Live Review : Eliza Acty : B-Bar, Plymouth

eliza acty B-Bar (c) Rob Evans.jpg

It’s July, and fairy lights cover the stage at Plymouth’s B-Bar. Right, OK. I’m here to listen to an English rose from Dartmoor sing Americana and old-time songs. Kinda weird, but I like it. There’s a few pints of cider on stage because West Country, and I notice none of the instruments are amplified – the sound crew have pointed mics at them instead. This is an evening of properly unplugged music how it should be.

Eliza’s opener, ‘Deep River Blues’, treads a line that I would have thought impossible. Her voice has a lilting sweetness to it that’s pure English, but the guitar work and attitude of the song are straight from a smoky blues bar. ‘Come All You Virginia Girls’ swings that balance a little, Eliza’s voice more soulful than mellow as languorous guitars drip southern heat through the music’s heart. It’s a powerful demonstration of her range of influences and performance styles, and bottles the beguiling mix of English folk, American old-time and blues attitude Eliza mixes perfectly. The crowd, who until now have been getting into some of Devon’s best Thai food, start to sit up and really get into what’s on stage from here on in.

The string that ties Eliza’s set together is the telling of stories. There are no straight-up love songs in there, and she stays away from caricatures of Americans crying into their beer as they play banjo. “This next song is a really old timey one”, she tells the audience, adding “in the Appalachians they would yodel this – but I won’t.” Her dad, clearly a big part of Eliza’s music and a masterful clawhammer guitar and banjo player adds “and I left my yodel at home.” Songs written decades before anyone in the room was born lead into more contemporary ones that tell a different story. A cover of Dirk Powell’s ‘Waterbound’ tells the mournful story of Hurricane Katrina, Eliza’s deft guitar layered with her dad’s more intense, attacking style and the gentle sadness in her vocals.

The duo take songs from anywhere. ‘I Wish My Baby Was Born’ from the soundtrack to the movie Cold Mountain delights the audience, now intent and clapping to each track. “We’ll change things a bit now – this next one was covered by Nirvana”, she announces. It’s only when the first notes of ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’ play out and some of us recognise the track that we realise she was being serious.

The seamless leaps from set structures of bluegrass and old-time music to more complex styles has clearly influenced her songwriting too. There’s more than a touch of Neil Young or Bob Dylan in what Eliza pens, and sounds that could have come straight from a Simon & Garfunkel dot her own music. “It’s nice to get away from the set keys of old time”, she says, freely acknowledging more recent influences and sounds from the rich seam of acoustic music this side of the Atlantic too. This half English Rose, half Southern Belle throws in a request from a crowd she played last week, and although we’ve all heard it before, ‘Jolene’ goes down a storm. It’s the perfect example of what Eliza’s done all the way through her set – take one style, shake it about, stamp her personality all over it and perform with the heart and skill of someone far more experienced than her. Catch her where you can.

 

-Words : Joe Morel, Photo : Rob Evans

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Live Review : Witterquick w/ Elessar + Reckless Intentions : Surya, LDN : 12/07/17

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Another Wednesday, another gig. This time I’m quite excited to make my way down to Surya again to see Elessar UK. Since I arrive quite early I have the time to stick around for a while and have a lovely chat with the guys.

It’s time for a bit of action. The first band of the evening is “Best of Enemies” a British rock band from Croydon. Their music is a mix of emotional ballads and good old rock and roll all surrounded by low lights that give a sort of intimate atmosphere at the performance. Everyone is enjoying them and singer Sam makes sure that everyone is having a good time.

Moment for a little break and “DRMRS”, a rock band based in London, is making their way on stage. It’s obvious by looking at the crowd, that they already have a group of fans ready to get crazy as soon as their set starts. So everyone around me starts to sing and to dance.

It’s now time for one of the main support band of the evening “Reckless Intentions”, a pop punk band from Brighton, with an original and fresh pop punk sound that mixes upbeat songs and catchy melodies. It’s a nice change of music genre that everyone seems to like.

Last supports band of the evening and the one that I’m personally more excited to see, “Elessar UK” an emo/pop punk band from Gloucester. As soon as they hit the stage there is an explosion of energy, movement and aggression. Frontman Ricky is jumping and screaming and one thing that I can notice is that the emotions behind every song are visible on his face while he sings. A lot of people in the crowd know them, so it’s always nice seeing everyone singing along. Their set includes also a new single that is going to be part of their second upcoming EP. I felt part of their performance for all the duration of it.

