After a couple of months of relative calmness, things are beginning to pick up and March sees the number of gigs around the city increase dramatically.
Amongst them are some big names that you might not normally expect to see in a small city, some gigs that (hopefully) wild horses won’t be able to keep me away from and arguably the most important night of York’s musical calendar.
A Night To Remember
After selling out both the Theatre Royal and The Grand Opera House in the last couple of years, Ian Donaghy brings his A Night To Remember to The Barbican on the 24th. A host of local musicians join forces and perform for free to raise money for charity – proceeds will be split between St Leonard’s Hospice and projects helping people living with dementia in York.
Amongst those taking to the stage will be: Boss Caine, Heather Findlay, Chris Helme, Jess Morgan, Beth McCarthy, Rachel Croft and The Y Street Band.
Anybody attending can expect to hear the music of artists as diverse as Adele, Joe Cocker, The Eagles and David Bowie. Tickets are £10 or £5 for concessions. If you only go to one local gig in March (and you should go to more) that should be the one.
The best of…
In any month, there are always gigs that stand out for me, often for different reasons. These are the ones I will either definitely be at, or trying my hardest to get to this month.
When I first started going to local gigs some of the best nights I and my gig-buddies had were at gigs where we could see three or four local bands for a handful of Sterling.
For some reason, that type of night has all but disappeared from York’s medium sized venues, although they do come along every so often.
One such time can be found on the 5th, when you can see singer/songwriter Kitty VR, young (and incredibly entertaining) pop-punk group Minster Conspiracy, As Sirens Fall, who describe themselves as rock/ alternative/ punk and, hailing from Keighley, are the only band on the bill not from York, and rock band Stonewater.
Four bands, cheap tickets and a chance to support young, local talent – one of the best ways to experience live music.
A few years ago I saw StringerBessant perform an acoustic gig at the now-defunct Stereo, knowing that they had been members of Reef, but knowing little, if anything, about that band. (Sometimes my musical knowledge is sorely lacking…)
At the time I was slightly lambasted for not remembering their most famous single, Place Your Hands (and I had to look it up again for this column). Hopefully, I will remember it, if not be reminded of it, on the 18th, when a resurgent Reef take to the stage at Fibbers.
Back in 2013 I saw another band that I knew nothing about. That night Von Hertzen Brothers were playing a double-headline gig with Touchstone, a UK-based prog-metal band that I had been looking forward to seeing for some time and yet, in my opinion, the Finnish band pretty much blew Touchstone away and the band’s album Nine Lives became a 2013 favourite of mine.
Labelled as prog-rock, they are definitely more rock than prog – there are no overblown, extended keyboard solos and no songs about wizards, hobbits or giant hogweeds, in fact none of the tropes that so often unfairly malign my favourite genre.
What you get is a powerful, energetic performance of songs that vary between atmospheric and anthemic. They are back at The Duchess on the 22nd and I, for one, can’t wait.
I expect the gig at The Basement on the 25th to be a little less loud but I’m looking forward to it just as much.
That evening York’s alt-alt-country duo Mulholland, will launch their debut album North Country, with the help of some of the musicians who contributed to the songs contained on it.
I would have liked to have been at the Fulford Arms on the 4th to see local “drone” band Soma Crew but, sadly, I can’t make that date.
Black Honey come highly recommended to me, although I was advised that they play a more “up to date” rock than the classic genre I am known for liking.
They had a string of sold out shows last year and were picked by The Guardian – which described the Brighton four-piece as “Lana Del Rey singing girl-group pop accompanied by indie shoe-gazers” – as one both a band of the week and one to watch in 2016.
They are at Fibbers on the 1st for a gig being touted as one of those “I was there” shows. Unfortunately for me, it’s another date I can’t make so I will have to be there next time.
The write-up on the Fibbers website likens the band to Wolf Alice, who won two NME awards last month – for best track and best live band. Judge for yourself when they play the Barbican on the 17th.
Fans of the more extreme side of heavy metal are well-served this month.
Local post-hardcore band Glamour Of The Kill announced last year that they were splitting up and are going out with a bang and a final set of gigs, with two in London and an appearance at the Duchess on the 7th.
Californians Exodus have been proponents of thrash-metal since 1979, albeit with a number of line-up changes and a couple of periods of hiatus. They are at Fibbers on the 3rd, as part of a European tour that stretches well into 2016.
