Tag Archives: Kings

BBC Introducing Guernsey: July 2017 – Chaos, Sark Folk Festival and more

Vice and Track Not Found at the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Vice and Track Not Found

Click here to listen to the show

On the July 2017 edition of BBC Introducing in Guernsey we had a festival special of a show with more besides.

For my look back at Chaos Voodoo 13 I spoke to the winners and runners-up of the Chaos/Sound Guernsey Battle of the Bands, VICE and track not found, while hearing music from some of the weekend’s highlight acts.

I also heard from some of the artists who played the Sark Folk Festival including Burg & The Back Porch BandJoe Corbin and Ukuladeez.

On top of that mura masa told us about releasing his self-titled debut album with a special signing at Guernsey’s HMV store and I had a brief look ahead to next month’s Vale Earth Fair.

You can listen to the show by clicking here.

Tracklist

And here’s a new video from The Recks that also came out this month, as a little bonus bit:

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Sound Guernsey School’s Out Party – The Fermain Tavern 21/07/17

Unclassified at The Fermain Tavern

Unclassified

Following on from the Battle of the Bands at Chaos 13, Sound Guernsey’s Summer Of Sound continued with a School’s Out Party at The Fermain Tavern on Friday 21st July with Unclassified, Blakalaska, The Phantom Cosmonaut, Lord Vapour and Kings.

Unclassified opened the show and continued Sound Guernsey’s ethos of giving new bands a place to get gig experienced and showcase their music.

While their performance could do with a bit more power and conviction they got a nice bounce going with their pop rock covers as the set went on and went down well as the night’s audience were arriving. 

Lee of Blakalaska at The Fermain Tavern

Lee of Blakalaska

After quite some time away Blakalaska made a rare appearance next. While they took a couple of songs to get in their groove and for the sound to be levelled out, once they did they were as tight and huge sounding as always.

Going on so early I think did a disservice to a sound that is custom but for late night dancing but they still had the audience interested and got some dancing as the set went on.

While they are perfect on a big stage in the more intimate confines of the Tav they did lack a little connection but it’s always a treat to hear their unique take on dance rock.

After The Phantom Cosmonaut assaulted the crowd with their brand of Strong Style a Rock ‘N’ Roll things got a bit loose and groovy with Lord Vapour.

Joe of Lord Vapour at The Fermain Tavern

Joe of Lord Vapour

With tasty riffs and heaviness aplenty the trio did exactly what we’ve come to expect, taking their songs and jamming them out into that psychedelic space beyond.

With a few new tracks (including one inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune, following in the footsteps of Whitechapel Murders and winning them many bonus points in my book) amongst numbers from their first album they too sounded huge and really got the young audience head banging away and loving it.

With one of the most varied lineups I’ve seen in sometime the night’s headliners continued that trend as Kings launched into a set of polished precision pop.

It was great to hear something so unashamedly energetic and fun and clearly designed to get an audience jumping and singing along, and that they did.

Eli of Kings at The Fermain Tavern

Eli of Kings

Strategic and well done use of samples and backing tracks elevated their sound in a different direction and, along with the pop, there was a constant hint of an edge that kept it interesting and away from becoming too saccharine.

Frontman Eli Crossan had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout with a non-patronising manner and impressive voice, while Casey-Joe Rumens took a massive, arena rock, guitar sound and made it fit in the Tav perfectly closing the night and launching the summer holidays on a high.

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

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: June 2017 – Arts Sunday Lookback

The Recks at Arts Sunday

The Recks at Arts Sunday

Click here to listen to the show

Earlier in the month BBC Introducing Guernsey held its third live event with a stage as part of Guernsey Arts Commission’s Arts Sunday event on the St Peter Port seafront (read the review of that event).

So for the June edition of the radio show I featured tracks recorded live on the day from Thee JeneratorsThe RecksTANTALEBuff Hudd and Blue Mountain (along with a little preview of Hummingbird, the new EP from the folk duo).

Not only that but we had music from a couple of bands playing national festivals; Of Empires who recently played The Isle Of Wight and Mt. Wolf who were playing at Glastonbury and we had a look ahead to next weekend’s Sark Folk Festival.

