Saturday, 26 March 2016


Gig poster

The punters of Social Bar were given a real treat in the form of a live acoustic set and two live band performances.

This 'secret gig' which was announced using artist and band alter-egos featured three of Doncaster's best, John McCullagh (50 Pence John), Saints (Scrumpy Jack) and The Blinders (Pig F**k). Three artists/bands who are giving a breath of fresh air to their local music scene in Doncaster.

First on was John McCullagh. This 18 year old Doncaster based solo artist has previously supported the likes of The Enemy, The Babyshambles and Richard Hawley, this without listening to his music or seeing him live yourself shows just how much talent he has.

Aged 14 he was noticed by founder of Creation and Poptones Records Alan McGee (linked My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream and Oasis) in a Rotherham pub due to his talent and presence when on stage. Impressive for anyone nevermind someone so young McCullagh has well and truly already made his name present within the music industry whether he be known as John Lennon McCullagh, John McCullagh and the Escorts (the name of the band he was in up until 13th January 2016) or just John McCullagh.

He took to the bar's stage by himself last night to present the 2016 sound of John McCullagh, one which of course is brilliant. I don't think anyone would have thought this performance would have been anything less.

With him now being stripped down completely to just him and a guitar how he was before the band, he was able to show the raw talent he withholds which you may not have been able to pick up on while he was apart of the band, which kind of makes me glad he is now a solo artist. I did manage to see him live with the band and they are amazing, however I feel this set up allows John to show people his full potential. It also allows him to enlighten people that he can engage an audience and put on a good show solo.

His acoustic sets show the emotion behind his songs due to them not sounding so rocky and electrified, they are softer and are generally quieter.

He made sure there was variety within his set by not just doing his own songs as he covered The Last Shadow Puppets obviously a fan of the Turner-Kane duo it was a great tribute to them due to him performing it so well.

The fact that John did an acoustic set prevented the evening being all the same with their being two other bands present (despite them being of different self-made styles). Not only is he a breath of fresh air to the Doncaster music scene, he is also a breath of fresh air in terms of being a solo artist. There are not many about that you see much about in Doncaster, especially not ones of McCullagh's age. He is quite unique in this way.

He is a brilliant artist both vocally and instrumentally, that cannot be denied. He currently has one upcoming date which is in Darlington at the Avalon on 9th April where he is appearing alongside Zack Hammond.

 I definitely recommend taking a listen to John's music whether it be from his John Lennon McCullagh era or his era with The Escorts and get to see him if he does a show near you.

SAINTS kitted up in patterned trousers and cowboy hats
from left to right - Alex, Ben and Jack

SAINTS are a three-piece band from Doncaster who describe themselves as 'sludge pop'.

Consisting of Alex Taylor Rave (vocals/guitar), Jack Byrne (bass) and Ben Hallett (drums) are joining the 'pretty melody side of pop' with the 'dirty sound of grunge'.

Recently this band have released physical copies of their EP and are yet to do the same with this EP electronically at a date yet to be confirmed. This band are unique due to the fusion they are demonstrating. 

Unsigned, 18 and due to release their debut EP but already I have no doubt in my mind that if these boys stick with this band and continue going in the right direction they are as it stands then good things shall come to them.

One thing that definitely caught my eyes about this trio was their change in attire was they took to the stage which bassist Jack later asked if I noticed, I couldn't not. Their quirky clothing was something I think everyone in the audience noticed, either before or after the set when they changed back.

These boys similar to the act they followed, so young but so developed both on and off stage. They have a great presence while on stage, loud but a nice loud and more than in just their vocals and instrumentals.

This was the first time that I had seen Saints and after listening to their EP 'Lost My Job, Have No Money Please Give' for the first time to review it, I expected these boys to blow me away like they did through the only physically released EP.

SAINTS live at Social Bar
The boys of the band reached and exceeded my expectations of them, as they presented us with song after song the crowd began to join in singing along, nodding heads and moving around. There songs making people want to move around, this is exactly what you would want to be the case with a band of their nature when you attend one of their gigs, these boys have it covered.

This band are as constant live as they are through their recorded tracks which is excellent and what some bands fail to achieve which majorly lets them down.

The Blinders are really the first band which showed me that three-pieces work but Saints have more than further confirmed that for me.

If you are in and around the Doncaster area on the following dates make sure you see these boys at the following locations as I'm sure you will feel thee same way that I do:

Saturday 26th March at The Woolpack for Veristas Festival
Friday 13th May at Social Bar alongside The Blinders
Friday 20th May at The Leopard supporting Steel Trees

From left to right - Tom, Matty and Charlie

It has been just over a year since I first saw The Blinders play, when this was they played to next to no one or at least definitely not as many as they play to now.

In the last year this 'psychedelic' band made up of Tom Haywood (vocals/guitar), Charlie McGough (bass) and Matty Neale (drums/backing vocals) have progressed so much in terms of their live shows now they have expanded their horizons to Manchester. Last year playing a gig in Derby and now having a gig in York scheduled this band are getting their name known.

Just after they released their first EP they did a gig at Plug in Sheffield which was followed by their track 'Murder At The Ballet' being played by Christian Carlisle on BBC Introducing Sheffield to which before Carlisle recommended people saw the band.

I definitely agree with the recommendation. The first time I saw them I loved their stage presence and as they have progressed there crowds have got larger and more raucous and the band themselves seem to have more energy throughout their shows.

BLINDERS joined by friend Jordan on tambourine
For as long as I have been going to Blinders gigs stage invasions have taken place, just at this gig two happened, friend Jordan who took over the tambourine and friend Shane who took over vocals while lead vocalist Tom focused on his guitar.

Alike to Saints, Blinders are just as constant in their live performances as they are in their recorded songs.

The songs that have come from the Blinders are ones which the majority of the crowds at their gigs now and sing along to, when at home people listen and take in the seriousness of the topics in which they discuss through their lyrics but at gigs people are dancing and jumping around enjoying themselves rather a lot and the band also look like they are always really enjoying themselves throughout their sets.

Speaking to bassist Charlie this confirmed this for me, his favourite song being ICB Blues which is about the serious topic of the death of Eric Garner and the involvement of the NYPD in his death but when he is on stage his favourite is Pig F**k due to him finding it fun to play.

No matter how many of their gigs I have attended I feel like I have not bored of them live as their gigs are a great experience, this secret one being the best yet.

I look forward to seeing these boys alongside Saints again in May.

You can see all of this for yourself if you go to any of these venues on any of these dates and catch the boys:

Fibbers, York - Friday 1st April
Festivile at Vintage Rockbar, Doncaster - Sunday 17th April
Social Bar, Doncaster - Friday 13th of May
Written by Sophie.

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