Finally is time for the main band of the evening, “Witterquick” from Exeter. Their sound combines the intensity of punk rock and the feel of the 70’s and 80’s stadium greats, with the melody of a pop band. Their debut EP “Beneath the Spinning Light” was released on 17th June and despite that, the crowd knows all the lyrics and they waited impatiently for them to come on stage. To get the fans more involved they upgrade some tickets to VIP, giving an acoustic performance before their main set.

 

A lot of bands in one night, but I definitely had the time of my life.

 

-Words + photos by Selena Ferro

FESTIVAL REVIEW : UNDER THE HILL 2017

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Clouds gather above an idyllic landscape, flags raised and roaring, with winds wrapping itself around an ocean of tarpaulin. Tents scattered in separate batches of several baker’s dozens, with toilets blurring the lines of gender. This could only be the birth of a newborn, taking its shape as ‘Under The Hill’ festival. Music was mixed and eclectic, with an atmosphere that was warm and welcoming. Once the ground sheet was down (onto the painfully hard surface that I had sleep on) the day began. This text is set to underline the best of the bunch.

Little Thief were first to the crease with the crowds having not (yet) taken advantage of the festivals extremely modestly priced beverages. With a White Stripes set up, the pair delivered a set of rock and steamrolled wit in an Eagles of Death Metal style melay. Its front man resembles some kind of intergalactic hipster, with an elegant Sue Rider shirt jumbled on top of some death star trousers. The pick of the bunch was their so-called ‘serious’ track, Laid, which was a cacophony of innuendo that sounded pretty similar to ‘United States of Whatever’. These folks were full of energy, were well rehearsed and a good toe dipper to quench a musical appetite.

Population Seven followed, with a population of just that. With a male and female vocalist, and a rapper with a Green Street puffa jacket. This set was at times: Maverick Sabre, with belts of shrewd pop soul and lead lines that were shiny but gently distressed. Counterparts from brass would both accentuate and promote vocal melodies with a rhythm section that tied the laces. Slower tracks still maintained the groove that had carried the sets early liveners, with sections being tiered and honed dynamically, ending the crowds early reluctance for energy. I felt the acts formation was strange, with the highly prominent female single being left well out to sea at the stages far right, rather than in the centre with the other vocalist and rapper.

Imperial & K.I.N.E.T.I.K. were a hip-hop duo that has likability, with a playful flair and a touch of London boy swagger. There were times when the lines blur in terms of cover choices, with Fresh Prince of Bel Air being rendered safe after hearing Eminem’s Lose Yourself being rehashed into an ear threatening electro swing style. Other than that, all seemed safe on the ground with the face painted residents, having grown in numbers. This particular thread did run into King Punch’s performance, with their fast paced Reel Big Fish style Ska-Punk often getting a bit too overzealous. I enjoyed moments but couldn’t really dive in, which lead me to be pointed at by the frontman for being sat down – In jest, of course. Passion drove the performance and the crowd alike, but mass stage jumping sometimes gets me all queasy.

MATUKI’s set shuffled in with a raft of percussion with an infusion of urbanised jazz, with horn lines grooving alongside impatient rhythms and guitar lines. Brass and guitar lines would shout back and forth between each other, ushering in vocals littered with harmonies, and lead lines would be chopped, changed, and recycled across instruments seamlessly. The carnival atmosphere gave Shoot The Moon a platform on which to strut upon, with them filling the boots of a cool looking indie band. The blue skies joined them, far too late it must be said, but their set sped through gates with a crash of character. ‘Let’s pretend we’re outside’, ‘Take That circus circuit ‘98’, and ‘This song is about camel toe, I’ve seen a shit tonne of it today’ were the best quotes of the evening for sure.

Chorus harmonies were precise, catchy and singable, at times funky. What a lovely day to lose everything was the track of the hour in terms of song writing, but with Underground’s guitar work at times becoming cluttered. All in all this set was strong and prepped the headliners nicely.

Now, who is the cat with bass and drum, going ’round like bom bom bom!? Of course, it’s Sam And The Womp. When introduced by the days narrator, Pieman (who can’t half beat box by the way), the word hit, was pluralised for some reason. However, they did what they had written on the tin, big time pop, with brass and bass battering the festival’s attendees. The song they did about a gypsy was pretty weird, as were the dance moves, as was the brief BTEC course they made us undergo when introducing us the Womp dance, but it was lively to say the least. Then the stage became flooded with the crowd’s younger demographic, rushing to stage not even halfway through the set leaving security staff in two minds for an extended length. This lead the act to U-turn on their decision to ask them to leave the same before they even got the sentence out. However it all seemed rather fitting in the end.