You can listen to the show on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: March 2017 – Gregory Harrison in Session and Vinyl Vaughan’s

Gregory Harrison and Nathan Arnaud in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Greg and Nathan in the studio

Click here to listen to the show

BBC Introducing Guernsey returned to the airwaves on Saturday 26th March 2017 with another two hours of music from around the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

This month I was joined in the studio by Gregory Harrison, one of the people behind a pair of recent shows organised under the Guernsey Gigs banner.

As well as telling me about the shows he spoke about joining The Recks last year, being part of The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers and of course his own music, and he played an acoustic session for us with Nathan Arnaud accompanying him on the bass.

I also took a look at Guernsey’s new independent record store that has grown out of the charity record fairs that take place around the island, Vinyl Vaughan’s.

You can listen to the show for 30 days after the broadcast date by clicking here.

Tracklist

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Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2016

2016 has been another packed year for music in Guernsey and the Bailiwick. With more festivals than ever, events seemingly most nights of the week all year and many records released covering everything from acoustic folk to drum ‘n’ bass to heavy metal its fair to say the ‘scene’ is possibly the most varied it has ever been.

My review of the year was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 31st December 2016 and there’s a full version below.

Review of the Year 2016 press scan

2016 has been something of a landmark year for me with regards to Guernsey’s music scene as it marks ten years since I started reporting on music on the island. In that time countless bands have come and gone, some making massive waves others barely ripples, but it’s been very rare that any haven’t at least given it their all.

This level of enthusiasm from bands, DJs and any other performers can, I think, be credited with 2016 being the year when locally produced music seemed to most crossover into Guernsey’s mainstream public consciousness.

SugarSlam

SugarSlam

One of the ways I think this crossover has occurred has been with the recent proliferation of music festival and ‘all-dayers’, hitting a high of at least 10 across the past year ranging from the established and varied likes of the Vale Earth Fair and Liberation Day to more specific events like Chateau De Son and Smaashfest or charity based shows like Jonah Beats.

Jonah Beats set the bar high for these back in March with a day spanning everything from lo-fi folk to pounding drum ’n’ bass at the Vale Castle. Highlights on that day included Blakalska, SugarSlam, the return of The Swallows and a rare big stage appearance from Last Of The Light Brigade. The organisers also released a double CD compilation album to raise money for the Helping Jonah – Helping Others charity.

The summer festival season got going, as has become the standard, with the Chaos weekend. While the event has been bigger in the past, this year’s slightly scaled down show had something of the old atmosphere back.

PUNiK at Chaos

PUNiK

This was certainly helped by the presence of great visiting bands like Japanese punks PUNiK (who also released a fine debut album), Manchester noise-rock duo The Hyena Kill and experimental rock two piece Science Of Eight Limbs.

As well as the visitors Honest Crooks continued their run of great shows with a standout set in The Peace Tent that had everyone skanking as the sun set, while SugarSlam, Brunt and Static Alice stormed the War Stage across the weekend.

The Sark Folk Festival continued its run of great events with this year’s having less of the ‘us vs them’ atmosphere of traditional folk fans and those out for a fun weekend in a field.

Burg with Becky

Burg And The Back Porch Band

Musically there was a lot of good stuff on offer but it was the artists with their roots in the islands that really stood out for me. The highlight came from Burg & The Back Porch Band bringing some Americana to the spectacular teepee stage on the Saturday evening and invoking impressive singalong moments as well as creating one of the best atmospheres I can remember at a show in a long time.

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter, The Space Pirates of Rocquaine, Buffalo Huddleston, Nessi Gomes and visitors Mad Dog Mcrea provided other choice moments.

New festival The Gathering took place at North Field in July and showcased a real variety of bands from the island. With three days it felt like almost every band with a slightly mainstream angle was featured on the main stage but it was the Friday and Sunday evening that brought the musical highlights for me with SugarSlam and Static Alice playing to a disappointingly small crowd on the opening night and Kings and Of Empires closing the show on Sunday on a real high.

Static Alice at The Gathering

Static Alice

Whether The Gathering becomes a regular part of the island’s festival calendar remains to be seen but as an event helping spread the word about the great talent in Guernsey to a wider audience it certainly did a good job.

The Vale Earth Fair this year certainly claimed its place as centrepiece of the island’s musical calendar as the Collective presented a year-long series of events celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The festival weekend itself was as big as its ever been with a series of gigs across the Friday and Saturday leading up to the main festival day.

