Tag Archives: Counting Coins

Protest punk bridges the generation gap and highlights 2017 legacy challenge

Forty years after the release of God Save The Queen and seven days before a General Election, protest punk rock is alive and well in East Hull.

Or is it? I’ve still got that single. Asked my mum to pick it up while she was in town. Remember when Boots sold records? And I saw the Sex Pistols on the tour which followed.

Memories fade, but I’m sure I’d have remembered if Johnny Rotten had said: “Okay guys, let’s huddle round the microphone. I’ll croon. Sid ­– you do the ‘bom, bom’, Paul – you’re on the ‘oohs’ and Steve, can you manage the ‘ahs’? And we’ll all click our fingers!”

A capella? A ca-bleeding-pella? No, the punk of The King Blues is more polished, tuneful and melodic than the raw stuff that rocked the world in 1977. They bring out an electro acoustic guitar, a ukulele and even have a guy whistling at one point.

And that audience! There are teenagers, and couples nearly as old as me. They all know the words, and they don’t pull any punches. For some it would have been a tough choice between The King Blues, supported by Counting Coins, at the Freedom Centre or a not-quite-head-to-head debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn live on TV.

The abiding thought here was that if the Prime Minister really is too fragile to take on her main adversary face-to-face, these guys would chew her up and spit her out before the end of the sound check.

Some of the material was beautifully brutal – ferocious messages wrapped in a soft, snuggly blanket. A razor blade in the raspberry mousse. Trojan tunes, appropriately enough being played just down the road from Hull KR’s place on the eve of the appearances there by Paul Heaton and Billy Bragg, expert practitioners of this sort of thing from 30 years ago.

The King Blues combine punk played with power, tip-toeing and tub-thumping ska, spoken word with bark and bite, and a sense of humour to bring the house down. When the hair-trigger fire alarm forced the band to ditch the smoke machine, they pulled a young, volunteer vaper out of the crowd and gave him the job of sitting centre stage, exhaling at every chorus. Not an easy task when the human smoke machine was trying to sing along as well.

Counting Coins were Counting Coins. High energy from permanently pumped-up front man Harry, the tightest musicianship starring spectacular, soaring trumpet, and signs of greater accessibility in the band’s new material.

They’ll be back soon as the festival season gather pace, but what next for the Freedom Centre? It was a coup to get the Coins there, never mind a crew of the calibre of London-based King Blues, and it happened only because the Hull 2017 team pitched in with the Back To Ours programme.

Such initiatives are essential and, in the legacy sense, arguably worth more in the long term than a Radio One Big Weekend. One young fan said it was the first time he could remember being able to see established bands, with proper equipment and tech, playing within walking distance of his home just down the road. And all for a fiver.

The challenge is to do it again, but the couple of hundred people who formed this Freedom Centre audience would soon dwindle if the absence of subsidies pushed up the ticket price. There’s an opportunity here for Sesh or for Springboard to spread their wings. It all costs money, but the benefits of culture are innumerable and immense. Community groups and corporates can get together to make it happen.

Many thanks to @louiseaeardly for the pix.



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Filed under Beer, Business, By Phil Ascough, Celebs, Drama, Election, Hull, Literature, Media, Music, Uncategorized

Turn off the TV, tune in to the sound of Springboard

Danny Landua (right), live at the Springboard Festival.

With the BBC showing the musical wilderness that is the Eurovision Song Contest and ITV seemingly trying to take over the world with the freak show that is Britain’s Got Talent the Springboard Festival provided a desperately-needed escape route.

It’s one of those lesser music events that struggles for mainstream media space against the big extravaganzas and even – it would appear round here – against bog-standard village fetes and parties in urban parks, but Springboard is growing up in its own quiet(ish) way.

From cautious beginnings at a couple of pubs in the village of Cottingham, a few miles outside Hull, Springboard now boasts eight stages in six pubs and a roster of about 170 live performances over four days and three nights.

Add the impromptu buskers and wandering minstrels and you end up with a musical feast and pubs packed with people who thankfully prefer the real thing to the mass-produced drivel on their TV screens.

If there’s a criticism it’s that the event is now becoming a tad too big for venues which don’t have the ideal stage and viewing area and for the organisational expertise of the people running the show. But that doesn’t mean Springboard needs to get bigger every year – it just needs to find its level.

That level varies depending on things like the time of day, the style of music on offer, the sun, the rain and the amount of alcohol consumed.

For families it’s perhaps unfortunate that the curfew is creeping forward a little every year. Kids used to congregate in comfort as late as seven, eight or even nine of an evening. This year they were being pushed out by increasingly wobbly grown-ups by about 6pm.

That probably had as much to do with the combination of fine weather and the prospect of a Bank Holiday lie-in. Less easy to justify was the foul-mouthed repertoire of one performer in a family pub just before 5pm on a Sunday.

“That man kept singing the F-word!” said our seven-year-old daughter as we headed for the door and the performer began his next song. About masturbation.

But it would be unfair to dwell on the negatives. We’ll go again next year and if Springboard don’t learn from their mistakes then we will. We’ll arrive earlier in the afternoon and leave earlier in the evening, but we’ll still be confident of having plenty of fun given the great variety of styles on offer.

Our seven-year-old drew the line at the comedy antics of some bloke belting out “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” to the accompaniment of a gloved fist smashing into a beer tray.

“If that man went on Britain’s Got Talent he’d get three crosses,” she commented.

Still at the quirky end of the spectrum, but more positively received, was Mark Robinson punching out his bouncy 70-s style World Cup anthem on a low-slung shoulder synthesiser.

Testtone3 from York delivered a style of glam-rock, the guitarist playing with his teeth and the whole set giving a nod of acknowledgment to Spinal Tap. Danny Landau is a singer-songwriter who deserves bigger audiences, Georgia Seddon has a unique, chirpy singing style over some very deliberate piano-playing and shared the stage with Marie Sioux, a rising singer-songwriter star from California, on their way to a gig at the legendary Hull Adelphi Club.

If you’re into live music check them all out via the usual search engines. Have a look also for Adrian Byron Burns, visiting from France and a Springboard regular of international renown. And the loud, growling sound of the James Dean Syndrome and the punky reggae ska rap rock combinations of Counting Coins, my personal highlight.

And in the middle of it all was a heavy metal band whose output made me think of something extremely heavy being dropped from a great height and very aggressively on Britain’s Got Talent. If only…

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Filed under Britain's Got Talent, By Phil Ascough, Eurovision Song Contest, Music