Friday, 27 February 2009

If all else fails...

...try The Kinks.

Even if I'm in the foulest of moods, with an utter slapped arse of a face that not even a pubescent teen pining over 'unfair' pocket money or a woman with a blood smattered groin can compete with, The Kinks will turn that frown upside down.

Who's your 'fallback' band or musician?

Radio SiZG

Reet, here we go again, still no commute tunes though, didn't fancy wearing my ma-hoo-sive cans on the bus.

Nostalgia 77 - Various
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
Earl Zinger - Speaker Stack Commandments
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane - Live at Carnegie Hall

DJ Marky - Bingo Session Volume 2
Nic Fanciulli - Porn House Mix (Mixmag)
Dave Clarke - Archive One
Matthew Herbert - Plat Du Jour
Erykah Badu - FreakQuency

Esko Closes

Late night Leicester venue Esko has unexpectedly closed. A popular haunt for the more debauched of Leicester's clubbing fraternity, this little corner of Humberstone Gate will be sorely missed.

The first I heard about it was through seeing a group appear on Facebook, pleading for 'One more night', followed by a status update from the owner, Ben Hunt, saying: "Wishes to thank everyone for the past 3 yrs at esko. I had some of the best nights of my life. Djs, promoters, customers and all staff. Thankyou xxx."

Not long after, the official Facebook group for Esko, updated its news page saying not much more than another warmly felt ‘thank you’.

I've no idea why it has shut, nor do I really want to speculate too much. Maybe it's the recession? I don't know, but the last few times I've been there it's been absolutely heaving. I notice many posts seem to be people saying "If only I'd known it was the last night I'd have come", so maybe it wasn't always that busy? Either way, it's a sad loss.

The venue started out three years ago as a members only club, but soon gave up the closed door policy to welcome all and sundry. Despite the shift in policy, Esko always retained its 'secret' charm. Tucked away down a dilapidated, ruined and long forgotten street, just beyond the corporate monstrosity that's Life and behind a nondescript door in the wall, it was hard to gauge what was going on inside.

That was, until the smoking ban hit and an excited babble of revellers began populating the paving stones immediately beside the door. The little smoking area was like a little window on the club itself; animated, delightful chit chat, happy vibes, and the occasional burst of music whenever the door swung open. Esko was delightfully lost in its own reverie. Life was only a few doors away, spilling out mutton-dressed-as-lamb underage girls and an equal splattering of horny adolescent boys and pervy old men, drunkenly swaying to the tiresome chart r’n’b that afflicts so many city centres in England today.

Esko just got on with it, you’d forget Life was even that close. It was an anthropologist – nay - physicist’s dream - two parallel universes sat side by side. Inside Esko, everybody was one happy family, shirking the need to look the part as is the prevailing trend in today's clubland. There was never any trouble, the music policy shifted each week, from the adam’s apple bashing bass of the Biscuit Tin Soundsystem to the cratedigging eclecticism of Jon Kennedy, a joyous celebration of all things funky.

Occasionally, the ponces and pansies from that culturally devoid melting pot of brain dead, drug fuelled hedonism, Sophbeck, would find their way into the nurturing womb of Esko, but even this sorry subculture was tempered and curtailed by the great spirit of Esko. It was a sorely needed venue in Leicester’s electronic scene and will be much missed.

RIP Esko.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

On the Blackout

You may have noticed the little black .gif on the right hand side of the screen. It's not a permanent advert, but where a picture of my glorious self usually resides. Those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will also have noticed that for the past week my ugly mug has been missing, replaced by a far more fetching blacked out picture. The reason? An incoming law in New Zealand that will force ISPs to block the internet connection of users accused of infringing copyright law, known as 'Guilt Upon Accusation'. The blackout is a solidarity campaign initiated by Creative Freedom NZ to spread the word about this fascist law that shows a blatant disregard for people's right to be held innocent until proven guilty.

Citizensheep posted a blog earlier this week, in which he questioned the reticence of people taking part in the protest. There were a number of comments defending those who had only blacked out half their avatars, noting the inconvenience it caused. Here was my response:

The reason I’ve been taking part in this blackout is that I harbour genuine concerns something like this could happen in the UK in the not too distant future and I want to highlight this particular case to as many people as possible. The blackout, I feel, is particularly effective in that so many people have been asking what it’s all about. Granted, in itself it probably won’t alter the position of the NZ government, but at least far more people are now aware of the issue. Furthermore, it’s effective because the public images we present of ourselves, which so many people are so used to seeing, are suddenly taken away, almost like one has ‘died’ online - which is what anybody unfortunate enough to fall foul of the law in NZ would experience.

