HUNTER AND THE WOLVES LIVE IN MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?
What is The Humble Reviewer listening to today as he writes his review?
Why, it’s the glorious “Irish Rock n Roll”, the latest album from The Mary Wallopers, and a fine thing it is too, although you really have to see them live to appreciate what they’re all about, and I’ll be ticking this particular box at Liverpool Academy next month. Anyway, to more important matters – tonight sees a return trip to Taylor’s Shure 5 Studios in Royton, at the kind invitation of owner Mr Chris Taylor himself (and congratulations go out from all of us at RGM to him and his partner in crime Katie Meekings on the announcement of their engagement yesterday), to witness one of Sugar Stone’s monthly Jamboree nights – and this one’s sold out too!
They’ve been running for about a year and are gathering momentum with each one. It’s an excellent concept, too – not only do the bands get content in the form of pictures, videos and interviews, but a percentage of the ticket sales too, all of which are invaluable for those who can’t afford to go out and finance this sort of thing individually, so I feel like I’ll be really doing my bit, both by photographing and by making my Dear Readers aware of this fine idea. Please check out Taylor’sHERE for more information about this excellent venue, about which I’ve waxed lyrical on a previous occasion HERE . So, without further ado, let’s see what tonight’s four bands have in store for us!
What can I tell you about Dinosaurs Attack – well, they’re Anthony Dalson (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Joe Myers (electric guitar), they’re both from Macclesfield and they’ve known each other for 20 years, playing in both the same bands and in different bands too, some of which have been on the same bill (Joe also plays in Carjack Malone)! Dinosaurs Attack was formed about ten years ago, but has been on hiatus for a while (that pesky life, getting away again – rude), only getting back together about a year ago.
\They started gigging and writing material, some of which should appear on their upcoming album, which they’re currently recording, with just two tracks to go, Joe tells me. Their bio states that they, “Sing songs about dinosaurs, sea monsters, Batman etc”, and describe themselves as “Two Guys/Two Guitars/Dinosaurs”, all of which sounds like a fine way with which to open up tonight’s proceedings.
They’re certainly not going for the, “Break the audience in gently approach” and follow in the fine tradition of duos who have to work just that little bit harder to fill in the space where you’d expect more guitarists and maybe a drummer to be. However, Anthony has a clever drum pedal rigged up which he pumps furiously to deliver “Stab Stab” in a blues-y, stripped back style.
This is going to be good. It’s also good to see that a lot of tonight’s crowd have already arrived to take in all four bands, rather than arriving later on, and given the location of Shure (at the back end of an industrial estate that doesn’t exactly look that it’s well-supported by public transport), it’s clear that the folks who’ve made it tonight are determined music lovers, as well as friends of the bands. The sinister, “Pokey Pokey” channels elements of Seasick Steve, but you can also hear influences of the Stones too, if you scrunch your ears hard enough (is that even a thing?)
Anthony remarks, “It’s all open to interpretation, these lyrics, apart from this one, which is pretty obvious”, as they launch into “Bat Man”. Stage left, Anthony’s vocals (well Anthony too, not just his vocals, as that would be weird) are raw and powerful and ever so tongue in cheek “He’s got his own spin on dealing with sin – and have you seen his car?” – this is Batman as you’ve never heard him before. In fact, more than one of Dinosaurs Attack’s lyric raise an eyebrow if you listen to them carefully enough (no, you’re going to have to hear them for yourself, Dear Reader.
Stage right, Joe Myers wrings the life from his guitar as it wails mournfully in accompaniment. The songs are raw, insistent and absolutely no-nonsense and with “Bad Habit”, as blues-y as you like. I’m really trying not to mention Guns ‘n’ Roses, but it’s difficult. Dangermaus veers in and out of spaghetti western territory and Anthony’s vocal delivery is spot on and is complemented nicely by Joe, whose rapid-fire work on, “Hull” has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. The dinosaurs finally make a welcome appearance in set closer “Mother(fcuking) Dinosaur”, much to the delight of the crowd, who join in enthusiastically with the chorus.
