Friday April 15th 2016
Words: Colin Franklin
Photography: Howard Rankin
An expectant crowd packs Chinnerys in Southend as Purson take to the stage for their last UK show on the 'Desires Magic Theatre' tour. It's been a while since the band have played their home town and friends and family are out in force to support them.
As they open with the title track from the forthcoming 'Desires Magic Theatre' album some early issues with the monitor mix threaten to throw a temporary spanner in the works. However front woman, guitarist & main song writer Rosalie Cunningham rises above the situation and fortunately for us the front of house mix is soon up to the venues usual high standard.
Danse Macabre from recent EP 'In The Meantime' is up next, it's rising and falling tempo creating the impression of a sonic rollercoaster. 'The Window Cleaner', also from the new album ebbs and flows over a vaguely familiar, you could say animalistic bass line.
They continue with Rocking Horse from their debut full length album 'The Circle and the Blue Door'. Next up we get a couple more from that album - 'Spiderwood Farm' & 'Leaning on a Bear' slickly segued together to great effect.
Our current Video of the Week 'Electric Landlady' comes next, being Hendrix inspired both in title and riff. 'Dead Dodo Down' is a multi faceted groover, it's peaceful valleys of verse bordered by immense mountainous riffs.
We move on with 'Well Spoiled Machine' whose squelchy bridge riff oddly brings to mind the theme tune to 70's children's TV classic Chorlton & The Wheelies. Penultimate track 'Mr Howard' features some tasteful noodling from Ms Cunningham. Finally the acoustic led 'Sky Parade' builds slowly in to a crescendo where Rosie abandons her guitar to let rip vocally in her very own great gig in the sky, bringing the night to it's initial dramatic close but needless to say the crowd are having none of it.
However, before the band can return for an inevitable but well deserved encore, Rosie's guitar capo does a runner. Thankfully 'Tragic Catastrophe' fails to live up to it's name as Rosie's Dad Mark Cunningham comes to the rescue with a helping hand, or rather finger. This is no mean feat on a 12 string acoustic guitar and his smiles of paternal pride occasionally give way to the odd grimace, much to the amusement of his daughter.
All too soon the show is over as the epic and erotically charged 'Wanted Man' provides a suitably climactic finale and while the band exit stage left we head for the merch stand to purchase a rather fetching T-Shirt and a copy of 'In The Meantime' on 12" vinyl.
After a few line up changes, the band have evolved in to extremely tight unit. Guitarist George Hudson, Bassist Jus Smith, Keyboardist Samuel Robinson and recent re-recruit Raphael Mura have a considerable amount of touring experience under their latticed leather belts. Rosie herself exudes confidence, her powerful vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux & Grace Slick while her guitar style echoes that of Hendrix & Tony Iommi.
While there is an undeniably retro aspect to the band it is done with a conviction and passion that encompasses everything they do, from their stage attire & choice of guitars & effects to the stunning poster artwork, it all goes towards evoking a bygone era decades before their time. Indeed if it wasn't for the modern LED stage lighting in place of oil projectors and the lack of patchouli in the air you'd swear you'd just stepped out of a time machine.
The band seem to have absorbed the very best of Psychedelic and Progressive rock, blending elements of early Deep Purple, Hendrix, Small Faces, Jefferson Airplane and early Genesis. Thankfully Purson are a triumph of substance over style, great songs are great songs, regardless of the way they are played or presented.
If you'd like to check the band out live in the UK you'll have to wait until they return from their US jaunt with Ghost & The Sword and play Ramblin Man Fair Prog Stage on Saturday 23rd July. In the meantime the new album 'Desires Magic Theatre' is released on April 29th
The Essex Arms,
Saturday 7th June 2014
Words: Colin Franklin Photography: ChooChoo Films
First up tonight we have the second heat of 'Best For The Fest' to decide who goes through to the final heat to play at the Flag Factory Festival taking place in September.
Finding Miranda and Accidental Tourists are the bands we get to see battling it out tonight and the result is set to be announced after tonight's main event.
Scarlet Echo have certainly been through their fair share of changes since first coming to our attention four years ago. However the one constant throughout has been the dedication of founding member and front woman Hannah Stanbury. The most recent recruits to join her and long standing bassist Mitch are guitarist Jamie and drummer Alex.
