BBC Introducing Guernsey on BBC Radio 1

Of Empires at Vale Earth Fair 2014

Of Empires

On Monday 23rd, Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th March 2014 I had the chance to spread the word about Guernsey’s music scene on Huw Stephens’ BBC Introducing show on BBC Radio 1.

Across the three nights six acts were featured, three selected by me; Hartebeest (with Mura Masa), Robyn Sherwell and Of Empires, and three chosen by my special guests; Lifejacket, Rentoclean and Asylum Seekas. On top of that there were clips of tracks from Buffalo Huddleston, Byzanthian Neckbeard, Last of the Light Brigade and Static Alice.

You can hear the pieces at the links below on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days after their broadcast date and you can find out more about BBC Introducing Guernsey on Facebook by clicking here.


Lifejacket at The Fermain Tavern

Lifejacket

Monday 23rd March

Click here to listen
(scroll through to 2 hours 18 minutes)


Rentoclean at The Fermain Tavern

Rentoclean

Tuesday 24th March

Click here to listen
(scroll through to 2 hours 21 minutes)


Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

Wednesday 25th March

Click here to listen
(scroll through to 2 hours 20 minutes)


And here are some links relating to some of the bands and events discussed in the radio extracts:


and as Mi$ta made this and posted it over on Facebook, DJ Oneofakind meets Huw Stephens… maybe…

DJ Oneofakind and Huw Stephens

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The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys coverReleased as six-part run by Dark Horse Comics, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is a spin-off to the final album by My Chemical Romance. While I am a fan of the album, the idea of taking its fairly more thematic than narrative concept and turning it into a comic book led me to approaching it with a certain sense of apprehension.

Prior to this I had read Gerard Way (MCR frontman) and Gabriel Ba’s The Umbrella Academy series and very much enjoyed it. It’s off kilter sense of b-movie pastiche, superteam and obscure pop culture references perfectly balance a sense of humour with some surprisingly dark themes. This though, just from the cover artwork, seemed to be something else.

With writing duties divided between Way and Shaun Simon there are moments where what Way showed in The Umbrella Academy poke through but, for the most part, the story mixes generic, post-apocalyptic, locations and characters with a generally paper-thin and at times downright confusing plot.

Rather than telling the story of the album it seems to be more bothered by getting in as many track names as possible while also labouring some very obvious moral moments.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys artworkThe story is divided into two. One side focuses on a group of outlaws in the desert, the titular Killjoys, along with a potentially messianic young girl and a pair of pirate radio DJs.

The other deals with the inhabitants of Battery City (a 1984-lite development) and specifically a pair of ‘porno droids’ who have fallen in love but one of who’s batteries is failing and Korse a chief Scarecrow of the ruling powers but who is discovered to be in love as well and therefore becomes something of an outlaw himself.

This setting is, it would seem, several years after the events of the album’s loose story and so the original Killjoys, the characters portrayed by the band in the record’s promo material, aren’t really involved and are instead transformed into heroic legends, though we never really find out what made them so heroic.

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance – The original Killjoys

This is problematic as the main target audience for the book, and certainly myself, would surely rather prefer the story of their heroes rather than some dubious extrapolated other.

Other than this though the main problems with the book are that the tone is hugely imbalanced. It is at once hugely simplistic, particularly in its moralising, but deals with some rather dark issues with Room 101-like torture implied and generally vein of nastiness that, while never as graphic as the likes of Preacher, doesn’t sit with the younger aimed core.

The other problem is in the artwork from Becky Cloonan. While the colour scheme is entirely in keeping with its source with bright and vibrant colours on the Mad Max-esque desert folk and monochrome tones in the city, the actual drawing style is very flat and lacks detail.

DraculoidsBecause of this the whole thing seem rushed and generic and doesn’t add adding anything of its own to an already well established genre.

If I weren’t a fan of My Chemical Romance I really can’t see there being much to appeal in The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and, while it isn’t really bad, it’s not really very good either and just felt somewhat empty and pointless, particularly when compared to The Umbrella Academy. I can’t help but think if Way had had the time to develop it like he did that other series, it could have been a far better piece of work.

