Saturday, 20 June 2015


The Fireflys, for anyone living in a box over the last year are a great Runcorn band who I innocently found during my Music Journalism course assignment about Halton music when achieving my diploma.

I kind of owe a great deal to this band as they got me noticed as a serious reviewer and gave me the confidence to move on with this blog and beyond.  So the story goes, I review the band on this very blog, a few months later I contacted Music Insider Magazine in California, The Fireflys appeared in print.  My blog blossomed, these guys continually support me, so I continually support them.

So when the chance arose to go to my first gig in years, almost on my doorstep at The Brindley, Runcorn it was a no-brainer.   Including The Spase and Chasing Infinity, who I'd also covered in print for a "Cheshire Rocks" article in InCheshire and Prestbury Living magazines, it had to be done!

I decided to drag my brother Mike along, thinking he would appreciate an Acoustic gig as he has played guitar in a few bands over the years.  I went only as a fan, to enjoy myself, to relax and have a "quiet night" out for the first time in a long while! I wasn't going to do a review but I thought, why not, it was such an amazing gig, I'll give it a try.

The Spase were first onto the stage, Andy and Peter got the crowd bubbling with a fine set.  The songs which I had listened to regularly on YouTube, "A Roaming Son" and "The Shooting Star" were delivered with supreme accuracy, and for just two guys, they really owned the stage.  They had a couple of laughs with the audience and showed what down-to-earth guys they were and incredibly talented.  Andy's vocals were complimented on by my brother Mike, I was thinking he was going to be impressed tonight, and the bands were not going to disappoint!.

Chasing Infinity came up next, (long night for Adele Halsall, the lead singer, as she was singing with The Fireflys later!).  The band were such a tight unit, nothing was amiss, Adele's vocals were spot on, and I smiled at Rob Saunders on bass and harmonica, Mike commented that he's a brilliant musician but his dancing had no rhythm (sorry Rob!).  I have to say, the harmonica playing by Rob was absolutely amazing.  So amazing it was, that Lee later on in The Fireflys set didn't even bother to play harmonica, as it "wasn't worth it!".  Mark Rice on drums and Paul McCormick on guitar and backing vocals were superb.  I could see the No Doubt comparison quite clear, with Rob's quirky dancing and the Ska - influenced Pop Rock sound.  Mike commented that were a little like the Rock band Romeo's Daughter (look them up), one of his favourite bands.  So with the audience now at fever pitch, Chasing Infinity's set was perfect for the crowd, they were in a frenzy waiting for the main event, The Fireflys were back home.

So on they came, to a rapturous welcome, it made me feel like I was watching something big.  The crowd roared their approval like loyal supporters welcoming their football team home after a massive cup win, and they hadn't played a note yet!  This is an ironic comparison because later on, some girls thought it ideal to sing "we love you Fireflys, we do, oh Fireflys we love you" in football chant mode!

The band looked totally stunned to a man (and woman as Adele had returned as co-vocalist, well done girl, you must have been shattered by the end!).  Lee Wylding (vocals/guitar), Stephen Roberts (bass/ukulele), Chris Tann (keyboards), Andrea Packer (drums) and David Packer (guitar) I think it's fair to say, were "gobsmacked" by the welcome.  The heroes had returned to their hometown. 

The Fireflys back catalogue is extensive but they treated us to all the fan favourites including "Julianne", "Dear Emily", "Jenny, Play Your Guitar", "Hummingbird" and the opening track, "Release/Repeat". 

There were also new tracks from the forthcoming new album "The Illumination Of Everything".  "When We Were Young" and "Sever" serve as tasty teasers for what's to come!.  There was an amusing anecdote from Lee for "Sever".  Apparently Lee needed a rhyming word for "forever" to which Andrea replied "Sever", so the band joked around at how she wrote the whole song.  Ste was adamant, "she got a word in the song AND the title, it's Andie's song!"

The songs "Branches" and "Between The Tide" stood out from the gig.  I commented that "Branches" was a lilting mixed masterpiece of sadness and hope.  The emotion of it really hit home that night, you could feel it in the crowd.  A real sense of optimism.  The sing-a-long that Lee conducted for the lines "of our love" and "out of stone" for the right and left of the audience was superb.  A perfect audience participation!

