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Amon Amarth, Huntress and Savage Messiah go live and make us go wild

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Featured, Gigs, Tours | 0 comments

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Not to completely state the obvious, but I really enjoy metal gigs. Shocker, right!? It’s not all what you think though, for there is a reason beyond the music itself that I love them – there is also something further, something in the atmosphere. The room, for want of a better word, feels genuine. Probably something to do with the fact that all the people within it are not giving a rat’s ass about how sweaty they are or where their shirts have flown off to, or who they happen to be punching/hugging/crying over at any point. The mood is something different, the crowd and the bands feel “connected” (I appreciate that you might be vomiting right now, don’t worry the corny moment is nearly over), controlled by the spell that’s cast by the musicians onstage who rule the rocking roost with a powerful, vital presence.

Honestly, this “heavy-metal-genuine-and-also-awesome-presence” exists. It’s not the liquor talking. And it was most certainly felt last night as Savage Messiah, Huntress and Amon Amarth rocked the stage at Stylus under Leeds University. A raw, electric energy stormed the room from the very beginning, stirring the crowd as the opening act, Savage Messiah, burst into rich metal with no gentle awakening. The heavy metal rockers from England have toured extensively since their culmination, and their experience in live performance indeed showed. The four-piece band produced flawless vocals, immaculately timed rhythms and, basically, dished out a perfect heavy metal platter to their hungry listeners. Not only this, but they were excellent rabble-rousers, encouraging synchronized fistbumping, headbanging and instigating the moshing merriment which would carry on throughout the night. It was the perfect act to kick-start the show – the kind of music which you could feel through the floorboards, shaking you. In particular their final number, ‘Minority of One’, prompted an enthusiastic response as the crowd screamed and formed quick, semi-naked moshpits (which were only going to increase in number and X-rated value throughout the night).

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Savage Messiah, roaring heavy rockers who all have better hair than me

Post-Savage Messiah madness came Huntress. Trust me when I say that there is no way that I could state the following which wouldn’t be an understatement – that this band, out of all of the evening, had the most amazing, formidable presence and mighty stage power. Jill Janus, Huntress’ frontwoman, stalked onstage wearing a long, fur-lined cloak with massive spikes protruding from the shoulders, enchanting the audience with her jagged movements and incredible vocal range, the likes of which I could barely begin to comprehend. Indeed, it is especially apparent that this band has it all in the way of vocals – Janus can scream, sing operatically, reach both fever high and bassline low pitch. The crowd went wild for them, and were given the treat of hearing a new song – ‘Flash’ – from their upcoming album, which promisingly seems to foreshadow more excellent, ferocious music from these unique and talented performers. Indeed, they even joked with the audience in-between songs, an amusing contrast to the violent and rousing music that emanated when they played. The audience were also invited afterward to meet them at their merch stand after the gig, a friendly gesture that showed that not only do Huntress – apologies for my French – really fucking rock, they have a big heart for their fans.

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Huntress, masters of live performance

Following Huntress came, of course, the headliners Amon Amarth, a Viking death metal band from Sweden. Coming up to this gig I was incredibly excited at the prospect of seeing these men perform live (just how Viking exactly would it be)!? You have to be pretty epic, after all, to be in a band which focuses largely on Viking history and mythology. There is little history of a finer ilk. More than this, I had read that Amon Amarth based their name on the Sindarin name of Mount Doom – that’s right, from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle-earth. Ladies and gentlemen, it does not get more badass.

Except that it does. And that is when you see them live.