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Static Alice, Last of the Light Brigade and Chloe Le Page – The Bowl – 14/03/15

Static Alice

Static Alice

After an 8 year break live music returned to the Guernsey Bowl on Saturday 14th March 2015.

In the past the venue’s old upstairs function room became known as a home to Discharge Fanzine’s events and many other gigs, including a semi-regular battle of the bands that celebrated Guernsey’s upcoming acts.

While that room has gone the bowling alley staged live music in its downstairs bar with Static Alice headlining and support coming from Last of the Light Brigade and Chloe Le Page and by the end of the night there was already talk of more gigs, including all ages ones, to come.

You can see a full gallery of my photos of the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here, and my review, which was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 21st March, is below:

Static Alice, Last of the Light Brigade, Chloe Le Page at The Bowl review scan - 21:03:15 - 1

Static Alice, Last of the Light Brigade, Chloe Le Page at The Bowl review scan - 21:03:15 - 2And here’s a video of some moments of Static Alice’s set thanks to the Livefromthebunker YouTube channel:

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The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic book coverWhen the news broke last week that fantasy author Terry Pratchett had died at the age of 66 there was a great out pouring through social media from his fans around the world, myself included, with words, images and quotes from (arguably) his greatest creation, Death, being shared, liked and tweeted in abundance.

As the initial noise died down I picked up my well-loved copy of the first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic, for the first time in a few years, and as I did it got me thinking.

Along with the late great Douglas Adams, Pratchett’s writing has had a major affect on me, helping shape not only my reading habits and writing (if it weren’t for him, its likely this blog and my other writing work simply wouldn’t exist) but also my sense of humour and my general outlook on the world.

Even in this formative, first, work from his epic series its clear to see why.

Telling the story of a lowly wizard, Rincewind, and his adventures trying to protect and guide his naïve charge, the Discworld’s first tourist Twoflower, the book could easily have been a very minor footnote in the fantasy fiction world.

Rincewind by Paul Kidby

Rincewind by Paul Kidby

But, with this, Pratchett does something that takes a mundane and obvious genre piece and elevates it far higher than probably he even imagined back in the early 1980s when he began work on it.

Two things raise it up and they are its sense of the absurd and the way it uses its fantastic genre trappings to hold a mirror up to our world.

The absurdity draws on classic British humour developed by the likes of Spike Milligan and Peter Cook along with the Monty Python team. So, rather than the somewhat over serious and po-faced style that has often hindered generic fantasy, Pratchett seems to know that many of the things he depicts are inherently ridiculous and so subverts them.

He does this using the cynical, somewhat weary, worldview of Rincewind – a wizard almost incapable of even learning spells. This is contrasted with Twoflower’s wide-eyed optimism and in the meeting of the two Pratchett’s take on fantasy, that would persist for more than 40 books, was set.

Using ‘The Disc’ as a cypher of our world also begins early on and remains throughout the series as Twoflower is represented as a stereotypical tourist, the notion of insurance (and almost immediately insurance fraud) are introduced to the twin city of Ankh-Morpork – itself already a vague ‘version’ of London that would become more pronounced as time went on.

The Discworld by Paul Kidby

The Discworld by Paul Kidby

Pratchett also uses the notion that both magic and gods are real on the disc to paint a picture of how science and religion are used for good and bad in our world and, again, while this becomes more focused and pronounced later on its beginnings are still evident here as we meet some of the pantheon of the Disc’s gods as they are playing a literal game with our hero’s lives and, in the fourth portion of the book, the inhabitants of Krull as designing ways of exploring space.

What makes The Colour of Magic work so well as an enjoyable book though is that, with all this packed in, it’s an amazingly fast and enjoyable read with enough story, adventure and comedy that it rattles along at breakneck pace, while also managing to begin the creation of this most unusual and detailed world.

Sir Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett

While it is a little rough around the edges in places, Pratchett’s concept of the Discworld isn’t quite complete yet and the episodic nature lead to a little too much repetition from time to time, the mix of comedy and fantasy, the position as the beginning of such a well-loved series of books and the fact that it is so easy to read, but not at the expense of content, make The Colour of Magic an undeniable classic both of its genre and of literature in general.

