BISHOPSKIN + NINA WINDER-LIND + RY-GUY + VAN ZON – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 7.4.24
The Brighton and Hove News music team reported last month that ‘Hidden Herd Presents’ had set the bar high with their first monthly spotlight of 2024 for emerging artists, ones-to-watch and hidden gems. You can read our report HERE. The first of their three events in February was another expectational night of exciting new talent.
Wednesday at The Hope & Ruin showcased local artists Nina Winder-Lind and Van Zon with London based Bishopskin and RY-GUY completing the lineup. Where do I start with this quality and varied bill? Let’s start at the beginning.
Opening the night’s entertainment were local band Van Zon, who only played their first gig in June last year. I caught them at the Green Door Store last month and was excited to see these experimental post-rockers again.
The enigmatic five-piece, featuring multiple lead vocalists, guitar, violin, keyboards, clarinet, bass and drums, seamlessly blend elements of baroque pop, jazz, psychedelia and folk to create a progressive, majestic and otherworldly sound.
Van Zon’s first song ‘She Moves Through The Fair’ opened with gentle cymbals and an understated guitar. Mina Alexander’s ethereal voice perfectly matched the folk feel of the band’s intricate soundscape. As the music built and got louder, her vocals effortlessly matched it. For the second track ‘Oh Messiah’, Charlie West took over on lead vocals. His almost sombre vocals, spoken at times, contrasted well with the complex soundscape.
Charlie mentioned before the start of the next, as yet untitled song, that it was supposed to be played on acoustic guitar, but that had broken during the soundcheck. So it was played on an electric guitar, with a great violin part, it had the feel of The Velvet Underground’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, before becoming more folk sounding. The vocals between Charlie’s lead and Mina’s backing chanting were delightful. The audience looked totally captivated by this stage of the set.
Before the final number ‘Canon’, Daniel Scott-Warren announced they would be playing only half the song. When the other band members corrected him, he joked he “hadn’t got the memo”. I think everybody at The Hope & Ruin was pleased it was the full song. Its gentle start had a country sound, which had me tapping my foot to the music after only a few notes. It had an old-fashioned sound with a twist, being familiar yet new. Van Zon smoothly switched tempo, volume and styles throughout the song, with screamed vocals towards the end of the track.
Van Zon fitted so many styles and variety into their 30-minute four song set. Far more than many established bands playing far longer sets. None of these changes were superfluous and all added to a wonderful enchanting performance.
Van Zon’s next appearance in Brighton is back at The Hope & Ruin on 1st March, supporting Man/Woman/Chainsaw and ladylike. Tickets available HERE.
Charlie West – guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals
Mina Alexander – violin, shakers and vocals
Lottie Skala – bass and backing vocals
Daniel Scott-Warren – clarinet, synth, guitar
Ewan Vellinga – drums
Van Zon setlist:
‘She Moves Through The Fair’
(A new untitled song)
Next up was Brixton-based RY-GUY bringing his fresh modern psychedelia sound. He was joined for this live show by a guitarist, synth player and drummer, while he played bass guitar. His bass guitar with its distinctive small body reminded me of Paul McCartney’s Höfner Bass.
RY-GUY’s fresh take on psychedelia, included influences from surrealism and afro-futurism. There was a rock element in its guitar parts on some tracks such as ‘The Reign Of The Garden Queen’. His big assured sound was predominantly guitar based with the synth adding another layer. The music was matched by his powerful voice.
The 60s psychedelic feel in the music was soon picked up by some members of the audience, who matched it with their dance moves.
There was humour in the set, when ‘Oil In My Hair’ was introduced as a warning about the dangers of getting a perm from his own experience. One of my highlights was ‘If Times Ticking Was Louder’ from his recent self-released ‘As The Light Leaks’ EP with its layered changes within the song.
Overall, it was a very fresh entertaining set from RY-GUY, which was very well received judging by the audience’s applause and cheering at the end. It was his first time back in Brighton with his current line up, but he hinted of a return to the city in the near future.
‘The Shop Is Closing’ (from 2023 ‘As The Light Leaks’ EP)
‘The Reign Of The Garden Queen’ (unreleased)
‘Kaieteur Falls’ (unreleased)
‘Oil In My Hair’ (unreleased)
‘If Times Ticking Was Louder’ (from 2023 ‘As The Light Leaks’ EP)
‘Beaten Tracks’ (unreleased)
Nina Winder-Lind may be better known to Brighton gig goers as vocalist and cellist in local quartet The New Eves. On Wednesday, she was performing as her solo project, joined on stage by a full band of four additional musicians, which included fellow New Eves member Ella Russell.
Nina’s solo work intertwines poetry, folk and rock ‘n’ roll, creating a cinematic and evocative sound. She opened her set playing keyboards on ‘Little Sister’, this mellow number started gently with Nina performing solo, before the band joined in and the song built so subtly. For the second track, Ella looked laid down with both her guitar and trombone; she played both instruments on ‘Love You So’. The tempo increased noticeably for this song, with Nina’s powerful assured vocals being a narrative style. Its 60’s pop style had a very fresh feel.