Flagged by an enormous backdrop on which you could only assume a legendary fight was occurring (as it sported a man wearing a large horned helmet and red cloak, and some sort of beast that I couldn’t quite make out but who was probably getting seriously murked), the men came onstage through dim blue lights and a heavy, eerily melodic violin intro. Johan Hegg, the frontman, immediately burst into screaming vocals, as the guitarists headbanged side-by-side in sync. The brilliantly responsive audience seemed to be on another level at this point (probably 70% of them also being a little bit drunk, myself included) raising their fists in homage to the band and shouting the lyrics back at Hegg. Again, there was absolutely no falsity from these musicians – they grinned at their audience, had a word or two in-between tracks and truly spread the metal love via choral invitation and punching allied fists in the air. From their synchronized movements to the impeccable harmonization of voice and instrument, you could really sense that this is a band who is truly meant to play together. And they love it. Johan Hegg belongs to a mic. Fredrik Andersson belongs to the drums. Ted Lundström belongs to his bass. And so on so forth. This is not a sense of belonging, either, that goes to waste, for everything that they did was worthy of admiration. Each track oozed complex musical craftmanship, every guitar solo more mindbending than the last. The vocals throughout were unfailingly gritty fueled by a warmongering stamina which never flaked. Amon Amarth have acquired, seemingly, the unnatural ability to never tire, as the night simply descended into heavier and heavier madness with really no guarantee of stopping. They inexorably thrived, their music coming alive through their organic and dynamic performance.

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth: intimidating beards but really nice guys

Indeed, on comparing the performances given by each band last night, there are a few things that are obvious. Although all bands belong loosely to the same genre, and indeed complimented each other well onstage, they also all have their own, definitive styles. Savage Messiah are, in my mind, more classic, never-gets-old heavy metal rockers, whereas Huntress adopt an occultist theme and possess a hardcore frontwoman to boot. I may almost have said that Huntress stole the show, but Amon Amarth were nothing short of legendary and, of course, had the awesome unique twist of being, basically, modern Vikings themselves.

Another thing is, also, glaringly apparent. This music – although immense-sounding through your speakers – should be appreciated firsthand. The enigmatic presence of each band brought the music itself even further to life (I do get the pun, “death metal” that is “brought to life”, haha very funny) and the experience became that of a thrill, as opposed to just headbanging wildly in your computer chair. The moral of this tale, then, is this: see them perform. Catch this tour, if you can, because they really do work well together. For if what I witnessed yesterday was anything of a foretelling, Amon Amarth – as well as Huntress and Savage Messiah – have many great years of touring ahead of them.

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Camden Rocks 2015 Announce First Wave of Acts!

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Articles, Festivals, Gigs, News | 0 comments

Camden Rocks has announced the first 40 bands set to play the festival this year. Taking over various Camden venues on Saturday 30th May, the festival will feature huge names such as Welsh post-hardcore legends Funeral For A Friend, alt rockers …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and British rockers Heaven’s Basement. Also joining the bill are The Dictators, Black Spiders, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Turbowolf, Feed The Rhino and God Damn.

Now in its fourth year, Camden Rocks takes over legendary venues such as The Underworld, Electric Ballroom and the Camden Barfly and with over 150 more bands still to be announced, 2015 is set to be the festival’s biggest year yet!

Fans of Funeral For a Friend will be delighted by the news that the band are preparing something very special for their Camden Rocks performance. “We’re thrilled to have been invited to play Camden Rocks,” frontman Matthew Davies says. “We’re looking forward to banging out three in your face sets across Camden during the day so make sure you’re in attendance as we’ll probably be mixing it up a fair bit!”

Check out the full line-up below!

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Tickets are £30 + booking fee and are available now from www.camdenrocksfestival.com. Don’t miss out!

 

 

 

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The Black Flag Talks to Tony Mayo

Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Club Nights, Featured, Gigs, Videos | 0 comments

Regular visitors to the Black Flag will know the name Naked Lunch, the band fronted by the elusive Tony Mayo were early pioneers of the post punk Futurist movement back in the early 80’s. Now over thirty years later Naked Lunch are back, bigger and better than ever before. It’s been a long while since we last had a chat with Mr Mayo, so we thought it was time to remedy that. After a year of prolonged harassment Tony finally gave in and agreed to an interview. Good timing as well as the band have taken on some new members, released an album and some awesome videos and are about to have their biggest year yet…..

The black Flag: A lot has happened since we last caught up with you guys in wow 2012, you’ve added an extra bandmate (that we all know and love), you’ve recorded your album, had a few awesome video’s made and recently supported Combichrist. Let’s start with the addition of the lovely Jet Noir…

What was the reasoning behind adding a female singer?

Tony Mayo: We added Jet as a replacement synth player, as Mick lives too far away and it just so happens that there were some lines that felt better with Jet doing them.

