Monthly Archives: March 2016

Slade UK and Pouk Hill Prophetz at Wolverhampton 19/3/16

We’re in an era of rock history where bands’ fiftieth anniversaries are increasingly common. The Stones did a world tour,including a celebrated gig in Hyde Park. All the surviving leading members of the Beach Boys reunited and The Who had a well-received anniversary tour which packed out arenas, too. Now it is the turn of Slade, a band who had their breakthrough in the early 70s but who formed in the 60s, when Noddy Holder and Jim Lea joined Dave Hill and Don Powell in an existing band called the N Betweens, a band that would eventually be renamed Slade. It’s exactly fifty years since the four first shared a stage together but there’s no big reunion of the original members, no sell-out gigs at the O2 or the Wembley Arena and no wall to wall press coverage. Instead, the occasion is celebrated with a fans convention in the aptly named, though modestly-sized, Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton where there are performances from a couple of tribute acts, Slade UK and the Pouk Hill Prophetz.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening there’s a Slade quiz; there’s some Slade-related poetry from stand-up poet, Paul Cookson (who perhaps is to the glam rock genre what John Cooper Clark is to punk); and there’s even a speech and formal welcome from the Mayor of Wolverhampton. The Pouk Hill Prophetz play the first of their two sets, an all-acoustic set that delivers acoustic versions of well-known classics like Coz I Luv You and Cum On Feel The Noize, as well as far more obscure material that fans of Slade seldom get to hear in public.

The Pouk Hill Prophetz came together through their shared love of Slade. They’re not a tribute act in the classic sense, in terms of dressing up and adopting the persona of individual band members, and they don’t restrict themselves purely to Slade’s back catalogue either – they throw in a couple of Sweet and T-Rex numbers in the evening set. But in both their earlier acoustic set in the bar and their later evening set on the main stage their love for Slade’s music clearly shines through. Where the band really excel, particularly in the later set, is in the delivery of pre-glam era “before they were famous” Slade songs – stunningly authentic versions of songs like Know Who You Are and Dapple Rose from 1970’s Play It Loud album, for example. Indeed, one of the highlight’s of the whole day is when, drummer, Trevor West’s 13 year old daughter takes the stage to play a beautiful rendition of the violin solo on Dapple Rose, the first decent violin rendition I’ve heard on a Slade song since the classically-trained Jim Lea stopped performing with the original band years ago.

Slade UK are more of a traditional tribute act. They dress like early 70s Slade and vocalist Nidge (Nod) Hillam arrives on stage replete with enormous sideburns, lots of tartan and a mirrored top hat. In the past I’ve tended to be a bit sniffy about tribute acts – of all genres. Slade UK are bloody good though. In fact, the voice of the lead singer is far closer to the raw power and sound of Noddy Holder than Holder’s actual replacement in the modern-day Slade, Mal McNulty. There’s a real energy to the musicianship, too, and they capture the authentic sound of Slade perfectly. As with the previous act, it’s not just about delivering the well-known hits either. We get B sides, we get songs that were never performed live by the original band and we get songs from many different eras of Slade, stretching from the early days right through to the band’s very final hit single, 1991’s Radio Wall Of Sound. Loud and blisteringly authentic they do the band proud. There can be only one song to finish though: the band return to the stage with Santa hats, fake snow pumps out from the stage and the familiar opening chords signal the start of the greatest Christmas song ever made…

The night may have lacked the huge arenas, the enormous crowds or the wall-to-wall press coverage associated with other famous bands’ fiftieth anniversaries. But there is no lack of love for Slade and their music here tonight and both acts do the band and its fans proud.

http://www.sladeuk.com/

slade uk

Related reviews:
Slade at Minehead
Slade at Hastings

Vangoffey at The Social, London 14/3/16

Few who were following popular music in the mid 90s will forget Supergrass bursting on to the Britpop scene with Alright. But the band were always a multi-faceted animal. And since they split in 2010 lead vocalist, Gaz Coombes, has clearly carried the flame for the more reflective, soulful side of Supergrass into his deservedly well-received solo career. And the loud, spiky more punkish side of the band looks to have been taken on into bass-player Mick Quinn’s post-Supergrass outfit, the DB Band. But what then of the quirky, zany, wacky, britpoppy side of Supergrass? The side of Supergrass that most of us came across first before we were even aware of any other Well step forward Danny Goffey. The erstwhile Supergrass drummer has re-emerged as the frontman for Vangoffey. And after a short tour in support of their debut album last year, Goffey and the band are back with a handful of dates showcasing their brand of chirpy, humorous indie pop-rock.

