GIG: International Pop Overthrow London – Day 2
DATE: Saturday 25th May 2013
VENUE: Surya, 156 Pentonville Road, London
COST: £8 charge on the door
OUR VERDICT: More hits than misses

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.

First up today was the remarkable New Zealander, Glen Aitken, and what a box of goodies this performer had to offer. His vast array of guitar and looping pedals was matched only by his very fine songs.

Glen Aitken

Glen's pedals and loops

It was amazing to watch how Glen managed to use his guitar and voice to sound like a whole band. This wasn’t just novelty value though, as entertaining as it was to watch, his songs were great too. He rather humbly forgot to mention that he’d been a previous winner of the Roland UK Loopstation Championship, and that Paul McCartney had offered him a publishing deal as well as playing bass on his first single.

This was a lesson on how pedals SHOULD be used (take note Phenomenal Cat!), and CAN be used to great effect. He also had a lovely voice, best heard ironically enough on his last song that used minimal effects! Not a bad start to the day.

We’ve seen Nigel Thomas a few times over the years, with his old band The Foxes, as well as a solo artist. The set today started with just Nigel and his acoustic guitar, before the rest of the band joined him. Joining at the very last second was the keyboard player, who walked into the room just as their first number was about to start! This was very much a Nigel Thomas focused set with a tendency for the songs to start acoustically with the drum and bass joining part way through. The regular drummer had to earlier pull out of the gig due to an injury so the bass player took over the sticks while a stand in bassist played everything else after the first song. All things considered, the band did very well indeed under the circumstances. Another entertaining set.
Nigel Thomas

Having the lead track from her EP play-listed by BBC Radio 2, will not have done Emma Stevens much harm. They’ve been very supportive of her. She was certainly very bright, sparkly and cheerful enough, seemingly unfazed by the small technical problems that were experienced. She looked very much like Phoebe out of friends and we hoped (with no luck) that she’d do the classic “Smelly Cat” from the TV show!

Emma Stevens

Emma played ukulele for parts of her set (when technical issues allowed), augmented by guitar, cello, violin and drums. The Eva Cassidy look-a-like drummer did very well considering Emma forgot to put the drums in the van! Totally un-phased by technical issues, Emma put on a really good vibe show, smiling all the way through, and it was obvious the bass player was really enjoying it all too. With all the support she’s receiving, Emma should have a big future on the traditional folk scene. It’s easy to imagine her playing on the Transatlantic Sessions TV programme one day.

An old favourite band from the Liverpool IPO from a few years ago was The Fore. This Merseybeat/Beatles obsessed band were led by Spencer Hannabuss, who now fronts The 286. The last time we saw him he looked like a young boy in his first band. Now he’s matured as much as his music has. This new band are not too far removed from ELO, sporting two violins and a cello. This leads to a great mix of pop and classical music. Some of it would be really well suited to a film score it was so atmospheric. The song “Illusion” had definite shades of McCartney’s “Jet” about it, and ”Mother Sunday” had very strong backing vocals provided by the drummer. Adding some female vocals to help Spencer with some of the higher notes could be a bonus. This music is a far cry from what The Fore used to do, and it’s whetted our appetite for an album from this band.

The 286

King Bathmat would seem to be unapologetically Prog Rock purveyors. Quite why they play at a “Pop” music festival is uncertain, but that seems to be the way of the IPO these days. A good enough band in their own genre, although singer/guitarist John Bassett looked as if he’d just walked off a building site! He was a good guitarist though. There was definite nods to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple in the music, especially with the organ being played. Probably at this point the band had the hardest hitting drummer of the IPO. A really good prog rock band that had the good grace to acknowledge they felt a bit out of place at a “pop” festival.
King Bathmat

Nathan Persad
Another former member of The Fore was on next. Nathan Persad looked like Louis Theroux with a guitar in his hand. The word “quirky” best describes him. He seemed to be a bag of nerves - either that or it was just nervous energy that prevented him from standing still for a second.

His songs are very 60’s influenced and quite funny at times. He sang songs about Rachel from his high school and a tribute song to 60’s girl singers making come-backs, titled fittingly…...”Comeback Queen”. He is obviously a Beach Boys fan because he threw in a cover of “Darlin’” too.