The band ended with "Between The Tide", and what an ending, superbly played and superbly received.  The standing ovation at the end was very moving, not just for the band, even for a fan, this was a band to watch, they are getting bigger and better. 

Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed it, was a fantastic night, so much that he had tiny regrets and reflected on his band days.  Grabbing a new fan in the process, and also a t-shirt, a promo single and an album box set, my night was complete!


4 2 WATCH - Sneak peek at 4 up and coming artists! - Laura Bentley/Eleanor Nelly/Alex Marie Brinkley/Anna Meline


17 years old Laura is from Runcorn in Cheshire, England.  Her influences range from Ed Sheeran, Hayley Williams, The Honey Trees and Nina Nesbitt.  She is an all-rounder as she sings, writes and plays Acoustic guitar.
I first heard Laura on a video her dad (who is an old school friend of mine) posted on Facebook called "Morgan's Song".  This was a simply beautiful song Laura composed about her best friend who had lost 3 members of her family in the space of 12 months.  She taught herself guitar from YouTube videos and a little help from dad!  Laura writes to relax and express her feelings in the hope people share her stories or just enjoy listening.

As a listener of much music, when I heard Laura's voice it was one of those "wow" moments, when you think, this girl is a star and was born to sing.  Laura has played a few gigs and her dream is to share her songs with thousands of people and have them sing them back to her!
She first started learning to play piano but the guitar interested her more.  Her songs mean something to her, they are her experiences, her innermost feelings.  The voice on "Morgan's Song" sends a tingle down your spine, that this girl is a special talent.  If she keeps on writing songs like this the world really is her oyster.


Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Laura Bentley! -
Eleanor Nelly is a 15 year old singer songwriter from Liverpool who has created a quiet little following around the town gigging regularly.  Her influences are far and wide and include My Chemical Romance, The Hummingbirds, Slash, Billy Joel and Johnny Cash!

Although Eleanor's music influences are very eclectic, her voice is very unique, the closest comparison I could make is like a strange hybrid of Eva Cassidy and Alanis Morissette, and that is pushing me for someone to liken her to!

Eleanor is also an actress and can play piano and her manager is her mum!  Obviously the talent has been around for some time in the family.  I first heard this lady on BAY TV Liverpool channel's Acoustic sessions, playing a few songs, just her and her guitar.  I just thought she was an accomplished performer I was amazed at her age when I searched Google for more music.

The stand out track from this Acoustic session was "Insane And Loved".  For such a young age Eleanor Nelly is surely on the brink of the big time!

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Eleanor Nelly! -
17 year old Alexandra Marie Brinkley was born in Fort Worth, Texas in USA.  So the story goes her musician mother was happy her daughter started singing at 1 years of age, unable to talk but could carry a tune! Certainly born to perform then!

Alex says she wants people to relate to her music and not be alone with their problems.  The first song she wrote called " Fly" was about her being bullied at school, she went on to perform for other people and though only young she listens compassionately to her friends and other people and writes from her point of view of their troubles.
Alex sings and plays piano and has over 60 original songs in her repertoire as well as 40 or so cover versions.  She sings around the state as much as she can and anywhere she can.  Her influences include Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato.  She is apparently a down to earth personality and very humble of her talent.  She will go far.


When I first heard about Alex I instantly thought of Vanessa Carlton's style who is also an influence of hers along with singer pianist Sara Bareilles.  Alex has a single on iTunes called "Tell Me" and has recently released an E.P. entitled "Love Everything" which features the lovely Acoustic number "Hello Heartbreak".
Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Alex Marie Brinkley-
Anna Meline is a 21 year old singer songwriter and guitarist from Sweden.  Interested in music production during her school years she applied for University, unfortunately failed the admission test and decided to find a way into the music business on her own.

