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Live Gig Videos: Fred Perry Subculture featuring the Charlatans, Willy Mason and the Drums

By on Monday, 7th January 2013 at 4:00 pm

2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the Fred Perry brand and the relaunch of the Fred Perry Subculture Web site. The brand had a series of celebrations in honour of the anniversary last year but just because it’s 2013, it doesn’t mean the partying has stopped. They’ve provided us some great live videos from their birthday party in September 2012 at London Garage, starring the Charlatans (performing ‘The Only One I Know’), Willy Mason (playing ‘I Got Gold’ from his new album ‘Carry On’ released in December on Fiction Records) and the Drums (playing the fab ‘Days’ from 2011’s ‘Portamento’). Watch them all below.





Standon Calling 2012 Review (Part 2)

By on Friday, 17th August 2012 at 2:00 pm

Saturday at Standon Calling 2012, and a frozen smoothie gives potentially life-saving succour whilst ensconced in the Little Den, Standon’s kids’ area. A lie-in means baby massage and reggae nursery rhymes were missed; still, the tent is blessed with loads of playthings for little ones and is refuge from the midday rainshower that’s becoming a Standon tradition. But there’s plenty of toys for grown-ups too. Double Negative dark room have set up an example of the rare and elusive dark-tent, and are offering free portrait prints.

As one who has gone no further in analogue photography than home-developing the odd 35 mm film, the opportunity to see every step of the process that would eventually give rise to an A4-sized contact print is too good to pass up. The camera is as tall as a man, and exposes directly onto paper using powerful flash. That paper is developed, and the resulting negative is in turn exposed onto another piece of paper, giving rise to a positive image. One is allowed to agitate the developing trays oneself, and the image which emerges before one’s very eyes is quite magical – no two are the same, and mine came complete with wash marks and my own fingerprint on the border. Super.

Musically, the heart of the festival is the Folk Tent. Showcasing the finest in Anglian rockabilly, acoustic, and the occasional Anglophile American (yes, that’s you I’m talking about, Willy Mason), the vibe was eclectic yet accessible. Worth the entrance fee alone, this stage’s proximity to the pub, the fine lawn outside, and the swimming pool just around the corner meant it displayed the purest Standon vibe all weekend. Highlights include Delerium Tremens, Beans On Toast, Keltrix, Vardo and the Boss, and The Barker Band.

Better even than the music on offer, was the opportunity to chill out on a finely-cut lawn, fake statues scattered about, watching infants both young and old enjoy a couple of days of freedom from statute. Worth its weight in gold. Stealing Sheep, BigKids, King Charles and Field Music were all good value on the main stage, yet nothing could be more exciting than the almost half-hour effort of Mohamed Farah in winning the 10-kilometre run by the fabled country mile. To cries of “Go, Mo!”, and various choruses of “God Save the Queen” and “Rule, Britania”, the sweeping consciousness was one of the triumph of many years’ accumulation of aspiration, perspiration, and inspiration.

There was plenty of parallel perspiration at Revere’s performance at the Cow Shed stage. Singer Stephen Ellis is wrapped up warm in a tightly-buttoned black tunic, and virtually overheats as the set progresses, attacking his lyrics like they were mortal enemies; the string duo of cello and violin add a touch of glamour and depth to the epic tunes – and was that a Mumford up on stage just then? Ellis challenges the audience to respond, clambering onto the barrier and exhorting for all he is worth, and he is rewarded with rapture. The show ends with a note of genuine violence as Ellis smashes his guitar onto the pianist’s keyboard, which goes crashing to the ground – there’s a flash of enmity, then suddenly the stage is empty. If there were medals for intensity, Revere deserve to win gold.

Sunday dawned with the traditional downpour, yet it cleared bright just in time for Lips Choir. A west London group of singing women with no audition policy, this was the perfect Sabbath performance – as spiritual as any denominational service occurring simultaneously up and down the country, with the worship of pop music, rather than God, at its heart. Later there was a dog show, the second run of Standon’s own Olympics, and the highlight of my own weekend, and what put the whole event into perspective: an interview with Hon. Alexander Thomas Trenchard. Should any of our readers be unaware, Standon Calling is held within Standon Lordship, the family seat of 3rd Viscount Hugh Trenchard. Alex is his son and was jailed for 10 months on 3rd February 2011 for defrauding his employer, Tesco, out of £355,000. His parents repaid the money.

Alex expanded upon the story: the 2008 Standon Calling lost money, and he had no other way of paying the most pressing bill – that of security – than by using his company credit card. Several bills proceeded in the same manner, until a full 2 years and countless sleepless nights later, Tesco deigned to check their statements. This was the point Alex was asked to clear his desk, charged with fraud, and sentenced to 30 months at Her Majesty’s pleasure at Milton Keynes jail. After a brief and loving relationship with cellmate Paddy (it cumulated in a clinch summarised by Alex as “a combination of a Judo bout and a Scissor Sisters gig”), Standon Calling 2012 sees the return of the man who conceived the event as a barbeque for friends back in 2001, paying the ultimate price for his ambition. Your intrepid correspondent asked why it took Tesco 2 years to realise what was going on (“They trusted me, and I abused that trust”) – and whether the global grocer offered a plea-bargain event sponsorship deal so he could avoid jail (“I don’t think that would have worked”).

