Hull band Zero Cost do the sort of punk I really like, they do songs about something – issues, concerns, world events. This time they are tackling the upcoming UK and US elections in 2024.
I’ll come back to this in a bit but first the sound. In a phrase old style punk; breakneck speed, fast throbbing bass, spiky guitars. But it’s clever you see, this is no overwhelming wall of sound, you can hear ALL the instruments, there’s space in the sound. And this gives it power. It sounds fantastic, you got that.
Now, as the song is about something, you might be asking yourself ‘ is this a protest song, a commentary or a call for action?’ It’s actually all three of these. It – if I’m hearing it right – basically calls out both the Left and Right for being ‘the same old same old’, says that we need a change from this, and have the courage to demand something else. And it says this in words that are worth listening to properly. And while you may be thinking that the song is calling for a politics of a certain kind; it isn’t, it’s just calling for the same old same old to be replaced with something new, a change, and for all of us to have the courage to make that change.
Zero Cost do songs that sound bloody fantastic and are about something, and ‘Red Or Blue’ does that brilliantly. In a word, outstanding.
It is a while since I reviewed a release from Matilda Shakes; I’ve missed their raucous sound.
‘Fever Dream’ is raucous but it isn’t the dance yourself into exhaustion sound I quite expected. It’s a sinuous witchy sound that twists around you like smoke. It sounds a little Southern Gothic. It has what I’m going to call swagger. And it’s cinematic; you can imagine a dark smoky film when you listen to it. It has all of this but it also has the band’s trademark guitars to the max.
It is somewhat retro; the guitars are distinctly old style heavy rock, they crunch like fuck. But the band have always flirted with something retro, and yes, there’s something of a raw indie rock sound. But as predictable as that might sound, it isn’t, they have a real signature sound.
And as tempting as it is just to listen to the drippingly good guitars; take a moment, more than a moment, to listen to the words. These are great words, words that make you smile, words that tell a story.
I expected fantastic, I got much more than that, ‘Fever Dream’ is a bloody joy. From its opening lilting plucked guitar to its croaking end (yep, I’m not making that up honest), it draws you into its world. File this under ‘Fuck is this good’.
I loved the last release I reviewed from Darren, here he is back with something special.
The thing about ‘Build A Home Together’ is that at first listen it may strike you as a soul influenced pop ballad. A good soul influenced pop ballad for sure. But this track is a grower; the more you listen the better it gets. So fire it up, give it that first listen. It’s smooth isn’t it, slow groove, impassioned vocals, tune to die for for. Now I want you to go back and listen again. First thing the careful listener is going to hear is the oh-so tasteful guitar, it’s a thing of beauty, sprinkling sparks of musical joy through the track. And then you may notice a mellow sound, a sound that you may find difficult to place. Is it a keyboard? I hear you ask. No, it’s a bass flute, a sound you’ve probably never heard on a release of this sort before.
So musically this track is a gem but, as with the last release from Darren I reviewed, there’s a vocal that, with emotion and feeling, holds a simple heartfelt message told in words that speak of something real. The words reflect that none of us think in pure love song lyrics, sometimes a slight oddness can drift into our heads, becoming part of those thoughts. It’s kind of unfiltered and deeply romantic.
Look I have to admit that Darren’s style of music isn’t usually something I go for. But the gorgeousness of the music and the honesty of his words connected with me. Above all it’s the raw impassioned words and vocals that won me over.
‘Build A Home Together’ is smooth, melodic and clever musically. It’s raw and emotional and, importantly, real. It’s a thing of beauty.
Since their re-formation, spurred by an outpouring of Universal and Cherry Red reissues, Fiat Lux have delighted the critics and their fans, not just with a re-appraisal of their back catalogue but also with the warm reception given to the new material they have put out since 2019.
Vocalist Steve Wright and multi-instrumentalist David P. Crickmore formed the band in Wakefield and were discovered by Bill Nelson (ex-Be Bop Deluxe and Red Noise) who produced and released their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’ on his own Cocteau label.
Polydor signed them, Bill’s brother Ian joined, and they recorded an album “Ark of Embers” with producer Hugh Jones. The singles from it ‘Secrets’ and ‘Blue Emotion’ – both skirted the UK charts.
Two more albums have been released during the band’s recent renaissance and they have become a touring unit again.
