Keith Goldhanger ends his second year of monthly articles highlighting some of the new bands he’s witnessed during nights out in London whilst not forgetting one or two of his favourites he’s been visiting since they were turning up to perform free shows before they’d released anything themselves. Here we have his own personal overview of the year gone by including many of his favourite tunes that were unavailable twelve months ago.
Fifty two weeks, gigs every evening, anything you want to hear available at the click of a button and the opportunity to watch some of that gig you’ve just been to thanks to the person with the strong arm who managed to film it whilst everyone else tutted, thought bad things or muttered out loud something about living for the moment.
One of January 2018’s finest moments belonged to those of us that visited rooms across East London hosting free shows and great new bands. SPORTS TEAM were met by using the old fashioned form of communication – the mouth. I didn’t even know the name of the band until I asked them and then seven months later they managed to get me into the second best Reading Festival of the year (the one in the field).
PINK KINK looked at me with a blank expression once i tried to explain how awful I thought they might be and then realised how ace they were. The best form of response really. Pink Kink didn’t last much longer once we’d managed to catch a couple of very impressive shows which was a shame, however for every band that crumbled during the year there were plenty that kept us waiting until the second winter before providing us with yet another old fashioned form of activity – releasing music for us all to hear.
Those of us (well most of us) who saw CREWEL INTENTIONS would turn up again and be very impressed . Ditto CHEST PAINS, MUSH, TREEBOY & ARC , HOTEL LUX and even SUPERORGANISM who’d arrived in 2017 and were now being played on the radio, in between bands at gigs and even in high street shops for the first couple of months during 2018.
A band from Leeds called TEAM PICTURE caused some chin stroking when they turned up in East London and then threw us an album that made at least one of want to see them again once the tunes had been heard half a dozen more times. NADINE SHAH headlined The Camden Roundhouse and was a huge highlight on this years Mercury Prize coverage. She’s three excellent albums old and has performed on nearly every one of London’s venues now. Some of us have been fortunate to have been in attendance at most of them.
BLACKWATERS impressed during these early months as did GRACE LIGHTMAN who’s ‘Faultless’ video featured individuals we would end up bumping into for the rest of the year. INSECURE MEN went to the top of the bands we wanted to see live list as soon as we heard the album and even more shouty stuff turned up from Northern upstarts LUMER, LUXURY APARTMENTS and best of the lot BAD BREEDING whose Abandonment tune had the fists (both) punching the air.
By the time March arrived so did MONO CLUB who calmed us all down with the debut album by the band formerly known as Goldheart assembly.
PLEASURE COMPLEX kept our interests up around spring time with another fabulous video, FRANCOBOLLO played again (and again and again) and provided The T-shirt of the year as did HOO HA’s and all their friends who all without fail so far have failed to produce anything other than brilliant music that the rest of the country should get to hear one day. We could draw up one of those family tree wall charts like the NME used to print every now and again indicating who used to be in who’s previous band and allow some even stranger named bands to get a mention but we can’t be arsed. Everyone knows their place. They don’t need it on a chart anyway.
One person who occasionally watches his football in West London during 2018 got into the habit of a last beer before bedtime in East London’s Old Blue Last where a band called HEAVY LUNGS who appeared one night after a one all draw away to Fulham (last minute equaliser). This band were decent enough to grab a moment with, learn that the man who had just owned the room was called Danny and then by the time we were sitting on the beach with a hanky around our heads was even better known once his surname was revealed as Nedelko.
BENIN CITY released one of the tunes of the year (and my favourite album of the year) featuring the night bus that some of us have been guilty of falling asleep on and the best Reading Festival of the year (Are you listening?) introduced early arrivals to CHINA BEARS who also gave us a tune that’s still difficult to put down.
We also saw the end of an era when our Radio X friend John Kennedy stopped putting on his nights in Tooting. Known for years as ‘The Remedy’ some of these nights were unforgettable experiences that are too numerous to mention here. Ending with MESADORM on the penultimate night and then Benin City (or was it the other war around?) a month later we met the end of an era not with regret or sadness but thankful for some of the Friday nights we’d had.
MESADORM performing this in Tooting was another of the years highlights.
