Sunday, 18 November 2018

Gypsyfingers : Live at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch Cardiff on Saturday 17th November, 2018

Tonight was another glorious evening of music at Acapela Studio as Gypsyfingers brought the full band to the best chapel in Wales.

Gypsyfingers aka Luke Oldfield (Vocals, Elelectric & Acoustic Guitars) and his wife Victoria (Vocals, Piano, Acoustic Guitar & French Horn) are augmented tonight by Pat Kenneally (Drums & Keyboard), Simon Hedges (Bass) and Tali Trow (Acoustic Guitar), 6 String Bass, Upright Bass & Piano) for their first ever Welsh gig. And there can be no better venue than the acoustically brilliant Acapela Studio.

The Duo have just released their new album, Stranger Things, the follow up to 2014's Circus Life, which came like a Pandora's Box of delights are they experimented with a multitude of styles and sound to produce an eclectic , heady mix. Featuring Victoria's classical influences, Luke's folk and rock background, add in a dash of hip hop and electronica and you still won't come close to the delights that album holds.

As is regular at Acapela, tonight the band had two 45 minute sets to delve into their two albums and pluck out the jewels. 
The band take to the stage and Luke & Victoria put on their horse and rabbit masks as featured on the cover artwork of Stranger Things. First two songs up are from the new album, opening with the instrumental Sophie's Dream and Half World.

Half World

As a template, the gig worked out peerfectly with enough time to showcase the band's two albums in a running order that kept the audience interested and teased. Slower songs were followed by quicker songs.

Eating Me

First half highlights included Eating Me, Get Yourself Out Of Town and The Island from Circus Life and Half World, The Bay and The Waves from Stranger things.

The Waves

Most of the lead vocals are taken by Victoria whose delicate hushed tones are counterpointed by Luke's beautifully fluid guitar phrases throughout the whole evening. And part one went by like a shot. It was one of those gigs where you could hear a pin drop during the performances and is a feature of the Acapela audiences who come to hear the music for bands like Gypsyfinger and give them the respect they deserve which is not often the case in larger more uncontrolled venues. I have never had to ask someone to stop talking during performances in Acapela and hopefully it'll stay that way.

Set 2 kicks off with Still In It from Stranger Things and set 2 has more songs from the newer album. As Victoria switches from Piano to Acoustic Guitar to French Horn it's obvious the lady has talent to spare.

Stranger Things is a definite step forward for the band and the inclusion of the three extra musicians tonight help to bring the fuller sound of the sophomore album to life in the live context without ever compromising on the delicacy of the music and the vocals.

Steel Bones

Hey Maria

Part 2 has some beautiful highlights including Steel Bones from Circus Life and Hey Maria from Stranger Things.

During set 2 we are treated to performances of Still In It, You, Bruised, Lump & Quit The Game.

Stranger Things

With the music being eclectic throughout the evening it had the effect of making the show absolutely fly by.

One thing I was really impressed with though was the fact that even with the added musicians on hand, Luke & Victoria managed to keep the arrangements simple and sympathetic to the songs. It must have been a temptation of expand the sound with he quality of musicianship available but they kept it relatively tight and focused. Not trying to recreate the album sounds and leaving the chapel to produce that fabulous sound it always manages to create for the musicians.

The nine songs of set two just flew by before the closer - the fabulous title track of Stranger Things.
However, we weren't letting the band go before at least one encore and they oblidged with a stunning version of Blue Sky with just Luke on acoustic guitar and Victoria playing French Horn. It really was the perfect ending to a perfect evening of music. 

Blue Sky

It really was a superb evening of Music and the duo are certainly well worth keeping an eye on in the future. With music hard to catagorise, which is a good thing, they have two excellent albums to build on and even though album two has just been released, I'm already looking forward to seeing where they decide to go on album 3. And that's how it should be.

Twitter - @Gypsyfingers

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Live In 2018: The John Hackett Band live at Acapela Studios, Pentrych on Sunday 30th September 2018

Acapela Studios added yet another top quality Prog Band to it's roster as John Hackett brought his band to South Wales to play the Chapel.