Neoplastic make angular, guitars like wires scraping across broken glass, crisp pounding sometimes vaguely tribal drumming, post-punk music. I guess this is the post-punk that many people think of when they hear the phrase post-punk. Whilst I disagree with defining post-punk as this sound (Look I’m not going to repeat that here, just read some of my other reviews) this kind of sound sits with what I might describe as the sound that was around just after punk, coming from punk; for yes, indeed Neoplastic’s sound is punk.
‘Monday in Heaven’ marks another change in sound for the band, the sound here is more raucous – more punky if you will, darker, scarier, more disturbing and more difficult to listen to. I mean this last in a good way, a very good way.
Let’s start here with the vocals. A tortured voice shouts words that are dark. And those words speak of our society, the way it excludes and leaves behind those people that don’t fit in, the different, the outsiders.
“It takes a look at the way we form our societies and the ones that get left behind. It’s about the people for whom the world isn’t built, and those who don’t have a voice. They’re the ones that our society is built on, but not really built for”, says singer and bassist Leo Joslin.
Yes, look I’m aware that this is not an unusual theme in post-punk; the music and its fans often sit on the very edge of society or completely separated. But Neoplastic mutates that theme into something which relates to our society now. It’s commentary.
And the voice sits under and in this sound. This raw sound that somehow communicates anxiety and anger. A powerful tumbling sound that draws you into the dark shadows, takes you on a journey to the very edge of chaos. Guitars scythe with frenetic power, guitars hypnotise with subtle darkness. The drumming goes from all out pounding to a section that employs beautifully played cymbals that is oh-so subtle. And as the music reaches the point where you think it’s going to fall over into noise, odd sounds suddenly ring out.
And yes, the band tips a musical hat to the original post-punk – there is that hint of Bauhaus that sits there in the mix, as does ‘The Scream’ period Banshees. But they add in a delicious touch of psych garage, in the way the music almost falls over into chaos. And do I detect something of a kraut-rock sound.
This is not retro or copyist; Neoplastic have a sound that sits on classic post-punk – enough so that older post punk fans like me can get it immediately – but it incorporates other genres. It is modern post-punk, they’ve respectively taken the bones of the old style, and then with a ‘thank you but we are going to take this to places you couldn’t imagine’ they turned forwards and made their own sound, their own music.
This is not, as I said, easy listening either lyrically or musically but there is beauty in this. There is beauty because this song is all about storytelling, mood, atmosphere. The words drive the music, the music reinforces the meaning. The subject is dark and difficult, so the sound and delivery suits this.
I’ve followed all of Neoplastic’s releases and with each release they take their sound in another direction. It’s entirely possible that their next will sound completely different. But crucially each release is yet another step up, a peak. ‘Monday in Heaven’ does that, it’s their current peak, and it’s just perfect.
Hull based shoegaze quartet bdrmm have shared details of a new run of EU/UK tour dates for February and March 2024. The dates come on the heels of their new 7″ single ‘Mud’, which was released last Friday via Mogwai’s Rock Action label. The record arrives hot on the heels of the bands widely lauded second album “I Don’t Know”.
Now, just two months on from that release, the band have returned with a new 7” release which also features a remix of the recent album track ‘Be Careful’, which is reworked by fellow Hull outfit Fila Brazillia who have collaborated with everyone from Radiohead to Harold Budd, Black Uhuru, Twilight Singers, and The Orb.
Recorded with long-time collaborator Alex Greaves (Working Men’s Club, Bo Ningen) during their album sessions at The Nave Studios in Leeds, ‘Mud’ sees the band expanding further on their dynamic and sprawling sound, with oceanic production and atmospheric instrumentation, underpinned by the bands reverb heavy vocals.
Frontman Ryan Smith explains, “Mud is a track about approaching loss. Trying to cope with the end before it has even happened. The memories created are in fear of being washed away, and by keeping hold of them. You’re doing more harm than good.”
