Beat the Streets!

I must admit up front I didn’t really feel up to Beat the Streets, which is a shame – but since they so handily placed three of my favourite acts right next to each other in the same venue we did muster ourselves to get into town.  I do regret not entering into the spirit a bit more so, but with an early start on Monday sometimes you do have to be disappointedly sensible at times, so we drove into town and parked up.

Upon reaching Rock City it was kicking out from Sleaford Mods’ set – they’ve never done it for me recorded, I would’ve given them a chance live but what was immediately apparent was the very reasonable ticket prices had seen loads of people snap them up, great to see so many people out to support an anti-homelessness charity, with numbers recently released to show rough-sleeping is on the rise, along with the use of foodbanks, we really are fundamentally failing more and more people as a society.

We found Lee and Geoff outside the venue and awaited being allowed in as hundreds of people poured out the place – once in we joined a queue for the basement where Headsticks were coming on soon – but Kagoule were already underway, and the room was hella full so it was one-in-one-out – they over-ran a little so we got to see the last couple of songs and I really enjoyed them, I think I shall keep an eye out for them playing again nearby.

With quick turnarounds of fifteen minutes, Headsticks were soundchecked up and underway right on schedule – impressive given the Kagoule had over-run by a good five minutes or so.  After the gig I bumped into Andrew who claimed he was flagging and lacked energy on stage – it sure didn’t show from where I was, he looked turbo-charged!  If I’m being picky the vocals and guitar could’ve done with a bit of a boost in the mix, but the sound overall was good.  Maybe a bit less reverb too!

They opened up with a rousing Mississippi’s Burning which had the crowd moving from the off, doing that probably-simple-but-always-seems-clever-to-me transition straight into Flatline Town.  There were a lot of usual suspects in the crowd, but the room was pretty damn full too, great to see them pulling a good crowd in there and getting them bouncing.  Cold Grey English Skies was up next, very apt given the over-riding theme for the day.

Fanatics had some impressive singing back from the crowd, although Andrew never looks that impressed, ha!  Next up was a new song, debuted the night before in Belper, I caught that it started with Whatever.. but couldn’t decode the rest.  With the way the crowds had been building up we decided to make a move to get to the upstairs room ahead of time for Ferocious Dog who were on immediately after and already underway sound checking (the room was pretty full, but not that full!).

It was quite funny watching each of them put their hands up in turn as each channel was soundchecked, the crowd thought so as they started mimicking them.  I counted four stringy things from John, Ken’s guitar, Les’ guitar, Dan’s violin, drums, John A’s bass, three vocal mics – that’s a lot of things to soundcheck in fifteen minutes, but they started up pretty much bang on time, Dean Jackson from the BBC taking the stage to introduce them, and they launched into Spin to open the set.

Part of the motivation to drag myself out was to not break my run of seeing the band every time they’ve appeared at Rock City – initially supporting The Wonderstuff, then in the basement after New Model Army, then of course with the Levellers and finally in their own right.  This was a cracking set – a big crowd in, and a big mosh pit too populated mainly my students as far as I could see, although Dean looked like he was having fun in there too, ha!

Gallows Justice was up next – echoes of last night in Corby there was an issue with the violin cutting out, it’s testimony to the band though they kept it going and some frantic fiddling and it was back in time for the next song.  Too Late once again lacked an aerial Nicki, then it was one to Black Gold.  For Hell Hounds (dedicated to Jay and Kurtis – nice particularly with Rhii and Cliff in attendance – the former up on shoulders for the song.  Kens’ guitar cut out at the start so it was an accapella intro – but eventually recovered, again, the band played on!

For Mairi’s Wedding Pt II Alex rushed on to swap Ken’s black Gretsch guitar over with his old trusty one, amusingly his strap was tangled up with his in-ear monitor which made it a bit of a pantomime – which left time for the grand finalé of Slow Motion Suicide to finish up a short but sweet set.  It was very well curated I thought given the fact there was probably a big proportion of the audience who were new to the band, I wouldn’t have wanted the job of picking out a 30 minute set.  They rocked it.

We dashed back down to the basement in time for Brad Dear, he was in full band guise so Andy, Chris and Lizzie were there too – always a bonus!  As upstairs emptied itself the room started to fill up in time for them to launch into Sail Away, and then Circles and Roundabouts.  The sound mix was really working well for me – it was nice to get to see an act a bit more up close and personal – we’d been a bit further back for the previous two.

Walls led into one of the unnamed tracks, I love this one – watching Lizzie expertly switch from pizzicato to arco on her violin (okay, I’m being a smart arse – it’s where she goes from plucking it mandolin style back to playing with a bow) – it sounds really bloody good anyway.  The Only Road I Know was up next, then at John’s bellowed insistence Special Brew followed – along with a pretty impressive conga line I’d done my best to avoid but was bullied into twice.  Both times by Angela!

They finished up their set with I’m Still Here.  Three really solidly good sets from some of my favourite bands – but more importantly, a really well attended event which is both highlighting the problem of homelessness and raising money to help the problem too – which is really heartwarming, I’m really pleased the event looks to have been such a success and hope it becomes a fixture – if it does I’ll look at booking the Monday off work and get more fully immersed in it than I managed this year.

I nicked the non-band pictures from my mate Greg who I bumped into before FD were on – he was really excited to see them finally after seeing my Facebook wall full of them for the last few years.  Hope you enjoyed it, mate!

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