Battle of the Bottle (Less is definitely more!)

The Reasoning

Image by tim ellis via Flickr

The Reasoning are a rock band who’s members have previously been part of progressive bands such as Magenta and Karnataka. They were, in 2010, a 7 piece band with Matt Cohen on bass, Rachel Cohen on vocals, Dylan Thompson on vocals and guitar, Owain Roberts on guitars, Maria Owen on backing vocals and guitar, Tony Turrell on keyboards and Jake Bradford-Sharp on keyboards. They’d released 3 original albums, a live DVD, an acoustic album of reworkings of their own material and were preparing for a short tour and recording a fourth album.

By late 2010/early 2011 they were a 5 piece band with Maria Owen and Dylan Thompson having departed to begin their own projects (Abraxas Scorn and Shadow of the Sun respectively). When I heard the news that Maria and Dyl had left I wondered how the band would survive, let alone evolve. Dylan had been an integral part of the song writing and took a lead role in many of the early vocals and live both had helped create the band’s ‘sound’.

Shortly after the departure of these two the band embarked on the aforementioned tour and the word on the street was very positive. Tighter, punchier, great new arrangements… I was unable to make any of these gigs for various reasons and so had to rely on others for reviews but the vibe was most definitely positive.

And so it was, in early 2011, that the band embarked on a journey to the USA to fulfil their commitment at RoSFest 2011. And this is where the review begins…

The Bottle of Gettysburg by Mark Wilkinson

The Reasoning’s performance at RoSFest was recorded for posterity and the band decided having heard it that there was the potential to release a live album. Live in the USA: The Bottle of Gettysburg is the result of that decision.

Having toured with the band in 2010 I knew their set as it was, the original arrangements from the albums, the layered vocals, the two guitar parts (3 when Maria picked up the acoustic) and was still unsure, despite hearing otherwise, how they would pull this off.

I needn’t have worried. At all.

After the Intro (an original composition? TT?) the band dive straight into Diamonds & Leather from Adverse Camber. I get the impression there are some ‘opening nerves’ as this track kicks in, nothing truly noticeable, but I feel it’s there. But only momentarily. By the time Owain picks his second break the band are in full swing. I’m pleased to report that the intertwined vocal parts are still there, with Tony taking on more than he has in the past. I can tell the arrangements are different, in fact I know they have to be as there’s only one guitar now, but for the life of me I can’t tell where that second guitar went!

Next up is Fallen Angels and again, the new arrangement has filled out to the point where you can’t think where anything else would go? This is a leaner, meaner and most definitely gig fit band on stage. I’m not sure if it’s just the CD mix or if it was the same live but Matt’s bass is more prominent, something I feel has been lacking both in recordings and live performances before. And it’s good to hear. The combination of Jake, on excellent form, and Matt’s beefier bass give the songs a bottom end/drive which I felt had been lacking on occasion before.

And this is where I have to be honest. (Matt, close your eyes and open them again in a paragraph!)

While I regard the songwriting of The Reasoning very highly, tracks such as Chasing Rainbows, Dark Angel, Breaking the Fourth Wall (not on this live album sadly) and Call Me God? never cease to impress, I’ve always felt the arrangements built up to something which just didn’t happen. I’m not sure how to explain it but I just felt that many of the songs which promised so much ultimately had something missing.

I stand corrected. And then some. These new arrangements are stronger, more confident and most definitely deliver. Less, in this case, is most definitely more!

And then there’s Rachel. Already regarded by many as one of the better female vocalists in the British Prog Rock scene this performance can only increase her standing. Having assumed many of the lead vocals which Dylan had previously sung there’s a  character to her voice which I’d never been aware of before. Shadow of the Mind is a perfect example of this.

In short, this album is a triumph, a testament to the abilities of the members of The Reasoning to reinvent their material and to help it grow. There isn’t one track on the album where I thought “Oh, there used to be an additional (enter instrument/artist) part in there”. Each member of the band has taken on that little bit more, expanded their role and the end result is one of the strongest live performances I’ve heard from The Reasoning.