In an altruistic move, John handed over part of his set time to new band The Kentish Spires to play their first gig in Wales and only their second gig as a band. Featuring some Welsh talent, the band consisting of
Lucie V - Vocals
Paul Hornsby - Woodwind
Danny Chang - Guitar
Rik Loveridge - Keyboards
Phil Warren - Bass
Tim Robinson - Drums

They have just released their first album - The Last Harvest. Very much in the vein of The Canterbury Scene of Prog, the band warmed the audience up nicely and were self assured as they worked their way through several tracks from The Last Harvest.



It was great to hear some of those special Canterbury phrasings and instrumental sections, bringing to mind those classic bands such as Caravan, Matching Mole and Hatfield & The North.

And being only their second gig - they were pretty darned impressive. Keep your eyes and ears open for more gigs and you could do a lot worse than investigating The Last Harvest.

John Hackett, yes he IS the brother of Steve (of Genesis fame), has been following his own path for several years now. 
John has been releasing albums under his own name since Velvet Afternoon was released in 2004 although he had appeared on many albums as a flautist since appearing on the album The Road (1970) by  Quiet World - a band he was in with his brother Steve. Last year he released We Are Not Alone - the first album with his band.

John's Band consists of

John Hackett - Keyboards, Flute, Guitar and Vocals
Jeremy Richardson - Bass, Guitar and Lead Vocals
Nick Fletcher - Guitar
Duncan Parsons - Drums, Percussion & Vocals

I would describe the Band's music as Rock with a Prog and slightly Jazz feel. Not really like brother Steve's but just as interesting and eclectic.
The songs tonight came from the following albums

Checking Out London (2005)  Another Life (2015) and the latest We Are Not Alone (2017)

The set opens with Whispers from Checking Out Of London before two songs from We Are Not Alone - Look Up and Life In Reverse

Promo Video for Another Life

Don't expect major Prog epics from John - that's not the band's style. Many of the songs come in at the usual 5 minutes or under. Some tracks are purely instrumental, while others are almost commercial in tone - reminiscent of Chris Rea or even Dire Straits to my ears such as Never Gonna Make A Dime.

The quality of musicianship on show tonight is second to none and the intricate arrangements are suitably executed with a dash of panache and humour. All of the band members get their time in the sun and it also highlights just how good a musician John is in his own right - and not just his flute playing, which is always a joy to hear.

Promo Video for We Are Not Alone

The band also have a lovely jazz tinged flavour - reminiscent of the band Caravan - especially in the flute wanderings - highlighted beautifully on Queenie & Elmo's Perfect Day

Video for Queenie & Elmo's Perfect Day

Jeremy Richardson as lead vocalist is in fine voice throughout the evening and with Duncan Parsons on drums grounds the band solidly leaving John and especially Nick Fletcher on guitar to carry the instrumental colours on tracks such as Jericho.

The band do get a chance to Prog Out with the longer track Winds Of Change.

Magazine brings back memories of Greg Lake in King Crimson before the inevitable encore of Red Hair - another instrumental track which enables the band to show their considerable skills.

Video For Dreamtown

Video for Red Hair

Another fine evening of Musicianship at Acapela Studios - and I even got the chance to thank John for his work on Anthony Phillips album The Geese & The Ghost. He laughed at that.

Twitter - @johnhackettband

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Live in 2018: Logicaltramp at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Saturday 13th October 2018

There is a lot of snobbery surrounding 'Tribute' Bands. I'll set my stall out straight away and state that I have no problem whatsoever with Tribute Bands. In many cases, these bands provide the only outlet of hearing great songs live once again in a 'Live' context. 
I've seen several tribute bands over the years. Some good, some bad. But when they do it well, a Tribute Band can give a great night of entertainment.
I've never seen a tribute band for Supertramp before so I have no benchmark for comparison. However, I doubt I'm going to see a better Supertramp Tribute Band than Logicaltramp.

They needed some serious instrumentation to bring those classic songs to life and they did so with plenty of elan and style.
Consisting of

Gary Hopkins - Lead Vocals (Rick Davies Songs) - Keyboards & 12 String Guitar
Tamas Csemez - Lead Vocals (Roger Hodgson Songs)
Anthony Clayton - Guitar
Serge Sainte-Rose - Piano/Keyboards
Laurent Hunziker - Saxophones/Harmonica/Backing Vocals
Alex Kundig - Bass/Backing Vocals
Grant Wildy - Drums

the band delivered an evening of top quality performances which did justice to the original recordings.