Covering only half your avatar or putting it in a shadow, to me, seems a half-arsed effort. This is only a week of blackout protest. Blacking out avatars does make it a bit more inconvenient but it’s only for a week. As I said above, it’s the sudden lack of an identifier that makes this action successful in at least as much as raising awareness. Still being able to see somebody’s eyes in their avatar doesn’t really have the same powerful effect nor cause the necessary kind of disruption required for sticking the issue firmly in people’s minds.

I do realise that for mass protests to be successful, they have to require little effort. I’ve only recently graduated from university where I was very active in the politics of the students’ union and trying to get the students to care was nigh on impossible because quite frankly most of them were too lazy. The blackout doesn’t require much effort - simply change your picture. The only effort required is in making the best of the disruption caused (such as identifying avatars rather than names) However, I firmly believe that for protests to be effective they do have to be somewhat disruptive. It’s disruption that awakens us from our happy slumber and forces us to think about serious issues in the world. Many people don’t like it, but without disrupting their cosy little existence it can be extremely hard to make them sit up and pay attention.

I still stand by what I said. I'm not sure what impact this protest will have had, no doubt the NZ government will forge ahead with the law, but at least I've informed other people elsewhere about this ridiculous law.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

My Identity Crisis

Some people suffer schizophrenia and I think my DJing persona is enduring a similar ailment. As you may gather from the little spiel at the side, I have a somewhat varied taste in electronic music, which also spreads into my penchant for acoustic and 'proper' music too.

Without meaning to sound all "ooo look at me and my eclectic taste" I own albums by Sufjan Stevens, Dave Clarke, The Mars Volta, Miles Davis, Shy FX, Gil Scott Heron, Test Icicles, Maximo Park, The Grateful Dead, King Tubby, The Plump DJs, Jurassic Five, a collection of classical composers and everything in between. It's no big deal, so do many other people, I'm not the only person to simply like music. If it's heartfelt and conveys some kind of emotion to me, then I'll gladly listen to it time and time again.

But when it comes to DJing this makes it particularly difficult for me to settle on one sound to play. My DJing bio is a story that goes all over the place. When I first started DJing nearly eight years ago it was house, a bit of trance and some hard house (at the tail of end when the scene was still simply tough house music, before the hoovers and BOSH!!!! took over).

Through my obsession with Ministry magazine (RIP) I was soon introduced to breakbeat, through Freq Nasty's 'Fresh', a brilliant name for a record which opened my eyes to the drum break as a rhythmic tool and kick started a love affair with breakbeat that has lasted to this day.

Not long after, through listening to Fergie's late night show on Radio 1, I fell in love with techno, particularly thanks to the likes of Agoria, Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke and Phil Kieran, not to mention, of course, Laurent Garnier. By now trance and hard house had disappeared from my record box, although house, particularly proggy and electro stuff, was still in there somewhere.

And then! Drum'n'bass rolled its way into my life. I'm not sure where this infatuation with deebee came from to be honest - I think it was a natural progression from breakbeat - and soon after drum'n'bass came some of the jazzier, broken beat sounds, courtesy of Gilles Peterson and a stonking Essential Mix from Switch.(1)

So now, my bedroom was rocking to beats and pieces from all over the electronic spectrum, beyond what I've listed above, my ferocious appetite for all sorts of music just couldn't be satiated (it still can't) and with the Fabric CD series and Radio 1's specialist shows holding my hand through the record stores I was constantly introduced to new sounds (fuck off Mighty Boosh).

It's in the record stores where it went wrong the most. My sixth former's weekly wage packet didn't really stretch much beyond about £50 a week. One 12" was a fiver at the very least but usually a bit higher and with no record store in sight that meant buying online, so adding the p&p, buying records was a bloody expensive business! And when I did have the money, what to buy? The latest tune from the Plump DJs? Or the latest Intec release? Or how about High Contrast's new white label (for a tenner, pfft).

With so many styles I wanted to play, trying to amass any kind of collection, let alone an up to date one, was nigh on impossible. I tended to focus on my breaks and Switch-style house (years before it blew over big time, get me!) but this meant my techno and drum'n'bass suffered and ultimately my DJ 'persona'.

