The View From… Kilburn // London

This is the third look at local music scenes in London, after Camden and North-East London, and if it reminds us of anything, it’s that London is a) VAST and b) all things to all people. Cat Dal‘s blog,, is run from Kilburn. She also ‘does’ new music ‘stuff’ for a national newspaper, and as such, is in a perfectly poised to comment on her neighbourhood’s foibles, its scuffed charm and the enforced silence which must be obeyed

North West London hasn’t yet manage to pull in the Shoreditch ‘cool’ crowd and frankly we couldn’t be more smug about it. For the locals, like myself, Kilburn has that smelly old relative appeal, it really should wash more and there’s some food stuck on their face, but you love ‘em all the same.

If you were to survive the altitude high up on the Jubilee line, Kilburn High Road has some of the most exciting venues in London. Dedicated to playing credible new acts alongside returning legends: we are of course talking about the Good Ship and the holy grail that is The Luminaire.

The Good Ship is a music-orientated pub and club perfect for dipping your toe into the murky waters of new music. They have set up the bar just far away enough so you can easily nurse a pint without stretching your vocal chords to Steve Tyler levels to be heard.

However if you want to get up close and into spitting territory, the stage allows you to get cozy and well acquainted with your favourite music-makers. Come the weekend, the ‘plub’ gets its sparkly leggings on, and the dance floor is heaving until 4am.

Two minutes from the Good Ship’s doors lives its older, cooler brother, The Luminaire. Dark, brooding and mysterious, The Luminaire is a place for true-music lovers searching for rare intimate acoustic sessions with phenonmal sound.

Co-owner Andy Inglis insists on a silenced room when the acts are playing, and in return provides the obliging audience with fair priced drinks, chummy staff and a precious experience.

Warpaint, Horse Feathers, Aidan Moffat and the Editors are just a few of the acts to have graced the velvet lined room, and if you glance (quietly) around the room and you may see Jim Scalvunous, or Edwyn Collins amongst the bearded crowd.

With 100 Club and the Flowerpot facing closure, its important to embrace and support natural, music-orientated venues before they face extinction.

Otherwise, we could end up succumbing to watching Andrew Bird taking on a very noisy Koko, whistling so forcefully, he bursts a blood vessel.

© Cat Dal //

The View From… Birmingham

Neil Ward lived – until just a few days ago – in Birmingham. Birmingham is known mainly for producing a slew of globe-straddling hard rock bands a few decades ago, and apparently little since. Don’t take his leaving town as a bad sign. (He left to pursue a career and a girl, and they’re both good enough reasons for me.) Before he left, he wrote this article, which aims to redress the balance…

I’m not here to provide a musical history lesson. It is common knowledge that Birmingham has been home to some of the biggest bands the world has ever seen.  But, in my generation no one has come close to the dizzy heights of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath (you’re welcome, by the way).

We have had notable contributions from both Mike Skinner and Mr Hudson, but Skinner fled to London faster than you could say “mockney accent”, and Hudson got auto-tuned to death for a bag of money from Kanye West. What does that leave us with? The Twang?

I feel we’ve been slightly misrepresented of late. There’s a long list of hard-working musicians in the city and it seems like it’s just a case of who will get the next opportunity to break through.  Here are two real diamonds that I think could make waves in the near future:

TANTRUMS // Everyone in the city is pretty excited about these guys right now.  Taking all the best bits of New Order, Fleetwood Mac and electronic dubstep guy Rusko, their songs are filled with enough catchy hooks and great lyrics to justify this current maelstrom of hype.  Their new(ish) single ‘If I Don’t Try’ is pretty much a fully fledged pop hit.

TOM PEEL // His geek-chic allure and folksy warblings share a lo-fi charm with groups like The Moldy Peaches, with a naivety you could liken to Daniel Johnston.  He has four releases available, with his most recent ‘Blockbiscuits’ on Birmingham label-du-jour Speech Fewapy.

It is perfect fuzzy indie pop music exhaled through a distinctive Americana haze.  When you see him live, you can’t help but smile. His party trick?… using a vintage reel-to-reel tape deck strapped to his chest. It’s a real show stealer.

The smaller DIY touring and local bands desperately need a 100 capacity venue in the city centre.  People have tried and failed, others haven’t even bothered. Although there is plenty of stuff going on here, it’s nothing in comparison to Manchester, let alone London.  Nods go to the Yardbird for their free gigs and although it is out of town The Hare & Hounds always has great shows.

Maybe the mass of recent noise abatement orders has made potential venues think twice about putting on shows. Still, the promoters are the unsung heroes of Birmingham, constantly working to enthuse the population with great gigs and nights out.

© Neil Ward //