Humber Street Sesh 4 – A Riot Of Colours and Characters

Back in 2013 I said they were yet to compose their opus, but early contenders for festival pick of the day Dead Hormones, won over the early crowds with their midday slot on the Alternative stage. Reaching out with dynamic melodies and a magnetism that pulls you helplessly in The Dead Hormones remain under the radar somewhat.  The new EP expected later this year, will surely help cement their deserved place in Hull’s pulsating music scene.

Me experiencing artist Lou Hazelwood's Victorian 3D viewer.

Me experiencing artist Lou Hazelwood’s Victorian 3D viewer.

My Humber Street Sesh really got going in true rock n roll style, with a Led Zep standard from Dogwood Flowers on the Main Stage. Full credit to the band for taking on one of the most iconic bands in rock history.

It struck me the morning after the night before, that every single person’s experience of yesterday will be different. With over 180 musical choices, spread over a dozen stages, numerous stalls enticing you in to sample their wares, not to mention the bars offering a different beverage for every taste (my favourite was Passion from Yorkshire Brewery with the Save Dead Bod and the Festival Ale coming a close second) Was it me or did the prices at the bars seem more reasonable this year?

Complimenting the music, were attractions for the more adventurous Sesh fan to discover. The mural by Pinky and co. the perfect backdrop for the various decorated sheds, all glowing on the pier. The Bluebeany Lounge was doing a roaring trade whenever I stopped by. Staying in the world of images, the magic and wonder of the Victorian parlour was being recreated, through the viewing of strange images that when seen properly, came to life in curious 3D.

Very early on in the day I saw some technicians down one of the alleys, fixing a cable to a wall. I spotted a wonderfully rusted sign affixed to the wall, I could just make out the name The Feedback Loops. An old band name possibly?

At the end of the night I bumped into Burnsy from Radio Humberside, having a chin wag with Gav from Hull Libraries. They were discussing whether they’d managed to see anyone today, who they’d never seen before.

Every year we start with a plan to do it differently this time, see the other side, experience something new, but like the proverbial moth I return again and again to the sounds I know and love. Like a Twitcher spotting birds, my band list reads something like this: Dead Hormones, Body Farmers, (Me MyOneManBand and Joseph Cox ), Bud Sugar, The Holy Orders, Turismo, Fonda 500 and finally Ming City Rockers.

I caught the tail end of a few acts and heard others emanating from various stages, as I moved through the site and somewhere while the rain came down there was a rush off site, to see The Schoolgirls.  Surely one of Hull’s most divisive bands since Santa’s Bugger Boyz. You either love them to distraction, or you are so repelled by their particular sound, that they leave you screaming to get out.

The only dampener on the whole day as far I could see was the SquareWaves tent having to be closed due to a risk of flooding, caused by an unusually high tide. I blame that blue moon. Happily I’d shifted my stage time to 4pm. I was the first of the programmed spoken word artists and poets, to combine words with the synthesised sounds and digital beats of the SquareWaves collective.  As an experiment, we learned certain things, so in that sense, it worked. More exploration and collaboration would be needed to deem whether this kind of live fusion, can really work effectively in the future. My source material included a mash-up of original lines on Hull Electronica and the life cycle of the Zimbabwean Lion: both timely in their own way.

To anyone yesterday, who had to get up on stage, to perform to play or to sing… I salute you. I was barely on stage for fifteen minutes and I felt every single second.

Not entirely surprised that I still knew most of the lyrics to Turismo, tracks like Loz in the Water, How You’ve Changed, Break the Law, came flooding back to me as if it were yesterday. In fact seeing the whole gang back together it was like 2005 all over again. The finale from Papa Paul Baggott was delivered in cool commanding fashion as perennial underachievers Turismo launched into the songs, that have assured their place in the Hull hall of fame, Chinese Tortures and the riotous Rabbi to Rabbi: best song with the fewest lyrics in history.

There was a touching moment for many watching Bud Sugar, as the band dedicated a song to the memory of their friend Mob, who very sadly passed away at the beginning of the week. For a moment there was a reminder of our universal fragility and how easily it can all go so tragically wrong. True to form Bud Sugar brought their best for Humber Street Sesh, creating that special party atmosphere; the sight of those dancers stage front will remain long in the memory for many. Bud Sugaaaaaar!