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Wrestlemania X8: Icon Vs Icon (2002)

wwf-wrestlemania-x8-coverOn March 17th 2002 the then WWF took their flagship show, Wrestlemania, north of the border to the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the second and treated 68,237 people to one of the biggest main events in the history of pro-wrestling as generations clashed when Hollywood Hulk Hogan battled The Rock – there is however, the matter of the rest of the near four-hour extravaganza…

This coming from Canada we don’t America The Beautiful to open the show, so we don’t have to sit through a cringe worthy hyper-patriotic video package. Unfortunately what we do get is something that will mark this show and, I think, is one of the reasons it fails to reach the heights of its predecessor, a performance of a generic nu-metal single from Saliva.

To give things a bit of context, Wrestlemania 18 comes a year after what is widely considered the best show WWF have ever put on Wrestlemania X7 (or 17 for those who prefer a conventional numbering system). That show came weeks after the collapse of WCW and ECW and it was clear WWF was in celebratory mode.

Saliva on the X8 set

Saliva

This show however comes after the, generally, failed ‘Invasion’ storyline where WCW and ECW tried to take over WWF, so we come in here to a show packed with some of the biggest names in wrestling history but a general lack of creative direction as WWF tried to work out what its place is in a world with, essentially, no competition.

After Saliva’s woeful performance (live music rarely works in the context of a pro-wrestling show despite many efforts to make it work) we get a fairly standard intro video where all the big names hype what Wrestlemania is but for the most part don’t tell us anything about the matches or stories we are going to see, which makes for a somewhat low-key opening that fails to entirely excite as I feel it should.

Intercontinental Championship – William Regal (c) vs Rob Vam Dam

RVD ad William RegalThe show kicks off with what should be a big match, as the WWF’s second championship is contested between two bonafide superstars of the business. Seeing William Regal with a belt is always a treat for me, but it is in more recent times that his contributions have been properly appreciated. That said in terms of in ring performance both men here are arguably in their prime.

Things start off a little shaky as they both have such different styles but they are soon gelling well and both exhibit their own styles brilliantly with Regal’s villainous side and RVD high spots looking great, and Van Dam sells Regal’s throws and neckbreakers like only he can.

Unfortunately the match is only a very short one so while its non-stop action and manages to make both guys look pretty good, despite a clean pinfall win for RVD, it ends just as it feels like its starting to get going. But it does a decent job of getting the crowd going.

European Championship: Diamond Dallas Page (c) vs Christian

Christian and DDPThis crowd reaction is soon lost though as we get a generic heel promo from Toronto native Christian where he says he’s moved to Florida and a video fails to raise any excitement for this match stemming from DDP trying to help Christian with his proto-DDP Yoga gimmick.

Christians entrance is awesome with his then new ‘At Last Your On Your Own’ opera-metal theme and general cocky heel shenanigans but DDP elicits little response and it’s just strange seeing a guy who was a top name in WCW in this lower-mid card position.

The match itself is ok, though the crowd take a long time to warm up and its hard to find any investment in it as the meat of the storyline is at best basic, and even for the live crowd is only really a week long. As it goes on there are a few nice Diamond Cutter and Killswitch (Unprettier) counters but DDP’s win falls flat and his following ‘self-help’ promo and Christian’s temper tantrum get no response from a crowd who seem more interested in getting their signs on camera.

Business picks up briefly next as we get a promo from The Rock which serves to demonstrate just why this man is the mega-star he now is.

Starting off with his comedy shtick he gets interviewer Jonathan Coachman to ‘say his prayers’ a la Hulk Hogan, before kicking him to the curb and expertly hyping his upcoming encounter with the aforementioned legend. The crowd aren’t totally behind Rocky but still sing along and, as we will see later, its clear this is the match they all came to see.