They say a band is only as good as their drummer and it looks Scarlet Echo have finally found that elusive piece of the puzzle to propel them to the next level.
There's certainly no shortage of well wishers here tonight to support the band as they come on stage to an intro 'tape' sound collage. First song 'Mainstream' features guitar sounds that evoke images of Hank Marvin duelling with Dick Dale at the bottom of the grand canyon, or at opposite ends of the Dartford tunnel, in case of a rematch but we digress.
Next song is 'Mass Production' this new line up May only be a few gigs old but it is already highly polished, no doubt thanks to some intense rehearsals at their studio headquarters in Billericay.
Bassist Mitch takes to the mic to introduce next song 'Silicone City'. If anyone was to guess at it's inspiration, a quick glance down at the bands feet might provide a clue in the transistors contained within an arsenal of effects pedals. The resultant sonic battery creates a dense wall of sound beneath Hannah's distinctive vocals, imagine Patti Smith fronting Joy Division with Johnny Greenwood on guitar. If you think that sounds like an odd combination, you'd be right but only in a good way. The juxtaposition of the intensely atmospheric backing with the strident and powerful vocals is compelling. In fact the band themselves have invented their very own word to describe their sound 'Echospheric', not yet to be found in the Oxford English Dictionary but stranger things have happened!
The band initially slow things down for 'Grey Haven' which gradually picks up pace, building up to a reverb drenched crescendo of white noise via some nicely imaginative drumming.
Another brief sound collage prefaces 'Factory Floor' which sounds like a simultaneous homage to Warhol's Factory, catalyst for The Velvet Underground and it's namesake, the Manchester birthplace of Joy Division.
Final song of the evening is new single 'Loose Control' which is simultaneously being launched as a free download and video from their website scarlet echo.com. With this live version completing the trilogy, attendees tonight also get a free CD and wristband.
As the band bid farewell to the appreciative crowd it's time for in famous sound engineer and compere Paul 'Smiffy' Smith of paulsgig.com to announce that Accidental Tourists are going through to the Flag Factory finals.
Tonight however belongs to Scarlet Echo with their strongest line up so far setting their sights on big things to come.
Thursday 24th April 2014
Words: Colin Franklin Photography: Kirsty Rose Photography
Killing Jimmy have been on our to do list for a while having narrowly missed their appearance at Hippy Joe's Live & Unsigned at The Edge in Basildon.
Opening with a cover of the the theme to 28 Days Later the band then launch in to recent single Pieces of Eight - a rip roaring punk rock sea shanty no less. Vocalist & Rhythm Guitarist Rosie Gulliver sounds like the result of an illicit union between Courtney Love & Billy Joe Armstrong, while visually resembling a young Brody Dalle as she saws away furiously at her Strat.
Next song Johnny soon get's underway after a couple of false starts and perhaps most resembles early Hole with Rosie screaming at the top of her lungs like Ms Love herself at her most unhinged.
Next we have the first in a brace of new songs, 'Adam' is propelled along ably by an engine room consisting of Adam Wales on Bass and George Brewerton on Drums.
Stare in to The Sun is delayed slightly by a tuning issue "They've paid £5, they deserve it to be in tune" proclaims lead guitarist Mark Hughes. A fair point well put, after which the opportunity is taken to mention the EP they have for sale and to thank the support bands - Mary Do You Wanna, Cryptic Anger and A New Beginning.
"This is the first song we ever wrote - and it's fu*king awful" jokes Rosie of the next song 'Perfection'. It is nothing of the sort of course but while it doesn't quite live up to it's title, it does lead in to a drum solo - which is nice.
There next follows a brief interlude as we are introduced to the winner of a competition to see which fan would be the first to get a Killing Jimmy tattoo, see our picture gallery for evidence.
A cover version follows in the form of Turbo Negro's 'All My Friends Are Dead' which apparently they had not intended to play again but definitely will.
Final new song of the evening follows, 'Spit It Out' is perhaps the most dynamically varied song with some nice time changes to keep things interesting.
More thank you's are offered before penultimate song of the evening and final song on their EP 'Switchblade' up's the ante in the momentum states, as improbably as that seems.
