Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

On The Road With Ben Marwood And Oxygen Thief

With the long awaited release of Ben Marwood’s album “Outside There’s A Curse” coming up, he and his good buddy Oxygen Thief took to the road throughout January. The last three dates of the tour were to be Ben’s homecoming show in Reading, a charity gig in Birmingham and then a small show in London (put on by yours truly) to round things off.

As a friend of both of these guys, as well as knowing the man responsible for the Birmingham show, I joined them on the road for these 3 days.

Friday 28/01 – Rising Sun Arts Centre (Reading)

Having finished with university for the day, there was enough time for me to get a quick bite to eat, grab my sleeping bag, camera and a spare pair of boxers and jump on the train to Reading for the show.

I’ve only been to Reading the once but never for a gig but armed with my trusty iphone, I managed to find the venue with relatively little hassle (except for a broken down bus, delayed tube train and then the slowest ever train ticket purchase taking place in front of me that resulted in me missing my original train). On arriving, it’s safe to say that the Rising Sun isn’t your typical venue..

It turns out that the council have been trying to tear the place down for a while but have never been able to do so as it’s a listed building. The building is therefore safe for now and run as a charity so ticket prices are always quite cheap and all the bar staff are volunteers.

It was an odd building to go into as well with a small hallway leading through to the bar (passing the venue’s single toilet on the way) and then having to go back through another door to the venue proper. After meeting with my tour buddies for the next few days, which also included Kev, the man responsible for [edit] radio, and a few other familiar faces, including Ben’s mum, I grabbed a drink and headed through to the venue.

It was already rather busy in the 50 capacity venue, helped by the fact that 60 tickets had already been sold in advance, and the most diverse crowd I’ve seen in a good while were already listening to Oxygen Thief who was opening tonight.

As always, it was a set full of foot stomping, especially from the crowd to Too Many Trees, and Nick Clegg jokes aplenty. There was even a super rare appearance of Subtlety Is Overrated from one of his super old demos which was a request from one of the party I had no joined. The crowd favourite of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ was also out in force and went down as well as always befor the set ended with a new track that saw Mr Marwood also take to the stage to help with vocals at the end of the track and even playing guitar with OT as well.

After a quick changeover, it was another local band up for the main support slot in Quiet Quiet Band who I had never come across before (but I had met Jay, one of the guitarists and a friend of Ben’s, before) so I didn’t know what to expect. But what we got was really enjoyable.

They have a very downtempo-folky sound that really does entice you at times but can then kick in and build up really well but all with very delicate vocals over the top of it all and this all works together very well. Altogether, a set I very much enjoyed and one that the crowd seemed to as well.

After that, it was time for the man himself to step up and Ben Marwood was finally on stage to a crowd that was now too big for the venue to hold but one that gave him a hell of a welcome.

The set itself went brilliantly with the vast majority of the crowd singing along to both old and newer songs with Singalong and Oh My Days getting the best response and Horatio Dies being a particular highlight for me. One song only played on this night was Herbert West which was orginally written by a now defunct band whose members now make up the majority of Quiet Quiet Band and the crowd even knew the words to this one.

After his traditional set closer of The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Ben got the applause he more than deserved before heading into the crowd to seemingly thank each and every member of the audience not just for being there on that night but for all their support that get him to where he is.

Overall, it was a really good night and it was great to be a part of such a big show for Ben. After the crowd had cleared, it was time to go partay and experience the full nightlife that Reading had to offer (and some HUGE moves from Mr Thief and plenty of chest bumping) before a quick chicken burger and then retiring to my sleeping bag on the floor of Ben’s living room.

Saturday 29/01 – Addistock: This Is It! @ the Bright House (Birmingham)

After a reasonable night’s sleep, copious amounts of tea, a sogg sausage roll, far too many episodes of Star Trek Voyager and the result of the Everton/Chelsea FA cup tie, it was time to hit the road, sadly without a slightly ill Kev.

Taking what seemed to be the most scenic route (i.e. slowest) way from Reading to Birmingham, we arrived early in the evening at the venue. The event tonight was the final ‘Addistock’ show which were only intended as a one-off fundraiser for Macmillan Nurses but have increased in number and raised over £2,000 and this all-dayer was to be the last of these shows.

