INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW DAY 1 - TUESDAY

The Cavern Pub and Cavern Club
Mathew Street, Liverpool
Tuesday 16th May 2017

Bands Seen today: 10
Plastic Soul, Micah Gilbert (twice), The Armoires, The Newds, Toxic Melons, The Belmondos, The Reflections, The Cherry Bluestorms, Alex & The Boss Jockeys, Nine Violets

The International Pop Overthrow is in its 15th year in Liverpool, with around 140 bands playing throughout the 8 days. We see as many bands as we can, some we like, some we love........ others not so much. This is a personal review of each day and even though some bands may not have been our cup of tea (we can’t like them all!), they are still worth checking out for yourself. Have fun, that’s what music is all about.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos taken in the Cavern Pub - there is a red hue due to the lighting being predominantly red!.


The IPO kicked off at the Cavern Pub, with a band who had travelled all the way from California to play at the iconic venue that is The Cavern. The cost and time away is quite prohibitive for the US bands to bring their full line up over, and we have seen many in the past who come and play solo or use local musicians to cover some of the instrumentation. This year the US bands have essentially clubbed together and where band members are missing, they are filling in for each other. Great team work, and a situation that gives us the chance to watch a few US bands we might never get to see.
Indeed, such is the commarardirie of the US bands, they have put together a "Big Stir International Travelling Roadshow", a tour which is kicking off immediately after they finish their IPO gigs, and takes in a lot of the UK and a gig in Dublin, and also includes some of this year's IPO bands where the Americans are playing in a venue local to them. Check out below for the list of dates/venues......

So, back to the opening of the IPO and Plastic Soul were on first and this was one of the "hybrid" US bands. Head honcho Steve Wilson was backed by an Armoire and two of Huxley Rittman & The Rusty Hitmen to deliver a thirty minute set of US Powerpop. He was polished, confident and gave a great performance. This is what US Powerpop is all about - great songs, good guitars, fantastic beat. He is also a funny guy and had a bit of banter going in between songs.
Plastic Soul

Micah in The Pub
Next up, Micah Gilbert who has planted roots in The Isle of Skye. He moved from Georgia in the US to the Scottish Island a couple of years ago and this year the Celtic influence has shone through, performing an "unplugged" set accompanied by Grace and Alan from "Two Far Flung". 

Keyboard, acoustic guitar, violin, some great vocals, a touch of flute and brilliant songs went into the mix to give us a lovely thirty minutes of Micah's music.
He is a talented songwriter, that's for sure and he has a distinctive vocal well. 

He played two sets today, one in the pub where the sound can be hit or miss and the first part of the set had the violin quite low in the mix. It took a couple of songs for soundman Andy to get it right. But when he did it sounded fine. The second set was on the iconic front stage of the Cavern. 

The sound on the front stage is miles better than the Pub and as a result, the second set sounded far richer. Grace's backing vocals added a lot to the set. It can be tough doing an acoustic-style set, being up against a transient crowd who have not come to listen to the bands, but tonight Micah shone through.


Micah Gilbert on the Front Stage


The Armoires
The Armoires are another of the hybrid US bands. Rex and Christina were supported by Plastic Soul's Steve Wilson on bass and the drummer from Huxley Rittman and the Rusty Hitmen. 

We got a confident performance and a set that had all the ingredients for the easy going West Coast sound from the summer of love era. The jingle jangle of the Rickenbakker, the tinkling keyboard, tambourine and some good vocals were a pleasure on our ears.

The Newds are a fairly large band (3 guitarists) who have a bit of a Graham Parker vibe about them. Their set was essentially a quite fast paced rock/pop one, with one song having a but more of a funk beat to it. It was quite foot tapping set - not bad at all. The appearance of the band was a bit at odds, with the lead vocalist in a full suit and tie, to jeans/t.shirt and the bass player who was dressed more like a roadie for an international rock group tour! They had brought their family along to this gig on the back stage, to the delight of two wee children who must have been dosed up on sugar! This band were quite polished and were obviously comfortable with their material. We enjoyed their set.