Anna got her first guitar at 13 years old and started singing her own poems as a way to express herself and handle different problems in a productive way, performing.  Her voice is very unique and it takes time to tune in to the Euro Pop Rock voice with the English/Swedish accent vocalising over various genres of music. 
The music of Anna Meline variates from Dance to Pop to an almost Indie Country style.  It's hard to define but it is original.  She has released a couple of singles and just recently her debut album entitled "I Couldn't Stay" which contains 7 tracks.

My favourite track is probably "What For" which is a Euro Rock ballad, this was the first time I'd heard Anna.  This lady says she may have written a few songs about people that enter her life.  Her ex-teacher Tord Martinsson co-produced her album and her friend Emilia Johansson helps promote with photos and videos.  Certainly, Anna does not forget those who enter her life and have a positive effect on her.  Originality, determination and being humble of her talent aare sure to take Anna Meline far!

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Anna Meline -
Check my blog soon for more 4 2 WATCH!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

CHESHIRE ROCKS! - Pacific/The Spase/Chimps On Death Row/Chasing Infinity

You may not associate Cheshire with a thriving music scene but, with close links to Liverpool and Manchester how can it not be?  These two hotbeds of music gave birth to the biggest stars of the North West and some went beyond that to become global icons.

Here, I would like to introduce you to four bands that have been appearing in Cheshire venues over the last few years.



Pacific play a style that can be likened to the band Keane but with an edgier sound.
It is piano-led and it is a form of Alternative Indie Rock.  The group‘s members include two brothers, Anthony and Daniel Orzel.  The former is lead vocalist and plays the aforementioned piano while the latter plays bass and provides backing vocals.
The two remaining members are Dave Bithell, who plays lead guitars and sings backing vocals and drummer and percussionist Drew Burns.
The band reached the semi-final of “Live and Unsigned”, the biggest original music competition for bands around the UK in 2011.  They have released a handful of singles and have had rave reviews from the likes of New Musical Express and BBC 6’s Mark Radcliffe.  They also played the Golden Square at the Warrington Music Festival.
To hear the sound of Pacific look out for “Dream Of Mine” and the latest single “Time To Forget” on YouTube and the official website.



The Spase come from the Halton area of Cheshire and are an Alternative Indie band.
Their sound is possibly influenced by the Madchester era of the 90s, as the sounds of The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets can be heard.  Ironically, the Carpets’ Tom Hingley described their music as “melodic and poetic”, the acoustic style with harmonious vocals are a joy to listen to.
Wax and P (both on vocals and guitars) are ‘the people’, while there are various members who they call ‘the ghosts’, random musicians who provide accompaniment when required.
They have played with The Zutons and also had a momentous gig at Spike Island in Widnes, where The Stone Roses played their historical appearance.  They have just released their debut album, ‘On A Cloud’, eleven tracks of pure acoustic delight.
On June 13th they supported Runcorn band The Fireflys at The Brindley in Runcorn.
Check the band out if you can on YouTube and Soundcloud and the official website, especially the tracks “Starchild” and “Butterfly”.


Crewe band, Chimps on Death Row, are as you would expect from the name, not a pop boy band!  They are a Metal Rock outfit and consist of Bidder Jones (lead vocals/rhythm and lead guitar), Howie Tonge (bass guitar), Nik Thomas (lead and rhythm guitar and backing vocals) and Pete Mehlmann (drums and percussion).
The band’s sound can only be described as mixed rock.  Sometimes there is an influence of heavy metal Iron Maiden, then you could hear grunge rock Pearl Jam which then leads to Guns N’ Roses or Aerosmith!
They are an original rock band but they do play covers from time to time such as AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight”.
My favourite tracks are “Fly Away” and “Find Me”, you can find these and more on YouTube, Soundcloud and Reverbnation and the Facebook page.


Although coming from Liverpool, Chasing Infinity are regulars on the Cheshire music scene.
Playing a great blend of pop rock, they formed in 2009 and released their debut album, “Chasing Infinity” in 2012.  An acoustic E.P. entitled “Chinfin Unplugged” was released in 2013 and the latest single is “Dance With The One That Brought You”.
Their line-up consists of lead vocalist Adele Halsall, Paul McCormick on guitar, Rob Saunders on bass and harmonica and drummer Mark Rice.
If you love Blondie, or No Doubt, then you will love this quartet.  Bright, bubbly and infectious, they bring an enthusiasm and bounce to any theatre.
Chasing Infinity joined The Spase in supporting The Fireflys at their “Storytellers” acoustic show on June 13th at Runcorn’s The Brindley.
Have a listen to the tracks “If It ‘Ain’t Broke, Break It” and “Aspirations And Realisations” and more at Soundcloud and the official website.

