An ill thought out decision to book this year’s family holiday over Easter instead of the usual August, when bands are more likely to be found at festivals than York’s venues (I don’t really do festivals), means that my gig-going will be seriously curtailed in April.
Not only am I missing a gig I already had a ticket for, probably one of the best attended rock gigs this month and one of my bucket-list gigs, but there are a number of local performers I would almost certainly have headed out to see.
Add to that the fact that I was too slow off the mark thinking about getting a ticket for Seasick Steve’s sold out appearance at the Barbican and what could have been, for me, a record-breaking month has turned into a mass of regrets.
Oh well, at least I’ll get to see some sunshine…
Kicking off with the local bands and artistes gracing our city’s stages this month, both headlining and supporting – and there are plenty of them.
You’d be a fool (sorry, it had to be done) not to head over to The Basement on the 1st where you will find the honey-toned Rachel Croft and more robust Y-Street Band supporting local folk-rockers The Beggar’s Bunce as they release their debut album The Silent Revolution (£5).
Singer songwriters Sam Griffiths and Zak Ford can be found at The Duchess on the 3rd, when they provide support slots for the alternative folk of Marika Hackman who is also promoting her debut album, We Sleep At Last, on her largest headline tour to date. Also on the bill is Londoner Sophie Jamieson (£8 adv/ £10 otd).
There is a night of Americana, gypsy/celtic and country/folk at The Basement on the 4th when Leather’o and headliners Mulholland are joined by Newcastle’s Gilded Thieves for a gig that will also feature the first showing of Mulholland’s crowd-funded video for Come On Back (£4 adv/ £5otd).
Hot on the heels of a live session on Radio 2, alt-rockers and word of mouth phenomenon The Glass Caves will once again be headlining Fibbers on the 4th. Support comes from Red Kites and Liverpool’s Red Rum Club (£7).
There’s more free music at the Fulford Arms when spacey-rockers The Silent Fears, the northern soul of Faraday Waves and experimental Neuschlaufen join forces to open for Leeds-based indie-rockers The Barmines.
On the 10th Fibbers plays host to a fully local line-up of rock and metal when impressive youngsters The Minster Conspiracy, along with Treading Foreign Waters and Blind Eye support A Joker’s Rage, the band who combine the make-up of Kiss with the style of Batman’s greatest villain (£5).
And there’s more rock when York trio The Filthy Piece headline the Duchess on the 16th, whose stripped down sound has been compared to The White Stripes.
Across at The Duchess on the same day Vinnie And The Stars launch their third album Development.
Vinnie, as one of his songs proudly proclaims, is from Hull but plays York often enough for me to class him as a local and, anyway, support comes from the superb Unfinished Drawings who are definitely York based (£5 adv/ £7 otd).
I’m really upset to be missing the gig at Fibbers on the 11th. Not only would it have been the first time I got to see York’s melodic rockers Us Amongst The Rest but, along with Rival State, they are supporting Toseland, fronted by ex-World Superbikes champion James Toseland.
I have zero interest in motorsport but saw this band when they played York a couple of years ago, was impressed, and yet haven’t managed to catch them since. Pulling in fans of both rock and fast bikes, this one will not only be busy but probably one of the best gigs in York this month (£8).
It’s unusual that I’ve got to April without seeing Boss Caine at least once. Given that I have yet to be disappointed by any of the acts I have seen him open for I would probably have gone along to Fibbers on the 12th to see Scott H Biram (£10) or the 14th for Mark Olson (£13) just out of curiosity.
Despite announcing their split in last year, enigmatic undergrounders Honeytone Cody are back for a one-off show at The Basement on the 18th.
If pop-punk is your thing you should be at The Basement on the 19th when York bands One Way Street and On The Ropes join forces with fellow Yorkshire-bands Pray For Hayden (Leeds) and headliners Deadset Dream (Sheffield) (£3).
Alternatively, if you like your punk less “poppy”, Fibbers on the 21st is probably the place to be. There you will be able to see …And The Hangnails among the support acts for Leeds’ Brawlers, with Max Raptor and Black Ocean also on the bill (£6).
I’m really glad that the lovely Emma Stevens is bringing her folk/ country/ pop songs back to Fibbers on the 25th. Her gig there last year was one of my highlights of the year and her first album Enchanted is a wonderful collection of feel good, summery songs.