This summed up a day and evening very nicely, the debut of a festival that will hopefully grow into something special. The mood was one of open arms, with glitter thrown at you (and directly into my mouth, twice) upon arrival. A field of friendly folk and festivity. The staff worked round the clock, and bags of effort and organisation saw the day run without a hitch. The stage emptied, the forest grew upon and the night began for the treehouse DJ’s. This is where we clocked out…

…and went to bed.

 

Words : Lewis Abbott, Photos : Lily Maggs

Live Review : FRCTRD : 13/07/17

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The night starts with “Tide Binder” an instrumental progressive metal band from Surrey. What catches my eye right away they is that they are a trio made just of two guitarists and a drummer. I will say it’s quite a good choice to use them to open up the night. The main action comes from drummer Dan that leads the band in an amazing performance.

A little 20-minute break and it is turn of “Dust of Nations” a progressive tech metal band from Brighton. Second instrumental trio of the night, but this time there are two guitarists and keyboard player, which spiced up the sound a little. The crowd is very small, mainly friends and guys from the other bands, but everyone seems enjoy their performance while sipping a glass of beer.

Small interval and “Sentience” owns the stage. They are also a progressive metal band but they are from South East of England. They have the right amount of energy that gives a good kick at the night. These guys are brilliant, so make sure to check them out if you are a fan of this kind of music. Lead singer Stuart has a lot to give while he performs.

To close the evening “FRCTRD”, a modern deathcore band from Paris, gives everyone a taste on how French people do it. They rage a heavy polished and efficient sound and they receives wide support and interest from the fans of heavy music over their home country and Europe. Singer Vincent decides to perform off stage so he could give a better intensity of what he does, followed by other members of the band to join him. The best part is definitely the intro, where drummer Manu comes out in a pitch black stage wearing a glow in the dark mask.

 

-Words and photos by Selena Ferro

Live Review : BLIND SUMMIT W/ JACOB MCDONOUGH, THE PLASTIC MAC, MAJIK CARPET + GENTLEMEN JACKELS : PJ MOLLOYS, DUNFERMILINE, FIFE, SCOTLAND : 07-07-2017

 

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Scotland’s music scene has hit a new peak with the likes of TRNSMT festival and Carnival 56 being introduced, as well as the EP launch of Blind Summit, at Dunfermline’s popular music venue PJ Molloys.

After a late opening of doors, I positioned myself downstairs towards the stage where solo artist, Jacob McDonough, is warming the gathering crowd with a few covers and originals. He clearly has a good following through the locals from the amount of fans who got up to dance to his cover of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Last Request’.

Next up wowing the audience was the local five piece, indie rock band, The Plastic Mac. The band have a new Liam Gallagher vibe; as the frontman danced with his tambourine through the smoke which was tie dyed with the fluorescent lights. The band are influenced by other artists such as Slade, The Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones. Their energy increasingly escalated all the way till their last song, a cover of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’. Their frontman, Sean Sneddon, left the stage on the climax of the raw, fresh instrumental crescendo outro.

There was a short interval as Majik Carpet, a four piece band from Perth, took a moment for a quick soundcheck. The band had an incredible, confident stage presence; almost too energetic, with their guitarist knocking over a cymbal for the duration of a song. However, the band worked through multiple other malfunctions of their set and created a passionate buzz through the hospitable venue. They engaged with their ecstatic audience, inviting them towards the stage and to join them in singing ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Jet; showing great depth to the drum beat and bursting with charisma.

I had the pleasure of meeting the four lads of Gentlemen Jackals, from Cowdenbeath/Kirkcaldy, after their phenomenal set. Forming in August, 2015 they have released three singles to date; their newest being ‘Wisdom to the Wise’, proof of them striving for the aim on writing “catchy songs”. They took to the stage with great positivity, interacting with one another as well as the growing crowd. Their influences from punk, rock and blues are shown through their laid back, catchy melodies. The atmosphere was built up by tremendous guitar playing and the venue became warmer and lively as they smashed their set.