Trivium also hail from America, but from the East coast. In response to fans’ requests, they are playing a series of gigs in smaller towns and cities and will appear at the Barbican on the 29th.
If you use Facebook “likes” to measure the success of a band, with nearly two million they could well be the biggest act to appear in York for a long time.
Alisia Casper is a Leeds-based artist and musician who lives with chronic fatigue syndrome and, by her own admission (on her Bandcamp page) doesn’t get out much.
She is, however, appearing twice at the Basement this month – firstly on the 3rd as part of a bill that includes Leeds band Maggie8 and headliner singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adem Ilhan in a gig that will be raising money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Alisia returns on the 13th for one of a number of events celebrating York’s International Women’s Festival.
She will be joined by York singer Meabh Mc Donnell and Hull’s Sally Currie, a.k.a. The Dyr Sister, another multi-instrumentalist who performs haunting and ethereal modern folk songs. There are more details of the YIWF events on the Basement’s website.
Fans of more traditional folk should, as usual, head to the Black Swan where they can find Antipodean “brothers” James Fagan and Jamie McClennan revisiting Australian and New Zealand tunes on the 3rd, single-C’d (and therefore, no relation) Ewan McLennan on the 10th and the York debut of Somerset’s Ange Hardy on the 24th.
Away from the Black Swan, but in a gig also being put on by their folk club, you can see award-winning singer Fay Hield at the NCEM on the 16th as she promotes her new album, Old Adam.
I normally skirt over the various tribute bands that visit our city, mainly because they aren’t my “thing”, even if they cover acts that I like.
However, I was surprised to be told recently that, in a lot of cases, that is where the money is in live music, so plenty of people must like the idea. Personally, I’d rather see new bands and hear original music, but there you go.
Anyway, this month you can see Absolute Bowie (too soon, if you ask me – it just feels like cashing in), The Guns ‘n’ Roses Experience and a Scopyons/Whitesnake UK double-header at Fibbers on the 4th, 12th and 26th respectively.
The Bootleg Beatles hit the Barbican on the 15th, The Doors Alive are at the Duchess on the 25th and the slightly intriguing sounding Tragedy, an “all-metal tribute to The Bee Gees and beyond” appear at the same venue on the 8th.
And then there are the acts or gigs that I can’t link together and genres that, quite frankly, know very little (if anything) about, but which may well interest some readers.
Fibbers plays host to the hip-hop/ funk/ jazz of The Mouse Outfit, fronted by UK hip-hop legend Dr Syntax and “verbal acrobat” Sparkz, on the 10th.
The same venue will resound to the sounds of “reggae-breaks-jungle” Dub Pistols on the 23rd.
At the Duchess on the 11th you can near the new roots music of CC Smugglers, described by Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music as “the best live band on the scene”.
On the same evening, if virtuoso guitar-work is your thing, head to the NCEM to see and hear Antonio Forcione.
Finally Shane Filan, formerly of Westlife, will be at the Barbican on the 21st.
A final word
As usual, there is much more to be had around the city – both paid gigs at the venues covered above and free ones at the various pubs and bars. If there’s anything you think I have missed or should have mentioned, comment below.
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.
|Fairport Convention||Grand Opera House||£25.40|
|Adem||The Basement||£8 adv / £10 otd|
|The James Brothers||The Black Swan||£10|
|Soma Crew||Fulford Arms|
|6th||Turin Brakes||The Duchess||£20|
|7th||Glamour of the Kill||The Duchess||£12.50|
|10th||The Mouse Outfit||Fibbers||£10|
|Ewan McLennan||The Black Swan||£10|
|11th||CC Smugglers||The Duchess||£8|
|12th||The Guns ‘n’ Roses Experience||Fibbers||£12|
|13th||The Dyr Sister||The Basement||£5 adv / £6 otd|
|15th||The Bootleg Beatles||The Barbican||£32.48|
|16th||Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party||NCEM||£15|
|17th||Wolf Alice||The Barbican||£19.50|
|21st||Shane Filan||The Barbican||£36.40|
|22nd||Von Hertzen Brothers||The Duchess||£14|
|Shopping||Fulford Arms||£6 adv / £8 otd|
|24th||Ange Hardy||The Black Swan||£8|
|A Night To Remember||The Barbican||£10|
|25th||Doors Alive||The Duchess||£12|
|Mulholland||The Basement||£6 adv / £8 otd|