Hippy Hippy Shakes Company Present… Greg Griffin @ The Full Moon 22.06.2012

Fresh from the success of Easter Weekends Hippy Haze Festival, Richard Buxton returns to the local music gigging scene with another bang, hosting a spectacle of a night at the Full Moon in Newcastle. Hosting three local acts, each with very different and unique sounds, the headline act is supported with great local musicians. The headline himself, Greg Griffin, lead singer and front man of Proud Mary, is a headliner proving Richard’s mettle in the music industry isn’t limited to attracting local performers but also well established acts from the UK.

Opening the nights entertainment is local lad Emilio Pinchi, who plays a set consisting of both songs from his current EP ‘Kick Backs’ and songs which are to feature on the EP he is now working on, which he hopes to release around the end of July. The set Emilio gives the crowd is one which confirms it’s not mere luck that got him into LIPA, Sir Paul McCartney’s famous music education set up. Slow Down, a new song of Emilio’s, is full of emotion and beautiful guitar play, which tonight also sees a hint of huskiness join his soft voice, adding a special rawness to his set and making the youthful singer/songwriter even more unique. Emilio seems to lose himself in each song he plays for the gathering crowd, with a slight smile upon his face in knowledge of his own enjoyment and the crowds.

New song Invisible man is played with a deftness that indicates Emilio is an artist with talents too big for Stoke-on-Trent alone, and he then rolls into another new song, Sunday Night, which does nothing but prove this theory, using dynamics so professionally you might assume Emilio has already spent three years at LIPA. If tonight’s set was anything to go by, then Emilio Pinchi’s new EP is going to be one to cause an awful lot of excitement around Stoke-on-Trent.

Strutting onto the stage after Emilio is Twinkle and the Sl**ts, who look every bit the punk band that their explicit name suggests. Based in Stafford, Richard Buxton has again hand-picked another great band from the local scene of our neighbours, matching the quality of music and performance as those such as Sea Based Turtles and Platypus Duck who played at the Hippy Haze Festival. Radical, original and racey, lead singer Twinke has an outstanding voice, almost too good to front a punk band, but her angry lyrics and punk attitude more than fit the bill, and the sound the band creates is very powerful, with energetic drum beats and perfectly timed bass riffs, all being beefed up by well structured guitar play. To hear a real punk band these days is pretty hard, but to hear a real punk band with a female vocalist is even more so, but even if there was a plethora of female fronted punk bands in Staffordshire, I think you would be hard pressed at finding one to match the sounds of Twinkle and the Sl**ts.

Paper Tigers take to the stage with the confidence of a band that knows they are going places. Summer on Blossom Street, to be released in August on EP Safe In Words, has now hit perfection. Great use of harmonies and dynamics, it’s clear the band have nurtured this song like a budding rose, and the song now sits in the set as beautiful and attention-grabbing as the flowers attached to singer Jim Carter’s mic stand. Jim is enigmatic on stage, heel kicking and hair ruffling and leaning on the mic just like a true rock and roll star would. Old song Felt This Before seems to have modified and matured with the band, and now has a special place on their set list which accompanies their style complimentary, as does Killers cover When You Were Young, a song which has been mastered brilliantly by Paper Tigers, to the point where you could actually be tricked into thinking they’re just pretending to play the song whilst playing a recorded version of Mr Flowers’ great tune. Another EP which is destined to cause a big stir in Stoke-on-Trent, and especially after tonight’s performance at the Full Moon, Safe In Words could very well make Paper Tigers a band to hail from Stoke and push on forward to become well established in the UK

And now with the local acts setting up a great night, Proud Mary front man Greg Griffin takes to the stage with his lovely big hat and acoustic guitar. The crowd has now gathered very strongly. The Full Moon is Greg’s penultimate gig of his current solo tour, with Leicester on the morrow finishing off the musical jaunt. A quick chat before the gig tell me all I need to know; Greg really enjoyed the local acts and was particularly chuffed to hear a bit of punk from Twinkle and the Sl**ts. As for Greg’s set itself, the man plays with the cool laid back style you would only expect from a blues singer, and the professionalism portrayed in each song cannot not be denied by anyone in the crowd. Filled with amazing and well structured melodies and cracking vocals, Greg Griffin completes another brilliant night for Richard Buxton, who unfortunately could not actually attend the gig himself, which to me only shows that the work, time and effort he puts into his events are not merely for him; it is quite clear all the effort is for the music lovers of Stoke-on-Trent. Of course, Richard Buxton would have been there had he been able to, but he was certainly able to rest assured that his gig was in safe hands with great help from Ross White. With a Big Announcement to unleash on the local music scene on 1st July, a secret which Richard will reveal on Radical’s Rising’s show, you can’t help but wonder what magic Richard is keeping up his sleeve this time.