This time around she is co-headlining with Blair Dunlop, son of Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings and frontman of the revitalised The Albion Band until he folded it to concentrate on his solo career. What’s the local link? The Bronze will be opening the evening (£10).
Away from the locals, I normally give precedence to the louder side of music, because that is what I know most about. Every so, though, often I head out to see something quieter and end up enjoying it.
So, here are the more subtle acts heading to York this month.
The National Centre For Early Music has a couple of concerts this month, starting with Mariana Sadovska on the 16th. Known as the “Ukrainian Björk”, she will be joined by German percussionist Christian Tormé and will be singing songs of love and death, despair and hope, freedom and identity. All of which sounds intriguing (£13).
Maddy Prior is probably best known as the singer of Steeleye Span and she will be performing the music of the British Isles and Eastern Europe with accordion player Hannah James and Giles Lewis of The Carnival Band on the 21st (£17).
The Black Swan Folk Club’s regular Thursday evening concerts continue to attract diverse performers from across the country and beyond, with London-based flautist and multi-instrumentalist Jacquelyn Hynes playing Celtic-folk on the 2nd (£9).
Yorkshireman Duncan McFarlane will be joined by Anne Brivonese on fiddle for a night of folk mixed with modern covers on the 9th (£7).
Flame-haired singer and double-bassist Miranda Sykes and virtuoso mandolin player Rex Preston will be journeying up from Bath on the 16th (£11) while living legend of Irish folk Andy Irvine will be playing on the 23rd (£12).
Rock and blues
…And back to my personal comfort zone, where some big names appear.
Young blues-man Ben Poole has garnered praise from the likes of Jeff Beck and Bernie Torme. I chose to see Torme over Poole last year on the basis that it was more likely the latter would return to York.
I was right, as he’s at Fibbers on the 3rd, sadly during my holiday. Let’s hope he comes back again (£10).
The “bucket list” gig I mentioned in my introduction is Robin Trower at the Barbican on the 8th. Not only is he a true legend of British Rock and Blues but support comes from Joanne Shaw Taylor, who I have heard great things about. (£22.50 – £24.50)
The first of two ex-Genesis members to appear in York this year, Mike Rutherford’s Mike and the Mechanics play the Barbican on the 17th.
Apart from Rutherford himself it’s not the line-up I remember from such classics as Silent Running, The Living Years and Over My Shoulder but the fact that they are classics as enough to ensure I bought a ticket and I’m keen to see how this new version of the band interpret them (£32-£36).
Also on the 17th, the inspirational Mike Peters will be honouring the legacy and celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Alarm’s Strength album in one-man-band style at The Duchess (£15 adv/ £17.50 otd).
Less well known, Glasgow’s instrumental post-rock quartet Vasa are compared to the likes of Mogwai and Maybeshewill and that is enough to tempt me to The Basement on the 20th (£5).
I will definitely be at Fibbers on the 28th when veteran proggy-rockers Uriah Heep will take to the stage to perform tracks from their five decades of music, right up to latest and 24th studio album, Outsider.
It might be one of the higher-priced tickets I buy this year but, based on the performance they gave back in 2008 (blimey, is it that long ago that I saw them?) it will be worth it (£22.50).
Finally, another young blues-man. Last year South African Dan Patlansky opened for Bruce Springsteen in front of 64,000 people in Johannesburg. The 30th will see him perform to a few less at Fibbers before he tours the UK with Joe Satriani later in the year (£12).
The best of the rest and a final word
There’s obviously more. I can’t cover everything and inevitably, especially with the touring bands, I tend to gravitate to those that I know or think I will like.
Fans of reggae can catch Finley Quaye at The Duchess on the 8th (£12.50 adv/ £15 otd).
Country fans can see Cash and Full Nelson at Fibbers on the 24th (£10).
There is also a whole load of bands that I know nothing about, although that doesn’t stop me going to see some acts, time permitting.
Often these bands have loyal followings so if I’ve missed something you think is worth mentioning, feel free to comment below.
As ever, there really should be something for most, if not every, musical taste. Whether it is one of the gigs I have picked out, one I’ve missed, free music in one of the pubs and bars or one of the many open mic nights around York, get yourself out, support the local music scene and keep music live.
Remember, the next big thing could be playing right under your nose.