The Parade Live @ Medway Homespun Music Festival

The Parade Live @ Medway Homespun Music Festival
The Parade Live @ Medway Homespun Music Festival

The second annual Homespun music festival took place in various venues across the Medway Towns last week, starting on Wednesday 23rd with among other Jowe Head, he of Swell Maps & TV Personalities fame, and culminating with five bands playing at the newest venue, the Sun Pier House hosting only its second gig.  A cafe & art rooms by day it was transformed into a gigging venue on Saturday evening to host Hand of Stabs, The Sine Waves, Galileo 7, The Parade & Young Husband.

After being told by several people that I would like Hand of Stabs I decided to put brave the heat, put on some clothes and smother myself with deodorant in the hope that I could last long enough in the heat to watch their set before melting. But alas, I began dripping profusely even before Hand Of Stabs had assembled their odd array of instruments that included an electrified bicycle wheel – not since Psychic TV have I heard someone get a tune from such an inanimate object.  On that note, if the Sun Pier Cafe is to host regular gigs, and I hope they do, they need to invest in air conditioning or windows that open properly and a large enough fridge to serve ice cold alcohol.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Hand of Stabs.  They didn’t appear to be enjoying the experience of playing a conventional gig and the freeform improvised jam never quite go off the ground.  I made a mental note to go see them perform in a field, woods or museum – a normal place to perform as far as these three wise weirdy beards are concerned – I will I’m sure enjoy it much more next time.

The Sine Waves made a good, tight surf racket dressed in lab coats and wacky head gear, and the Galileo 7 played an equally tight set of melodic psych pop.  By now the heat was on, and I was about to pass out and give in.  But for some reason I decided to stay and listen to one song by The Parade.  I had seen the name around and was aware of the singer’s solo project Lupen Crook.  But not heard either. The five-piece ambled onto the stage through the sweat and chatter, donned their instruments and drifted into their first song.  Taking centre stage, Matt Prichard began by playing the organ and quietly singing  in a gentle, poetic way with his acoustic guitar slung high around his back like a drunken bohemian vagabond stumbling out of a Victorian bar into the bright light of a new day.

Unannounced I wasn’t the only one to cock-an-ear.  There seemed to be an aura, an electricity, if not from the group, from Matt Prichard (aka Lupen Crook) – a tortured soul, basking in the limelight while also giving an air of awkward discomfort in having to give a performance; and that is exactly what this was – a performance.  The Parade have edginess about them.  A feeling anything and everything is about to happen. Jemimah Dean sang with Prichard while bashing drums, crashing cymbals and demonically strutting barefooted in shamanic-like posturing.

From the other side of the stage the sweet innocent looking Hannah Prescott began plucking at strings to make the most beautiful noise while she stamped on an array of effects pedals to give her guitar various surges of distorted life, which was so not what I imagined – a twee indie pop jingle jangle. Behind this frontline barrage of positive power and bleeding emotion there is a tight rhythm section courtesy of Chris Garth on drums and bassist Chris Taylor. Together they liberate the space for Prichard, Dean & Prescott to express themselves, filling the air with broken glass-like jagged sounds and some of the most exciting power pop I have heard in a very long time.

My one and only criticism of The Parade performance that night was I wanted it to be 10x louder.  I didn’t want to hear people yakking.  I wanted those people to be forced to shut up and leave holding their palms over their ears to stop the blood flow.  The Parade need to be as loud as My Bloody Valentine without earplugs; as uncontrolled as The Jesus & Mary Chain at the infamous North London Poly ‘Riot’ gig; and if The Parade continue to be fully committed and build it, they will come.

The Parade is the future and I want it now!

The Claim, Theatre Royal, Love Family – Homespun Medway Music Festival

Across Medway (from east to west) in Gillingham, Chatham & Rochester venues including The Barge, Nags Head, Billabong Club, Eagle Tavern, Gordon House Hotel, Ye Arrow, Granville Arms, Singapora, Guildhall Museum and The Crown, the Homespun independent Medway music festival was a massive success on every level.  The gigs were all well attended and very professionally staged, while being professionally managed by collaborating local promoters Medway Eyes, Tea, Motherboy and Suburban Kings.