If you and stripped-back, guitar-driven raw blues have yet to cross paths, you could do a whole lot worse than to take in some hot Pliocene action at The Swan With two necks in Macclesfield on October the 27th.
Dinosaurs Attack played: Stab Stab, Pokey Pokey, Bat Man, Fine Leather Goods, Bad Habit, Dangermous, Hull and MOFO Dinosaur.
One Dimensional Creatures, aka One Dimes, are a four-piece alternative punk/postpunk/grunge band based in Greater Manchester, and comprise Ste Wilson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Chris Tighe (lead guitar), Ollie Chapman (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Adam Heap (drummer & beat maker). Ste, Chris, and Ollie have been friends since high school and during lock-down (remember THAT?) Ste was busy writing songs about UK life and politics. The stars aligned when Ollie moved back ‘up-north’ from London, and having met up for a post-lock-down pint and listening to Ste’s demos, One Dimensional Creatures was born. The jigsaw found its final piece when drummer Adam Heap was recruited and the rest, as they (whoever THEY are) say, was history. June saw the release of debut single ”Media Mass”, followed by September’s “Bleed the Markets”. October has seen One Dimensional Creatures’ first physical release in the form of the 6 track “Baited Chains” EP, from which third single, “Peter Pan” is taken – I know because I’m now the proud owner of one of them – and it’s reyt good.
Ste takes to the mic with the observation, “Right, I know what you’re all fcukin’ thinking Justin Timberlake’s let himself go” before launching into “Media Mass”, whose guitar riff is MOST reminiscent of IDLES, “Never Fight a Aam with A Perm”, spliced with a healthy dose of Murder Capital’s “More Is Less”, but there’s an air of good old-fashioned old-skool punk about these guys too. Ste is a man with a lot on his mind and, “Hail the Crown” is described as being about, “The unelected billionaire bastards that we’ve put in charge of ourselves”, so their political leanings are pretty obvious, as splices pre-Factory Joy Division with The Clash with remarkable efficiency. “Your Chair is not a Throne is, “About the bastards that we DO elect on those green fcuking seats down south” and by this point, we might JUST be getting a glimmer of what One Dimensional Creatures are all about. They’re a voice who speak truth to power on behalf of the oppressed and the downtrodden who don’t have a voice of their own. “Swilling round your massive cups, sitting in your godly chair, making sure us little ‘uns compacted in stay under there”
There’s the inevitable call to the merch stand for CD copies of, “Baited Chains” which are only a fiver – “We hate capitalism, but we’re capitalist bastards” apologises Ste before launching into third single, “Peter Pan”, which features on said CD. Stage left, Chris’s guitar howls angrily, whilst stage right Ollie pounds his bass furiously, and hidden far back in the corner, Adam make a fine din to underpin this thirty-minute set filled with ill-contained rage – particularly at the fact that of we stream it on Spotify, it’ll earn them 0,0001p each time we do. I won’t repeat what Ste says next about Spotify’s earnings policy, but it’s probably fair to say he’s not a fan. “Blue Sky Red”s bass and guitar intro calls to mind The Cure’s “In Between Days”, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The song is about the 17th century economist Adam Smith whose theories are still in use today “And that’s why our economy’s fcuked”, states Ste, and who am I to argue with him?
The pathos of “Hope, Lies, Deceit”, with current immigration policy firmly in its sights has more than a smattering of The Wedding Present about it, as well as a nifty Hooky bassline which was always going to earn it extra brownie points. Ste points us in the direction of their next gig at Off the Square in Manchester (supporting Idyllic) on 25th November, before drifting into the melancholy introduction to, “My Noose” before it launches into a full-on assault on the earholes with its poignant refrain of, “I’ve never seen the light you’ve seen”. “March In Line” channels The Murder Capital, as well as a Joy Division song with a not-to-dissimilar title which walks instead of marches. Before we know it, we’re down to set closer “Bleed the Markets” with its worrying, “You said they’re coming for us, if we don’t work for nothing”…and you know they WOULD, too.
One Dimensional Creatures twang a lot of The Humble Reviewer’s synapses and I rather suspect that they may well twang some of yours too. And, in a very real sense, who doesn’t love a good twang?
