Getting a parking space was proving a troublesome task, not only was it a Friday evening in Exeter's city centre, it also happened to be 'Black Friday' which is an American (I said American) tradition after 'Thanksgiving' (which we in the UK don't celebrate) where people go shopping and spend money they don't have on items they don't need/want/would ever think about owning just because they are marked down by 10%, amazing! Anyway, we drove the entire city looking for somewhere to park the car, failed and ended up getting robbed of a fiver in a 24 Hour car park, easy come easy go I guess....
We arrived at The Phoenix in good time (despite spending 20 mins visiting the scenic back streets of Exeter - looking for a car parking space rather than ladies of the night) to catch up with a few friends at the bar prior to taking our places in the main auditorium for the triple bill of bands that were to dazzle and entertain.
Matthew and Me opened up the proceedings bang on time and immediately filled the room with lush synths and Matt's trademark effortless falsetto during their opening track 'Open Eyes'. 'Sinners' started out with a more ‘soundscapey’ guitar whilst Matthew sang over a hollow drum track to create a very gentle vibe that grew into a full bodied song which ended as it had started, almost a journey through life.
They played a track called 'Neurosis' that I had not heard before, whilst very bass heavy, it remained in the undercurrent, never breaking free from its restraints, controlling the sound at a very nice level throughout.
Their latest track 'Patterns' carries a great groove over dusty drums which sounded great in the smaller, more intimate environment, building again to a crescendo prior to its end. I like M&M, a lot, it just so happens that they are what I refer to as a 'local band' in as much as I see them out and about often in Totnes and I always make the effort to get to their gigs when I can, something I would encourage anyone to do to marvel in the splendid music that they collectively produce.
Matthew and Me are currently on tour, taking in Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton and London before returning to Dartington to play a gig on December 10th, for venue and ticket information, head over to matthewandme.co.uk for more information. We had a chat with Matthew and Andy after their set, you can read the full interview HERE.
The stage was stripped of M&M's gear and people shuffled out of the room in search of intoxicating liquids to take their minds off the working week (and to try and ease the pain of having spent money they didn't have on goods they didn't need).
Land of the Giants are a 6 headed Plymouth based indie, reggae, ska, hip hop and blues collective who have had an absolutely storming 2014, covering a majority of the high end UK music festivals and even managing to squeeze in a tour of Ireland.
They took to the stage and before long, had the place bouncing along nicely to their mongrel blend of music that never fails to get people moving. The brass section really added a higher level to their music, couple this with the tight squealing guitar, solid beats and the cool, huskiness of Andy Quick's vocals and you're onto a winner.
I have never had the opportunity to see these guys before so I’m glad I finally managed to do so at the Exeter Phoenix, the room really lends itself to larger bands and the stage allows them room to breathe and move about more freely, we’ve all seen a 6 piece band in a pub before, huddled together on an 8 x 8 foot stage, scared to move in case the guitarist takes someone’s eye out!
So, if you're up for a good dance, a whole lot of fun and a great night out, grab yourself some tickets and let them entertain you with their amazing mix of finely blended music!
See’s me as a God
Coco & The Butterfield are a 10 legged (though there was an extra person on stage for the show) talented bunch of buskers from Canterbury who blend folk and hip hop to create a new genre called Fip Fok, surely this goes together about as well as a plate of cold sick with a pint of warm ale? stay with me folks as I was amazed at how good it sounded. I couldn't see a drumkit on stage prior to them starting their set and it was soon apparent that they wouldn't need one as they had their own human beat box! He did have a cymbal on stage, which, as you are no doubt aware, is quite a hard sound to make with ones own vocal chords!
C&TB played a range of interesting cover versions ranging from 'It's a Hard Knock Life' from the musical 'Annie' and more famously covered by Jay-Z to a flawless version of Flo-Rida's anthemic singalong classic 'Low', other standout tracks included one about a promiscuous astronaut (there were certainly a few astronauts in the crowd, clearly frazzled by the amount of Black Friday bargains they had been exposed to earlier in the day) and also a track about the world's first scarecrow, to which the band all looked at the banjo player, who had long hair and a hat but in no other way resembled a scarecrow....poor lad!
A couple of their tracks were more country based and generated a fair amount of 'hoe-down' dancing in the front row, plenty of partner swinging and such like (I don't refer to 'swinging' here in the literal sense, just that people were whirling their partners around the place to the music - you know what I mean!) Either way, this was a surefire way to get people up and moving at a gig, swingers or not!
C&TB have appeared at many of the main UK music festivals in the past couple of years and always attract a diverse audience who cannot help but leaving the show feeling better than they did when they entered, something that many bands find hard to do these days, not for C&TB though, they seem to have a knack of breaking down barriers and fusing so many styles of music together, you can't help but smile, dance and sing along!
Go check their website cocoandthebutterfields.com for live dates until Christmas 2014 and make the effort to go see them, give yourself an early Christmas gift, you'll be so glad you did
Hard Knock Life
Hip Hop Song
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Bruce Benson www.241photography.co.uk