Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steve Cradock / Black Market Empire / The Mystery Lads...aka Little Liam @ HMV Institute, Wednesday 20th April 2011

Combining his own headlining tour (promoting his new album), along with a support slot on Beady Eye’s attempt to win fans and influence people, Steve Cradock’s currently as busy as a bee on speed. If you don’t know the name you’ll know the tunes and riffs - Steve’s one of the driving forces behind Ocean Colour Scene as well as a regular member of Mr Paul Weller’s backing band. So the packed room was no surprise really. Before Steve’s set though a couple of support acts warmed (as if we needed any was pretty moist in there) up the crowd. The first of these (a male duo) made the cardinal error of not giving their names...or the titles of any of the songs in fact. Whoever they were it was a solid showing with some catchy tunes and decent streetwise lyrics (EDIT: They're called Little Liam...turns out Steve Cradock taught one half of the band - Liam Garland - to play!).

Next up though a band I know all about, Black Market Empire, with yet another fine meaty, beaty musical treaty set. Kicking off with a frankly storming ‘Begging You’ (Joy Division meets The La’s...yep, that good) they whipped through 7 further tracks of quality beat infused tunes, firmly cementing their place as one of the best live bands in the Midlands right now. There’s an easy charm to their performances which, coupled with some truly classic sounding tunes, makes every gig a real pleasure. On top of the opening number newish track Hannah was also particularly strong this evening...the sound of a band that’s really going somewhere. I suggest you hook up with them for the ride...

Being his home town (well, near enough...he was born in nearby Solihull) the crowd gave Steve a particularly warm reception on his entrance (oooer missus...titter ye not etc etc). There’s a lot of love for this dude here in the Midlands and, at times tonight, he seemed a little overwhelmed by it all. It’s gotta take balls to step and become the frontman after so many years in more of a supporting role so he got my vote before he’d opened his mouth. The set started strongly with Last Days of the Old World, one of the standout numbers from the new solo album, Peace City West. I think it’s probably fair to say that Steve's strengths lie more in songwriting and guitar playing than singing, but given this his vocal performance was pretty good. I’m guessing more live shows will polish off any rough edges (the odd moment when lines were lost by singing too far from the mic for instance). Like the man himself said tonight though “As you can probably tell I‘m not used to this shit!”

Unashamedly retro the tunes draw influences from such musical luminaries as The Small Faces and The Beatles as well as capturing the spirit of Cradock’s ‘other band’ OCS. Of the more reflective stuff The Clothes They Stood Up In came off particularly well tonight with Steve really capturing the emotion of the song. It was the set closer, ‘I Man’, that hit the spot though. The pick of the album, tonight Steve and co span the track into a glorious jam that perfectly showcased his legendary guitar playing. Minutes later he returned with Dion Dublin. Yes, that Dion Dublin. It turns out that the former England footballer and current pundit has invented an instrument called the Dube. I’m not making this up. Seriously. Whatever next...Rooney's Roonmonica? (no matter how hard you try it won't play anything..instead it just shags your gran and tells you to fuck off). Even more surprising it’s quite an impressive thing...a kind of cubist percussion box he played standing up with his hands and fingers. The track he backed, Steppin’ Aside, was fabulously funky too, arguably a close contender for the highlight of the night. Anyway, after Dion had cleared away his Dube the encore concluded with Beware of Falling Rocks, the song fading away with the ‘It’s all too beautiful’ refrain from The Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park, a gently understated tribute from one fine musician to another.


Franko said...

Black Market Emprie were great other than the lead singer who looked like he belonged else where perhaps in drug rehab and perhaps vocal coaching.
Drummer was excellent through out and the bass player and guitarist had a great sound.
Steve Craddock was a new sound and i had not hear any of his solo stuff before but was fresh and inspiring.

Liam said...

Hi Mr Baron , i am Liam one of the mystery lads lol we are Little Liam , you are so right though ! yesterday was a strange night in sense of organising , we were told to be there for 3 o clock for soundcheck & ended up just testing the line before we start :(
but overall maybe just nerves aswell , Steve Cradock taught me guitar from the age of 7 so the man himself being in the room aswell as Simon , Oscar & Dion Dublin ( im a big villa fan ) nerves was a case lol but im glad you enjoyed the set .

Liam x

or search Little Liam on Facebook

Garry Jones Frap Records Ltd said...

Agree with franko to be honest great songs and three of black Market were bang on ace drummer what a noise maker he is in a good way.Was it me or did the lead singer forget where he was when he girggled this is a song for steve craddock sure he was impressed not. Fantastic lyrics but wrong singer / liam wannabe who was either pissed or on drugs.Steve Craddock fantastic and great night

kurt said...

I completely disagree with both Garrys and Frankos comments re: our singer. I thought Shaun had a great gig, his vocals were spot on as was his guitar playing! To suggest someone is drunk or on drugs is ridiculous, someone you clearly don't know too. we're all for criticism in BME but these posts just seem spiteful. Your quite right Garry Shaun does write fantastic lyrics, with a different singer there wouldn't be a BME. Thanks for your comments on our other members of BME although I will just add it was Shaun that taught me to play bass.

sott said...

I happen to know shaun the lead singer of BME. Iv never seen him so nervus, which is very unlike him. but this was solely down to the fact of sharing a stage with steve craddock. it was however only noticeable when he tryed to talk between songs, he did mention that steve was a hero of his. This said the perfomance was fantastic! people kept saying that BME were much better than steve craddock.(who's perfomance id describe as dreary and quite a dissapointment)

scott said...

scott not sott.
yes i just got my own name wrong.

Gareth Surridge said...


