If you didn’t hear the four piece incarnation on Jo Good’s Radio London show earlier, then thankfully Matt was on hand to save a recording as the popularity of the band seems to have broken iPlayer! Featured is a first live airing (and first acoustic attempt) of one of the songs from their soon-to-be-released album, it’s called The Landscape Artist and was co-written by non other than Jeremy Cunningham from the mighty Levellers.
You can have a listen below – it sounds great, lyrically evocative and a great melody – it’s really whetted the appetite to hear the full band version! Enjoy, and thanks to Matt for grabbing it as by the time I tried to do it iPlayer was broken! Well done chaps, bodes well for the new album which obviously we’re all ludicrously excited about anyway!
And Alex too, I suppose! It seems highly apt that The Enemy Within tour took a diversion to the BBC – BBC Radio London, to be precise where presenter Jo Wood spent 20 minutes or so chatting with Ken, Dan and Alex and had them play a few tunes too! If you missed it, then you can catch up here.
They did a really good job I thought of getting the message out there, and some quality tunes ahead of their data at the 100 Club in that London!
In true British fashion social and mainstream media alike was awash with perhaps rather exaggerated fears regarding the weather, casting doubt on whether the Warsop leg of The Leylines tour would happen. It’s true some areas of the country really were hammered, but certainly North Nottinghamshire was okay, it put paid to a few acts making it, but some redrafting by Dave and some rearrangements meant a splendid day of music would definitely go ahead – with some hardy souls camping in the car park from the night before!
For our own part, both Ella and Morgan had fairly chunky distances to come – Ella and Becki drove up to mine the night before in occasionally grim conditions, with Nick and Morgan joining us in the morning in plenty of time for a sit and chill before we convoyed up to The Black Market Venue without incident – we could’ve probably squeezed into one car but it proved to come in handy later having two. Once at the venue there was time to catch up with folk in the bar side before the main room was open.
First up were Darwin’s Rejects – we got Ella and Morgan’s stuff sorted by their stage as they struck up with Phat Bollard’s Millionnaires – I must say they were sounding the most tight I’ve seen ’em, and as a fellow box banger I did have slight envy of Rob’s cymbal/tambourine stand! A Levellers section comprised Sell Out and then a Leylines style arrangement of Fifteen Years with the slow build up. Back to grassroots and Ferocious Dog’s Unconditional and Headsticks Cold Grey English Skies were up next.
I must admit I was a bit surprised when we got to not particularly far away Corby at the lack of familiar faces in the busy crowd at The White Hart. Of course there were a fair few as ever – reassuring that a sell-out can be achieved in a new town in terms of playing, I guess! We got there early, had a quick drink a nearby funky cocktail bar (the perils of needing the loo, seeing a bar called ‘Malt-something’ and assuming it was an ale pub, ha!). Some chips from the chippy and we were good to go.
The venue was the backroom of the pub, a work in progress the landlord was telling me, but workable enough – it was evocative of the kinds of places we used to go see Ferocious Dog years ago – but in this case very much full of people! A nice mixed crowd in terms of age and look – there were FD t-shirts a plenty, folks who perhaps didn’t normally see them, plenty of kids – a really good mixture.
First up on stage was Emma McGrath (accompanied by Alfie on drums), she has a new single out next week, and is off on tour supporting Hayseed Dixie too. She started off on guitar and wow, what a voice she has! I’m going to guess the opening song was called either Don’t Leave Me Behind or Lifeline, really engaging – I’m sure there was some jiggery pokery going on with the drumkit alongside traditional drums too. A really full sound for just the two of ’em.
As if Dogfest isn’t a prospect mouthwatering enough for your musical delectation, Bart runs a pre-Dogfest night to get you limbered up for what is to follow – so I decided to bash the two reviews together as a further time-saving measure (given I’ve got three gigs coming up this weekend, d’oh!). We got ourselves up to The Black Market Venue in good time and for a mere fiver were granted entry to the back room where both stages were being utilised to put on an amazing line-up.