New 7” single out now via Rock Action – Order HERE
14th Feb – Vigo Sala
15th Feb – Oviedo
16th Feb – Valencia Loco Club
17th Feb – Barcelona
19th Feb – Milan Circolo Arci Bellezza
20th Feb – Bologna Covo Club
22nd Feb – Leipzig Naumanns
23rd Feb – Berlin Hole44
24th Feb – Dortmund FZW
25th Feb – Groningen Vera
27th Feb – Rotterdam LantarenVenster
28th Feb – Paris Petit Bain
1st March – Saint-Malo La Route Du Rock
6th March – Aberdeen Tunnels
7th March – Dundee Beat Generator
8th March – Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms
9th March – Glasgow The Hug and Pint
11th March – Newcastle -The Cluny
14th March – Norwich Arts Centre
15th March – Southampton The Joiners
16th March – Margate Elsewhere
18th March – Reading The Face bar
19th March – Sheffield Yellow Arch
20th March – Manchester Band On The Wall
23rd – 26th May – Bearded Theory Festival, UK
While the world became socially distanced in 2020, Hull’s bdrmm made the kind of impact with their debut album any young band would dream about. Released on the small Sonic Cathedral label in July that year,
Three years on, the band’s new album ‘I Don’t Know’ takes the adventure somewhere else. It’s contemporary shoegaze in a way but much, much more. Again recorded at The Nave studio in Leeds with producer Alex Greaves (Working Men’s Club, Bo Ningen), the band’s trademark effects-laden guitars and motorik Neu! grooves have now been augmented by piano, strings, electronica, sampling and even occasional dance beats. Fragile ambient pieces line up against pulverising guitar chords, sometimes within the same song. There are ambient washes and delicate piano pieces, while influences or reference points veer from Radiohead to My Bloody Valentine to the Cure to Brian Eno – perhaps – the minimalist classical of the likes of Erik Satie. Whatever has produced it, it’s a bigger-sounding, more tuneful, really rather fantastic second statement by four young men who are rightly sure about what they’re doing and loving every minute of it.
“We’re still coming from the same place, but the influences have got much broader,” confirms singer-guitarist Ryan Smith. His younger brother Jordan (bass, now also keyboards) has been checking out Steve Reich and Boards Of Canada and says, “A lot of it is just us gaining confidence, and also not wanting to retread old ground. We’d made the guitar record. So we were thinking, ‘What else can we do?’”
Musically they experimented with everything from “pure atmospherics” to eight-minute songs but lyrically, it was more a case of expanding and developing what was already there. On Bedroom, Ryan Smith was writing mainly from a personal perspective – about relationship break-ups, substance abuse and mental health, issues anyone can relate to especially after three years of pandemic, war and economic crisis. This time, the songs still come from a personal place but are more wide-ranging and more universal.
“Everything’s still probably based on things that have happened to me,” Ryan explains, “but I’m writing more ambiguously, so that it can be understood by others in whatever situation they’re going through. I always think the first record feels like one person’s relationship, whereas this is so much broader, and can be interpreted in different ways.”
It’s also the product of different environments, with songs written everywhere from at home in Hull to driving through the Alps, as they have become a touring band. While the album was mostly recorded at The Nave, it benefitted from a week at a farm in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, a “retreat” which the producer’s friends turned into a recording studio.
“It felt like going to a kids’ club in summer,” grins Jordan. “We all had different rooms. I was writing upstairs. Conor was in another room behind the drum set. We were all staying there so we’d spend the night together drinking or whatever and then the whole day making music.”
“I Don’t Know” was also the group’s first release for Mogwai’s label, Rock Action, a partnership which came about when the two bands toured together. “We were really drunk one night, and Stuart (Braithwaite) said ‘I’d love to sign you’,” Jordan chuckles. “It was like a lot of flirting, but it felt like one of those things that was just said in a drunken conversation. Then he got in contact sober… and we were like, ‘This is actually gonna happen.’”
There was another larger label interested as well, and who were equally upfront about their plans for the band. “They went ‘We’re going to get brand new producers to make everything sound amazing and we’ll get a whole new team to do the artwork’, Jordan reveals. “I just felt myself getting more and more angry. Like, I’ve always done the artwork and Alex always does our production. He’s recorded every single thing we’ve ever done and there’s a real relationship between band and producer. I don’t see why we’d want to change all that.” As the bassist gently points out, it’s worked for them so far.