Hardcore Championship: Maven (c) vs Goldust

Maven and GoldustThird match of the night and third for a belt, this highlights one of the problems with the WWF at this time was that there were too many belts flying around which meant the main championships felt less special. This is a problem they’ve yet to really find a suitable solution for, but it’s not as bad now as it was at this time.

This match is largely pointless and features one of the worst Van Daminator style spots I’ve witnessed, but really it is nothing but an angle setting a series of backstage segments across the show. So it ends with Spike Dudley running in and using the 24/7 rule (which grew very tired very quickly) to win the Hardcore title and escape through the crowd pursued by Crash Holly as we the have to sit through a song by Drowning Pool, supposedly helping to tell the story of tonight’s world championship match.

All this serves to do however is kill the crowd who had already calmed considerably thanks to the nonsense hardcore segment.

The musical performance is followed by a backstage hardcore segment that sees Al Snow in a golf cart before Hurricane swoops in to pin Spike for the belt.

I’m not going to go into detail on all of these segments as they are many and pointless throughout the night but they do nothing but make the notion of championships pointless and do nothing to develop any stories or make anyone actually look any good and just seem to entirely kill any momentum the show manages to build.

Kurt Angle vs Kane

WrestleMania_18_-_Kurt_Angle_Vs_Kane_01Kurt Angle comes out first and looks in prime shape, which is amazing, and starts to cut one of his fine heel promos before Kane’s pyro goes off and out marches the Big Red Machine. Here Kane is the good guy looking to avenge an injury he sustained at Kurt’s hands a few weeks prior which leads to JR saying the phrase ‘head trauma’ about a thousand times in the opening couple of minutes.

Commentary team JR and Jerry Lawler are on fine form all night but it’s here, as Lawler picks up on JR’s repetition that their famed chemistry really comes into own.

Its evident throughout the crowd really don’t care about this story which seems very one-dimensional considering the semi-main event level of the two guys involved and the differing styles of the two men never really gel, though Kurt is a total machine and looks as good as he can.

A belly-to-belly suplex on Kane is a particularly impressive looking throw, but it all leads to what is a solid match rather than the kind of stand out Kurt Angle is more than capable of delivering – the slightly botched roll up ending doesn’t help matters either.

Following some more hardcore nonsense that feels like the bad bits of WWF during the Attitude era we get a fine promo package hyping…

The Undertaker vs Ric Flair – no disqualification match

Ric Flair and The UndertakerIn the video Undertaker is set up as a real bad ass heel who has targeted Flair’s family and friends to get this match with the 16 time world champ who had been acting as co-owner of the company for the past few months, so this sees Flair’s return to the ring following the final Nitro a year and a bit earlier.

‘Taker gets a huge initial pop when Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ hits despite being a bad guy and Flair gets a reasonable, if not stellar, reception, but is in surprisingly good shape.

Most of the match see’s the pair battle in and out of the ring with punches and Flair’s knife-edge chops and it isn’t too long before Flair is bleeding all over the place and genuinely wearing the proverbial ‘Crimson Mask’. Despite the general lack of actual wrestling the pair manage to tell a great story of Flair fighting back in the seemingly insurmountable face of the younger, bigger, monster heel while JR and Lawler really get the whole thing over excellently on commentary.

WrestleMania_18_-_Undertaker_Vs_Ric_Flair_01The highlight of the match comes when ‘Taker hits a full top rope superplex on Flair which is astonishing to see from the 6’10” Deadman and 50-something year old Flair, who JR reminds us suffered a broken back in his younger days.

The match ends following a vicious looking spinebuster from Arn Anderson who appears from no where but it’s not enough to keep ‘Taker down who fails to deliver The Last Ride to Flair but just goes for a Tombstone, which the crowd love, as the Deadman goes 10 and 0 at Wrestlemania.

Booker T vs Edge

Backstage Michael Cole is with Booker T who does his best to live up The Rock’s promo earlier but entirely fails. Considering he’s feuding with Edge about a shampoo advert though this isn’t surprising.

BOOKER T and  EDGEBooker comes out to very little reaction and even hometown hero Edge doesn’t get the response you might expect but the sign in the crowd saying ‘They’re fighting about shampoo” sums up why perfectly.