Despite the best efforts of two FA cup games and Britain’s Got Talent auditions, we managed to actually get to the venue in the centre of the city with the Karate Kid soundtrack providing the tunes for the final part of this journey (as had been tradition for the guys on this tour). It was a fairly small pub with a stage round the back and plenty of space for those there just for the music. We arrived just at the end of B-Sydes set and his Glassjaw cover for Addis, the man responsible for the events.

After that, it was time for our new favourite downbeat-folk band Quiet Quiet Band again. This time they played an even more quiet set with less of the big buildups and less drums. It worked just as well as the night before and the more relaxed sound suited the venue and feel for the evening as well.

Next up was an Addistock regular in Neil Morris with his frentic folk music. He had quite a long set due to some other artists not being able to make the show so had a lot of time to impress and I quite enjoyed the set with enough variety in his longish set to keep it interesting.

Following that, it was a more familiar face to me in Joe Summers who plays both solo and as part of Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun, playing as both at the show I put on at Brixton Windmill (and not the Brixton Academy as I originally wrote; thanks for proofreading Tony). I think Joe has a fantastic voice and is a very good guitar player too so he’s an artist I really enjoy. His set was mainly composed of material from his mini-album but that’s no bad thing as it’s a great piece of work. And with Keep Your Posters rounding off the set, I really enjoyed his time on the small stage.

Next up, it was Mr Adam Boucher who’s now back as a solo act after the Dead Set disbanded (who have also played one of my shows). This was the first time I’d seen him solo and I enjoyed the set and the difference in sound that the solo has from the full band set. With plenty of songs under his belt, there was a good variety of his own tracks, and the odd cover, with A Farewell To Harrington (and the heart wrenching back story to the song) being the backstory.

After Boucher and then the almighty Addistock raffle (and me winning the Complete Horse Racing Night In DVD based game much to the disappointment of Ben), Oxygen Thief was back on stage. It was more of the same from Barry (as he’ll be called from here on in as it’s his name and I’m running out of other things to call him) and it was probably more well received than the previous night and the cover of the night this time round was Andrew WK’s ‘Party Hard’ which was fantastic. Weird highlight of the set was the two man moshpit of me and Ben which didn’t quite work as I floored Mr Marwood and then didn’t quite know what to do. He did recover in time to join Barry on stage again for the final number so all was well.

It was then up to Ben Marwood to round off the night and he did so with aplomb again. Even though the crowd was smaller than the previous night, they were no less appreciative. The set was pretty similar to the previous night but was just as good as before with a mix of album tracks and older material and the set closer of ‘District’ sounding as good as ever.

After the show, it was time to clear up and get out of the venue and back to chez Addis, horse racing game in hand, along with half of the people who had played on the night it seemed for more drinks, late nate pizza, Strongbow boxes for hats, Adam Bennett abuse and all round good times (except for the rather drunk guy who told Ben he was only where he was because of Frank Turner and that he didn’t like Frank. Or Ben. And then went and crashed in Addis’ bed) before I managed to claim the sofa and got another night of drink induced sleep.

Sunday 30/01 – The Wilmington Arms (London)

After waking up and seeing the masses clear, it was time for copious amounts of toast and a spot of Futurama before bidding a fond farewell to our host and hitting the road for the final night of the tour proper in London.

A more straightforward journey than the previous day saw us get there in good time and dump our stuff in the venue and then wait for the sond engineer to arrive while we continued with the rock and roll lifestyle and drank tea. After a quick soundcheck, it was back into the bar for some food which we got A WHOLE POUND OFF for being part of the show tonight. A musician’s life seemingly has it’s perks. And tour buddy Kev rejoined up, rejuvinated by a proper nights sleep and a good shower.

After everyone had soundchecked and we’d cleared the tables, chairs, mop and bucket that made up the assorted shit left lying around the venue (rock and roll again), we were pretty much ready to get the show going.

The venue itself was actually pretty nice and a good sized room. The sound was also really good during soundcheck but now it was just the horrible wait for people to turn up which was made even more horrible by the fact that it was a Sunday and the nearest tube station was closed.

