Bio

Gig going foodie who reads too much, watches too much film, likes gardening, cooking/baking, and sewing. Likes to go to the theatre and anything arty. Likes travel, likes planning travel....likes solar eclipses.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Interview : Phantom Runners


Interview : Phantom Runners
 

Brighton based The Phantom Runners have certainly been causing a few vibrations on the radar over the last few months with multiple blog sites tipping them amongst the “ones to watch” for 2014.  With their catchy, feel good, summer led lyrics you could be forgiven for thinking they’d beamed directly from a feel good film but this band have been steadily working on their craft for a couple of years.  With their new single “Chasing The Feeling” out this month we spoke to them about their music, the highs and lows, their future and space travel…

Q: Your debut single “It Takes Me Away” was very well received and has quite a poppy feel to it, almost a movie soundtrack feel.  Was that intentional?
A: Cool looking at it like that now sounds great, because were going all out on the cinematic theme, especially with new video and the next videos lined up.  Each video is gonna be part of a series which will culminate in a full on Movie.  Like a film track for the whole EP.

Q: You say your inspirations are amongst others The Cure and The Stones Roses which you can hear but there’s also a touch of The Psychedelic Furs in there.  Does it worry you when people reference other artists in your reviews?
A: Yeah first track definitely has that nostalgic, lovelorn sound.  Was a really cool era in British music, those melodies and anthems from back then are timeless, seems to resonate with everyone writing on those vibes.

Q: So for those who don’t know how did the band come about?
A: Arron was a mate of my girlfriend, who tried to get us to hook up for over a year, but we eventually met on a floor at a house party in Hanover and bonded over Motown and British Indie..and being really driven at ‘making it happen’.
The band formed officially in April 2013, and within a few months lady luck found them a friend in Jamie Danan, who hooked them up with the legendary Huey Morgan, of BBC Radio 6 and Fun Loving Criminals, and all of a sudden they were recording their debut EP at the amazing Dean St. Studios.

Q: You played Hyde Park in 2012; was that daunting or did you not pay attention to where you actually were and just rely on the music?
A: Yeah it was really early on when I started writing tunes with my brother, we were just thrown out in front of over two thousand people, was pretty insane, but actually felt less nerve racking than just playing to my dad.

Q: How did that differ from your first gig both physically and mentally?
A: The very first gig was in a small town in wales called oswestry seemed like a much bigger deal than it was, I guess its the illusion that gets you hyped!

Q: How does the process for you of writing a song start?
A: I think it starts out as like tiny ideas for a vocal, or guitar riff, and I try and imagine the rest in my head then put it down.  Was sat in an old flea market when I got the idea for ‘it takes me away’, love trying to write in weird places, find it really inspirational

Q: When have you felt the most frustrated about your career?
A: When I had to walk out on my brother and my best friend who were in the band at the time.

Q: What has been the highpoint so far?
A: Getting to record the EP with Huey Morgan has been really amazing.  Balcony TV, the debut single release and the Radio 1 plays  were all a great buzz too!

Q: And the lowest point?
A: Trying to get the determination to carry on after leaving my brother behind because we used to write together, its just sadly I wanted to make things happen a lot more than him.

Q: When can we expect to hear the album?
A: This year for definite, can’t wait!

Q: You’re down to play The Great Escape Festival this year – any plans to tour or are you happy to play one off gigs for now?
A: Yeah we are planning to do 4 whole Tours this year were currently half way through the first one just playing quite quirky low key venues up then down the country from Brighton to Manchester and back.  Were playing the summer festival circuit too.
We definitely believe any band worth their salt should do their time on the road!

Q: What would be your dream gig venue?
A: One of the space stations, even if it was pretty cramped would be amazing!

Q: If you could see this time next year where would you like to be in terms of the band?
A: Getting our music out to big audiences, but we still want to keep it intimate at gigs, by maybe playing acoustic outside the venues before air after.

Q: Finally one last question.  On your Facebook bio you say you’re keen on stargazing.  Would you ever sign up to go into space?
A: Yes most definitely, really fascinated with the vastness of space and the vastness of possibility.  Been following some posts recently on anti gravity ufo technology, by a guy called ‘ralph ring’ amazing, all seems so plausible too!