Both guys are perfectly adequate, though Edge has yet to hit his Rated-R Superstar peak and Booker T is still stuck in his Invasion-era gimmick so the angle hampers them and fails to engage anyone.

The match is generally ok despite a botched top rope hurricanrana spot, Edge’s Spear has yet to become a bonafide finisher and when he wins the crowd go mild, despite, as I said earlier, his being from Toronto – the Canadian crowd are nothing if not contrary at times.

More backstage hardcore stuff leads into…

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Scott Hall (w/ Kevin Nash)

Steve Austin and Scott HallFollowing a video package doing a decent job of hyping the return of the nWo as Vince McMachon’s hired goons and their attacks on Austin we get a match that, a few years prior, could have torn the house down and, for the first part here, does a good job of heading in that direction.

Despite both being a little past their prime the duo tell a great story and hit some nice spots, with Hall in particular looking far better than I think anyone expected at the time.

Unfortunately typical nWo shenanigans strike as Nash gets involved and soon the ref is knocked out. At this point they beatdown Austin briefly but he fights back hitting stunners on Hall and Nash completely killing any sense of threat The Outsiders might have had going forward as they can be easily overcome by one man.

Nash is eventually sent to the back and some kind of order is restored for Austin to hit two more stunners on Hall and get a clean pinfall win.

The return of the nWo was, much like the Invasion, another angle that almost entirely failed. The popularity of Hogan (more of which later) and this outcome at Wrestlemania, led to the faction being watered down barely a month into their run and the cynic in me suggests this may have been Vince McMahon’s intent to further discredit WCW and the things they did that were (initially at least) superior to WWF’s product – thankfully this run for the nWo is now mostly forgotten but for the purposes of this show it leads to a promising match falling flat.

Tag Team Championship: Billy & Chuck (c) vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz vs APA

four-corner-eliminationNu-metal-mania continues next as Saliva are back to massacre the Dudley Boyz entrance music and introduce this tag-team-four-corner-elimination match.

Following the previous year’s run of TLC matches this had a lot to live up to and entirely fails. Things start off reasonably well as the APA clatter everyone with stiff powerslams and spinebusters and a great looking Clothesline From Hell, but they are soon eliminated in forgettable fashion while the Dudleys set up a table on the floor.

For a while the Dudleyz and the Hardyz have a very standard tag match as Billy & Chuck watch on before D-Von is sent through the table and Bubba is pinned leaving us with the Hardyz and Billy & Chuck.

For the second time this match the Hardyz hit their standard double team spots and the match ends with a belt shot from Billy to Jeff Hardy leading to a pinfall win for Billy & Chuck who retain while no one in attendance cares, including most of the guys in the match it seemed.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs The Rock

The Rock and Hulk HoganFollowing a great package hyping this battle of the generations the nWo music hits and Hogan comes out to a huge pop which just keeps going and grows as he does the shirt ripping bit in the ring.

Many things get hyped by WWE as being ‘Wrestlemania Moments’ but when Rock and Hogan face off in the middle of the ring with the crowd genuinely losing it we witness one of the biggest moments in the now 30 year history of the show.

It’s soon evident that for this one the roles are reversed from even a week before and Hogan is face so Rock switches masterfully into heel mode, being one of the few wrestlers to be able to genuinely deliver either at the drop of a hat and the pair spend the next 15 minutes or so telling a gripping story of who really is the top icon.

The Rock and Hulk HoganAs the match goes on both men hit their finishers and survive, with Hogan’s ‘Hulking Up’ seeing the crowd become even more unglued, and it finally comes down to a Rock Bottom and a People’s Elbow and The Rock getting his hand raised.

What follows is a handshake that really does feel like Hogan passing the torch in a way he hadn’t done previously. Storylines briefly kick back in as Hall and Nash attack Hogan, banishing him from the nWo, before The Rock and Hogan run them off, hug and then Rock lets Hogan do his posing before both men walk to the back together.

While the actual wrestling isn’t the best this is a true classic match that shows just what WWE/F can do when at its best in terms of character, story and performance.

