The wonder that is York’s public transport system meant that I was late getting to this gig and missed most of the opening set from Unfinished Drawings. Toby Burras had been joined on stage by Matthew Mefford (a newcomer to the York music scene, it seems), his double bass adding a layer of tone to songs that, even with just Toby’s guitar, are already multi-facetted. As I arrived they were just starting their laid back cover of Jamiroquai’s Love Foolosophy, but it was Toby’s own songs that were the highlight for me. “This is the one we soundchecked,” he said, flashing a smile at the desk before playing Today. Obviously some sort of in-joke. Whatever had happened before, this version sounded great to me. The title-track of the Ciara Star EP is, in Toby’s own words, “Very, very Jon Gomm” and he took the opportunity to mention that he had been asked to support Jon at his Fibbers gig next year. The track itself, which saw Mefford much more restrained in his playing, was as beautiful and effective as ever and led to a discussion with my gig buddy for the evening as to how the various percussion sounds were made and whether the squeaky noises from the guitar strings were deliberate or not. I just wish I’d seen the full set.
According to the listing for their gig at Fibbers (21st of December) The Blue Dawns have only been around since April 2014. Their Facebook page says they “Started on April 1” and, with an impressive 10,500+ likes, they have either built a fan base very quickly or there is some sort of joke going on. (A bit of research – I read right to the beginning of their FB page – has revealed that the band had a previous incarnation as The Likely Lads.) Perhaps using this gig as a warm-up not only for tonight’s headliners but also for their own December tour – “twenty days sleeping in a van” – which culminates with the Fibbers show, this local trio treated us to a set of rock and roll full of tight playing, a solid rhythm section, nice guitar work, catchy riffage and, for one song, even a homemade, very square-bodied guitar from which a very nice sound was teased. Partway into the set their latest single, Refuse To Follow, increased the volume over the previous songs, while I’ve Seen The Signs, about “when your bird has cheated on you and you know it” darkened the music to a fair degree, while featuring some blues-like vocals. We were told to listen to the lyrics of Maxwell De Marco Blues as we would probably see a bit of Marco inside ourselves. Unfortunately, like a lot of live music, the easiest lyrics to hear were the, thankfully infrequent, screams. Get In Line started in an almost power-pop/rock style and featured a short, rhythm section only segment that served to highlight the drummer’s ability. A suitably long and exciting track to finish the set, it changed from a steady rhythm to a climax that was fast and furious.
My gig buddy had asked me what Everlate were like and I had told him they were sort of indie-rock, a bit Snow Patrol-ish. Halfway through their set he turned to me and told me he though that they were better than Snow Patrol. On the basis of tonight’s gig, I couldn’t really disagree with him. Somewhat ironically, the next song they played was a cover of Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes, in which one audience member won a free t-shirt for his contribution to the sing-along. A long intro-track built anticipation before the band took to the stage and opened impressively with the superb Chemicals And Electricity before Dancing With Ghosts teased us with a quiet mid-section which seemed to promise to build up slowly then burst back into life. Shouts of “We love you Andy” brought a smile to frontman Andy Doonan’s face, and equivalent shouts to the more immutable bass-player James Rodgers came from what may have been his work colleagues as the band moved on to the slow and powerful Ferris Wheel Feeling. The Summer Lights saw new member Adam Greener bring forth some lovely lead guitar (not that he didn’t for the rest of the set) while Andy took to the keyboards for Ambulance, which included some brilliant four part vocals, something which is a feature of so many of Everlate’s songs, all of which are powerful in different ways. Older song Hometown, for example, seemed to pack the biggest emotional punch. Tonight’s gig was to launch Falling Through Fiction, the band’s new single. Very different to the rest of the set, it opened with just Andy on vocals, with the rest of the band coming in over his subtle acoustic guitar. It was simple and yet very effective. Stumbling, on the other hand, was faster, catchy and more danceable and I’ll Listen, which ended the set had an energetic, rat-a-tat opening from drummer Si Humphries. Inevitably, as the band left the stage, shouts for more came from the audience and they soon returned for one more song, the only one of the night in which Andy didn’t play guitar or keyboards. It saw the audience singing along and the band, smiling and full of effort, clearly loving what they were doing on stage. Some of the songs from this set, such as Stumbling and Hometown, had survived from the previous incarnation of the band, but sounded bigger in the new version and, while some of my favourites from that “era” didn’t make tonight’s set, comments on social media after the gig, regarding the possible recording of an album, leave me hope that I might hear some of them again. In the meantime, this is another local band who fully deserve to be on the up and tonight’s crowd were treated to a fantastic performance.