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2021 Gig Review 

Written by Steve Axtell.

Anybody who knows me knows how important going to live music is in my life. I managed to keep going until March 2020 - my last live gig was Ben Marwood at the Rising Sun. And then for the rest of that year, I subsisted on live streams from a variety of artists. A number of local artists put on some incredibly good quality live streams, notably Marisa and The Moths, Tomorrow Bird and Jessica Lee Morgan. Sophie Sheehan even succeeded in putting on Open Mics. Also Nicole Allan put on Open Mics at The Butler, which I occasionally ventured out to.

Going into 2021, once I knew when I was going to be vaccinated, I decided that I would start buying tickets for gigs later in the year. The first major live event that I went to was Readipop At The Brewery.

Readipop At The Brewery - Phantom Brewery

This took place at about the same time that the regular Readipop Festival would have been held. In mid-July, covid restrictions had not been completely lifted, but the Phantom Brewery’s tap room, is incredibly roomy with a very high ceiling so made the ideal venue for a socially distanced live event. Artists from Reading and the surrounding area who took part were

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Colours and Fires

Sophie Sheehan is a stalwart of the Reading music scene and she opened the event. Colours and Fires are always worthwhile seeing.

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Ilona Mahieu

A first for me. A great rock band.

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The Pink Diamond Revue

I’ll never forget the first time that I saw The Pink Diamond Revue. The combination of guitar and drums playing along to an electronic backing track with the constant presence of Acid Dol is irresistible in my opinion. Normally there is a video playing as well. That would have to wait until later in the year.

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Amya Ray

I love to see Amya Ray when she plays solo, so it is a bonus when she appears with a full band.

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Mike Wagner

Mike was ostensibly there as Amya Ray’s drummer but due to a drop out from another performer, he stepped in at the last minute. He put on a great show.

Down At The Abbey Festival

This takes place in the magnificent grounds of Reading Abbey. The ruins make the best backdrop for a music festival. The night before the main festival, there was a warm up party that I also attended. All of the acts that were playing that night were local.

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Kill Committee

Kill Committee were one of the first local bands that I saw live. I thought that this performance was one the best that I have seen. Long may they continue.

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Limpopo Groove

I would say that it is impossible to stay still when watching Limpopo Groove when they are playing their African inspired music.

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The Skandal

This was the first time that I had seen this band. They play covers of ska bands from the early 80s as well as other bands from that period.

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The Mark 2

The Mark 2 are a mightily impressive soul covers band. It was a great way to round off the evening. 

The next day, the main festival was held. The local acts that I saw were

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Adam and Elvis

Adam and Elvis were a band that I really got into in 2019 when they were performing tracks from their most recent album, Pub Grub. I was glad to see them up on stage at the abbey and look forward to seeing what they come up with in 2022.

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Tomorrow Bird

I got into Tomorrow Bird during the pandemic. Their livestreams were among the best that I saw. Jen Bird’s voice is world class in my opinion.

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Cat God

I felt this performance by Cat God was so good. As a result, I am really looking forward to their upcoming album.

Split The Dealer and Deva St John

My first gig of the year in an independent venue to see local artists was actually in London - The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington to see Split The Dealer and Deva St John. Both of these artists are well worth seeing. They are two of the best up and coming local artists.

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Are You Listening Festival

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Mellor

Mellor was another band that I saw when I first got into the local music scene. They always put on a great show.

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Marisa And The Moths

Marisa and the Moths have had a roller coaster of a time during the pandemic, with a number of lineup changes. They seem to have got through this now and this showed at AYL I look forward to seeing them again at the Purple Turtle on 18th December.

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Hattie Taylor

Hattie’s former band, Vienna Ditto was one of the first local artists that I got into and I saw them many times. As a solo artist, Hattie had a lot to live up to. I was very pleased to see that her future looks bright. This was a great, confident performance.

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The Keep Cats

The Keep Cats continue to be one of the most exciting live acts on the local scene. Their performance at South Street was as good as ever, enhanced by the great sound system at this venue.

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Ocean Ruins

I always enjoy seeing Ocean Ruins. They have great songs and Kate has a great voice.

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Drug Store Romeos

I first saw Drug Store Romeos a few years ago and although they showed promise, I didn’t feel that they gelled as a band. I am not sure if this is as a result of a lineup change or whether they have just matured as a band, this performance was great and I definitely want to see them again.

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Ben Marwood

Ben was the very first local artist that I saw. He sings songs with witty and intelligent lyrics and I always love how he engages with his audience.

BBC Introducing - Purple Turtle

Deva St John

This was the second time that I got to see this really exciting artist. I really enjoy her energetic performances. Support came from two R&B artists, Bethia and Shaz. 

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Beat Connection - South Street

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Tamara

This was the first time I have seen Tamara. I enjoyed her set and hope to see her again. She is also in a band, Death of The Maiden.

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Colours And Fires

Just for a change, with whistle accompaniment. 

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The Pink Diamond Revue

This was the full performance from The Pink Diamond Review complete with video. Combined with the great sound system from the South Street theatre, this was one of their best for me.

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Cities In Dust

I think that this band have come on leaps and bounds as a live act since I first saw them. They really are now the real deal.

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Kill Committee

Another great performance from this band.

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Typical Hunks

I’ve seen this duo play a few times now. They are great exponents of noise punk.

Predatur - Face Bar

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Predatur

Predatur have been around for years. I always enjoy seeing them. They are a good, old fashioned rock band.

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Deckchairs

This was the first time that I had seen Deckchairs. They are contemporaries of Predatur. A great performance from this punk band.

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Valeras

It was a pleasure to see Valeras again. It was a great performance from the new lineup. The new EP, Tell Me Now is well worth checking out as well.