Live at Crooked Ways 2012 on Saturday, 26th May 2012
This was a festival debut for Crooked Ways at Pontefract Park and a cracking line up for the day's event. On arrival I purchased some plastic beer tokens and was hoping for a slot machine to dispense my goods, but to my dismay I was served by a smiling chap with an ice cold plastic bottle of beer. Gone are the days of flat festival beer and miserable bar staff!
So I headed on in to the Institution Stage tent for The Glass Caves, who produced a joyful noise from the array of electronics and instruments on stage. The lead singer had a distinct voice and an excellent range. My only disappointment was arriving to hear the last few songs... I wish I heard the whole set. But was impressed with what little I did see, I do hope to catch these guys again. This was a good start!
I had planned a little and was looking forward to seeing Redwire as I had missed them at the last festival. The guys exploded on to the stage and BOOM...festival mode kicks in! Tom, the lead singer, portrays an almost arrogant, but not out of place stage attitude, singing out to the photographers and clearly loving the attention. The set was a flavour of old school punk-rock infused with a hint of Springsteen, and then throughout 'Argentina', Tom's vocals are reminiscent of The Kings of Leon. But make no mistake, these guys have a style of their own and already have clocked up a few singles featured in TV and Film... I have feeling there is a lot more to come.
Chris Helme is the one of the few I am stupidly excited to see! By halfway through the first song, all present know they are witnessing a great talent and it is all eyes front. The tent is packed to capacity, the boy has some good chat and an engaging banter with the crowd as he launches in to the Alcoholics Anthem. Chris holds his own without the support of a band, just one man and a guitar, with the most amazing voice. This is the first sing-along and everyone is getting in the spirit of things for an old Seahorses classic, 'Love is the Law'. Then my personal favourite 'Blinded by the Sun' before he finishes the set with 'Be your Husband' and definitely captivates the girls in the crowd... class! Despite thinking he would be drowned out by the Main Stage ruckus, he easily soared over the other noises around. Brilliant... stunning vocals!
I am slowly getting the impression that Crooked Ways is a small festival set for bigger things, a good selection of talent from Yorkshire and the surrounding areas, interspersed with a few from further afield. A small and friendly festival with a few big names on the bill... and judging by the colour of the people around me, this could be a cannibal's barbeque, so I carefully step through the sunburn and a few random dancers to find the next band on the Main Stage.
Skint & Demoralised are a band from Wakefield. They were my idea of The Streets (when they were cool) with a Yorkshire accent, infused with a hint of Sam Duckworth (Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly) and you are quite close to an idea of the sound belting out of the Main Stage. 'Maria full of Grace' is packed with catchy guitars and punchy vocals. However I am distracted by the wind taking up the skirt of a large lady (in the loosest sense of the word) showing me WAY more than I need to see!! Skint & Demoralised have a lot to say, lyrically talented, poetry with attitude and a hint of comedy... a band with a conscience and something to say that isn't drivel. I will be checking these guys out again. My favourite track of their set was the infectious 'Red lipstick'... Fish and Chips! Check it out!
Things are hotting up quite nicely... then Blood Arm (sigh!), this is the first let down. Not really my thing and vocally lacking... so I move to the Presents Stage where I was a little confused. Hoping to catch 'The Air Was Thick', but was watching Lee Tappin... things appear to be running late?? Lee didn't hold my attention either, vocally he was good, and I can't fault his guitar, but I found it bland. Sorry mate!
So at this point I am a little lost in time and wandered back out in to the heat, only to find out that a fuse blew the Main Stage out and they were somewhat delayed.
Thinking of sleeping...but NO! Enter King Charles to the Main Stage shouting 'Hello Pontefract!' He launches in to 'Bam Bam' and 'Mississippi Isabel', we are back in the game! He has his own style of happy sounds; King Charles brings a great atmosphere and infectious melodies. Check out 'Love in the Blood' and 'Lady Percy'. A kind of Prince meets Mika with an eccentricity all his own, wearing colourful Bermuda shorts, a cummerbund, slippers and a white tux jacket. He captivated the crowd and delivered his set with enthusiasm. This guy rocks with the best hair I have seen on any man!
