The gigs to see in York this month – November 2015

All star Cast – the Liverpudlian band play the Duchess this month
29 Oct 2015 @ 8.39 pm
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I don’t normally mention past gigs in this column but, after saying that last month was shaping up to be the best month of the year for live music, I think one of the gigs I went to could well end up being my favourite of the year.

I’ve never been to a bad Hope & Social gig but their appearance at Fibbers a few days ago (as I write this) was something special.

They are a band that seems to feed off the energy of the crowd (and vice versa) and there was probably more audience participation at this gig than any other, from any band, that I have seen. Everything during the evening just seemed to click, including an on-stage proposal that was lapped up by the crowd.

To misquote an old Sunday Times comment, there are two sorts of people in the world – those who have seen Hope & Social live and those who have yet to. If you are the latter, I urge you to put it right soon.

November has a number of gigs that I really, really want to be at. Sadly, I won’t be able to make them all.

Not, this time, for the usual reasons – lack of money, clashes with family events, being on call, etc – but because three of them take place on the same day.

If anybody is looking for a volunteer to test their new, experimental cloning technology, I’m your man…

We are family

On the basis that the gigs I would recommend are ones that I will (or would like to) be at, I’m going to kick things off with those.

November opens on, appropriately enough, the 1st and in some style with King King’s third appearance at Fibbers (and, at least, their third in York as a whole, as they also supported John Mayall at the Barbican last year).

This blues band is fronted by Alan Nimmo, a kilted and booted Glaswegian who, despite being built like a prop-forward, shows an almost unbelievable deftness of touch on guitar.

Corky Laing has been the drummer for American rock band Mountain since the band’s formation back in 1969.

At Fibbers on the 9th he is billed as playing the music of Mountain. Although, as far as I am aware, I haven’t heard any of their music, I get the impression I will like it so this is a must see for me, especially since one of the support bands is York’s own Mantra.

Mostly Autumn is, arguably, York’s biggest band, although not the city’s most famous. They have a career spanning nearly 20 years and have released nearly the same number of albums.

Their blend of progressive, Celtic and hard rock might be seen to be more of a niche market than some of the better known bands to come from our city. They are one of my favourites, though and their Grand Opera House gig is always a definite in my diary.

This year it is earlier than usual, taking place on the 13th, perhaps meaning that the usual “Christmas” feel will be missing.

The good news for me, though, is that my daughter – now thirteen and discovering her own tastes in music – has agreed to go with me once again.

Mostly Autumn’s original vocalist, Heidi Widdop, now fronts Cloud Atlas, a band who blend prog rock with Middle Eastern influences.

They are taking advantage of the fact that a lot of Mostly Autumn fans travel usually travel to York for that band’s hometown gigs and hoping that they stick around for Cloud Atlas’ headline gig at the Post Office Social Club on the 14th.

I recommend they do, although I won’t be able to make it.

Also on the 14th, veteran rockers UFO, formed in the same year as Mountain, will be appearing at Fibbers.

I remember hearing and liking them during my formative years while still at school although, for some reason, I have never owned any of their albums.

When I saw they were coming to York, I went out and bought a handful of CDs for revision purposes. Then I realised that I couldn’t go to that gig either, and probably the only chance I will get to see them went up in smoke.

The reason I can’t get to either of those gigs is because I will be back at the Grand Opera House on the 14th. (Anybody would think I actually liked it as a venue…)

This time both my daughter and my wife will be with me as we indulge in a different sort of musical reminiscence by seeing Nik Kershaw, Go West and T’Pau.

“What?” I hear you cry, “They aren’t prog/ hard rock. Why are you going to see them?” The truth is, T’Pau are one of my favourite Eighties bands, I was always more of a Kershaw-ite than a Duran-ie (and I saw both acts live back in their heyday) and I also once owned a Go West album.

It’s also a bit of a “thank you” to my wife, who lets me go to as many gigs as I want to.

Dr Feelgood is another band which has been going for longer than I’ve been into music, although the line-up now contains no original members.

My daughter told me recently that the music she likes is “new and fresh”, not “old” like the stuff I listen to. I countered with the question of how many of the bands she likes will still be around in 40-plus years. (Thankfully, I doubt I’ll be around to see Jessie J or Katy Perry playing “live” as holograms…)

Having seen them for the first time a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoying that gig, I will definitely be at their return to Fibbers on the 19th. Support this time comes from York’s Dead Cats, also well worth seeing.

Possibly maybe

As well as the definites, there are always gigs I will try to get to if circumstances allow. Top of the list this month is at the Basement on the 12th when local acts including Boss Caine, David Ward MacLean and alt-country duo Mulholland will be getting together to celebrate the 70th birthday of Neil Young, an artist I really should know more about.

All money raised on the evening will be going to local charity Accessible Arts And Media and there’s also mention of cake!

That does mean, however, that I won’t be able to see The Quireboys as they play an acoustic gig in support of their new album St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul at Fibbers on the same day.

The Buffalo Skinners are one of those (semi) local bands that I have yet to catch live, either busking or at a venue, so their gig at The Duchess, with Holy Moly & The Crackers in support, on the 3rd is tempting.