The track listing is:

Intro / Diamonds & Leather*** / Fallen Angels* / Sharp Sea** / The Nobody Effect*** / Shadows of the Mind* / The Thirteenth Hour*** / How Far To Fall?** / Chasing Rainbows* / 14*** / Dark Angel** / Aching Hunger*

* from The Awakening
** from Dark Angel
*** from Adverse Camber

Highlights for me are Shadows of the Mind, Chasing Rainbows and Aching Hunger… and the artwork. Matt announced his excitement on Twitter shortly before releasing the album about the cover artwork, and holding it in my hands I can see why. Mark Wilkinson, he of early Marillion album sleeve fame (among many other things), has done the guys proud. (Matt, if you read this, I want the whole chill sauce story next time we meet!)

If this performance is anything to go by, and the arrangements the shape of things to come, then this weekend’s gigs at The Borderline and The Robin 2 will be great and the EP they’re currently working on (due December 2011) should be a welcome addition to any prog fans collection. I, for one, can’t wait!

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Send me to Hell!

This is not a review of the Foo Fighters at Milton Keynes Bowl on 2nd July 2011. That will follow, but for now here’s a story about a day out with my son…

Do you remember your first real gig? I do. It was a Christmas Showaddywaddy show in the mid/late 70s (I kid you not!)

I had to include this image, even if only for the fact that Bob Mould took to the stage with the Foo Fighters!

I remember it because it was the first time I really understood what the word performance meant. It was a real show, lights, live music, audience participation, the lot. It sounds a tad crass now (even the thought of the brightly coloured ‘Teddy Boy‘ suits and beetlecrushers makes me cringe!), but at the time it was amazing.

I was taken by my parents, and to many more after that, but that is the one that sticks in my mind. I’ve already mentioned how much of an influence my parents had on my musical tastes and their diversity but of all the impact they had I think live music was the greatest.

Fast forward 30 odd years and I have a son of my own. He’s slightly older now than I was for that gig and has already started deciding what music he likes (and doesn’t) without too much help from me. (Although I do wish he’d ‘get’ Marillion sooner rather than later!) His favourites are currently AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters and Biffy Clyro. Now, the first two have been something to do with yours truly but, if I’m honest the latter have been a bit of a roll reversal. Despite having heard the better known tracks of both the ‘Foos’ and Biffy Clyro, I will admit to not being too fussed about either before this episode.

Late last year I heard of the two dates at the Milton Keynes Bowl (MKB) which the Foo Fighters had announced and, as it was his favourite band at the time, decided to get a couple of tickets for one of the shows (no easy task being deployed to Afghanistan at the time!). At this point I didn’t know who else would be on the bill and, to be honest, didn’t care. I also didn’t know how close it would be to my impending move.

A week or two ago I visited the website for the MKB to check out parking and noticed a link to the ‘Full Details’ of the gig so I duly clicked the link and was met with an old styled poster for the gig with the ‘undercard’ details. Imagine my surprise when I saw who the top billed support were… None other than Biffy Clyro! He was going to be pleased.

With a week to go the childhood countdown syndrome started and each morning and night I was met by the ‘how many nights?’ question even though he’d already checked, double checked and re-confirmed several times that day when it was we were going.

The day finally arrived and we headed off from York with my iPhone stocked with his favourite bands and my Spotfiy account which came in useful as we decided to check out the other two acts on the bill, Tame Impala and Death Cab for Cutie, on the way down, neither of which I’d heard much of before.

The view as we entered the bowl. And that was it quiet!

We arrived in plenty of time and scoped out the merchandise and walked around trying to find an old school friend of mine and didn’t even realise the first band (Tame Impala) were on stage until I glanced up at the screens… I’ll write a review of the gig separately but suffice to say that they’re to my mind (and my son’s) ‘Tame’ in both name and nature. Next up were Death Cab for Cutie and, with both of us having quite liked the Spotify samples, we paid a little more attention. I didn’t hear too much of the set having finally found my old school friend, but I did hear enough to draw a Placebo comparison, catch the name of at least one song and note them down for some future attention.

It was then time to head off for a little liquid refreshment (non-alcoholic of course!), ice cream and the use of the extremely numerous (and clean!) public toilets before finding a suitable spot for Biffy and the Foos. Painfully aware of the ‘mosh pit‘ which would ensue during both these acts I aimed for a spot well back from the stage where I knew we’d be left in peace when the crowd surged forward when the headliners took to the stage but Wil was having none of it. He dragged me as close to the barrier separating the ‘General Standing Admission’ ticket holders from the ‘Inner Pit’ ticket holders as he could while I wondered how I was going to explain either losing him in the crowd or ending up in A&E to his Mother who had already warned me to be VERY careful and stay well back from and ‘drunken moshers’!!

