Located beneath the City Screen Picturehouse cinema in York city centre, The Basement is a 100 capacity venue which over its 14 year history has established a most well-deserved reputation for hosting a wide and impressive range of live music, comedy and arts events. Tonight is no exception, as local independent promoter Joe Coates and his Please Please You stable join forces with York record label Bad Paintings to present four very diverse musical acts.
First up is Luke Saxton, a 19 year old singer-songwriter/musician from York. A prodigious young talent who is on the verge of releasing his debut album Sunny Sadness, his shy and awkward stage presence reflects the fact that this is only his fifth ever gig. Yet when he picks up that guitar and starts to sing, all such hesitancy disappears.
Comparisons have already started to be drawn with Harry Nilsson, a view reinforced by Saxton bearing more than a passing resemblance to the late, great nearly-man of popular music. And just like a lot of Nilsson’s earlier work – think of Pandemonium Shadow Show and Aeriel Ballet here – Saxton is capable of imbuing his songs with a terrible melancholy. The first four songs this evening are all drawn from Sunny Sadness – the album’s title track, with which he opens his seven song set, ‘In Your Heart’, the apposite ‘Song For Harry Nilsson’ and tonight’s stand-out song ‘My Dear’ – and stripped of the fuller instrumentation and lightness of their studio sound they are shrouded in a mournful, yet quite imperious gloom.
Wolf Solent is Danny Trew Barton. Another product of York, Barton’s music is cut from an altogether different cloth. He stitches together waves of fuzzed-out guitar, barely decipherable vocals, reverb, delay and a great sense of undiluted cosmic bliss into a potent alchemy of psychedelia and almost trance-like pop. ‘TV Glow’, from his first solo offering the Lifeboat EP, retains all of its woozy charm whilst the nagging insistence of ‘Take A Left’ promises much for his forthcoming second Extended Play recording.
The London-based electronic musician Will Young records as Moon Gangs. And just like half of his stage name, the sound that he twiddles, conjures and ultimately ekes out of the small phalanx of electrical equipment before him is that of a lunar landscape. A vast circular, repetitive swathe of synths, eventually punctuated by startling blasts of impact cratering, reveal a bleak, barren musical topography upon which the latent orchestral ambience of Vangelis with the more contemporary experimentalism of Blanck Mass are expertly fused.
To promote their third long player Wooden Aquarium, Fat Cat Records’ Mazes are out on a short tour of England that will end at this weekend’s Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. ‘Astigmatism’ and ‘Stamford Hill’ – both taken from the new album – are perfect illustrations of how Mazes’ have shifted away from some of the more cosmische musik influences of its predecessor – last year’s Ores & Minerals – back towards an earlier, looser, indie-rock stance. Yet for all of the new songs’ rippling, jagged charm, the evening’s highlight is their concluding ‘Skulking’ – from Ore & Minerals – which is given a wonderfully extended work-out, complete with squalling guitar solo from Jack Cooper.
Four musical acts and four very contrasting sounds that further enhance The Basement’s reputation for delivering diverse, innovative, exciting and vastly entertaining shows. This evening also whets the appetite for Please Please You’s Autumn/Winter schedule of events that include performances from Tom Hickox, The Wave Pictures, Devon Sproule, Simone Felice and Sweet Baboo & The Pictish Trail.
Full details of the upcoming shows can be found here
And some more photos of this evening’s show can be found here