'Life's a Bitch' is introduced as the final song but the crowd have other ideas and upon it's conclusion begin chanting "more cowbell", and are soon rewarded with a brief encore.
So ends a 45 minute set that seems to go by in the blink of an eye in a blur of unbridled punk rock fury.
28 Weeks Later
Pieces of Eight
Stare in to the Sun
Mind to Mould
All My Friends Are Dead
Spit It Out
Life's a Bitch
The Essex Arms, Brentwood Friday 18th April 2014
Words: Colin Franklin Photography: Choo Choo Films
We arrive early at The Essex Arms in Brentwood just as Olly from States of Emotion is finishing his soundcheck, after which we grab a few words. During the week we spoke to manager Mark Watts who hinted that big things were in the pipeline for States of Emotion. The band have been hard at work for over a year now on their debut album and Olly was able to confirm that a new video was in the bag. So it looks like the band are about to finally unveil the fruits of all their hard work.
By the time the first act takes to the stage a sizeable crowd has gathered to greet Olivia Russell. So sizeable in fact that the venue is forced to open another bar to cope with demand! A reverential hush soon descends on the gathered throng as she begins her short set, accompanied by her acoustic guitarist. With a voice slightly reminiscent of Laura Marling she performs just three songs including a version of 'Radioactive' by Imagine Dragons, followed by a new original composition called 'Ghosts'.
Next up is the aforementioned Olly Hookings who performs a stripped down acoustic set including some old States Of Emotion favourites. Considering the epic soundscapes the band create as a whole it's testament to the quality of songwriting that they stand up as wel as they do stripped back. It will be interesting to see how much of the old material ends up on the album as the band have been writing solidly since signing their record contract in 2012.
Penultimate band The Shermans take to the stage with a lively set of retro style indie guitar rock Opening with 'In Daylight' which bizarrely manages to bring to mind both Fountains of Wayne and Foals. The band continue to ably keep the crowd entertained before the main event.
Which brings us neatly to The Victories, the last time we caught them live was at this very venue nearly two years ago. They've undergone a few changes since then, both in line up and sound. Frontman and original member Chris Marsh was a mere 17 then and has put the intervening time to good use in developing the bands sound.
By the time they take to the stage the already sizeable crowd has swelled considerably along with the sense of anticipation that erupts with the opening chords of Heist. While previously they could be firmly placed in the indie-rock category, a heavier sound now prevails more akin to the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age. A transformation similar to that undergone by The Arctic Monkeys after their trip to the Mohave dessert under the mentorship of a certain Mr Joshua Homme.
Along with the recently developed musical muscularity, there remains a highly developed pop sensibility. This is perhaps most in evidence on the relatively laid back 'Still There' which has a vaguely Supergrass feel about it. 'El Toro' swiftly brings us back in to the realm of monster riffage and deft time changes.
The second of tonights latin tinged songs 'Conquistador' continues in the heavy vein before 'Sleepwalker' slows things down to add some extra dynamics to tonights set. Chris uses this opportunity to stretch out with an extended guitar solo as the music builds in intensity towards it's climax.
The band finish with an older track 'Coward That I Am' and while it is undeniably popular with the faithful it's by no means the strongest song of their set, which just goes to prove how far they have come in such a short space of time.
The band are heading in to the studio soon to record an a single and are looking to release it hopefully in the summer.
They're also playing the Brentwood Festival on the Saturday 19th July and are supporting The Mannequins at the Enterprise in Camden on the 9th of August.
One More Thing
Coward That I Am
Mill Arts Centre,
Friday 7th March 2014
Words: Colin Franklin Photography: Chad Conington
For anyone unfamiliar with this venue which admittedly was us only a few years ago, The Mill Arts & Events centre is a 500 capacity venue next to Rayleigh Mill. Baker promotions have been running successful band nights here for a while now, with Missing Andy being one of the bigger names that have graced the stage so far.
It seems fitting that the first review on the new website features three of the bands that featured regularly when the magazine was in full swing. First band on Shouting Signals were just starting when they first came to our attention after receiving an unprecedented two consecutive plays of their debut single The Penitence on Olly Winiberg's BBC Essex Introducing show. We were just as impressed so we ran an in depth 'in the studio' feature followed by a rave review of their Fat Surfer gig in Grays, accompanied by some great pics from top rock photographer Richard Crooks.