I needn’t have worried. Yes, there were a large number of extremely drunk fans dancing violently all around us but we seemed to have found a tiny oasis of calm where people were actually there to listen. Thank God! Being 11 years old Wil’s not very tall and stood no chance of seeing either the screens or stage without some assistance and so, ignoring the fact he’s getting bigger and I’m not in the best shape of my life, I picked him up onto my shoulders as Biffy Clyro opened up with ‘The Captain’ and rattled through a seemingly all too short set. He spent the best part of it aloft singing along to all the songs, screaming with delight and raising the ‘horns’ with gay abandon! Every few minutes he would bend down to my ear and shout ‘Thank You!’ before returning to his rock and roll induced frenzy.

I had a reprieve of about 45 minutes at this stage while things were prepared for the Foo Fighters on stage and we got chatting with those around us. Everyone was great and made a point of talking to Wil (as an adult) asking him his favourite tracks, who he’d preferred so far, how he’d managed to convince his Dad to bring him and slapping ‘high fives’ and handshakes to emphasise evey other statement. During the next set he was even offered a slot as a singer in a band (they do Foo’s covers) to which he replied “Why would I want to do that? I’m already a drummer in one!” Get back in your box!!

Another amusing moment was when, as the crowd moshed away during the Biffy set and tempers got frayed, Wil cupped his hand to my ear and said

Drunken buffoons, amusing aren’t they!

By this time I had discovered two things; firstly, I really wasn’t in good shape and secondly my son’s obvious state of delirium was rubbing off on me! I’ve always enjoyed live  music however, over the past few years, I’ve found myself going for the music rather than the spectacle and standing nearer the back to savour the whole thing. Not so this time, I was up there, close and personal and loving every minute of it! And so for the Foo Fighters…

As soon as they took to the stage with ‘Bridges Burning’ Wil was back up on my shoulders singing along to every word, screaming every time Taylor Hawkins played anything close to a drum fill (Wil’s a drummer, and has his own first gig later this week!). He kept this up, bar two songs where I just had to put him down for a rest, for the entire 2 hour show and 30 minute encore. He showed the correct amount of deferrence and adulation as both Roger Taylor (yes, Roger Taylor from Queen!), Bob Mould and then Alice Cooper joined the band on stage and was just about besides himself with glee when, during his stint on the platform in front of the FOH Monitor screen during the encore Dave Grohl looked in our general direction. (“Dad! He looked straight at me!!”) Admittedly, as Everlong singalled the end of the show and the fireworks lit up the Bowl he had started to wilt, but considering he’d been in the blazing sun for hours and sung his way through almost 4 hours of music I can’t say I blame him.

It took us an hour to get out and back to the car before heading back up the road to York and I’m sure he was sound asleep in the back before I even left the car park…

Me? I didn’t even notice the drive home. I was high on the excitement I felt from my son’s reaction. He ‘got’ it. He didn’t complain when the songs were different to the versions he knew, he enjoyed the banter between songs, he screamed at all the right points, he accepted the soaking in beer from the cups people threw (at least I hope it was beer!). And I love him all the more for it.

Wil raising the 'horns' at his first 'real' gig.

Send me to Hell!

In between all the adulation he showed during the day, both to his idols as they performed his favourite songs and me for taking him (bless him!), he came out with what I consider to be one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long, long time…

If rock and roll belongs to the Devil. Send me to Hell!

Not bad coming from an 11 year old ;o)

I think he enjoyed the whole thing more than I did (if that’s possible) and I got so much pleasure from his obvious excitement I can almost forgive him the absolute agony I’m in today across my neck, shoulders and back. My only fear is that this show may take some beating and I only hope that, whoever he goes to see next whether with me or someone else, can live up to the memory of his first live gig.

At least with Showaddywaddy the only way was up!

Panic, at the disco… And friends in high places.

It’s been a strange few weeks. As far as work is concerned, while I’ve made a decision regards my future. I’m still ramping up to the tour in August. With that in mind the hours are getting longer and the work is (meant to be) getting harder, more frequent, more frantic… The strange thing is, it isn’t!