Concentrating on the classic albums Crime Of The Century & Breakfast In America, the band gave us two hours of classic Supertramp - with additional tracks from most of the Supertramp catalogue of albums.

The one major mistake, as far as I'm concerned, that Tribute Bands often make is that they try to imitate the vocal performances. I'm glad to say that tonight both Gary & Tamas do not try and imitate Rick & Roger but sung in their own distinctive voices and left the instrumentation to carry the vibe of the original recordings. 

From that first eerie string note and the harmonica solo of Take The Long Way Home we were off and running. I cannot compliment the band enough on the arrangements of the songs for the whole of the evening as they played hit after hit to such as consummate standard.

Ain't Nobody But Me came up next and showed we weren't just in for a Greatest Hits Show, the band were going to throw in some album tracks and lesser known songs. And they did it with seamless authority.
The crowd pleasing Breakfast In America got the crowd singing and I must say I was SO pleased that the Acapela audience turned out for these guys with an almost full house.

Bloody Well Right is always a crowd pleaser and back in 1974/75 could be heard blasting out of more than one bedroom window as a sign of teenage disobedience. Tonight it was just another excuse for a great singalong. It really brought it home tonight with so many of its tracks getting an airing what a great album Crime actually is - All Killer, No Filler as the saying goes.

I had a shiver of excitement as I saw Gary Hopkins unbox his 12 string acoustic. I knew immediately of two songs which this would lead into. But......

Now, if I have one bone to pick with the Band tonight it was the next section. They played Easy Does It - the opening track from Crisis, What Crisis? but unlike the album and subsequent live shows they did not follow it with Sister Moonshine - which happens to be MY favourite Supertamp song. But I hid my disappointment and whistled along anyway. And they followed this with another Crisis crowd pleaser, Lady.

Another lesser known track came next with Rick's song, Waiting So Long from Famous Last Words. And to balance the set up - the next track was also from the same album but was a little bit better known as they played a terrific version of the huge hit, It's Raining Again.

As is so gratefully accepted in Acapela performances, the Band have split the show into two halves and Part One is joyfully brought to a close with a blistering version of Goodbye Stranger. A special mention here for Anthony Clayton who provides several excellent electric guitar solos over the evening including a classic solo in Goodbye Stranger which he hits note for note while inserting some lovely flourishes of his own.

Well, we thought Part One was good - Part Two was even better when that harmonica solo begins and School emanates through the Acapela sound system. With another cracking guitar solo from Anthony Clayton the band are soon back into their stride.

Another track for the true fans came next with the song - You Started Laughing which was on the live album, Paris. Crime Of The Century once again provides the next track as the gorgeous Hide In Your Shell shows just how good a vocalist Tamas actually is. 

And not to be outdone - Gary Hopkins puts in a stellar vocal performance for the following track, Just Another Nervous Wreck from Breakfast In America in which all of the band get a chance to really rock out and brought all of the Acapela audience straight to their feet.

It was another singalong moment next as the band performed Dreamer and raised the roof on Acapela.

Just as I thought Even In The Quietest Moments deserved a mention - Gary Hopkins took to the mic and launched into an excellent version of From Now On. He then stayed at the mic to follow this with another killer album track - Rudy from Crime.

The 12 string was unboxed yet again for that other 12 string Supertamp hit from the Quietest Moments album - Give A Little Bit. Once again with 100% audience participation. 

It was another 'shiver down the spine' moment next as that lovely piano phrase opens the epic track Fools Overture - the killer closing track of Even In The Quietest Moments. At over 11 minutes long, I didn't think they'd include it in the set - but by Jove, they did and it was absolutely brilliant as they included all of the sound effects included in the track. What a way to end a show and gave the band a well deserved standing ovation. 

There was no way that the Acapela audience were letting these guys go without an encore and sure enough they came back with other huge Supertamp hit - The Logical Song. That would have been enough but they stayed on for one more track - and what a track to end with, the title track from Crime Of The Century which they played beautifully, leading to another well deserved standing ovation.

So the end to a fabulous night of music. So many smiling faces as the Acapela Audience got a chance to sing along with these fantastic songs. And so may great ones they could have played from that fabulous Supertramp back catalogue of music. 
With Supertramp no longer around and Roger Hodgson playing only the larger venues - it's up to the passionate tribute bands such as Logicaltramp to keep these songs alive in a live context. And I have to say they did a superb job and I'd go and see them again tomorrow if I could. If they come near you, and you like the Supertramp catalogue then go and see them. You'll be surprised.