I will also try to catch Leeds pop-rockers The Dunwells at Fibbers on the 10th, after being recommended to see them a while back by a friend and another champion of local music.

Speaking of championing the local bands, there are a number dotted around the venues this month, in the usual mix of headline and support acts.

First up is the Gypsy-folk of Leather’O, supporting Mad Dog Mcrea at Fibbers on the 5th.

Mulholland have their second gig of the month at The Duchess on the 11th, when they will be supporting The Pat McManus Band.

Modern folk duo Union Jill play ahead of Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock’s appearance at the NCEM on the 13th.

There’s pop-punk in the form of headliners On The Ropes at the Basement on the 14th, the infectious young rockers The Black Lagoons open for The Ordinary Boys at the Duchess on the 15th.

A headline gig for King No-One follows at Fibbers on the 21st and the brilliant Black Night Crash play their only gig of 2015 in support of Electric Six at the same venue on the 30th.

Three times a lady

There are some brilliant female artists around York this month. Jade Helliwell a country-pop singer influenced by the likes of Lady Antebellum (a small, guilty pleasure) appeals to me the most and she is at the Basement on the 26th.

Also at the Basement, on the 23rd, is Karima Francis, a singer-songwriter originally from Blackpool, while Canadian teller of stories through song Maria Dunn makes her York debut at The Black Swan on the 19th.

Even better than the real thing?

You can also find some big names around the city, either in original or tribute form this month.

Starting with the originals, Liverpudlian Brit-poppers Cast, reformed in 2010 after splitting in 2001, appear at the Duchess on the 8th.

Fellow nineties power-pop trio Dodgy are at Fibbers on the 13th.

I don’t know what it is about that weekend, but multi-national Celtic folk band The Waterboys – another act I should know more about having, I think, only ever heard The Whole Of The Moon – can also be seen on the 13th at the Barbican, which also plays host once again to Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra on the 14th.

Coventry’s indie rockers The Enemy are touring in support of their fourth studio album, It’s Automatic, and will be at Fibbers on the 16th.

If you are an Abba fan you have the choice of two tribute gigs in a week – Thank You For The Music combines their music with that of the Bee Gees at the Grand Opera House on the 7th, while Waterloo promises “the best of Abba” at the Barbican on the 12th.

Queen fans have a similar, although more widely-spaced, choice with Queen II at Fibbers on the 7th or, if they prefer a seated gig, Mercury at the Grand Opera House on the 28th.

In comparison, fans of the Small Faces and Led Zeppelin seem almost hard badly done to, with only The Small Fakers appearing at Fibbers on the 20th and Whole Lotta Led at the same venue on the 28th.

It’s a mystery

As usual, there is a lot more. Most of the remainder, however, is a mystery to me.

That’s not to say that those bands I haven’t heard of don’t have fans in York. Maybe somebody reading this will be going to see Hooten Tennis Club at the Duchess on the 2nd, Younghusband, Toy Mountains or Doomed Nymph at the Basement on the 11th, 20th and 21st respectively, or perhaps Blazing Fiddles at the NCEM on the 23rd.

If you think I should have included any of the gigs I’ve missed, don’t be shy and tell me why in the comments below. You never know you might just convince me to take a chance next time.


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 Fibber will cost a pound or two more.

Date Act Venue Price           
1st King King Fibbers £16
3rd The Buffalo Skinners The Duchess £6 adv / £8 otd
5th Mad Dog McRea (supp. Leather’O) Fibbers £12
7th Queen II Fibbers £10
  Thank You For The Music Grand Opera House £26.40
8th Cast The Duchess £18 adv / £20 otd
9th Corky Laing (Mountain) Fibbers £11
10th The Dunwells Fibbers £7.50
11th The Pat McManus Band (sup. Mulholland) The Duchess £12 adv / £14 otd
12th The Quireboys Fibbers £15
  Neil Young’s 70th birthday party The Basement £6 adv / £8 otd
  Waterloo The Barbican £22.40
13th Dodgy Fibbers £15
  The Waterboys The Barbican £36.40/£31.92
  Mostly Autumn Grand Opera House £23.90
  Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock (supp. Union Jill) NCEM £14
14th UFO Fibbers £22.50
  On The Ropes The Basement £4 adv / £5 otd
  Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra The Barbican £40.32
  Nik Kershaw, Go West, T’Pau Grand Opera House £32.40 / £34.40
  Cloud Atlas Post Office Social Club £10 adv / £12 otd
15th The Ordinary Boys (supp. The Black Lagoons) The Duchess £12 adv / £14 otd
16th The Enemy Fibbers £14
19th Dr Feelgood (supp. Dead Cats) Fibbers £15
  Maria Dunn Black Swan £8
20th The Small Fakers Fibbers £10
23rd Karima Francis The Basement £6
26th Jade Helliwell The Basement Tbc
28th Whole Lotta Led Fibbers £12
  Mercury Grand Opera House £20.90
30th Electric Six (supp. Black Night Crash) Fibbers £15