Nina introduced ‘The Spirit Is Carnal’ by saying, “If you want to know why, listen to the lyrics”. She switched to guitar, no cello tonight, as Ella played keyboard. There were hints of Siouxsie and The Banshees on this track. Nina’s forceful, but never forced, vocals had clear similarities to artists like Patti Smith.
Nina admitted the following new song, as yet untitled, they’d only rehearsed once before the show. It didn’t show. She said that Ella would be “rocking the trombone”, which she did. Nina closed an entertaining set with ‘You’re Not An Angel’ in which she channelled painful emotions through her excellent vocals.
It was a great performance by Nina and her band. Although she has no Brighton dates in the diary, keep an eye on her social media for future Brighton shows.
Nina Winder-Lind setlist:
‘Love You So’
‘The Spirit Is Carnal’
“(A new untitled song)”
‘You’re Not An Angel’
Formed as a lockdown project by vocalist Tiger Nicholson and guitarist James Donovan (formerly of HMLTD), Bishopskin were playing their first Brighton show at ‘Hidden Herd Presents’.
Bishopskin blended folk, blues and punk to craft a distinctive unique sound. Their influences don’t just include modern 20th and 21st century genres. Religious, tribal and mystical styles added an almost mediaeval mix to their eclectic sound.
The six-piece band started with a mystical sounding track with Tabitha Avanzato’s wonderful ethereal vocals. Did I say six-piece band? Make that seven. For the second song, lead singer Tiger joined the band on stage. The band later told me that they are a nine-piece, but two members couldn’t make the show. The second song was more of a dance number, think Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ mixed with folk from a bygone era.
Tiger was an extremely charismatic front person for the band, often singing at the very edge of the stage. It was only a matter of time before he left the stage to join the crowd, which he did during ‘Mother’s Steel Bike’. After the song’s jazz and blues opening, the later dance section was the cue to take his freestyle mystical dancing off stage.
The following song ‘Worship’ was introduced as “another upbeat one” as Tiger got his breath back. It had more of a new wave, late 70’s post-punk sound before a quiet end with the lone violin. The mood mellowed further on the next song with Tiger singing to the violin accompaniment. There was so much emotion in his voice, even when slow dancing off-stage with somebody in the audience.
There were yet more changes in style on the following songs. One had a Deep South gospel style which the crowd joined in with the “amens”. ‘I Was Born On An Island’ saw the band all seated on the stage floor for a capella tribal chanting. While ‘Ave Maria’ mixed folk with a Latin dance beat.
As well as mixing up the musical styles, Tiger’s vocals included spoken word, singing and chanting, with varying degrees of harshness depending on the song. Tabitha’s softer style was key to the vocal harmonies across the set. Her heavenly backing vocals gave a tenderness to contrast Tiger’s bellowing vocals.
Whilst singers (and dancers) Tiger and Tabitha, may have been the focus point of the band, the real beauty and brilliance of Bishopskin was the complex and intricate layers and arrangements which came together to craft varied and captivating songs.
Just after 11pm, Tiger announced their last song, as it was “a school night”. However, being past the curfew, there was only time for a taster with a few bars sounding like an Irish jig with its guitars and violin.
If you missed Bishopskin at ‘Hidden Herd Presents’, or want to hear that final song of the set, you can catch them at The Great Escape, where they informed us, they’ll be playing in “a big church”. The type of venue that should suit their sound perfectly. I think many of the people at The Hope & Ruin on Wednesday could be heading for that church in May.
Tiger Nicholson – lead vocals
James Donovan – guitar
Tabitha Avanzato – vocals
James Moss – keyboards and guitar
Alex Prete – drums
Hana Miyagi – violin
Matthew Baker – bass
‘Hey Little Sister’ (from 2023 ‘Babble’ album)
‘Profit’ (from 2020 ‘Ye Olde Britland Isle Bishopskin’ EP)
‘Mother’s Steel Bike’ (from 2023 ‘Babble’ album)
‘Worship’ (from 2020 ‘Ye Olde Britland Isle Bishopskin’ EP)
‘Midnight Sun’ (from 2020 ‘Ye Olde Britland Isle Bishopskin’ EP)
‘I Was Born On An Island’ (a 2022 single release)
‘Born’ (from 2023 ‘Babble’ album)
‘Ave Maria’ (from 2023 ‘Babble’ album)
‘Stella Splendens’ (from 2023 ‘Babble’ album)
I’ve enjoyed some memorable Wednesday evenings at these ‘Hidden Herd’ events discovering many new exciting artists. The latest was up there with the very best of them, with such a diverse and quality line up matched with a great atmosphere. All four artists delivered great original sounding performances.
Looking forward, ‘Hidden Herd’ has a busy February with two more showcase events this month.
Their first night at The Prince Albert on Thursday 15th February, featuring Adult DVD, SAD DADS and Room Service, has already sold out.
Love For The Peaches, H E I G H T S and Hongza play their new night at The Prince Albert on Wednesday 28th February. Tickets HERE.
This is followed by an all-day event at Green Door Store on Saturday 9th March, featuring Blood Wizard, wych elm, The Leaning, Human Interest, Maximilian, Car Boot Sale, Ideal Living and everyday saints. Tickets HERE.