In the first of our reviews of 2014 from Nottingham’s music world former NottinghamLIVE Radio Show host Steve Oliver takes a look back at his last 12 months..
When you stand on the dying embers of the year that has passed, it is strange how much seems to have been crammed in making events seem such a long time ago. For example, I had to check my diary to confirm to myself that certain gigs actually happened this year, and I didn’t realise that I didn’t end my relationship with Trent Sound until March. Even moments such as the sad passing of Rik Mayall and Robin Williams and the ice bucket challenge are distant memories but they all occurred in 2014.
The year kicked off with NottinghamLIVE and The Sunday Alternative still on the air, I was making a show for American radio – The Sound of Nottingham UK, and I was unaware that all three shows would end before the summer was out. At the end of January, Darren, Cassia and I celebrated the first anniversary of NottinghamLIVE on the radio. I recently archived all (apart from a few ‘missing’ episodes) of the live performances from that show on to CDs and I have to say I was impressed at the scale of artists that came through the doors of Trent Towers (not an actual tower); old friends like Josh Kemp and Georgie Rose, debut sessions from Josh Wheatley among others, fresh from the telly Natalie Duncan and a pre-signing Saint Raymond. For just over a year we ruled the airwaves especially as far as live music is concerned given that we were the only station who didn’t pre-record the bands in advance; as far as I know nobody has followed our lead in this respect.
As for my own involvement in the Nottingham music scene is concerned, (albeit scaled down from this time last year) I am aware that I have made a few enemies along the way. This isn’t an apology for things that I have said, written or tweeted – I stand by every word and remain true to my policy of honesty at all times. My approach has been criticised and praised, you might think of me as an arsehole but you can’t think of me as lacking integrity. The blue touch paper was lit when I posted my announcement on my newsletter that I was quitting my American radio show devoted to Nottingham music, laying the blame at the door of the musicians themselves, not all of them obviously. I was humbled by the support I received from the music world, especially as a lot of people shared these thoughts and this was perhaps the turning point in my ‘take no prisoners’ approach. Bums do not get kissed on my watch and this has led to stronger ties and friendships within the scene because people know that if I champion an act I am being sincere. Besides, silly feuds are good for blog traffic and the silly fall-outs have hopefully been resolved.
At the end of the day we are all on the same side of course, and that is to give our support to one of the UK’s best and most diverse music scenes. We should all be fucking proud of every note that gets played on a Nottingham stage and long may it continue.
Anyway, my top five gigs of the year? Okay…
Harleighblu: Rescue Rooms, 8th March
Nottingham’s queen of soul took on the Rescue Rooms and won. I reviewed this show for NottinghamLIVE so I won’t repeat myself. However it is pleasing to see how far she has travelled since that night.
Georgie: Glee, 15th April
Another one that I reviewed on these pages. Georgie is on course to be one of our break out musicians, and if she doesn’t get signed in 2015 I’ll set up a label and sign her myself.
Captain Dangerous: Waterfront Festival, 12th July
I’ve written more than enough nice words about Nottingham’s best live band but I do have a reason for this particular inclusion. They headlined the festival in the early hours of Sunday morning, I and many others had been there since the very start and I for one was fantasizing about a cup of tea and a sit down. The upstairs stage was beset with technical difficulties thanks to inept sound engineers and Captain Dangerous were the last victims. Standing on stage repeatedly asking for more this in that monitor and that in this monitor, they were half an hour late starting. A full room waited patiently and although I don’t doubt that tensions were rising on stage, the band played their arses off and tore the place apart with a note perfect but beautifully chaotic performance.
Blue Vulture: Nirvana, 27th July
Not only was this the gig that taught me that I’m not a comedian thanks to my death on stage, but this was a very rare gig that showed a different side to the live music scene in Nottingham. Most of the time you see the same people at every show – band members and singers all watching each other. The reason this gig stands out in my memory is the crowd. Hen parties and a group of ‘lads’ were in attendance and let their hair down and danced to the bands. Even better, they weren’t the troublesome pricks I thought they would be; you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Josh Kemp: Bodega, 24th October
Another future big name, I wrote about this gig on my review blog IMHO so don’t have anything more to add about one of the nicest guys in the business.
Steve Oliver’s US radio show ‘The Sound of Nottingham’ will return for a one off Christmas Special, airing on Robin Hood Radio at 7pm on Christmas Eve & 6pm Christmas Day (UK times), you can also check out the Christmas edition of The Sunday Alternative here