Tag: The Black Prince

Live Review: Slowthai

SLOWTHAI The Black Prince, Northampton Friday October 5th N-Town-raised rapper/grime artist on the rise, Slowthai (born Tyron Frampton), is destined for greatness as is evident at his show at The…

The Black Prince, Northampton
Friday October 5th

N-Town-raised rapper/grime artist on the rise, Slowthai (born Tyron Frampton), is destined for greatness as is evident at his show at The Black Prince tonight. Announced months ago the gig is shrouded in secrecy, the venue only announced the day before, and sold out long before that. The Black Prince is the perfect venue for this gig.

The dark, hot, sticky-floored venue is ideal for the heavy, piercing and percussive performance, akin to early Dizzee Rascal (an easy comparison, but true), spat with equal parts venom and love to a crowd that resembles more ’80s punk than anything else.

He climbs the speakers, loses some clothes, throws some drinks, crowd surfs, moshes, heckles, and spreads love to his family. Slowthai’s encouragement to the people at the front to stare at the people just “standing there” at the back is some Jedi mind trick that makes your correspondent (just standing there, at the back) feel both annoyed at being called out, and, opposingly, want to be in with the crew at the front.

The music production is heavy and tight, minimal hip-hop/trap flavoured, but well layered and with just enough melody to emphasise the vocals without drowning them. That’s good because you need to hear these lyrics, they are powerful.

Anyone that gets a crowd chanting ‘NN’ is good. We are all products of our environment, and NN is mine, Slowthai’s, and yours. I didn’t know too much of Slowthai before attending this gig, but now I’m a fan.


Josh Astrop


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Twinfest 2018: The Review

TWINFEST July 26th – 29th 2018 Northampton THURSDAY, THE GUILDHALL So here it is, Northampton’s best reason to believe in grassroots culture. The annual event celebrates all that is special…

July 26th – 29th 2018

So here it is, Northampton’s best reason to believe in grassroots culture. The annual event celebrates all that is special about the acts from the twin towns of Poitiers, Marburg, and Northampton. It’s the antithesis of Brexit. Twinfest is *deep breath* truly something to believe in, that gives short shrift to any notion of this town being a “cultural black hole”. Twinfest is the actualisation that this is, indeed, a talented music town.

This year the excitement was more pronounced once it was announced that the opening night’s festivities would take place at the Guildhall, the neo-gothic council building at the heart of this market town. The Great Hall there hasn’t seen regular gigs for around 25 years, and many people present tonight remark that this is their first concert here. Let’s hope it isn’t their last…

Keiron Farrow kicks off proceedings on the warmest day of the year so far. It was toching to see people make the effort to come to this indoor event so early, as it was still about 30 degrees at this point! Farrow has the sort of voice that was built to soar in such environs. His jazzy blues numbers, played with much dexterity on his acoustic guitar, transfix the audience. His recent EP title track ‘Roundabout Queen Eleanor’ is apt, considering there’s a mural of said queen a few metres from where he stands. He slips in a cover of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ at the end – bringing local music heritage into the present [Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley was born and raised in ShoeTown, you see].

Hyll are a desert rock trio from Marburg, and they crank things up a gear immediately. They lock into a groove straight away and never let up, giving the growing audience an opportunity to witness heavy rock that could shake the very foundations of this building. And whilst walls remain solidly in place, the Twinfest banner does decide to fall on their drummer during their opening song. They continue on regardless, and such stoicism wins the crowd over immediately.

Drinsipa have something to measure themselves by then, and they do their utmost to reciprocate the intensity of Hyll. They achieve this with aplomb, showcasing their grungy hardcore to the sweaty hordes. Now playing as a trio rather than a duo, new single ‘DOP’ is a raucous, epic number, and a definite set highlight.


The Flims are an indie-pop quartet from Marburg, running a nice line in group harmonising. The sound is very much of the ’00s variety, the songs of Mumford & Sons or Razorlight played to a disco beat. The party vibes are in attendance when they play ‘Sometime Forgetting Is Better Than Healing’, and they can be sure they’ve made many new fans tonight.

The final of the travelling trio tonight is Poitiers trio Mantras. Guitarist-singer Pierre does what anyone on holiday in a hot country does: go topless. His band strike up elongated psychedelic stoner rock and play their hearts out. It’s as doomy as the best of them, rearranging a few of the heads present over their half-hour allotted time. This sort of rock works best in the live environment, and tonight they work us out right and proper.

