This image: Bessie Turner
Jordan Worland, from local music website Slate the Disco, selects his must-see gigs in Cambridge during April
April is bouncing with great gigs in Cambridge. We start on Norfolk Street at the Blue Moon where our top pick of the month is Bessie Turner on the 20th. Her style is an eclectic pastiche of her musical heroes; she is influenced as much by MIA as by Dionne Warwick. Yet it is her own uniqueness – in her personality as well as her music – that sets her apart.
Our next Blue Moon tip is American folk duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw on the 23rd. The band consists of accordionist Jeremy Barnes, who was previously the drummer for Neutral Milk Hotel and Bablicon, and violinist Heather Trost. The music is inspired by Eastern European, Turkish and Balkan traditions, and is mostly instrumental.
The same venue on the 6th hosts The British IBM, Paint Nothing and The Furious Sleep. This is followed by The Horse Loom on the 15th, Open mic night with Martin Guitars and PMT on the 19th and finally, Goldblume and Echo Trails on the 21st.
Meanwhile at the Corner House on the 13th, we’re big fans of The Dissociates. They were here last April and have since released the banging album A Capital Idea. Punk rock in the vein of Future of the Left and Hüsker Dü.
There’s a bumper month at The Portland Arms, with our top shout being Gengahr on the 30th. The psychpoppers are in town to showcase their recently released sophomore album; expect cinematically romantic, playful and breezy indie pop.
Kele Okereke will play The Portland Arms on the 23rd. The singer-songwriter described the spring tour as “playing some intimate shows in a few towns I don’t get to visit very often.” Known for fronting Bloc Party, Kele Okereke last year released his third solo album Fatherhood, on which he unexpectedly traded electronic trappings for a folksy, fingerpicked sound.
Caustic and pertinent, Petrol Girls’ live show has to be seen in the flesh to really be experienced. The band combine manic jagged rhythms with vocals that range from furious screaming to intricate melodies and harmonies. They’ll be at The Portland on April 26th.
“Expect romantic, breezy indie pop from Gengahr"
The Portland also hosts the Powderhead album launch this month (14th). Powderhead are a new face on a classic scene, belting out raw, old-school rock. This Cambridge band began in February 2015 fuelled by guitarists Si Mortlock and Jose Solar and vocalist Helen Johnson’s mutual interest in 80s and 90s rock and metal. They were later joined by drummer Ollie Rose and bassist James Miller. Following the release of their self-titled debut EP in May 2016, the band has a string of gigs lined up this summer to showcase their headbanging rock to audiences in the UK. Other shows at The Portland this month include Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker (5th), Shonen Knife (11th) Gaz Brookfield (12th) October Drift (16th) and Grant Lee-Phillips (24th).
April is a busy month for the J2, with the venue hosting Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman (24th) Blair Dunlop (16th) Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan (17th) and Mary Coughlan (20th), while next door in the J1, April kicks off with Lower Than Atlantis on the 3rd, followed by Rejjie Snow (21st) and the final of this year’s Cambridge Band Competition on the 27th.
We end our April tips at the Corn Exchange where this month we have: Beth Hart (24th); The Waterboys (29th); and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls on the 30th, the show giving us a glimpse of Turner’s forthcoming seventh studio album Be More Kind which is due out in May.
April also sees The Vaccines back in Cambridge after an absence of a few years. Last month the band released their fourth album, Combat Sports, an effort that rewound the years to their earlier sounds. Our final April tip is the excellent Public Service Broadcasting at the Corn Exchange on the 10th. The band recently released their critically acclaimed third album Every Valley last year. A concept album about the mining industry in Wales, it reached number 4 in the UK album charts and featured vocal turns from Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield and Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell.