Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.17.07 AMBlaylock is the main reason that we are dashing in the rain to catch a train on a cold Friday night to get to The Eagle Inn in Salford.  Just a stones throw from Blueprint Recording Studios, this is a lovely room with exposed brickwork ideal for bringing the best out of the acoustics. There is a highly regarded line up to watch, so we are looking forward to making a night of it, and there is an air of excitement in the bar before the start.

Ash Mountain are first up, their second song “Sunshine” seems to be a set highlight for some in the audience.  The biggest highlight for me was the gorgeous baby daughter of the singer waving at her mum on stage. “Black Gold” keeps the performance flowing and was a pleasant interlude between baby waves. The fact the music / lyrics were on a music stand always grates with me (just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of watching Shaun Ryder with me over the years). If the set is only seven / eight songs long, and you need the lyrics, why not rehearse more before you play? Introductions of the band ends in laughter when the guitarist is given a new name. Ash Mountain are folky, very relaxed and seem to appeal most to the older clientele in the audience. There is nothing wrong with the songs, the delivery or performance, it is just music for the generation that was jilted twenty five years ago and have now all calmed down.

Next Up is Blaylock (John Blaylock playing with a full backing band), and the room is packed. Although to be fair John does say that “this place is about the same size as my bedroom”.  The set opens with “Lighthouse” a beautiful piano based ballad with a catchy hook and a big chorus which in itself is worthy of a bigger stage. With the full band accompaniment it lifts this majestic pop song to higher plateau.  The set varies between piano and guitar led tracks with John swapping instruments for the second song “Seeds”. A pop number written about recording songs in different studios and hoping that one will grow into a money tree! The band introductions are spot on, and “Just Fly” kicks in, which is pitch perfect with the cracking lyric; “honesty doesn’t know pride”. I can imagine this being recorded with a full orchestra and backing choir. There is a change of tempo for “Monsters and Ghosts” written, we are told, with a “multi millionaire song writer who lives next door to Bruno Mars”. Bouncy, catchy and triumphant. “Can’t Lose Hope” was written for a Hollywood blockbuster (Suicide Squad) and has an instantly hummable melody with catchy vocals which the band seem to really enjoy playing.  The backing vocals offer real depth and quality to the songs tonight.  The finale is surprisingly a cover of “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzales which is delivered with well rehearsed aplomb.  The set was over too soon and the packed room was left wanting more of Blaylock’s big choruses and melodic hooks.  I don’t think it will be long before Blaylock are filling much bigger rooms than this.


Tasked with following Blayers is Indigo Rose who performs solo.

Basic backing tracks and a slowly played guitar somehow detracts from the gorgeous vocals. “We Are In Orbit” is sang to the 15 of us like she is the headlining act on the Pyramid Stage. The music is not my cup of tea, but the other fourteen here loved it. We learn her claim to fame is that the final song “Shiver” was played on Radio 6 Music at 2 in the morning, she doesn’t know what it is about and I’m not sure that I care. I overhear a bloke say she is a 21st Century Laura Marling. Nope, that’s not right, but Indigo Rose’s music is very pleasant, Laura Marling could be an easy comparable starting reference point though. Indigo Rose has a beautiful voice. A full band would help push on her live set to the next level.

The headline act Dela Lupa have been longlisted for an appearance at this years Glastonbury festival and have travelled a long way to play. Bursting with five vocalists, two sparkling butterfly dresses and a collective positive mental attitude they take to the stage. They ask “are we dreaming or are we a mess?” in “Genius”, well it feels like we are dreaming at times and a couple in the crowd are very messy as we are dazzled by the butterfly dresses and enchanted by the lead vocals. Fans of Florence and the Machine will be will advised to stop by and catch their set if they do get to play Glastonbury this Summer.

The run to catch the train was well worth it, and the Joseph Holts pints were kind on the wallet!



This is the first time I have ventured into the Alma for about ten years- ( I previously had a bit of fisty cuffs with a regular I think, Limbs.JPGhaha!)… but have since been tempted back by their recent branching out from just hard rock to some different styles.

Talking of different styles… up step Limbs with a theatrical performance worthy of the Royal Albert Halls, but performed to me and the contents of this shady pub.  Their quick quips and witty lines coupled with expert musical talent, both tickle yet satisfy this highly entertained crowd.

They fly though a variety of styles and genres, “I blame my parents” a song from their musical; a spoken word piece about a wrestler; some dinner jazz?; political statements about sandwiches and a hymn- all in a rock pub.

