The gigs to see in York right now – April 2017

10 Apr 2017 @ 7.48 pm
| Entertainment

Our regular music preview writer, Ian Massey is taking a well-earned break and will be back next month.

So, here’s our round-up of upcoming gigs in the city that are worthy of your attention.

Big nights

One show at the Barbican stands out this month. The aptly titled fundraiser, A Night To Remember (April 13, £11.20-£16.80), has become an annual city institution, thanks to the tireless efforts of Big Ian Donaghy and a host of the city’s finest musical talent.

At the time of writing, there are just a handful of tickets left at the very top of the balcony seating. But fear not, wherever you sit, you will get the full force of the impressive line-up, set to raise £20,000 or more for St Leonard’s Hospice and dementia projects in the city.

Ian and his band will be performing music by Adele, Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Cher and Kylie Minogue!

They will be joined by Chris Helme (ex-Seahorses), Jess Steel, Heather Findlay, These Jaded Streets, Boss Caine, Graham Hodge, Beth McCarthy and many more.

Big Ian isn’t the only legend at the Barbican this month.

Chris De Burgh and his band grace the Barbican stage on April 21, but are tickets at £50.40 up to £61.60 a step too far for Yorkies? No sign of Sold Out notices yet.

Interesting to note that the National Centre For Early Music have had no trouble selling out their show that evening. Virtuoso jazz, flamenco and world music guitarist Antonio Forcione promises a mesmerising show.

Wilko Johnson’s uncompromising brand of British R’n’B will light up the Barbican stage the following night (April 22).

With one of the world’s greatest bass players, former Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy, driving the one-time Dr Feelgood star to ever greater heights, this is one performer every music fan should see at least once in their lifetime. Tickets are £28.

Real rockers

Away from the dizzy heights of the Barbican stage, a different kind of legend hits Fibbers on April 27 (£31.36).

As the drummer with AC/DC for all but three of the Australian rock band’s 18 studio albums, Phil Rudd has seen it all and tasted rock ‘n’ roll excess.

He freely admits the hell-raising days are behind him, but  on-stage the energy still burns as fiercely as ever.

If rock’s your thing, you should already have Quireboys (Fibbers, April 13, £22.40) in your diary.

In one form or another, they have been around since 1984, reforming in 1995, and again in 2001.

Vocalist Spike (Jonathan Gray) has been an ever-present, earning comparisons with the more melodic end of the rock spectrum [Mott The Hoople, Slade, Wildhearts, Dogs D’Amour], but always with a mission to maintain the spirit of good time rock ‘n’ roll.

Fulford fun

The Fulford Arms has rightly earned a place in the hearts of music fans looking for alternative live music, and its offerings could not be more varied.

April 11 brings Happyness, a three-piece from South London (£9 adv).

If thoughtful indie guitar-music is your thing, you’ll love these boys from the stable of Moshi Moshi records, always a sign of quality.

Their biog suggests influences from Roxy Music and Big Star to Randy Newman and the Beach Boys. Not too sure about all of that, but we heard Sparklehorse and Young Marble Giants in there too.

Punctuation nazis might take issue with the support band, Her’s, causal use of the apostrophe. But no one can take issue with the Liverpool duo’s captivating retro-esque sounds.

York’s wonderful Bull kick things off, so definitely worth getting there early to catch them too. 

Still at the Fully, April 22 brings Tommy Hale & The Magnificent Bastards.

The Texas-based roots rocker troubadour makes a welcome return for a UK tour (£6.

Old faces and a new venue

Lovers of Americana need look no further than the Basement when York’s Stan Smith and Ann Dunford-Smith bring three other acts to join them for Mulholland & Friends (April 14, £5). 

Knaresborough duo Steamtown, Wakefield’s Steve Chapman-Smith, and Bridlington’s Gracie Falls all draw influences from the American folk and country traditions.

As do headliners Stan and Ann, better known as Mulholland, whose rootsy self-penned songs and gorgeous harmonies sit easily alongside a repertoire that includes songs by Dylan, the Byrds and Warren Zevon. 

The following night, (April 15), a new venue! Well, new to me anyway.

York label, Young Thugs present much-loved York singer songwriter Charlie Swainston as he launches his Sweet Berry Elixir album at the Citadel in Gillygate (£3).

Formerly the city’s Salvation Army HQ, this historic building offers fascinating acoustics for what promises to be a memorable night, with Amy May Ellis, Max Bianco and Sam Griffiths in support.

