Monday, 29 February 2016


Saturday 27th February and this gig was a ticket only event and was sold out way in advance which was excellent news for Club-85, the Promoters and of course the artists / bands and no problem if (like 4 of us) you had safely secured your tickets well in advance too, bad news if you suddenly found yourself free and wanting to come along (Like one of our party!). 

Luck, chance or maybe just good Karma saw us who were already out and about in Hitchin run into a crowd of former work colleagues in The Victoria who just happened to have a couple of spare tickets, a quick phone call and the procurement of one such ticket saw our party of five complete and the biggest Fellowship get together since Skeggy!

Chris, Me, Smiffy, Peter & Kev
What a lovely surprise when singer / songwriter Charlotte Carpenter took to the stage and picked up her electric guitar and treated us to some excellent bluesy numbers, a pure treat.

Charlotte Carpenter

The Ouse Valley Singles Club had us doubled over with laughter as they treated us to their new wave of humorous Skiffle (Mainly ‘adult’ humour it must be said) with accomplished musicianship and a polished performance they were an absolute joy to behold.

The Ouse Valley Singles Club

That the CC Smugglers are not yet world famous is a travesty, they may well be soon though! 

CC Smugglers
Having worked tirelessly since they turned professional and seemingly playing every festival that ever there was over the last couple of years it was a real pleasure to see them back on home territory and obviously so very ‘up’ for this night’s gig, they did not disappoint, a high octane performance full of fun which provoked a lot of dancing and a real party atmosphere, ending their nice long set with their traditional acoustic out among the crowd performance this was, yet again, live music at its very best.

Out among the crowd in CC Smuggelrs style


As the title of the CC Smugglers EP says
“Write what you know”, well, I know this
There is nothing better than time spent at a great gig with good friends.

We smuggled our way into Hitchin
Avoiding the six nations crowd
By sitting outside ‘The Vic’
Inside was packed and hot and loud
I wasn’t aware before
That Nelson brewed such a fine ale
But at £3.95 a pint
Common sense did somewhat prevail
Although tonight’s gig was sold out
Not a ticket to be had from any source
We ran into a crowd who had a couple spare
So we bought one for Smiffy of course
There was still time to procure a tasty meal
Before the music started
But what? What was this?
Peter had departed!
A little matter of two sets of car keys
And both of them in his possession
So he had to ‘pop’ out 
Missing Charlotte Carpenter
Who played a superb session
Then the Ouse Valley Single’s Club
Who had us all in fits of laughter
They regaled us with their humorous songs
Setting us nicely up for what came after
The CC Smugglers were on top form
They treated us to a most wonderful gig
They have enjoyed some well earned recognition
But they should be ‘Really Big’
Ending the night with an acoustic song
Performed in among the crowd
We love our music live
And good
And fun
And loud
So there we were once more having fun
The Fellowship were five
Supporting the local scene
Keeping music live.

Grant Meaby Feb 2016

Monday, 22 February 2016


This particular gig turned out to be one featuring a very eclectic mix of bands, the evening sold-out mainly due to the following of and self-promotion by The Saboteurs, Hitchin’s (Nearly new) ‘Supergroup’ but more of them later.

The evening kicked off with ‘Rain the Cult’, for such a young band (By comparison to the others this night) “The boys did good” as they say, actually it’s quite difficult to define their sound not that they need any pigeonholing, they were very entertaining and got the evening off to a fine rocking start with their punk tinged indie with some obvious influences from classic seventies blues rock and even more than a hint of the sixties Mersey-beat sound. They are already good and well worth seeing but if they keep at it they could be mega in a few years’ time, definitely ones to watch out for.

Rain the Cult

Next to grace the stage were London’s ‘Hot Sauce Pony’, another very different sort of sound which they themselves describe as 'Avant Hard' which obviously split the crowd somewhat. With Debbie Harry-esq’ vocals over a dark rocking beat and wall of sound guitar effects, a strange yet somewhat compelling combination which I’m sure would have been a lot better without the constant barrage of loud yacking coming from the back of the room by those whose only interest were yet to play!

Hot Sauce Pony

Highlight of the night for those of us were the ever wonderful 3 men of ‘Thousand Suns’ (For anyone who doesn’t know they were formerly known as Minor Pilot back when they were a four piece). Loud those it was I moved down to the front to get away from the yacking and to get absolutely blown away and immersed in the music.
Another stunning set from Thousand Suns who, like their previous incarnation, deserve far more recognition and a much wider audience, seriously, they are that good.

Thousand Suns

Then came the moment that most of the crowd had been waiting for, The Saboteurs, made up by some well-known names from other popular local bands past and present and it was really good to see Phillip Storey playing rock guitar and obviously having a lot of fun doing so.