All the way through his set he’d thank the audience in an Elvis “Thank you very much” voice after each song. He also had a strange habit of talking and pointing to an imaginary person at the side of the stage for some reason. Nathan finished his set with a really nice tribute song to the 50’s.

Three Minute Tease is led by Californian psychedelic cult hero, Anton Barbeau. Ably assisted by former Soft Boys, Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor, this is very much Anton’s project and he played some great psyche guitar. Some of the set was a bit dis-jointed, starting and stopping once or twice, but again, a pretty good, stylistic rock band. It’s easy to see he’s a fan of XTC and Frank Zappa. A good set.

Three Minute Tease

Wendy Ip
Wendy Ip was up against it from the start with technical difficulties. Her brand new keyboard from the US conked out because it was the wrong voltage for the UK, and no-one could find an adaptor to make it work. With a lot of time being wasted trying to fix the problem, she carried on gamely with just a mic. It was a bit embarrassing for her that she didn’t recognise the tune that the band were playing in the background to keep a semblance of a gig going, as everyone tried to get the keyboard to work!
Wendy did have a fine clear vocal though and her songs were quite bouncy. The last song, also her new single, had a great “My Sharona” drum beat going. Wendy was quite professional in the way she kept going while fighting against the gremlins.

Probably for the first time at this London IPO we got a band, who if they were walking up the street you’d say “Those guys are in a band!” They looked the part, and for The Silver Factory, Mod haircuts, three Rickenbacker’s and Paisley pattern shirt was the order of the day. When you see a Rickenbacker, especially a 12 stringed one, you expect jingly jangly music, and we were not to be let down here. This was thirty minutes of great sounding psychedelic pop where even David Bash contributed, playing the maraccas.

The only slight disappointment was the vocals. It was hard to put your finger on what was wrong, but the lead singer’s vocal seemed a bit muddy in the mix. This sort of music deserves great harmonies, and speaking to the Steve Marriott look-a-like guitarist afterwards, he acknowledged that fact. There was nothing wrong with the singer actually, he was a good front man, jumping off the stage and dancing with the audience. The Silver Factory are the best “new” band we’ve heard so far at the IPO, and listening to their recordings since we got back after the gig, there ARE great harmonies. This Leicester band only had vinyl with them unfortunately, so we couldn’t buy anything, but we can’t wait for their album to be released on CD!
The Silver Factory

Ben Jones
Finishing the night off for us was the very manic Ben Jones and The Rifle Volunteers who had brought a great supporting crowd along with them too. Ben is a very bendy, energetic and versatile performer, jumping all over the stage and only slowing things down a bit for “Promises, Promises”.

He’s a great performer and an excellent guitarist too. Genre shifting comes easy to Ben, as well as interacting with the audience in a comedic way at times. This is a performer who has no use for pedals it seems. Tonight it was just a Gretsch he used for the whole gig. Throwing Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the middle of the set again works brilliantly. As does his version of “Gloria” stuck in the middle of his own song “Stop.”

Special mention has to be made for the keyboard player who does an amazing job in supporting Ben, especially on the vocals. It would have been the icing on the cake if Ben had managed to bring his new album “Shangrila” along for the merch table, but apparently it was stuck in a delivery depot somewhere!
Ben, with his Rifle Volunteers

After Ben Jones, we nipped upstairs for a while to get away from the noise. We came back down to an empty room for the last act of the night, Et Tu Brucé. It wasn’t their fault that the crowd had gone, but they made it seem like it was OUR fault with all the moaning and winging they did in between songs. Instead of using the gig as a rehearsal for their US tour supporting The Zombies, they made it quite clear they didn’t want to be there at all. The fact that they made The Monkees look like Joy Division, took away from the songs completely. The might be a good band, in fact they MUST be if they’re doing The Zombies gigs, but they should learn to enjoy their own music even if they are playing to an empty house. Poor attitude for a band to have. On their Facebook page, the big sell for getting people to come along and support them was… “We're playing, so you might as well come along.” Says it all really!

Et Tu Bruce

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