Thankfully, people had started to turn up so Adam Bennett got the proverbial ball rolling. Adam had stepped in late on to replace one act who pulled out but he had played the previous night before our arrival in Birmingham as part of his mini-UK tour with Adam Boucher and Dave Hughes (who they were meeting up with the next day). Tonight, Adam’s set went rather well with his almost sea-shanty-esque “anti-folk” songs. He’s only just started writing and touring properly but has got some good songs under his belt and he, hopefully, can only get better, even with a near constant stream of abuse from Boucher.

Next up, it was time for Adam Boucher whose set was similar to the night before. His somewhat abrasive banter with the crowd may not have gone down brilliantly with a quiet, Snday night crowd but he seemingly won some of them over as he got them to keep clapping after breaking a string and changing his guitar before carrying on. It was a slightly strange set though as he actually said nice things about Adam Bennett between tracks, perhaps only to lure him into a false sense of security before abusing him for the rest of their tour again.

Third on the bill was an act I’d been looking forward to in who are (normally) a four piece that are based in Kingston and have been together for a few years now. Tonight, however, they plained mainly as just a duo with Del on guitars and vocals and Scarlett on keyboard and vocals. They played a stripped down version of their songs and it worked really well on the night and they were the only band whose CD I bought through the entire weekend. Definitely a band I’d like to see in their full lineup and it was a set I really enjoyed.

Main support was Oxygen Thief’s time on stage and it was again more of the same. Tonight’s one-from-the-archives was Camera Shy and cover-of-the-night saw Gold re-emerge. Odd part of the set this time round was the obscure crowd surfing I ended up doing after being flipped in the air. I say crowd surfing, it was pretty much just Ben and another friend carrying me around for a bit. Barry’s set was enjoyable again and if nothing else, got people to finally emerge from the shadows at the back of the venue and come to the front of the stage.

And so, Ben Marwood, bounded on stage for the last performance of the full tour. With only half an hour on stage and a voice only just clinging to full strength, Ben launched through his set again with plenty of stories of tour and life in between. Another big rendition of Singalong ended the night but not quite as everyone would have liked as the manager came in and pulled the plug on the show so District never even had a chance.

A slightly damp squib to end the night with and a mildly disappointing turnout meant it was a slight anti-climax to the tour but I hope that those that did turn up enjoyed the set.

After clearing up and sorting everything out, it was time to say goodbye to my brothers as they returned to Reading, leaving me alone on the edge of the road with just my sleeping bag, a CD, a horse racing DVD game and a whole load of happy memories but also the thought of returning to real life the next day.

Ben Marwood – Horatio Dies (live at the Rising Sun Arts Centre)


Frank Turner & Friends @ The Union Chapel – 19/12
December 23, 2009, 6:07 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , , , , ,

Now, this is why you shouldn’t do ‘best gig of the year’ type blog posts before you’ve attended all your gigs for the year..

The day didn’t get off to the best start with news that Frank was stranded in France with Calais and the Tunnel both closed and all flights out of the country pretty much fully booked. So with uncertainty as to whether the headline act would turn up, it was time to leave for church.

The Union Chapel was (yet another) venue I had never graced and was surprised to find out that it is still used as a fully functioning church as well as a music venue. After a quick drink with fellow fans over the road and a quick queue, it was time to find the best pew and view I could.

It was a bizarre experience to enter the venue as, on the one hand, it was such a grand place with the stained glass windows, pews and enormously high ceilings but at the same time the main seating area didn’t seem that big. Luckily the place hadn’t filled out too much and we got a seat near to the front and just off centre. The atmosphere was made more odd by the fact that alcohol was only permitted in the bar so people were sat around with cups of tea; not your normal scene at a gig!

It wasn’t long before the first act of the night took to the stage and this was the only artist on the night that I hadn’t seen before in Adam Killip (of the band The Tailors) who played a set with a very ‘music to watch the rain by’ sound in the fact it was very chilled out and quite down tempo but with the acoustics of the venue it sounded rather haunting and was a good start to the evening.

