The last opportunity I had to see The Simones, I got scared. The world was closing in and I concluded, then, on that long, dark, foreboding February evening an evening of fun would be too risky. Imagine telling that tale to the grandchildren?
So this time around, although we had friends coming round, I was determined to herd them along to see some of our local talent in one of my favourite small venues Northern Quarter in Huddersfield. They had no say in the matter, dear reader.
My plans went a little awry as our mates arrived early and we had ample time to kill in the Magic Rock Tap Room beforehand (huh, who actually ever orders the standard 4.1% proof beer there?). So I was far too yammered to actually say hi and discuss the intricacies of beats and stuff (or whatever it is we marks are supposed to say to musicians). Our friend meanwhile had no such reservations and I think she spent more time in the back space with the bands than out front. She shouldn’t drink with her meds… hahaha (fat chance). Sorry, the oldest groupie in Huddersfield. My recollection remains (I think) fresh enough to attempt a write up.
First up was a debut gig for Top Hats. I love debut gigs (ha, apart from my own) and Top Hats were solid, full of enthusiasm and energy and had a great spiky sound. It feels so good to nail a first gig, and these guys totally deserved it.
Top Hats had a novel solution to that tricky perennial question for many a young band, ‘who sings lead’; they all took a turn on lead vocals and all did a convincing job.
My drinking bud was a club DJ of some repute in Ibiza and Bali back in the day, and he particularly raved about the beats and drumming throughout the set, which was indeed top notch. The guys will I’m sure be the first to recognise they need a few more songs and time to develop, but Top Hats are brimful with rabbits and promise and can go far. I’ll be looking out for these guys, because it’s hopefully gonna be a fine journey.
Second on stage were York favourites Everything After Midnight. If you like honest, quality rock then Everything After Midnight are your folk. There’s something of YONAKA, Black Honey or even Wolf Alice about this band. Much gutsier and raw on stage than on record, and no doubt fired by a recent recording session, those 3 entwined guitars and solid drums crank up a tight rolling rhythm and lead singer Stephanie pulled all the stops into a solid vocal.
I caught the band last summer during the brief respite, but it was a bit weird then, as an afternoon seated gig in a courtyard. Here, Everything After Midnight were clearly delighted to be back, and gave us a great quality, polished, well received set.
So, after 18 months of anticipation, The Simones were on stage. I always know how good or how liquid a night was by the number of images I took on my phone. Here “drunk” and “great” moved it off scale and ultimately translated into lots of blur. I suspect only the band’s excellent official photographer Louis took more.
On record, The Simones always sound finished and polished, and it was true live too. Fans of the likes of The Kooks, Stereophonics and Pink Floyd will like The Simones. Me, I love their mix of youth blended with years of rock sensibilities. It feels like The Simones have a set path which doesn’t really nod to current trends, and they are much more convincing as a result.
The Simones set list was a mix of released, unreleased, new and old. So it was great to hear the likes of Crocodile Tears, You, Comotose Nights and the early Look At Me and then tracks that were newer to my ears, He Said She Said, Nothing To Hide and I’ll Figure It Out.
I knew that lead singer/bassist Nathan and recent EP contributor Lauren Mikki had played a gig at the Parish the previous evening, and it was a re-pairing for the finale of the set, with the hymn to the Atlantis Takeaway in Holmfirth (Hello Atlantis), and a lively audience participation moment with the beeezy Summertime to close the set proper. This gig had been a long time coming, and was well worth the patience.