Category Archives: Music

Al Lewis at the Louis 2

I don’t know if Louis 2 is the smallest venue in Bristol but it’s the dinkiest one I’ve ever visited, that Like a Hurricane solo by a former housemate at university, aside. Down some steep stairs, and behind the crowd, the singer is barely visible but the sound reverbates off the walls.

Folksy, winsome Lily McCauley sings “how did I know you’d catch me when I’d fall” and finishes up with Those Eyes and Fragile. A great introduction by a very recent addition to the West Country music scene, only picking up a guitar for the first time in 2010.

I have a friend who walked out of a Portishead gig at a Manchester pub a few years before they hit their heights of fame and that is how I expect the few people who walked out, before Al Lewis came on stage, will feel very soon.

He has been played on Radio 1, 2 and 6music, was Best Male Artist two years in a row at the BBC Radio Cymru Awards and on Friday played to a handful of people in a very intimate gig in a cellar while sounding like he should be on the main stage at the Colston Hall.

A guitar twang and the addition of the harmonica brought to mind Neil Young while the singing and the cello by Mary reminded of Damien Rice, especially the higher notes which bounced off the ceiling and filled the room.

Lewis is on tour for his latest album ‘Battles’, produced by Charlie Peacock of The Civil Wars fame, with long-time collaborator Sarah Howells, from Paper Aeroplanes, who plays the Louisiana next month.

He played us the version of Road Rage he sang with Cerys Matthews on stage while his own songs were accompanied by music designed to capture emotions that come by fleetingly and dash off in a hurry. An intimate gig was just right.

We were mesmerised by Battles and the first single off the album Treading Water. Fault Lines seemed faultless and the more up-tempo number which he wrote in New Orleans at a friend’s wedding got people shuffling away. It was a wonderful gig, the best one I’ve been to in a very long time.

While Mary packed up her cello and got ready to go to the train station, Al took time to play us his encore, Arsonist. Just him and his guitar in the middle of the room. Poignant, sweet and probably one of the last times we’ll ever be able to be so close to him at a performance.

Review: Acid Mothers Temple at Thekla

Tuesday night, 15 November, saw the rare visit of Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. to the Thekla and they were rewarded with quite a healthy turn-out. They are a band that follows in the long line of glorious psychedelic sonic freakiness to come out of that country which has been well documented by Julian Cope in his book Japrocksampler. Indeed, it was hoped that the man himself may make a special guest appearance at some point during the evening, as he has appeared on stage with them before, but unfortunately is wasn’t to be.

The now fairly grizzled and well worn looking band took to the stage and started with a couple of tracks from their latest opus ‘The Ripper at the Heavens Gates of Dark’ including the lead track ‘Chinese Flying Saucer’ which contained the interesting and a little off putting shrill vocal stylings of Tsuyama Atsushi.

It wasn’t until they launched into their third track ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ that the band really seemed to hit their stride, the opening notes of which were welcomed vociferously by the knowledgeable crowd. There followed a good forty minutes of the kind of effortlessly played kaleidoscopic space rock that over the years has become their trademark, during which they kept the crowd captivated.

This groove was then maintained until the final notes of the set, the last song of which saw the guitarist Kawabata Makoto, in a move reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, set fire to his guitar with lighter fluid which undoubtedly startled the staff on hand.

As enjoyable and entertaining as the band were, there was a slight nagging feeling that they were going through the motions a little, the above two mentioned members of the outfit seemed to have a lot more fun when they previously visited these shores with the drummer from fellow Japanese act Ruins. This slight misgiving apart, they thoroughly lived up to their well deserved live reputation.

By Paul Pritchard

The Miserable Rich, Miss You In The Days

The Miserable Rich are playing one of the sweetest locations in Bristol tomorrow at the Crypt of St John the Baptist’s Church-in-the-wall as part of their Haunted tour. In the spirit of Laura Marling at Bristol Cathedral and The House of Bernarda Alba at St Thomas the Martyr, a church is now the place to be for unique and wonderful experiences.

They are playing their latest album Miss You In The Days.

November 8, 7.30pm.


Gurt Lush Choir, A Bristolian Winter Concert

Bristol’s Gurt Lush Choir, under the direction of D Sam Burns, are performing their Winter Concert in the stunning surroundings of the St Mary Redcliffe Church on Saturday 12 February.

The event takes place between 7.30 and 8.45pm and will be the largest event so far for the 200 strong choir, giving them the opportunity to bring their eclectic and adventurous mixture of Eastern European and English folk, hot gospel, pop, soul and classical songs, all in up to eight part harmony, to a wider audience.

Tickets are available on the door, priced £3 for adults and free for under 18s.

If after seeing the performance you are so inspired that you can’t stop from singing yourself, then fear not, they still have space for new members. The Gurt Lush Choir rehearses on Tuesday evenings in St Andrews, Thursday lunchtimes in Redland and Thursday evenings in Hotwells.

