Monthly Archives: February 2014

REVIEW – Friday Night Mix at Henshaws 21/2/2014 (Red Ocean Nectar/ Pips/ Set Sails)

It’s a frequent complaint about Harrogate that, although we have the bands, we don’t have the venues. Granted, things aren’t helped by sad bastards who move next to places that have hosted live music for years and promptly complain to the council, but opportunities to establish regular live nights are missed. Therefore when somebody tries to break the mould we need to shout about it. Henshaws College, led by Rufus Beckett (of the Four 45s) are definitely breaking the mould with the Friday Night Mix. It’s early days yet but last Friday showed what could be a good template for regular events with young musicians opening for more experienced bands. Henshaws itself makes an attractive venue although I think we need the longer evenings to roll around in order to appreciate that.

I only caught the end of Red Ocean Nectar’s set, specifically their cover of Sweet Home Alabama (given Neil Young’s influence on music as we know it I do find it slightly ironic that the younger generation know him best from a group of rednecks slagging him off but I digress). Red Ocean Nectar appeared to be receiving an enthusiastic reception from the crowd and will be playing in the Battle Of The Bands on March 9th (in the metal heat apparently, even though they’re not a metal band).

`This is wierd shit … and it’s about to get wierder` – I think these were Petch’s words early into Pips’ set. I might have to start bringing a notebook to these things, if I didn’t look daft enough already. Anyway, Pips are familiar to readers of this blog, however it’s the first time I’ve seen them since their break last year and I can safely say that they remain as inventive, unique and (best of all) as fun as ever. A couple of observations; having followed this band for a while what was at first primarily the Petch show is now more a group effort and all the better for it. Secondly, a band needs an audience and Pips were well served by an unexpected moshpit which they fed with Justice – still the best five minutes of their act.

Set Sails are a band I don’t know much about, however I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover afterwards that this was their first gig and the songs (with the exception of an Evan Dando cover for the encore) were all originals. Every band has to start somewhere – it will be interesting to see how Set Sails develop.

One last thing. If there was some great music going on inside there was also plenty of activity outside; I overheard a mass singalong to Bohemian Rhapsody and Red Ocean Nectar’s fans clustered outside living for the moment reminded me of what is arguably rock music’s defining lyric; `the amusement park park rises bold and stark/ kids are huddled on the beach in the mist/ I want to die with you out on the streets tonight in an everlasting kiss`.* The charts may give the impression everybody is digging Sam Smith’s antiseptic garbage with its canned finger clicking but it was rock and roll that made this country great and at Henshaws last Friday the spirit of rock and roll was alive and well.

* Shame on you if you don’t know it.

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IV PLAY TEN YEARS ON – The Call Of Fame

When we left the IV Play story the band had just released their second EP. With hindsight we know that there was never to be a third. However in January 2004 anything seemed possible. The word was now spreading beyond Harrogate and a few agencies were starting to take interest. It’s a common story and – unfortunately – it’s where too many bands start to go wrong and IV Play were to prove no exception. But there were still the best part of twelve months to come before that.

Ignoring the fact that every town probably had their local heroes, not just Harrogate, in theory everything seemed perfect for IV Play. It did appear like they might have to swallow their pride and be marketed as a pop, rather than a rock, act but both arenas seemed perfect for them. The biggest pop band of the moment (albeit in a badly slumped market) were Busted and they would abdicate during the year for McFly. On a more credible level the biggest selling rock album of the year was Hopes and Fears by Keane. IV Play were a band who could easily straddle both camps. Maybe, just maybe, if the band had been left to their own devices without industry meddling this would have happened.

We now require a digression into Mark Owen, for this is where his story intersects with that of IV Play. To save typing my thoughts on his underrated solo career can be found here https://amz1981.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/mark-owen-the-return-of-the-king/

While IV Play were gathering steam in Harrogate Mark Owen had won Celebrity Big Brother (which was a little bit more of a reccomendation at the time than it is now) and used it as a springboard for relaunching himself with the hit single Four Minute Warning. However a second single and the album had flopped despite reasonably enthusiastic reviews. At this point in January 2004 Owen had split with his label and was looking to go it alone. At the same time it was his management company who had taken an interest in IV Play. I’m not sure exactly how the introductions were made but it led to Mark Owen attending a showpiece concert at Bar Med.

In early 2004 Bar Med was arguably Harrogate’s second biggest nightclub after Time (formerly Jimmy’s, now the King’s Club). 2014’s revellers now know it as Viper Rooms (it was briefly Ministry Of Sound between the two). On 30th January IV Play’s followers queued outside to see the band play arguably their most high profile gig. Ironically the bridge that forms between anonymity and fame could already be seen; for the first time there was a hierarchy in the IV Play faithful – family and close friends relaxed with the industry figures in the VIP room while others waited in the cold for Bar Med to open the doors.

With hindsight I wonder how many of us knew what an important gig this had to be for the band. I’m sure no amount of beer and flattery could mask the nerves and the necessity of delivering this one show. I doubt the industry figures cared what a good show this band could put on at Carringtons or the Alex, for them the proof would have to be in this gig. Perhaps for this reason; from the perspective of the hardcore, this would actually prove to be one the weaker gigs. To be fair Bar Med wasn’t an ideal venue; attractive to the eye but lacking the acoustics the band needed.

The band came on stage in a cloud of smoke to the strains of `O Fortuna` and launched into the songs that were familiar to many in the audience but which several others were of course hearing for the first time. It should be noted that there was a guest musician; a fifteen year old girl came on stage to play violin on a reworked 35 Miles An Hour (arguably the band’s most undervalued song) and piano on Seventeen which was still a headache to reproduce live.

I think ten years on I can safely say that if there was one occasion where I should have pulled a sickie at work it was that night. As it was a 5.45AM start the next day I had to leave the gig early so not only did I not get a chance to meet the celebrity fan – by all accounts Mark Owen came out into the club proper and chatted to revellers afterwards – but it was one of the few gigs where I missed the after party. Bar Med, 30/1/2004 was a difficult gig but the band delivered. The signs ahead still pointed upward.

A final memory of that gig and one where I had to check with Liam’s Mum that I hadn’t misheard. When introducing Mr William, Liam dedicated the song to, `Andrew Zigmond – thanks so much for coming to the gigs`. Ten years on my reply would be the same, `No worries Liam. When I think something’s worth believing in I’ll see it through to the end.` And I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog in 2014.