A special preview show at The Barge kicked off proceedings on Wednesday (10th) night with solo performances from Dave Read, Stuart Turner, Didi Bergman & John Forrester; and over the course of two days (Friday 12th & Saturday 13th July 2013) the Medway Towns were awash with a plethora of local talent.  Some old performers had crawled from beneath stones to perform alongside the fresh and vibrant sounds of young Medway.  The weather was perfect and there was the added bonus of seeing old faces, both supporting and performing in what will hopefully become an annual event.

Part of the fun was downloading the timetable to plan your route between venues, like runs between festival stages at Glastonbury.   As I prepared to follow a touching acoustic performance from singer/songwriter Chris Hearsey at the Granville Arms with a short walk to The Eagle to see Tape Error it was mentioned that they had cancelled due to the singer ‘not feeling well’. It is at this point I would like to mention the tragic passing of the Tape Error’s very talented Chris Austin.

In the evening, three bands played at Rochester High Street’s Gordon House Hotel. The Love Family who reformed several years ago treated the audience of friends and fans to a set which included old songs like ‘Body & Soul & Heart & Mind’, tracks from their 2012 debut album, ‘Out Of Reach’ and their current four track ‘A Soundtrack’ EP including the crowd-pleasing songs ‘Somewhere Waiting’ & ‘Something Start’. The Love Family played a very tight set of what I can best describe as post-grunge drone.  Think Husker Du meets…. Husker Du.  The Love Family sound is a high voltage humming wall of sound built on layers of biting guitars, heavy throbbing bass lines, solid non-fancy pounding beats and the distinctive Americana vocal-style of Gary Robertson.

A change in music direction as Theatre Royal took to the ‘stage’. With two albums and a box of single releases already to their name, they played a spotless set of very impressive, well structured alternative ‘indie’ pop songs which perfectly suited the evening humidity of one of the hottest days of the year, so far. Over the past couple of years I’ve seen Theatre Royal play many gigs, none of which have been disappointing.  But tonight they appeared to reach a higher level as they rattled through a list of songs including my personal favourite, ‘Foreign Shores’. In the late 1980s The Claim & The Dentists were a perfect match and performed together many times both in Medway & London.  In 2013, the twisted, alternative pop of Theatre Royal is a perfect match for the latest returning performance of The Claim.

Back in the day, The Claim would play regularly across Medway venues.  But these days performances are rare.  Hence they sell out! There has been a handful of gigs in the past few years which leads me to believe they are in limbo, somewhere between a reformed band and a one-off show to promote a ‘best of’ CD. Like a group of zombies, The Claim currently reside in the alternative pop world of the undead, and with every year that passes, appear to becoming local pop legends.

Following a return to their beloved Cliffe, where they played, by all accounts a strange, emotional village hall gig on the Thursday, The Claim headlined Homespun with a bright, shining performance. Similar to Theatre Royal, The Claim’s alternative pop songs have a certain something that propels them far above their contemporaries, both then and now.  Dave Read’s singing style is as distinctive as Morrissey, Johnny Rotten, Bob Dylan or any other great vocalist and deserves to be spoken about in such company. The songs are pure pop perfection, and very British.  Too late for C86 or too early for Britpop?  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not good enough to write and play tight, catchy, original songs that once you’ve heard them stay in your head and keep you humming for… years.

The Claim played a set of crowd pleasers.  Not difficult considering everyone present was there to see them & know the songs inside out.  Although each has their favourites, everyone would probably agree that The Claim haven’t got a bad song!

Homespun appears to have left everyone it touched, praising the event and saying one thing.  It would be good if this became an annual Medway music festival.

Homespun – Medway Festival of Music

Homespun - Medway Music Festival
Homespun - Medway Music Festival

Homespun is a collaboration between local Medway bands & promoters (Medway Eyes, Motherboy, Tea & Suburban Kings). Forces are working together to bring a packed weekend of the best in local music in several local venues on the weekend of 12th – 13th July.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_83cgt2Drkc

All events are free entry, except for three evening gigs taking place at The Gordon Hotel, Billabong Club and The Crown.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKBipRWOnSA

Homespun will showcase a wealth of local talent including The Len Price 3, Crybaby Special, Theatre Royal and reformed Thames Estuary (near Medway) band The Claim.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPHvDd9F3Lc

From further afield comes the dark folk of Warp Records’ Gravenhurst and noise-punk of Ice, Sea, Dead People.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt1IuwhVYdA

Homespun will also include the debut live Medway performance from The Parade.

For further information and tickets visit http://homespunmedway.com & https://www.facebook.com/homespunmedway

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