As with any scene within the music business, if you want to make a name for yourself and get the sets you need to focus on one area and become associated with it. Many DJs successfully incorporate cuts from many different genres within their sets, such as Laurent Garnier or Gilles Peterson, but there always tends to be an overriding theme uniting the different layers.

In Gilles' case, I'd say it's 'intelligent' soul (2) and with Laurent it's a similar theme, but a lot more electronically orientated; in search of the essence of techno which is to produce emotional music from machines. There are also others like DJ Yoda who cut and paste whatever they want, a true turntablist, but the skill he employs is ridiculous and only a few DJs in the world possess such talent.

A tweet this week from @solobasssteve caught my eye, in which he said: "People don't enjoy music because of the style, but because of how it makes them feel. Style is just a search tool." Amen to that, not a truer word has been spoken on the pigeon holing of music. This is how I approach my DJing, I don't restrict myself, anybody who does is a dunce.(3) Instead I like to stick to the underlying feel to my music, a la Gilles Peterson.

At university I started getting club and party sets out in Leicester. In the first couple of years I played mainly breaks but in the third year it took on a lot more electro/fidget feel, mainly because that's what people were looking for, but all under the name 'Jitterbug'. I chose this nom de plume, or whatever the DJ equivalent is in French (I'm not gonna get philosophical about DJs writing with records or something) because I like to play music that you just can't resist dancing to, but specifically with a break in it, as opposed to a 4/4 beat, because, well a flat beat isn't very jittery is it?

But now, I don't know what to play. I'm bored of the surrounding, drugged up and 'cool' scene of the whole electro and fidget styles, despite taking great pleasure from playing them and find that many of the crowds want instant satisfaction from a DJ, in contrast to my growing desire to play more thoughtful, structured sets where I establish a groove and keep it going, rather than drop bomb after bomb.

But then sometimes this is exactly the kind of set I like to play - party style. I love the attitude of hip hop DJs and the crowds of some of the electro nights where they simply just want to get down and bloody rave. However, I do still want my 'groovy' sets ie techno or drum'n'bass and if I didn't have the time or money to pursue them before uni I certainly don't have the former now (although the finance is a bit rosier thanks to a full time job and acquisition of ScratchLive).

I've never taken my techno seriously enough, but if truth be told it's the music I most get a kick out of both playing and listening to, from the deeper Detroit stuff, to the rolling, loopy stuff or the more minimal kind. And drum'n'bass is becoming a huge factor in my life again. I gave up taking it seriously at university, but some awesome drum'n'bass sets in the past year, coupled with some great releases, have reawakened my passion for it and I really want to get back into playing good old drum funk.

Whether I will take up drum'n'bass again, perhaps to satisfy my desire for the break in the probable future absence of breakbeat and electro, I'm not sure, but techno is definitely on my to do list this year.

And as a final point there's a whole naming issue here. The Jitterbug moniker can't cover both the above 'new' bases and the breaks/electro one I don't want to leave behind, though truth be told, I probably already have. Unfortunately the name thing is a necessary headache. Realistically, in the world of @solobasssteve which I advocate, there are no different personas but in the dance world the scenes are so segregated you can't but help need a different name for your different styles, but which to apply Jitterbug to? Aaaargh! How bloody stressful, this whole self branding bollocks!

Are there any other musicians suffering from multiple personalities out there? How do you accomodate your tastes? Get in touch.

Before Dave Taylor took over the controls of Switch on his own, following the 'departure' of Trevor Loveys and when they were still jazzy and less electronic.
(2) I know this sounds snobby and a bit la di da, but there's a lot of thought behind the music; it's not at all haphazard or hastily thrown down slices of soul. In some cases he may play a track that is brilliantly simple but then ultimately it manages to work on so many different levels.
(3) I understand I say I play 'breaks/electro' or 'techno' or 'drum and bass'. Within these are so many more substyles and it's these substyles that many DJs for so long have restricted themselves to playing. Even when playing the broader styles I will often include a drum'n'bass track in a breaks set, or an electro track in a techno set. It's the way I've always played and always will but you have to take into account want the crowd wants - say at a drum'n'bass gig they probably won't be interested if you suddenly drop Depeche Mode in there!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Radio SiZG

This week has been an empty one musically, primarily because I have a feeling some pikey student nabbed my earphones at the Warwick Economics Summit. Either that or the pixies snuck into the lecture theatre and swiped them from wherever I stupidly left them. Ergo, work and the commute were silent, except for the hot girl on the bus giving an ear full to some inept delivery company who couldn't find the Chemisty building - you go girl! - until she finished the call by putting on her sunglasses. On the bus. Posing cow.


Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Commix - Fabric Live
The Heritage Orchestra - The Heritage Orchestra
Paul Woolford and Howie B - DJ [Mag] Face Off
Rui Da Silva - International DJ [Mag] Allstars

Some quick scribblings on copyright

Copyright has been in the news quite a bit this past week. First of all, the EU approved extending the period of copyright protection for musicians. Then internet users around the world embraced a self-imposed blackout out of solidarity with campaigners in New Zealand fighting a proposed law that would make it possible to sever the internet connections of people accused of breaching copyright. That is, merely accused, not actually found guilty. And in the meantime, Swedish based BitTorrent tracker, Pirate Bay, are in court fighting a lawsuit brought against them by the music industry for copyright infringement.

My personal feelings regarding copyright have always been a bit ambiguous. First of all, I actually like to physically own an album on vinyl or CD. I like the designs, I like the sleeve notes and all the imagery and really appreciate it when musicians put effort into the album beyond the actual music. For me, an album is a wider entity, a display of emotions and ideas that extends beyond the simple collection of tracks that it’s reduced to when put into digital format. That’s not to say I only believe an album can exist in a tangible form. I actually believe it’s ultimately somewhat intangible, but all the accompanying non-musical artistic work help reinforce the spirit of the album.

Secondly, as a DJ who uses Serato ScratchLive, I want only decent quality digital formats and also owing to my eclectic tastes the best place to find the tunes I want, in high quality, is often in the online record stores. And further to this, as a DJ who has often been paid for his sets in clubs, playing other people’s music, I only feel right to plough that money back into other artists, by paying for their tracks. Therefore, I’ve never felt the need to download illegally or obtain copies and thus find myself well and truly in the whole copyright quagmire. To really affirm my opinions on the subject I do need to read into it more, which I am currently doing.

I know enough though, that I believe music, like all the arts, should be shared with the world. Therefore I find copyright laws inherently repressive and counterproductive to the true purpose of music, which is to inspire, instil hope, enliven and empathise with people’s emotions. I very much want to get into producing music, once I have the time, and when I complete my first production I’ll be happy to share it for free with the world. However, I recognise the fact that for somebody who goes into the music business full time they have to be compensated in some way for this devotion of their time, hence payment is necessary, but still the prevailing ethos behind music should be that it is made to be enjoyed and shared, not profited from.

Which is why I find the news from the European Union that they are to extend copyright protection from 50 to 95 years utterly ridiculous. The main thrust of the argument appears to be that musicians should profit from their early work when they need it most, in their later years. If that’s the case, then why can’t it be applied to many other jobs? Why can’t the brickie profit from the house he built fifty years ago? Why can’t the cosmetic surgeon profit from the tit job he did last century? They then contradict this argument by going on to state that copyright protection for music written by collaborative artists will extend to 70 years beyond the DEATH of the last surviving author.

Although I am undecided about copyright laws in general, particularly with my eagerness to reconcile the right to share and build upon art with the right of the artist to be compensated, at the moment I believe that if they must exist, it should be for no more than ten years and I’m inclined to think maybe even less. This is to allow the musicians to benefit upon immediate production and dissemination of their work, as we all do, but after that make it beneficial to the wider community by making it free to the world.

Hence, my opinion on the Pirate Bay trial is somewhat undecided. I support their case in as much as I can see all they do is simply facilitate filesharing. They don’t physically copy files or force people to share them - they’re no more than a lighthouse guiding ships in the dark and this is why the prosecution have dropped half their charges. I’m not yet ready to jump headlong into the huge wave of anti-copyright support that backs Piracy Bay, but I do have a longstanding hatred of the major record companies and such bodies as the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, as I put forward in my post last year about the ProDub licence for DJs in the UK.

The industry is well known for being fiercely out of touch with reality in the digital age. Although a recent survey from Marrakesh records and Human Capital showed many young people feel music should be free, half have still paid for a download and 70% paid for a CD, indicating to some extent that young people will still pay for their music.