Were they as good as all the pre-gig hype? 

One thing they did accomplish was an object lesson in successful self promotion giving Anonymous Productions a well deserved sell out show, something many other bands could learn from.

The Saboteurs

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed their set, this was rock you could dance to, party hard to, and if you were out for a good time by heck they are a band who would make sure you had one! 
That said, I have to admit that their covers of the Teardrop Explodes ‘Reward’ and David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ were, for me, the best songs in their set but that’s probably because I was singing along at the top of my voice and jigging about like a mad thing by then!

So who’s complaining? 

After the gig I overheard a small group moaning (Loudly) that they had only enjoyed two out of the four bands that played that night, I had to interject, “Yeah and where else can you see 4 bands for a £5? Surely it’s worth it just for the bands you did like and if the other’s weren’t your particular cup of tea, you don’t have to go and see them again, isn’t that worth a £5 just in itself?” They had to agree!
As for me, I’d have happily spent my fiver just to see Thousand Suns anyway so all the others were a bonus!

The Night a 1000 Suns Shone

We had advance tickets so there was no need to be quick
There was plenty of time for pre gig drinks in ‘The Vic’
Time to discuss future Fellowship plans and adventures
For gigs, festivals and other exciting new ventures

Four of us gathered in the name of the Bear
With stories to swap and memories to share
A few fine ales were sampled as one must do
Before procuring some chicken “one piece or two?”

The gig at Club-85 was sold out this evening
With so many people obviously believing
The pre gig hype about The Saboteurs
But seeing is believing so trust only your ears!

Rain the Cult opened the evening’s musical foray
A fine young band with much promise, one has to say
Then Hot Sauce Pony who were different and strange
But that’s a good thing as we like the odd change

Then came the band that outshone all the rest
1000 Suns who were simply the best
A sublime set that soared to the greatest of heights
Worth every penny of the entrance money tonight

The Saboteurs were the night’s headlining act
And they’d sold most of the tickets and that is a fact
Yes they did rock and yes they were good at it too
But the Sun shone so brightly I’m telling you
That, for me, the night belonged to 1000 Suns

Grant Meaby


Monday, 15 February 2016


A Night of Pure Class 

Cara Beard is an exceptionally talented young lady, these days she is rapidly building herself an excellent and well-deserved reputation as a singer / songwriter, tonight was pure delight as her set was primarily made up of her own material with very few covers, however of the couple of covers she did play, her cover of a Justin Bieber song was fabulous which just goes to prove that old saying, “It’s the singer not the song” that can make it good! And this was just the start of what was already turning out to be an evening of pure class.

Cara Beard

What a pleasure it was to have St. Clair perform as the full band, previously I have only seen the solo and duo acoustic incarnations of St. Clair (The performances of which have always been exceptionally good) but the full band were a delight, whilst they have their own distinct indie / folk style and sound there were ‘flashes’ of early Radiohead and even Snow Patrol in some of their songs, ending with a song that encouraged a lot of audience participation they really got the evening buzzing and ready for the next class act.

St. Clair

Stuart O’Connor never ceases to amaze me, Stu is an exceptional artist and when he’s on top form and, as they say, ‘Up for it’ you will not see a better, inspiring, entertaining performance, ranging from the simple acoustic, even at times unaccompanied songs, to the full use of all those loops and effects where Stu creates soundscapes that even a full blown prog band would find hard to accomplish!
Tonight Stu was on astounding form, giving us a truly heartfelt performance that was absolutely spellbinding and gobsmacking at the same time, surely it couldn’t get any better than this?

Stuart O'Connor

That The October Game are an ‘established’ band is without question, each of their members are well enough known in their own right from their solo careers and / or their other projects, Luke Williams - Vocals / Guitar,  Nick Kozuch - Guitar , Owen Stephen - Bass / Vocals,  Ollie Taylor – Drums,  however, it seemed unreal that they had not played a gig as The October Game for something like getting on for two years, so a gig that was long overdue.
By now Club-85 had filled up, although the crowd had been steadily growing all evening it was obvious that there were many people there for one reason only and that was to support The October Game, evident by the mass sing along to almost every song!