This article is updated from publication in INCheshire magazine and Prestbury Living magazines' June 2015 issues.


Friday, 5 June 2015

ARTIST UPDATES 2015 - The Fireflys/The Pierces/Miss Li/Sheppard/Hudson Taylor

Updates from earlier artists featured in the Blog.  Let's see what they've been up to!

THE FIREFLYS - English band (Updating from blog 11/02/2014).

Runcorn band The Fireflys will be releasing their 4th album "The Illumination Of Everything" later this year. Since my original blog they have become a 6 piece band adding co-vocalist Adele Halsall (also singer with Chasing Infinity), David Packer on guitar and Chris Tann keyboards and piano.  The band released a single "Release/Repeat" for Breast Cancer Awareness and also a new single "Branches".  An exclusive record deal with Townsend Records has also been agreed.  The band will play an Acoustic set at The Brindley in their hometown in June with Chasing Infinity and The Spase supporting.

THE PIERCES - American band (Updating from blog 28/05/2014).
The Pierces released their 5th album "Creation" in 2014 and it contained the singles "Kings", "Believe In Me" and the title track.  "The Devil Is A Lonely Night" is the latest single from the album.

MISS LI - Swedish singer (Updating from blog 22/08/2014).
 Miss Li released a single "I Finally Found It" which is taken from the Swedish motion picture soundtrack "Hallonbåtsflyktingen".  She was also nominated for the prestigious ”Rockbjörn” awards today. Miss Li was nominated as ”Best Female Live Artist”.

SHEPPARD - Australian band (Updating from blog 21/09/2014).
The band released the album "Bombs Away" in the UK and a single in 2015 "Let Me Down Easy".  They also appeared on a charity single called "Spirit Of The Anzacs" with other artist which raised funds for Legacy and Soldier On.  "Bombs Away" also debuted at number 32 on Billboards Top 200 in the USA.  The song "Geronimo" and the album was nominated for numerous awards in their native Australia.


 HUDSON TAYLOR - Irish band (Updating from blog 26/11/2014).
Since my first blog about this duo, Harry and Alfie finally released their first album "Singing For Strangers", which presumably is a nod to their busking talents before making records.  The album reached number 3 in Ireland and number 24 in the UK.  Following on the success of the "Chasing Rubies" single they also released "World Without You".

More updates to previous blogs soon!

ARTIST UPDATES 2015 - Support Lesbiens/Kane/Sarah Connor/Kelli Ali/Tegan & Sara/She & Him

Updates from earlier artists featured in the Blog.  Let's see what they've been up to!

SUPPORT LESBIENS - Czech band (Updating from blog 23/10/2012).

Since the original blog I wrote about the band, they have split the original line-up.  Most notably, Krystof Michal, the lead singer left to create the band Portless and lead guitarist and write Jaromir Helesic also left.  The new band with Josef Czenda Urbanek on vocals released a new album in 2013 entitled "Leave A Message".  The album features the hit songs "The City" and "Changes".

KANE - Dutch band (Updating from blog 11/11/2012).
The album mentioned in the original blog was released entitled "Come Together" which featured the title track single as well as "I Love This City" and "First Crash Overthrow (featuring Tim Wes)".  The band called a year sabbatical and it seems they may have decided to call it a day which if true, is very sad.

SARAH CONNOR - German singer (Updating from blog 22/11/2012).

Sarah released her first all German album this year, entitled "Muttersprache" which translates in English to "native language".  It contains the single "Wie Schon Du Bist" (How Beautiful You Are).  It was her second German number 1 following 2005's "Naughty But Nice".  Sarah was encouraged to make a full German language album after her appearance on the German equivalent of The Best Singers series.