Sarpa Salpa are swiftly becoming the hardest working band in showbusiness, playing all over the Midlands every weekend, taking men women and children hostage with their funky contemporary guitar pop. Songs about desperation with a disco beat, they are the epitome of the ‘sad and sexy’ movement sweeping popular music. These days they are treated a bit like homecoming heroes, and they know how to light up a dancefloor, as ‘She Never Lies’ comfortably does. If you’ve never checked them out and like acts such as The Killers or Foals, now is the time to do so.

It is gone midnight before The Barratts come on stage to finish the evening off. Those who have stuck it out are treated to a band who can still raise the energy level of any sun-beaten cordwainer or cobbler. They have never sounded so good, as their anthemic indie songs – ‘Satellites’ and ‘Same Old Kids’ amongst them – are played with spiky confidence and verve. James Faulkner’s word encapsulate all the small town ennui in poetic form you could hope for, matched with all the firepower his four brother-in-arms can muster. They send us home with Twinfest love beating heavily in our hearts.

The Barratts

This Mounts institution is busy, the vibe celebratory. Ready for the second evening of the Twin Town’s finest, the stage area at The Lamplighter is quickly filled by music fans from across the town and beyond.

Hailing from Northampton’s French twin city of Poitiers, Mantras take to the stage with a barrage of stoner rock. The band’s raw talent and synchronicity make playing live seem effortless and certainly seamless. Featuring melodic riffs and endless amounts of energy, the three-piece set the highest of bars for the evening.

German indie band The Flims were full of energy and strength during their set, providing Northampton with a unique sound. With memorable riffs and pounding drums, the band wouldn’t seem out of place in arenas. It’s the perfect music to finish a relaxing day.

Rapper Leo Robinson doesn’t play live that often, and probably will reminisce on tonight as a reason to keep it like that. He himself is on fire, his lyrical flow nothing short of magnificent. His freestyle bars have listeners hanging off his every word. But his right-hand man Charlie Borthwick is struggling with some technical issues, and the music’s power is lost to a frustrating degree and it affects concentration all round. Robinson does his best but he’s honest enough to know when he’s beat. A missed opportunity then, but one that still shows his strengths – and he continues to dazzle with his recorded output. He really might be “the best thing out of Weston Favell”.

Leo Robinson

Hyll continue to impress tonight, with a later set than the previous night. The crowd is respectful for half their set, but once singer-guitarist Martin takes off into the audience for a wander it heightens the excitement levels and from then on in it’s head-banging and hand-horns all the way to the end. With flawless guitar solos and pounding drums, they’re a band you won’t forget in a hurry. “Breathlessly magnificent rock” probably just about sums up their performance.

Headliners this evening are everyone’s favourite NN party starters, Century City. Regular drummer Tommy is absent, and Jake Crawford [Future Love, Acoda] ably deputises. They are on fine fettle, singer Nik Gray making jokes throughout and egging on his compadres to higher levels. Andy Convey from fellow alt-rockers Future Love jumps up to join in the chorus on one number. Gray does his bar walkabout thing, naturally. We all go home sweaty and happy. Can Northampton be like this every night, please?

Century City

With a raised stage in the pub’s stunning beer garden, this Cotton End pub is the perfect place for some sunny Saturday afternoon acoustic singalongs. First up Duncan Bisatt uses his music as a way of storytelling. Featuring only his acoustic guitar and his voice, he strums gently as he sings about relatable experiences. Whether it’s climate change or dedications to his hometown, he does it well, including catchy riffs and a soothing voice.

After an issue or two with the line-up, Michael Kinder played earlier than expected. He takes it all in his stride, however – his hoarse, yet trained voice compliments the sun shining on Northampton, and later in the set experiments with using his guitar as percussion. He’s fun, fresh, and definitely funky.

Two piece Crybb are exactly what you’d expect from folk music. They stick to traditions while introducing a modern twist with a flute, so the tracks they perform don’t sound dated. It’s political music with a gentle sound: the very idea of a peaceful protest.

Straw Horses turn the afternoon into something gentile. Their music is calm and quiet, with mellow guitar riffs and the perfect harmonies, but it’s not boring, and nor is it downbeat. Instead, it’s tender and smooth, and they slot in with the rest of the afternoon nicely.