-At this point I wonder if someone just clonked me on the head as I walked in- like they’ve been waiting for ten years and then this Limbs performance is a musical version of my life flashing before my eyes… when suddenly someone interrupts me from my thoughts and says ,

…”This is the best lift music in Bolton!”Limbs 2.JPG

This band are truly remarkable, a journey of genres, a story-telling genius and most certainly on different ‘level’ (this is a joke referencing the lift music) than the other bands drifting through the Alma pub.  Watch them if you can, probably in theatre, pub or dream near you.

In stark contrast, the headliner for this evening is Seawhite.

This four-piece are back on the scene after some time away, under a new name and with new material recorded in tow. Seawhite

This may be their first gig for some time- but you cannot tell.  Their tight precision and beautiful vocals show the magnitude of this great band.  Their shoe-gazy style leaves you transfixed, but with a solid beat hit so hard by Mark on the drums your heart feels like it could explode.  I am in love with Kristen’s vocals- a definite Portishead influence, together with Mike and John’s Doves-style trippy guitars, I’m hooked.

Their new single soon to be released, ‘Autopoiesis’ is a banger to watch out for, and had the crowd here at this tiny pub moving like crazy people.  Looking forward to seeing this band on a bigger stage and undoubtedly with a bigger crowd.

Also I probably wont leave it ten years before I come back to this pub- maybe only five…Seawhite2


(Photos By Lucy Ashton)



Occasionally it’s nice to venture to the surrounding fringes of Manchester and see what the hell is going on elsewhere.  I found myself this weekend back in my home-town, Bolton at Blind Tiger.  Big up Bolton, woop woop!

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First on the bill is Bolton band, Attic Doctors.  We are greeted by lead singer Dean, in an anorak, with a Ian-Curtis hair-cut and holding the mic like an ice-cream (he looks like me in 1995 in ont pier in Blackpool!).  Take note, this is not a bad thing- he has a confident swagger that shows his skills as front man- which will take this band far.

Musically they have some Arctic-Monkeys-AM influenced guitars, as many of the bands round here seem to have- with a distinct 90’s sound that seems to be creeping in these days.  Vocally he is good, I got a bit of a Shaun Ryder vibe-

I was hoping for some massive choruses but none came- nevertheless,  enjoyed the set and reckon these guys have the foundations of an excellent band.

I enjoyed their tune, Milkshake, which seems to be the crowd pleaser got everyone having a bit of a boogie- the woman next to me liked it too, thought she was their number one fan- but it turns out she’d had about ten pints and wasn’t sure what was going on.

Oh and the ice-cream microphone thing… I later realised was due to a faulty mic lead- which was disappointing- I quite liked that…haha!

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Next up, filling Blind Tiger’s hot spot is Stillia.  Blind Tiger has had some cracking headliners of late, including Cabbage, Jeramiah Ferrari and Our Fold- leaving some big shoes to fill- But Stillia pulls it off with ease.

From the second they’re on stage, you can see that this band have been places, are going places and are smashing it right now.  It’s a pity that there’s not more people here to watch- but selfishly I quite like it, as I can say I saw them here first, in Bolton.

They are definitely riding the coat tails of bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen- but still are good enough to stand out on their own.  Their catchy riffs on songs like ‘Let Me In’ show the absolute power of this band- it’s enough to rock the buttons of your new embroidered jacket. Go and see these guys asap, their next gig is at Soup Kitchen, Manchester on 17th March.  It’ll be a Paddy’s day to remember.  photo 4






I can never turn down a free gig so I popped along to watch Ist Ist and Liines at Dive Bar in the Northern Quarter, Manchester.  After I got over the shock of paying the best part of £5 for a beer, I grabbed myself a spot and settled into watching Liines.

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This all-female, three piece band rattle on to stage with a bass riff so heavy, it knocks the drink right out of my shitty plastic glass.  They remind me a little of Pins- fellow Manchester female rockers, however Liines are far more raw and raucous, hiding in the nasty underbelly of Manchester’s rock scene, waiting to pounce.

Liines get an excellent reception, there are quite a few here to see them and I can see why.  Their sound is however, a little repetitive and I began to drift off into a dream-like trance (did someone put something in my drink…)– The last two songs dragged me back to life, as it sounded like they channelled a little Beth Ditto from the Gossip and I got my pop-rock on.

Not everyone’s cuppa tea, but if you like hearing a bass line that will tear a hole in the depths of your stomach and falling into a trance-like state, then you’ll love these.  Give ’em a go.