Women’s Championship: Jazz (c) vs Lita vs Trish Stratus

The crowd are clearly exhausted after Hogan/Rock so give very little to this messy three-way contest.

Lita and Trish StratusChampion Jazz spends most of the time out of things, despite a few nice moves, and Lita and Trish are yet to reach their later high point that saw their rivalry become a classic.

The high point comes at the matches conclusion as Trish takes a nasty looking bump into the turnbuckles and then out to the floor before Jazz hits Lita with a spectacular if scary top rope fisherman’s suplex ending a real nothing of a match.

We then get our final hardcore segment that sees Maven pin Christian and escape in a taxi resetting the Hardcore Championship to where it started the night and making all these segments entirely pointless.

Undisputed WWF Championship: Chris Jericho (c) (w/Stephanie McMahon-Helmsely) vs Triple H

Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahonWith the crowd still reeling from Hogan/Rock, Triple H is played to the ring by Drowning Pool as they massacre his theme that is usually done by Motorhead. This doesn’t help the crowd any and nor does the fact, from my point of view, that Hunter is meant to be the face, but with no video package to explain things the story is at best unclear.

Jericho then comes out with Triple H’s on-screen (at the time) wife to little reaction and the two engage in what is a decent match but, in the circumstances, can’t compete with what it follows and comes across as one of the worst outings these two performers could give.

The biggest crowd reactions come when the Triple H/Stephanie story comes to the fore, which does a huge disservice to both Jericho and the championship and throughout the divide between face and heel is never quite clear enough to make either man be the fan favourite.

Triple HEnding with a slightly clunky reversal into a Pedigree, Triple H starts a new championship reign on something of a low point to round off the 18th Wrestlemania.

In the end this is a very transitional show as the Attitude era has yet to be finally put to rest but the next direction for the WWF hasn’t really been confirmed either. With a roster as packed with stars as this the show really should have been better but too many of the stories and angles are underdeveloped and focus is, more often than not, misplaced.

This combined with too many distracting segments of nu-metal performances or backstage ‘hardcore’ activity leads to a show that is watchable and fine but unbalanced and fails entirely to live up what it could and should have been.

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Semu Ca, Tantale and Citizen-X – The Fermain Tavern – 07/03/15

Semu Ca

Semu Ca

To say The Fermain Tavern stages a diverse range of live music has always been an understatement. Over just the last month or so this seems to have been even more the case from the garage rock ‘n’ roll of The Electric Shakes to internationally renowned hip-hop from Blackalicious and with a drum ‘n’ bass night thrown into the mix too things got even more eclectic for this night.

Organised by Flexagon, away from The Peace Tent banner he more often operates under, the night had a more serious tone, with more of a focus on the music being presented than the various other shenanigans associated with The Peace Tent, and it started out with iOS musician, Citizen-X.

Citizen-X

Citizen-X

As a relative newcomer to the live scene (in this form) every time Citizen-X takes to the stage his performance evolves, and this was no different.

This time, as well as his iPad, on which he creates and performs the music, he had a laptop on stage running the animations he had also created to go along with the songs on a screen which took up half the stage.

This led to the smoothest performance I’ve seen from Citizen-X in terms of the full product with the film aspect working much better with the music to create a more rounded package.

One track that particularly stood out in this sense was Metropolis which combined shots from Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi classic with a hugely atmospheric soundscape-like track.

While this wasn’t music to fill the dancefloor, though a couple of the newer numbers do have a more dance music feel to them, Citizen-X received the best response I’ve seen him get yet from the audience making for an all round personal best of a set and it ended on a nice note of Spock in tribute to Leonard Nimoy.

Tantale

Tantale

A reduced, three-piece, version of Tantale were next on stage – short lead guitarist Louis Le Couteur who was busy lambing on his recently acquired farm. This led to a slightly imbalanced performance, as, while some tracks worked fine without the two guitars, others did seem to be missing something.

With various bits of between song noodling it took a while for the band to settle into a flow, but, when they did find their groove, their unique (for Guernsey) prog-ish grungey indie worked very well.

