The Mix Six: Six York gigs to see in 2013

7 Jan 2013 @ 10.32 am
| Entertainment

Elvis Costello and Bryan Ferry are both heading our way
It’s probably a bit too early to draw up the definitive list of gigs for 2013. But it’s already shaping up to be a bumper year. Here is a varied selection of six that have already caught our attention.

John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, and Mark Wynn

If you haven’t ticked off Otway in your iSpy Book Of Rock Legends yet it’s time you did. His regular visits to York have become the stuff of fable. Now reunited with Wild Willy for what promises to be an intense experience in the City Screen Basement.

By March the flood waters should have receded enough to allow the gig to take place. But don’t expect to see quite as much Otway hair as on the Whistle Test appearance that brought him to a nation’s attention more than 30 years ago.
It’s worth the price of admission just to hear the hilarious stories, the music is almost a bonus; but he still manages to rock out and send himself up at the same time.

In an inspired piece of billing, the support act is York’s own wonderful ramshackle troubadour, Mark Wynn, whose shambolic demeanour barely disguises a razor-sharp, self-deprecating wit and a fine line in talking-blues Yorkshire-style story-songs.

Pere Ubu

Top marks to the granddaddy of York’s music scene, Tim Hornsby, for booking the edgiest gig of the year to date.

It’s impossible to know what you will get when the melancholic hulk of David Thomas takes the stage. Will he be playing squeeze box and wailing an off-kilter Kurt Weill song from the 1930s? Or will it be the careening, hard-soft purring of a tormented soul delivering a tender love song in waltz time that will make your feet move involuntarily? Or will it be the ‘avant-garage’ band that caught punks off-guard in the late 1970s? Perhaps even the twitchy, edgy blues-inspired Beefheart-channelling chanteur will be there too?

Whichever Pere Ubu turns up, one thing is certain, it will be original, unforgettable – and, quite possibly, for some, the gig of the year.

Martin Stephenson

If you were lucky enough to have caught Martin’s shows at the Fulford Arms you will probably already have your ticket for this gig. A one-off true original, he hails from County Durham and fronted the much-missed Daintees, now thankfully, about to deliver a new album. They made albums of sublime beauty and lyrical intensity at a time when the world was awash with the New Wave.

Now the free-spirited Martin swoops between folkie songster and ragtime guitar-picker – and along the way manages to pay homage to scores of different musical styles while spinning stories and dazzling with deft playing and a voice that could charm the hardest heart.

If you’ve never heard of Martin or The Daintees, or you don’t get out to live music as much as you would like to, we urge you to get along to this. His gigs are events of real warmth and rare beauty.

King Creosote

With 40 albums to his credit, singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson is one of the many poster boys for genuinely independent music, and was justly nominated for a Mercury Music Prize in 2011. His alter-ego, King Creosote, taps in to that fascinating territory between folk, blues and Americana, and it is all topped off with a distinctly Scottish, distinctly Kingdom of Fife, world view that has rightly won him a small army of devotees. This will be an intimate night of great music for the most discerning gig-goers.

Elvis Costello

This is why it was important to get The Barbican back in business. We can get the biggest names here again. And if you want to go all old-school Yorkshire about it, yes, £42.50 is a whacking ticket price (but a darned sight cheaper than having to fork out for petrol or train tickets to Manchester or Liverpool, or an overnight stay to see an international star in, say, London or Edinburgh).

This time, Elvis and The Imposters will bring their Spectacular Singing Songbook contraption, a large wheel turned after every song to determine the next live piece performed. Whatever the wheel reveals, you can also expect tracks from Costello’s entire catalogue, including Oliver’s Army, Pump It Up, She and Alison – and, if we’re lucky, Shipbuilding.

Bryan Ferry

The same Barbican comments apply. Tickets are steep, up to £65, and even more for meet-and-greet packages. But that’s showbiz. Well, one aspect of it anyway. And that’s what it takes to get the biggest names here. The Barbican is definitely helping the city punch above its weight. Expect a career-spanning selection from the stylish 67-year-old.

Honorable mentions

Those are the Mix Six picks so far, and we didn’t even mention Little Mix, Jake Bugg and Mick Hucknall, all at The Barbican, and all sold out.

Honorable mentions, perhaps, should also go to blues stylist Marcus Bonfanti at The Basement on Tuesday, February 12,
and The Magic Band (without Captain Beefheart, sadly) at The Duchess on Thursday, March 14.

We have deliberately focused on visting bands, and will be posting a separate piece about York bands to catch this year.