The gigs to see in York right now – June 2016

Beverley Knight plays the Barbican this month
2 Jun 2016 @ 4.50 pm
| News

Many thanks to David Nicholson for stepping in last month, when I wasn’t able to find time to put this column together.

As he mentioned, his picks were widely different to mine (although I was at one gig he mentioned) and showed what a variety of music is available in our city.

That said, we are about to lose one venue. It’s been somewhat inevitable for a while, given all the talk of developing (and suggestions of bulldozing) Stonebow House but, with firm plans now seemingly in place, The Duchess would appear to have just a few weeks of life left.

If that, given that their website only lists two music gigs and three comedy shows (one of them, in October, seems unlikely to go ahead). The one report I have seen states that the owner will be “actively looking for another venue in York if a suitable one can be found”, which doesn’t sound that reassuring to me.

From a personal point of view, I’m obviously going to find it a shame. While The Duchess has focussed more on comedy than music recently, I have been to some cracking gigs there – from the venue’s first gig (Black Stone Cherry, hastily moved next door due to a delay in opening) through to The Moulettes there just a few days ago.

I hope a new venue can be found but, if not, I also hope that some acts who have made The Duchess their venue of choice for York, the likes of Von Hertzen Brothers, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Aynsley Lister, Nerina Pallot, Kobra and The Lotus and Hayseed Dixie, can be convinced to try out Fibbers instead.

In the meantime, what’s on this month?

Festival time

June is pretty much book-ended by two local festivals. The first weekend of the month sees a host of acts descend upon the Black Swan for their City of York Folk Weekend, with live music available from 1pm on both Saturday and Sunday, either outside (in a marquee, this is the British summer  after all) or inside the pub.

I went along to this last year and was pleasantly surprised by the variation of music available. The full list of acts on show is available here (PDF), and highlights for me would be Union Jill, The Bronze, Róisín Bán, Leather’O, David Ward Maclean and Dan Webster.

It might also give me a chance to finally catch Bramble Napskins, a band I have heard nothing but good things about. All events are free.

The final Saturday of the month sees The Apollo Festival return to York Sports Club for a family friendly afternoon of live music across four stages.

There are nearly 50 acts on show, with Cast, Dodgy and Dave McCabe (formerly of The Zutons) appearing alongside local acts such as Van Der Neer, Chris Helme, The 5:15’s, Pelico, Y Street Band, Minster Conspiracy and Beth McCarthy, as well as not-so-local Plumhall and Joe Solo.

Summertime blues (and soft rock)

My personal must-see gig of the month takes place at Fibbers on the 17th, when (not yet, but probably soon to be, legend) Chantel McGregor returns for her annual York appearance.

I’ve followed Chantel’s career since first seeing her perform covers at The Roman Bath and will be using this gig as an opportunity to pick up a copy of her second album.

For anybody who hasn’t come across her yet, Chantel is an incredibly talented guitarist, with a number of awards to back up that statement, who plays blues and rock effortlessly.

Support for the evening comes from York’s own Heidi Widdop, who I have seen fronting Cloud Atlas and The Secrets (as well as, the past, Stolen Earth) but have yet to see performing solo.

I’m also going to try to be at The Duchess on the 2nd when local soft-rockers Little Resistance are due to launch their debut EP, with support from Phoebe Marshall and Kell Chambers.

This gig isn’t listed on the venue’s website but the band has confirmed that it is going ahead.

More from the locals

I bemoaned the lack of opportunity to see local bands in my last column. This month, there are more than a few on show, starting with grungers The MallRats and Naked Six who along with Blind Eye (now based in Manchester but still, I think, York at heart), will be supporting Welsh alternative rockers Trampolene at Fibbers on the 2nd.

The next day, at the same venue, you can see indie rockers Part Time Miserables and electro-pop collective Maven Fiction, as well as Harrogate rock band Kasiuss, as they open for Whitley Bay alt-pop group Lisbon, who impressed me when I saw them last year.

It’s not all support slots for the locals, though, as, on the very same day, there is a full line-up of York bands at The Basement, where you can hear the funk rock of Slugs, Drugs and Harmony, the rock of Borderline and the more specific indie rock of Jurassic Jets.