TBF: Has jets addition changed the sound of Naked Lunch and overall dynamic of the band?

Tony: We were happy to have Jet join as her ideas match our own and the sound of Naked Lunch is a fusion of electronic genres, not ring fenced into one area. What she has added is some awesome cyberspace skills and is a great addition in the writing of the new material, that we working on. In short Jet has fitted in perfectly as have Clint our new drummer and Sam our Bass player

TBF: Was this the reasoning behind rerecording your original tracks or was that more a case of taking advantage of modern technology to make them sound a way that maybe you originally envisioned?

Tony: It was a case of giving a nod to the past and bringing it into the present, which I think old and new fans would understand. Plus it was good for us to revisit some of the old tracks and tweak them and to have Jet’s input too.

TBF: Has much changed since tracks like Slipping again and Rabies were originally recorded? Do you feel there’s much difference between the old and new versions?

Tony: They have changed a little but essentially they are the same tracks

TBF: What has been the reaction from your fan-base?

Tony: People appear to like what we are doing and that includes those who know us from before and those of us who only know us as a band of the here and now

TBF: You’ve had a few excellent videos released as well. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Tony: We approached Pete Lankston after an introduction by Jet and asked if he would do some videos for us. We felt that having videos out there would give people a better idea of our vision, similarly to that of our art work and T shirts. It is all about being creative and moving forward

TBF: The video for Alone is really unsettling and works great with the track. Did you have much input or did you leave it all to Pete?

Tony: We discussed it and Jet suggested the grain effect, which we all though was a great idea and we suggested trying to get some band footage in. Pete lets us know what he was doing and we liaised with him but we trusted him to deliver and he certainly did.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/kS2muiLSD00[/youtube]

TBF: You’ve recently supported Combichrist on tour how did that come about?

And how did you find the tour in general?

Tony: We saw that they were doing UK dates and asked about doing them and sent though info and links about us and luck had it that we got the gigs. We really enjoyed doing the tour as it was the birth of the new twenty first century Naked Lunch, with our new line up. There were a couple of technical hicups but we got over them and played on. Awesomely we had brilliant audiences who really liked our set and it made the whole tour so worthwhile. Thank you to everyone who came to see us you were all fantastic and we hope to get up to you all in 2015

TBF: You’ve got a few more live shows coming up in early 2015. Tell us about those?

Tony: On the 10 Jan we are playing at Elektrowerkz along with Sigue Sigue Sputnik and then the 23 Jan we are headlining on the opening night of a new electronic club, Analogue Nights at The Cavendish Arms, 128 Hartington Rd, SW8 2HJ London. This will be a pre-release event for our Evolve EP we have coming out on the 13 Feb. This is four of the tracks from our album that we revisited and had Carlos Peron produce plus we have some dates in March that will be announced on Boxing Day plus we have been asked to play in Switzerland in November.

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Looks like we are going to be busy in 2015

TBF:  Wow. That is a lot of Naked Lunch in 2015. Any UK festival dates where we can expect to see you?

Tony: We are still in the process of taking bookings and would love to do some in the UK and in Europe too

TBF: Ok our final question. We asked you it last time we spoke but obviously things have changed a lot for Naked Lunch since then. Where do you see the band in five years?

Tony: Evolving and still moving forward, with more fans and yes we are still aiming at total World Domination…. perhaps (laughs)

[youtube]http://youtu.be/F1C_O_M47j0[/youtube]

New EP coming out on Friday 6 March

Catch the Covenant tour dates Birmingham 6 March, London 7 March and Bristol 8 March

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Reporting on Skindred live at The Welly Club: a performance like you’ve never seen

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Featured, Gigs, Reviews, Tours | 0 comments

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On Tuesday the 25th on a frosty November evening, I and about two-hundred others packed ourselves into an intimate room at The Welly Club to experience the “Ragga Metal” band from North Wales, Skindred, perform live. This is a night I will always remember. You could tell that there were people there who had already seen a Skindred gig, and knew what we were all in for. I had been an amateur to such an experience – but nothing could have prepared me for it. Watching Skindred perform has added a whole new dimension  to my experiences of live music, and I could sum up this entire review with one sentence: that they are the ultimate band to go and see with your own eyes. This is a total guarantee. There is nothing like them – and I feel like I am quite late in experiencing this revelation. They have already been awarded with “Best Live Band” at the 2011 UK Metal Hammer ‘Golden Gods’ awards, and granted  the “Devotion Award” from Kerrang! magazine. Indeed, their onstage presence is a force to be reckoned with, as the band have presence and talent in seemingly all areas of music and entertainment: mixing reggae, metal and punk influences along with jungle, ska, hip hop and dubstep, a beautifully executed mashup delivered with ecstatic dexterity.