KELLI ALI - English/Indian singer (Updating from blog 15/01/2013).

Kelli Ali released the album " Band Of Angels" including the single "Kiss Me Cleopatra".  Kelli will also be collaborating with The Eden House on their new album.



TEGAN & SARA - Canadian band (Updating from blog 16/04/2013).

The band received worldwide acclaim for their album "Heartthrob" even reaching number 1 in the US Rock albums chart as well as number 2 in Canada.  They also received 4 Juno awards. 

SHE & HIM - American band (Updating from blog 15/12/2013).

The band released a new album, their fifth entitled "Classics".  It is as the name suggests, a selection of classic cover versions including "Unchained Melody", "She" and "We'll Meet Again".

More updates to previous blogs soon!


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

FIREBUG - American band

FireBug are an exciting American Indie Rock band originally from Chicago but currently based in New Orleans for the last 3 years.  Their sound is unique, a little Pat Benatar, a little Garbage, a little Psychedelic, with some Goth and Blues overtones as well!  This is the kind of band I love where you just can't categorise them into one genre.

The band currently work as a 3 piece (although more members are drafted in for live performances).  The core members are Juliette Tworsey who provides lead vocals/rhythm guitar and mandolin, Jules Shapiro on lead guitar and bass, while Matt Carr is on drums and percussion.

Although the band have been around the live scene for a while around the United States and Europe, they have released a couple of E.P.'s before releasing the "End Of The World" E.P. in 2006.  I first got hold of the band when I heard the "Dreaming Of America" single released in 2009.  The song epitomises the FireBug sound.  You first think there is a Razorlight influence, then it begins to rock out 70s style and Juliette gives her best Pat Benatar before a Metal Rock ending!
The E.P. "End Of The World" is pretty much a mix of styles as expected.  The title track begins and ends with a sultry Stevie Nicks style vocal, while in between is a raucous full on rock out which reminds me of Garbage at their best.  "Paradise" puts the band in Psychedelic mode, a blend of intense and gentle vocals, sweet little guitar breaks and a hippie choral segment.  "Forever Won't Wait" is another dramatic switch in style, slide guitars make this a cool, Blues number which you can imagine being in smoky bar chilling out. 
Before the "Dreaming Of America" single in 2009, the band released the album "Season For Change" a year earlier.  As well as containing "Paradise" and "Forever Won't Wait" the album has a further 10 tracks that keep you on your toes attempting to define the sound.  There are soft tracks like the sweet "Reverie" and the 70's Progressive Rock style of "Last Laugh".  "Carnivore Banquet" is a half Country, half Asian hybrid instrumental while "Smile" take you back to the late 80s Goth sound of The Mission and Sisters Of Mercy.  My favourite song is "Season For Change", the title track just hits you with pretty much all of the styles I mentioned previously!  A unique and great album.
The band's first ever vinyl E.P. "The River" was released in May 2014 and apart from the title track it includes the songs "Shallow Water", "Used To Be" and "Fool Like Me".  From the two tracks that I could get a listen of, both "The River" and "Shallow Water" give more than a little taste of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and 70s Classic Rock. 
FireBug's new album, "Homeostasis" will be released later this year.  The tracks were recorded in Joshua Tree at Rancho De La Luna and at Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana with Queens Of The Stone Age producer Chris Goss.  The band have played such venues as Howlin' Wolf, House Of Blues and One Eyed Jacks.  They have toured the UK a few times and played at Knebworth Sonisphere Festival in 2010 with other major Rock players such as Iron Maiden, The Cult and Iggy Pop And The Stooges.  They have won awards too such as Best International Act in 2009 and 2010 at the UK Exposure Music Awards.  A planned pre-album single "Wine, Water And Bread" is forthcoming and the band also are promoting the album with tours around the United States and Europe!


Check out some of these tracks by this great band FireBug -
"Paradise", "Forever Won't Wait", "End Of The World".
(From "End Of The World" E.P.).
"Carnivore Banquet", "Smile", "Reverie", "Season For Change", "Last Laugh".
(From "Season For Change").
"The River", "Shallow Water".
(From "The River" E.P.).