Decorating the festival site, was the promised showcase of some of the best photographic talent in the city. Seeing all those different images given such prominence, underlined the variety and styles, not just of the diversity of acts, but also said something about what we take away, when we experience live music.

There’s always a moment in a festival, a bizarre moment that takes you aback: to the young lady who came running up to me some time around eight, to exult my very being, describing me as her inspiration… I thank you. Not entirely sure what I’d done to deserve such an accolade, but there it was.

The Holy Orders debuted their new single The Deuce of Hearts which is Out Now! (Bandcamp is as good a place to get it as any other) A shift from the sprawling epics they are well known for, The Deuce of Hearts is an homage to the anti-glamour of the original pulp fiction page-turner with cross hairs firmly fixed on cowboy country. They remain one of the best and certainly most exhilarating Hull bands of the past decade.

All this ranking and ordering.. the Top Ten lists, we love a winner in this country.  Brilliantly understated with fanatical followers, Fonda 500 take that crown: superbly original, with undeniable talent and a stage presence like no other Fonda returned to Humber Street Sesh after they, and we, missed out last year.

With a raise of the arm the beloved Simon controls and conducts the room. The crowd have been champing at the bit for some time but will soon be basking in the glorious noise. The marriage of guitar and keys has never sounded so good.  An unlikely, but wholly necessary conga began in a very packed out Fruit much to the bemusement of the onlookers.

My final hands in the air moment was with the Ming City Rockers. By now everyone knows that they hail from Immingham, but they cut their gigging teeth in many of Hull’s bars and clubs. It really is just a few years ago that their rapid rise began. I first saw them opening at a charity fundraiser in Adelphi. I turned to Phill Wilson and said, ‘Hey listen they are playing Johnny B Goode.’

The welcome return of that unmistakable clean guitar sound, the bedrock of all rock n roll. They were the Ramones meets Chuck Berry, combined with New York Dolls attitude and stage presence. I was hooked. The songs and theatricality made me feel alive, restoring my faith in good old fashioned rock n roll music. I loved them.

Soon, they became the name on everyone’s lips. Radio airplay followed – the Ming were championed locally by Burnsy, 6 Music and Radio 1’s Huw Stephens.  Despite Immingham not possessing a music scene, as Clancey points out in interviews, and seemingly completely unaware as to the band’s existence, never mind their moments of triumph, the Ming will forever be synonymous with the Lincolnshire port town: being as they are the best Hull band, not to come from Hull.

‘Better than ever before,’ one said … ‘Best band of the day,’ said another. The Ming City Rockers embody the essential rock n roll spirit, the carefree abandon, that irresistible mix of riotous energy and devil-may-care attitude. One crowd pleaser follows hot on the heels of the next and a few newer ones leave me baying for more. The band just work. Clancey introducing each number in trademark deadpan fashion, Morley on lead cooly playing some of the best guitar of the day, Jakki threatening to bring the house down with wide-eyed on and off stage antics: even the replacement of drummer Doc hasn’t slowed the Ming’s unstoppable momentum.

A new album on Mad Monkey Records, like the debut recorded in NY, is due out very soon and the mythologising is set fair to continue. We won’t mention the tailor’s dummy being thrown into the crowd: but he did look very sweet in that bright yellow safety helmet. During Get Outta Your Head, a mosh pit formed, filled with sweaty young uns – perhaps it wasn’t the best place to play wall of death. She’s a Wrong Un was dedicated to the aforementioned young ‘uns, rewarding them for their unrelenting support and devotion. Chic and the Motherfuckers was the debut single that saw the band, explode onto the scene in 2013 and like a shot of bootleg liquor, the band verily exploded off the stage tonight.

From midweek openers to Fruit Stage Headliners in three short years – not forgetting the much lauded appearance on the main stage in 2014 – numerous radio DJs and music magazine editors continue to fall for their infectious punk charms: MCR remain the band everybody wants a piece of.

me at seshFor one, all too brief moment, the marina is transformed by a riot of colour, characters and a soundtrack of Hull bands, proving time and again what is said by every cultural commentator in the city. ‘There is so much talent here.’  Hull isn’t the end of the line, it is just the beginning.

(more images to follow)

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