Following the issues with his set yesterday, Leo Robinson has been invited back to perform properly this time. Immediately you can hear the improvement, and he sounds much better. With diverse backing tracks complimenting his rapping, and several collaborations, it’s clear that Leo Robinson is going to go far.

On into the evening session in the barn, Deep Sea Mountains kick things off with their discordant fuzz rock. They are both a bit shouty and offer plenty of sweet harmonies. You could compare their set to watching an angsty Teenage Fanclub, or someone who should be signed to Sub Pop. They play cracking recent single ‘Pipe Dream’ and debut a rather good new song, ‘Five Mile Stroll’, which displays some measured feedback and punk attack – but then suddenly becomes all Television-esque in the arty middle section. This band is a multi-layered onion, and no mistake.

Deep Sea Mountains

Hyll, with the rain pouring outside, are even better here than the previous two nights, which is hard to believe. They bring out the moshers in all of us, and their interactions – coming into the crowd, getting everyone to sit down, being hoisted aloft during the climax – break down the separation between band and audience. Band of the weekend? Quite possibly.

The beautiful droney Mantras mix things up tonight, as guitarist Pierre has brought his slide guitar and an ironing board and proceeds to cook up all manner of beatific instrumental passages to delight the aural passages. The audience are silent in respect and awe. Northampton doesn’t really have a Mantras-type band, could they perhaps just move here? They’d be well-loved.

The Flims follow just as the sun sets, and they bring their best performance of the weekend yet. The intimate setting helps create an affectionate space, and their confidence looks up. They once again have everyone dancing along to ‘Emma’ and all their other Germanic indie-pop tunes.

Deaf Trap have the unenviable task of trying to top all these great performances. They aren’t helped by some power problems which regularly turn the lights on and off, but they persevere to bring Twinfest a dark, feedback-laden, somewhat chaotic, but ultimately joyous set of intense rock. All the mess feels very beautiful: bodies everywhere, a dancing Hotdog, a party at the end of the world. Long may their reign continue.

Twinfest this year is proving to be one of the best, with the finale taking place at the well-esteemed Black Prince. The atmosphere has been incredibly social and friendly so far, with all of the bands – British, German and French – exchanging words of encouragement with each other and always making sure to catch one another’s sets.

Sunday’s proceedings kicks off with Tom Rose and The Heathen Orchestra, a group that takes elements of shock-rock and blues-rock to create a unique, horror-inspired sound that is reminiscent of the likes of Screaming Jay Hawkins and Space.

Next is Yodaclub, who are definitely unafraid to show their influences, taking notes from The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen [and dressing all in black accordingly]. These lot will be right at home to those who are fans of ’80s post-punk, with a standout track in the dream-poppy ‘Don’t Fall’.

Though today is The Keepers debut performance at Twinfest they certainly display no nerves. The band’s energy and enthusiasm is palpably infectious. They have got the mid-nineties mod revival, wall-of-sound down to a tee. Jordan Jones (vocals) and Liam Taylor (lead guitar) have Gallagher-like swagger by the bucket-load, while Oli Rumens (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) impress with rhythms reminiscent of ‘Elephant Stone’-era Roses. An excellent show; be sure to catch them again at another of their gigs.

The Keepers

After them we have Corby’s King Purple, a grungy three-piece with a hint of psychedelia, who are no stranger to genre mixing. Despite there only being three of these guys they manage to create a sound that is much larger than the sum of their parts. The highlight of their set is the track ‘Wasting Away’, a doomy number that feels like an early ’90s grunge throwback, with long instrumental sections that build up to a frantic, fast-paced finish. After being played and praised on Steve Lamacq’s show on BBC Radio 6, its safe to say that we’ll be hearing a lot more from these guys in the future.

Pieces then take the stage, an indie three-piece brimming with melodic vocal harmonies and buzzsaw guitars play with a punk ferocity that’s not too dissimilar to acts like the Buzzcocks [as well as more modern bands like Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon]. These local lads take the phrase “three chords and the truth” and proudly wear it on their sleeves. With massive, infectious pop choruses and tight as nails musicianship that would put major-label acts to shame, the future is bright for the fledgling trio.

The first German band of the day is Hyll, an act who have continuously proven over the course of this Twinfest that they are a force to be reckoned with. Their songs are punctuated by an abrasive post-punk edge, with blistering guitars, floor-thumping bass lines and primal drumming with the occasional breakdown that always gets the audience headbanging. It’s safe to say that Hyll have well and truly earned the respect of their Northamptonian counterparts!