Teaspoonriverneck at Vale Earth Fair

Teaspoonriverneck

Asian Dub Foundation were one of the biggest headliners the show’s ever seen but for me the highlights came with She Drew The Gun, a special appearance from Teaspoonriverneck, The Correspondents and Heads Off, though special mention has to go out to Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston who, with earlier slots, did a great job of getting the festival atmosphere going much earlier than usually happens.

Along with the festival weekend the Collective staged an exhibition of photos and poster art chronicling the 40 years of the event which was a fascinating chance to chart some of the performers who’ve been there for the whole time and see how the event has evolved since its humble origins. The now annual Unplugged and John Peel tribute nights both provided some great moments, but it was the return of Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons that was my Vale Earth Fair related highlight.

Away from the festivals there was of course plenty of other music going on, in fact I think its fair to say that with the exception of Sundays there seemed to be something musical happening every day of the year if you knew where to look.

For me though the highlights amongst all of this came in the form of the Sound Guernsey events for Guernsey’s youngsters. Showcasing a range of music they have grown from relatively humble intentions with shows at The Venue to fully fledged event gigs at The Fermain Tavern.

Honest Crooks at Sound Guernsey

Honest Crooks

Their summer party being a highlight of this as The Doomsday Project, Honest Crooks, Asylum Seekas and Blakalaska shared a stage with already impressive new comers Track Not Found and Equilibrium while their Christmas Party later in December gave was another great night.

When it comes to new bands a few have stood out. As well as the aforementioned Track Not Found, hardcore metallers Granite Wolf made an impressive debut in September developing on the likes of Brutus Stonefist and She Haunts The Roads and I very much look forward to hearing more of what they’ve got to offer.

The real stand out of the new crop though were Burning At Both Ends who have taken the fairly well trodden pop-punk template and breathed a new life and energy into it, winning over many fans with their tight live shows and impressive debut album.

Burning At Both Ends

Burning At Both Ends

As well as great music on the island, musicians continued to spread their wings further afield.

Along with two BBC Introducing showcases on BBC Radio 1 featuring 12 acts, a few stand outs emerged, Robyn Sherwell continued her rise with the release of her debut full length album to much acclaim back in April, including a UK tour and having one of her songs picked up for use on the trailer to Hollywood movie Suffragette.

Nessi Gomes also completed a hugely impressive crowdfunding campaign leading to the release of her debut album, Diamonds & Demons which was supported by a tour of the UK, Europe and the Middle East which will culminate with the official Guernsey album launch event next month.

Of Empires continued their march to becoming bona-fide rock ’n’ roll stars with support from all over the place including debuting new single Baby Darlin’ Sugar on BBC Radio 1 through BBC Introducing and picking up many nods as one of the UK bands to watch as we head into the new year and they prepare for the release of more music and a lot more gigs.

Robert J. Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter continued gigging around London and the rest of the UK regularly, initially supporting his second album, Before The Dawn and then releasing his third, Where I’m From, though the Spiritual Records label a couple of weeks ago.

Plenty more records were released this year with Space Pirates of Rocquaine’s Vraic & Roll, Lord Vapour’s Mill Street Blues, Brunt’s Blackbeard and the aforementioned Burning At Both Ends all standing out, but it was a single, Drifting, from the duo of Flexagon and Buff Hudd that really seemed to take off, receiving much praise and also being picked up by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music.

As the year neared its end The Recks made something of surprise return with a new single and line up and they look set to make 2017 their year as they plan to finally unleash their long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album and in a standout live moment SugarSlam (yes, them again, they’ve had a great year) and Insurrection marked their 25th and 30th anniversaries respectively with an excellent night at the De La Rue.

Insurrection

Insurrection

It’s safe to say that 2016 has been an impressive year for music in Guernsey with a real variety of sounds and styles coming to the fore (beyond what’s mentioned here drum ’n’ bass and electronic music have had a real growth as well with Hard Riddims and Strategy gaining footholds as regular events) and opening up what could easily be a small and insular scene to a wide audience, and lets hope that continues with more people heading out to listen to new music around the island and there’s already some exciting sounding things coming up!

