Hereford Rocks with Turquoise Llama, Mexicola and Freeborn Rising @ The Booth Hall 4 November 2016
The Autumn chill is briskly creeping upon us and the inclination to hibernate is the backlash wanting to keep us behind closed doors in cosy slipper socks drinking tea and turning us into social lepers. Meanwhile, there is gig after gig filling the musical void that once plagued Hereford’s sluggish pubs and music venues.
Say no to hibernation!! Last Friday November 4th was an exceptionally chilly evening and the Tropic of Cancer blood that flows through my veins was rebelling against the elements. The brick and mortar was at the ready for me to put up that winter wall, not to mention that extra winter layer…after all we know that “Winter is Coming”.
“The energy was buzzing as it usually is in The Booth Hall thanks to #teamboothhall and their welcoming approach to patrons, performers and promoters. The place is alive in its own right”
Really I had some commitments to attend, so I pushed myself out the front door bundled up in several layers reluctantly leaving my warm, cosy flat behind. In the end, I was genuinely glad I did. I found myself in The Booth Hall for the Hereford Rocks gig enjoying what turned out to be a “sunny” night that felt like a shot of Vitamin D. Keep the power of live music in your winter agenda and you will reap the rewards. I should really put that in a fortune cookie.
Hereford’s Patron Saint of the Hereford Blues Club and Hereford Rocks, John Steven Hales, hosted a night headlined by Turquoise Llama and opened by Freeborn Rising. Another special part of the line up were Mexicola performing for the first time since putting together a new line up that is an offshoot of Artstar initially consisting of Ria Parfitt and Simon Bedford.
It was a night of local acts who are adding to the potential of Hereford’s greatness…come on guys you know it can happen if we try hard enough and don’t hibernate. The energy was buzzing as it usually is in The Booth Hall thanks to #teamboothhall and their welcoming approach to patrons, performers and promoters. The place is alive in its own right.
I don’t even know where to begin with these kids so let’s just label them free spirits untainted by the abundance of subliminal dimming down afflicting Millennials of their age They take their art pretty seriously and have various music projects on the go. You know these guys actually understand what they are playing and where the music came from. They are pretty humble and in a way I had to adjust my expectations to a mere neutral canvas of beige so that I could take it in objectively since I am a fan of their other bands. Yeah…there is no stopping them.
Turquoise Llama are building a name for themselves on the Hereford music circuit cracking out tunes that take you back to the blazing streets of the Haight-Ashbury when Jimi Hendrix was ruling the sound waves during the Summer of Love mixed in with a bit of an Alabama Chicago Tennessee Slammer. Phew sounds lethal. Promoter John Steven Hales has taken them under his wing and paired them with notable blues artists for his more established shows.
Turquoise Llama’s proclivity towards jazz, rock, funk and blues shows a maturity in their catalogue of music influences which makes me respect them on a higher level of musical consciousness. Get the incense!
There were plenty of Jimi covers that were performed by front man Jonny James who seriously has picked up on the Jimi persona. His vocals are a bit more toned down, like the curator of a museum looking after a precious work of art the world cannot live without. It worked, and his electric guitar picking paired up with Toby-Scott Wilson’s wild hair and supercharged drumming in unison with David Morgan’s furious bass playing that came with matching facial expressions, made the crowd dance with purpose. Although at times it felt like they were in proper jam mode.
I have to also mention that Toby-Scott Wilson and David Morgan are members of Hereford’s feminist punk get up, Teddy’s Leg, who recently opened for the Underground Revolution’s Subhumans show. Toby also drums for local folk stars Vaginapocalypse further confirming that these kids are the real deal. Check them out!
Enter Mexicola. The crowd was hot on their trail and managed to fill the room with eager faces unaware of what was to come. They blew us away to Worcester practically. Who knew indie-rock darling Ria Parfitt could play electric guitar better than most guys on the scene these days. She owned that guitar and her vocals. I had to pick my jaw up from the floor several times as the foursome played a couple songs from their Art Star days, new songs and covers like ‘Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ by Queens of the Stone Age. Mexicola’s actual new songs like ‘Ride Baby Ride’ have this desert shake, London carousel vibe going. I’m saying the song is whimsical and uplifting.I would say they have created their own sound packed with various influences. You would have to listen to understand. All getting a thumbs up here.
So as my two friends and I frantically commented back and forth, Mexicola were stealing the show and rightly so. They were tight, had stage presence, and of course, we all couldn’t take our eyes off of Ria or our ears off her vocals – but we were also watching the expert moves and sounds of Simon Bedford’s electric guitar style, Jonah Webb thrashing at his drums and cooler than cool female bassist Colette Nicholls…who seemed to take her role with complete and utter calm while the other band members fiercely projected from their instruments.
Ria’s trembling vibrato brings to mind Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine. Even her personal style, features and fiery red hair bare a kinship to Florence. We don’t often have many female-fronted bands in our reviews due to a lack of them on the local Hereford circuit, so spare me a girly moment to say her pink pleated vintage dress from Camelot Vintage blew me away. The kind of girl whose wardrobe you want to break into. We really are glad they reformed as Mexicola and can’t wait to see them again…and again.
Find out more about Mexicola in our latest interview with them HERE
Freeborn Rising are finding their place in the local music scene regularly playing gigs for John Hales in unison with promoting, gigging and hosting open mic nights for The Underground Revolution at The Booth Hall once a month. They brought in a completely different element to the night performing their own songs like ‘Blood’ and covers from New Model Army and the Levellers in true crusty style.
Their agenda is evident with lyrics that feel like a manifesto warning us that the world won’t get any better unless we man up and do something about it. This duo consists of vocals and acoustic guitarist Thorin, who has managed to grow some pretty long dreadlocks over a dedicated period. Surely they couldn’t possibly happen overnight?? Thorin’s Irish roots and influences come through in his impressive vocals. You cant’t help but take in the intention of his lyrics coming from a place of heavy contemplation, almost as if he carries the weight of these songs with him.
The second half of Freeborn Rising, 12-string guitarist Matt Broom, plays his 12-string like a don, although we aren’t quite sure if he is in the room or not as he indulges in his guitar playing never really looking at the crowd while Thorin looks us all in the eye and preaches to us. In other words, he is fully engrossed in creating some pretty fly sounds.
Matt’s occasional back up singing and guitar adds another powerful layer to Thorin’s vocals though, and the audience always walk away emotionally moved. I often find myself humming their songs after hearing them for days. They have a listen-ability while still remaining edgy in a way that feels organic.
The talent comes through to us and we are on that journey with them both. They are involved in a movement of younger bands that are taking on socio-political issues in true 70’s anarcho style. I dig that.
Read our Freeborn Rising Interview HERE
Photography by Nick Vidal-Hall for Booth Hall Photography
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