Regular readers will have realised that, while I try to profess to a wide variety in my musical tastes, above all I have a respect for rock and a penchant for prog.
While, in November, my gig-going month may be bookended by those two genres, my overall list of gigs I will be trying to get to (and at least one I can’t get to), takes in much more.
Purely in chronological order, these are the gigs I recommend this month.
Y&T (formerly Yesterday & Today) were formed in California back in 1972 but it wasn’t until the mid eighties that they found commercial fame, helped by their 1984 album In Rock We Trust which featured their first big radio hit, Don’t Stop Running.
She’s A Liar, from the same album, was used in a Dr Pepper ad campaign while Summertime Girls, from 1985’s Down For The Count might be more familiar to the general UK public as it featured frequently in Baywatch and has, apparently, graced many feature films. (Please don’t ask me which ones.)
These days frontman Dave Meniketti may be the only long term member but the band has seen few changes since officially reforming in 2001, after a six year hiatus. They will be tearing a hard rock shaped hole in the Fibbers roof on the 1st.
There’s generally only two things that can keep me away from a gig – work commitments and family events. (Music may be a big part of my life but family always comes first – I have been known to say that, if Led Zeppelin reformed for a one-off gig at Fibbers on my wife’s birthday and I was offered a free ticket, I would have to turn it down. I may just be saying that because it is so unlikely to happen but I hope it’s never put to the test…)
Anyway, apart from birthdays and anniversaries, there are a few dates throughout the year that we always do something and one of those is Bonfire Night, which means that I won’t be able to tick KT Tunstall off my, admittedly large, bucket list of gigs.
The Scottish songstress, whose first album I thought was brilliant and whose later releases have, in my opinion, failed to live up to it (I haven’t heard her latest yet) plays the Barbican on the 5th and there surely can’t just be me who wishes it was a different date?
Thankfully, though, I have managed to get rid of a work commitment on the 7th and will be heading, for the first time, to The Crescent to see, for the first time, Eef Barzelay, frontman of alternative country band Clem Snide but also a touring and recording solo artist.
Cards on the table, this is a Please Please You promoted gig but YorkMix is also involved in putting it, Eef’s only public appearance in the UK, on and it gives me a chance to try out another branch of country music, after my confession about the genre in last month’s column.
It is looking likely, however, that work is going to trump gig-going on the 12th, which is a shame because one of my favourite semi-local bands are returning for their annual visit to Fibbers.
I declared last year’s Hope & Social gig to not only be my favourite gig of the year, but one of the best gigs I have seen for a long time. I’m not good at describing what bands sound like.
Even if I was, I doubt I could top “a Yorkshire E-Street band… meets Arcade Fire… meets The Faces… meets Dexy’s Midnight Runners… meets Prefab Sprout”.
But what I do know is that I’ve never had a bad time at one of their gigs and never walked away at the end of one without a big smile on my face.
It’s not just the music, which is brilliant, it’s the antics, the laughs and the way that the audience knows just when and how to participate (and I’m not talking about just clapping along in time, singing along during choruses and belting out a few “Yeah, yeah”’s).
You don’t just attend a Hope & Social gig, you experience it. All that and they have a new album out as well. Oh well, for me there’s always next year.
And then the schedule starts to get a bit crowded and, while I might have good intentions, there may be one or two gigs that fall by the wayside in this relatively busy month.
Kicking off the busy period is Wade Bowen, at Fibbers on the 14th, and the chance to hear another variation on country music. This time it’s Texas Country, which mixes traditionalist root sounds with the outspoken, care-free views of outlaw country, a genre I heard for the first time last year when I saw Shooter Jennings. In some ways I yearn for the days when genres were less diverse…
Anyway, this gig is particularly enticing, not just because I can tick off another genre, but because it could be the first time that I have actually managed to see York’s Beth McCarthy perform (apart from on The Voice, which I gave up watching when she left).
On the 16th, at the same venue, there is a chance to see a variety of British blues acts as the New Generation Blues Tour brings together the power and speed and yet real blues feel of The Danny Giles Band, the hard blues of The Rainbreakers (if that’s not a name that evokes a history of blues, a don’t know what is…) and the sludgy rock ‘n’ roll blues of Kent’s Salvation Jayne.
Rumour has it that York’s own Dead Cats will be opening the evening. “How are they going to fit it all in?” I find myself asking, making a note to check stage times before heading to the venue.
Over at The Black Swan on the 17th is a band I saw fairly recently in a much more “intimate” setting – the function room of The Cottage pub in Haxby, with an audience that consisted of me and everybody else that was on the bill that night (and perhaps a couple of friends of those on the bill).
The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band were being recorded for a later playback on Vale Radio’s Folk and Blues show and they were superb, playing proper Yorkshire folk-rock songs and playing them with foot-tapping and rollicking brilliance, at times injecting a little bit of “working man” politics.
Hopefully there will be more people at the Swan as this is a band, and a set of songs, that deserve to be heard.
I don’t often get to The Fulford Arms, mainly because I would have to drive there and, consequently, not be able to sample some of their range of real ales.
I might have to make an exception on the 21st, however, when psychedelic prog- rockers Purson play there. I have to admit, I thought this was a new band until Mr H told me he had had them at Fibbers back in 2013.
I’m not sure how I missed them back then. They are now on my radar through having won the Vanguard award (for bands who deserve wider recognition) at 2013 Progressive Music Awards. I wonder how long I can nurse one pint?
There’s another “sponsored” tour at Fibbers on the 25th, when Planet Rock brings together three more blues-rock acts. I saw and was impressed by Federal Charm, with their at times Whitesnake-esque sound, when they supported Joanne Shaw Taylor last year (at which point they were only beaten into second place in my personal “surprise support act” awards by Blurred Vision).
Both Brit teenage sensation Aaron Keylock and Nashville-based trio Simo are new to me but I’m looking forward to seeing them both. The headline act changes each night of this tour, so turn up early to avoid missing any of the acts.
There’s more psychedelic rock at Fibbers on the 27th, when Gong take to the stage.
This band stretches back to 1967 and has a history that I’m not even going to attempt to unravel here. Suffice to say that founder Daevid Allen, who left the original band and founded a number of spin-offs before returning to the original in 1990, died last year just after recruiting Knifeworld frontman Kavus Torabi as a second guitarist with the band and becoming too ill to perform himself.
In an email to the band, Allen expressed his wish that the five remaining members continued to perform, suggesting Torabi as the new frontman, and that is just what happened, with the latest line-up releasing Rejoice! I’m Dead, classified as the band’s 28th album and featuring Allen ghost-like within some of the vocals, just two months ago.
Support at Fibbers comes from York drone band Soma Crew.
Finally, theres another band I’ve been meaning to get to see at The Crescent on the 28th. Newcastle indie-rockers Lanterns On The Lake have been recommended to me by a few people but I have yet to catch them live. Maybe this will be the month.
…And some of the rest
But, of course, that’s not actually “finally” because there are so many other gigs on around the city this month, so many other bands to see.
Despite a shorter than normal introductory paragraph, I find that I’m already on my third page, so I’m going to limit the rest to highlighted picks and summaries, which is bound to upset some people and make others wonder why I haven’t picked their stand-out gigs.
Sorry folks, but I can only take up so many column inches. You know where the comments go if there’s something you want to bring to everybody else’s attention.
Some gigs need little or no promotion, which is a good thing for post-punk, industrial/gothic rockers Killing Joke, whose gig at Fibbers on the 2nd was, as far as I can tell, only announced on the 25th of October.
This intimate show is ahead of what was to be a one-off live gig at the O2 Academy in Brixton, two days later.
Jools Holland brings his rhythm and blues orchestra to the same venue on the 12th and 13th and you can see The Christians, The Fall and Chicago alternative metal band SOiL at Fibbers on the 18th, 19th and 24th respectively.
If it’s smaller, less well-known but no less talented bands you are after you could do worse than The Fulford Arms on the 10th when three York bands – Eugene Gorgeous, Snakerattlers and The Black Lagoons open for Glasgow band And Yet It Moves.
Or what about Dusk – a venue I don’t normally mention – on the 11th when Sewage Farm, the new project featuring Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps), launch their debut album, Cloudy.
Musical mash-ups and genre mix-ups abound when the Hackney Colliery Band bring together contemporary brass, rock, hip-hop, Balkan, afro-beat and jazz at Fibbers on the 4th, Smoove and Turrell combine funk, northern soul, hip-hop and jazz into “northern funk”, also at Fibbers, on the 9th and Gangstagrass put hip-hop and bluegrass through the blender at, where else, Fibbers on the 22nd.
And yet, there is so much more. For diversity of music, this month is one of the best I can remember. There are times when I think that the York music scene is failing, then there are months like this one.
Here is the usual chronological list of the main gigs I covered above. All details are correct at time of putting this column together and ticket prices are as advertised. Paying on the door at Fibbers will cost a pound or two more.
On a smartphone? scroll horizontally to see all the info.
|The Specials||The Barbican||£44.80|
|4th||The Hackney Colliery Band||Fibbers||£15.00|
|5th||KT Tunstall||The Barbican||From £19.60|
|7th||Eef Barzelay||The Crescent||£9 adv / £11 otd|
|9th||Smoove and Turrell||Fibbers||£9.00|
|10th||And Yet It Moves||Fulford Arms||?|
|12th||Hope & Social||Fibbers||£9.00|
|12th & 13th||Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra||The Barbican||£41.40|
|16th||The Danny Giles Band/Salvation Jayne/The Rainbreakers||Fibbers||£10.00|
|17th||The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band||The Black Swan||£8|
|25th||Simo/Aaron Keylock/Federal Charm||Fibbers||£15.00|
|28th||Lanterns on the Lake||The Crescent||£12.00|