Just Out Of Sight, Mary Redcliffe

For more information, visit

St Mary Redcliffe Church, 12 Colston Parade, Bristol BS1 6RA

Three Gigs in Bristol Not To Be Missed

There are three musical events which have me excited about October and November.

Belleruche (+Bizali)

Belleruche are a band I’ve meant to watch for a while as I seem to keep missing the  vocals of Kathrin deBoer and the light accompanying guitar although be warned that the sound is more funky than folksy.  They played at the Big Chill bar in February and are back in Bristol in October.

Where: Metropolis, Bristol
When: Thursday, 21 October 2010, doors at 19:30, starts at 21:00

Bristol Ticket Shop £8.75  SeeTickets £8.80 (+£1.50 transaction fee)


Junip are a three piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden – featuring Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards), Elias Araya (drums) and José González (vocals & guitar).  José González is better known for his solo work which includes the song Heartbeats featured in the Sony advertisement with the colourful bouncing balls. Junip are promoting their new album Fields (new single Always is on Spotify).

Where: Thekla, Bristol
When: Sunday, 03 October 2010, doors at 19:30, starts at 19:30
Bristol Ticket Shop £9.25 Seetickets £9.75 (+£1.50 transaction fee)

Local Natives

Local Natives are an indie rock band based in Silver Lakes, Los Angeles, USA. They released their album Gorilla Manor in November 2009 in the UK. According to Wikipedia, Clash Music described their music as “psych-folk, or modern worldly folk” and that sounds about right.

Bristol Ticket Shop £11 See Tickets £11.50 (+£2.25 transaction fee)

Where: Thekla, Bristol
When: Thursday, 18 November 2010, doors at 19:00, starts at 19:00

Cover of Fields by Junip

Dot to Dot: the high, and low, lights

Dot to Dot was a week ago and it’s all started to fade away. My more vivid memories are of Eurovision later that night. Giorgo Alkaio singing OPA and the little German chick, who ultimately won, saying she was ‘freaking out’ in her amazing English.

It would be a shame, however, not to mention the actual event so here are some of my highlights:

  • Blood Red Shoes gig (Academy): a guy submitted to the band’s encouragement to crowd surf. A slow shaky start saw him fall after passing by three people.
  • The Wild Beasts were the tightest performance and the last act we saw. Very good.
  • Kill Cassidy were in the Academy 2 room and had a great sound a la Lost Prophets. Some lovely use of the wawa pedal by this local band from Montpellier. One complaint, theirs, about the mis-spelling of their name – they were listed as Kill Kassidy. I personally prefer the ‘K’ version.
  • The sound at the Academy was really impressive this time around, not sure what happened when I went to see Passion Pit. I wouldn’t mind going back for an event that draws a smaller crowd perhaps.

Some low lights although they had little to do with the bands:

  • The prices at the Academy are ridiculous with £3.80 for a pint of Carlsberg. My pint of lime and soda was £1.50 so it wasn’t too bad but the woman next to me paid £18 for three ciders and a double Malibu and coke.
  • No drinks allowed in the Academy so our water bottles were taken from us. Bags were searched and our wristbands were individually checked for looseness. I think it would have been nicer had we been able to share the ticket price. I couldn’t stay up for Zane Lowe at 1am but I know others who would have. Would have been much friendlier to be able to let him use my ticket. Not possible though.

Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts had the venue packed out and it was shoulder to shoulder standing room only. I thought BRS were good but not as great as at Thekla.

Dot to Dot: the Crookes

A beach baby, bouncy, feel to the Academy was a pleasant surprise and I don’t mean in a Bon Iver kind of way. The Crookes were the band that were on at five and we had just arrived from an overcrowded and very hot Thekla. The only band playing at the Thekla was in the bar and we weren’t allowed in because it was too crowded.

I was looking forward to the unknown bands at Dot to Dot most of all and the Crookes fit well into this category. They are a four piece Indie band from Sheffield although none of them are originally from there. Their sound was half ska, half Grease Lightning and were a fun way to start off the festival.

Dot to Dot: the beginning


Waiting in line at Thekla for the first act of our evening: De Staat. Then Peggy Sue and the Pirates at 5.30. Off to the Academy for the next session.

Stokes Croft Streetfest photos (2)

Some more photos:

Bear Pit, Stokes Croft Streetfest


Singing, freestyle, at the Bear Pit about getting drunk and smoking. Not sure if that’s what it all comes down to. Early enough for the drinking to still be merry.

Update: 26 May 2010 – Turns out that the singer in the photograph is Billy Salisbury, the Undercover Hippy. He provided the best musical experience on Saturday and his sound is understandably compared to Jack Johnson and Ben Harper.

Check out his music at Thanks to travel writer Sophie for helping me track him down.