A sweet ‘un in Nuneaton..
Day two of a double header of The Leylines went swimmingly. As Michael and Bex were heading down from Yorkshire I sent them a message to see if they wanted to stay over at mine as I was driving anyway. This paid dividends for me – they had an early start on Sunday but offered to pick us up en route, woo! Andy was staying too – so once everyone had assembled we piled into Michael’s car and headed off down the M42 to Nuneaton, which was surprisingly busy – eventually we found ourselves a largely abandoned car park within a short stagger of the venue.
I’ve not been to The Crew / Queen’s Hall for ages – it’s an ace venue, we had a drink downstairs waiting for the upstairs venue to open. Soon after arriving upstairs The Strays were underway – a new band to me, a three piece fusion of rockabilly, blues and rock and roll – not my normal repertoire but really enjoyable and upbeat. Sam on guitar and backing vocals, Gary standing up and drumming (and backing vocals) and livewire lead vocals and occasional tambourine from Estelle, it made for cracking warm up for the much more familiar bands that would follow.
Reading through my notes I didn’t do a great job of noting song titles – the danger of drinking cider and a new act I suppose! One featured You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours in the lyrics – the opener and third track I missed the name of, Sam took the vocals for The Whisky Kid, which was then followed up with Stranger Danger. It was revealed there was a new EP coming out in the next week or so, if you like blues infused rockabilly then you’d do well to get yourself a copy! Waiting is one of the tracks on there, and it was a belter.
A song that may or may not have been called Lock and Load was followed up with a raucous cover of At the Hop (there might’ve been a song in between there, I was at the bar and accosted by a lady intent on plaiting my beard, oh dear!). One of their own tracks Leave Dem Boys Alone (also on the forthcoming EP) went down well with the gradually filling room, the penultimate song I missed the name of, but they finished up with a tribute to recently departed Chuck Berry with an ace cover of Johnny B Goode. A really enjoyable set. Keep an eye on The Strays.
The Leylines have done a great job of picking support acts – I first saw Leatherat in the same venue supporting Ferocious Dog a couple of years ago (I also met Ella then too!) and was immediately smitten with their energetic folk. Clearly unhappy with how far back the crowd were from the stage Pete beckoned us forward, particularly Michael with a sinister demand to “Come to me Michael!” which made me chuckle a lot. They started the set with Life in the Old Dog and followed up with High Friends – I love the pace-changing nature of this one.
It’s made me realise I really ought to have taken advantage of the fact Pete remembered to bring some CDs as I have an embarrassing lack of their stuff recorded. Excitingly they are apparently back in writing mode too – to celebrate their recent St Patrick’s Day schenanigans a high-paced cover of The Rocky Road to Dublin was unleashed on us followed up with Set My Soul on Fire (or Set My Cheese on Fire as Pete introduced it following a suggestion from the crowd for suitable subject matter from the song. It seems like cheese is ubiquitous love of folk bands!).
We’re all in this Together is a cracking song – they followed it with one I missed the title of, then a new song which currently was just instrumental, but sounded stomping – it was mixed straight into Stop – a rousing call for people to stop being so damn selfish. They ended a cracking set with Large One – really enjoyable, it’s pretty much impossible to watch Leatherat without your foot tapping at the very least, I’m looking forward to more chances to see them in the coming year – certainly at Roystonbury, and hopefully other dates too!
Which left us with the not inconsiderable treat of The Leylines! Having had to work his voice harder due to monitor issues in Tamworth, Steve’s voice had recovered having had a quick natter with him on arriving – he was back with his in-ear monitors (as well as more wedge monitors) in the better-equipped Queen’s Hall though, which I imagine was somewhat easier! It was dress-down Saturday too, no waistcoat for Steve – Matt pleased Ella greatly by opting for a Morganella t-shirt (under a waistcoat) whilst Hannah always brings the glamour to the stage with a dress.
The set list was perhaps unsurprisingly the same as the night before – Stone Circle kicked matters off with a bit of instrumental foot-stomping goodness, except a malfunction meant there was no fiddle – Dan scurried from the sound-desk to the stage and back a few times and after some adjustments Hannah was in business. The sound system at the venue is rather good, it has to be said – Stone Circle blends effortlessly into You’ve Changed and soon enough a good proportion of the room is in full-on dancing mode.
Sorry My Friends was up next, and then – one of the nice things is getting to know some of the new songs, already starting to feel really rather familiar indeed – In Your Shadow has a really nice gentle start, building in intensity. Back to the familiar Let It Go was followed up with Save Your Soul, the pace change when the song kicks in from the gentle start is one of my favourite moments in the gig – the anticipation from Dave on drums is palpable as he waits to let rip into his drum kit – the love of what he’s doing etched on his face. Next time you see them take some time to watch how much he clearly loves what he’s doing!
Back to new songs Standing by the Waterside was next and then followed up by what is increasingly my favourite live moment of a Leylines gig – My Own Worst Enemy. Such a powerful song. Long Way From Home almost doesn’t seem like a new song any more, although Fly Away is still one I’m getting to know – and like rather a lot. Things I know is very familiar though, as is increasingly Hannah’s Song, still without a name – I forget some of the more comedic suggestions bellowed from the crowd when ideas were sought. It’s such a cracking tune though.
Queen and Country resonates strongly with Andy as a serviceman so he made his way to the front. Ella was invited on stage to provide backing vocals for Run for Cover along with Hannah and did a sterling job, which saw the band down tools with loud cries for an encore from the assembled crowd. This was duly provided with anthemic Sat in a Field to finish with a flourish. Sitting in a field (well, sort of), but certainly drinking cider in the (hopefully) sun is on my agenda this coming weekened – the festival season is tantalisingly close with Rockstock and Barrel less than a week away!
All that remained for us was to goodbye our way around the room and make our way back to the car – it was an uneventful journey once we found our way out of the car park – luckily we quite quickly discovered Ella had left her phone in the car so hadn’t let Michael and Bex get too far from the house before having to turn back. Another splendid evening’s entertainment on The Leylines tour! There’s not too many dates left on it now really, you’d be daft to miss out on it if you don’t have to!