One of the things that I like about going out with the group (apart from standing outside chatting and laughing as the evening winds its inexorable way towards morning) is the opportunity to see new bands. Before I started tagging along I thought I had a wide ranging taste in music but, it turns out that, while I owned lots of CDs, the range wasn’t as wide as I thought. Over the past couple of years, I have heard many new bands – most small, most local, many good and some great (and, being honest, some not so good) – and found some that I’d willingly pay money to see again and again. I’ll come to one of them later…
First up at the Duchess tonight, however, were the Blue Jupiters. Now, I don’t listen to enough so-called “indie” music to know one style from another but some of the songs in this set seemed a little paradoxical to me – fast-paced guitars almost covering the lyrics, combined with much more complex playing during the instrumental sections. While there wasn’t a great deal wrong, the songs started to feel a bit samey to me. That is until they were joined on stage by a keyboard player and started slowing things down, at which point the enjoyment went up a notch. Not bad overall but I preferred the second half of the set.
Next up were Dorien Starre, another band visiting from Leeds, although they seem to be playing York fairly regularly. It’s strange that, when the band contains a rhythm guitar as well as a lead, that fast-paced style of playing sounds, to me, to be so much better. I have to say that I enjoyed this band more than the Blue Jupiters, even though they seemed to lose their way a little bit towards the end of the set – at one point lead-singer Leo seemed about to continue singing before realising that the song had ended. They redeemed themselves with a final song which I thought was superb. (If only I could remember the title…) A special mention must be given to Andrew Ackroyd who produced some of the most energetic and inventive drumming I have seen in a long time.
Which leads us to the main act – Hope & Social. This is the third time I have seen them (one in their previous guise as Four Day Hombre) and I was a little surprised by the smallish crowd that had turned out tonight. Maybe it’s just that the Duchess is bigger than Fibbers and the crowd just looked smaller than usual. Anyway, it starts to become harder to write gig reviews for a band the more that you see them. I’ve already written about their style of music, audience interaction, general attitude of fun and even some of the songs. The guys are getting towards releasing a new album so tonight’s set consisted mainly of songs we had heard before – not that that makes them dull. There is something about Hope & Social that makes them sound fresh every time. Maybe it’s the general feeling that they are having such a good time playing on stage, maybe it’s the spontaneity of their replies to good-natured heckling from the audience. Even the latest new drummer seemed to be having fun and fit in with the rest of the guys. This really is a top band that deserves wider exposure.
To round off the evening, we headed to our usual haunt of the Roman Bath, where Go Commando were playing covers of well-known rock songs. We caught the last few and, it’s fair to say, it was a good job that there was even more audience participation going on. Apart from a pretty good version of Van Halen’s Jump, the bits of the act we caught were OK, but nothing special. Most people seemed to be having fun, though.
Finally, mention of a another band that I’ve only just discovered. While browsing the Breathing Space website, I noticed that they were being supported at a few future gigs by Quecia (pronounced cue-see-a). Out of curiosity I checked their website and found that they had been formed in 2001, were voted best new band by Powerplay magazine in 2002 and had released two albums – This Is Where We Are (2002) and the imaginatively titled Quecia II (2004). Both are available to buy from the website or www.cdbaby.com, where you can also get both albums as MP3 downloads for the bargain price of $5 each. Given the sort of bands that Quecia are supporting – Breathing Space and Panic Room to name just two – I decided to take the plunge and downloaded both.
Unsurprisingly, this is female fronted melodic rock of high quality. There is, for me, an almost tangible thrill in coming across new bands who produce music that I like. A fair few of the bands I have come across recently have links of one form or another to Mostly Autumn and Quecia are no exception and they are just as good as any of the others. I’m not going to review the albums here as I haven’t had a chance to listen to both of them properly yet. What I have heard, though, is very enjoyable.
Apparently Quecia played Fibbers a few years ago and one member says that they would love to play in York again. I, for one, would definitely be in line for a ticket. A third album is being recorded now.