Monday, September 24, 2007


Port O'Brien
The Wind and The Swell [BUY]

A slow and grey start to Sunday in all sorts of ways. But what ever the weather or state of my head I was determined to enjoy the third and final day of End of the Road - and without becoming maudlin at it all ending. Port O'Brien (who had played the Bimble Inn in the small hours of last night) were first up on the Garden Stage. Can't work out how to describe their music - sort of ramshackle Americana that moves easily from poignant to shouty. The final song, the faster version of I Woke Up Today, encouraged lots of crowd hollering. Just what was needed to clear the head and the skies.

Next over to the Big Top Tent to see Pete and the Pirates. Hearing the single Come Out Feet led me to expect great things. And they did not disappoint - possibly best new band of the Festival? Great mix of new wave and power pop guitar tunes with some outstanding drumming. Any remaining cobwebs truly blown away now.

Pete and the Pirates
Come On Feet 7" [BUY]

Back to the Garden Stage for Euros Childs and three piece band. They had a hesitant start to the set it felt (more bad heads?) but loosened up three songs in. Set included the 15-minute The Miracle Inn with Euros giving clear instructions not to clap right until the end.

Euros Childs
The Miracle Inn [BUY]

Caught the end of Jeffrey Lewis in the Big Top before back to the Garden Stage for yet another band I had never seen live next on The Garden Stage: Herman Dune. I expected ramshackle and sloppy (why?) but the playing was really tight and accomplished, the songs were sweet and harmonious and the vibe was of a band really enjoying themselves. Didn't play Little Wounds sadly but you can't have everything. Missed an opportunity to buy Mas Cambios (hole in the collection there) and get it signed by David in rush to get to next stage.

Herman Dune
Giant [BUY]

Missed the beginning of Malcolm Middleton's set in the Big Top which was a shame because the rest was excellent. Simple set up - Malcolm on acoustic guitar, violinist and bassist - really brings out the best in his songs. Set covered everything from the first album (Loneliest Night of My Night Came Calling) to the latest (Fuck It I Love You, A Brighter Beat) and included a new song (Blue Plastic Bags I think) which was excellent. An acoustic album is due later this year....

Malcolm Middleton
A Brighter Beat [BUY]

Some more hopping about now. Squeezed into the Local to catch 3 songs of The Young Republic's covers set - It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Paperback Writer and ("a song written by a murderer...well not convicted yet") Be My Baby. Then ducked back to the Big Top for Misty's Big Adventure.

I've seen Misty's several times now and they never disappoint. Wherever they are playing they play as though it deserves all their energy and they never look as though they are having anything less than a brilliant time. Is there a happier band in the UK currently? Even selling copies of the new album at the end (not out until 5 November but "because it's our own label we can sell it when we want") but the finger puppets had sold out by the time I got there.

Misty's Big Adventure
Funny Times [PRE-ORDER]
Well after the exuberance of Misty's what were The Broken Family Band going to be like? Perfect was the answer - and this was not just because I was on my second hot and spicy cider from the Somerset Cider Bus. Decking the set with flowers, handing out long stems to the audience and then launching in to a powerful, punchy set that mixed the old (At The Back Of The Chapel) with songs from the new album Hello Love that already sound like classics: Leaps, Dancing on the Fourth Floor, Love Your Man Love Your Woman and Hey Captain (dedicated to Seasick Steve).

It was Jason's birthday so his on stage present (lucky boy) was an elephant mask.

The Broken Family Band
Leaps [BUY]

Left the Big Top feeling deliriously happy. Not maudlin at all. And even the early closure of the Pieminister shop could not dent the mood. From here after a food stop to a packed Bimble Inn for James Yorkston.

Here was another act suffering from a hangover but it didn't show. Well it did in a couple of false starts but when the playing is this good who cares? James on guitar accompanied by Reuben on accordian and Sarah (or Emma?!) on clarinet played a long set but utterly entrancing and moving. Admittedly by now the refreshment of choice had become 12 year old single malt whiskey (from a plastic bottle - no glass allowed on site) but this only added to the mellowness of the experience. Even James taking his shirt off to reveal a Adam and the Ants T-shirt (hey?) couldn't detract from the beauty of it all.

James Yorkston
Roaring The Gospel [BUY]
A few changes to the schedules meant that I then got to see Jens Lekman which was not of the plan. Always dismissed the little of his music I had heard as overly-sentimental and overly-synthesised. But live with a nine piece band this was a revelation. All the songs had the audience bouncing along and a great performance. Fantastic bonus to a great day.