Next up Ist Ist.  I heard a rumour about Ist Ist- the latest band to roll out of Stockport, with that “Joy-Division-sound”.  ‘Fucking great’ I sarcastically thought.  Turns out they are fucking great…photo 3

Pulling influences from not only Joy Division but also elements of Interpol and some songs with the commercial appeal of Editors- you can see why people are talking about Ist Ist.  There is an obvious difference between this band and many of the others in surrounding areas, their deafening bass riffs and deep vocals echoing through the streets of Manchester as a warning to anyone who thinks they can take them on.

I enjoyed their set of face-melting, riff-heavy grungy raw tunes, taking particular notice of two tracks, (both released as singles) ‘White Swan’– which got the surprisingly older -mid -30’s- audience dancing their socks off (Myself included!) and ‘Silence’- which produced anything but silence from this appreciative crowd.

They finished in a complete epileptic, apocalyptic, crossword cryptic smasher of a song, screaming TAKE ME DOWN IN THE STREET/BECAUSE LIFE IN THIS CITY RARELY SLEEPS… with the ringing in my ears, I’m sure I wont sleep.

Absolute banger.



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I walked into the gig a little confused.  Someone had replaced the sweaty mess of long haired, weed smoking, drunken gig followers I was used to- with a mass of well dressed young girls, screaming at… well anything/everything!  It’s like a teenage horror film! Ha! …  But this is only the start – Maybe Halloween has come a week early…

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The first band had just walked on stage… Dive In. Keeping with the Halloween/fancy dress theme, one of the guys is dressed as James Bay, one is from the Kooks and I think Zane Lowe is on keys.  If its not fancy dress, then this band are having a crisis.  ‘Hello Manchester!’ says the main man (about ten times).  I feel like I have slipped into another dimension, one with terrible music, repetitiveness and shit look-a-likes. He continues, “Lets go fucking mental!” – I think I am mate!… Seriously.  At one point I saw him reach down into the crowd of young screaming girls… I think he must have come as Mick Jagger – but he came across more like Gary Glitter.  I cannot comment on the ‘music’ as I was finding it so hard to find my grip on reality, so my apologies.  Dive In (…to a hole and never come back out) -sorry couldn’t help myself.

As my night from hell continues, enter stage right – The Hunna.  The lead singer is dressed as Chesney Hawkes.  I think I must be on a terrible, terrible acid trip.  He goes on to inform the crowd of how rock and roll his band is, as they trashed their hotel room last night – I doubt they even stole the shampoo. They play a variety of songs, some about record labels that (quite rightly in my opinion), said they would amount to nothing, some about girls that had left him etc. etc. blah blah blah…zzz …zzz…  I have never wished more that this was the real Chesney Hawkes.  Just awful.coas 3

Next up, Coasts.  Now, to be fair, I am not in the best mood as I am concerned that either I have come to the wrong gig, or gone completely insane…

The lead singer leaps on stage in a long black cloak.  (Professor Snape, its gotta be!).  I think I am going to go home…

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Defo from Harry Potter…

I decide that one (ten) more beer(s) is probably necessary and decide to stick it out.  To my surprise, Coasts are actually excellent.  The band are really tight, the music is brilliant and the crowd seem to cheer/scream in the right places.  They play some new songs, (two, back to back actually), which show a good direction they are heading in – a level of maturity I was not expecting from this evening.  Their pop/rock/electro sound is really well rounded and I find myself getting into it, as the horrors of this pre-Halloween evening start to slip away like the ‘echoes of a distant sound’. I am massively confused (again) to why their management/label would put this band with the shower of shite that was on before them, as it completely undersells what a good band these guys are.  I enjoyed them so much I made a video, although I felt a bit like someone’s dad making it.  Hopefully I will see these guys again, but at a grown-up gig, preferably on this planet.  Enjoy the video.



My friend told me about this great new band, ‘their name is Jenga? or something like that’ he said-   After a little searching I managed to find Gengahr and was not disappointed, I bought tickets straight away.


In support of Gengahr was electronic pop outfit, Cash and David.  I don’t really consider myself a fan of much electronic stuff, this however was really good.  Liz Lawrence the focal point of this act, oozes with confidence as the music just seems to flow out of her.  She seems a little weird but it definitely works.  This band are a great watch and I will look forward to catching them on the festival scene next year.