For live dates check out The Phantom Runners Official Facebook page

Rubix Cube


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THE ULTIMATE 80S PARTY NIGHT with Top UK Band Rubix Cube – BANK HOLIDAY SUNDAY, 4 MAY 2014


With another Bank Holiday on the horizon you could be forgive for wanting to weld yourself to a sofa and set the telly up loud. Not so for the good people of south Manchester who this weekend see themselves going back to the future of music and the 1980s. Some say the 80s were the decade that style forgot but nobody can deny that it’s the decade that music exploded in. From synth to soul, goth to grunge the 80s had it all and big hair.

This May Bank Holiday weekend the 80s return to Urmston in the form of top UK band Rubix Cube; an all electronic show with the highly talented synth playing of John and Adam, fronted by the dynamic voice and effervescent performance of Craig. The band members have many years in the music business in a professional capacity with celebrity client endorsements and praise from Absolute 80s radio, the UK’s number one 80s radio station. All in all something worth getting up off that sofa for and donning your best leg warmers and pretending to be Madonna. Well, for one night anyway…..

The event promises to be a whirlwind tour through the highs of the 80s charts with fancy dress optional but encouraged and a late bar.

Advance tickets priced £10 are available from The John Alker Club on Flixton Road and also etickets via www.seetickets.com under the event title “80s Rubix Cube”. The on the door price will be £12.

Not Just Heart But Soul – Sam Dickinson Interview


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Over the past year North East soul sensation Sam Dickinson has been carving out a reputation for gutsy performances across the nation with a well received tour last year in support of his debut album “The Stories That Occurred” and with a full band tour planned for Autumn this year.

This Friday sees him play an intimate acoustic gig at the legendary Castle Hotel in what is fast turning into his second home in the nation as part of his Acoustic Nights tour. We caught up with him to chat about self financing, his inspirations and, of course, his home from home:


How pleased were you with how your album was received?
Really pleased, all the reviews were positive and said it was a brave album to make. It’s growing!

You’re quite open about your soul influences running from classical to more recent but what other musical influences do you think you take with you?
Definitely pop, in essence the songs are pop songs with a soul arrangement to them, but I think that’s cool and because the songs all began acoustic I think there’s a singer songwriter feel to it, I’ve lived those tracks.

As a self financing artist how difficult is it to get yourself noticed?
Well, if you begin with the expectation that you’re going to get to number one then chances are you’re going to find it pretty difficult. I think it’s a continual process of progression, you meet fans and interact with them, as opposed to pissing off after a show. It all depends on what getting yourself noticed really means doesn’t it ?

Evan Walsh of The Strypes has said that pop music now is “rubbish” – do you agree?
Not really, music is all subjective, his rubbish might be my brilliant and vice versa. It’s only rubbish when it’s not played properly or sang properly. I can see his point, perhaps music gets generic and doesn’t complicate itself? Music is just like sexual attraction, it’s all down to taste.

The acoustic tour is a prelude to a full band tour later; how do you think your work translates to each style?
All the songs started acoustically, just me and a guitar or a piano so they naturally lean to that. What’s interesting is people haven’t heard it like that before, so for the audience, it’s a different experience. The arrangements came about when I decided how I wanted the album to sound, I wanted it to hark back to the great soul peak or MoTown and Stax. A good song will suit many genres.

Manchester seems to be your second home – what is it about the city that draws you so much?
Everyone who has experienced my music in Manchester has welcomed me with open arms, it’s such a nice thing, they’re so into it. I loved the city even before I started gigging here but for me it’s a show I’m really looking forward to.

What would your dream collaboration be?
Easy, Gabrielle. It’s where my soul of British soul and soul in General began!


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You can listen to Sam talk about his music on Wythenshawe FM (Manchester) on Wednesday 9th April at 5.30pm and also AllFM (Manchester) on Wednesday 9th April at 6pm. There are also a few last tickets available priced £5 for his show this Friday at The Castle Hotel, Manchester via the venue, seetickets.com and his own website, samdickinsononline.com Sam’s debut album “The Stories That Occurred” is out now.