First up on the side stage were 3 Wise Men, acoustic mellow tunes with all three of ’em providing vocals at one point or another and well synchronised guitars. In The Cold Cold Night was early in the set which was followed up with That’s Life. I was really enjoying the set – especially a cover of Massive Attack’s Man Next Door which was simultaneously unexpected and delightful in equal measure – well worth getting in early doors for (not, of course, that the event started on time – arf!).
The Outlines were up next on the main stage – looking ever more confident in their own skins, launching into Waiting and filling the room with energetic grungy rock, a stark contrast to the gentle set before but just as enjoyable. Static, She Don’t Know, Calm Down – all quickly establishing themselves as classics. Next up was probably my favourite of theirs (for now) in Buried a Lie. Tight backing vocals and Kyle’s distinctive voice over an unfeasibly heavy sound for three of ’em..
Trips like this weekend are the epitome of Ferocious Dog type stuff for me – there were thirteen of us who mustered on a minibus, most of us would never have had the opportunity to meet one another were it not for this band. So almost a year to the day after my first trip like this, we mostly met at Jacquie’s where Stuart arrived with our minibus ready to drive up to Hull to get the night ferry to Rotterdam. With traffic tight it was touch and go, but we just made it in time and got on the boat.
With bags dumped in cabins we found a bar and relaxed, had some food and then more drinks – Paul unveiled the tour t-shirts he’d had made (which is good, we didn’t get one when I went then the trip in February I missed did have one!). We had a quick conference on when to wear them and figured we might as well go for night one. After a few more drinks it was time for bed, we’d bought a dinner / breakfast deal so wanted to be up in time for that – it was good, to be fair!
We got back and sorted out our stuff and waited by the lifts to get down to the lower levels – our minibus was handily placed at the front – it’s just a shame that they didn’t let us down quickly so ended up holding up some lorries! It didn’t take long to drive to Nijmegen, on the way Karen told us a few interesting revelations about Ken’s tattoo history (say no more!), and we soon arrived at our hotel – the lovely staff there dashing out to guide us into the car park at the back.
This is long overdue, so apologies – it’s been a busy ol’ time. Rockstock and Barrel happened at the end of September, and it was as magnificent as ever. After finishing up work we arrived on site on Thursday evening and got ourselves set up and reunited with our lovely festival friends. Soon enough the cider was flowing (Pear and Chilli was my weapon of choice for most of the weekend) – and the music was starting in the acoustic lounge before the festival proper started on Friday.
Phil Cudworth took to the stage first – probably more familiar to most of us for his awesome woodwork, it turns out he’s a bit of a dab hand with guitar and singing too! He opened with a potentially childhood-destroying song called Disney Princesses where he painted probably on reflection a more healthy set of role models than those proferred by the film company in question, then on to Coward about growing up in the 70s. A mixture of irreverence, humour but also underpinned with real charm.
Coward was up next and then Bounce, then it was on to Hippy Chick. I must admit I started losing track of song names – there was one about a chap called Gary, Computer Nerds has a question mark next to it then there was a really bluesy number called Tollpath Blues. Then we get to where I’ve just covered subject matters – one song was about Russians, another about VIPs, then one called Green-eyed Monster. The set finished up with Free for a Day but as Zoe took the stage she asceded to the crowds demands for an encore, which we got in the form of Sunglasses – a reflection on how stage-performing can adversely affect ones personality. Something to watch out for!
Sunday’s road trip taught me I really need a Geography lesson, I excelled at the subject at school and A-Level – but clearly the syllabus had a bit too much focus on longshore drift, precipiation levels and the GDP of assorted countries rather than the basic location and direction of towns and cities in the UK. I was down in Stevenage, and needed to head home to South Derbyshire, and figured – hell, Worcester is definitely kinda on the way, right? Um. No.
That said I knew that when I put the destination in the sat nav and still went – even though it was 20 miles further than driving straight home.
