Highway 61 – The Roman Bath, 02/05/08

I hadn’t joined the Friday crew for a while so it was time to head into York for some music. Unfortunately, the local listings didn’t show much promise (and nobody wanted to pay £20 to see Fairport Convention at Fibbers, even if Angela Gordon was supporting them). Eventually, a plan was hatched – we’d meet at the Roman Bath to see Highway 61 but, given that we could find no information about then, if they weren’t to taste we would move on to the Terrace to catch Free Spirit, a Free and Bad Company tribute band.
On arrival at the Bath I got the impression that half of Highway 61 and their equipment was still to turn up. There were two oldish blokes sat in front of the stage area, which contained a few guitars, one drum and a cymbal stand (along with all the mysterious electrical bits that lets us hear the sound). However, it turns out that the two blokes were it – one on vocals and guitar, the other on bass and, while sitting on a stool, using a foot each to play the drum and the cymbals. Very original. At least to me.
The music was a mixture of straight blues along with the likes of Bob Dylan (Catfish, Blowing in the Wind) and Rory Gallagher.
While the bass-and-drum player was, to me, interesting solely for the way he managed to play two instruments, the guitarist was excellent. He played with confidence and competence, often appearing to wander off into his own little world, lost in the music. His voice, too, suited the music – kind of melted dark chocolate over velvet – but did make him a little difficult to understand between songs. Let’s face it, any band that can make a Dylan song sound interesting to me can’t be all bad.
Now, personally, I was enjoying this and could have listened to the guitar all night but the rest of the gang fancied a change so, at a suitable juncture, we left and headed for the Terrace.
…where Free Spirit had morphed into 15% Proof – advertised as “music from five decades”. That may have been so, but they did manage to make it all sound the same. Hits from the likes of the Beatles, Lynryd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama) and Pink Floyd (possibly the worst cover of Another Brick in the Wall you are ever likely to hear) all merged into one soulless dirge.
So, my second visit to the Terrace was much like the first, with the music taking second place to chat. This time, however, a lot of the chat was about how poor the music scene in York appears to be at the moment. I say “appears to be” because I’m not an aficionado and don’t know as much as the other guys, who are both more knowledgeable and have more opportunities to sample live music than I do. However, I for one, am getting a little bored with cover bands (especially since most of them seem to cover more or less the same songs). I would prefer to see more original material but there is, according to the guys, a bit of a dearth of good stuff around at the moment. Having said that, the last three times I have been to see original bands (The Yards, The Mexicolas and Four Day Hombre), they have been very entertaining. As have some of the support – notably The New Adventures and Jim Gipson and the Runaway Sons. It’s notable that all these have been recommended by my Friday night cohorts… (See? They do know what they are talking about.)
Anyway, hopefully things will start looking up with Tim Hornsby’s (ex of Fibbers) planned conversion of York’s snooker club into a 500 capacity rock venue. That’s bigger than Fibbers but not quite as big as the sadly-missed Barbican centre which, when still standing, did attract some fairly decent bands – possibly ones that wouldn’t want (or be invited) to play the Grand Opera House, York’s current, at least part-time, large music venue. Let’s face it, York is never going to attract really big names but maybe a few semi-famous or, perhaps, aging rockers may turn up in future. (Having said that, the original Asia line-up are playing the Grand Opera House next year. I’m excited!!)
In the meantime, no doubt we will continue with the usual fare. Perhaps turning up a little gem once in a while.

About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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