The full band version of ‘Crocodiles’, which he played on the night, can be heard on the band’s facebook page.

With almost no time between sets, it was time for Ben Marwood to take his place on stage. I’ve ‘reviewed’ Ben a few times from the previous Lexapalooza shows and have always enjoyed the big singalong shows that he puts on. However, the Union Chapel atmosphere created a very different show with just the sound of Ben’s voice and guitar filling the venue and I really enjoyed this difference. His set consisted almost entirely of his ‘hits’ with ‘Question Marks’, ‘Friendly Fires’ and the normally irrepresible ‘Oh My Days’ all sounding fantastic in the surroundings of the venue.

At times it seemed even he found the surroundings slightly eerie and that he looked a little lost for words, although this still didn’t stop his normal chat between songs! The penultimate song of his short set was the cover of the Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’ which also sounded fantastic, before he completed his time on stage with an a capella song which filled the hall amazingly. Overall, another top performance and one that was an interesting contrast to his normal shows.

Third on stage on the night was Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halos, who I had seen at Lexapalooza Lite a few months previously. Back then, I didn’t write a lot about their performance as I didn’t listen to it too closely as, I felt, it didn’t suit the day. However, the quartet on guitar, harmonica, fiddle, accordian, flute and cello (at various times obviously) sounded so much better in this setting and their vocal harmonies carried through the hall to really send shivers down your spine every now and again.

The slower tempo, folky sound was quite mesmerising on the night and really blew me away and, like Ben’s set, the contrast between this set and the last time I saw them was amazing.

The next act was yet another I had seen at the Lex shows in Chris T-T. The first time I saw him, he played a full band set with The Hoodrats, while last time he played a solo acoustic set. This time was to be different yet again with him playing a solo piano set. I’d been unable to make his tour dates for his solo piano set so was lucky and pleased to catch him play like this.

He kicked off with a beautiful instrumental song which seemed to have the crowd hooked. From there in, he played a few old songs, such as the amazing rendition of ‘Ankles’, and some of his newer material with ‘Nintendo’ being a highlight for me. In amongst the set he even found time for a quick blowjob joke and his own a capella song in ‘M1 Song’ which went down really well with the crowd.

After a bit of a wait, and with a bit of nervous tension from the crowd and his fellow band members, Frank Turner came bounding on to the stage having just turned up after flying in from France. Bottle of wine in hand, he apologised for his tardiness but promised to make for it which he most certainly did.

Launching into the normal opener of ‘Prufrock’, the crowd were suddenly up for it but as with the previous artists, the singalong element of a normal FT gig was absent. Frank and the band knew that the setting they were in wouldn’t predispose to such a gig though and treated us to a fabulous evening of songs rarely played live and reworkings of some of the more famous songs.

For me, this was perfect as it meant I saw a number of songs I’d never seen before such as ‘Isabel’, ‘A Decent Cup of Tea’ and one of my favourite tracks in ‘Hold Your Tongue’. Some tracks that I had seen before sounded as good as ever with some of the other artists from the night joining Frank and the band on stage; Emily Barker joining in on vocals on ‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ and Chris T-T playing piano on a reworked version of ‘Fathers Day’ which saw Frank take up vocal duties only. The latter tracks was also one ofonly a few songs on the night where singing along was encouraged.

One of my highlights, however, was one of the new tracks in ‘Journey of the Magi’ which really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; maybe it was the draft from outside or maybe it was the religious connotations of the song mixed with the setting, I don’t know.

The ‘encore’ (not a true one as they skipped the stage leaving part) consisted of the rocked up version of ‘Long Live The Queen’ before all the artists from the night joined the band on stage for a cover of the Wham classic ‘Last Christmas’. After that, the stage was cleared apart from Frank who played ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ with the entire crowd on their feet, clapping and singing and damning themselves by proclaiming “..and we’re definitely going to hell!”

Altogether, it was a simply stunning evening with the venue itself playing as much of a part in this as any of the artists. From all the artists I had seen before, it was great to see such different shows from all of them and to see marterial I hadn’t seen live before; especially from Frank.

