GIG: International Pop Overthrow London – Day 1
DATE: Friday 24th May 2013
VENUE: Surya, 156 Pentonville Road, London
COST: £7 charge on the door
OUR VERDICT: Eased in gently
This is blog is intended to be a way for us to capture our personal memories from all the gigs we go to see. The International Pop Overthrow in Liverpool hosts over 130 artists, across 3 stages, ranging from solo acts with an acoustic guitar to full on rock bands covering different music styles from folk, pop, rock and everything in between!!!! Whilst we can’t see every artist / band, we try to catch as many as we can. Some we like, some we love, some are pure nuggets and some are just not our cup of tea. This is just our personal opinion of the acts we see through the IPO festival, highlights and lowlights included. If there’s a band we are not fond of, do still check them out as tastes differ and you could have a different opinion from us.

Surya - This year's venue

Chandelier of Bic Pens

The London IPO has moved to a new venue this year, SURYA on Pentonville Rd, after the closure of The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town. The new venue proclaims itself to be the “world’s first ecological club.” The first evidence if this is a striking chandelier that catches your eye when you enter the premise. On closer inspection you discover it’s actually made out of Bic pens! Very eco-friendly.

Mick Terry

First act on tonight was Mick Terry, armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and an arsenal of clever, witty and poignant songs. One song in particular, “Emily Says”, seemed very familiar to us, although we don’t think we’d seen Mick before.

Another great song was “Pop Is A Dirty Word”. This name-checked loads of our favourite artists and songs, including The Beach Boys’ “Sail On Sailor” and James Taylor. Mick was very comfortable with an audience and chatted away in between songs with witty anecdotes.

He ended on an audience choice – a cover of a Big Star song. We were so impressed by Mick we ended up buying his CD. London IPO was off to a great start.

Next on was a duo that went under the name of Statuesque. This seems to be a vehicle for the song-writer Stephen Manning. With just an acoustic guitar and a cello, this looked quite promising to The Beeb’s ears especially as this set up can be a wonderful combination aurally. Unfortunately Stephen’s high-pitched warbling’s were reminiscent of Joe Pasquale at times. He also looked like a rabbit that had been caught in the headlights, with the headlights in this case being a spotlight up above him.

Semion are a four piece band whose songs sounded not too bad. Trouble was though, it was difficult to hear much in the way of vocals, not helped by a singer who appeared to be afraid of getting electrocuted by the mic he stood so far away from it. The band also had trouble with a Rickenbacker that was constantly going out of tune for some reason. They have a Teenage Fanclub kind of sound and had the sound quality been a bit better, we might have really got into their set.


With Spygenius, we knew we were going to get a great set having seen them so many times before. Unlike Liverpool, guitarist and song-writer Peter Watts was using his Italia 12-string for this set, particularly effective on “California Sunshine”. Unfortunately sound problems occured again, but the band's professionalism shone through with a quick re-jig of the running order to allow the sound man to work his magic and get everything up and running again.


Peter & Ruth share a mic
It was also bass player, Ruth’s birthday, and she played the set in pair of comedy Elton John type spectacles with guitars on them, a gift from David and Rina.

Once the problems with Ruth’s mic had been sorted, we experienced the full flavour of the band’s vocals which work really well together. The set ended with a quite stunning version of “Conybeare’s Island” from the highly recommended album Songs From The Devils Typist.

Phenomenal Cat
 Phenomenal Cat win the prize for the most inappropriate moniker at this year’s IPO. This six piece included a trumpet and sax player, and a bass player who was ready to give birth shortly. The only thing phenomenal about them was the volume the singer played his guitar at. This unfortunately mitigated hearing any of the actual songs! From what we could make out, it was as if every song had been written around a different guitar pedal effect. No actual song was complete without totally unnecessary jarring breaks everywhere.

Their set had started with one of the band castigating people in the bar upstairs for not coming down to support and hear them play. When their set finished, the band disappeared to the bar upstairs with their mates, leaving the next band unsupported by them! We found that just a tad too hypocritical.

Mothboxer hadn’t particularly done much for us in Liverpool when we saw them there. Again, the problem for us is the use of pre-recorded tracks. Whilst we could understand the tracking of the bass (their bass player was away on holiday) for this gig, they also had rather unnecessary drum tracks played alongside a perfectly adequate drummer, and when a song got going you couldn’t actually hear the track anyway! However, having heard them again, Mothboxer’s songs sounded a bit better than they did in Liverpool. With only two guitars and a drummer, you will have to concede that you won't replicate a multi-track album recording when you play live and the songs may have been better served if the guitars played counter-point to each other, instead of both playing the same thing most of the way through. Having said that, his set was definitely an improvement on Liverpool though.

 Last out of the blocks on day 1 were The Lightwings, who made this first night of the London IPO well worth staying around for. This four-piece from London served up a fine selection of prime pop songs. To us, THIS kind of music is what the IPO is all about. Stand out songs where “Who Pulled The Trigger” and “Must Be Luck.”

With just two of the band singing, they managed to make it sound as if they were ALL harmonising. The guitars all sounded crystal clear and you could hear every note played perfectly. The drummer was great too and worked brilliantly with the bass player. A set of classic sounding songs, any one of which deserves to be a hit. Another CD purchased, and we look forward to their album when it’s released.

The Lightwings

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