And a few particular highlights by category…

Band of the Year – Honest Crooks
Festival Stage/Event of the Year – Vale Earth Fair’s 40th Anniversary celebrations
Newcomers of the Year – Burning At Both Ends
Set of the Year – Burg & The Back Porch Band at Sark Folk Festival
Album of the YearRobert J. Hunter – Where I’m From
Visiting Band of the Year – PUNiK

You can listen to the BBC Introducing Guernsey review of the year radio show here

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The Gathering – North Field – 15, 16, 17 July 2016

Of Empires at The Gathering

Of Empires

New music festival The Gathering took over the North Field football grounds over the weekend of 15th, 16th and 17th July 2016 for three days of music showcasing a variety of music from the island.

With headliners including SugarSlam, Static Alice, King Rat & The Soul Cats, Fade To Grey and Of Empires it was a mixed line up including bands playing their own material, veteran performers and bands more usually seen rocking the pub circuit.

My review of the festival was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 23rd July and you can read an extended version below that.

You can also see a full set of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

The Gathering review 23:07:16

Extended Review

Day 1

Lord Vapour at The Gathering

Lord Vapour

A new music event is always a good thing to hear about, especially when the organisers are talking about something on the scale of this, The Gathering, taking over the North Field football pitch and surrounding fields with three stages of music across three days.

As I arrived at the site midway through the afternoon of the first day things seemed very spread out on the enormous field with the dance tent in one corner near the entrance and the acoustic stage in the far opposite corner. Around the edges of the field were a few ‘trade’ and food stalls and in the distance I could vaguely here the sounds of Lord Vapour beginning their set.

The main stage was located at the far end of the site at the western side of the club’s main football pitch with the beer tent and VIP area opposite. The few had turned out early on the Friday mostly populated the area between the sound control tower and the stage but in such a big space it felt pretty empty.

None-the-less Lord Vapour were grooving their way through their set in the loose manner that has become their trademark. This was derailed slightly by a few issues with the drum kit doing its best to escape the riser, but the band soldiered through starting off my weekend on a positive note.

Common Room at The Gathering

Common Room

While things were heavy on the main stage the acoustic stage was offering some nice summer-y vibes from young trio Common Room.

They were a little rough around the edges and suffered a bit from the main stage sound bleeding across but they were nice to listen to and would have suited the sunnier days to follow to a tee.

The heaviness continued on the main stage with Stone Em All. This show was something of a landmark for the band as it marks the end of them as a regularly performing live band and they gave it their all.

Suited and booted for the occasion the five-piece metal band have evolved from something many (myself included) found hard to take seriously into a solid and effective unit, unfortunately here the big space in front of the stage was only populated by their hardcore followers and it was obvious it was hard work for the band to maintain the energy they needed across the set.

Stone Em All at The Gathering

Stone Em All

Rounding things off with their now traditional set closer of Cathedral’s Hopkins (The Witchfinder General), possibly the best I’ve heard them do it, it’s a shame to see this band who staunchly stuck to their guns in the face of all musical trends go.

Another band who suffered from the small crowd were Honest Crooks who’s ska-punk seemed to lose some of its bass funk in the translation from the stage to the field.

Regardless the band gave it their all and adding To The Woods’ Bobby Battle on kazoo for High Grade helped boost things a little.

Ending the set somewhat suddenly with Stressball it felt like they still had more to give and just seemed to be getting the small crowd warmed up, but I guess that’s part of a festival show.

With recently added bass player Danny Joyce in full over the top flow, Peppered Ant Legs headed into a set of classic hard rock covers that felt a little out-of-place amidst all the bands playing mostly their own material tonight.

Peppered Ant Legs at The Gathering

Peppered Ant Legs

As ever the trio have a sense of fun, looking fairly ridiculous (kilts and pith helmets featured), but played solid renditions of the likes of Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and more.

Danny’s showmanship may have slightly overshadowed his brother Matt’s role as frontman and it didn’t feel quite as slick a performance as sometimes, but their version of Sabbath’s Fairies Wear Boots is always a treat and as Metallica have proven its hard to go wrong ending a set with Seek & Destroy.

The crowd seemed to have reached its peak as SugarSlam took to the stage and it was clear the band took this as a chance to have a blast on stage which was genuinely infectious.

It may not have been their tightest show as the four-piece grunge-influenced rockers mixed a few covers of the likes of Nirvana and The Sacred Hearts with their own great songs and those in attendance seemed to enjoy it, albeit from a distance, before the band rounded off the set with Stace Blondel joining them for Guns ’n’ Roses It’s So Easy and then a blast through Ace Of Spades.