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Aaron Mobberley @ The Sugarmill 22.06.2012

It may not have been a sell out gig but it was a massive turn out. By the end of the night it was clear that the people who attended were there to witness Aaron’s first ever headlining gig.
First thing that was noticed was the quirky stage set up of all things that you could find on a stage there were two plastic dinosaurs, someone’s good luck item? Don’t know but that mystery was never found out.

Elly Kingdon scribbling down her set list on the back of a scrunched up receipt was told she was ready to go on. Her quirky dress sense and personality was shown from the moment she stepped on the stage. After every song she gave a cheeky little “thank you” which shows she really was grateful for the audience being there. As it was Elly’s first gig at the Sugarmill after 3 years, the majority of the people there hadn’t heard of her before so they all stood in silence just glaring as she told stories before every song. They were interesting and it was like a blurb before the lyrics of the song. Her voice in every song was unique and its one that people will memorize. Before she hands the stage over to The Taskers she points out she has an EP available and it is “limited edition”. As soon as she stepped off stage, the rest of the night she was selling her EP’s which really shows that the audience liked the sound of her and wanted to hear more.

With the announcement that they went to watch Pearl Jam the night before gave the idea that this could this be an influence for The Taskers? This was a real change in sound compared to Elly. It had a heavy drum beat and a screeching electric guitar it fitted with the genre garage rock. The duet who is brother and sister had a great connection which really made the performance what it was. The band is one to remember as Sophie was the drummer and it’s rare to find a girl drummer, as she began to play the head banging from the crowd began and they were shuffling closer to the stage and this is where you notice that Jack was wearing wellies; is there a story behind this? No-one knows. Throughout their performance they had varied speed, when they slowed it down the bass and the swift drum beats was exceptional and when they sped it up they really made a show worth watching. Cheers echoed as they finished their performance on a well played instrumental which showed Jack brimming with enthusiasm and clearly enjoying the evening’s performance. The thoughts of Jack smashing his guitar up when he ripped it off his chest was floating around the room.

The Cure influenced singer/songwriter Ben Owen came on stage with Robbie Stewart the violinist. They were confident and seemed chuffed with the crowd. They start with an odd cover for a folk artist; LMFAO’S ‘Party Rock Anthem’. It was a surprise hearing that type of pop song played by violin but Robbie pulls it off. This well-known pop song soon flowed into another well-known pop song – Lady Gaga ‘Poker Face’. Ben and Robbie put their own signature on both songs and made it their own which is clever and it’s a sign of creative and successful musicians. The crowd loved the original sound that Ben and Robbie were producing and the way they owned the stage by jumping on the blocks.  The first 10 seconds of the next cover was played and screams erupted. The popularity of this song is over the top; Coldplay ‘Paradise’. The way Ben moved away from the microphone varied the sound of his folksy vocals. Ben Owen and Robbie Sherratt certainly put the acoustic back into the acoustic show. Ben was allowed two more songs and he kept repeating himself as if in disbelief about how awesome the crowd was.

All round Mr. Nice Guy – Aaron Mobberbley takes to the stage. He nervously tunes his guitar whist making conversation with the crowd in such a pleasant way that the crowd respected. He plays the first few notes on his acoustic guitar as a member of the audience whispers “This is something special.” Everyone was completely focused upon Aaron’s talent in the opening song. He apologised for the awkward silences when tuning his guitar but the audience didn’t mind as they stood in the tranquil atmosphere, patiently appreciating the humble character Aaron is. They way Aaron told a story before ‘Roulette Winning Gold’ was interesting for the audience. The adored folk singer/songwriter really connected with his audience as he added humour within the little story. He said “It’s a kind of sad song that describes a man I met on a bus who was a gambler, he’s probably not here tonight he’s probably in the casino down the road” The audience were amused and gradually throughout the song shuffled closer to the stage where they were nearly kissing his feet. Aaron had a special guest to join him – Helena Raby. They had been working on a song called ‘Rubik’ for a while. Aaron swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric guitar; this was a new look for Aaron as normally it’s acoustic all the way. Helena‘s gentle vocals merged perfectly with Aaron’s authentic voice.  Helena was somewhat of an unfound talent. The back lighting was a rather psychedelic pattern that created and suited the soft, warm atmosphere that has been built up throughout the evening. The well known folk artist in Stoke-On-Trent plays his music beautifully and his passion for playing live is at the artist’s maximum level. When artists reveal they are going to play a new song the audience become intrigued, this is what took place when Aaron played “Family Reunion”. It was a new song, its emotional affectionate lyrics and dulcet melody gained love from the crowd. He is someone that everyone adores its undeniable. When the band was brought on stage to play the EP named song ‘Commitments’ it was something to treasure in your mind forever. It was like a downfall of music hitting you right in the heart where you feel that love again for Aaron!