One Dimensional Creatures played: Media Mass, Hail the Crown, Your Chair is not a Throne, Peter Pan, Blue Sky Red (The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith), Hope-Lies-Deceit, My Noose, March in Line and Bleed the Markets.
What do we know about Low Highs? – well, apart from the fact that this is going to be their first gig (we were there, kids…), Middelton-born drummer Galen, and Sheffield-born bassist Ryan played with Zeny Bux (who I’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing – see the link in the introduction) for a few months, before deciding to head off in a different musical direction (as you do). They next recruited Keighley-based guitarist Bailey, only completing their current lineup as recently as April with the addition of singer Charlie, who’s from Banbury. Collectively they count the likes of Toto (Yas!), The Wombats, Muse, Foo Fighters, Frank Turner, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Orielles’, Jamiroquai and Level 42 amongst their wide range of influences, so, Low High’s set promises to be most varied and interesting!
They’re certainly a different proposition from what’s gone before, that’s for sure. Set opener “Any Phrase” is a funky, jazzy number and Charlie’s vocals are a little reminiscent of Nick Heyward, or Edwyn Collins with a riff that hints more than a little at Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525” (Yes, I really AM that old!) or even Bowie’s “Starman”, while stage left. bassman Ryan exudes so much cool that I’m tempted to ask him to look after my Doctor Oetker pizzas until I’m ready to cook them. “We are Low Highs – thank you SO much for coming to see us”, shouts a gleeful Charlie, before taking us into the gentler, but none the less emotional refrains of, “Diminished”. “Displaced Confidence” is bright and sparkly, with a cheeky chord progression that’s not too dissimilar to “Hotel California” (maybe you’ve heard of it…?) Stage right, guitarist Bailey is sporting a long sleeved Maruja top, so extra brownie points for HIM too whilst Galen conjures up some pretty intricate rhythms over in the far-left (location-wise, not politically) corner. Fortunately, Shure features a balcony, meaning I can hang over the edge of the stairs and capture shots of him over the top of Ryan’s head, so all good.
There are clearly lots of fans in this audience (and why wouldn’t there be?) and if this is indeed their first gig, on the strength of this performance, you’d never have guessed it, plus, in the case of Ryan, this HAS to be the best way EVER to spend your birthday! “What’s Good for You” is what might happen if you gave Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame the lyrics to “The Boy with The Thorn in His Side” and asked him to go away and see what he could come up with (in a very good way, I hasten to add). The standard of musicianship is alarming for such a young band at the very start of this particular chapter of their musical careers with no signs of first gig nerves at ALL.
“Glue Sticks to Make You” is a dreamy number that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Everything but The Girl set. Charlie ensures that we’re going to grab a Q Code sticker on the way out, so as to spread the Low Highs message even further afield before Bailey wacka wackas (check to see if this is a real verb. Ed) his way into set closer “Sick of it” – confidence is high amongst the bandmates as Charlie and the others give it all they’ve got. This is followed up by an excellent impromptu jam session which allows each member to demonstrate their talents. On the strength of this debut, there’ll be a lot more Highs than Lows from this enthusiastic bunch (REALLY? Ed.) and you can catch up with them next on Saturday the 21st at The Adderbury Institute in Banbury, with a couple more gigs before the end of the year, and hopefully a single before then too.
Low Highs played: Any Phrase, Diminished, Displaced Confidence, What’s Good for You, Glue Sticks to Make You and Sick of It.
Hunter and the Wolves’ line-up comprises Lee Hunter (vocals and guitar), Tim Rainford (guitar), Ryan Bacon (bass) and Saul Gerrard (drums) Whilst they currently don’t have any more gigs lined up, they tell me that there may be a chance of something being squeezed in at Stockport’s Blossoms pub before the end of the year, and they’re also planning on spending some time in the studio towards the end of October. Off the back of current single, “Mouth of The Obelisk”, they’ll be looking to record “Rooftops”, “Fingers & Thumbs” and “Sunset”, all of which appear in tonight’s set, plus there’s a chance that “I’m Not Everybody’s Cuppa Tea” may be released as a live track from tonight’s gig if it all turns out well, so fingers crossed!