Yes, last week was a long week, the hours were bearable, just, the working environment was bearable, just, and the training was bearable, just! (And I was the one running it!) But the company throughout was great, all involved remained positive, there was a tangible level of optimism in the air and, all in all, the opportunity to get to know those who will be following my lead over the next year or so was a very welcome one and I have come away with a more positive feeling than I had prior to the exercise.

I wasn’t aware quite how tired I was by the end of it all until I tried watching the Heavy Metal Britannia shows on the Friday night, waking up at 01:45 on the Saturday morning on the couch wondering where the last 4 hours had gone!

All that lethargy was dispelled on the Saturday night when I ventured out with Pete and Gibbo to The Duchess to catch a gig. This was no ordinary gig though, it was a date I’d been bigging up with everyone I could over the last 3 months trying to ensure a decent crowd for what is fast becoming one of my favourite bands.

As I’ve mentioned in one of my earlier entries I saw Panic Room towards the end of last year and immediately made a note of their next night in York. This was it. Since the last gig I have purchased the limited edition version of their new CD Satellite which includes Little Satellite, a 4 track bonus EP if you will, and I’m so glad I did! At least 3 of these tracks featured in what was a very similar set to the last gig as well as the full band version of Blood Red Sky (again) and a mixture of tracks from Visionary Position and Satellite. There seemed to be a little tension at the start of the set with the sound not quite hitting the mark but as the night progressed everything settled down and the band seemed to ooze confidence. There were a couple of ‘interesting’ moments, not least the dead battery in Anne’s acoustic and the Marmite introduction to I Am A Cat (you either love it or hate it!).

The band were great and everyone enjoyed the performance. It was nice to catch up with some friends at the gig and the comments from all were positive. Once such person was John Merrick who had missed the gig before Christmas for some reason and saw the band for the first time tonight.. He commented on the fact that the band sounded so much ‘more’ live than on their CDs, something I hadn’t really thought of until he pointed it out, but when you consider the sheer power of tracks like Dark Star on the CDs then that’s definitely saying something.

Once the show was over we continued the night’s revelry at The Duchess for a while (including a fair amount of air guitar and rock god posing) before heading off with the members of Panic Room to another local establishment for a few drinks. It was nice to be able to catch up with Andy at this point as he’d been lighting the gig! Before this I managed to nip back stage and chat with both Anne-Marie and also Chris Johnson who had been the first support of the evening, it was odd to be sneaking in back stage, especially to see Anne-Marie as the last time we’d been there it had been a complete role reversal at our gig in December! (And Anne, I’m still waiting on the photos from that show!).

The last part of the night seemed a little surreal to me. You must understand that, before I became an acquaintance/friend of any of these people, I was a fan and that’s an attitude which is hard to shake off. So imagine how I felt when we ended up at the birthday celebrations of Heather Findlay with Anne-Marie, Chris Johnson, Bryan Josh, Liv Sparnnen etc along with the rest of the guys from Panic Room!

It was a great night, everyone had great things to say, both about the gig and the aftershow, the following day and I’m now waiting patiently for Anne to get on with recording some of her solo material… With all the other projects she’s involved in I may be waiting quite some time. Not to worry, I’m a patient man, and if it means more nights like Saturday I’m all for it!

Right, I’m off to start my homework!

All the best,

Grae

Regression – Part 1 – Held’ in Awe!

I promised a kind of retrospective of the last 19 months or so of my musical landscape, so here’s the first course… Be warned! Despite my love of all things ‘metal’ I have developed a predilection for progressive rock again over the last 12-18 months, and it shows!

I’ve decided to start with a couple of artist/band/performer specific blogs and not the usual Live/Recorded review of the year type and first up is the ‘Little Red Rock Chick’ herself, well, actually,  not much of it’s just her, but she’s definitely a uniting thread and major influence on it all.

I first came across Anne-Marie Helder in Karnataka some time ago but didn’t really pay much attention. It wasn’t until I saw her support Fish on the Return to Childhood tour, in Barnsley I do believe, that I began to sit up and take notice.

Fast forward to 2009 and, thanks to links with members of MR, I was now an acquaintance of Anne’s (she took MR’s first two promo shoots) and definitely keen to see her on stage again.