From the very beginning of their set the band surprised us, bouncing onstage to a remix of the Star Wars opening theme tune. The audience was completely gripped – a state of total attention that I have never before witnessed at a gig, yet Skindred completely deserved such attention. There was not a moment’s silence for the whole set, each member of the band pouring tremendous effort into bringing their tracks to life and communicating personally with us. I think you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who wouldn’t enjoy them – even if you believed that their music wasn’t for you (which seems to be impossible, as they cover such a wide range of musical styles) it is undeniable how entertaining the lead singer, Benji Webbe, actually is. After every couple of songs, the eclectically-dressed and multi-talented singer would pause to joke with his audience, encouraging us to sing with him and making dynamic, short speeches, building a truly electric atmosphere in the room as we responded to him. At one point he asked us how many of us had bought his music over the years, to which we responded with a cliche “woo” and airpunch, the given audience-response to live artists. He then asked us how many of us illegally downloaded Skindred’s music, to which an even louder “woo” was given. His answer was roughly this – “*laughing* you’re all a bunch of c****s. The next song you’ll probably all know then from STEALING IT you b******s”. Webbe’s genuine attitude was brilliantly witty, and – cheesy as it is – really created the feeling that we were all good friends: unified by humour and a passion for the band.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv2iOUQqCks[/youtube]

Each live track, of course, was amazingly executed. You could distinctly tell that they’ve have been in the industry for years (since 1998) as their talent is so raw it’s basically palpable. They covered songs from their older albums, like “Union Black”, including a version of Cut Dem which began with Damien Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock and my favourite song of the evening Doom Riff, alongside tracks from their newest release “Kill The Power”, which came out in January this year. Webbe can go from throaty, ominous screams to fast-paced, energetic rapping in 0.11111 seconds, keeping the audience in a constant headbanging state as each track switched between styles. Not only this, Webbe switched styles like he switched his look, wearing a Steampunk-style tophat at the beginning of the night, before later swapping it for a fluffy red hat, roaring passionate vocals into the mic whilst sporting a fairly adorable look, making the audience possibly love him even more. I cannot mention enough the pure energy that Skindred pours into their live performances, both in delivering their music to a crowd and entertaining them between songs. These efforts did not go to waste,  the adrenaline in the room only spiralling higher and higher until tiredness seemed to become an unknown concept to us all. There is no doubt that Skindred really loves their fans,  shown through their constant attention to us, a love which further perfectly mirrors their ethos of unity between all people.

Benji’s dynamic personality and Skindred’s rousing music practically bounced of the walls Tuesday and have left me feeling slightly empty and a little nostalgic since. I would recommend an extensive listening to their music as it can only inspire and excite you more to go and see them for yourselves, but stay away from YouTube live videos. Let that be a surprise. It’s worth the wait. Book your tickets.

Laura Demaude

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THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING add Nottingham, York and Newcastle shows to autumn mini-tour, celebrating ‘kicking cancer’s arse’!

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Gigs, News | 0 comments

genuinely inspired – Terrorizer

Rabble-rousing ,,, packed with droll Victoriana – Independent on Sunday

their timeline-defying sonics are as forward thinking as it gets – Rock Sound

full of silly steam punk stories thatll make you wet your bloomers or britches – Bizarre

Steampunk superstars The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have announced a further three UK headline dates this autumn. The shows in Nottingham, York and Newcastle, plus a centerpiece hometown date at London’s Highbury Garage on November 14th, will be the band’s first appearances as a four piece since vocalist Andy Heintz was diagnosed with throat cancer this April.