Once again they didn’t draw more than a couple of the more curious punters onto the dancefloor but that didn’t seem to effect them. Drummer Graham Duerden in particular came across as one of the most contented looking performers I’ve ever seen, genuinely enjoying and relishing his work behind the kit. This along with Matt Smart’s bass playing showed them to be one of the more overlooked rhythm sections in the island.

Tantale

Tantale

While Tantale seem to have lost the momentum they had a few years ago when they all but sold out the Tav for their debut album launch, there are still strong hints of some great material in their performance here, even if it was a bit hit and miss on this occasion.

After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing with their vast array of pedals and technical gizmos, Semu Ca took to the stage with a real air of anticipation in the Tavern, as it was clear a strong contingent had turned out very specifically for this Jersey two-piece.

The first half of the set was, unfortunately, marred somewhat by continuing technical problems but the duo of Dominic Pallot and Stefan Riccio did a great job of making it all work and continue as best they could.

Stefan of Semu Ca

Stefan of Semu Ca

Describing their sound is, for me at least, almost impossible as it combines pre-programmed drum loops with an array of live loops of bass, guitar, trombone, keys and vocals all delivered with a mind-boggling precision to create soundscapes so epic you’d think there were 10, 20 or more people making the sounds.

During this first half of the set I was left with the feeling that I wasn’t sure that the Tav was the ideal venue for the music as it seemed to me it would be more effective either in a very small intimate venue or completely the opposite, in a huge concert hall. That said, the sound system in the Tavern did do their music justice.

The second half of Semu Ca’s performance took a different turn as they treated us to three excerpts from their soundtrack to the 1922 Swedish film Haxan. With most of the technical issues resolved the sounds became darker, more brooding and more rhythmic and, if anything, even more layered.

Accompanied by some fine, subtle, use of lighting from Lloyd Helyer and clips of the film showing a ‘history’ of witchcraft and witch hunting the atmosphere became suitable oppressive, in the best of ways, and brought the night to an end on a real high that left me wanting to see Semu Ca perform their entire soundtrack with the film running (if you caught them doing just that at Branchage last year you are extremely lucky).

Semu Ca

Semu Ca

Due to Semu Ca’s earlier technical issues their set ran late leaving no time for Flexagon and Grram to make their live debut, but, other than that, this night of eclectic music was generally very enjoyable and continued to show the diversity of music on offer and being created around the Channel Islands.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here.

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The Doomsday Project and Elliot Falla – The Vault – 18/02/15

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

Wednesday nights are a strange night for a gig in Guernsey – while the midweek is packed with open mic nights and the occasional lower key cover band outing, new original music tends to stick to the weekend. So, it seemed an odd choice when The Doomsday Project announced their album launch for a likely cold (it was) Wednesday night in February.

Seeing their audience though it all became clear as, along with the well-meaning parents, aunts, uncles, etc at The Vault, the crowd was mostly at the higher end of school age, and the night fell in the middle of half term.

Support for the show came in the form of Elliot Falla and, while recent discussion on social media centred on James Bay and his ilk got me wondering if the world really needs another soulful, young, middle class, floppy haired, singer songwriter with an acoustic guitar, this didn’t matter to the audience.

Elliot Falla

Elliot Falla

Tightly packed to the front from the off they greeted every song (both originals and covers) as if they were already smash hits, and of course anyone getting up on stage and pouring their heart out into a microphone is to be appreciated on at least some level.

While Elliot seemed to be giving it his all on stage, I found it hard to get into his songs as the sound mix coming from the PA left much of the music lost in monotone bass drone. From what I could hear though the young man demonstrated a varied vocal delivery, with a rougher side hinted at from time to time, although there were a few points where the power he was going for seemed a little forced.

Despite being opening act Elliot was granted an encore (after what felt a little like his more enthusiastic admirers called for one while the rest of the bar continued chatting) and delivered an acoustic take on Arctic Monkey’s Mardy Bum that ended his set on a high and left me wanting to see him play where I could hear a little more of the definition in his music.