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala [BUY]
All that remained was to top up with some stir fry noodles and then dance the last few hours away in the Big Top tent. Apparently it was Everett True and friends DJ'ing. Whether it was or not got a great mix of 60s Motown, Jonathan Richman, The Undertones and The Sex Pistols to finish the Festival.
Saw close to forty bands over three days. And still DID NOT see Lambchop, Howe Gelb, Seasick Steve, Midlake, Scout Niblett, Viking Moses, Super Furry Animals, Danielson or Charlie Parr.
And final Festival tip from The Archivist: get a shower at 2am. No queues and plenty of hot water.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


"Let's Ballad!" was the opening shout last night from Richard Hawley. I have to admit to not 'getting' Richard's music until now. I'd half-listened to one of his early albums and never gone back to it. I only listened to Coles Corner for the second time on the bus home from work on the day of the gig. But on that second listen I started to understand the fuss. And then a cracking live performance - especially of songs I wasn't really familiar with - plus some foul-mouthed Sheffield Working Man's Club banter made for a great evening.

Richard was accompanied by a four piece (bass/stand-up bass, guitar, drums and keyboard) and the largest array of guitars I have seen this side of Spinal Tap. I think the set was mainly from Coles Corner and Ladysbridge ("not a euphemism") but I could be wrong. I recognised the title track from Coles Corner (biggest cheer of the night?), Just The Rain, Born Under A Bad Sign and Darlin' Wait for me. Finished with three encores: a hear-a-pin-drop gorgeous ballad, a cover of Hank Williams I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (with harmonica from Clive Mann) and The Ocean.

I remain an unbeliever no more. Band performed in front of a beautiful ruched backdrop and mirror ball - photo doesn't do justice to this though.

Richard Hawley
Coles Corner [buy]

Albert King
King of Blues Guitar [buy]

Richard said that Born Under A Bad Sign was about his coming to terms with drinking too much and rather than worrying about it he just accepted it. It has nothing to do with the Albert King song other than sharing the name. But you can't miss the excuse to play this classic.

Support was from Kate Walsh. Female singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar - could easily have been cookie-cutter version of [insert name her] but I could see why she is garnering such praise. Great presence, distinctive and powerful voice and strong songs. Buy her new album here and check her autumn tour dates here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Sunny Day Sets Fire opened the second day on the Garden Stage but I split my time between them and the open mic in The Local which included some great acts all limited to 2 songs. The best was Bearcub ("we don't do singing but we do do shouting") who then proceeded to give away all the remaining CD singles they had with them free of charge. Definitely worth listening out for.

Then it was the "Scandinavian Showcase" on the Garden Stage. First time I'd seen Loney Dear live and it was impressive. Bought a copy of Sologne at the end and Emil signed it too.

Loney Dear
Sologne [buy]
Loney Dear
Loney Noir [buy]

Next up was the perfect Festival band and one of the 'up' moments of the weekend. I'm From Barcelona doing loony, energetic, sing-a-long anthems that left everyone smiling. Started with a solo rendition of Treehouse before the thirteen (or was it fourteen?) piece band joined the stage. Emanuel then crowd-surfed on an inflatable lilo, bags and bags of ticker-tape were thrown and everyone had a good time.

I'm From Barcelona
Let Me Introduce My Friends [buy]

Then The Concretes. Another band I had not seen live. Difficult to follow the energy of I'm From Barcelona but worked really well as a mid-afternoon slot. By now the sun was shining strongly, the beer was slipping down nicely and I became a little too distracted by Lisa playing with her shoes to concentrate on the music too seriously.

The Concretes
In Colour [buy]

Next it was a dash to try and catch two band who clashed. First to catch some of My Sad Captains in the Local. Engagingly twee indie-pop of the highest order. Bought a copy of the Bad Decisions single on vinyl at end for the Archive.

My Sad Captains
Bad Decisions single [buy]

And then a sprint to the Big Top to catch the last four songs in Darren Hayman's set. Two solo songs and two Hefner classics (Hello Kitten and Pull Yourself Together) - both band and crowd really enjoying the occasion. Missed DH on recent tour - will not make the same mistake again.

Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern
self-titled [pre-order]

Boxing Hefner [buy]
More sprinting (well leisurely walking with purpose) to get to the Bimble Inn to see the end of The Young Republic. Packed out so could only stand outside the tipi and couldn't really appreciate the set. But with them playing another two slots in the Festival it didn't feel a loss (at the time).

The Young Republic
Twelve Tales From Winter City [buy]

King Creosote then played on the Garden Stage with backing band that included Fence regulars The Pictish Trail (guitar) and On The Fly (drums) plus a bassist who I didn't know. Solid set but a little too much reliance on the new (unfamiliar to me) album? Nice version of Twin Tub Twin though - starting acapella before the band kicked in.

King Creosote
Bombshell [buy]

Sun was starting to set now. But no let up in the bands. Brakes played a typically tight-and-fast set on the Garden Stage including both Camper Van Beethoven songs from their repetoire and two encores - both Comma Comma Comma Full Stop.
At this point my camera phone needed to be sent away to be charged up so no photographic record of what came next. But listened to Monkey Swallows the Universe from outside the Bimble Inn whilst eating felafel; saw one song by Architecture in Helsinki and realised wanted to be somewhere else; then caught a fantastic set by (unknown to me) John Smith. Bristly moustache, scruffy baseball cap and authentic bluesy drawl convinced me he was from Arkansas. Until he revealed he lives in Devon and comes from Liverpool. Mesmirising folky-acoustic songs and great patter made for a winning performance.