Andy is now making a good recovery, and the band are once again firing on all cylinders.  Work is already underway on a third album, tentatively slated for release in Spring/Summer 2015, with some of the new material set to be debuted at the upcoming shows.  The group are inviting fans to join them in celebrating ‘kicking cancer’s arse’ at the following dates;

Fri 31st October – NOTTINGHAM, The Doghouse  (http://bit.ly/10e5I5U)

Fri 14th November – LONDON, Highbury Garage (http://bit.ly/1rxUt2s)

Thurs 20th November – YORK, Fulford Arms (http://bit.ly/1vtK6ft)

Fri 21st November – NEWCASTLE, Think Tank (http://bit.ly/YGotxp)

 

Anarchic, anachronistic and truly inspired, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have been putting the ‘punk’ into ‘steampunk’ since 2008.  Blending tales of 1877 with the attitude of 1977, their highly original mix of horror, humour and history has seen them hailed as one of the 21st century’s most inventive acts, by critics everywhere from The Independent to Terrorizer, while their immersive, immensely fun live show has wowed crowds from Bestival to the Edinburgh Festival.  An ever-innovative recorded catalogue has included the first release on the archaic wax cylinder format for 70 years, caught the attention of EMI Records (who threatened legal action over the first album, ‘Now That’s What I Call Steampunk! Vol 1’), and seen them grow a devoted, globe-spanning fanbase, with the release of 2012’s tongue-twisting follow-up, ‘This May Be The Reason The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons’.

 

Yes, quite literally nothing can hold this truly unique band back; not lawsuits, not conventional weapons, and now not even cancer.  While Andy has faced up to the hell of radiotherapy treatments over recent months, his bandmates – ‘occult comedian’ and Radio 4 personality Andrew O’Neill (vocals/guitar), fellow stand-up comic Marc Burrow (bass/vocals), and ex-Lords of The New Church man Jez Miller (drums), have remained determined to keep the show on the road.  In June they played Glastonbury festival as a three-piece to a great response, before Marc and Andrew took their stand up show on a US tour The Men had been due to play, attracting rave reviews in New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Detroit, and playing a one-off performance as an acoustic duo at the Steampunk World Fair in New Jersey.

 

However, the most hotly-anticipated TMTWNBBFN shows of the year are still to come.  Their big comeback as a four-piece this autumn is definitely not to be missed!

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REVIEW: CoCo and the Butterfields’ ‘See the Sun’ EP launch at the Margate Winter Gardens June 28th 2014

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Album Launch, Featured, Gigs, Pinned, Record Releases | 0 comments

A review by Dan Theman

When I first picked up a pen to review local gigs I would never have guessed that I would be writing about a band that had just played Glastonbury. Neither would I have anticipated writing about a band that had invented a genre of music. Now imagine my pleasure at being invited to attend the EP launch of Kent’s very own rising stars ‘CoCo and the Butterfields’- a band that has done both. With their unique mix of Folk, Pop and Hip Hop, CoCo and the Butterfields have created a truly original sound called ‘Fip Fok’ and their music combines the best bits of each genre. You get the upbeat foot stomping energy of folk and bluegrass, the catchy sing along chorus of pop music and the infectious beats of hip hop all rolled in to one. Throw into the mix five very talented musicians, superb vocal performances and beautiful songwriting and it’s easy to see why CoCo and the Butterfields have just won the ‘One to Watch’ award at the East Kent Culture Awards.

Band members Tom Twyman (guitar & vocals), Dulcima Showan (violin & vocals), Jamie Smith (beatbox), Micah Hyson (double bass), ‘Handsome’ Rob Wicks (banjo) are friends who started their musical journey busking  together on the streets of Canterbury. From these humble beginnings two years ago they have evolved into one of Kent’s most popular bands and have appeared at venues and festivals up and down the country. Now fresh from Glastonbury they are performing to a packed venue in their home county and based on the excitement of the queuing masses, tonight’s gig is beginning to feel as much a triumphant homecoming as it does an EP launch.

The first thing that struck me when entering the Winter Gardens was that it’s a very grand venue in both its size and its decor. The second was just how busy it was. There must have been around fifteen hundred people in attendance and I couldn’t pick one demographic that made up the bulk. CoCo and the Butterfields clearly have a broad appeal because there were people of all ages, including many families.