Afterwards it was up to the bar to celebrate the end of a great year/decade for music and gigs with some old and new friends.. including Ben Marwood’s mum!

I can’t think of a better way to have ended this year for gigs and can only hope next year is half as good.

Ben Marwood – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (live)

Christ T-T – Ankles (live)

Frank Turner – Hold Your Tongue (live)

Frank Turner w/ Ben Marwood, Chris T-T and Emily Barker – Last Christmas (live)

Lexapalooza Lite @ The Flowerpot – 10/10

Following the Lexapalooza all-dayer I had attended earlier in the year at The Gaff, I was a wee bit excited to hear about the prospect of a second one in the same year; the first time this had happened. On top of this, it was to be a ‘Lexapalooza Lite’ purely for acoustic artists (on the whole at least). Add to this the fact that it was at what is fast becoming one of my favourite London hang-outs, let alone venues, in the Flowerpot in Camden and you had what could be nothing other than a great time. And, as always, it was all for the breast cancer research as well giving me an even better excuse to go along and spend money.

The probability of it being a great day was only further enhanced by the fact that it would be running from midday to almost midnight which is, quite frankly, a lot of drinking time. Especially when you arrive with a stomach lining of just Weetabix or whatever the Tesco generic cheap version is anyway.

The poor soul lumbered with the task of opening the shindig was B-Sydes. I arrived just after his set had started but didn’t catch a lot of it as I said my hellos to some familiar faces. What I did hear wasn’t too bad but it did show that this was, supposedly, one of the first shows he had done. The music wasn’t anything particularly unique but was pretty solid.

After that set and a quick foray into the beer garden, I made my way back inside to catch the set by Mark McCabe and he was one of the surprise acts of the day/night for me. A slightly sombre fellow from deepest, darkest Aberdeen, he played a rather political set but it was backed up by some great vocals and some sound guitar playing with a little bit of poetry thrown in for good measure. The politics never overpowered his songs too much, as can be the case, and he had a good dose of humour in his tunes to counter this too; a surprisingly good artist for only the second act.

The next act was the only all girl act of the event, fronted by Emily Barker. They had a nice genteel sound with the acoustic guitar backed by the harmonica, cello, violin and accordion as well as some lovely harmonies from the four of them. The music was a bit of a drop in tempo from the first two acts but it still fitted in with the day and was a nice chillout backing for everyone to enjoy a drink on a Saturday morning.

Going back to the solo acoustic artists, Elliot Morris was the next to take to the Lex stage and was another of the surprise packages for me. I probably the use the term “technically very good” a lot when I’m describing artists but that phrase doesn’t do this guy justice really as he used the guitar as a percussion instrument as much as he did for it’s normal use and on top of this, he showed off some very impressive finger tapping (and as sod law dictates, the one song I recorded probably demonstrated these skill the least). His also vocals stood up to his guitar skills and made very a really good set which included his own songs and a few covers, including a Reuben one and even a Basshunter one; the former, unsurprisingly, going down rather well.

“L Plates” (live) – Elliot Morris

Next on stage was a TMWL favourite Oxygen Thief who I had seen for the first time at the previous Lex event. He’s an artist I like for being a bit different to your standard acoustic singer/songwriter by almost playing like he’s in a metal band rather than on his own with an acoustic and has some good tunes to back this up with. For this set, he bought the mic so he was practically in amongst the crowd which is a touch I always like. The set had a good mix of his stuff and even had a couple of songs I didn’t know. The ones I did know were all played really well with Too Many Trees and its clappy section going down well. The cover of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” went down well, as always, with plenty of the crowd singing when they were supposed to. Compared to some of the other artists his set felt a little short though which was the only disappointment for me but otherwise it was a good, fun set like before.

“Gold” (live) – Oxygen Thief (originally by Spandau Ballet)

Anna Madeleine was one of the only artists I didn’t see a lot of as I was more than ready for a breather and a sit down after three and a bit hours. I only caught the start of her first song but found it a little bit odd to be honest and just got the giggles when she started some slightly weird spoken vocals as it only reminded me of an episode of the Mighty Boosh my housemate had been watching the previous night (the only thing she was missing was a shiny silver jumpsuit). Other people have said that her set was actually quite good but the sit down was long overdue for me.