My first opportunity came at the Nick Harper gig at the Duchess in York shortly after I’d missed the Marillion convention where she’d performed to an exceptionally responsive crowd. I missed the first act that night and made it just in time to see Anne coming on stage. There was no guitar on the first track, unless you can call the rhythmic beating of its body playing a guitar? If I’d been in any doubt of her vocal abilities beforehand this one track cemented my opinion. To come on stage and open with an a cappella track like this was risky at best, to do it as well as this was pure talent. The set continued with one or two of the tracks from her The Contact EP from 2004 alongside some new material which has yet to see the inside of a recording studio. The set was a perfect mix of old and new material culminating in a track which I think may have been called ‘Wheels within Wheels’ that blew me away [think of a combination of Apocalypstick and Dark Star as a solo piece and you may be somewhere near it].

I bought The Contact that night. I’d heard it before but only once and had forgotten how much I liked the songs both in style and substance.  It now has a firmly regular place in my sound system, on my PC and my iPhone. I can’t fault any of the tracks and they are easily better live than on this accomplished solo début.

Next up was the Breathing Space appearance at A Night for Heroes.  For those of you not from York this was a charity event at The Duchess in memory of Howard Sparnenn a well-known drummer, musician and character from York whose daughter is now not only the vocal talent of Breathing Space but also of Mostly Autumn (who headed up the night)!  On this occasion Anne was performing in a supporting role only. I believe there were backing vocals and flute involved, but my memory may be failing me on this occasion. Despite several opportunities I had never seen Breathing Space and, despite the pedigree of the cast, I must honestly admit that I do  not believe it lives up to the sum of its parts. Brave words indeed!  I’m not sure what it is?  The music is well crafted and expertly performed, there is some (although perhaps not enough?) on stage presence and on paper this should be somewhat of a ‘supergroup’.  Live, it just doesn’t live up to expectations. (Please read on before you reach an opinion of this… there’s more to come!)

Following on from the Breathing Space appearance, the next time I saw Anne was with Panic Room.  This is, for all intents, one of the Karnataka successors and it more than lives up to it’s name. In fact I may even be as bold as to say that it surpasses that band on all levels.  Most, if not all, of the writing in Panic Room is undertaken by Jon and Anne and if this is a sign of what’s to come I will definitely keep up the harrassment of her until a solo album appears! Again I was sufficiently tardy to miss the first, and part of the second support acts but I care not a jot.  The night was all about Panic Room for me and it was, quite simply, stunning! Tracks such as Apocalypstick, Dark Star and Yasuni were perfectly executed while Anne lost herself in the tales being told and acted out her visions of the imagery inspired by the lyrics. I love this aspect of her performances, you can see her getting lost in her own worlds and it’s something to behold. [On a personal note, it’s something I envy and have begun to aspire to in my performances; the ability to lose myself under a spotlight in a crowded room…]

Next up should have been an absolute marathon of a weekend… with Mostly Autumn, Breathing Space and Parade performing on separate nights of the same weekend. For reasons which escape me now I completely missed the Friday night show which included a performance by Parade a band including Fish’s erstwhile guitarist Chris Johnson and Anne-Marie on vocals, guitar and keys. I then refused to fork out the money needed to see Mostly Autumn in York’s Grand Opera House and so it was to The Duchess again on the sunday night to see Breathing Space. Or so I thought.

As we arrived we bumped into Andy (Smith of Mostly Autumn/Morpheus Rising) who advised us that Anne and Chris had hurriedly put together an acoustic support set for the night.  This was a boon for me as I was more than a little hacked off at having missed the Friday night’s Parade performance and this turned out to be an acoustic set of primarily the Parade material.  Considering it had been put together in an afternoon’s warm up/sound check the resulting performance was proof that both these two are consummate musicians, there was even enough space for a little humour.  I didn’t know the material sufficiently to recognise them at the time, but I was sufficiently impressed enough to head off and buy The Fabric from the band’s site.

And then for Breathing Space… Perhaps it’s the venue (I know from experience that it’s a bitch to get the sound right on stage), perhaps not. But I still can’t get to grips with this band. Strange as this may seem there is just something lacking.  Don’t get me wrong, the music is beautiful, the performance impeccable. But that’s about it. There’s very little presence, in fact (in fear of being taken the wrong way!) if it weren’t for Livvy there’d be nothing to watch on stage at all, and after a couple of tracks it all seems much of a muchness. I will of course persevere and revisit both the albums and the live shows as I am determined to at lease realise what I think is missing if not bring myself round to liking them!

