So Christmas has been and gone for another year, and with the taste of turkey, stuffing, and brandy butter still on the lips, it's time take a look back at this year's #TUNEICEF project. From French riviera-style acoustic instrumentals to absolutely BRUTAL heaviness from Loughborough's own hometown metal heroes The Relinquished.
As is our custom over the last couple of years, we scheduled the gig for the last Sunday before Christmas, and before we go any further may I say HUGE thank you to The Beacon for hosting TUNEICEF for free in 2015, 2016 and 2017! Credit to Sharon & Ian, we couldn't have done this without you – and neither could we have done it without the legendary members of Dave The Rock Band providing PA, drums, bass and vocals.
I kicked things off with a few tunes from my acoustic set – more than a little intimidating, if I'm honest, given that come kick off there were only a half dozen guys in the audience, none of whom knew the gig was happening and were totally focused on the football on TV behind me...
But I'm still here to tell the tale, so it can't have been all bad ;-)
I handed things over to the one and only Jonezy, who... oh look, you just have to see him. Rock and hip hop fused together with some phenomenally catchy riffs and an out and out ballsy energy that has to be seen to be believed! Suffice to say everybody had their hands in the air like they just didn't care by the end of his set – an awesome performer!
Next up, Dave took to the stage for a few Christmas favourites and were joined by two of my students – Billy Edwards and Tom Hetzel from Track 95. Billy has written tracks for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 iterations of our charity project, and Tom has added the basslines to several of the album tracks – still finding the time to ace his Grade 3 with a staggering 93%!
They were followed by The Relinquished, a band I must confess I'd never heard of until singer and songwriter Lewis Sawyer contacted me on Facebook and sent me a couple of YouTube links – now, I can't claim to be a huge metal fan, but quality is quality whatever the genre, and after what I'd heard these guys HAD to be on the album and in the show! Sure enough, they didn't disappoint – blisteringly loud, but they performed a tight, dynamic, energetic set. It's very easy to let that sort of music devolve into a wall of noise, and it's a testament to their musicianship that they kept everything clear and precise, delivering crushing riffs and blazing solos with total accuracy. AND they threw in some Dio – all around win!
Then it was time for our headliners, Dawn Of Anubis – also known as The Bench That Rocked, depending on whether they're performing original material or covers. I've known these guys for a while and was lucky enough to have Tom, Billy and Luke as students back as year 7 younglings at Castle Rock. Watching them now, the progress they've made is incredible, the band craft some superb songs packed with hooks and dynamics and harmony, and performed with energy, style and confidence. The boys are well and truly grown up!
I'd like to thank all our artists and everyone who came down, hope you all enjoyed the show as much as we did, and don't forget to head on over to https://tuneicef.bandcamp.com/releases to order your copy – all proceeds go to UNICEF and you're supporting top notch local artists.
And do yourself a favour – next weekend, instead of putting on X Factor and complaining there's nothing but crap in the charts, go and see one of these bands, or the hundreds like them, who flog up and down the country trying to find the few venues who support original music and the few people who are willing to go out and appreciate it. Each year I've run this project I've been genuinely astonished by the level of talent that's out there that doesn't get any exposure. If you don't want your listening ruled by Simon Cowell and Kiss FM, make yourself a resolution to go and see at least one band you've never heard of in 2017.
And for everyone involved in this year's TUNEICEF, I say thank you, Happy Christmas, and see you same time next year!