We’re then back to the British bands with Skirt, who, after their recent triumphant gig at the reopening of The Hut in Corby, bring their high-octane set to Twinfest. Bursting with raw, youthful energy, these lads combine punk with late ’80s Madchester and garage rock presented with a boisterous Gallagher brothers-style swagger that certainly left an impression on today’s crowd. A definite highlight is the menacing ‘Easy Tiger’, a track that could easily sound at home on a Stooges record.

Next up is Marburg’s The Flims, an indie-pop four-piece bursting with class and an upbeat stage presence that reflects the upbeat nature of the music they play. With jangly guitar riffs that feel like a fusion between Johnny Marr and the alternative British bands of the noughties, The Flims are a standout amongst the foreign bands. They’ve managed to get the crowd moving on each day of this festival without fail, and this evening is no exception.

Changing things up are Mio Flux with Patchy The Rockstar, a hip hop duo with elements of trap music, and a bass that would shake the foundation of even the sturdiest venues. The drastic change in genre going from The Flims to these two definitely sets them apart from the guitar bands of the day. They open with a tasteful trap remix of Sarpa Salpa’s belter ‘She Never Lies’, and it’s an unexpected but creative rendition of the track.

For the penultimate act we again have Poitiers’ Mantras, a band that mixes dark blues and psych while taking some clear cues from Black Sabbath. It’s a change in mood that certainly turns a few heads in their direction. Their songs are mostly instrumental, with only the occasional, shrieking vocal that wouldn’t sound too far removed on a Scandinavian black metal record. Like many bands relying on their instrumentation, they are no stranger to speed and volume changes, sonically making them one of the more unique and left field bands of this weekend.

Last, and most certainly not least, we have the homegrown Monarchs to close the weekend. Fresh off of their tour with King Purple, they play what feels like a grand homecoming gig, performing a selection of old and new tracks. The highlight of their set is the recently released ‘You Got Me’, a tune which the local crowd and fellow outsiders alike are clearly familiar with, shown through what has to be one of the most intense mosh pits at a Northampton gig in recent memory. This is surely a testament to the appreciation that the scene has for this band. With a large and macabre indie sound and some Queens of the Stone Age-inspired riffs, chock full of breakdowns and siren-like guitars, Monarchs give Twinfest the finale it deserves.


This years Twinfest has proven to be a special one – with an array of brilliant bands coming from Marburg and Poitiers and excellent performances from local talent, Northampton has once again proven its musical and cultural diversity in spades.

Words by Phil Istine, Lucy Wenham, Oliver Rumens, Tom Rose

Photos by David Jackson, Nallie Simpson, Phil Istine, Kenny Precious


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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Mar 21st – Mar 27th 2018

HUBCAP + BROKEN STRANGERS + EARBONES Friday March 23rd The Lab, Northampton Dirty blues rock extravaganza: local hard-rocking two-piece Hubcap are joined by Colchester’s alt-rockers who travel into ShoeTown for…

Friday March 23rd
The Lab, Northampton
Dirty blues rock extravaganza: local hard-rocking two-piece Hubcap are joined by Colchester’s alt-rockers who travel into ShoeTown for the first time. The bill is finished off with new local two-piece gritty garage punkers Earbones. Doors 7pm, £2 pay on entry

Friday March 23rd
The Romany, Northampton
Double dose of indie rock in the renovated Kingsley pub, at the venue that hosted the first ever Northampton Bauhaus gig, fact fans. Doors 8pm, free entry

Saturday March 24th
The Roadmender, Northampton
All-female, all-action rockers who since 2014 have been wowing audiences with their edgy, high octane performance of classic rock and punk mixed in with their own original material. New single ‘Maniac’ was recorded at Peter Gabriel‘s famous Real World Studios and was produced by Steve Brown [Manic Street Preachers, The Cult]. Doors 7.30pm, £13 tickets

Saturday March 24th
St. Peter’s Church, Northampton
The Spring Boroughs church will pay witness to SHM performing their Keats-inspired proggy electronica, as heard on their debut album Tone Poems and their new album Interludes, released last October. Doors 8pm, £5 tickets

Saturday March 24th
The White Hart, Corby
80s punk leg ends come to Corby, ably supported by Essex rockers and Leicester original punks. Doors 7.30pm, £9 tickets

