“I’m starting… to worry… about Ray!”
‘What else is there to do in Doncaster on a Thursday night?’
After Frank Turner agreed to have a face to face interview with me for Doncopolitan, I was unbelievably heartbroken that work commitments scuppered that opportunity. However, being the true gentleman that he is, Frank agreed to answer any questions I wanted to email over to him. Here are the results:
To quote Frank Turner, ‘Let’s begin at the beginning’. What is the point of music? What is its purpose? You might want to make yourself comfortable for this one…
After years building a fan base and crafting their sound, South Yorkshire band Alvarez Kings are ready to unleash their debut album on a music scene crying out for a guitar band to do something different. I caught up with singer Simon Thompson at The Leopard Doncaster, on the eve of their first ever headline show.
The 48K’s are one of Doncaster’s most long running and beloved bands. Having supported everyone from The La’s to Reverend and the Makers and played at venues as diverse as Sheffield City Hall and the iconic Cavern Club in Liverpool, The 48K’s are undoubtedly a band that are going places.
Doncaster has always had a healthy relationship with the Britpop era going right back to the legendary Britpop night at Karisma in the 90’s (currently being revived on the last Saturday of every month at Vintage Rockbar).
Mark Morris of The Bluetones fame and Chris Helme from the The Seahorses are regular visitors to Doncaster and earlier this year Cast played at Diamond Live Lounge. Cast’s fellow Liverpudlians Space were the latest Britpop stars to rock up to Doncaster.
After a brilliant set from local heroes 48K’s, Space took to the stage to the backdrop of a huge projection screen showing psychedelic imagery to suit their eclectic sound and launched straight into a rocked up version of Charlie M from début album Spiders. Fellow Spiders tracks Drop Dead and Mr Psycho followed and it was surprising how beefy and rocked up Space sound live compared to on record but this made for a compelling viewing experience. Begin Again from second album Tin Planet was well received before the first big sing along to The Ballad of Tom Jones complete with a projected Cerys Matthews from Catatonia singing her part of the classic Britpop duet.
A couple of new songs sandwiched crowd favourite Avenging Angels before everyone went nuts for The Female of the Species prompting mass sing alongs. From there it was all gold with new song Burn Down the School going down a storm before top 20 hit Neighbourhood had the crowd dancing. After a speeded up punky version of Me and You vs. The World, Space briefly left the stage before being shouted back by the crowd.
With Diamond Live Lounge’s two pint pot for £5 offer being taken up by seemingly everyone in attendance the crowd were ready to party and a raucous cover version of The Animals classic We Gotta Get Out of This Place was worth the admission price alone. Closing the set the Liverpool band treated the audience to another rendition of The Female of the Species with singer Tommy Scott wading into the crowd to dance amongst his fans, at one point even allowing one of the punters to sing into the microphone – with hilarious results as the crowd collectively winced.
A great night, a great venue and a great band. Viva Britpop!
This article originally appeared in Doncopolitan magazine:
Coming off the back of his latest critically lauded series of Comedy Vehicle, Stewart Lee arrived at Doncaster’s Cask Theatre on typically confrontational form – ‘there used to be a perfectly good theatre here that I enjoyed playing in… it’s just fields now’. This wasn’t to be the only personal touch afforded to the Doncaster audience, ‘I see all of Doncaster’s guardian readers have turned out’, Lee noted. He later added ‘I might go over the allocated time tonight but let’s face it there is nothing else to do in Doncaster’. While Lee probably wasn’t joking, as he would tell you himself he rarely tells a joke, it is this all out assault on his long suffering audience that makes his comedy routine so unique and so polarizing.
His critics may call him a champagne socialist who isn’t funny but Lee had the full backing of a vocal Doncaster crowd no matter how much he tried to convince us that he didn’t. He repeatedly made references to the upper tier not understanding his act or having showed up to the wrong gig and almost twenty minutes were allocated to one unfortunate punter who had the temerity to show up late.
Lee is at once like a fine wine and a forgotten carton of milk in as much his act seems to improve with age as he grows ever more sour and bitter. The argument that Lee has become a caricature is redundant when he is this funny, whilst still delivering biting social satire with a healthy dollop of the ridiculous. Lee is just as comfortable talking about Paul Nuttal of ‘UKIPS’ as he is imagining what the national radio station of Azerbaijan would sound like. Indeed, he seemed almost TOO comfortable with the latter as he spent a good fifteen minutes making random sounds and words to form a hypothetical Azerbaijani song. This was the closest Lee came to losing some sections of the audience, but that was always his intention, and he appeared almost annoyed that some people stuck with him throughout what was an absurd section.
Stewart Lee is a London based, Oxford schooled comedian but his left leaning politics, keen satirical eye and the fact that he is still happy to squeeze in a bit of potty humour, ensures that he will always have an adoring crowd in Doncaster. Come again soon Stew!
This article first appeared in Doncopolitan magazine: