Category Archives: Reviews

The Coincidental Gig – Part 2

[This is part 2 of the review, please check part 1 if you care about such things]

Well first can I say that the sound was terrible. It was impossible to hear either band properly. This possibly came from laziness on the part of the engineer. Mother Black Cap seemed, from what I could tell to be guitar led whereas the dukes were supposed to be vocalist led. I think that the engineer just decided to put everything on the same and loud and hope for the best. My mate Adrian could have done better but then he was a sound engineer.

Mother Black Cap

I’m not sure about the lead singer. There I’ve said it. His name is Glam, and on this gig Glam was looking decidedly less glam than when I’d last seen him. Although he did still have that stocking glove on so I suppose I can’t complain too much. It was odd though because it does look like he’s on a progression away from glam towards being a west coast surfer / new york geek rocker. And that’s fine, he can look any way he pleases.

Although I did get a sense of a little Fountains of Wayne in one of the new songs so perhaps it is a genuine musical shift to match? I thought, at first that it might be the sound problems. His mike might have been a bit high for him. But I went back and listened to the tracks on their myspace page* (which is not very easy to read in FireFox but I’m sure most of the media world don’t use the cool browser so it shouldn’t be a problem for them in getting signed) and I found that you can hear that weakness in his voice on the tracks there as well. It’s not fatal for him. He may need some more practice or crucially he may find himself more comfortable at singing a different kind of song.

On the subject of material I did actually quite like it. Quite a few songs you felt you knew where you were going even though the song was quite unfamiliar.

There is an sense of the grand about their style, especially in their finalé “The Dark One” (a part of which is included at the end of this section). It hinted at the overblown quality of Muse or Smashing Pumpkins. Perhaps the kind of fancy producer you need to get that sound would be able to correctly bury the lead singer’s voice in the mix?

I’m sure I’m being too harsh. The songs were really interesting and the band seemed pretty tight although not as tight as the Dukes. But in the final analysis if it was between them and The Dukes, I’d pick Mother Black Cap every time.

Rick Witter and The Dukes

The Dukes kicked off with their current single the raw, “The Year of the Rat” and it was exactly at this moment that I thought the night took a turn for the worse. The sound was pretty awful, and although I could make out the tune I remembered from theirspace it didn’t sound right. Rick was lost completely in the mix and was almost having to shout to overcompensate. The quieter songs were easier to listen to and I preferred them mainly because I could work out what was going on between the different instruments. But that’s hardly their fault.

What can be laid at them is that the Dukes don’t seem to have exactly settled on what you could refer to as a style. There seems to be about three different song writers I could identify. My personal favourite was what I imagine to be the style of Rob Wilson mainly because it had a bit of a guitar solo in it. They did grow on me as time went on, but somehow I didn’t quite connect.

I do think they did fare worse under the sound engineer than Mother Black Cap did, and listening to their studio offerings does make their sound make more sense… and yet I still don’t feel convinced by them as a band, and because of the inconsistency of the style I’m not sure they are either. I’m not sure they’ll exist a year from now.

*I wanted to say theirspace. Do you think that would have worked?

The Coincidental Gig – Part 1

There is a rule in journalism which is that if you’re going to get drunk while doing an interview then you better remember to take a tape recorder with you. This occurred to me as I sank a pint in the third pub I had been to yesterday. I wanted to write a review of the gig so I had two choices: stop drinking or try and record some of the gig for posterity. I, perhaps unsurprisingly, chose the latter and then hardly remembered to record anything. The only problem with the “more beer” plan was that I had almost run out of beer and there was no way, no way at all, to get any more. I had arrived early to secure a table outside, and had actually managed to do this but with no back up I couldn’t leave my table to go to the bar. All around me other patrons were circling. One moment somebody would put their beer down on the table and then from the other angle somebody would ask me, “is anyone using that chair”, then another beer would get plonked down. It was like I was being stalked by a pack of hungry hyenas, but with less laughing. To escape the horror of the situation I cast my mind back to how I had got here in the first place.

Normally when you decide to go to a gig there is some decision making process involved. There is usually a moment of, “oooh I really want to see them” or “yeah why not” about the whole thing. But for this gig there hadn’t been. It had all started when a friend of mine, Joe, had been over having a few beers. He was telling us this nice little story, another of our friends Zoë had called him up and said, “do you want to go to this gig with me, I’ll buy your ticket but you have to agree before I tell you who it is”. Joe being the agreeable kind of guy that he is had agreed, and it had turned out to be not as bad as he thought because it was actually to see Rick Witter and the Dukes (who? Well Rick Witter used to be front man in Shed Seven. Who? Well I probably can’t help you other than to say, reasonably successful Indie band from the nineties).

But there was something odd about this, my friend Adrian knows Rick Witter. And just as I was explaining this to Joe, Adrian called on the telephone, making it nice and doubly odd. I mentioned the fact that there was a gig and he said, “I am so there”. Actually he said some words like the words that he uses, but you get the idea. So in a way from that moment I was forced into it. I was going because two of my friends were going. Adrian and Joe had met before but I was the common factor. There was no escaping my destiny.

So a few days later, destiny fully playing its course I get a phone call from Scott. He’s got a new band (Mother Black Cap, I last reviewed him in Bugfly) and they are playing a gig coming up. “Excellent”, I think I better go and see them. But horror of horror’s the gig is on the same night. Just as I’m gearing up to tell him the sad and tragic news he says, “yeah it’s going to be really good because we’re going to be supporting Rick Witter you know from Shed Seven”. So now I must go. I have to go it’s written in the stars, the world is conspiring to get me to the Islington Academy on the 25th May.

I turn to Adrian (who was sitting to my left when the call from Scott came in – I am not figuratively turning to Adrian, I am turning to him in actualité) to tell him about the whole Scott thing when he says, “I’ve just been looking up Rick’s band ‘The Dukes’ and it’s got one of my mates in it”.
I challenge him at this point, “I thought you were mates with Rick”?
“Well,” says Adrian, “I know Rick, but I’m mates with Rob. He used to be in the band with me”.

So as I looked at my two millimetres of beer I thought “that, in a rather enormous nutshell, is how I got myself in this mess”. A new problem had been added into the mix with the table. Because the beer was now at a record low level people kept coming to try and clear my glass! I had to hold on to it – it was my only hope.

Suddenly a call from Nick trying to confirm where this third pub is (I’d been moving around trying to find one with an outside table). He tries to tell me that he’s just going to find somewhere for a bite to eat and that he’ll head over afterwards, but I tell him he’s not allowed to. He must come and rescue me. And to his credit he does.

A few minutes later we are happily seated outside a couple of pints between us, and our conversation turns to how although an outdoor table seemed like a good idea earlier it might now be getting a bit cold. But after all the effort I went through I’m not moving. We agree that stoically not moving is the order of the day. Which turns out to have been the right decision because just as Nick is heading to the bar who should he almost bump right into but a friend of his that he hadn’t seen for a year and a half? She had lost their phone all that time ago and so had lost Nick’s number and their new phone had come with a new number. They’d last seen each other when they both lived in Nottingham.

So now this is really quite weird. But I had to ask the question was I a) destined to see this gig or b) destined to get Nick in the right place to meet his old friend or c) this destiny thing doesn’t exist – get over it? Rich arrived and we had some more beer so it became a moot point.

About 5 minutes later Adrian arrives and points out the name of the pub. It’s called The York, and is right opposite the venue. York is where Adrian used to live, and was where he met Rick and Rob from The Dukes. It’s certainly time to leave and go to the gig…

[Click here for the concluding part]