Bright star on the horizon – Tara O’Neill

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Within Manchester’s rich musical traditional there has always been something of a niche for female vocalists; from Elkie Brooks to Heather Small the gutsy power singer breathes in the Mancunian air and a star is born.  Another such star may well be in the making in Tara O’Neill, the 16-year-old from Flixton who has been gathering attention locally. 
First appearing on the radar when she was asked to sing with Urmston band The Rainband at Bury Met, Tara has made a small but impressive number of public performances over the last twelve months including The Beatles in Urmston commemorative concert and supporting The Stones, the Rolling Stones tribute band when they performed at Flixton Academy of Performing Arts where she is based.
Tara will next be seen at a rock and roll event in aid of St Mary’s Church, Davyhulme where she will be performing with headline act The Vincents as well as a raft of upcoming charity gigs.  Her self-penned debut EP is currently in the works and due for a release later in the year.  Meanwhile a taster of her own work, “Not Far Away”, has not only seen interest from BBCs Manchester and London but has also been picked to be the Single of the Week by Salford City Radio (FM 94.4) starting this Monday, 27 January, being played across the schedule.  
With a strong powerful delivery that belies her young age, Tara O’Neill could well find that 2014 is her year.
Tara O’Neill will be appearing at Rock’n’roll at St Mary’s Davyhulme on 8 February along with The Vincents and The Jailbirds.

Rolling Stones in Urmston – 50th Anniversary – Review – 29 November 2013

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You could be forgiven for wanting to stay indoors on a damp and dismal Friday in November but to those who braved the cold there were delights in store at a very special night of rock and roll held in Urmston last Friday at Flixton Academy of Performing Arts.  Fifty years to the day since the town had played host to an embryonic Rolling Stones it was time for the years to be rolled back and The Stones revisited bestowing their very own style of rock and blues on the party.  The entire evening was one of pure delight and of the same high standard that the organisers had attained with their Beatles anniversary in the summer.  

First on stage were local Stretford band The Vincents who also had opened the summer festivities.  Serving up a rich and gooey slice of musical cake they rattled through all the hits of the era with more than accomplished style; You Really Got Me and Louie Louie being for me the standouts from their own time touring in the 1960s.  

Next was local girl Tara O’Neill continuing the theme with three songs that epitomise the female vocalist canon of the 60s; Be My Baby, Son of a Preacher Man and Cilla Black’s You’re My World.  Clearly this young star in the firmament has a voice that invites comparison with current singers such as Adele and Emile Sandé and it is only to be hoped that this is the start of a glittering career despite her tender years.

Then came the main event; tribute act The Stones.  Bounding onto the stage to Start Me Up there then followed not one but two sets spanning the earliest Rolling Stones tracks that would undoubtedly have been played at the original gig such as Come On but also bang up to date with Doom and Gloom from last year’s albums whilst of course including all the tried and tested anthems of the Rolling Stones; Brown Sugar, Jumping Jack Flash, I Wanna Be Your Man, Satisfaction – the list is endless.  It’s all too easy for tribute bands or even the originals to stand on a stage and rattle through the catalogue but not this one.  Audience interaction was an integral part of the show and only served to further the party atmosphere along with the fact that the band themselves delivered a note and pitch perfect facsimile of a great rock and roll band.  I don’t think even the real Mick talks to the audience that much…..  

Everything was there; the energy, the drive, the moment.  This band must come highly recommended and it’s a testament to the high production values of the organisers that this was the band booked.    It might not have had the same “wow” factor as the Beatles in the summer for sheer size of event but it certainly did for the quality and experience.

So what next for Something Good Productions?  Who knows but I wouldn’t put away those dancing shoes just yet.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

ROLLING STONES IN URMSTON - 50TH ANNIVERSARY - 29 NOVEMBER 2013


 
 
Following on from the hugely successful two day event celebrating the 1963 appearance of The Beatles in south Manchester’s Urmston, this time the organiser’s sights are set on another 1963 appearance; that of The Rolling Stones.  Performing at the then Urmston Baths in November 1963 this was one of their North West appearances before 1964 saw them starting to trouble the charts in a more persistent manner.  Sadly the local baths are long gone but the same people who staged the Beatles anniversary gig have not let this stop them and have merely decamped to the building opposite, the old Curzon cinema and now home to Flixton Academy of Performing Arts.  As luck would have it this year sees the date – 29 November – fall exactly on the Friday as the 1963 performance alongside the organisers  being able to secure top UK Stones tribute act, The Stones who tour not only nationally but globally to great acclaim.  Two support acts of The Vincents, a pure rock’n’roll band and local solo performer Tara O’Neil  make up the event which celebrates 50 years since Urmston played host to Mr Jagger and friends.  A pure night of pop nostalgia beckons to coax even the most jaded pre-Christmas party goer back to life. 

