Although festival fever has struck, Ian Massey finds plenty of acts which are hot in the city
Festival season is now well and truly underway, leaving slim pickings for live music in the major venues of our city.
There are still some big names to see, though, and if you are a fan of heavy metal, there are a few gigs worth checking out.
For those who prefer to see acts who are already famous, big-ticket acts and who are going to the races in July, The Beach Boys and Wet Wet Wet are appearing at the Knavesmire on the 25th and 26th respectively, as part of York Racecourse’s Music Showcase Weekend.
Unfortunately, you can’t get tickets just to see the bands.
Elsewhere, former Joy Division/ New Order bassist Peter Hook brings his band The Light to Fibbers on the 5th, where they will be playing Movement and Power and Corruption & Lies, the first two New Order albums, in their entirety. Tickets are £20.
Further back in musical history, Ian McLagan was a member of Small Faces and Faces, and has played keyboards with, among others, The Rolling Stones and Billy Bragg.
He’s back in York promoting his latest album United States at The Duchess on the 11th (£15 adv/£17 on the door). Support comes from a personal favourite of York’s music scene, Boss Caine.
The enigmatic Toyah Willcox had a string of energetic chart hits in the Eighties, somewhat belying her “high priestess of punk” label with catchy songs such as It’s A Mystery, I Want To Be Free and a version of Echo Beach that my memory thinks did better in the charts than it actually did.
Her Acoustic, Up Close & Personal show lands at The Duchess on the 24th, giving fans a chance to hear a selection of her hits and stories from her career (£20 adv/ £22 otd).
Slightly more up to date, the Barbican hosts David Gray on the 2nd, with tickets costing £29.50 to £47.50.
I’m afraid that, despite loving White Ladder, I lost touch with Gray’s career after Life In Slow Motion and didn’t realise he was still recording.
He is at the Barbican to promote his new album, Mutineers.
Rock and metal
Former Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera brings his four-string guitar, the current line-up of Soulfly and their brand of modern metal to Fibbers on the 12th (£15).
Presumably Soulfly’s drummer, Cavalera’s son Zyon, will be paid twice for this gig as his band Lody Kong provides support.
Those who prefer a more classic version of metal can find it at Fibbers on the 17th, when Heaven & Earth appear.
With a list of past contributors that reads like a who’s who of rock music and includes Kelly Hansen, Glenn Hughes and Richie Sambora, they blend hard rock and blues in the style of Deep Purple and Bad Company (£13).
Although hailing from Netherlands, Imperia are a band with wider continental roots, being made up of members from Norway, Finland, Belgium and Germany.
Formed by soprano Helena Iren Michaelsen after her dismissal from the band now known as Epica, they are proponents of the almost-uniquely European genre of symphonic metal and can be found at Fibbers on the 29th (£6).
The second Brodown Festival takes place at The Duchess on the 27th, with doors opening at 1pm in order to fit in the number of bands performing.
The line-up of hardcore/ deathcore/ pop punk/ metal (and others) includes local bands such as Amongst Thieves, On The Ropes, After Your Betrayal and The Family Ruin, as well as some from further afield, like Londoners Exist Immortal and The Life We Live from Newcastle.
Headliners are local band Shot Down Stay Down, playing their final gig (£7 adv/ £11 otd).
Montreal-based Sarah Jane is little-known this side of the Atlantic and is touring the UK with her mix of traditional folk and modern themes for the first time (£9).
Hissyfit don’t have quite as far to travel for their appearance on the 17th.
Hailing from just down the road in Beverley, this close harmony duo’s repertoire has extended beyond their self-written songs inspired by the demise of the east coast fishing industry and local people and includes both traditional and contemporary material (£7).
A highly-regarded acoustic singer-songwriter admired by the likes of Dave Pegg, Ralph McTell and the late Bert Jansch, forty-plus-year veteran Steve Tilston returns to York on the 24th, after a three-year absence (£10).
Finally, Plumhall appear on the 31st.
Comprising of Michelle Plum (ex-Chumbawumba and The Accidental Tourists) and Nick Hall (The Hall Brothers) this duo are highly entertaining, both musically with a mixture of pop, folk and Americana and the occasional more rock-y number and, in my experience, between songs.
Their debut album, Thundercloud, has yet to be officially released but is gaining good reviews from those who pre-ordered it and it will be available at this gig (£9).
The best of the rest
Helsinki-based duo Banana Pill brings their brand of ambient drone to The Woolpack on the 2nd, as part of their UK tour. Imagine a quieter version of Sigur Ros.
On the 4th you can choose between two more local bands, with Yorkshire lads Your Illuminations bursting forth with their anthemic guitar pop at Fibbers (£5) and indie-rockers Hello Operator at The Basement (£5).
The fantastic soulful vocals of local RnB queen Kymberley Kennedy can be heard once again at Fibbers on the 11th (£5) while The Basement will be showcasing an eclectic instrumental mix of jazz, math rock, prog rock and other influences with Si Paton’s new band Selectric on the same night (£tbc).
There’s more math/ prog rock (but less jazz) from local band Mononoké at The Woolpack on the 15th.
If you liked Lost From Atlas, chances are you will also like these guys.
Rising stars Lower Than Atlantis describe their current place in the music ladder like this: “We were one of the bigger bands playing the small circuit, now we’re a small band in the grand scheme of things”.
A fourth, self-titled, album is due in September from Sony records and they bring their crunching post-hardcore sound to Fibbers on the 18th (£10).
The Basement plays host to pop-funkers Barcode Zebra on the 19th (£4 adv/ £5 otd).
With roots in punk and rock ‘n’ roll, Leeds singer/ songwriter Daniel Pearson has been performing solo, staying in complete control of his musical career and gaining great reviews since 2010.
There’s more from Leeds at The Basement on the 25th, when multi-instrumentalist sound artist Jeff T Smith appears as Juffage (£6).
Finally, The Duchess plays host to Jeff Buckley inspired, Southend band Nothing But Thieves.
Their soaring, at times Muse-like, vocals mixed with haunting guitar-lines which suddenly burst into energetic life can be heard on the 30th (£6.50 adv/£8.50 otd).
A final word
As usual, these are my personal picks. There are a few more gigs in July, including a couple of tribute bands, and there are always chances to catch some of York’s brilliant local talent for free at various gigs and open mic nights in the city’s pubs.