A packed February sees everyone from a Finnish pagan metal band to Joe Longthorne play York. Who could ask for more variety, asks Ian Massey?
It’s February and things are beginning to pick up on York’s live music front, in quantity if nothing else given the astonishing quality of some of last month’s gigs. There’s a lot to choose from this month, so I’m going to cut the commentary short and move straight on to…
The Black Swan Folk Club hosts a Winter Folk Day on the 1st, as part of the York Residents Festival.
Two sessions – 2pm to 5.30pm and 7.30pm to 10.30pm – will feature local folk artists including, amongst others, Leather’O, Solar Union, Union Jill, The A-Rhythmics and Paula Ryan. Entry is free for York Card holders and £3 for everybody else.
Ashley James also has a gig at The Basement on the 1st, accompanied by a five-piece band and a sound that is both contemporary and reminiscent of Sixties and Seventies, influenced by such diverse acts as David Bowie and Otis Reading. Tickets are £5.
Two days later on the 3rd, at the same venue, you can see and hear a variety of styles as students from Access To Music York perform to raise money for York Mind. As I write this I can’t find any details of the line-up but the students and the charity all deserve your support and tickets are just £3 in advance or £4 on the door.
Then, on the 6th, local singer/songwriter Dan Webster graces the same stage to launch his new album, The Tin Man.
Mixing folk and Americana, he uses music to tell personal stories, throwing in humour and politics along the way (£4 adv/£5 otd).
Gigs at Fibbers featuring local acts start on the 9th, with melodic hard-rockers Us Amongst The Rest to promote their 2014 album Follow The Truth (£6).
It has been a while since Voodoo-Blues band Hijak Oscar – remember them? They were on Channel 4’s Unsigned for a while – performed live but they are back, now featuring Alice Ostapjuk on vocals, on the 13th, on a bill that also includes Asio’s Eyes and La Petite Mort (£5).
It may be Valentine’s Day, but I already have a ticket for the Lifesigns gig at Fibbers on the 14th.
They are founded by singer and keyboard-player John Young, who has played with the likes of Steeleye Span and Bon Jovi, as well as touring Europe with Asia (one of my favourite bands). John also co-wrote the Fish album Fellini Days.
Lifesigns’ 2013 debut album split opinions among people I know. Some labelled it “prog-by-numbers”, while others, including me, loved it.
The local connection comes from the support act – the brilliant Cloud Atlas (£13).
There’s more rock and metal on the 27th, when Glamour Of The Kill perform as part of their first headline tour in three years, mixing influences such as Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden to produce their own unique sound, including nods to hair metal and more aggressive modern metal (£10).
Finally, at The Basement on the 28th The Taskers, a brother and sister rock band from Stafford, will be performing songs from upcoming album Pleasure Point when they play their first electric gig in York after previously only playing acoustic here.
(In fact, they have an acoustic gig earlier in the month – the 7th at The Habit.) The local connection here is the band’s cellist, Sarah Pickwell.
As well as Hull band Farewell Fairground, support comes from a local singer/ songwriter called Sand Creature – one of the seemingly endless list of local acts that I have yet to come across, but Sarah tells me that he is awesome.
Into The Fulford Arms
There are a few local bands appearing at The Fulford Arms in February but, being musically slightly off-centre, I’m not familiar with most of them.
On the 4th, York post-punkers Fawn Spots support Naomi Punk. This Olympia, Washington based punk/grunge band (Seattle is nearby, what other genre would it be?) are embarking on their first European tour (£6 adv/£8 otd).
York’s Bored Housewife present an evening of anti-folk on the 6th.
The 7th sees York Not For Profit Music and Arts Scene’s first show and an evening of punk meets reggae, with the bill being made up of Dub Barn Collective, System Paralysis, Vinnie and the Stars (who I am familiar with and who are great live) and Fat Spatula. Entry is free and donations for the bands are welcome.
There’s another free gig on the 11th and more post-punk from Berlin Black.
Jorvik Viking Festival
Two very different gigs form part of this year’s Jorvik Viking Festival (Feb 14-22).
On the 16th Barley Hall in Stonegate plays host to Manx Gaelic singer and flautist Ruth Keggin.
University of York music graduate Ruth will be joined by David Pearce on guitar and Vanessa Hutchinson on double bass for an intimate concert of songs from the Isle of Man.
Tickets are £14 and only around 40 seats are available, so early booking via www.jorvikbookings.com is advised.
Probably less intimate and definitely louder, you will find Finnish pagan metal band Moonsorrow at Fibbers on the 20th, supported by folk metal from Northern Oak, Sheffield’s pioneers of the heavy flute sound, and York’s own Sellsword (£16).
The pick of the rest
There are plenty of touring bands to pick from this month. Among my personal highlights would be acoustic duo Ezio & Booga at The Basement on the 19th (£14).
The first and, so far, only time that I saw them I felt as though I had stumbled into a private party, such was the rapport with the audience. Don’t let that put you off, though, the songs and laid back showmanship are superb.
Another gig that I already have a ticket for is Larry Miller’s show at Fibbers on the 21st.
I haven’t managed to catch this blues guitarist on any of his previous visits to York, but anybody who holds the record for the most encores at the Cambridge Rock Festival must be worth seeing (£12).
Elsewhere, you might fancy some of the bigger names gracing our city’s venues, like Andy and Jez Williams (two thirds of Doves) performing as Black Rivers at The Duchess on the 6th (£10 adv/£12 otd).
The biggest names, of course, can be found at the biggest venues. The Barbican has 10cc, still featuring founding member Graham Gouldman, on the 9th (£30–£34).
Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins is there on the 25th (£29.50–£55, with higher priced packages available).
There really is so much more going on around York this month – Trinidadian singer Naila and Detroit folk-rockers Frontier Ruckus return to York for the fourth time, at The Basement on the 2nd and 21st respectively.
Jazz pianist visits John Taylor the National Centre for Early Music on the 28th – and there’s many, many more.
There are also the many free gigs across the city’s pubs and bars.
As usual, much of the above are gigs and acts that interest me. If you disagree, or want to highlight somebody I have missed, add a comment below.