International Pop Overthrow - Thursday (Day 2)

GIG: International Pop Overthrow Thursday (Day 2)
DATE: May 21st 2009
VENUE: The Grapes, Cavern Pub & Cavern Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool
COST: it’s all FREE
RATING: Bongo Beat, Beats All!

Disclaimer – there are over 170 bands appearing at the IPO this year, ranging from a single performer with acoustic guitar to full on heavy rock bands. Whilst we cannot see all of the bands appearing this year, our blog is our personal opinion of the bands we do see. We cannot be expected to enjoy all of the bands we see - ones that we think are great, others may think are not so great, and vice versa.

Our IPO day started at The Grapes pub. The venue is a snug little pub and when we arrived, Peter & Gabi, from the Good Intentions were just over half way through their acoustic set. There is not much to “unplug” from The Good Intentions, and the harmonies worked well in this small, intimate venue.

Next up was Dave Rave ( and Mark McCarron, each with an acoustic guitar, delivering a set which included Peggy Sue, a homage to Liverpool and calling up Simon and Marc from Plastic Heroes, did another rendition of “Hey Anne Marie” (Anne Marie of the song was sitting with us, and her face was a picture). They pulled a rabbit out of the hat as far as we’re concerned when they announced they would do a Brian Wilson song, “Love & Mercy”. Nobody does Brian Wilson songs with acoustic guitars because generally speaking, although sounding very simple to play, Brian Wilson songs can actually be extremely complicated. An extra voice for this song was added to the harmony, when BB accepted Dave Rave’s invitation to join him on the stage. The acappella ending sounded really good (even if we do say so ourselves!). Dave was enjoying himself so much, he lost track of time eating a bit into the time slot for Maximum Ricky.

So Maximum Ricky took to the stage, not the whole electric band, but the lead singer with a Gibson SG guitar but the other band members were in the small audience.

After his short set, Plastic Heroes’ Marc & Simon showed what they could do, totally unplugged. After the full-on rock treatment from last night, the stripped down acoustic set just proved how strong their songs are, and how versatile these guys are too. They really do look like they enjoy playing their music. Dave Rave was invited up and together they did another stonking rendition of “Shake Some Action”. There are no boundaries for Dave Rave, who uses all available space as a stage, even popping out onto Mathew Street at one point! This is what live music is all about – the ability to go with the flow, being on the same wavelength as the other musicians to such a degree that you can pick up a guitar, and start singing without a set list (unless you call a couple of song titles hastily scribbled on the back of an empty guitar string envelope, a set list), performing just off the cuff, and still making it sound brilliant.

We popped into the Cavern Club, to catch The Generous Days ( on the front stage. A 4 piece from Oslo, we were attracted to their My Space site as it was in the yellow & green Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds design. They were a lot more “rocky” than we expected, but we really enjoyed their set. Although the 2nd guitarist provided occasional backing vocals, this was mainly a single vocal band. Usually this set up does not mix with us, as we do like harmonies, however, the lead singer had a strong voice which meant backing vocals were not needed in support at all times. The guys enjoyed themselves on stage, and the 2nd guitarist lost his whammy bar but that did not deter him, and the drummer had red sparkly drumsticks!

We took a short break and retuned to the Cavern Club, this time the back stage, in time to see Zender perform their 2nd slot. We had already caught their first slot last night and had been impressed. This time round, we bought their CD, “Acid Avenue”. It will be interesting to hear this CD with Zender as a full 6 piece set up. This gig, on the back stage was much less intimate than last night’s at the pub, but the sound was much stronger.

Next up on the back stage, was an old favourite of ours, Richard Snow & The In-Laws ( Richard had to pull out of his earlier gig at The Beaconsfield because of electrical problems. Some people take this health and safety too far if you ask me. Whatever happened to giving your life to rock and roll? Imagine how much of an edge it would give to a show if you knew you could be blown to bits any second! Only kidding! As soon as Richard’s Rickenbacker rang out with “Real” we knew we were in for some classic jingle jangle pop songs of the highest calibre. He proved us right when he played a new song “Stop Your Crying,” and “Middle Class Girl” both of which were gloriously harmonic.
The band did a great energetic cover of “Hippy Hippy Shake” and then dedicated a song to IPO ambassador, music lover and all round good guy, the late and much missed Wil Woodrowe. The final song “Girls On The Tube” ended a great set, before Richard went off to find some rubber gloves before his next gig.

Ascona, from Germany were next on the bill, a 4 piece which David Bash described as melodic indie pop. These guys certainly rocked and pulled in a sizeable crowd.

The front stage was our next port of call, for the Bongo Beat / Viper label showcase kicking off with Ralph’s second gig of the IPO ( & Obviously the reaction he got from the first gig, had him hyped up for this one, and right from the start the band and the audience were buzzing. We had a good idea of what to expect, having seen Ralph perform the night before and our expectations were met and exceeded, with the backing from Dave Rave, Plastic Heroes and Mark McCarron. It is really great to watch live music like this and even better when the artists really enjoy what they do. This was the second time we had heard “Billy Fury, Billy Fury,” and we were singing along with the chorus.

Once Ralph’s set had finished, we took the opportunity to dash to the Cavern Pub to catch the last 20 minutes or so of the last appearance (this year anyway) of The Breakdowns (, a great band from Nottingham. The lead singer, who had a lovely Ibanez guitar, had a Phil Oakey type haircut (half short, half long) and looked a bit like Wayne Hussey from The Mission. He had a slightly gravelly voice which carried off his songs just fine, and the band’s slower number “Don’t Go” sounded really great. Their finale was a song very much influenced by “Roll Over Beethoven”, and the quite large audience in the Pub seemed really appreciative of them. We certainly liked them.

As The Breakdowns unplugged their equipment, we made the dash back across Mathew Street, and back into the Cavern Club for the continuation of the Bongo Beat party on the Front Stage. Up first, Plastic Heroes (, with a slightly altered set from the night before, but just as terrific, oozing energy and really giving the audience a treat. Towards the end of their set, they called Dave Rave to join them and we were treated to another superb rendition of “Hey Anne Marie”. They finished with “15 Years” to rapturous applause. Another fantastic set from a fantastic band. These guys are well worth seeing again and again.

The finale was lead by Dave Rave, the consummate performer, where the edge of a stage is never a boundary. This man’s sense of fun is infectious, and encourages full audience participation. “I Saw Her Standing There” was a rousing performance sung by a member of the audience while Dave rounded up the girls to dance on stage. “Shake Some Action” sounded as fresh as it did the first time we heard it, and the final, final song, “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” from the Blues Brothers movie was nothing short of splendid, with everybody, including Ralph and Mike Badger (from Viper label) on stage and with BB helping out on vocals again.

The Bongo Beat showcase can be described amply with 2 words, PARTY and FUN. These guys join together to play on each other’s sets, and find the energy and enthusiasm to give it their all every time. So a huge thanks to the guys on Bongo Beat for two nights of confirming what good time rocking live music is all about. Good luck with the gigs in Birmingham, London and Paris, and thanks for embracing us as friends in the Cavern.

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