Most interesting was that those surveyed “felt £6.58 is a fair price for CD album, but that a downloaded album should be just £3.91 and a single 39p” – a lot cheaper than what we currently pay online and reflective of the groundswell of opinion I’ve sensed for a few years, that people don’t mind paying for music, but it should be cheaper. Unfortunately, the industry appears deaf to such a general consensus and is determined to squeeze every last penny out of the consumer, standing in the way of any real debate on reforming copyright laws.

An argument I put forward against the ProDub licence was that it seemed to me to be the act of a blinded, stubborn buffoon of an industry that had been losing the fight against piracy for years. So in order to recoup some of their losses, they looked for easy targets. Ordinary people downloading music at home are hard to pin down whereas DJs playing off laptop are clearly playing other people’s music and are easy to back into a corner by introducing a mandatory licence and forcing venues to make sure they only book DJs that hold one.

The Piracy Bay lawsuit seems to be a similar tactic. Target those who are easy to find and continue to completely ignore the overwhelming general consensus that music is too expensive.

And finally, the Guilt Upon Accusation law in New Zealand which will force ISPs to break the internet connection of those simply only accused of copyright infringement, not actually found guilty in a court of law. This is another example of governments bowing to pressure from the media industry rather than taking it upon themselves to have a serious discussion of copyright laws that are quite clearly out of touch with the digital world and the vast number of people that are a part of it.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

These are just some brief thoughts that I shall return to within the next week, stay tuned and feel free to leave any comments.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Commix - FabricLive 44

Commix step up to the plate to deliver the latest mix in the Fabric series, an intricately thought out collection of dark, trippy drum’n’bass that harks back to the jungle days of yore and often throws forward to some of the more futuristic sounds of the scene today. It’s a bit of a slow burner, the first half of the mix a bit plodding with not much variation in the break; much like background deebee if such a thing exists.

Not until D-Bridge’s remix of their own ‘Belleview’ do things get a bit more spicy, with a tough, growling bassline and future funk bleeps turning the mix in a direction lot more inviting of the listener that weaves between breakbeat science, dubby liquid and the more experimental sounds associated with Commix. Yet as soon as things get going it all unravels, albeit rather elegantly. Breakage’s ‘Old School Ting’ is nothing more than a death throe before two Instra:mental twenty-first century takes on jungle sandwich Photek’s timeless ‘Yendi’.

It’s technically flawless making for a fluid mix but it never quite gets out of the starting blocks or raises its game. The final coupling is probably the highlight of the mix but comes at the end of a relatively uninspiring effort. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a long night time drive with nothing but the open road and open mind to think about, but in the comfort of your own home it fails to illuminate much.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Radio SiZG

Where did my week go? It's all a hazy memory punctuated by filming the former governor of Hong Kong and current Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten, another boring international friendly and a tipsy trip to Brumtwestival. So much for bashing out a couple of reviews and a piece on ecstacy declassification. Hopefully, some remnant of my to do list will be winging its way forth on Sunday although my immediate schedule for the weekend is no less relenting. (Warwick Economics Summit, if you're interested.)

Once again, a new Jitterbug mixtape (for submission to Woolfire Festival) is on the backburner but with the near future a little less cluttered I'll cook something up soon. In the meantime, here's what's been rocking my world this past week.

Dave Clarke Essential Mix
Akiko Kiyama (Fabric Recording)
Steve Reich - Different Lines/Electric Counterpoint
Daedelus - Love To Make Music To
Soil & Pimp Sessions - Planet Pimp

DJ Format - If You Can't Join Them, Beat Them
The Clash - Essential Clash
The Mars Volta - Amputechture
King of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico

Sub Club: 20 Years of Underground
Ellen Allien - Fabric 34
(err that's about it at home, again, I've barely registered at my abode this week)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Skillz Mix

Here's a link to a tasty one hour mix from Finger Lickin' darling, A Skillz. Of course, nothing comes for free, they want you to vote him Best DJ in the upcoming Breakspoll awards but I'll leave that to you to decide. I don't dabble in awards ceremonies...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Sex in Zero Gravity

So I've relaunched. The old blog has gone. I wasn't happy with the name as I'd stolen it from what can best be described as a 'user generated' clubnight run by a music messageboard I had no particular input to, so I've stolen a new name for myself.