The mood changes before Gengahr come on, the room fills up and I feel that ‘new emerging band’ buzz in the air.  Everyone is excited.  Gengahr came on to big cheers and smash it from the start. The guitarist looks like he had a bit of guitar trouble, but is easily saved and carried on flawlessly.  This bands gentle, psychedelic rock style really works well and I cannot wait to see them progress further.  PLEASE GO AND WATCH GENGAHR.  These guys are the biggest tip of the year.geng

Here is a video of the title track from their EP, ‘Tired Eyes’. Enjoy.

I don’t like Arsene Wenger

I don’t like losing at Jenga

But I bloody love Gengahr.

Belting gig.


(Photos and Video by Lucy Ashton)


“We gotta take control of the situation…” (This line is ringing in my brain…)

I wake up surrounded by empty beer cans and there is a half eaten chicken wing on the bedside.  Chelsea looks angry, possibly because of the chicken, maybe some other reason- I can’t tell.  I can hear two or more people snoring away in my front room, its been a blinder of a night and my head is banging!

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Go back about twelve hours and we were walking into the Night and Day Café, a super cool venue in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter.  We arrive just in time to grab a can of Red Stripe and to see Jeramiah Ferrari walk on stage. The busy crowd is already going mad to their funky reggae beats. Lead vocalist, Ryan’s trademark hair is bouncing just like the guys on either side of me.  This band are amazing.  I would not be surprised to see them doing their own big headline tour soon, which they fully deserve.

A few cans and a lot of dancing later, up come By the Rivers…

I had looked up the band before the gig and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they are all six young guys from Leicester.  From the maturity of their sound you would think they were much older.

Forget everything you think you know about the British reggae scene, UB40 can do one, Sting can piss off! (because he is a melon!), here are By the the 1

Everyone goes mental for every song,  and the room seems to swell with even more people, squeezing us all into a big sweaty reggae mess in this awesome venue.

I knew a few tracks before hand like ‘Vulture’  and ‘Take Control’, but by the end of the night I felt like I knew everything.  These Leicester boys have a great, well rehearsed, tight sound and are at the forefront of British Reggae and Ska.  When you go to watch them, and you definitely should, make sure you take your dancing shoes- and maybe some pain killers for your hangover in the morning!by the 2


Incidentally, I’m not quite sure what happened after the gig, I’m pretty sure there was some embarrassing chat with the band, (“I bloody love you guys” etc), there was more and more cans of Red Stripe and (I guess) some chicken wings! which some how ended up in the bed – sorry Chelsea!  haha!

“You gotta take control of the situation…” I couldn’t.

-Amazing bands, amazing night… Check out this video!


This review starts at home as we are getting ready to head down to the Ritz.  My girlfriend, (Chelsea), completely unaware, is humming the tune to “Elysium”, Bear’s Den’s recent release.  “I don’t know any Bear’s Den tunes”, she tells me, “do you think I will be ok?”



bear 1

First up Lisa Mitchell, armed only with her guitar plays to slowly filling venue.  She seems a bit odd and is a little shy, but what a voice! She entertains an appreciative crowd with her folky, Neil-Young-style tunes.  She even impressed when she had a guitar malfunction and sang a completely unplugged version of her new single, “Wa, Ha”.  Although I am sure this caused some confusion to the late comers walking into the room!

All in all, a good set and a great voice.

I have done a few reviews now for and I have been very positive about all that I have seen.  I am worried that a gig will come up soon that doesn’t impress, and I do not have a good word to say.  This is not the case for Bear’s Den. 

From the moment they grace the stage, there is a massive buzz in the air.  You can tell by the smiles worn on the faces of these guys that they are loving every minute.  They open with “Elysium”, (I look over at Chelsea and she goes “Oh, I know this one…” haha) and the whole place erupts.

Bear’s Den play a great set, showing off their musicianship and great vocals, (I think I saw one of the guys drumming, playing bass guitar and singing at the same time at one point!).  They split up the set with a completely acoustic version of “Sophie” (This was planned rather than a guitar malfunction!) which was magic, you could have heard a pin drop the room was so silent.bear 2

I enjoyed a few of their new tracks, which were upbeat and reminded me of Counting Crows, from long ago!  I thought that the music industry had exhausted it’s pop-folk-rock genre, with Mumford, Laura Marling and Passenger etc, but these guys definitely have a few aces up their sleeves.  I will be looking out for Bear’s Den in the future as they are heading for big, big things.

Oh yea, just when I thought it was all over they did this…