Musicians against Homelessness is an event aimed at both raising awareness, and providing cash to homeless charities, it’s patron is none other than Alan McGee.
It was a 2 day event, the Saturday which I couldn’t attend due to family commitments was mainly up and coming local acts, whilst the Sunday which I’ll be reviewing had some more established names.
The band I was looking fwd to most were The Lottery Winners who I last saw at Sound City a couple of years ago and really impressed me (more importantly, they also impressed the boss of Sire Records, who subsequently signed them!) guess which band had to cancel 😉
Whilst feeling sorry for myself, people with real problems put it into context. One guy for example told of how he was unable to work due to illness, was evicted as he could neither afford the bedroom tax, nor find a smaller property (remember he was too ill to work, finding somewhere to rent is hard at the best of times, particularly when so many ads say “No DHS” or whatever the term is these days). Another guy’s situation got so bad he threw himself in front of a bus, fortunately he survived.
In my opinion, homelessness if purely political – it’s an unnecessary blight on people’s lives in the 6th richest country on earth. Yes, the country is in debt (though nothing like the scale of debt we had after WWII and we still managed to create the NHS) but there is never any question over finding money to renew Trident or to go bombing other countries who aren’t an immediate threat to us. The government could choose to priorities housing the homeless, but they don’t. After all, the Conservative party are funded by millionaires and billionaires – they know that the workforce won’t rock the boat when there’s a constant reminder of what could happen to them everytime you walk down Bold St.
The event was held in Hangar 34 next to the Botanical Gin Garden in the Baltic Triangle. It was the first time I’d made it down there, and it’s a great space.
Life at the Arcade
First up was Life at the Arcade – a band who were new to me, but their blend of upbeat catchy Indie tunes quickly won me over.
Lucas and King
I was looking fwd to Lucas and King as they’d also played on the Saturday, and people who’d seen them were heaping praise on them – and with good reason! They are a duo from Southampton who play rootsy Americana and minimalist folk, singer Bo Lucas has an amazing voice. They recently played at Folk on the Dock as part of their European tour.
WOW! Just WOW! I hadn’t heard of Connie Lush before, but if you like Blusey Rock check her out, you won’t regret it! Amazing voice and presence, Sunday morning cobwebs? What Sunday morning cobwebs! Fabulous!
Brian Nash, aka Nasher was of course a member of Frankie goes to Hollywood. He ended his set of fine acoustic solo material which was full of pithy commentary, by bringing on Connie Lush to perform a spine-tingling rendition of The Power of Love which they’d previously performed together for the #1’s project at the Echo Arena. It was truly special stuff, it was worth the entry fee for that alone!
Thomas Lang is one of those artists who I was aware of, indeed we’re friends on Facebook, yet I couldn’t name any of their songs. In the 80s and 90s you couldn’t just go on spotify to check out an artist (if you had spotify back then you’d have probably been burnt at the stake for witchcraft, a cassette player that fitted in your (big) pocket was considered advanced back then!)
So many artists slipped under the radar, which is a shame as based on this performance I’ve been missing out on something truly special for the past few decades!
Better late than never though, and what a band! I wasn’t familiar with any of their material, yet it was awesome from start to finish.
Whilst I was at least aware of Thomas Lang, I must admit I’d never heard of Smaller or their lead singer Peter “Digsy” Deary – who went on to front The Sums who I am more familiar with.
They seemingly formed in the 90s so didn’t have to worry about Google friendly names! Upon searching for Smaller I got ads for all kinds of extension devices 😉
Noel Gallagher played guitar on one of their songs – and seemingly holds them in high regard – he obviously has good taste as they played a fab set!
Mark Morris (The Bluetones)
The great thing about festivals is that it gives you an opportunity to see acts you’d never normally go and see. I liked The Bluetones but was never a huge fan, so in the normal run of things I’d have missed out, as Mark Morris won me over with his sense of humour and showmanship! Great set!
Nigel Clark (Dodgy)
Bit of a Dodgy geezer this one (bet nobody ever makes that joke!)
Likewise with Mark Morris / Bluetones, liked some of their stuff, wasn’t a huge fan, yet he won me over with a strong set and good humour.
Tommy Scott (Space)
Space of course need no introduction whatsoever.
I remember the first time I head Neighbourhood, I used to set my alarm clock to play Capital FM and put it on the other side of the room so that I had to get out of bed to turn it off as they tended to play chart pop – but Neighborhood stood out as something so good it could have been played by the likes of John Peel.
We expected a solo acoustic set, which would have been nice anyway, but we got excited when we saw Phil Hartley setting up and realised that although it wasn’t a full band set, it wasn’t a solo acoustic set either.
They played a short bit sweet set of their biggest hits, and left the audience wanting more! Fabulous!
The Vryll Society were due to finish things off, but sadly I had to get back to finish some work before the morning. I’m sure they were fantastic and I’ll catch them next time!
What an amazing day! It was everything a fine festival should be – discovering artists who are new to you (and playing on Spotify as I write this!), along with rediscovering old favourites. The communal experience of enjoying live music with others who love it. Most importantly it reminded us of the very real, growing problem of homelessness, and that we should all try to do something – even if it’s just writing to your MP, even if you have a Labour MP and you’re preaching to the converted, it’s always worth letting them know the strength of public feeling on the issue.