Spokes/Tomorrow We Sail – The Basement, York, 23rd November 2010

I haven’t really written a live review for a while, mainly because I’ve not been to many live shows.  I think this year I’ve seen maybe 5 gigs in total.  I used to manage that in about 2 weeks.  However, I don’t miss it one little bit.

Last week was a bit different for me though as going to York for a gig is a bit more exciting, a bit more of a novelty than going to Sneaky’s or the Wee Red Bar.  Plus, I’d never heard Tomorrow We Sail or Spokes before.  Well, I say I’d never heard Tomorrow We Sail but technically I had heard them rehearsing in the cellar of Rich’s house the night before.  So although I had not heard them properly, I had a fair idea of what I was in for.

There’s something really wonderful about York.  The moment we arrive I feel like I could exist in that place.  It’s old.  It’s beautiful.  The River Ouse dissects it.  I think all great towns and cities have a river or are near water.  I love being near water and the river in York adds to the overall beauty of the place.  There’s a calmness about the town that I love.  We look at gravestones for those who died of cholera, a random strip of ground just outside the train station.  We walk along the town walls for a bit.  Then we make our way to the King’s Arms, a little pub on the banks of the Ouse renowned for flooding when the Ouse decides to burst her banks.  Inside there is a marker on the wall to show how high the water has reached when the floods have come.  The walls bare the scars of water damage but the atmosphere is just perfect, as is the cheap lager.

After grabbing some food we head to the venue.  The basement is a strange place.  A cinema and music venue.  The smell of popcorn at a gig is an odd one, but one that is quite welcoming.  If I had had money I would definitely have bought some and eaten it in the venue just to see how people reacted.  As a space I don’t like it.  Bit modern.  Low ceilings.  Nowhere for the sound to go.  Nowhere to really stand.  I hear soundcheck and am concerned about the noise levels.  When the gig start my concerns are confirmed.

Tomorrow We Sail are a really good band.  Interesting songs and good players combine to create a really enjoyable 4 song set.  However, the main vocals are the only ones that are really audible throughout.  I know others in the band are singing but I have to strain my ears to really capture what is going on.  It’s something that repeats itself during Spokes set and it’s a bit of a pain.  It’s the room and the sound system rather than the bands that causes this problem.  I guess I’m a vocal freak and I’d rather everything else was turned down a little so that the, at times, 5 vocals can be registered.  But it’s a small complaint in an otherwise strong set.  I’m not sure if I’d compare them to other bands from this part of the world, but there is definitely a Leeds-ish-ness about them.  I like it a lot.

Spokes are completely new to me.  I know the name.  But I’ve never heard anything by them.  When we get home a discussion about whether the new stuff or old stuff is better and why takes place.  I’m a bit lost.  All I know is what I heard and saw this evening and for me it was just not enough to blow me away.  The discussion later in the house intrigues me though so I probably will check them out online.  Plus, they had good t-shirts on sale and that’s always a bonus in my eyes!  Anyways, their set, or what I see of it as we have to run for the last train to Leeds, is interesting enough.  I feel there is a formulaic style to their music, which if translated on to record would bore me quickly.  Again, the main vocal dominates the others and I really cannot bare the song sung by the violinist.  Yet there is enough to suggest that this is a band I could get into if I give them time and wasn’t so judgemental based on one show.  So despite leaving the venue with a sense of ambivalence, I really enjoyed the overall experience and would recommend that you check out both these acts if you get a moment.  I will certainly be listening again.

Check out Tomorrow We Sail here and Spokes here. Enjoy.



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