There are clearly many fans of Lee Hunter and his Wolves in the crowd tonight and an enthusiastic wolf howl goes up in response to his query of, “Where’s me wolf pack – where are ya?” They even have a birthday of their own to announce, although it’s not a band member, it’s “Tim’s missus’ sister’s birthday”, which although a bit protracted seems to elicit just as much applause as Low Highs’ Ryan’s did. “On and On” opens with a riff suspiciously similar to that of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK”, but I’ll let that one pass as it also (to these jaded ears) pays loving tribute to Jonathan Richman’s “Egyptian Reggae” too.
The blue lighting is delicious from my point of view as Tim stage left coaxes fine sounds from his red Epiphone as they launch into what will hopefully be tonight’s live track release, so we all make as much noise as possible in the hope that we’ll be captured for posterity too. “I’m Not Your Cuppa Tea” is a rollicking track, swiftly followed up by, “Sunset” which could almost have been borrowed from Elvis Costello’s, “Pump it Up” or The Knack’s “My Sharona”. I sometimes wish I didn’t remember as much old music as I do and instead could remember what I went into the kitchen for five minutes ago, as midnight on Sunday draws ever near and I STILL haven’t completed this review, but it’s a handy thing to be cursed with, I suppose.
“I’m going to sweat for you tonight, don’t you worry, cold as it is”, announces Lee, as the first of tonight’s requests for him to take his top off drifts from the crowd. “Sunset” drifts (appropriately) into “Fireflies” which struts cheekily in a Stray Cat style, but remixed by The Arctic Monkeys.
Much as I can hear influences splattered all over the place, Hunter and the Wolves are a very original-sounding band with a charismatic frontman who’s clearly adored by his fans. He still has yet to take his top of though, but there’s time yet. ”Miles Away” also has the sound of Edwyn Collins in its vocal delivery whilst Tim’s guitar stage left and Ryan’s bass stage right keep things moving along nicely, ably accompanied by Saul’s drums over in the corner, but I have sussed the noble art of photographing drummers by now, so all is good.
“Fingers & Thumbs” is dedicated to Carla and is a straight heads-down rock ‘n’ roll number that has the crowd downstairs going for it and the good folks upstairs on the balcony are up off the sofas and giving it all they’ve got too. Next up is the current single “Mouth of The Obelisks” which Lee announces laconically (and unsurprisingly) is available on all media platforms.
Although its opening bars and chorus might well have a certain Kelly Jones pricking up his ears down in the Rhondda, we’re already Having a Nice Day, and I don’t think anyone here would disagree with me. This is the look and sound of a group of mates simply enjoying themselves and being enjoyed by their fans, who whoop and cheer appreciatively. “Nuki” again has more than a touch of Alex Turner about it vocally, but Hunter and The Wolves are much rawer and grittier than that. No Monkeying around. Lee gradually bows to pressure and the shirt comes off, much to the delight of the crowd, but bassman Ryan is having absolutely NONE of it when some wit in the crowd suggests that he should remove his pants in what I can only assume is some form of gesture of solidarity. “Rooftop” picks up the pace with Tim, Ryan and Saul giving it all they’ve got, with elements of Bambara lurking in this one, too.
The night is drawing to an end as Lee announces that this is their last song, thanking us and telling us that he’s “Fcukin loved it” and hopes we have too. “Only Human” has the merest whiff of The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” about it with its plaintive chorus of “Ooh-ooh-ooh, who are you, who are you to judge me?” And so, to the strains of The Verve’s, “Lucky Man”, and a, “Big thank you for coming and for keeping music alive” from Stone Sugar’s Dan Hughes who’s also been busy on videoing duty tonight, we’re off into the darkness of a chilly Royton night and the drive home.
A grand night for sure and a great way to support grassroots music! Editor Girl and I will be back at Shure 5 next Saturday too, for M35’s event which will feature no fewer than five acts – looks like we’re going to be busy!
Hunter and the Wolves played: On & On, I’m Not Your Cuppa Tea, Sunset, Fireflies, Miles Away, Fingers & Thumbs, Mouth of The Obelisks, Nuki, Rooftops, and Only Human.
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