Tonight’s first support act was Phoebe Warden – a local female singer/songwriter whom I have had the pleasure of seeing before. Having seen her perform previously at a very intimate venue with an audience of less than one hundred people, I was curious as to how her enchantingly delicate voice would carry across such a large stage to a noisy crowd. It turned out her voice filled the room and her performance was well received. Phoebe is a beautiful girl with a beautiful voice and I would challenge anyone to watch her perform and not be captivated by her. Anyone wishing to take me up on that can catch Phoebe at the ‘Lounge On The Farm’ music festival in Canterbury on the 2nd of August.

https://www.facebook.com/phoebe.warden.music

The second on the bill was Hullabaloo, an energetic Jazz swing band that really knew how to get the crowd fired up. Their set featured some well-known covers such as Frank Sinatra’s Mack the Knife and Misirlou by Dick Dale (the track the Black Eyed Peas sampled on Pump It) which went down an absolute storm with the younger members of the audience and saw the double bassist climb on his instrument whilst playing. I’ve been to a lot of gigs but that was a first for me. I found them thoroughly entertaining and judging by the people dancing and the huge round of applause at the end of their set, the audience did too.

http://hullabaloo-uk.com/

Rather than make a grand entrance, CoCo and the Butterfields kept the suspense going just a little longer by appearing on stage one at a time. First Tom, then Rob, Micah, Jamie and Dulcima. With each newly emerging band member the crowd screamed and applauded with the sort of vigour often reserved for chart acts. Any band that can get that response from such a large crowd is surely going somewhere.

They opened with an obvious crowd pleaser, ‘Five Bells,’ and the floor started to shake from all the dancing and stamping of feet. This was followed up by ‘Fly’ which sees Dulcima’s voice reveal its true range as she graduates from soft dulcet tones to something much deeper and incredibly powerful.

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Next came ‘See the Sun’ – the title track from the new EP, which required “the help of some special tiny people” – the TKAT children’s choir. As well as the eighty piece adult choir on the stage (lead by Sam Palacios), the upper balconies housed almost one hundred and fifty children from five local primary schools which together make up the huge choir. CATB were also joined on stage by two additional violinists (Karen Jolliffe and Kammy Pike), a cello player (Mike Bacon) and a drummer (Dan Lucas of Anchor Baby Recording). I can see why they chose ‘See the Sun’ as their title track because it didn’t take long for the audience to start singing back the chorus line “There’s always time for one more song”. I think it’s safe to say this one will be another crowd favourite and tonight’s grand performance was a great way to unveil it to them.

How do you follow up your brand new EP’s title track, I hear you ask? With a song about falling in love with an astronaut, a pirate and a dancing girl of course! ‘Astronaut’ is a light bouncy song which featured more guest musicians. This time a trumpet (Jack Bennington) and trombone (Sion Jones) which gave this rendition much more of an upbeat ska sound than can be found on the original recording. ‘Tipperary Boy’ was preceded by the phrase “we’re gonna have a hoe down!” and hoe down we did. There is definitely a sweet spot in the musical spectrum where bluegrass meets hip hop. Until now you probably didn’t think such a spot existed but I assure you it does. Then came the song which according to Tom “started the whole folk hip hop thing” – their cover of ‘Just a Dream’ by Nelly. Although not their own, CoCo and the Butterfields have put their own stamp all over this and deliver a rendition which I prefer to the original – conclusive proof that anything can sound better with a banjo and a beatboxer. Tonight’s version also featured another special guest artist, Adam; who at just eight years old blew the crowd away with some amazing beatboxing skills.

Now bringing the tempo back down a little was ‘Alone’ which features some wonderful vocal harmonies and on this occasion the choir and recorder player (Jo Rumary). The audience were obviously familiar with this one because there were several hundred of them singing along to the melodic chorus. After a few birthday shout-outs it was time for my favorite CoCo song ‘Scarecrow’ which was preceded by a salute from the bandmembers to one another and to the audience. I absolutely love the violin on this song and I must confess to putting down my pen and pad to join the audience and dance. As it was approaching their bedtime it was time to say goodbye to the children’s choir who left the venue to a serenade of ‘Auf Wiedersehen Farewell’ from the Sound of Music – very cute indeed. This was followed up by a haunting vocal solo from Dulcima who pushed her voice to even greater heights. I couldn’t help but laugh when she thanked the audience for listening – I don’t think she realises just how good she is.