After regaining my composure, it was back inside for Sanjuro who had a sound comprising French folk and indie ska with a singer, drummer, guitarist and fiddle and accordion players making up the band. Their sound reminded me of the band Klezma Villanova who had played at the Flowerpot after Frank Turner’s videoshoot for The Road a few months beforehand. Sanjuro themselves though were a really good fun band and provided the only opportunity for a dance so myself, Ravi, Phil and Mr Dancing shoes himself, Ben Marwood all had a bit of a skank down the front (just like we had for The Popes Of Chillitown at the previous Lex). With the songs bouncing along really nicely, we all had a great time and they looked like they were having one up onstage too and they were the perfect antithesis to the previous artist.

The next artist was a familiar face to regular visitors to the Flowerpot as Beans On Toast took to the stage. I’d never actually seen him live before so had been quite looking forward to his set and quite enjoyed it in the end. His acoustic songs aren’t the most complex you’ll ever hear but are always good fun and lyrically good fun. For a couple of songs he was also joined on stage by his girlfriend and her vocals provided a nice contrast to his. But as well as his acoustic songs, he also performed a couple of his newer rap tracks. Sadly, these didn’t work out too well thanks to an accordion player who was MIA, the backing beats cocking up once or twice and a couple of forgotten lyrics but if they came out right, they could potentially be better than his guitar tunes.

“The Price Of Rice” (live) – Beans On Toast

After that set, it was time for myself and my friends to run and grab our only sustenance of the night as we were all starving and wanted to make sure we could get back into the venue. As such, we missed a fair bit of Dave McPherson but got back to catch some of the second half of his set. From what I heard, I thought he was really solid with some excellent vocals and guitar playing but didn’t see enough to say too much more sadly. The final song of the set was a reworking of the Fresh Prince’s classic “Boom Shake The Room” which was a great ending.

By now, the venue had pretty much filled out just in time for The Leano to start their set. I’d heard a bit about these guys beforehand but hadn’t heard any of their stuff and I was intrigued to say the least. Their music is possibly best described as hippy-hop (that term ©TMWL, Oct 2009) with the “rapped” vocals backed up by guitars and, for some songs, bongos. This sounds like quite an unusual mix and, to be honest, it was but it somehow worked. The first track off theirs was all about smiling and why you should smile and it was actually hard to do anything but that throughout their set. The highlight had to be the improvised number where they asked the crowd for three things to work into the song and anyone who can rap about pandas, helicopters and cake deserves some level of respect. A really enjoyable band and ones that are worth trying to catch live as I can’t imagine their recorded stuff can capture the fun factor that they had on stage.

As we entered the home straight, it was all solo singer/songwriters from here on in. The first of this quartet was Ben Marwood who was another I first encountered at the earlier Lex show and had been highly impressed with him then. He has a real knack for writing songs that you just can’t help but like and, quite often, sing along to and the crowd always seem to like him. His songs aren’t complicated or over technical but good, honest songs that you can normally relate to and it’s from this that he gets his popularity.

The set he played this time round had a nice mix of songs I’d heard him play before and had heard on some of his records, such as “Claire” and “Friendly Fire”, but also some ones I hadn’t heard but could still (sort of) sing along to, including the one I recorded (but accidentally cut out too early as I was clapping). I was just a bit disturbed by the random girl stood next to me at the front who kept trying to get pictures of random people with Ben and kept asking me whether I wanted a photo with him at the end. Weird. A great finish though with the cover of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” which rounded off the set brilliantly.

“Oh My Days” (live) – Ben Marwood

Ben was followed by another familiar face to Lexapalooza events in Chris T-T who was on at a more appropriate time of the night than the last event where he opened due to other commitments that day. For some reason, I don’t own any of his records but liked him when he performed live before and whenever I’ve heard any of his songs. This set was further proof of how good he is with some really strong songs, including his most famous track “When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” which got everyone singing along.