Static Alice at The Gathering

Static Alice

While the crowd had shrunk it was clear as Static Alice hit the stage that those that remained had come to see the headliners. The audience heading closer to the stage helped create a little atmosphere right down the front and the band did what they always do and put on a show making full use of the huge stage.

This wasn’t quite a highlight like their recent headline slot at Chaos but this still felt like a top-level performance and the band clearly worked hard to keep the energy up to the attentive but not so energetic audience.

Closing the set of on a few covers of Ballroom Blitz and Boys Of Summer closed the first day on a high point but it was clear many were wondering and hoping if the numbers would pick up for day two.

My photos from the first day of the festival

Day 2

Day Release at The Gathering

Day Release

Arriving at the site as openers Day Release were mid set on Saturday lunchtime I was hoping that the day would be busier than what I had seen the previous and, while the first few bands played to small crowds, this steadily grew throughout the afternoon.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Day Release but they did exactly what I’d expected, delivering a solidly performed set of covers that show why they’ve made something of a reputation on the local pub circuit.

Their performance felt a bit lost on the big stage and with a small audience but that is one of the ever-present perils of being first on at a show like this.

Never ones to let anything stop them punk rockers Jawbone launched into their set with their usual sloppy enthusiasm. In three-piece mode without frontman Steve, it wasn’t long before guitarist Lee’s voice started to go and by the time they attempted The Misfits’ classic Astro Zombies it was clear there were problems.

Jawbone at The Gathering

Jawbone with Dom

Thankfully Dom from Static Alice was on hand to help out with a couple of songs before Lee and Dan muddled their way through The Ramones’ Bonzo Goes To Bitburg (My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down) to round off a fun if slightly desperate performance.

Things were a bit more relaxed and folky on the acoustic stage with Blue Mountains delivering a set of their soulful, dark folk.

A bit odd out in the open air in daylight the darkly hued songs still sounded great but it was hard to escape the notion that this stage (particularly today) was simply acting as background music for the fenced off ‘gin and Prosecco garden’.

Ramblin' Nick Mann at The Gathering

Ramblin’ Nick Mann

The folkiness continued with Ramblin’ Nick Mann going for a full on performance of the DIY blues character he’s been building over the last couple of years.

As ragged and rough as music like this should be, complete with homemade guitars and mic, there was a nice irony seeing such an un-corporate sound under a big advertising banner for a local telecoms company as he drew the biggest crowd I’d seen at this stage yet (though bigger was certainly to come).

As they head towards their final show The Doomsday Project were in top form bringing some upbeat, fun pop punk to the main stage in the mid-afternoon.

With the crowd now growing and relaxing in the sun the band seemed to go down well and even got a handful on their feet for a mix of original songs from their debut album and classic punk covers including their now standard, excellent, take on Jilted John and a surprisingly good Alternative Ulster (even if it didn’t quite have the passion Stiff Little Fingers gave the original).

The Doomsday Project at The Gathering

The Doomsday Project

Stoked brought us back into the world of the pub covers circuit with a good set of rocking tunes that was fun, if a bit heartless, but provided a nice soundtrack for those working their way through the contents of the beer tent while ‘chilling’ out in the now blazing afternoon sun.

The covers continued with Stuck To The Ceiling but, with Stace Blondel fronting the band, this wasn’t going to be a rote tread through of standards. Coming across as a real burst of energy Stace looked like a manic hybrid of Ozzy Osbourne and Bruce Dickinson whatever songs he was singing and the rest of the band left him to it while they delivered the music is a solid and unfussy way.

It wasn’t long before Stace was scaling the PA stacks at the side of the stage while blasting out everything from David Bowie to Lady Gaga, his charisma is undeniable and it drew a few more onto their feet for a dance at the front.

Tantale at The Gathering

Tantale

Being the only band entirely dedicated to their own material on the main stage today made Tantale feel a little out of place as we headed into the evening and this wasn’t helped by a sound mix that, further away from the stage, made them sound almost a cappella.

Despite this their lightly psychedelic indie sound was spot on for a warm summer evening but I couldn’t help think that regardless of the band’s best efforts it didn’t quite come across as well as it maybe should have.