The October Game
If classifications are strictly necessary I suppose you would have to class The October Game as an ‘Indie’ band, they are however, for myself and many others. So much more than that, truly inspirational song writing, fabulous musicianship, wonderful clear vocals, they are a band of pure class and tonight they gave us a performance that more than showcased just how good they are.
And finally, the deal of the year, if you bought The October Game’s album Balancing on double vinyl, it came with a CD version of the album, a digital download, a copy of the last album, Wild Blood and a collection of the previous CD EP’s and singles and ALL FOR A TENNER! The only thing missing was of course a copy of the band’s 1st album, Box of a Billion Lights, which is, somewhat unbelievably, ten years old but that’s OK as I have it in my collection anyway and I must say it’s one of those CD’s that’s been frequently played over the years.

The October game

All in all an evening of pure class, it cannot get much better than this, can it?

And now for something completely different, well no, actually, time for something on entirely the same theme!

A Night of Pure Class

The Fellowship was again somewhat reduced in number
For it was just myself and Chris who had arisen from our slumber
To descend yet once more upon Hitchin’s Club-85
North Hert’s premiere venue keeping live music alive

So while we all miss the Nightingale since its demise
It came as a really pleasant and welcome surprise
That Bar-85 had, on tap,  a jolly splendid real ale
And a good supping of  Lacons‘Jack Valentine’ did somewhat prevail

On a night of pure class, Cara Beard was first to grace the stage
For one so young, as a singer songwriter she has really come of age
Regaling and beguiling us with her excellent original songs
And the odd cover version here and there she just couldn’t go wrong

A lovely surprise was that St Clair appeared as the full electric band
They played an absolutely storming set both bold and grand
I wouldn’t mind betting that based upon their performance this night
They won over many new fans which would be fitting, just right

The amazing Stuart O’Connor was on his finest form
From who’s creative genius great songs were born
From stripped down acoustic to looping and electronic effects
As performances go, this was by far, one of the, very best

The October Game, were, to be fair, simply sublime
They played a set which was beyond doubt, stunningly divine
This was a night that really couldn’t be missed
Surely it cannot get any better than this

Such nights of good music stay with you and last
Especially when they are like this night, simply Pure Class.

Grant Meaby


Sunday, 7 February 2016


Now as you may know I occasionally review the odd CD here and there, usually included in one of my live gig reviews but as I'm having a couple of gig free weekends and mainly because Jack asked me so nicely, I had a little listen to Dark Asphyxia's EP, The Executioner' and after doing so I feel it is worthy of a mention.

Heavy Metal, or to be more precise, extreme Heavy Metal is a genre I may have neglected recently so it was nice to get those dark brooding power riffs banging though the old grey matter once again.

Dark Asphyxia are a 4 Piece Death/ Extreme Metal band from Hertfordshire with a current line up of:
Jack Allen - Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar
Lewis Smith - Lead Guitar
Michael Lobb- Bass
Jordan Francis- Drums

I first saw them at Club-85 back in June 2014 when they opened up an evening of Death and Doom Metal
and were sadly plagued by some equipment problems but none the less they soldiered on and gave a good performance full of promise, here's what I had to say back then:

First on were DARK ASPHYXIA, young melodic death metallers from North Herts
To be fair they didn’t have a great time, good potential though, this was after all only their third gig and everyone has to start somewhere, a bit more practise and work on the stagecraft and rhythm section and I’m sure they’ll do just fine.

Well, we all know that practise makes perfect and two and a bit years on the band have really come on and honed the skills that were obvious back then, with THE EXECUTIONER Dark Asphyxia have produced an excellent EP truly worthy of the genre and something that should please a wide audience of Metal fans and something which the band should be proud of.

The band themselves cite Amon Amarth, Carcass, Behemoth, Death, Cannibal corpse, Pantera , Vader and
Arch Enemy as their main influences so should appeal to fans of those bands but I think they have done something quite special with this EP, yes it's extreme, yes it will no doubt be 'labled' as death metal but I personally hate classifications and pigeonholing, each track is different, overall it's well constructed, well recorded and produced and most importantly for me, it's melodic and extremely listenable.

The six track EP opens with "Shot at Dawn" a dark brooding fast number before the excellent bass guitar led intro to the second track "Electric Throne".
Track three "Last Rites" is a bolero, some great rhythms and back beat with some excellent acoustic guitar and vocals, quite Gothic and to me reminiscent of  Fields of the Nephalim as it builds and builds into an absolute crescendo of sound.
Track four, "Gallows" is as you might expect a more 'traditional' death metal number as is the title track "Executioner" which follows.
The last track "Condemned" is an extremely dark and doom laden track, somewhat slower than the rest of the EP but perhaps a fitting way to end, what is, a fine offering from Dark Asphyxia, who have, with this release, really come of age and shown just how good they are.

Don't take my word for it, go have a listen yourself at;

Or visit the band on Facebook at;

Cheers m'dears, until the next time round the plastic spiral.

GM Feb 2016