This image: A-ha
Jordan Worland, from local music website Slate the Disco, selects his must-see gigs in Cambridge during June
A fallow year means no Glasto on the TV this month – but you can get your fix with a host of great live shows in Cambridge to fill the void.
Our first tip this month is Crows, who bring their incomparable live show to the Blue Moon on the 1st. A gripping and soul-crushing group of misfits from the darker corners of London town, to date they’ve released a handful of EPs with spine-splitting guitar lines and waves of throbbing garage-psych. Expect loud, intense and dark.
Cambridge’s newest venue, Storey’s Field Centre, has a busy month with two events of note. Firstly – and ever popular in Cambridge – The Wave Pictures on the 23rd; then Kristin Hersh and Fred Abong on the 28th.
As one of the UK’s most prolific and well-loved bands, The Wave Pictures release several albums a year. This year, they are releasing two – the spontaneous, recorded-in-one-day epic masterpiece that is Brushes with Happiness is available in June, followed by Look Inside Your Heart in October.
Kristin Hersh is known for her solo work and with her bands Throwing Muses and 50FootWave. She has released ten solo albums. Her guitar work and composition style range from jaggedly dissonant to traditional folk. Hersh’s lyrics have a stream-of-consciousness style, often reflecting her personal experiences.
There’s a lot going on at The Portland Arms this month, with Seán McGowan topping our must-see list on the 7th. The lyrically dextrous folk-punk troubadour was last seen in Cambridge impressing the crowd as he opened for Billy Bragg. Last month he released his debut LP Son Of The Smith, and the album is disarming in its scope, surprising in its erudite tackling of life’s challenges, and strong of voice – with just a dab of laddish humour.
Our next Portland recommendation comes in the form of the much-tipped Boy Azooga, who bring their loose-limbed live show to town on the 12th. The Boy Azooga story includes both Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon and playing triangle for the National Youth Orchestra Of Wales. But this only brings us to the margins of a musical map that also includes The Beach Boys, Nigerian funk, krautrock and 1940s British noir fiction... Boy Azooga’s debut album 1, 2 Kung Fu is piloted by Davey Newington, a young man who, it’s safe to say, has much musical heritage. One of his grandfathers was a jazz musician who played drums for the Royal Marines. Davey’s dad (violin) and his mum (clarinet) both played, and met, whilst working with the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Davey himself enjoyed orchestral engagement playing the aforementioned triangle for the National Youth Orchestra Of Wales. Davey’s vocals and arrangements carry the tuneful yearning of early Badly Drawn Boy – but eager audiences will discover that the palette extends far beyond singer-songwriter poignancy.
“A host of great live shows will fill the Glasto void"
Drawing influences from old calypso, early rock ’n’ roll, 60s girl groups, late-50s R ’n’ B and gospel (among many others) is our next Portland tip, C.W. Stoneking, plays on the 20th. C.W. Stoneking has been hiding out since his last live full-band shows in July last year, when he performed a run of headline dates culminating in a rousing set at Newport Folk Festival. Rumour has it he’s busy crafting songs for his full-length album, his first since 2014’s ARIA-Award winning Gon’ Boogaloo.
However, the road continues to call and, following successful solo dates in Australia and the USA recently, C.W. is returning to UK, Irish and Netherland stages in June for a limited series of intimate performances. These will be his first solo performances in the UK for ten years.
The stand-out show at the Cambridge Junction this month is Miles Kane on the 22nd. The Last Shadow Puppets member returns this month with his first solo record in five years and we’re expecting more of his awesome formula of hooky, guitar-laden tunes with upbeat and punky lyrics.
Elsewhere at the Junction we have Jack Carty and Maz O’Connor on the 11th, Lisa Knapp on the 14th, Ralph McTell and Wizz Jones on the 21st, and Beltane Fire on the 29th.
Finally, if you fancy a bit of 80s nostalgia on a summer’s evening, then A-ha will be at The Abbey Stadium on the 10th.