Sex in Zero Gravity by The Martian is an early 00s techno tune that I completely adore; a true testament to the spirit of techno to produce emotive music using them soulless machines. I've never been in space and can't imagine I'll ever get round to having a nosey up there but sex in zero gravity sounds like a fantastic past time and when I get lost in the groove in some dark, sweaty club or gig venue, the wave of euphoria that washes over me is probably what cosmic copulation feels like, hence the name for the blog.

I've migrated some of the content from my old blog, which you can see below and intend to add to it with more album reviews, gig reviews (focused on the Midlands) and more opinion, as well as a weekly list of what's been hurtling down my ear canal. On top of this I'll be making a concerted effort to keep track of the glorification of drugs in the music press. Drug use is part and parcel of the dance scene and I personally hold no beef against those who indulge, but the media have a responsibility when it comes to drug use and I'll be keeping a close eye on the way it's portrayed.

This design isn't final, there'll be a few tweaks, but have to thank for the banner and Drew Mallins for taking the picture of me in the student union a couple of years ago.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Live @ The Kasbah

It’s been a while since I saw some live guitar based music and being new to Coventry I thought it best if I got myself down to The Kasbah, the city’s leading venue, for a night of local bands. First to take the spotlight were Momma’s in the Kitchen and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when they first took to the stage. The drummer was sporting an extreme version of that horrendous indie hairdo I like to call the ‘negative fringe’. You know the one, short on top, long on the sides, bit like a bowl cut gone wrong then to top it off they’ve lopped away a perfect square from the front so they can see where they’re going. This guy’s face frame was so long he looked like an ironed spaniel, whilst the lead singer looked like Russell Brand had been fucked in the ass by a Christian rocker and was considering singing about Jesus on the back of a truck like that really weird bit in Vanishing Point.

But let me not judge a book by its cover. They were actually rather good, defying the above mentioned indie-Jesus-rock soundclash their style suggested (hang on, isn’t that Kings of Leon?) to play some rather funky blues that hinted at The Who in places. The instrumental tunes were nicely arranged but the bassist sounded like he had stiff fingers; rather than driving the rhythm he was playing catch up most of the time and the odd occasion the lead guitarist pitched in with backing vocals I couldn’t help comparing his voice to George Dawes in Shooting Stars. And why a band from Coventry sang about the Mississippi Delta I’ve no idea, there’s plenty to inspire a blues band in Cov isn’t there?

Next up were
The Illchemists, quite a fitting name as they take different sounds and mix them together with the eccentricity of an old English quack to produce some jolly spiffing musical gold. I have to say I wasn’t impressed when the lead singer turned up on stage wearing Wayfarers though (indoors! ffs!) Musically, they’re a riot, a bit hard to describe but rather like Das Wanderlust doing ska covers of The Raconteurs, a little bit everywhere yet quintessentially English; Blackpool organs and Coventry two-tone blazing through the melee.

Unfortunately, lyrically they leave a lot to be desired. Repeating the title of a 60s B-movie over and over again a good song it does not make. Well done, you know your exploitation movies, get over it, superstar prat Paul Oakenfold already namechecked that film a couple of years ago (Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill!) Most of their other lyrics I couldn’t make out but one song seemed to be inspired by Patrick MacGoohan in The Prisoner, something about not being a number but it was really rather monotonous and hackneyed and easily forgettable, which is a shame because their music is great fun and really gets the old plates of meat moving.

Finally, the stage was swamped by
The Bellows, an eight piece ensemble with an equally large ensemble of instruments. Acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, tambourine, trumpet, clarinet, megaphone, one of them mini-keyboards you blow into, I think there was a banjo in there too and a short arse brunette who wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself, all got a look in. It made for a wonderful eclecticism, going a bit hillbilly ho-down here, a bit of ska there, the tiniest smidgen of Santana somewhere else, all underpinned by a good old folky feel good sound.

It was a bit disappointing that the lead singer chose to sing in a vaguely American accent – when will British bands just be proud of where they’re from? Unless of course he is American in which case I apologise profusely – but as the set progressed and the (bizarre as it sounds) folk cuts became that little bit more effervescent it was hard not to get swept away by all their energy, which actually seemed rather effortless. On another night when they’re in fifth gear their wall of sound would probably be more like a bulldozer, but it’ll come with time and they proved a great way to finish the night.