Then on to the headlining act in the Big Top: British Sea Power. Opened brilliantly with Apologies for Insect Life and Carrion - and then just kept going, mixing new songs with live favourites. Joined by Phil from Actress Hands on cornet, the set finished with an epic version of Lately which included two battling robots, an ancient greek boxer and a giant bear on stage too. Perfect end to a perfect day. No photos but did manage to get a copy of the set-list (thanks Phil and stage crew).

British Sea Power
Open Season [buy]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


End of the Road Festival was my first festival in 14 years. The line-up alone across four stages was pretty compelling but the exceptional organisation, the fantastic setting of Larmer Tree Gardens, the friendly atmosphere and intimate scale (5000 people capacity) all meant it won't be another 14 years to the next (small-scale) festival. In fact by my reckoning it is 360 days to the next End of the Road Festival and I would heartily recommend putting this in your diary now.

First up at the Local (probably my favourite stage for seeing bands) was It Hugs Back a four-piece from Kent - a nice jangly Wilco-esque start to the day. They have already posted some photos from the Festival on their website including a lovely pic of one of the peacocks roaming the gardens.

Next to the Garden stage for Willard Grant Conspiracy who were joined by Jackie Leven on guitar. Gothic songs of death and despair whilst sitting in the sunshine - lovely.

Willard Grant Conspiracy
Let It Roll [buy]

From here back to the Local to see 30 lbs of Bone - more gothic but with indie guitars and folk music tale-telling. They have a debut album out on Drift Records (failed to buy this from the Rough Trade Shops stall on site so nothing to share) - read a review here.

A quick turnaround brought Indigo Moss to the same stage in a matter of minutes. Expecting a five piece based on the photo in the programme this was the 'core' of just two acoustic guitars and voice (Trevor and Hannah-Lou I found out later). Delicate and folky - and matched the mellow mood. However things were about to take a turn for the worst as the next stop was the Somerset Cider Bus. Beer in the sunshine was one thing but the dry cider was another (The advice given but not taken was: "if you are in any doubt have the medium - not the dry").

This meant arriving late for Jim White and starting to feel a little worse for wear now. Jim was suffering from laryngitis so had to abandon a couple of songs in favour of others his voice could cope with and complemented this with some great entertaining stories. A real crowd-winning performance. He is touring in October - dates here - at small-scale venues and could be unmissable.

Jim White
Transnormal Skipero (out 1 Oct 2007) [order]

My recollection now really becomes hazy - I definitely remember catching the end of John Parish in the Big Top Tent but had NO MEMORY WHATSOEVER of seeing Mary Hampton in the Local when I was told I had on Monday. However this photo taken by me does provide empirical evidence of my presence. I wish I could tell you more - you'll just have to check her MurdochSpace site.

Common sense of some sort intervened and the search for sustenance other than alcohol began. Fortune sent me to the heavenly Pieminister. Hand-baked pies topped with minty mushy peas and mash served in its own box inscribed with the legend "This pie belongs to ......................". I never saw the queue for Pieminister shorter than 20 or 30 people all weekend.

With something other than alcohol in my belly things improved slightly so I do remember Robyn Hitchcock accompanied by John Paul Jones. Sadly he didn't play The Yip Song but this felt like another crowd-winning performance.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
Respect [buy]

And then to the headling Yo La Tengo on the Garden Stage. After a slightly petulant - it appeared - moment from Ira they then turned in a vintage performance mixing the poppier songs with extended riffing and jams. Great energy and an inspired end to the day.

Yo La Tengo
I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass [buy]

But despite the headliners finishing the night wasn't over. On to The Bimble Inn to sample the Barbus Ale and listen to Eugene McGuinness. However don't expect any insight from me on this experience - all I remember was the Barbus ale tasted divine.

I then ended the evening slumped on the floor listening to the "house band" who were all dressed in red devil outfits playing bad heavy metal. An unfortunate low in an otherwise exceptionally good day.

Please check out the websites and MurdochSpaces for all the bands especially the ones you may not have heard on. All the bands with the exception of the 'comedy' devil house band are well worth checking out and then throwing some hard-earned cash their way.

More on the next two days of the Festival later this week.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Home safely after three glorious days at the exceptional End of the Road Festival on the Wiltshire/North Devon borders. More images and music to follow all this week.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Buy The Go Team's Proof of Youth in Piccadilly Records today and you get - not only the limited edition extra CD of b-sides and remixes version - but a free patch to sew on your bag!

The Go Team!
Proof of Youth [buy]