Fast forward 18 months and despite losing a guitarist they have gone from strength to strength, with some solid gigging, including one at the world famous 100 Club as well as releasing their second EP. Shouting Signals take the stage to a nicely filling hall opening with said first single. While they might be a slightly heavier band than you might expect to be supporting Missing Andy, there's very little not to like about their sound which has melodies that are as assessable as it's riffs are crushing.
On the subject of accessibility, early inclusion on their inspired version of Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' has the desired affect of getting the crowd singing along. There could be a danger such a choice of cover could over shadow a bands own material. However Shouting Signals could claim to have tunes just as memorable, with only lack of familiarity preventing the crowd from singing along.
In the time since we first featured next band Evarane they have received national TV exposure on Kerrang for their first single 'The Fear'. They then survived a set back with the departure of original vocalist Beka. However they have bounced back with a new singer in the diminutive form of Amie, who more than makes up for in stage presence and vocal power what she lacks in stature.
Evarane hit the ground running with 'Leeches' and work hard to win over a slightly partisan crowd. Next what initially sounds like Emile striking up the intro to POD is actually covering up for some technical issues that have befallen drummer Kris, who nevertheless still manages to keep up a beat. They could have quite feasibly got away with it had Amie not felt compelled to apologise for the delay. Gremlins swiftly despatched they are soon back up and running with 'The Lone Wolf and The Siren'. The set continues with XX Complex and current single 'Critic' which is prefacded by an impassioned speech from Amie denouncing gossip mongers and the like. She also informs us the track is available as a dub-step remix!
Some nice guitar tones emanate throughout the set from Emile & Nile, who remain models of self restraint with tastefully executed solos as brief as they are infrequent. POD is introduced as a dark and angry song about people who aren't very nice in relationships. It's certainly their heaviest moment, moving from atmospheric guitar and keyboards to full on blast beats in the space of the intro alone. Amie uses the frantic middle section to incite the crowd in to some movement, stopping short of actually joining them. Unlike bassist Jonny who puts his wireless transmitter to good use by trying to start a mosh pit from within the crowd itself!
Debut single 'The Fear' is not given an airing tonight perhaps, as this is a fairly short set the band prefer to stick to newer material. As with Shouting Signals, Evarane are probably slightly heavier than you would expect to be supporting Missing Andy, however there's little doubt they finish their set with more than a few converts under their belts.
While the assembled crowd have received the supporting acts politely enough, it's clear who the majority of people have come to see. No one can deny that Missing Andy have worked hard to get where they are now and they deliver a thoroughly professional set, full of bravado and self assurance without coming across as arrogant - a tricky tightrope that the likes of Oasis could never master.
Admittedly we were not so keen on some of the material on their debut album, which occasionally strayed in to Madness style territory, not that there's anything thing wrong with Madness. However their is a darker sound to be found on Guerrilla Invasion - Parts I & II, notably set opener 'All I Need', Slip Away & the soaring 'Without You' - all of which are fine examples of well crafted and sophisticated power pop, not a million miles away from another one of our previously featured bands - Brentwood's States Of Emotion.
This evolution in their sound gives plenty of scope for Alex Greaves to really stretch out his vocal chords, with plenty of uplifting choruses for the crowd to singalong to as well. Mid-set things calm down for an acoustic led 'Happy Place' followed by excellent new track 'Guns & Diamonds', guitarist Steve Rolls deftly switching from acoustic to electric in time for the songs rousing chorus.
Bassist Rob get's a birthday mention ahead of 'Dave' perhaps their most obvious nod the the nutty boys of Camden town, which also provokes another singalong moment from the crowd. Mr Policeman is introduced as the last song but there's no way this crowd is going to let them leave before they play debut single and probably their best know track so far - 'The Way We're Made (Made In England). 'Alive' the opening track from debut album 'Generation Silenced' brings the evening to a rousing climax via some some nice audience participation during a break down section in the middle.
Live at Indigo Chelmsford
Hosted by by Shakster Records
Words: Colin Franklin
Photography: Paul Inkersole
We venture out on a very warm Halloween evening to a familiar venue with a different name. Indigo (formerly Bar Hooga) plays host to a Shakster Records evening featuring two bands we have been looking forward to seeing for some time, Chelmsford based Ska-core punkpop band Up & Go and Colchester based Electrodirt band Killatrix.