Twitter - @logicaltramp

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Live in 2018: Beatrix Players at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Sunday 16th September 2018

In 2017 - Beatrix Players took the Prog Magazine Limelight Award - the award for the best up and coming band or artist in the Prog sphere. Tonight, they showed the Acapela audience exactly why they were worthy recipients of that esteemed Award.

Beatrix Players are - Amy Birks on Lead Vocals, Amanda Alvarez on Cello and Jess Kennedy on Piano & Backing Vocals. Accompanying them on Violin tonight was Maria Kroon.

At present, Beatrix Players have released one album, called Magnified and released several singles from said album. The majority of the album was played live tonight. And there were a couple of new songs put in the set. Even a cover song. Of which later.


It's quite hard to categorise the music of Beatrix Players. If you check on their website - link at the bottom of the page - you'll see they describe it as an adventurous mix of Folk, Prog, Singer/Songwriter Acoustica, and Quasi-Classical Baroque Chamber Pop. Quite a potent mix, I think you'll agree.

Never Again

Showing very little sign of nerves but an engaging vulnerability, Amy Birks leads the ladies through a set of two halves. Anyone who has Magnified and enjoyed it would have appreciated that the majority of the album got an airing tonight. And it sounds even lovelier live than on record.
Obviously, with a limitation of instrumentation, the live sound is a perfect fit in Acapela where acoustic instruments sound particularly impressive. And Maria's violin added another colour to the sepia beauty of the arrangements. 

Lady Of The Lake

During the show, Amy commented that they had been playing in pubs up to a couple of years ago and it was nice to have an audience who were actually there to listen. And listen they did. You could hear a pin drop as the Ladies performed, broken only by the rapturous applause when they finished. The Acapela really is the place to go if you want to 'hear' the music. The sound quality is always excellent and it's not often that you can get Artists and Audience commenting on how good the sound was during the performance.


To say the evening flew by is and understatement. Part One was over before you knew it. But not before the ladies presented us with a couple of surprises. A cover (the only one they play live, and one they released digitally with All That Thinking, the cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt - more recently made famous by Johnny Cash.) This was followed by the last song of the half, a new song called Elsa.

It's always a pleasure to see the artists doing brisk business at the Merch Table - sign of a good gig - and the Beatrixes chose the half time interval to ply their wares to great effect.

I've tried to include several videos of the songs played in this show to give you a taste of the evening. In fact, the Beatrixes like Acapela so much that have returned there to record a video for a forthcoming new song.

Part Two included more songs from Magnified. One of my friends who attended the show commented on how much he enjoyed Amy's explanation of the lyrics and how they had enlightened him and made the songs more enjoyable. He wasn't wrong.

The ladies even managed to include another trio of new songs in the second half. First up was Road To Gordes, which was received rather well in with the more well known album tracks. Highlights of the evening for me were the really gorgeous versions of Lady Of The Lake and Molehill. I'm sure I saw a grown man wiping a tear from his eye at one point.

Road To Gordes

Part Two went as quickly as Part One and very soon it was that the trio of new songs, Road To Gordes, Ships In The Night and Catherine ( a Henry VIII song - we were told to expect a few on the new record - I hope Sir Richard Of Wakeman gets a call from the girls, as he has form where this is concerned and would be a lovely cameo) that lead us to the end of the show.

But we weren't going to let the Ladies off the hook without an encore and sure enough they returned to give us a spine tingling version of Roses to finish off a rather special evening of music. What was also pleasing was that the ladies all took a turn in the limelight, although it is obvious that Amy as vocalist will always get the spotlight, the backing vocals and Piano work by Jesse was such a pleasure throughout. Amanda & Maria provided the colour throughout the evening adding glorious flourishes and drama as they intertwined through the vocals and piano. Oh and a special mention for Amy's special little device which provides a thunder-like drum sound for added dramatic effect.


It was great to see the ladies go from strength to strength as they build up their growing portfolio of live performances, post Prog Awards. Word is starting to get out and I'm sure they'll be playing to huge audiences of their own. But Ladies, remember you promised to come back to Acapela and I'll hold you to that promise.

Twitter - @BeatrixPlayers