Weaving through the human barbeque, I head off to see The Whip at The Institution. I can't get anywhere near and so I place myself at the back of the tent, as they are already well in to their set. The crowd are clearly loving this as it progresses to a full on, all hands in the air and bouncing, lively event. I knew of these guys and was excited to see then after missing a recent gig in Leeds. This was a high energy dance act with an electro house rhythm and a little hint of the 80's. They rattled trough the set with a seamless flow (or maybe the beer helped my memory fade) of unannounced tracks. I think I heard 'The Movement' and 'Trash'. A great set from The Whip. Good call Crooked Ways team!
There was a little lull as the sun continued to beat down on the now drunken crowd waiting for Reverend And The Makers. This Sheffield indie rock band need no introduction and bring (a justified) confidence to the stage. No reference to the other Sheffield bands required and no southern shite here! Jon McClure is a man with swagger and the band display all the bravado you would expect from a set of Northern lads on a night out! I was glad to see Jon up and walking after his recent fan caused accident rendering him temporarily in a wheelchair!! That said, the performance was not lacking and Reverend drop-kicked life right back in to this festival with 'The Wrestler'. This turned everyone in to a singer and we all joined in with well-known hits like 'Bassline'. The Revs rocked the Main Stage to its very foundations! These guys are one of those bands that sound great on record, but really impress live, one of the highlights of my festival.
I made it to the last act of my evening in the Presents Stage. Penguin, made up of local lads, Matt, Danny and Joel are one of my favourite bands. I don't know where to place these guys... a bit of rock, somewhat punk and kind of alternative... definitely carving out their own musical niche. They bring energy in abundance, together with great vocal harmonies, as tight as the skirts of the girls around them. I can't enthuse enough about these talented guys. The drummer (Joel) has some great faces to match his skill. Matt (lead guitar and vocals) is note perfect, you can see the enthusiasm he puts into every chord and I get the sense that Danny is just quietly confident with his bass. Collectively Penguin consistently delivery and every tune is absolutely bang on! The trio complement each other and thrash out tune after tune with ease. Their current release, 'Sforzando', is brilliant live and does what it says... hitting you with a musical punch of absolute force. For me, Penguin knocked it right out of the park, and if you have not seen these guys yet... my advice is GET ON IT!!
Congratulations on a pretty good show, I will look forward to next year's offerings!
2012 has been hectic for redwire! This young 5-piece from Bradford emerged from their studio at the start of the year with an infectious, high-energy, classic indie-rock set which has seen them gain followers and plaudits wherever they have performed. Their debut single was released in May through the independent label 'One Above Records' and received high praise from Supajam who observed; "redwire play a brand of scuzzy, bluesy rock which places them sonically somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and The Enemy, only with the playfulness of the former and none of the boredom of the latter." A 15 date UK tour saw them perform alongside King Charles, Bastille, We Are Augustine's, The Vaseline's and History of Apple Pie. They were also busy on the festival circuit with slots at Long Division, Live At Leeds, X&Y and Crooked Ways where Lyric Lounge Review boldly declared; "redwire have knocked away all pretenders to the indie throne and filled a void we were beginning to think was permanent." redwire's music is in high demand off stage with syncs on the highly acclaimed BBC series Being Human and a screenplay written and directed by Irvine Welsh. The band recently finished filming scenes for 'Switch', the new drama on ITV2, in which two of their tracks also feature. The second single 'Playing With Fire' released on 29th October, accompanied by a 20 date UK tour includes supports to Reverend & The Makers and The Pigeon Detectives. With their eagerly anticipated EP expected in early 2013, redwire are definitely a band to catch up close and personal whilst you still have the chance!