Mobberley can without doubt tick off that he has successfully wowed the crowd with his first headlining gig. He brings it all to a close with ‘Crayons’ another song from his ‘Commitments’ EP. He says “this is a loved dovey song that will make you happy”. He accomplished this task as smiles filled the Sugarmill. ‘Looking For’ got the crowd’s arms up in the air swaying and this concluded the night in a room flooded with a warm and tender atmosphere.

Overall great performance by all acts. They all did the music scene in Stoke proud.

Fools Paradise @ Air Ambulance Charity Scooter Weekend 16.06.2012

Sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll hit wet and windy Congleton last weekend with a bang- literally. Fool’s Paradise played at the Charity Scooter Weekend in aid of Air Ambulance.

It kicked off with Fool’s Paradise on Saturday afternoon, with all the fans hanging round their tents for a miniature acoustic session which got the crowd ready for the night ahead. Fools revealed they were playing on the back of a wagon – this gave the fans something to look forward to all day as it was a unique stage set up.

Everywhere you looked there was either Pretty Green parka’s or bomber jackets, checked buttoned up shirts or buttoned up polo’s and desert boots or original docs. There was alot of Paul Weller look-a-likes which is understandable seeing as he’s The Mod God!

In the camping field it was undeniable that Fool’s Paradise were centre of attention, and it continued until they left on Sunday! Fools were set to play at half ten so before that they were all chilled and getting ready for a hectic, long night with no sleep and lots of drinking.

Time went pretty fast and next minute people are running round saying Fools are going to play. People were filling up there plastic cups and heading towards the front of the crowd.  I see at the back Rob talking his mum; good luck message maybe? I don’t know but she wore his parka for him! Proud mother right there!

Sound checking was going on for a long time but that can’t be criticized when in the end it was spot on. There was 30 seconds of ‘Set Me Free’ played to test it out just for perfection, it worked well as the audience started chanting “fool’s paradise say fool’s paradise”.

First song of the night by Fools was an old northern soul track – ‘Instrumental’; originally played by Just Brothers and it was called ‘Sliced Tomatoes’. It showed off what the group is made up of; talented, original and quality musicians. Rob tells the audience he’s been drinking all day, just like everyone else but this didn’t stop the mod influenced quartet playing the way they did.

The first drum beats by Dan in the second track ‘Blow Them All Away’ seized power of the audience as everyone gathered forward and the chaos began. The energy in Rob Deacon was electric. I took a glimpse into the crowd about nine tenths of the people were singing along to the memorable lyrics.

That night Fool’s Paradise played three new tracks. The first was ‘Nothing to lose’ with it being the crowds first listen by the look on the faces and the movement in their bodies they loved it. I loved it. It had a hint of Rolling Stones about it.

First shout out of the night went out to “everyone who brought Fool’s Paradise t-shirts”. Everywhere I looked you could at least see one just clinging from someone. Brad strummed his guitar and the crushing turned into swaying as they slowed it down with ‘My Time’. Arms were up in the air and the Liam Gallagher impressions were arising. You know you watching a good band when the bass player Steve has that concentration face on that really pulls the song off.

Tambourine is exchanged and the head banging commences. ‘Got That Feeling’ is where I saw the Dan and Rob really connect, this shows the band enjoy what they do and they aren’t stopping anytime soon, thankfully. Brad really showed off in his guitar solo and all eyes were on him.