All in all I think I’ve seen Anne-Marie Helder live about half a dozen times in 2009 alone and I’d quite happily have seen her half a dozen more, under any one of her guises.  I cannot recommend either here solo EP (The Contact), the Parade album (The Fabric) or the two Panic Room albums (Visionary Position & Satellite) enough. Those people I have managed to ‘come see her’ or ‘give it a listen’ will agree wholeheartedly that she is a talent worthy of far greater things than she has achieved to date. And I’ll be there listening and watching when it happens.

Having read this back I’ll admit I considered apologising now for the apparent worshipping at the altar of AMH. But I’ve decided against it, she really is that good!

All the best,

Grae

Round the bend…

Things are on the up… Wahey!

After a seemingly downward spiral over the last few weeks everything appears to have flipped on its head and is now looking pretty bloody good to be honest.

After listening to people whitter (hmmm… I wonder if that’s the origin of the word twitter?) on about ‘healthy body = healthy mind’ for so long, and not really doing anything to keep the body that healthy, I’ve recently rekindled the habit of going to the gym on a daily basis, and it’s now almost 3 months since my last cigarette, so my body is in the process of a detox and it feels pretty damned good!

Unexpectedly this seems to be proving the saying true, nothing’s changed in my work situation (in fact it’s getting busier), and I still don’t have the time to do half of what I need to, but I’m waking up feeling good about things. And it’s nice.

And there’s something else that’s changed… or at least it may have.  Until Wednesday of last week I was expecting to concentrate on work for the rest of the month until playing the first gig of 2010 at Fibbers. Then, out of the blue, I get a phone call asking if I fancy playing the Gasworks in Bradford on the coming Saturday night. To be honest I thought Pete was taking the piss!  A few weeks previous to this Gibbo and I had discussed approaching the very same venue for a gig and decided that, with it being a 1000 capacity venue, and the fact that we had no ‘pedigree’ in Bradford that it would be best to wait a while before tackling it… Everyone I mentioned the gig to prior to the night was really positive about the venue saying how much we’d enjoy it and how we’d love the crowd… and they were SO right!

I’m writing this on my personal blog rather than the band’s as it’s my take on the night.

We arrived dead on time, unloaded, set up and sound checked all before 20:00.  The club had only just opened and we weren’t on ’til at least 22:45, what to do? Well, we were in Bradford. What else to do but go for a curry! Now, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that Omar’s Balti house in Bradford is, without doubt, one of the best curry houses I have ever had the pleasure to eat in, and I’ve eaten my fair share of curries! (I won’t even get started on the naan’s!)

Back to the task at hand, we headed off back to Gasworks and we still had an hour or so before we were due on. We chatted with the three people we knew in the venue, were introduced to a couple who had travelled over an hour to see us, and missed the two young students begging to get a deal on the t-shirts as they were skint! Then it was 10 minutes to go, the place was still empty and as we headed to the dressing room I had visions of hearing my lyrics echoing back at me across the dancefloor.

The music went quiet, the lights went down, O Fortuna boomed out through the PA and the band took to the stage…

As usual I came on slightly after the guys, into the intro of Save The Day and started my ‘shpeel’. I looked out into the dark and noticed a couple of people already wearing our t-shirts. Eh? No-one knew us? By the time we were midway through the second song of the set there were people up against the stage barrier moshing as if their live’s depended on it and a good number of others bouncing around the rapidly filling dance floor.  I noticed one of the guys at the front leave at the end of  Brave New World and thinking “it’s not that bad mate!”, by the start of song four he was back at the barrier, only now he was sporting a fairly decent looking digital SLR! It was about this time I realised that the crowd had multiplied by an inexplicable amount between our 10 minute call and going on stage… the responses at the end of each song were getting louder, those people who had remained at the bar were moving over to get a better view or even mixing it with the moshers at the front. Things were looking up!