The majority of his set I wasn’t overly familiar with but still enjoyed, including a really well worked piece based on the A.A. Milne poem “Market Square”. He also threw in a new track which was well written but lacked enough pace to stand out. The final song of the set was “Giraffe #1” which prompted Frank to jump up on stage and sing along with him. Chris will be back at the Flowerpot later in the month for a piano set.. but he doesn’t want you to go.

“When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” (live) – Chris T-T

Next up was the penultimate act, Sam Duckworth better known as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. When I heard that he was playing on the night, I was rather excited as I had got his debut album on the day of release back in 2006(?) and had played it to death and even learnt to play a few songs of it on guitar myself. For some reason, I’d never got his second album though. No matter, I enjoyed his set immensely as this was the first time I had ever seen him in the flesh. He played a couple of my favourite songs from his first album, like “Call Me Ishmael” (see below), and they all sounded really good live.

I’ve always been a fan of the finger picking style of guitar playing and Sam uses the style really well; maybe not as well as someone like Graham Coxon when I saw him but he still does it really well, especially when mixing it in with strumming and his quite distinct vocals. Some of the songs I didn’t know passed me by a little bit but the set finished with what is easily one of my favourite song in “The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager (Part 1)” which was yet another one for the crowd to join in with.

“Call Me Ishmael” (live) – Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.)

And so, after almost ten hours, the headline act and one of the main figures of Lexapalooza, Frank Turner, had his time in the proverbial spotlight on stage kicking off with the standard set opener of “Prufrock”. Anyone who follows this blog (is there anyone?) will know I’ve seen him a few times recently so there plenty of songs I’d heard before but Frank had opened his set up to requests in exchange for a small charitable donation. This meant that there were a few songs I’d not heard before and this went down with variable degrees of success depending on whether he could remember them, such as “Ladies Of London Town” off his first album.

A couple of other unusual songs, including one in French, as did one of my favourite live tracks “Worse Things Happen At Sea” and the universally loved “To Take You Home” also got an airing and made the set a bit different to others of his I’d heard. The crowd down the front were all singing along loudly but supposedly were a bit flaccid elsewhere. They can be forgiven for lagging a bit by this point of the evening but it’s still a bit of a disappointment to hear that.

After the requests were over, the end of the set consisted of the ever popular “Photosynthesis” and a quite poignant rendition of “Long Live The Queen” before ending with the traditional set closer of “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” which culminated with a stage invasion led by myself and Oxygen Thief for the final section of the song (not the first time I’ve been involved in one of these at this venue bizarrely) which was a very fitting end to the night.

“Try This At Home” (live) – Frank Turner

After the night was all done and the drunken shenanigans that went on in the artists area afterwards, myself, Oxygen Thief and Ben Marwood eventually managed to get back to mine and crash (drunk housemates and random girls not withstanding) and all definitely felt the effects of twelve hours of music and mayhem (especially Oxygen Thief) but I don’t think anyone would deny that they had a terrific time. The lineup was really strong and nicely varied and I couldn’t believe how quickly the event went. I really hope that it managed to hit the target it had for money for charity and I really look forward to the next one, whenever it is. Massive congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in organising and running the event; you know who you are!

Lexapalooza All-Dayer @ The Gaff – 20/06

Held in the bizarre little venue of The Gaff on Holloway Road, this all day event was put on in the name of Breast Cancer Research. I got there bright and early and lasted the full 11 hours (at the expense of the hearing in my left ear which has just about recovered) and had a fantastic time thanks to the array of different acts playing. I managed to get photos of all the acts and audio of a number of them, the latter mainly from the acoustic stage which I possibly enjoyed more.

The venue itself seems like it may well be host to a slightly heavier sound than the majority of Lexapalooza offered with skeletons hung about the place, fake cobwebs and (perhaps most telling of all) a plethora of event posters for bands with names that would make your mother blush. Anyhoo, the day itself (featuring mini reviews due to numbers);

Chris TT & The Hoodrats

For me, a good choice to open with thanks to the fact that there was some good banter with the crowd (and Evan, the organiser). The little material I had heard by Chris TT in the past was his solo stuff so it was a bit different to hear him play with a band. That didn’t hold him back though and he rattled through his set with a good mix of tunes.

