I would like to start this post by saying “Thanks” to Roy (a.k.a. Seldom Seen From Strensall) for offering me a lift to tonight’s gig, for reasons that will become apparent.
This was my first trip to The Fulford Arms because, in the past, I had thought it too far out of town to be a feasible gig venue for me. I don’t mind cycling into the centre of town if I want a couple of pints with my music but, until tonight, I hadn’t realised that the pub was just a couple of minutes further out than The Barbican, which I had already cycled to. And what a lovely pub it is – open fires, loads of candles and fairy lights, big leather sofas (although I don’t know how early you would need to get there to get use of them) and, tonight at least, eight real ales to choose from. I stuck with the Ruddy Ram, a dark porter from Masham’s Black Sheep Brewery.
The pub also has a large, regular-shaped room, which makes it a better venue for music than some of the city centre pubs that we have frequented in the past. Tonight, Roy tells me that the room is quite a bit fuller than the last time Roy was here. That also made it quite a bit noisier, which was a shame as very few people seemed to be listening to tonight’s opening act. David Breslin is another man-and-guitar act, one I hadn’t come across even by name before tonight. From where we were sitting, it wasn’t easy to hear either his music or his introductions, so this “review” isn’t to be taken as comprehensive. My regular reader will know that I’m generally not averse to a bit of acoustic action, but Mr Breslin sounded just a little too “folky” for me. His opener, which may have been called Part Of The Problem, sounded OK but the second song was what I would class as more archetypical folk – slower, finger-picking and with slightly warbling vocals. The third was similar and the fourth seemed to get even slower and quieter. From the fifth onwards, I’m afraid that the ambient noise got too much and that, together with Andy finally arriving, meant that I lost interest. I think I only missed two songs and I do feel a guilty for not paying more attention. For the second post in a row, I find myself apologising to the opening act, although this time it’s more for not giving him much of a chance to impress me, rather than not liking him that much. Sorry David. He does, however, have one of the more interesting MySpace Bios that I have come across…
I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate but, when the main act took to the stage area, David and some of his friends had occupied the table next to us and, together with a group of rather loud women a little bit further away, started drowning out the music with their chatter. This eventually, after a couple of songs, prompted us to leave our seats and move closer to the front, standing but resisting the temptation to glare at the sofa occupiers until they took pity on us and gave up one of their comfy perches. This was a last chance to see the full band line-up of Dream Of Apollo for some months as bass-player Rhys was about to head off down-under to get married – best wishes, Rhys. Hope all goes well – and I’m glad I took the opportunity. The band are my favourite of the smaller (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way) local bands and, since a brief flurry of activity last Summer, it’s been a while since I’ve managed to catch them play. Tonight’s set was, more or less, the same as the other times I’ve seen them live, with the addition of Over Me, a new song which was receiving its debut. Most of the songs are now familiar, but seem to offer something new whenever I hear them. Sandman, for example, is the song that convinced me to see the band in the first place, but it is only after listening to it on a demo-CD that Rhys kindly passed to me tonight, that I have realised that it is about somebody who can’t sleep. (I can almost see the band rolling their eyes in disbelief as they read that statement…) The main body of Too Lost, Too Late sounded just as before, but I don’t remember the superb instrumental jam ending to it. Leander was played without Winston, who was busy replacing a string that he had broken during the previous song, so definitely sounded different to previous versions, while I don’t remember Jamie leaving the stage during Jolene before tonight. And it was only tonight that I realised how haunting Vicki’s vocals can be, especially during the slower songs such as Someday and In A Manner Of Speaking. Vicki herself seemed a lot more relaxed than other times I have seen her. I’m not sure whether it’s true that that was down to her not driving to the venue and, therefore, being able to have a tipple or two, but that might also explain the near-premature end to the first half of the set – Vicki, “We’re going to do one more song, then take a ten minute break.” Winston, “I thought we had three songs left before the break…” – and the huge smile when one of her friends rushed forward to retrieve a dropped plectrum.
I don’t know how many of the crowded room were there specifically to see Dream Of Apollo but it seemed to me that the applause grew with each song. At the end of the set most people were shouting out more more. A few were even suggesting what the encore should be. The deliciously dark Anatole seemed to be the crowd’s favourite but we got one of Vicki’s solo songs, played with Rhys and Jamie but with no guitar from Winston, who seemed content to provide backing vocals.
I’m told that, while Rhys is away, there is a possibility of some acoustic support slots for the rest of the band. Work will also continue on recording a debut album. Personally, I can’t wait.