It being Halloween Up & Go have certainly entered into the 'spirit' of the occasion by dressing up as the cast of Scooby Doo with Lead Vocalist Georgia Thompson as Velma, Guitarist Lee Storey as Shaggy, Bassist Jono Bundock as Scooby Doo, Drummer Adam Sanders as Fred, Trumpeter Sean Canning as Scrappy Doo, Trombonist Iain Peat as a skeletal Ghoul and Tenor Saxophonist Laura Sammons as Daphne.
Up & Go introduce their set with their own take on the Doctor Who theme, before launching in to the first of their own compositions Poison, Poison, Tasty Fish. In her introduction to 'Yes, It's a Real Genre'. Georgia describes the band as 'SkaCorePopPunk'. There is very little not to like in their sound, infectiously catchy punk pop tunes delivered for the most part at a frenetic pace.
Next song PSYCH! starts at a break neck pace and contains some nifty brass work that bring to mind 80's SkaPunk pioneers Fishbone. Next the band take time out to bring us their version of current chart topper All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor and a pretty good job they make of it too. This is followed by 'I'll Start With Me, Then It's You' which perhaps best showcases Georgia's powerful vocals, even if she does get slightly potty mouthed in the choruses.
After a brief merch alert, all too soon we come to last song 'There Is No Dana, Only Zuul' which suits the evenings spooky theme with it's Ghostbusters reference and is probably our favourite tune of the evening. We defy anyone to come away from an Up & Go gig without a smile on their face and heartily recommend to get along to see them at your earliest convenience.
Killatrix make their entrance to an audio montage sampled from iconic horror movies including Halloween,The Shining, & Poltergeist before launching in to their first song 'Dumb', a track we are very familiar with from their Soundcloud page. The band have had a pretty productive year so far with not one, but two performances at V Festival, along with some select club dates.
Essex bands have a long history of embracing technology, from Depeche Mode's pioneering use of MIDI and sampling to The Prodigy's computer aided fusion of Rave and Rock. Killatrix continue this tradition, supplementing their bass guitar and drum format with pre-recorded stems operated by drummer Paul Fuller. However these are mainly deployed for intros and outros playing a minor supporting role, there is no doubt the band could easily pull off a gig without them.
Staying on the subject of technology both guitarist Sam Scarlett and bassist Chris Frizbee employ fairly complex rigs, (gear geeks should head to the bands YouTube channel for some explanatory vlogs on the subject).
There are not many bands where the bassist has a pedal board to rival the guitarist and the fact that Chris is plugged in to a rig which is probably more powerful than tonights PA system means there is no shortage of bottom end at their disposal. In situations like this where the drums are not mic'd there is a danger of them being drowned out but thankfully the way Paul Fuller attacks his kit ensures this is not a problem.
The appropriately titled 'Bones' is next, which as well as a typically catchy chorus contains a very tasteful guitar solo executed by Sam with a Slash like fluidity that reflects the high level of musicianship displayed by the band.
'Bad Language' takes the tempo down a touch with a grinding bassline underpinning the chorus to great effect, this is followed by 'Overcome' which combines a Drum & Bass feel in the verses with an upliftingly rocky chorus.
There is a brief pause in procedings for a photo opportunity before the band play future single FRFGHT. This track sees Chris making effective use of an electric upright bass which contributes to the drum & bass feel of the song. A video for this track is in the works and as with their previous video for 'Supersonic' will be a shoe-in for Video Of The Week on the strength of the song alone.
'Falling Off' was an early video from the band and possesses a dub like feel as well as providing plenty of opportunity for front woman SinDii to stretch out with powerhouse vocals that belie her diminutive stature.
Penultimate track 'SufferKate' is a new one on us, but even on first listen seems to be up there with the rest of their material and subsequent play backs of our review recording proves this to be the case.
This brings us to final song of the evening 'Supersonic' which was our introduction to the band via Peter at Shutupfool Studios in Kelvedon who also produced the rather nifty accompanying video.
Killatrix are certainly one of the best bands we've seen recently and have a collection of songs strong enough to take on the world.