Starting off with two originals, the headliners which are Blind Summit are on. The four piece from Dunfermline have an incredible band image and have a clear fan base, with the audience jumping and dancing to all their tunes. Amongst their own catchy tracks, they included some immense covers such as Oasis’ ‘Rock and Roll Star’ and ‘Fossils’ by Circa Waves. These captivated their amazed audience as their sound enticed even more passers – by in from the street. The crowd got rowdier as the set went on, everyone shouting and showing their love for the music. Blind Summit’s songs are full of pounding riffs and mesmerizing vocals. They released three new songs on the night: ‘Praying for our Purpose’, ‘The Vixen’ and ‘Accusations’. A cover of ‘Same Jeans’ by The View took the crowd by surprise, ending the show after they had played their future hit ‘Telephone’.

Overall the night was spectacular, so much potential and talent, a real supportive scene in the heart of Dunfermline.

 

-Cheyenne Sherwood

Live Review : Jack The Envious @ The Black Heart, Camden : 05-07-17

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On Wednesday night I’m on my way to The Black Heart in Camden. The venue is nice and cosy, with a main bar on the ground floor and a small room for live music on the first floor.

I get ready to shoot and after few minutes the first band of the night makes the entrance on stage. “Take The Backseat, Casey”, is a post hard-core band with influences from all genres and movies based in London. The band members are able to give the right amount of energy to start the night with a kick. The crowd is small at the moment, but lead singer Rob surely knows how to get them involved and make them feel at home.

Next is the turn of “MTXS” a South East hard-core band that made an appearance on stage with bandanas covering half of their faces, adding a bit of a gangster look. Plus on top of that there is a small spotlight on stage that allows the band to stand out in the darkness of the venue. At this time the crowd is fully warm and ready to get crazy while enjoying the performance.

Time for a little break and “Seconds Alive” from Exeter is up. The first thing to catch my attention is the drummer because she is a woman, but I realize straight away that Rach is amazing at what she does. The set goes on in a perfect way so that singer Rob decides to involve the crowd more by calling them near the stage. His head bang is awesome!

The night goes smoothly and finally is the turn of the main band of the night, “Jack The Envious”. They are a post hard-core/alternative band from Israel that moved to England in January and has since started working on their 2nd upcoming EP “In Your Own Way”. I turn around and suddenly the venue is full, everyone is excited to see them play. Lights down, Nir starts to sing and some people throw themselves into a wild mosh pit. The atmosphere is pure craziness and fun and it’s clearly visible that the fans love these guys.

At 10.30pm the show ends but not before taking a group photos with everyone in the room to celebrate their last UK tour of the summer.

With the music still browsing in my head and a content feeling, I’m ready to call it a night. Definitely a kick-ass gig!

 

-Selena Ferro

Live Review : Maven : Surya, London : 23-06-17

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On a chilly summer evening, I find myself outside Surya near King’s Cross and as soon as I enter the intimate venue I feel very pleasant because of the warm and friendly atmosphere.

I direct myself downstairs where the first band, Fortune Favours, are doing their sound check and the energy that they have is already visible. After about an hour, the concert starts. It is clear that the crowd know Fortune Favours very well as they were singing along from the very start. The hard rock band from Maidstone (Kent) are doing a great job at warming up the room for the evening. The sheer amount of energy they have is clear from the amount of fun they were having and the love for what they were doing. Their music is a mix of classical rock, blues and metal that fills you with good vibes and the desire to dance. Once they start to play their penultimate song, the crowd start to dance and jump, having the time of their lives.

After a little break, Zero Wasters are owning the stage. This trio from Birmingham have something that I’ve never seen before; their drummer is the lead singer of the band. Their music is a mix of blues, indie and punk with an electronic sound that works perfectly together. They are passionate and very confident around the stage. They draw the crowd in as they move towards the stage to have a closer and more intense experience.

After the last break of the evening, London based band Maven are up. It’s clearly visible that everyone in the crowd are here because of them. After a one year gap since their last London show, they are back stronger than ever with new songs, a fresh sound and as a four-piece band. The lights go down, creating the perfect atmosphere for the intro and boom they are on stage; everyone starts jumping up and down while singing with visible smiles of happiness on their faces.

Singer, Dan Nash, decides to perform off the stage making the interaction with everyone even more intense. Their last single “The Fall” is a very catchy song that sticks in your mind and a brilliant way to end their set. As part of an unplanned encore, Maven close their performance and the evening with a cover of Nick Jonas’ “Jealous“. Maven have made the song their own by giving the song a little bit of a pop dance atmosphere. The perfect way to end the show with a bang.

Personally, I had a pleasant and totally enjoyable evening and I’ll definitely recommend everyone that loves this type of music to go and watch these talented bands on stage.

 

Words and photos by Selena Ferro