The Social is a long, narrow basement bar in London’s west end with a tiny, tiny stage at the far end. Indeed, it’s quite a cram getting Goffey, bass-player Drew McConnell (of Babyshambles), two guitarists and drummer, James Yates, on that stage. The band launch into Trials of a Modern Man, definitely one of the stand-out tracks from the album and probably the one that most closely channels the spirit of the hook-laden, slighly manic but instantly catchy Britpop-era Supergrass. I absolutely love it.

Race of Life – a funked-up Ian Drury-esque tale of the life of a sperm is less my cup of tea but the Ray Davies-esque Alfie Loves the Birds most certainly is. There’s plenty to enjoy here and Goffey is a witty and inventive songwriter who is more than capable of writing some catchy hooks. In this small but crowded venue the band are very well received. After working their way through all ten tracks on the album there are calls for an encore but that’s our lot. “We haven’t got any more songs yet,” explains Goffey.

I still hold out hope for a fully-fledged Supergrass reuinion at some point. But in the meantime it’s nice to see Danny Goffey come out from behind his drum kit and front a band. You wouldn’t want to see every drummer try this. But Danny Goffey pulls it off – the Phil Collins of Britpop…

Setlist
Trials of a Modern Man
Sucker
You, You, You
Alfie Loves The Birds
Race of Life
Beta Man
Episode
The No. 9
Phil’s Dummy
Spilt Milk

http://www.vangoffey.com/

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Orphan Colours at The Borderline 4/3/16

Ahab were a brilliant London-based alt-country band who formed in 2009, shone brightly for a few years then promptly went their separate ways. Now two of their number, Steven Llewellyn and Dave Burn, are back with a new band, Orphan Colours, a new tour and a brand new EP, High Hopes. That sunny, infectious slice of Americana that Ahab were able to pull off so beautifully is all present and correct here once more. They are joined by Danny & The Champions of The World drummer, Steve Brookes, and Noah & The Whale guitarist, Fred Abbott, along with bass player Graham Knight. And as the little tongue-in-cheek blurb on their Soundcloud page spells out they are happy to be known as “your friendly neighbourhood Americana supergroup.”

Great tunes, sweet countrified lead vocals from Llewellyn, delicious harmonies, beautifully-played acoustic guitars and nice laid-back electric lead, this lot know how to capture the Americana vibe perfectly. One of the stand-out tunes is High Hopes, the title track of the new EP. From the unmistakeable drum intro for the first few seconds I think they’re about to do a cover of the Stone Roses’ I Am The Resurrection but it soon evolves into a catchy uplifting piece of poppy, folky, country rock, the sort of thing crowds always love singing along to under a beating summer sun in the festival season. Won’t Let You Down is another great song from the new EP, demonstrating Llewellyn’s gift as a songwriter for catchy, memorable yet somehow instantly familiar tunes.

Llewellyn shows no inclination to turn his back on his Ahab days and why would he? Indeed he celebrates the fact that some of his former band-mates are in the audience tonight to wish him well. And we get a couple of favourites from the Ahab days in the set-list tonight, too, like Lucy from the Wits End album, and Uptight from the Beautiful Hell album. Another unexpected highlight of the set was a stunning cover of Guns N Roses’ Paradise City, given a makeover as a beautifully laid-back alt-country ditty.

High Hopes is the name of Orphan Colours debut EP and this is a band I genuinely have high hopes for. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Llewellyn and co are wowing big audiences on the festival circuit.

http://orphancolours.com/

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