The Newds


Toxic Melons
Toxic Melons were introduced as very Jellyfish influenced, but we struggled to get the comparison with only one vocalist and no harmony in the band. The vocalist had the mannerisms of Russell Brand, and the drummer could have been Peter Kay! 

Their set included a few power ballad type songs. Although the vocalist was not a bad singer, the power ballads were not really suited to his voice and we struggled to see what the fuss about this band was.




From Paris, The Belmondos were a big hit with the audience, including us. The drummer was terrific, keeping a great beat all the way through (including a good use of the tom drum, much to Minty's delight), the bass player was solid and really enjoyed himself on stage and the two guitarists were very good. The lead singer had charisma and the set was energetic with catchy pop songs. Definitely a good find at the IPO. A group of girls sitting at the front of the Back Stage were delighted with this band and whooped and hollered after each song, and gave a standing ovation at the end! The Belmondos were certainly one of the highlights of the day. Had a listen to one of the albums too. Excellent stuff.
The Belmondos


The Reflections
A regular at the IPO, London band The Reflections turned more psychedelic a few years ago. The line up has been together for a long time and they know their set inside out.

They have a great 60's beat and vibe about them, and for some songs, has a hammond organ sound works a treat.

 "The Girl From Nowhere" was a really strong song in tonight's set on the Back Stage, along with "Haunted House" and their finale, a cover of Gene Pitney's "Last Chance to Turn Around". 

Never get tired of seeing these guys at the IPO.

The Cherry Bluestorms were back at the Liverpool IPO. This is an authentic psychedelic band from the US West Coast, who have a slick set. Glen played the 12 string Gretsch for the majority of the set, which did drown out the vocals on this Front stage set. That aside, their performance is professional and polished and resonates of that lates 60's West Coast Psych vibe, not just the sound but the look too. The club was really busy so they had a great audience to play to as well.

The Cherry Bluestorms


Alex & The Boss Jockeys
Local Liverpool band, Alex and The Boss Jockeys delivered a brilliant set of 60's beat / Beatles influenced music. They had a fantastic sound and were very energetic. 


Backing vocals from the drummer and bass player were superb and really added to that 60's sound. In our research of the band prior to the IPO starting, we had this band earmarked as one to see and they were very bit as good as we had thought they would be. 


Whether she was a plant or not, there was a dancing granny who bopped and boogied throughout their set, and before long, more of the audience were up and bopping along. A great audience reaction we thought. Great performance.


Nine Violets
Nine Violets were the last band on the Front stage. From our pre-IPO research, we had these pegged as a Crowded House style band, but they played a much rockier set on the Front Stage and were surprisingly good with it. 

The crowd in the club had thinned out by this time, but those that were left were enthusiastic.

So night number one complete. A day of mixing and mingling with loads of friends and the US contingent included. It was a bit of paisley style day too..... loads of paisley shirts were to be found.
Paisley Partners - The Beeb with Rex and Christina from The Armoires

Messing around in The Cavern

Paisley Power!


Big Stir Tour - UK and Ireland
19 May: Manchester, UK
The Dulcimer – with Dave Jaggs and Special US Guests
20 May: Newcastle, UK
Bar Loco – with Toxic Melons and Artisam
23 May: Swindon, UK
The Beehive – with Charms Against the Evil Eye
24 May: Birmingham, UK
The Cuban Embassy – with Sunshine Bloom
25 May: Oxford, UK
Jericho Tavern – with Charms Against the Evil Eye
26 May: Northampton, UK
The Lab – with Charms Against the Evil Eye
27 May: London (Croydon), UK
Oval Tavern – with Spygenius
28 May: Canterbury, UK
The Cherry Tree – with Spygenius
31 May: Glasgow, Scotland
Box – with The Fast Camels
2 June – Dublin, Ireland
Mercantile O'Brien's - YouBloom Festival
3 June – Edinburgh, Scotland
Greenmantle – mylittlebrother and The Armoires
6 June – St. Helens, UK
Tank – The Armoires with special guests