You might be familiar with Charlie, busking solo on the city streets, or presenting various open mic nights around town, notably a late night Wednesday session at The Drawing Board in New Street.

But this show will be different, as Charlie promises a seven-piece jazz/folk band that will play the new album from start to finish. 

This gig makes for a problematic clash, as the Laetitia Sadler Source Ensemble play The Crescent on the same night (£11). Decisions, decisions…

The former Stereolab vocalist brings a full band to mark the launch of her fascinating new album Find Me Finding You (released last month).

Spotify honour

Lovers of Rock ‘n’ roll psychedelia will be out in force to catch hot Leeds band The Strawberries at Fibbers (April 19, £3 OTD). 

Support comes from York’s finest, The Howl And The Hum, whose debut self-released single, Godmanchester Chinese Bridge was immediately picked up by Spotify for their New Music Friday chart last week.

The band, led by Sam Griffiths, with Conor Hirons (guitar), Bradley Blackwell (bass) and Jack Williams (drums), are on the verge of a huge career and this is a great opportunity to catch them.
Here’s their official video for the single:

Simon Micklethwaite has been a welcome long-term presence on the York music scene. His band, Soma Crew launch their second album, National Instruction, at The Basement on April 21.

The four-piece modestly describe themselves as a guitar-driven drone band, but that description doesn’t do justice to the hypnotic power of their live show. Behind the wall-of-sound swirl lurk some deceptively catchy melodic tunes, reminiscent of the Raveonettes, even the Jesus And Mary Chain (£3 OTD).

Support comes from Black Lagoons and Dead Bird.

A quick mention also for #MicCheck, a new night showcasing York-based rap, hip hop, and R’n’B alongside other regional artists.

Kritikal, KIKZ, SID, Deevient and others will be at the Fulford Arms on April 20 (£4 OTD).

Tex Mex debut

The new band. Photograph: Acko Pulco and the Cliff Divers / Facebook

We’ve just heard that Andy Atkinson has been persuaded out of retirement – and this time he’s back with a brand new Tex Mex band, Acko Pulco and the Cliff Divers.

Andy left the Bogus Brothers in 1995, after ten years with the band, several successful albums and a reputation as a great live act. The new set-up play their debut show at The Crescent on April 26.

The line-up features some former colleagues and well-known York musicians playing Bordertown/Tex Mex music by the likes of The Mavericks, Los Lobos, The Texas Tornadoes, Steve Earle and Elvis. Andy is on vocals.

The Cliff Divers are: ex-Bogus Brother Tim Bruce (bass); Bogus soundman Robin Bowes (guitar); Hairul Hasnan (drums); former Goosehorns and Sad Cafe player Simon Waggott (keyboard); Arts Barge star Daniel Bowater (accordion, harmonica); Ben Crosthwaite, ex-Littlemores (also on accordion, trumpet); Mark Ellerker (harmonica); and Andy’s daughter Jess (backing vocals).

Tickets £5 from the venue, Make Your Mark in Goodramgate, York or Wallworks Photography in Selby or from the band.

Thanks guys

Finally, a word of thanks to Maggie and Mike Hird, who have tirelessly supported live music in the city. After 16 years at The Victoria Vaults in Nunnery Lane, they are retiring at the end of May.

But fear not, the lease is being taken over by music lover Pete Connell who has recruited former Fulford Arms and Woolpack landlord and promoter Steve Bradley as general manager.

Steve intends to keep Vicky Vaults a haven for live music. With a varied offering of rock, jazz, country, folk, world music and blues, there is hardly a night goes by without a live show.


Here is the usual chronological list of the main gigs I covered above. All details are correct at time of putting this column together and ticket prices are as advertised. Paying on the door at Fibbers will cost a pound or two more.

On a smartphone? Scroll horizontally to see all the info

Date Act Venue Price
Date Act Venue Price
11th Happyness Fulford Arms £9 (£11 OTD)
13th A Night To Remember Barbican £10-15
13th Quireboys Fibbers £20
14th Mulholland Basement £5
15th Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble Crescent £10 adv
15th Charlie Swainston Citadel, Gillygate £3
19th Strawberries / Howl And The Hum Fibbers £5
20th Kritikal Fulford Arms £4 OTD
21st Soma Crew Basement £3 (£4 OTD)
22nd Tommy Hale / Boss Caine Fulford Arms £6
27th Phil Rudd Band Fibbers £28