MAR 99] THE BLACKROOM
Hi and welcome to the
blackroom. My name is Pauline Black, lead vocalist with The
Im rather enjoying my nights out in Coventry these days. Certainly beats sitting
in and watching the box. Every time I go out I meet some helpful soul who tells me about
yet another new band that they think I should see.
My definite thanks to young Vasilis Stylianos, who I seem to
bump into everywhere I go. He always fills me in on all the local band news and took great
pleasure in showing me a gig review of his band, The Hybridize, last week
at the Golden Cross, which was excellent. I cant wait to see them.
So hurry up and get a gig together guys!
Bands2C : Endless Knot
@ The Malt Shovel, Spon End,
Friday 12 March 1999
Before I talk about the band, I just want to talk about the brilliant venue
that the Malt Shovel has created in the yard out back. A large marquee
has been erected, complete with stage, comfortable seating arrangement and an excellently
Its hard to believe that in the middle of the winter, when its freezing
cold outside, that you can step into an exceedingly large tent and get the feeling that
its really a balmy summer day outside. The whole ambience of the
place is relaxed and chilled out and this of course puts everybody in the mood to listen
to some good music, which is exactly what Endless Knot provided on this
I take my hat off to the landlord of the Malt Shovel for providing a
perfect venue in Coventry. If only more landlords put in this kind of effort, then it
would be much more pleasurable for all the bands concerned to play in Coventry. And it
works, because the place was packed out.
Binz: fretless bass
Paul: tin whistle / didjeridoo
Endless Knot have been in existence for two years and their experience
shows. As soon as they take to the stage, comparisons with The Levellers
come to mind, but this is by no means a criticism, because Endless Knot make their own
unique blend of Celtic/rock/reggae.
This is a band with well-thought out socially aware lyrics; what are your
children learning and taking all your freedom away
are samples of whats on offer. On the excellent song Coming Down,
there is a wonderful melodic hook line and chorus, You been so high, now youre
coming down again. A tin whistle plays plaintively during the song, which is then
swapped for a harmonica for the sublime Walk With Me.
Ged, the singer, bears a passing resemblance to Paul King,
a past Coventry luminary, but fortunately sings a lot better. He also bothers to engage
the audience, which is a common problem with a lot of local bands, who often look as
though they are afraid of the audience; so much so, that you wonder what on earth made
them want to get on a stage in the first place! Ged doesnt have any such problem, as
can be heard from the laconic intro to All Tied Up, when he
shouts its in D minor for all the musos among you!.
Point taken Ged!
All Tied Up drops into a beautiful reggae lilt in the middle eight section
and lends itself well to the tin whistle solo over it. Its all very
relaxed and free-form, but you never lose sight of the actual structure of the song.
Solstice Moon tends to betray their roots somewhat. Okay,
I cant say Im entirely into the kind of music that I suppose gets hummed
around the camp fires waiting for the sun to come up at Stonehenge. Crystals,
dowsing and a yen for Peruvian woollies has never been my
particular predilection, but if such people make music like Endless Knot, then Im
not going to argue with their philosophy on life.
Theres no fox-hunters in here is there? asks Ged of
the audience. As if anybody would dare to stand up and declare themselves, even if they
were! Ged knows hes on fairly safe ground with this comment, because the audience
are all well-oiled by now and consist of a broad cross-section of locals,
students, groovies and wiggers, in fact you name them and they were there.
The anti-fox hunting song turned out to be an almost ska-ish
tune. People were instantly on their feet and dancing.
Up next were songs featuring a mandolin, a didjeridoo
which was a bit inaudible over the PA, but looked as though it was being well played (ie circular
breathing was being employed, instead of the usual huffing and puffing that you
see when a novice tries to play this instrument).
Finally, their name-sake song, Endless Knot. A lovely
song, which exhorted the audience to join that metaphorical endless knot of life (at least
thats what I think they meant, because they didnt look as though they needed
any new members in this already burgeoning band!).
Everybody joined in singing the chorus, which went something like Stand
Up Turnaround, Take Somebody by the Hand and join the Endless Knot and
ended finally with Get Knotted being vociferously chanted by all and sundry.
By now many people were up and dancing and demanded the band did a final well-deserved
encore. The band obliged with a song which sums up Endless Knot with the hook line, roots/rhythm/reggae
in a Celtic style. This was a perfect song to end a perfect evening.
If you are interested in seeing Endless Knot, then they will be playing the Malt
Shovel again on 23 April. See you there!
Bands2C : Spunge
@ The Golden Cross, Coventry, Monday 15 March 1999
Id heard a lot about Spunge already, not least from
within my own ranks of The Selecter. Before Christmas, Spunge had
approached our bass player Nick Welsh to produce their latest album.
Apparently, he worked on a couple of demos with them and decided that he didnt fancy
the job; more than this I cant get him to tell. So I was very interested to see what
they had to offer.
Spunge played the Cross last year to a good reception, when they were promoting their
Kicking Out The Pigeons EP, which had received a rave review in Kerrang.
Now they are doing an humungous tour of Britain and Europe, under the auspices of their
new record label, the ubiquitous (at least in the ska world) New York based Moon
Ska Records. Their debut album, entitled Pedigree Chump
is now on offer, before they test the ska waters across the pond.
Spunge are a 5-piece, vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, bass and drums
and from what I saw they should have no problem with their Stateside tour.
For the uninitiated in the ska world, America has ska bands literally crawling
out of the college wood-work; there are hundreds of the little buggers, who all
pretty much sound like Spunge. If this thought fills you with horror, then skip to the end
of this review dear reader! For those with stronger stomachs, suffice to say that Spunge
have done their homework well, albeit in a rather Bart Simpson-like way.
Immediately Spunge hit the stage, the audience was on their feet and
dancing (a cross between pogo-ing and generally throwing themselves about). The hardest
posse were the skateboard kids, who knew all the words and
looked as though they were having a fab and groovy time.
Imagine a sound, which is a cross between Bad Manners/Green Day/Rancid
and youd be getting the general idea of whats on offer. On one of the songs a
bit of The Proclaimers I would walk 500 miles is thrown in
for good measure.
Lots of Na, na, na na choruses punctuate this melee, which is very
reminiscent of US ska band, The Toasters, whose lead singer, the aptly
named Bucket, runs Moon Ska Records funnily enough.
Spunge are tuneful, with plenty of immediately catchy choruses,
coupled with good tight rhythms, although I felt the drummer was a bit
loose on this particular night, but they admitted themselves that they were all really
tired and were looking forward to time off the following day.
A new rockabilly song was aired to general audience approval and
somebody wobbled up to me and said that they reckoned Spunge were the best band that they
had ever seen. Well who am I to argue with such youthful fervour?
Last song of the set was a golden oldie, the Toots and The Maytals
cut, Pressure Drop. Spunge managed to make this sound new
again, by slowing the rhythm down for the verses and speeding into the choruses which
engendered much furious pogo-ing among their adoring crowd, who wouldnt let the band
go and loudly demanded an encore.
All in all a good band, but for me, our local ska band, The Superheroes is head and shoulders
above Spunge. Spunge are good, dont get me wrong, but The Superheroes offer a new
spin on ska and long may they reign.
Well thats it for this week. Next week I shall be reviewing two acoustically
based bands, Smoking Joe's Café and The Somethings.
E-mail me at email@example.com if you know of a good band that you think I should see.
Till then adios amigos and may all the bands you see be good!!!
ALSO THIS WEEK: RODDY