Basically when I’ve run out of M42 I realise I’ve actualy gone quite a long way – echoes of going to Droitwich back in January (which also means I’ve already used the Worcester Sauce pun – dammit!). I must admit that I’ve always had a bit of a hankering to visit The Marr’s Bar in Worcester too – so with Nick Parker along with Ben Wain playing, it seemed like this was to be my excuse! There’s a car park 2 minutes away, and once I’d mastered the intricate one way system of Worcester I found myself parked up and a bit early so off in search of a hostelry, settling in the nearby Wetherspoons.
Inside a surprising number of people wearing double denim – I must’ve been in the right place! Nick, Ben and Emily arrived shortly after looking for food, so we sat and had a natter, I wasn’t hungry until presented with the chips Nick didn’t want which were strangely demolished in no time at all! Nick sorted out the set list for the evening, always keen to get feedback from attendees to keep them happy, I probably frustrated him by just saying I was happy to see whatever he wanted to play!
When you’ve had an utterly shit week, probably one of the best temporary remedies you can find is a night watching Ferocious Dog in acoustic guise (now four rather than three piece, with Alex adding some percussive oomph) at The Maze in Nottingham. Add to that the support of the very familiar Brad Dear (a late replacement for double-booked Bart) and the new-to-me JD the Acoustic Anarchist, and plenty of familiar folk to enjoy the evening with, and it’s bound to be a winner. The promise of a chicken tikka kebab from Victoria Kebab the cherry on the top of the cake!
With it being a work-in-the-morning kinda affair I opted to drive in, depositing my car on the road behind the venue just outside the parking-meter zone, bonus! Once we’d found ourselves a cashpoint and picked up some supplies for a food bank donation we made our way into the venue, or at least the bar at the front just before the back room was opened up ready for the evening’s revelries. I love The Maze as a venue – it’s rough and ready but has friendly staff, and great sound – although it does get warm in there!
JD the Acoustic Anarchist started the show – casually announcing himself and striking up with The Moron Song (I’ve half guessed at some of the song titles so fingers crossed they’re closeish). Initially he was evocative of a solo incarnation of Phat Bollard but as he progressed he became more and more bluesy, so a kind of blues punk – a really engaging set, always a tough spot to play with the venue still filling up with folk. How Did We Get This Far as a Species was up next, and was making me smile.
Saturday morning started with sausage cobs (yes, they are cobs!) for breakfast – then we were up to the arena early doors as Morgan and Ella were doing a Morganella ‘meet and greet’ at the Pink Flamingo Bar. Lucan was a hero and arranged for a 4×4 to pick up our stuff to take up to the stage so I left Mark in charge of my stuff and accompanied Ella up to the arena. Starting the day with a cheeky cocktail and the first questions and answers was fun, but soon enough I needed to report back stage to get The Star Copiers set up – so that’s where I headed.
The sound crew were awesome – we aren’t very experienced really so we take all the help we can get! They got each monitor set up for us so that we could hear what we needed to hear, something I’d never really appreciated before until performing. Once soundchecking was finished I found a quiet corner to get changed into my silly stage wear (okay, I just got changed in front of everyone back stage, haha!). Mark’s guitar seemed to not want to stay in tune, Kev was a bit nervous, Jacquie was practising lines – I was pretty excited in truth, definitely our biggest stage to date.
We started up by going on one by one with a slow intro to Down Under, Mark first, then Jamie, me, Kev and finally Jacquie to kick off the vocals. I thought it worked rather well! Donning sunglasses meant I couldn’t see the people in the barn – but I could see Kenny grinning at us from the bank outside the stage enclosure. What’s Up was next – even if I was tapping into a different song, already looking too far forward on the set list. Oops! It didn’t put the others off, so I could drop back into the correct beat soon enough. Listen was next, then I Still Believe (the one I started off on before by accident). It’s a song we always cock up in rehearsals – I’m happy to say this time I don’t think we did, although my monitor mix was largely Mark, Jacquie and me.