Tickets are available locally from The Nag’s Head Pub, Urmston Men’s Club and of course Flixton Academy of Performing Arts themselves.  For those unable to get to any of the outlets they can be bought over the telephone on 0161 749-9084 for the bargain price of £16.50 for an event of this size.  With venue capacity considerably smaller than the park The Beatles event was held in buying in advance is essential if you want to dress up and party like it’s 1963! As an antidote to the Christmas countdown  it beats checking fairy lights and buying socks.
 
 



This article first appeared in The Manchester Gazette

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mikill Pane - Blame Miss Barclay





Hailing from the cultural zeitgeist that is Hackney in East London and having worked with some of the UK’s major new talent such as Ed Sheeran and Paloma Faith, Mikill Pane has now found time to release his debut album, Blame Miss Barclay, on the Virgin / EMI label. Consisting of 15 tracks and running at just under an hour, the album itself is a well-crafted collection of observational meanderings by one of the country’s hottest emerging talent. To the first time listener it’s a hybrid of the observational style of Lily Allen along with more than a hint of Example with a few surprises along the way and takes the listener on a journey through the modern day trials and tribulations of growing up in Britain today. Mikill himself has described the album as “a story, and I want people to follow it from beginning to end” and it’s easy to see why. Starting off with title track Blame Miss Barclay he takes us through the golden time for many of experiencing a very real taste of personal freedom, be it organizing a party or the horrors of student digs to the underside of modern life with addiction and loss and does so in a style nuanced with clever lyrics and observational comments.
I have to say that I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre with a few early exceptions but this album has caused me to re-evaluate at least this artist. For a start the first track Blame Miss Barclay launches the album in an almost indie vibe, with an 80s rock paean to an English teacher who clearly did a more than substantial job of teaching given the use of the words “rhetoric” and “genuinely intrigued” in the lyrics not to mention name checking Joe Jackson. Second track Roll On is almost a conversation of duality with the more reggae beat verses separated by a poppier chorus. The pop motif continues with Summer In The City and the “cheeky chappie” style of delivery so loved of artists such as Lily Allen; the observational style delivered in a memorable and catchy way. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Change of gear again and it’s a song about bicycles. Well that’s not something you hear every day but this is very cleverly constructed with the actual rhythm of the track akin to the rhythm of a bicycle, the hypnotic cycle beat creating a sense of movement within the track. This has been well thought out. This is contrasted with the next track which starts with a piano and the sound of rain and offers the listener a more reflective pace after the previous track. This is short lived though as the track segues into a rockier style and tells the cautionary tale of a fatal RTA and is a salutary tale of modern urban life.

Next up is Good Feeling with its tale of student life and beer humour referring to “two tenants” covering both the individuals and the beer. This is clever stuff. The linking of all the songs together to form a story is evidence in the next two tracks; No-one Left Behind and Rooftops. The first of the pairing is a love story with a twist; it’s about a suicide pact told from the pact makers’ perspective. The second half covers the singer being invisible and seeing the two people in the earlier song and also his errant girlfriend and best friend. Cautionary tales indeed and no wonder the mood is one of “some things are better not known”. Over halfway through the album and a Soul II Soul vibe creates a backdrop for a tale of generational racial tension – or is it? It transpires that the issue is not racial but football. Well, modern urban life indeed……Moving on through the next tracks you hear a tropical and very catchy pop song that name checks Prince Philip, an almost folky number and a tale of parental loss ushered with a hint of a Wild West film score.
Next up is one of my personal favourites Fade Away with is almost quasi-religious in its backdrop at the start which is appropriate for a plea on addiction with an incredibly mellow chorus. A small diversion for a track which can only be described as an “Ode to the Bottom” and we’re onto the final track of the album. Wow this is a strong track with acoustic piano and guitar and showcases a very strong voice. Not only does The End refer no doubt to the end of the album but also the subject matter of the end of a relationship. This is a very simple and very striking end to the album and is a stand out track for me.
Earlier on I said I wasn’t too keen on hip hop but this album is a revelation. Witty and clever with strong nods to a number of genres, this album defies labelling as hip hop and can only be described as a stunning debut album from a highly gifted artist with an acute sense of observation and the ability to translate the observation of the mundane into quirky, catchy and above all accomplished tracks.

Mikill Pane will be touring the UK this Autumn and the album is available for download/purchase from all the usual outlets.  Further details can be found at http://www.mikillpane.com


This review first appeared at The Gig Review