BME happen to be close personal friends of mine 3 of which i have known for over 12+ years and i totally disagree with the way you have both slated Shaun (Lead Singer), I was not at the Gig but i cant even imagine the presure he was under being on the same bill as one of his Hero's and for you to slate him is totally wrong, I would say its the first time you have seen them and have no basis to criticise him or them perhaps you should both try having a go at it.

Also to make it personal by saying things about being drunk or on drugs is totally out of order but at the same time if you know anything about music you would know some of the worlds greatest songs/bands were written/performed under the influence/Hendrix/Rolling Stones/Cream/Beatles to name a few.

So Garry Frap Records Ltd i would say your title sums you up within the last 3 letters Ltd it seems your very Limited.

The simple fact of the matter is if you do not like what your listening to go to the bar until the act you want to see is on.

BME have a loyal fan base and i am proud and happy to know all of them and support them i suggest as a group they are better off without people like you following them.

Shaun Tom Ant Kirt keep up the good work lads and dont listen to Mugs like Franko and Garry.

skinhead69 said...

It was a great gig, BME had real power & style! the emotion the singer put in to "hannah" was breath taking.The lad writes, plays lead, and sings, no wonder franko's jealous!!! What a night for the lads sharing the stage with one of thier indie heroes. Cant wait till sunflower lounge gig on the 29th. Much Respect!!

Anonymous said...

The last time i saw BME at the same venue (Old Barfly) they packed the room out on their own, the bar was drank dry not once but twice, that was two years ago, which is how long BME have been together, they write all their own songs, and i might add sold out the Victoria in B,ham for the EP launch night. to be asked to be main support for Mr craddock is in itself a big up for the lads, Dion Dublin never looks any older what is his secret ? i think the Baron has got it spot on and is in a position to know, some of the comments on here verge on the border of jealousy / cyber bullying, to attack an individual in this way is totally out of order after seeing them once on probably the biggest night so far.
nerves will allways play a part in any performance, if the critics have any balls then come along to the sunflower lounge on the 29th and take another look at BME you might see them in a different light. by the way the guiness at HMV tasted like jeyes fluid sort it out people.BME a final note don`t let the comments from a couple of neanderthol morons bother you. like the Baron says "One of the BEST live bands in the Midlands" listen to him.

The Baron said...'s all kicking off here eh? Firstly, thanks to Little Liam for getting in touch. I've added a link to your MySpace in the review.

Secondly, whilst everyone's entitled to an opinion...which is why I leave all comments up here...I thought Shaun was on fine form. I had a chat to him after the gig too. To imply he was on anything other than the buzz that comes from performing with one of his musical heroes is, I'm afraid, incorrect.

Kirsty V said...

Everyones entitled to their own opinion and it seems
people will never agree on things.
BME are very dear friends to me, I love them and I am extremely proud of everything they have achieved.
I appreciate people get nervous and it's something that can only be overcome with time, vocally and musically it was deffinately one of Shauns better gigs, I will not tale that away from him, however, I do find it disappointing that it was not the first time he appeared to not be able to
communicate with the crowd very well.
Guys you've had plenty of fantastic feedback but don't slate people for constructive criticism, it's workin on the little
things that will make you bigger and better than
you already are!
You've all (Shaun included) earnt a great deal of respect in the music industry in such a short
space of time, 2 years is nothing so just remember that you are still a new upcoming band so their are plenty of creases that still need to be ironed out.
Love you all xxx

Toby said...

BME, seen them probably 10+ times, always really tight. Laughable that the lead singer is poor, excellent voice and guitar skills. Only criticism is that he holds his guitar far too high up!

Anonymous said...

Glowing Joe
where do you come from Franko somewhere else i guess, Alcohol obviously does not agree with you, when making a review, your judgment is a refection on your inability to write a true account of BME on the nights performance at the Institute, I was there and can only say how great BME played I enjoyed the songs and could only dance as some of the beats played me like a puppet master.

Shaun Ponsonby said...

I guess I should defend myself then, this is beginning to feel all a bit Rebecca Black (Will our Youtube video now get 120 million hits?)

Franko's comment I took with a pinch of salt as it just rang jealousy and was unnecessarily nasty. I have never received negative feedback regarding my voice before.

Strange also that Garry Jones Frap Records LTD (Can anyone confirm that Frap records exists? Is it really a LTD company? As there is zero on the www that I can find) praised the rest of the band but singled only me out for spiteful criticism. The Liam comment is way off the mark.
I did not forget where I was when giving Steve a song. Maybe I was not clear enough but I said it was an honour to be sharing a stage with such a hero of mine and everyone was in for a treat in seeing his show as I had been all the way to York only two days prior to see Steve live as a paying fan.

I was in no way intoxicated during our performance as our drinks rider only arrived after our set. The on drugs comment is ridiculous.
I cannot even say I was suffering from nerves as that really is a condition fairly unknown to me. The Baron was spot on in pointing out that it was the buzz alone of playing from a personal point of view our biggest big to date, not in size of venue or audience but occasion.

Thank you to everyone else for the support and big thanks & respect to The Baron who summed up the evening perfectly. The review captured exactly what I made of our gig. A triumph!

Shaun BME

ps Garry & Franko, if you feel you may have jumped the gun and was maybe too hasty in giving your damning verdict then you are both welcome to our gig this Friday 29/04/11 at The Sunflower Lounge. I will put you both on the guestlist with a plus one each.

The Baron said...

Thanks Shaun. The Black Market Empire Strikes Back! It's quite clear to me who's coming off the better man from this whole business. It'll be interesting to see if Garry and Franko give you the respect you deserve by getting back in touch. Constructive criticism is great...unfounded slander don't help anyone.

Keep up the great work.