Back firmly in classic tune territory Guernsey music stalwart Pete Frampton led his band into a fine performance of middle of the road rock. While very well-played its hard to get too excited about as the band worked their way through the set in steady, slick fashion and the audience continued lazing in the now setting sun.

King Rat and the Soul Cats at The Gathering

King Rat and the Soul Cats

As King Rat & The Soul Cats took to the stage with a bigger, clearer sound than anything so far this weekend the crowd immediately took notice and got to their feet.

Tight, sharp and as on it as can, be the ten-piece band played their way through a set of soul and Motown classics, newer songs and a few originals (including a never before played track intended for their never recorded second album) which demonstrated why they have the reputation they do.

Chris Dean once again showed himself to be one of the best frontmen Guernsey has seen, working the crowd excellently, while Susann Hatcher gave him a run for his money when she took the lead.

With the audience fully invested as the set went on they provided one of the first highlight performances of the weekend.

Buffalo Huddleston at The Gathering

Buffalo Huddleston

After a bit of last-minute re-ordering a stripped back version of Buffalo Huddleston took to the acoustic stage in front of by far the biggest audience that stage would see all weekend, regardless of the lack of light and it being almost impossible to see the band if you weren’t right at the front.

Despite not having a violin player Mike, Simon, Tom and Jull-z didn’t miss a step and the crowd were into it throughout, even singing in some of the violin parts or otherwise just getting into the relaxed and funky grooves that left many questioning why they weren’t main stage headliners.

Now fully into tribute band territory Fade To Grey headlined the main stage with a set that was great fun and very hard not to have a nostalgic sing and dance to – even if you weren’t actually there the first time.

Fade To Grey at The Gathering

Fade To Grey

Kriss provided the visual lead for the band, all postures and poses in a suitably knowing and camp way, while Nikk and Little Gary Numan seemed to be the musical core of the band leaving Andi to provide the synth drum fills.

The crowd was certainly now big enough that the there was a great atmosphere in the main field, especially if you were down the front, and, while it may not be a highlight for the serious musos, its hard to fault the quartet as they rounded up on an encore of Together In Electric Dreams.

If an 80s electronic tribute wasn’t your thing Clameur De Haro were delivering a different type of fun on the acoustic stage with their unique take on bluegrass.

Clameur De Haro at The Gathering

Clameur De Haro and Stace

With a good-sized crowd jigging along the band got Stace Blondel and Bobby Battle on for extra vocals on Born To Be Wild before, so the story goes, continuing their set into a pure acoustic encore pushing the event curfew to its limit.

My photos from the second day of the festival

Day 3

After the high of Saturday night, as is usual Sunday lunchtime is hard work to get going and the job fell to young band The Bone Idols.

Playing to friends, parents, the next band and a handful of others all four seemed pretty proficient for their young ages (credit both to them and School of Popular Music where they formed) but the lack of a dedicated bass player made their sound a bit uneven.

The Bone Idols at The Gathering

The Bone Idols

While Stevie Wonder’s Superstition and Michael Jackson’s Thriller are brave songs to attempt they gave them a good go and they were at least the second young band of the weekend to give us a run through of Green Day’s Holiday with the potentially offensive words censored – I can’t help but think if you think a song has offensive bits and you don’t want to offend, just don’t play it…

But I digress, The Bone Idols kicked off the day well and set the tone for the afternoon with more upbeat covers.

It seems there’s always at least one Beatles tribute band doing the rounds and, at the moment, that’s The Day Trippers.

The Day Trippers at The Gathering

The Day Trippers

Delivering a set largely drawn from the Fab Four’s early days they play them well with a smile and a sense of fun that was spot on for a sunny afternoon.

The songs, of course, are timeless but they came across well and the band did them justice making me wonder why they weren’t part of the previous night’s tribute act session.

The Secret Smiles 60s-90s indie hybrid should have been perfect both to follow on from Beatles’ songs and for a sunny afternoon but unfortunately a lot of their jangly guitar sound got lost somewhere in the mix today.

Despite this the band’s authenticity and good songs made for an enjoyable set but, like Tantale the previous night, I couldn’t help but feel this was a missed opportunity.

Blacksmith at The Gathering

Blacksmith

After making their debut at Chaos, Blacksmith put in a much more assured performance here giving a little more explanation to both their name and the concept that drives their heavy metal songs.