It was one of those nights where everything fell into place.  The space available to us on stage was used to its full potential with Pete, Daymo and Andy pulling shapes, running around and swapping ‘licks’ while Gibbo  thundered away in the background. I spent most of my time finding more places to stand, swing, run, sit (yes, sit!) and generally having a blast! The crowd got ever louder and the interaction was great, to the point where I was actually talking to individuals during the set, or so it seemed. As the encore finished and we headed off to the dressing room I was able to gather from the guys that I wasn’t the only one who felt it had been that good. Everyone was ecstatic.

If you play in a band you’ll know what I mean when I say that playing outside your home town is always a bit hit and miss, especially when you don’t have the funds to get any real promo done beforehand. This was our worry about the Gasworks gig. We’d never played Leeds never mind Bradford, and radio/media coverage is still too sporadic to generate any real buzz, and with only 3 days notice we’d have struggled to get any sorted anyway. And here’s where Martin steps in. The promoter of the night had spent the 3 days since booking us speaking to friends, acquaintances and regulars of the venue to tell them ‘check out this band’, and check us out they did!

We emerged from the dressing room to find a queue of people at the merch stand, people returning for more merch, people waiting for signatures, photos with the band, we were bought drinks…

The Gasworks reminds me of the rock clubs I used to go to in Glasgow and Edinburgh many moons ago. The punters are there because they like the music and the vibe, the music played before and after our set encompassed just about all of the bands I listened to over the years from the classics of Maiden, Lizzy, Leppard and Van Halen to White Zombie, RATM and everything in between. It was awesome, it was loud and it was perfect.

Something special happened on Saturday 16th January 2010. I’m not sure yet how important it will be, but I feel that in that venue on that night Morpheus Rising became something other than a York based band. We became a band who can go somewhere new, take our music out there and provide a show which people can really get. It’s good old fashioned metal, traditional metal if you will, and they love it! Bring on the tour :o)

Now, that’s me finished blowing smoke up my own arse… next up some reviews!

Slainté,

Grae

Kicked into gear…

I seem to have lost a year somewhere… I distinctly remember the release of An Ordinary Man in  Nov 2008, and then everything seems to blur until the release of Fighting Man in 2009.

As a result I have missed out on much over the last 12 – 15 months despite having been to more live gigs in 2009 than I had been to in the previous few years put together. I didn’t realise quite how much I had missed until spending the last week or two catching up on friends synopses of the 2009 musical landscape in live and CD formats… And those blogs have now kicked me into gear and forced me to write my own retrospective.

Now, I’ve not been unaware of what’s been happening, I’ve just been unable to keep up with it all! I think that may now all be at an end with the addition of a little hand device to my life which means that I now have almost limitless music at my command, no matter when, where or how I choose to listen to it!

Perhaps my best (re)discovery of last year was the music of Anne-Marie Helder, but even that was a challenge to keep a handle on… (To be explained in the live/CD reviews to follow!).

There were new discoveries as well, with Frost* and Motherjane currently topping my playlists as new favourites. (The * is part of the name by the way, and not an identifier for a footnote!).

And the most recent addition to my ‘new acts to follow’ from last year is actually an old partner in crime of mine who has ‘moved on’ from the world of balls out rock to the more acerbic, grassroots world of alt.blues (I think that’s what it’s called?). Craig Hughes was the catalyst, and guitarist, in the first ‘real’ gigging band I was part of and now, over 20 years on, is an established solo artist in blues circles with a Best British Blues Album of 2009 to his credit!

I intend to write entries covering the CDs and shows I liked most, or perhaps even least, for whatever reason in the next couple of posts, but I won’t limit them to 2009. I think, to be fair, I’ll be starting from about Sept 2008 as that’s when I seem to have rediscovered live music and  the fact that I had lost touch with everything I like about music in the first place!

As far as the live performances are concerned you can look forward to everything from intimate acoustic shows to grand prog-metal performances interspersed with homegrown talent and little known gems… I think I may even manage a few surprises!

The purchases are slightly harder to corral with downloads from Amazon, iTunes, artists stores, CDs from Amazon, artists stores, high street shops and gifts to recall, but the ones I remember are obviously the ones worth a mention so we’ll start with them.

I will say this though:  The live performance I went to with the highest expectations last year was saved only by the extreme  talent of the support act. And the album I wanted to hear the most of 2009 has lain gathering dust since its first spin the day I got it (well, it may have managed additional attempts within those first few days, but not much more than that!).

I’ll try not to make you wait too long ;o)

Slainté,

Grae