TONY WRIGHT / PETE SPIBY - Cavern, Exeter 25.11.18
PHOTO CREDITS: CLAIRE HILL
With the temperature already plummeted to a chilly 2 degrees this evening, the alleyway outside the Cavern is uncharacteristically quiet for a Saturday gig night as the doors open and I make my way down the red stairs, along with the handful of people brave enough to queue.
First up tonight is ex-BLACK SPIDERS and GROOP DOGDRILL frontman PETE SPIBY, who released his first solo album, ‘Failed Magician’ at the end of August via a successful pledge campaign. There’s no standing on ceremony tonight, Pete has chosen a very simple stage set-up which, after taking to the stage and performing ‘Bible Studies’ and ‘Lightnin’ Bolt’ from his solo album, he draws attention to. “If you can’t see me at the back it’s because I’m playing acoustic guitar, sitting on a chair. I couldn’t be arsed to stand up!” This easy humour and laughter that follows sets the tone for Pete’s set, and indeed the rest of the night.
Pete looks out at the audience and says we might recognise his next song “from a band I used to be in a couple of years ago”. The delight as people sing along to BLACK SPIDERS’ ‘St. Peter’ is apparent. Pete’s set is unhurried, his playing is masterful and his voice strong and clear. He says it’s great to see the Cavern looking as good as it did before the fire a couple of years previously as he’s played in several band here over the years. “This next song is about not giving a fuck!”, it’s ‘Hunted Down’ from ‘Failed Magician’. As far as I can see, there are people singing along, so people clearly appreciate Pete’s newer, solo material as well as the older songs.
‘Oily Rag’, one of GROOP DOGDRILL’s songs also features, as does ‘Only Girl’, which was part of a Halloween project Pete did with Jägermeister, before we come to the last couple of songs, ‘Mary Jane’, from ‘Failed Magician’, and set closer, Black Spiders’ ‘Stay Down’.
Pete will be returning to the Cavern on 8th December for a set with Pete Spiby and the Beat Alls, which promises to be a cracking night.
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If you were to plot where Terrorvision frontman TONY WRIGHT has been on this acoustic tour and join them together by the 2,000+ miles of road that have been driven thus far, you’d get the kind of tree he drew on his tour t-shirt, or so he quips, in one of the many humorous interludes between songs. Tony, on guitar and vocals, is accompanied onstage by Milly Evans on guitar and backing vocals.
Opening with ‘Self Portrait’, from Tony’s ‘Thoughts ’n’ All’ album, his voice rings out crisp and powerful, cutting through the cold. The Terrorvision classic ‘My House’ follows, and ‘The Blues’, from newer ‘Walnut Dash’ album. Tony and Milly have the kind of lovely easy chemistry and familiarity that comes from spending a lot of time in each other’s company, and when they sing together, the harmonies sound deliciously intense. Both are quick-fingered players and polished performers; the audience are lapping up the fantastic music, singing along to songs old and new, clapping, swaying and dancing, right to the back of the room.
Tony is also a fantastically comedic storyteller; warm and with a seemingly innate ability to command attention. As the laughs continue and Tony regales stories from the Top of the Pops era, Terrorvision and touring days, including games he used to play to stop himself getting bored (I will never look at the little round bars of soap you get in hotels in quite the same way!), this intimate gig feels really special.
Although much of the set is made up of tracks from the ‘Thoughts ’n’ All’ album, Tony introduces ‘Where Would I Be’, from ‘Walnut Dash’ by telling us “It’s about coming out, supporting little venues like this”, which understandably gets a great response. I look around the room at several points during the evening and see sheer delight apparent on the face of everyone there, it’s such a joy to see. The audience are enraptured during the more heartfelt songs from the newer album, and in a jovial mood for the acoustic renditions of Terrorvision hits ‘Friends and Family’, ‘Perseverance’ and ‘Tequila’. Tony and Milly also perform a song “that’s a bit political and so new it doesn’t have a name”, but that they have decided to call ‘Brexit At Tiffanys’. This goes down a storm with the appreciative audience who are then treated to further hilarious tales from Tony’s memoirs (he should write a book!) before all too soon it’s time for the last song of the night which is, of course ‘Alice What’s The Matter?’, showing that Tony can still belt it out with the best of them. Awesome stuff.
It feels current, with a saunter down memory lane thrown in for good measure. An acoustic gig may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but maybe that makes it even more special for those that do appreciate it. There most definitely is a party over here, fuck you (indeed) over there!
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