I don’t think I had quite realised how much Dream Of Apollo had impressed our little clutch of music lovers when we saw them just three weeks ago. Andy and I had both taken time to chat to band members at the end of that gig, with both of us saying we would be seeing them again, and Roj had definitely liked them according to his blog post, but it’s not often (if ever) that we have seen the same band on consecutive group nights out. (Admittedly, I had been on a solo trip to see Nils Lofgren two weeks ago.) Tonight, however, it was a unanimous and, it has to be said, quite eager, vote to head down to The Golden Lion to see if the magic could be recreated.
It was fairly obvious that the venue wasn’t going to do the band any favours – it’s a bigger, more central and, therefore, more popular pub than The Yorkshire Hussar and, while there were a few familiar faces ensconced in front of the stage area, there was also a large number of people who were there for the beer rather than, it seemed, for the music. It also turned out that the acoustics aren’t that great – we started the night at the front of the pub, as far away from the stage as you can get, gradually moving forward as seats became available and it was only when we finally made it to a table directly in front of the stage (or, in Andy and Yvonne’s case, standing even further forward) that we got the full effect and that Vicki’s vocals started to sound as clear as we remembered them.
Tonight’s set was slightly different from last time. Vicki started with just three solo songs – her own Mine, Tracy Chapman’s For My Lover and the still nice Boats And Birds (Gregory And The Hawk) – before calling the rest of the band to the stage for the full set. Unfortunately, we were still at the front of the room at this point and couldn’t hear them too clearly.
I’m still not sure how you classify a band who do covers of songs by Dolly Parton (Jolene), Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues, which saw Winston really cut loose) and Depeche Mode (In A Manner Of Speaking) but one thing I do know is that they are not a “rock covers” band as advertised on the various posters dotted around the pub. As last time, those were the only covers they performed with the rest of the set being taken up with their own songs, with only the bluesy Jimmy missing from last time out. There isn’t a bad song in the, style-wise, very varied set but if I had to pick highlights they would be the dreamy Someday, the harder-hitting Anatole, the three-minute pop of Hold Me and the vibrant, atmospheric rock of Regrets Of The Devil, along with everybody’s favourite Sandman and the simply stunning near-prog of Free with its incredibly tightly executed time changes and tonight moved to the end of the first half of the set. (If I were egotistical, I would wonder whether that was because of what I wrote last time – but that would imply that I know what I’m talking about…) Such variation from a lesser band might indicate a lack of clear musical direction – with Dream Of Apollo, it just seems to work somehow.
Again, this was a totally assured performance with the whole band looking as though they were enjoying themselves, despite the more difficult conditions (at the end of Home, a huge cheer went up from the crowd and the band looked slightly surprised, until somebody pointed out that the T.V. screens had just showed Andy Murray winning his third round match at Wimbledon. “We liked the song as well, though,” shouted one voice from the bar) and, by the end of the evening, there seemed to be a lot more people taking notice of the music than there had been at the start. Despite the strange acoustics of the venue, this proved that we weren’t wrong last time and Dream Of Apollo are one of the best local bands around at the moment. They are about to embark on an eight gig tour, including appearances in the North East, The Netherlands and London, before returning to York to headline Fibbers on the 10th of July. We are already making plans to be there.