There is what sounds like a promising acoustic line-up at The Fulford Arms on the 4th when Toby Burras (not using the Unfinished Drawings name, at least on the event listing, for some reason) and Boss Caine support Teesside duo Cherry Head, Cherry Heart, who describe themselves as an “alternative to pop” and whose longer Facebook description sounds intriguing without giving too much away.

Over at The Crescent on the 6th, you can hear …And The Hangnails (actually, from past experience, they can be so loud you could probably hear them a couple of streets away, but they will sound better if you are in the venue) as they play a support slot for New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus, who pop in to York for the first time in seven years, as part of a handful of UK dates after a festival appearance in Europe last month.

There’s more from York’s indie rock scene when King No-One headline Fibbers on the 10th.

Boss Caine returns to the Fulford Arms on the 18th, when he opens for Spike and Tyla. The frontmen of The Quireboys and The Dogs D’Amour have been recording an album – a follow up to Flagrantly Yours, twenty years after the original – in York recently and will be celebrating its release with this intimate acoustic show.

Local singer-songwriter, Joshua Burnell also launches an album, his debut called Into The Green, at The Basement on the 25th.

His influences are folk songs and storytelling and the album has been recorded by Dan Webster after a successful Kickstarter campaign and features a variety of York’s musicians. Perhaps even more exciting for me is that Ted Naismith, whose work I know through his association with J.R.R. Tolkien, has provided the artwork for the album.

The best of the rest

There’s obviously much more going on around York’s venues. Well, to be honest, “much” might be stretching it a bit this month, but there is more. Here’s what sounds interesting for the rest of the month.

It might seem strange that I, a dyed-in-the-wool rock fan for the most part, have seen soul-singer Beverley Knight perform live, but I have. Admittedly, she was supporting Bryan Adams (a strange combination, I know) in Huddersfield at the time. This month she plays much closer to (my) home, at The Barbican on the 3rd.

Fibbers plays host to Toronto-based electro-industrial icon Ayria on the 15th. The description on Fibbers’ website – “Jennifer Parkin’s project Ayria uniquely blends old-school industrial with dark electro-pop – a unique songwriting style combining haunting lyrics, electro, synth-pop, industrial and hooky Eighties dance.

And all contrasted with darker distorted gritty beats and synths that destroy dance floors.” – might not immediately bring to mind anything in my music collection, but it does sound intriguing.

I’m definitely not a fan of jazz (possibly only through ignorance) but if you are you might be interested in the NCEM on the 19th, when a series of Sunday afternoon jazz concerts is kicked off by singer-pianists Ian Shaw and Liane Carroll who have four BBC jazz awards between them.

Finally, and rounding out the month, you can see Kirsty Bromley and Lucy Wise, the former from Sheffield, the latter Australia, as they bring their Two Hemispheres tour of mostly original songs and tunes influenced by Celtic, English and American folk music to the Back Swan on the 30th.

The (usual) final word

Reading on a smartphone? Scroll the table left to get all the details

As ever I haven’t listed everything. If there’s something I’ve missed which you think is worth seeing and want to bring to people’s attention, comments are always welcome below.

More importantly, go to the shows and support the local scene (venues and artists). Purely as a punter, I still maintain that live music in York is undergoing a transformation and, in some ways, it’s not for the best.

With venues closing, local acts moving more towards bars and pubs – not my favourite places to hear live music – and the number of gigs declining, the scene seems to need support more than ever.


Below is a 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.

Date Act Venue Price
2nd Trampolene Fibbers £5
  Little Resistance The Duchess £5 adv /£6 otd
3rd Lisbon Fibbers £6.50
  Jurassic Jets The Basement £4
  Beverley Knight The Barbican £21.50, £30.80, £39.20, £95.20
3rd/4th/5th City Of York Folk Weekend The Black Swan Free
6th Titus Andronicus The Crescent £11 adv
8th Cherry Head, Cherry Heart The Fulford Arms Free
10th King No-One Fibbers £7
15th Ayria Fibbers £12
17th Chantel McGregor Fibbers £14
18th Spike & Tyla The Fulford Arms ?
19th Ian Shaw & Liane Carroll NCEM £18
25th Joshua Burnell The Basement £3
  Apollo Festival York Sports Club £20 adults
£10 13 – 17yrs
£8 4 – 12yrs
Under 3s free
30th Kirsty Bromley & Lucy Wise The Black Swan £9