Saturday March 24th
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton
Feel good rock’n’roll from the ShoeTown supergroup on top, with support from new alt-rockers Pieces [formerly known as An Army Of Lights]. Music from 9pm, free entry

Saturday March 24th
The Black Prince, Northamton
The Prince celebrates it’s second birthday with a quarter of Northants good time rock’n’roll  bands. Cake to make an appearance too. Be silly not to. Doors 8pm, free entry

Saturday March 24th
The Lab, Northampton
It’s the final! Mammothfest Heats come to a close with the best of the bunch from those past few weeks. Doors 7pm, £5 tickets


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Report: RedFaces, The Barratts, Phantom Isle, Citrus – Northampton

Sheffield’s RedFaces headlined The Black Prince on Friday night. The second night of their February UK tour, the venue was busy and ready to go at it from the beginning….

Sheffield’s RedFaces headlined The Black Prince on Friday night. The second night of their February UK tour, the venue was busy and ready to go at it from the beginning. Highlight of the RedFaces set? Probably ‘Kerosene’. Support came from a Northampton trio at different stages of their development: The Barratts are the kids that strut it like seasoned pros, Phantom Isle the London-experienced confident quarter ready to push on, whilst openers Citrus played just their second show with the vim and verve of people in love with what they do.

Here’s a few photos from the gig courtesy of David Jackson.





The Barratts

The Barratts

The Barratts

The Barratts

Phantom Isle

Phantom Isle

Phantom Isle

Phantom Isle

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In Review: Jonah Matranga, The Black Prince, Northampton

US singer songwriter Johnah Matranga headlined The Black Prince on Friday night as part of his short jaunt across the UK. Matranga is the voice behind the hugely influential post-hardcore band…

US singer songwriter Johnah Matranga headlined The Black Prince on Friday night as part of his short jaunt across the UK.

Matranga is the voice behind the hugely influential post-hardcore band Far and has also played in New End Original, onelinedrawing and Gratitude as well as releasing several solo albums.

He was joined by support act Barry Dolan, aka Non Canon.

Jonah Matranga

Jonah Matranga

Matranga played a set of acoustic songs, partly part picked by fans, from across his career as well as reading short passages from this new book Alone Rewinding, which tells the last 20 years of the singer’s life raising his daughter and making music.

In the last few years, Matranga has previously played in Kettering and at The Lab in Northampton and has always been on cracking form, and Friday night no different. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Far’s iconic album Water & Solutions and Matranga hinted during the set he’s hoping to return to the UK later this year to celebrate the record.

If you’re looking to brush up on Matranga, check out the two tracks below. For more details visit http://jonahmatranga.com

Report and photos by David Jackson



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Flyte, The Black Prince, Northampton

After more than two years, from humble support act with flare to headlining a new local festival, the alt-pop four-piece Flyte return to Northampton with an exclusive run through of…

After more than two years, from humble support act with flare to headlining a new local festival, the alt-pop four-piece Flyte return to Northampton with an exclusive run through of their upcoming debut album. Back in early 2015 Flyte supported folk artist Lucy Rose at a sold-out Roadmender gig, leaving their first impression on the town…and it was a good one.

Since then they have only become tighter as a band and more thought-provoking with their lyrics, and it shows in their set here at Garden Open Mike 2017.

Opening their set with the sharp oscillating guitar rhythm from lead vocalist Will Taylor on track ‘Echoes’ they instantly command the swinging shoulders of the crowd.

Like the track suggests the distorted guitar reverb and sublime four-part harmonies bounce off the stone walls that surround the BP garden, allowing the music to envelop the audience.

Track after track, Flyte’s faultless set pulls the crowd closer to the stage. The most popular tracks of the night appear to be their new single ‘Cathy Come Home’ with its ever-so-catchy chorus drop, as well as their final two tracks ‘Faithless’ and a stripped-back acoustic version of one of their older tracks ‘Light Me Up’.

On the final song sky lanterns are fittingly let off into the night. Well some of them were: a comical “fuck” comes from Taylor’s microphone as one lantern floats just above the stage and briefly nests in a tree behind whilst the band kicked off their final song.

A bit of final commotion to a unique experience – and New Boots can’t think of anyone we would like more to round off a great day and night of music.

Tonight Flyte are a truly mesmerising headline, and great things must follow their debut albumThe Loved Ones, released later this week.

Maxwell Edwards

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