Although in 2020 bdrmm felt like an overnight sensation, it’s seven years since their inception and in some ways the band started much further back, in childhood, when the Smiths’ father introduced them to different types of music. “He played us so much music when we were young,” smiles Ryan. “It started with Radiohead, as if often does, but then it just branched off: atmospherics, Brian Eno’s ambient series, shoegaze and electronic music.” Then Yuck’s fuzzy self-titled 2011 debut was another big reference point. “We’d invite mates over and play it really loud.”
With other influences stretching from Deerhunter to DIIV to Warp to 4AD to ambient jazz soundtracks, both brothers taught themselves to play. “The only reason I picked up a guitar was because Ryan was in a band called the Tennents at that point, who I thought were amazing,” Jordan remembers. “But for some reason I wanted a bass, not a guitar.” Six years older than Jordan and now 28, Ryan never thought he’d be in a band with his younger brother, but this came about after he recorded an EP on his phone using GarageBand and uploaded it to BBC Introducing, typing the name bdrmm down at the last moment. To his great surprise, it didn’t get played on the Yorkshire and Humberside BBC Introducing show but on national Radio One. “It was unbelievable, and that started the band.”
Soon afterwards, Jordan got a text from his brother asking “‘Do you fancy trying playing bass for this new thing?’ I’d never been in a band before.” Initially a five-piece, the line-up has cemented around Ryan, Jordan, Joe Vickers (guitar) and Conor Murray (drums) and Jordan says he couldn’t think of three people he’d rather share their experiences with. The band have gigged and gigged and gigged, their live trajectory taking them from a debut at Hull’s Adelphi via support slots with Her’s, Viagra Boys and Fat White Family to pinch yourself moments such as appearing with ride at the Roundhouse or touring the UK and Europe with Mogwai, including an unforgettable appearance with the Glaswegians at London’s 10,400-capacity Alexandra Palace. “From Hull Adelphi to Alexandra Palace,” smiles Ryan. “I still can’t believe that happened.”
Similarly, when Bedroom was released, Ryan didn’t really expect anything to happen. “But then the reviews started to appear, and it felt like there was another one every week.” Jordan was at home during lockdown when he saw a Tweet about the five-star NME review. “And I was sat there in my underpants, smoking a joint with the drummer. Nothing had changed, which was brilliant, in a sense. We just feel lucky that other people seem to like our music as much as we do.”
They’ve brought this burgeoning confidence to “I Don’t Know”. It’s more of a group effort than the debut, the new album’s eight songs reflecting experiences, musical maturity and a growing ability to turn the personal into the universal. Dreamily busy opener Alps’ combines ambient washes, busy dance beats and blissful, beautifully hazy lyrics. The song’s sense of movement and travelogue reflects its birthplace – it was written in a van as the band drove through the Alps listening to “Thom Yorke’s electronic stuff”.
The bass-driven, slightly trip-hop grooved, gently anthemic “Be Careful” is an instruction to the listener to do exactly that. Ryan explains: “I struggled with alcohol during lockdown and it’s a song about realising how we can all act when we’re not in our right minds. You know, it can unleash stuff and it’s not always nice. So ‘be careful of yourself’!”
Heavy guitars and the band’s love of Radiohead and Ride power the mysterious “It’s Just A Bit Of Blood”, which darkly asks someone “Where do you get off?” before the krautrock-pop We Fall Apart partly captures what Ryan describes as “how people are feeling”. This may refer to someone experiencing relationship breakup or a wider populace facing wider threats of a changing world impacted by climate and economic crisis, but Ryan has been careful to be more ambitious than “I’m sad, blah blah. Blah.” For Jordan, this particular song – with its sublime narrated coda – is also “about the times over the years where it’s been hard to continue being a band, and where it would have been easier to bow out. But we didn’t. For me, the songs all have a multitude of meanings.”
The listener can put their own interpretation on the beautifully pensive ambient instrumental “Advertisement One”, and there’s an emerging pop nous to the hazily tuneful “Pulling Stitches”. “Hidden Cinema” is one of the most hauntingly vulnerable bdrmm songs to date, a raw and honest admission of personal imperfections and even failures. Musically, surely the most ambitious thing the band have done to date is majestic closer “A Final Movement”, which at an epic eight minutes and eight seconds might be one for the numerologists to ponder. Musically it opens like a flower from a serene synthesiser opening to a widescreen, cinematic-type grandeur, teased along the way with Chameleons-type guitar shapes.
