed with good old fashioned hard rock style songs literally had the floor vibrating under my feet. I’ve seen a lot of passionate performers over the last year but these guys were most definitely feeling the music and it was visually obvious to everyone. Left to right across the stage, the lead vocalist would pout during the musical parts, the next guy along had his head thrown back and eyes closed as he felt the music, and then third along we had the guy grooving along, head bobbing side to side, not forgetting the drummer who was clearly loving and enjoying what he does. Not familiar with their music apart from Thin Lizzys Cowboy Song and Motorheads version of Louie Louie, and a couple of ZZ Top I believe, it was clear they were delivering “Rock- Texas Style” as a theme of America and cowboys ran through their set. Not my usual genre but it didn’t stop me toe tapping and yehaa-ing along with the music.
Main act of the night was ULTRAMEGAOK, billed as a tribute to Grunge. I was more “indie” than grunge, so I knew I wasn’t familiar with a fair few songs from the upcoming set list. Do I let that put me off? Never!
Opening song of the night was Black Rain by Soundgarden. Before hearing vocalist Ruben, I never before thought someone could scream lyrics in tune. The musical cacophony of the band rose up behind him and enveloped the vocalist which not only had floor vibrating like the band before, but it blew the roof off the venue. What an opener. The set list took us through We Die Young with its dirty guitar riffs and abrupt ending, into Outshined and then On a Plain by Nirvana, which gave Rubens softer voice an outing , equally as impressive as the previous, heavier vocals.
The Fixer by Pearl Jam was well received by the crowd, followed by You Know You’re Right and Nothingman. Rooster had a slower pace , with an impressive reverberating guitar solo tucked inside. A few more equally high energy songs followed but Holy Water was one that made me feel I needed to seek out some Soundgarden for my collection as it’s deep grunge groove hit the right notes with me. Even Flow by Pearl Jam showcased a solo by “Chewie” on guitar accompanied by the gentle bat of drums behind him. Ruben is a musical banshee as he puts his all into every song he delivers. To keep up that level throughout such a long set was immensely impressive!
Four more songs took us up to the inevitable encore, of a duo of songs “Say Hello to Heaven” and “Spoonman”, another crowd pleaser.
I can only describe the set as “electric” . High energy from start to finish and I bloody loved it!
Another successful evening at the Marrs Bar supporting talent from our area.
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Photos by Lissywitch Photos. To see the whole album from this awesome gig visit her on Facebook here.
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