With the rest of the band back on stage we were treated to a laid back and rather soulful tune called ‘Little Boat’ which featured Tom’s brother (Dan Twyman) on saxophone. This was followed by the much more energetic ‘Mother’ which soon had people dancing again. It’s worth noting that the CD version of this features ‘Gentlemen Of Few,’ another great local band who recently got through to the finals of the BBC Young Folk awards. What came next I was not expecting – a cover of ‘I Will Always Love You’, a song which I really don’t like. Luckily for me CoCo and the Butterfields soon steered away from the version made famous by Whitney Houston to a much more enjoyable foot stomper, that when delivered with Dulcima’s powerhouse vocals made me make a little note in my pad – “Damn this girl’s got lungs!”

The next song struck a chord with me that was shared by the band themselves and probably a fair few people in the audience. ‘King Of The Corner’ was released on the ‘One Heart, One Love, One Soul’ album to commemorate the life of Daniel ‘Taihg’ Lloyd – a local busker and friend who sadly died. I knew Taihg and hearing this song performed on such a grand scale was very moving.

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‘King Of The Corner’ was followed by ‘Hip Hop Song’ which is another of my favorite CoCo and the Butterfields songs. Performed with all the backing musicians it took on a sound somewhere between ska and swing and was very well received. A lot of bands introduce their new material alongside a few old crowd pleasers that sound just like they did the first time you heard them. CATB didn’t take this approach. They consistently added a little something extra to their older songs and additional layering of instruments and backing vocals really shows off their evolution since the original recordings were released. ‘Hip Hop Song’ also gave a chance for each band member to perform a solo with Jamie’s beatboxing performance injecting a little extra comedy in to what was already an entertaining evening. After each members solo performance the whole band launched into the theme tune from ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ which sounded fantastic. It felt like half the audience (the older half) were singing it with them, me included. This little sing-along was well placed before what can only be described as an epic beatbox battle between Jamie and Dom Wolfe (AKA Mr Wolfe beatbox). Now you don’t get that at many gigs where you also find a banjo player! From banjos and beatboxers to a song about platonic love called ‘So Long’ which was written by Tom and dedicated to his friend Cameron who was in the audience tonight. It’s clear from Tom’s lyrics and moving vocal performance that this one was written from the heart and it was a fitting way to end tonight’s show.

As Tom, Dulcima, Micah, Rob and Jamie said their goodbyes the backing singers carried on singing and continued to do so – an encore was definitely on the cards. Returning to the stage to screams and thunderous applause, CoCo and the Butterfields played a song that everyone had been waiting for – ‘Warriors’. This was the point I gave up on note taking all together and left my spot in front of the barrier and joined the audience for another dance. I would recommend checking out the video for ‘Warriors’ YouTube because it’s very creative and way above the standard of your average local band music video. That being said, CATB are well known for their creativity and not just in their videos. Dulcima makes her own stage costumes and even the bands tour van (affectionately named Frank) was painted by them. The evening drew to a close with a bluegrass version of ‘Jump Around’ by House Of Pain. The younger members of the audience were probably unaware of the original but they jumped around all the same.

Not many bands have such wide appeal these days. The younger generation are drawn to the vapid pop music found in the singles chart and real music connoisseurs tend to listen to underground acts. CoCo and the Butterfields put on a show that appeals to everyone and as they don’t feel the need to add hip hop’s love of profanity to their unique ‘Fip Fok’ style, they are fun for the whole family. Next time they come to town I’m taking my kids because I know we will all enjoy it. Follow the links below to check out the band’s Facebook page and website where you can download some free tunes, buy the new EP and check their gig diary for a show near you.

https://www.facebook.com/CoCoandtheButterfields

http://www.cocoandthebutterfields.com

Words: Dan Theman

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