Lyrically, it expands something they first explored on Bedroom’s sublime song “A Reason To Celebrate” – a theme Jordan describes as “accepting the beauty of something not working out”. Indeed, the song began life around that first album as a slow core guitar song titled “Duster”, but has since developed enormously. “We’re massive fans of Oneohtrix Point Never,” explains the bassist. “He had a song called Chrome Country with this amazing opening chord. We just wanted to create that kind of beautiful synthesis and threw everything into it. It’s the first time I’ve written strings for anything, so why not do it on an eight-minute song?” Indeed, why not?
“We’ve always followed our instincts and done what felt right,” smiles Ryan. “Surely, if you’re in a band, that’s the most important thing you should do.”
The UK’s most iconic retro festival series, Let’s Rock, have today announced the line-ups for three 2024 festivals – Leeds, Exeter & Shrewsbury – with the Southampton line up to follow on 1st December (and worth the wait!)
Let’s Rock 2024 headliners include UB40 featuring Ali Campbell – who are making their Let’s Rock debut – Squeeze and Bananarama, while Martin Kemp of New Romantic pioneers Spandau Ballet will be making his debut with a DJ set.
In a line-up packed with era-defining hitmakers, also performing next summer will be Boomtown Rats, Peter Hook & The Light, Level 42, Jason Donovan, Sister Sledge, From The Jam, Go West, Nik Kershaw, The Real Thing, eXTC, Altered Images, Kim Appleby, Toyah & more TBA.
2024 will also see the very first ever Let’s Rock DJ Battles, with iconic ‘80s DJ Pat Sharp taking on Andy Crane (Leeds), Toby Anstis (Exeter) and Harriet Scott (Southampton).
Tickets for the all-day events offer remarkable value, starting at just £35. Available now via letsrock80s.com
UB40 topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. They topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with reggae covers of ‘Red Red Wine’ and ‘I Got You Babe’ (with Chrissie Hynde), while also scoring a UK No.1 hit with ‘(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You’.
Ali Campbell, the voice of UB40 says “We’re really looking forward to making our debut at Let’s Rock next summer. We’ve heard great things about the energy of the crowds at these festivals, which is something we love to tap into. Sunshine, good vibes and reggae music… the perfect summer’s evening! Big Love xx.”
Jason Donovan: “I can’t wait to perform at Let’s Rock Leeds, Exeter, Southampton and Shrewsbury in 2024. Let’s Rock means summertime to me and I’m already looking forward to the longer and warmer days. Bring it on!”
Individual LET’S ROCK SUMMER 2024 line-ups
June 22nd – Let’s Rock Leeds, Temple Newsam, Leeds
UB40 feat Ali Campbell (Headline), Level 42, Peter Hook & The Light, Go West, From The Jam, eXTC, Jason Donovan, Kim Appleby, Altered Images, China Crisis, Toyah + Andy Crane vs Pat Sharp DJ Battle + more TBA
June 29th – Let’s Rock Exeter, Powderham Castle, Kenton, Exeter
UB40 feat. Ali Campbell (Headline), Boomtown Rats, Sister Sledge, From The Jam, The Real Thing, eXTC, Jason Donovan, Kim Appleby, Altered Images, Toby Anstis vs Pat Sharp DJ Battle, Sonia + more TBA
July 6th – Let’s Rock Southampton, Southampton Common, Southampton
Line-up to be announced on December 1st
July 13th – Let’s Rock Shrewsbury, The Quarry, Shrewsbury
Squeeze (Co-Headline), Bananarama (Co-Headline), Martin Kemp (DJ set), Go West, From The Jam, Nik Kershaw, eXTC, Jason Donovan, Kim Appleby, Altered Images, Red Box, Dr & The Medics + more TBA
The most well-known and best-loved British retro festival, Let’s Rock offers glorious non-stop nostalgic fun, with legendary musicians performing hit after hit to a family crowd of all ages (many of whom come dressed in their finest ‘80s fashion). Since launching in 2009 with a solitary festival at Cookham Moor in Berkshire, Let’s Rock has grown into the UK’s biggest retro festival series, and in doing so has re-launched and revitalized the careers of many iconic ‘80s artists.