“Where Were You?”

Dave Hughes

The first artist on the acoustic stage, he played a pretty solid set. Some nice tunes and good vocals so a good start for the ‘other’ stage.

Spectrum 7

Veterans of Lexapalooza, having played the previous year, they stepped in at the last minute to cover for another band. I was a bit worried that this may have meant they weren’t going to be that good but was pleasently surprised. With some clever 65daysofstatic-esque laptop work (and some problems with the laptop, just like 65dos as well) with good guitar work and vocals over the top, they were a nice surprise for me.

Superman Revenge Squad

One of only a few artists I’d heard of beforehand (and the only one I’d seen live before), I was looking forward to his set. For me, the sound levels weren’t quite right for his set which spoilt it slightly but I still enjoyed his set and the new material which I hadn’t heard. Always forget how good a guitarist he actually is as it comes across much better live than on the record for me.

“Get Yourself Into The Arms Of Drunken People”


Another surprise package, Jedethan played an unusual style of music in being rather heavy but still easy to dance along to. Good banter between the band and the crowd made it even more enjoyable and getting some of the guys involved with putting on the even on stage to ‘play’ and ‘sing’ was a really cool touch. Evan is a natural frontman in my opinion!

Oxygen Thief

Possibly my surprise act of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Playing his acoustic like he thought he was playing in a punk band, the mix of the acoustic guitar and the sound he was making was brilliant. His own songs were brilliant and the crowd loved the cover of the Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’. And it’s always nice to know that you were a better crowd than Swindon..

“Too Many Trees”

Blind Havoc

Fair to say that these weren’t my thing. Hung around for a fair bit of their set though and it’s easy to say they’re good at what they do, even if it wasn’t for me.

Jim Lockey

The fourth artist on the acoustic stage, he was another artist that I enjoyed; nice guitar work, good vocals and well written lyrics. Very good singer/songwriter. Special shout out to the bloke in the background of the pic..

“Caskets And Bibles”

Armed Response Unit

Another band that weren’t my thing but they had a good tight sound and I did like some of their tunes.

Ben Marwood

The final artist on the acoustic stage and yet another singer/songwriter I liked. He was, technically, a pretty good guitarist and had some really well written songs which flitted between angry and emotive quite nicely.


David Cronenberg’s Wife

I’m not quite sure what to make off this band.. that may have been due to the alcohol by this point but who’s to say.. Anyhoo, they were a pretty safe band who had some ‘nice’ songs and I neither liked or disliked them really.


These guys were a Misfits tribute band and I quite enjoyed them having listened to some of the Misfits stuff back in the day. They played a solid set and did loads of the classics so no complaintes from me.

Popes Of Chillitown

The only ska band of the night, I had a great time listening and skanking along to this band. A nice summery sound which suited the day well, the crowd seemed to really enjoy their set. Some good interaction with the group of us dancing down the front as well so we enjoyed them playing and I think they enjoyed us dancing to them.

The Blessed & The Cursed

Another band that weren’t my thang sadly but I did enjoy the energy of the set and some of their tunes.

The Xcerts

I’d heard some of these guys’ stuff earlier in the week and was quite looking forward to them. Catchy songs and good energy from the indie band; nice finish with the singer playing the drum in the crowd on the final song.


The Justice Force 5

Now, it’s fair to say I was a bit unsure what to expect from these guys thank to their somewhat dubious choice of clothing (the effects of costumes are always slightly lost when you have to setup your own gear as well..) It was also obvious from the costumes that they weren’t going to be taking themselves too seriously. But in the end they were a great band to finish the night off with; some (almost annoyingly) catchy songs and guitar riffs couple with the ‘fun factor’ meant that I really enjoyed the set and had muchos fun dancing along.

Unknown track

So altogether it was a fantastic day/night and I hope, ultimately, a successful one for Breast Cancer Research. Congratualtions to all involved!!

NB For those that hadn’t noticed, there’s a new ‘widget’ down the side of the blog using socialvibe. In short, please click on the link and do whatever gubbins it asks and the sponsor will then donate a small amount to my chosen charity; Stand Up To Cancer. Only takes a minute!

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