It’s another new track ‘Dreamer’. It had a Stone Roses sound to it which I enjoyed for a first listen and by the comments given in the audience they liked it too. The front man Rob really gave the performance something to watch rather than just listen to with his energetic dance moves. Outstanding performance from them!

The last of the new tracks was played. ‘Devil In Disguise’ the tambourine was exchanged for the guitar and it sounded like a Weller song with that hint of funk. First listen again was brilliant couldn’t really ask for more from them.

Second shout out of the night was “Happy father’s day” just before ‘Set me Free’ was played. Moshing begins and the beer is thrown. Everyone was echoing Rob with “set me free” and a group of lads are flung into the hedge where the electric cables are and BAM! Silence covers the field for about 10 seconds before everyone erupts into laughter. The audience continue to cheer Fool’s on with “Fool’s Paradise say Fool’s Paradise”. Dan Bailey keeps the drum beat going just too entertain the fans and then Rob joins in with tambourine so the audience aren’t totally let down and still have something to listen to and enjoy. This shows that whatever happens Fool’s Paradise will always entertain the fans – sign of a successful band right there. Brad, Dan, Rob and Steve exit the stage leaving the crowd in anticipation. After a lengthy 10 minutes or so they are back and the chanting sets off again. First thing said was “thanks to you b*****ds for jumping in the hedge”.

After that little disaster they soon brought it back with a cover of The Who, ‘My Generation’. The audience got crazed again like previously but made sure they stayed away from the hedge. That exceptional performance was over and they announced that, that is it.  The audience requested them to complete ‘Set Me Free’ but it didn’t happen. Personally I don’t think it was their fault, I think they had to be off stage at a certain time.

Overall great performance from Fool’s Paradise, even with that minor malfunction.

By Lucee Clarke

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The Black Mirrors debut EP Rorschach Sessions

Debut EP from newcomers The Black Mirrors is a striking collection of contemporary blues rock which strongly highlights the potential bubbling in Stokes’s musical cauldren. Considering the band only formed in March of this year, anyone could be forgiven for assuming that the Rorschach Sessions EP was a mere collection of quickly thrown together songs, but that is certainly far from the truth here.

The EP- it’s name coming from front man Mark Mason’s possibly unhealthy obsession with the psychological tests- is in fact a collection of inspired tracks, with opener Fever Noir instantly grabbing any listeners attention with the riveting, grungy bass intro from Joe Peers, which is added to by Mark’s unique vocals and harrowingly eerie guitar riffs. The song reaches a cracking crescendo around three minutes in when Mark really lets loose on the microphone and sets the song up for a sweet outro, with guitarist Paul Baggaley throwing in awesome licks seemingly just for the fun of it.

The Worm features cunningly simple yet extremely effective guitar riffs and contains a melody which is so catchy you can’t help but listen to the song on repeat. The lyrics are fantastic and the riff produced by Paul is outstanding. Tom McMeekin shows he is not just in the band to keep a steady rhythm for the band to use, as he plays powerfully and forcefully on form throughout not only The Worm but on the whole EP. The Worm uses great vocals, using two vocalists to create the effect of two people deep in emotional conversation which is laid out amongst the rock and roll canvas that is The Worm.

The third track of the EP is a great sound which echoes in parts classics by The Clash, with sweet bass and drum patterns and off beat guitar play suiting Mark’s vocal and melody perfectly. The song lowers and rises in dynamics brilliantly creating an intoxicating effect. “I once saw a man, with a worm tattoo, I saw him walk for miles and miles, he’d die for me and you tonight”, just a snippet of the dark, sinister lyrics Mark is capable of producing, with the lyrics in Strange Melodies, according to Mark himself, holding within them a cryptic puzzle he wants the listener to work out for themselves.

Blood, Mark’s personal favourite from the Rorschach Sessions EP, is a full six minutes of pure brilliance. There is a rawness and a determined air which seems to surround the songs of The Black Mirrors, an air which could clear the fog which somehow prevents music from Stoke-on-Trent being recognised for the value it should on a grander scale. The Black Mirrors are truly a band all of Stoke-on-Trent should be proud of; creative, inventive, unique and yet original with songs that flow at the perfect pace from start to finish. This is a band that have the potential to restore a man’s faith in music, and if this band can produce such a high quality after just four months of being together, it’s quite scary to think of what they could possibly achieve.

Check out The Black Mirrors on –

http://www.facebook.com/theblackmirrors

http://www.soundcloud.com/theblackmirrors

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