Laura Gibson & Karl Blau. The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol.

Friends recommended Laura Gibson, but I’d not heard her music. The most visited venue of 40 gigs.

August can be slim pickings for gigs, outside of festivals, so this gig was picked on the date/venue/cost as much as the recommendation of friends. I’ve yet to see anything in the Lantern that I haven’t enjoyed, however strange and I’ve wanted to support female artists which is why I found myself on a random Thursday night in the middle of August at this gig.

It was a double header, with a support, so for less than £15 to get 2 full sets is pretty excellent value.

The support was from Parker Millsap and his band. Playing what I have to call old time rock n roll, rhythm n blues and playing it well. It was fun, rocking and got me dancing. Exactly the job of a support band.

Laura Gibson was the first of the joint headliners. On her own. All I knew was that she was a singer/songwriter. Those I like. Especially ones playing acoustic guitar. So it won’t surprise you much to learn that I liked her. Very much. What surprised me was her voice. Strong,  yet vulnerable all at once. It was quite enchanting. Melancholic, mournful & melodic.

Our other headliner, Karl Blau was last up. Some performers just have an easy charm about them, and Karl is one of those. He deviated from the set list, got carried away and forgot the time, started telling the story of the wrong song. If Peel playing records at the wrong speed charmed you, you’ll like Karl Blau.

He has a rich, warm, deep voice which he marries with blues guitar and a country sound. All of which are things I like, blended together and with the lap steel guitar (I’ve no idea why I love the sounds of it so much, I just do) and solid bass back up, you had the makings of a really fabulous sound. It took me a few songs to engage with the sound, but once I was hooked that was it, I loved the rest of the set. I was swaying, nodding, tapping me foot and there may have even been a few tears. They closed with To Love Somebody and it was gorgeous.

I’ve been on some sonic adventures with 40 gigs. Tonight was a much more standard gig. Actual instraments, actual bands, beautiful voices. Back in the Lantern, a venue I’ve come to love very much indeed over the past months. It was good to be back there and back with less ‘out there’ music. It was almost like a mini refresh and reboot for the project.

29 down. 11 to go.


Summer Cuts, Big Jeff. Arnolfini art gallery, Bristol.

This Summer Cuts (series of live music events hosted by the gallery) was to be curated by Bristol gig legend Big Jeff. At the time I booked the early bird ticket (only a fiver) the line up wasn’t known so this was a total shot in the dark. All I knew was that it would be a very late gig (10pm-2am) in a contemporary art gallery, with the acts picked by someone with even more eclectic taste than me. Perfect for 40 gigs!

I wasn’t feeling my best and had this not been such an unusual prospect of a gig, I might not have gone at all. The migraines that developed at the start of this year, and their resulting medications, have me drained me and left me neurologically in a strange place.

The Arnolfini gig space is really lovely and their staff dead nice. If they feel like branching out a bit more, they could do far worse than to open up this space as a gig venue more regularly. Decent acoustics, nice high ceiling, chill out space at the back (with bean bags) and a cool. edgy crowd made this an enjoyable night.

First up,This is DA. Hip hop. In an art gallery. Why not?! I’d been listening to 6 Music’s hip hop take over on and off through the day so my ears were pretty receptive to the style. Not a genre usually on my radar, but as I have discovered a love of folk and jazz recently, why not hip hop too? All music has its good and its bad, you just have to keep your ears and your heart open to the possibilities of trying something new. I really liked This is DA, a lot of talent there and one to watch. Debut album out soon ish I think. Music available on SoundCloud. I lack the musical vocabulary to describe it really but there was an energy, vibrance and vitality to the music that I responded too.

Yama Warashi were next. Imagine if Yoko Ono had joined the Velvet Underground and they had played psychedelic folk jazz about parallelograms and nuclear power and you might get close to this band. It so shouldn’t work, and I should have hated it as pretentious guff, but music surprises you sometimes. They were so weird I couldn’t not love them.

At this point, after midnight, I probably should have gone home. But I’m stubborn, and there were bean bags so I figured I could chill out at the back through Big Jeff’s DJ set. Which I did, and enjoyed. Until I realised the bean bag was damp. Which I really, really hope was from the previous occupants spilled beer…….

Last band of the night were Thought Forms. And I only stayed for 2 songs. I was way too tired and out of it to appreciate the very loud, deep rock they were playing. Maybe another time. Or maybe there really are styles of music that aren’t for me.

Overall gig 28 was a good one. Quirky, unusual, strange. Exactly my kind of thing. Thank you Arnolfini for embracing another art form and thank you Jeff for being you.

28 down, 12 to go.