Summer begins in May for some of us. Too early for our tents maybe but Liverpool Sound City was as great as we’d remembered from previous years when we could skip around an area of the city, refuelling our hunger with packets of crisps from sweet shops, dodging cars and watching dozens of unknown acts that had already impressed with their limited releases and modest on line presence. Some bands are still insisting on not bothering with an on line presence. This is not only very daft but counter productive when people such as ourselves are trying to work out if something we’d just witnessed was the best thing ever of the worst thing ever.
One of us met a man named Jacob in Liverpool who released one of the most beautiful tunes of the year under the name of PINING FOR SUNSHINE. He brought his Grandmother along to the show and his music sounds not unlike what you’d expect music to sound like when performed by a man who once played a gig at a funeral. SLOW READERS CLUB played one of the most euphoric shows we saw this year. Over the same weekend, IDLES shows and new tunes were still coming thick and fast and so were SUPERORGANISM gigs. A tune from one of Liverpool’s local bands THE CHEAP THRILLS in the tiny Baltic Social Bar was simply an experience when one felt like a drunk Frank from Shameless staggering into his local at midnight for one final bevvy. Codependance was that tune. A fabulous five minutes before trying to remember where the hotel was on a busy Saturday night in Liverpool that involved witnessing a fabulous car chase and a man on his knees trying to cross the road causing the traffic to be at a standstill.
Festivals in local parks began in June. East London’s All Points East series were full of fabulous acts that never seemed to clash and amongst others a first look at ST VINCENT. Here’s an act we want to see again one day late at night under flashing lights. It’s been difficult to listen to Slow Disco without getting the acoustic version out afterwards. NICK CAVE was great, BJORK‘s show wasn’t as interesting as the thunderstorm everyone seemed to be watching in the opposite direction.
England won the World Cup and celebrations went on for over fifty years before many of us lost interest in top tier football and tutted into our warm beer as the country kept singing about football coming home. Many of us who spend our Saturday afternoons sitting on cold plastic seats or crumbling terraces watched from the back as blokes fell through bus stop shelters, sang a terrible version of an Atomic Kitten song and watch an England team bow out as soon as they met a half decent team. We were unlucky said anyone that doesn’t watch football on a Saturday afternoon. We were lucky to get where we did said anyone that loves the sound of a turnstile clicking.
Egypt v Russia was followed by another moment of the year, this time inside The Brixton Windmill when a young lady by the name of JESSICA WINTER sang a song that should be here by now but isn’t because it’s coming out in the new year. More about that in 2019.
On the same evening we met WOOZE, a British / Korean Duo who are already on the first drafts of every new band festival for next year. Not satisfied with simply appearing in an episode of Made in Chelsea (It’s a TV Program) they’re off to play in Korea in the new year and have been popping up making appearances in many of our favourite bands (that would be on that that map I mentioned earlier but cant be arsed to draw )
East London’s Visions festival produced the goods again this summer. Some of us got to see RIVAL CONSOLES in the middle of the afternoon and then spend a few months laying on the floor listening to his Persona album. BLUE HAWAII we’d never heard previous to this days event have also provided the world with ace music to dance around the bedroom to before going out on a Saturday night and HMLTD provided (for those who had decided that seeing Idles yet again was unnecessary one) one of the performances of the year along with the first song some of us have heard that brings back memories of The Village People.
Standon Calling Festival was hit and miss this year. The disappointing headliners were certainly made up for by the acts lower down the bill. SHAME were seen again on a huge stage, DREAM WIFE suddenly started looking like title contenders and previously unknown acts such as PARK HOTEL and MAVEN GRACE were just what the doctor ordered alongside ARTIFICIAL PLEASURE and the mighty CONFIDENCE MAN who all contributed in yet another lovely weekend in the Hertfordshire countryside.
And then we heard this . . .
One bloke (two actually) and a song that was played by one man on a daily basis for weeks on end, dancing in front of the mirror, learning the words and never wanting it to end. Then AVERAGE JOE visited London and a few of us eventually got to see the duo’s complete repertoire. A story you’ll hear more of. Song of the year.
This overshadowed slightly the wonderful introduction to THE BIG AND THE FAT and their debut. This is the band that began life as Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux, kept all the personnel and replaced all the tunes with a selection of new catchy foot tappers we need to see in a field next summer.
August arrived and SPORTS TEAM were headlining Reading (BBC Introducing), IDLES were on Telly, everyone was in love with their second album except for at least one half of SLEAFORD MODS who were busy clocking in on their second night at the huge Camden Roundhouse.