Delivered with a bit more conviction the story of the blacksmith’s quest for his maiden fair isn’t quite there yet but its something a bit different at least.

The acoustic stage continued on the Sunday as well and my highlight there came from newcomers Lighthouse.

With nice acoustic melodies and vocal harmonies the trio seemed to bridge the gap between being very nervous and very modest in a charming way that was backed up by the music.

Lighthouse at The Gathering

Lighthouse

Vocalist Lucy Cave has a sweet voice with a bit of bite behind it where needed, though I’m not sure the affected Irish accent was necessary but, thanks to Matt Champion we can at least rest easy with the knowledge that Galway is, indeed, in Ireland.

I’ll freely admit that, in the past I’ve not really enjoyed what I’ve caught of Underdog, but today they seemed in their element and at their best as they rocked through a set of pop-rock covers – it may be custom-built for the pub circuit but it worked well on the big stage here.

Knowing who’s featured in the band it should be no surprise that Kings provided a pitch perfect set of modern indie pop, but the quality of it was still beyond my expectations.

Kings at The Gathering

Kings

With upbeat dance-y sounds, darker thematic substance and some hugely impressive harmonies the four-piece are like little else in the island at the moment.

Frontman Eli Crossan delivered his vocals with a real soul and range while Casey-Joe Rumens provided some epic guitar solo work in what was as slick and smooth a performance as we saw all weekend. Closer The Enemy provided a highlight of a genuine highlight set.

Following that the well performed Led Zeppelin tribute of Easily Led was something of a come down.

The band got the legendary sound they were working towards well and Kashmir in particular was an impressive highlight but the lack of energetic performance and falling where they did on the bill possibly didn’t show the band in the best light.

Taking rock ’n’ roll and giving it the coolest of grooves headliners Of Empires were on top form from the off.

Of Empires

Of Empires

Always clearly excited to be back on home soil frontman Jack Fletcher was maybe less manic tonight but still energetic and worked the crowd with aplomb while Matthew Berry’s guitar work provided a laconic groove perfect for a warm evening.

With a lot of new songs alongside tracks from their debut EP highlights came in a cover of Shakin’ All Over and new songs See You With The Angels Kid and Baby Darlin’ Sugar.

All of this brought the weekend that had, if I’m honest, been a mixed affair that often felt more about socialising in the sun than celebrating music, to a fantastic close. While there were a few teething problems and some things could have been done better I hope to see The Gathering return in a refined form giving Guernsey’s musicians a chance to showcase their music to an even wider audience.

My photos from the third day of the festival

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: August 2015 – Gregory Harrison in session and Stone Em All

Gregory Harrison

Gregory Harrison

Click here to listen to the show

Being broadcast the day before the 2015 Vale Earth Fair on the August edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey I spoke to one of the newer members of the Earth Fair Collective, Gregory Harrison, who is running the festival’s Busking Stage this year and played a special live session for the show.

I also spoke to Robert Hotton and Lee Oliver the lead vocalist and lead guitarist, and creative driving forces, of heavy metallers Stone Em All who have just released their new EP, Villains.

The show is available to listen to for a month on the BBC iPlayer or to download on the BBC iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

And here’s a video Guernsey Gigs made with Gregory Harrison for his version of Ray Lamontagne’s song Like Rock ‘n’ Roll and Radio:

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“We’re going down the pub” – Guernsey Press – 08/08/15

Kings

Kings

With many bands performing their own music in Guernsey finding venues to play can sometimes be a struggle. While The Fermain Tavern remains the island’s only dedicated venue for original live music from time to time some of the islands pubs step away from the cover bands and allow originals to blast from their make shift stages.

On the weekend of 31st July and 1st August 2015 I headed to a couple of these venues, The White Hart and The Jamaica Inn, to check out four bands.

First on the Friday were indie-pop newcomers Kings and alt-rock monsters To The Woods and on Saturday I caught pop-rockers Stalk The Lantern and garage rockers Thee Jenerators.

My review of the shows was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 8th August and you can see my photos from the two shows here and here on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

(The Press’ Colin Leach can take credit for the Sham 69 inspired headline!)

Thee Jenerators, Stalk The Lantern, To The Woods, Kings review scan - 08:08:15

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