Let’s Rock works with many amazing charities including official charity partner Child Bereavement UK, who support families and educate professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a family is facing bereavement. Since partnering with UK Live in 2014, Child Bereavement have raised almost one million pounds at Let’s Rock events.
Earlier this year I reviewed Leeds’ pop-punk band daisy graves’ song ‘grapejuice’ and it broke through my fairly long term thing of pop-punk just not being mything. I was bowled over, charmed by what was, to be absolutely honest, a sweet and lovely song. And don’t you know it, daisy graves have gone and done it again.
‘daisy’ is a song of ‘tribute to a close family member, an outpouring of love and a promise that they will forever be cared for’. Now what you might expect a song about this to sound like I have not the slightest, but for me I have to admit I didn’t quite expect it to sound like this.
The sound is pop-punk; choppy loud guitars, drums to the max, vocals to 11. Well it’s this most of the time. For it’s the frankly shimmering dropout that makes this song, that makes you sit up and listen. And then you hear the words, the words that are personal, that tell a real story. These words sound like they are just the things you might say put to music but they are all the better for that. They bring a smile to your face at times, they impress with the power of real emotion that you can bloody feel.
So for me it’s what the song’s about and the words that won me over AND then I found myself loving the music. Because it makes you want to dance, it makes you want to lose your shit. My helpful friend said ‘Frank, forgive me while I throw myself around my room’ when I played it to her. And bearing in mind that we were on video chat – me here, her in New York – for the next 3½ minutes all I got was infrequent glimpses as she did throw herself around the room. I won’t repeat what she said when she’d calmed down and actually listened to the words but it was kinda what I said just not exactly like I said it.
Anyway, the song sounds brilliant. It does, as I said, all those pop-punk things you expect but somehow it does it in a way that sounds like what the song is about. And this is a band who can play. Sure it’s not flashy but it’s aggressive, raw and raucous, and everything is completely and utterly right. If all pop-punk songs sounded like this, I just might be converted.
Look I kinda think I’ve made this more complicated than a review of this should be, but it has the depth to do that, so that’s my excuse. So putting this simply ‘daisy’ is fabulous, it compels lyrically, it rocks musically, It makes you smile, it tugs at your heart-strings and it makes you want to lose your shit. Do you honestly bloody need anything else?
The Classic Rock Show will return to the UK early next year for brand new live shows on the opening leg of its extensive 2024 world tour.
Promising to be bigger and even better and celebrating, once again, the very best of classic rock, the acclaimed band will thrill audiences on their new 27 date run of British shows in January & February 2024.
The Classic Rock Show perform with note-for-note precision, bringing every rock fan’s favourite original iconic and era-defining recordings back to life on-stage, with an amazing sound and light show to match.
Paying tribute to its favourite rock heroes, CRS thunders through legendary performances of music from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, The Who, Eric Clapton, AC/DC, Queen, Rainbow, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and many more. Each show promises anthem after anthem, riff after riff and solo after solo, all culminating in a show-stopping guitar duel that is definitely not to be missed.
Tickets for the following new UK dates are on-sale now via Ticketmaster here
13 January Gateshead – The Glasshouse
14 January Gateshead – The Glasshouse
16 January Edinburgh Usher Hall
17 January Cardiff Utilita Arena
19 January Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
20 January Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
21 January Birmingham Symphony Hall
23 January Basingstoke – The Anvil
24 January Malvern Forum Theatre
25 January Leicester De Montfort Hall
27 January Cambridge Corn Exchange
28 January Sheffield City Hall
29 January Shrewsbury Theatre Severn
30 January Shrewsbury Theatre Severn
1 February Salford Lowry
2 February London Cadogan Hall
3 February London Cadogan Hall
4 February Norwich Theatre Royal
6 February Guildford G-Live
7 February York Barbican
8 February Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
10 February Hull Connexin Live
11 February Nottingham Concert Hall
13 February Warwick Arts Centre
14 February Harrogate Royal Hall
20 February London Cadogan Hall
21 February Eastbourne Congress Theatre
Talking about the band’s new 2024 tour, Classic Rock Show vocalist/guitarist & musical director James Cole said “2024 is a big year for the Classic Rock Show – for example, we will be venturing outside the UK, which is a big deal for us. I believe ‘classic rock’ has now developed from an era into its very own genre, which allows us to develop the show and make it bigger and better every year. We have a loyal fanbase and my aim every year is that they experience a show which is new but with a very familiar feel. For anyone who has not seen the Classic Rock Show before, we want to deliver a performance that takes you back and allows you to feel the emotions and excitement you felt the very first time you heard these songs, whether that was on record, cassette or even CD!”