Once we’d accepted summer was over we had our first wonderful experience of FUR who gave us a hint of what’s to come in 2019 however October was the month dictated by Cardiff’s annual Swn Festival , always a highlight of the year. That meant WILD CAT STRIKE (second best album of the year) , GRETA ISAAC, SUUNS, THE BLINDERS, FARM HAND, DREAM WIFE (again), ADWAITH and VIVE LA VOID all became new favourite bands.
PLASTIC MERMAIDS gave us a new stonker of a tune (and video), CREWEL INTENTIONS gave us a stonker of a debut, Mesadorm came back and played in a church and for those of us that got there early enough to delve into some breakfast cake a Saturday morning performance by KADIALY KOUYATE & AL MACSWEEN turned out to be a memorable experience.
KILLING JOKE continued to appear at many major world city venues yet again. Then we bumped into FONTAINES DC from Ireland who are set to be the band to get any Idles fans through the doors early next year before taking over the same venues themselves in a year or two its expected.
Whist many bands during December were keen to boast on social media the number of Spotify stats achieved during the year one band in particular caught the eye as the year ended. SLIME CITY only employ band members called Michael (Hopefully Mike, Mick or Mickey whilst attending rehearsals) and boasted of a lonely 4 hits during the year therefore the last great band of 2018 award goes to them. We’ll be paying them a visit once 2019 gets on its way.
Books of the year were all written by people I’ve know or met during the past few decades. Gail Thibert‘s ‘Soap the Stamps Jump the tube‘ gave us an insight into living in London during the 80’s whilst struggling to fit life in between gigs and being in a band.
Lois Pryce got on her motorbike and went to Iran on a ‘Revolutionary Ride’ and most impressive of all was the fabulous ‘Woman of Substance’ by Jenny Valentish.
Woman of Subatance is not only part biographical but digs deep into the causes and results of continuous alcohol and drug use amongst women. Jenny doesn’t only tell her own story in this book but interviews leading researches in the subject and explores the causes and consequences of the path she walked along that makes this book a humorous and engaging read.
Film of the year was Bohemian Rhapsody and what an awful film that is.
Bad acting, bad script and most of the characters speaking in a silly voice. For me, the problem with Queen is that since about the time that Freddy left us they have been represented to us (the public) like four very posh blokes that spend their spare time reading caravan brochures and having tea with the local vicar before standing around a rehearsal room coming up with stupid ideas that no one in the room has the personality to say “Hey ! …that’s a really shit idea mate!”
When the film recreates them standing in a room discussing what would be the first mention of We Will Rock You (also the title of a West End play that on seeing the posters may also have misrepresented the band) where were the laughs ? Where was the irony, the smiles and the look of apprehension that this may actually be a stupid idea ?
Anyone who has ever been in a band will tell you that when someone comes up with a great, simple yet ridiculous idea it is usually responsible for some irreplaceable bonding that would hold the unit together. Its difficult to believe that the four blokes in this band actually believed at the time that they were seriously onto something with this. They would have been glowing with self doubt at this stage surely ? Saying things like ‘Fuck off’ or ‘Don’t be so bloody ridiculous’ and then arguing about the other new songs they’ve been rehearsing for the previous three months. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they were a bunch of chaps that took everything too seriously. Maybe the members of Queen were the opposite of the people we know in the bands that we love so dearly today? Were (or are?) Queen the most un-rock and roll band ever ? Probably, and that’s why they suck.
Queen were arguably as cool as Idles are now for a few months in 1976 but are now represented as a band that people like David Brent from The Office (It’s a TV show) would consider their bit of rough. A band to undo your top button to. What a shame the rest of the band don’t do anything to distract us from this image. Were some of us duped ? – Its too late to care now.
This was the only film I’ve seen this year by the way until that that Bros documentary that has provided us with more quotes than Python’s Parrot Sketch came along and then The Festival with that bloke from The Inbetweeners that was as dull as dishwater and had a better effect on those of us walking in on it being filmed a year ago than sitting down and watching it on a comfy chair.
2018 – RIP: Mark E Smith, Pete Shelly, Charles Aznavour, Conway Savage, Aretha Franklin, Scott Hutchinson, Delores O’riordan, and Barry Chuckle.
Here’s the whole playlist of my own personal favourite tunes of 2018 from top to bottom. Things we didn’t know about until 2018.
More to come in 2019.
Thank you for the music x
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV). You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page or browse some of his photos too if you so wish.