Such sentiment explains everything: the free use of the pool, the superb efforts of those in fancy dress, the willingness of so many to give so much of themselves just to prove that Standon is not simply the pipe dream of one privileged boy, that it can wash its face financially, and come back just as strongly after the ultimate setback. As Alex says, Standon has found its niche, and long may that niche prosper.

The Skints bring their UK street reggae along for a welcome chilled out mid-afternoon skank… Sunday night crescendos with the appearance of Fat Freddy’s Drop. The presence of musicians that have travelled from the opposite side of the globe is testament to the power of music to bring every disparate strand of society together – and the crowd make their appreciation heard.

FFD are essentially a funky vehicle for their brass trio to show off their chops, and that brass trio is essentially a vehicle for Hopepa the infamous bone man – the tracksuited, paunchy trombonist whose impossibly fluid frame skips across the stage, grinding and parping such that the cold reaches of the cosmos can feel his “rambunctious carry-on”. His is the culmination of a decade of hope, and when we pack up and head north in the cold reality of morning, Hopepa is the man who carries our dreams with him.

There is nothing like Standon Calling. It has its quirks, it has its foibles, it has a dedicated following of fans, and it has a deeply passionate team at its heart. I came for one headliner, but I will return in tribute to the place, the people, and the music. Standon on the shoulders of giants, indeed.


Field Day 2011: Luke’s Roundup

By on Wednesday, 17th August 2011 at 2:00 pm

Photos by Tom Curtis

Although on paper Field Day looks like an East London hipster fest one-dayer that lacks passion and soul it is, in fact, to the contrary. Of course Victoria Park has attracted a number of visitors who are more interested in what they look like than the bands they’re here for, but there is also an air of respect for the artists playing in the on/off Saturday afternoon sun.

This respect is boosted by the very British feel of the festival. Not only is there a full brass band playing to anyone who cares to listen but there are also egg and spoon races for prizes. Intended irony or not, the simple and twee feel to Field Day brought out the best in people.

Opening the Main Stage to an ever-growing number of early(ish) risers is Willy Mason with his own brand of folk. Keeping the tempo calm and the talking to a minimum, Mason provides a powerful set of favourites from his two albums. A warm welcome is given to 2007’s ‘Save Myself’ but set closer ‘Oxygen’ is what the crowd are here for. Despite being Mason’s first single, it’s still the favourite of Field Day.

The mood is kept high but the music takes on a form of its own with Sun Ra Arkestra making their way onto Main Stage. Dressed in brightly coloured robes and armed with violins, tablas, saxophones and a multitude of other instruments, Sun Ra Arkestra transform Victoria Park into a vast outdoor jazz club. Credited with being pioneers in the world of experimental jazz, the large crowd which has gathered appear to either ‘get it’ or definitely not ‘get it’. As the free sounds of nine veterans ring throughout the Main Stage area, it’s unfortunate to see people who leave mid-way through what is undoubtedly a special band.

Following on from the experience of the Arkestra, the Irish rockers Villagers play to possibly the largest crowd of the day so far. Conor J. O’Brien’s haunting Dublin accent soars over Victoria Park and draws everyone in. But the mistress of the powerful vocals is giving Field Day a remarkable performance on the Bloggers Delight stage.

Zola Jesus‘ performance attracts thousands of people to the Bloggers Delight stage, many of which are forced to stand outside the tent. Playing with a full band, Zola Jesus (aka Nika Danilova) provides an experience like no other at Field Day. The emotive vocal display and dynamic delivery shake the tent throughout. At only 22, Zola Jesus has amassed a cult-like following of fans in the UK who are standing in awe of her singing ability. ‘I Can’t Stand’ and ‘Stridulum’ garner the appreciation she deserves, but set closer ‘Vessel’ (from her upcoming album) leaves her audience in a state of awe and dizziness at what they just saw. She might be a small Wisconsin girl offstage, but once she grabs that microphone she’s bigger than ever.

Back at Main Stage are possibly one of the hottest properties playing this festival – Warpaint. Taking to the stage in the early evening the four women from LA play a mesmerising set to thousands of onlookers. Opening on ‘Warpaint’, the band look as appreciative as they do shocked at how many fans they have in East London. Dedicating the majority of their set to 2010’s ‘The Fool’, the inclusion of 2009’s ‘Billie Holiday’ is a treat for long-time fans. As expected, though, breakthrough single ‘Undertow’ sees the first true singalong of the set. Despite playing to one of the biggest crowds of the day, their set is fairly short but closer ‘Elephants’ is as haunting as it is majestic.

Over on the Laneway Festival stage, The Horrors are closing the day. Huge throngs of people are persistently pushing their way into what seems like a sardine tin to try and get a glimpse of the Southend shoegazers. Ploughing through an 11-song set, the band are hindered by volume problems. Faris Badwan’s vocals are too low in the mix to be heard distinctively and just blend into the background. Despite this flaw, the packed tent scream along to every word to the likes of ‘Scarlet Fields’, ‘Endless Blue’ and ‘Mirror’s Image’. Set closer ‘Moving Further Away’ has Field Day dancing into the night as Victoria Park is left unhip for another year. But with the success of this year, 2012 can only be bigger and better.


Willy Mason / One off UK show

By on Thursday, 13th September 2007 at 9:37 pm

Willy MasonWilly Mason has announced details of a one off UK show in October.

The star will play Union Chapel in Islington on Thursday 25th October.

Tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow morning, but expect them to go exceptionally quickly.

Photo comes from Stephen Mcleod’s flickr stream under the creative commons license.


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