Featured artists on The Classic Rock Show 2024 world tour are;
James Cole Musical Director/Guitar/Vocals
Wayne Banks Bass/Vocals
Pete Thorn Guitar/Vocals
Jesse Smith Lead Vocals/Guitar
Henry Burnett Keyboards/Vocals
Jess Harwood Vocals/Keyboards
Rudy Cardenas Lead Vocals
Tim Brown Drums
No Wukkas you have twisted my head, you have turned my world upside down. Sorry, just going off on one there, I’d better explain. It’s because ‘Business Fella’ has kind of taken me back to a time when I went to see bands who could probably be described as ‘free festival bands’ mixed with the odd Prunk band – short for Prog-Punk – either way out there punk or Prog played loud and faster and crazy.
In particular ‘Business Fella’ comes with – to me anyway – a large dose of THE Prunk band Cardiacs – ranting vocals, raving fast guitars, sax and somewhat weird keyboards – and Here & Now – darlings of the free festival scene and friends of the Gong family, punky semi-improvised acid rock in the late 70s, moving onto something harder than that with vast doses of reggae and dub in the 80s. Forgive me while I relive my life, oh the injuries I caused myself at Here & How gigs.
But you see ‘Business Fella’ isn’t JUST that, it’s a huge dose of the way-outness of Roky Erickson’s solo work – the founding member and leader of The 13th Floor Elevators – all ranting and shouting, John’s Children and something of The Prodigy.
This is turning into some sort of lecture here, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it to. But all of the bands and artists I’ve referred to are well worth checking out.
The thing is, and I’ve said this before, what you hear might be different, and that’s OK. Bands influence bands who influence bands who… well you get the idea. And with every generation of bands new things are added. Another merging of influences happens. And this is why No Wukkas (At last back to the subject in hand, Frank – Ed) are so bloody good, their music is unashamedly music that comes from somewhere, they acknowledge their influences, while at the same time being of now.
Overwhelmingly fast guitars, keyboards taken to a point of death, drive the joy that is ‘Business Fella’, ranting vocals, drumming that must have had the drummer close to collapse, abrupt changes in tempo, weird echoey vocals. A wall of out-there sound that almost, but doesn’t, become psych-garage. This is music to throw yourself around to, to lose yourself in.
And yet – and forgive me again for this – like Here & Now – No Wukkas don’t do songs that aren’t about something. The band say:
‘Business fella’ is an apocalyptic alt rock anthem (I politely disagree with that, it’s alt-rock only in that it isn’t mainstream rock) centred around a lone figure oblivious to the end of the world… his track’s ferocious power matches the real world angst that comes from ignored climate pleas’
So as I said it’s about something. Something important and of now. Here & Now, by the way, did songs that were about the late 70s world of Thatcher governed Britain (the now then i you get what I mean); the violence of the Special Patrol Group – a police unit that ‘poiiced’ demos, festivals, and other bastions of the alternative world with what might be called a heavy hand, ditching your stash because you might be subject to a ‘sus’ stop and search, and the approaching inferno of civil disobedience. Now it is different (or is it?), No Wukkas reflect the world now.
All of this is to get me to a point (and yes, there is a point to what might seem like pointless wandering words) where I could put this song into a context of now that includes the past, and possibly the future. This song, and their music in general, does this. The subject of the song does this.
The other reason for doing this is that I am frequently approached by people of my age, musical history and life experiences who say that there’s no music like the music they used to listen to, and that’s why they still go and see the ‘old bands’. Well, here is one band they could relate to, enjoy, get into to; because No Wukkas’ music has things they could recognise.
This, people. is a joy, protest songs have not been this groovy and cool for ages. It rages lyrically and musically, it’s a maelstrom of sound that literally takes your breath away. And yet it isn’t meaningless directionless sound, there is a beautiful structure and music played with a fluency that is outstanding. This is brilliant, fucking brilliant. Get into this now, right now, no excuses.