As soon as Elliot left the stage the young crowd surged further forward, packing in as tightly as they could in anticipation, leaving the older contingent a bit more breathing room further up the bar, and it wasn’t long before The Doomsday Project launched into a cover Chelsea Dagger and got the crowd singing along for the next hour and a half or so.

George of The Doomsday Project

George of The Doomsday Project

After a couple of tracks the sound in The Vault seemed to level out making things at least slightly clearer and certainly clear enough for the upbeat, smiley, pop punk barrage that was to come. Across the set The Doomsday Project played every original song in their repertoire interspersed with covers, including a nicely rough and ready take on The Hives Tick Tick Boom and early mock-punk favourite Jilted John’s Gordon Is A Moron.

As always bassist/vocalist George Russell was the charismatic centre of attention, playing to his crowd with a real frontman style, but not in a way that became cocky and just seemed like he was having a great time while both guitarists, Alex Ogier and Adam Walford, were more forthcoming on stage than I have seen in the past.

Having gigged regularly for the last couple of years has seen the band become very tight on all but the newest numbers and they played here with a real solid confidence.

Later in the set The Doomsday Project were joined by Sophie Mahy, as seems to have become traditional, but with the direction the band have taken since their first shows her rendition of Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life felt a little out-of-place amongst the punkier material.

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

Another unfortunate moment came when George swapped to acoustic guitar for Anymore, one of the band’s most accomplished and mature songs, but was almost drowned out by feedback for the tracks duration, once the soundman got round to turning the guitar up at all.

These couple of off moment were generally eclipsed though by the positivity and upbeat tone of the rest of the set that, while it became something of an endurance event (as we neared midnight and the two hour point), showed one of Guernsey’s few genuinely young and upcoming bands putting on a show and taking their next step forward, but I couldn’t help but feel it would be good to see them put more faith in their original songs and play to audiences more away from their comfort zone.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here.

My review of the show was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 14th March 2015:

Doomsday Project album launch review scan - 14:03:15

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Rumpus, Rentoclean and Clameur De Haro – The Fermain Tavern – 28/02/15

Rumpus

Rumpus

After a gap of several years Sheffield alt-rockers Rumpus returned to Guernsey at The Fermain Tavern on the last day of February 2015.

The three-piece kept the crowd more than happy with their upbeat noise and the high energy, fun, atmosphere was backed up by Guernsey’s own reggae-punks, Rentoclean, and novelty folk-rockers, Clameur De Haro.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here and my review was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 7th March:

Rumpus, Rentoclean and Clameur De Haro review scan - 07:03:15And just because, here’s the promo video for a personal Rumpus favourite, Woods:

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: February 2015 – Citizen-X and The Doomsday Project

Citizen-X

Citizen-X performing Spock

Click here to listen to the show.

For the second BBC Introducing Guernsey of 2015 I featured a live session with a bit of a difference, along with an interview with a young and upcoming pop-punk band who have just released their debut album.

Citizen-X has a long history adding electronic elements to alternative music and making his own electronic sounds. In recent times this has coalesced into his current form of iOS music he is making now. He joined me in the studio to play some of his tracks live through his iPad and tell me about his music and his musical past.

The Doomsday Project played a session for me last month and this time round they spoke to me about making their debut album, what its like getting started as a young band today in Guernsey and their aspirations for the future.

Along with that was two hours more music from around the Bailiwick of Guernsey which you can listen to for the next month on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here.

Tracklist

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The Electric Shakes, Lifejacket and To The Woods – The Fermain Tavern – 07/02/15

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

On Saturday 7th February 2015 there was a night of garage rock, indie and grunge at The Fermain Tavern as Guernsey gig goers had their first chance to witness Bournemouth based rock ‘n’ rollers The Electric Shakes, along with support from Lifejacket and To The Woods.

There was an extra sense of interest for the visitors as, amongst their number, on guitar and vocals was former member of Thee Jenerators and Teaspoonriverneck, Steven Lynch, and having heard the band’s debut album last year many clearly wanted to hear the new band live.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and my review was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 21st February 2015:

The Electric Shakes, Lifejacket, To The Woods review scan - 21:02:15And here’s a video of The Electric Shakes from the show:

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