Monthly Archive: July 2013

Erica Nockalls + Miles Hunt + Laura Kidd @ Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 16 July 13

So for the first time in years the British summer has actually appeared and we’re all drooping in heat that would be great if you were on holibobs – maybe not so great if you have to work! Tonight we’re at the indie venue in Brum with a legendary status, the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, to see a ‘family affair’ – interlinking artistes – who do more than just play music.  Predicting the room would be hot and stuffy – we’re wrong! Tonight’s air con is hugely efficient; it’s cooler inside than out.

First up it’s Miles Hunt. Frontsman of local and original grebos The Wonder Stuff and one time half of the acoustic duo with (and squeeze of) headliner Erica Nockalls. An acoustic set, just him and his guitar with witty anecdotes between. “Evenin’ all…. Lovely to be ‘ere, last time I was up here I was blind drunk…” Tonight’s he’s playing an “unusual collection of songs – which you might fuckin’ hate….” many written when he was in “a dark place…” I used to drink in Stourbridge. I saw all these indie bands before and as they set off on their trail of indie-music greatness. We were a bunch of kids and life’s directions have all taken us on different journeys – some good and some not so good. Clearly Hunt has had, at times, a difficult journey too, regardless of the fact he’s lauded locally as a grebo rock god. ‘Give It To Me Whole’ and ‘At One’ clearly show the place Hunt was in when he wrote these. Another one, ‘Smoked’, written in the early hours of the morning after being slagged off by so called mates after “a fuckin’ awful night”. It’s a rocking, rolling song – he stops to say before the end… “Told you this wasn’t a cheery one – it’s even getting me down…” before continuing on his musical way.

Next up a new Stuffies track to “lighten the mood” – ‘Friendly Company’ with classic Stuffie sound. And to another “grim song” ‘Yes and No’ and then to a song from his band Vent 414 (formed after the Stuffies first split in the 90’s) ‘Fixer’ – “Good memories; fuckin’ depressing lyrics.” A comment made that his vocals may note quite hit the mark “I was 28 when I wrote this, I’m now nearly 50 for fuck sake…”

And for his last, we have a choice of a couple of covers or an option of a Stuffie song. An audience member shouts out and here it is – the uplifting ditty (from second Wonder Stuff album ‘Hup’) that is ‘Piece of Sky’. We all sing along….

Hunt is clear; he’s not the main act of tonight. That is very definitely Nockalls. “God bless ya! Enjoy Erica… I know you will…”. His lyrical inspiration may have been dark but he’s clearly in a better place now – tonight Hunt with his anecdotes, is witty and funny, his solo set is great.  You should do “more, more, more” of this spoken word set Miles….

Tonight’s audience is around 100; friends, family, those who’ve turned up to see Hunt, those who are intrigued by Nockalls. It’s nicely cozy in the room. Twenty-minute break and onto a dry iced, blue-lit stage, here’s the statuesque Erica Knockalls. “Good evening Birmingham – let’s do this!” Violin in hand and we’re into the punk inspired rolling track that is ‘Neon Crucifix’.

Nockalls graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire after which, she’s spent the last eight years being the fiddly with The Wonder Stuff. And she’s worked with The Proclaimers and recently toured with Fink.  Her debut album ‘Imminent Room’, which she’s promoting tonight, contains contributions from Wayne Hussey (The Mission), guitarist Mark Gemini (Pete Murphy, The Mission) and vocalist from Carcass, Jeff Walker. In her own words “I hadn’t been able to find any good new music to listen to, so I thought I’d invent some of my own”.  

Next track ‘Forest’ is indie dance – Nockalls is akin to an indie Gwen Stephani – sound-wise she’s rockier and heavier live than on the couple of singles I’ve listened to. And it all works really well. ‘Manikan’ is a clutter-buck of a song with a great bass beat. ‘I Am Me / This Is Now’ morphs into surprisingly heavy rock.

At the back of the stage, fixed to the walls are pieces of artwork. She’s more than a talented musician – this art is for sale. “You can buy, no price tags, make an offer through my website…” and is accompanied by a moody atmospheric track ‘It’s Killer, Darling’.

New single ‘Cut Them Out’ is followed by a track “…so new the paint’s still wet” – ‘Metrical Romance’ – a sultry Strawberry Switchblade (remember them?)-esque track which gets heavier and heavier…. “Thanks you’ve been awesome – I can’t believe it…. Let’s get drunk…”

Erica Nockalls was somewhat of a surprise. Check out her new album and even better, if you get a chance, go see her live.

Nockalls was officially the headliner, however tonight is not over, now we get Laura Kidd, bass player of Nockalls’ band (and also for Viv Albertine) and general all round artiste. She creates her music as she goes along, singing or playing and then recording and feeding it back into a multi-layered loop, which she then sings over. Kidd is indie in sound and style, with smatterings of PJ Harvey and Melissa Auf der Maur. ‘Olympian’ is a pretty track; ‘Delete’ “about the internet not suicide” are all built on the fly. She’s two albums on sale tonight, sang with Karina Round at this very venue (which is when she met Hunt and Nockalls and, slightly pissed, gained the courage to thrust a CD into their hands. They clearly liked what they heard.)

‘Slow Puncture’ gains a cheer from the audience – “three people – awesome!” encouraging the crowd to “sing along and I’ll feel awesome”. ‘In this boat’ Kidd teaches us the chorus to so we can sing along: “…you are an anchor, I am a wave…” The song is written about an ex (who’s not here tonight!) – the first line could be flexibly changed to “I am a wanker….” Periodically she walks off stage through the audience singing – with megaphone or uke. She goes down really well and clearly thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity. Video maker and all round creative talent you can find out lots more about Laura Kidd at www.shemakeswar.com

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Setlist:

  1. Neon Crucifix
  2. Forest
  3. Manikan
  4. I Am Me / This Is NOW
  5. Day One
  6. It’s Killer, Darling
  7. Cut Them Out
  8. Metrical Romance

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Review for Gig Junkies. Photographer: Ken Harrison.