Category Archives: Special Feature

Alternative indie extravaganza hits Zephyr Lounge in half term

A superb line up of music artists from across the county will be appearing at Leamington’s Zephyr Lounge on Wednesday 18 February, in what will be a big night for music in Coventry & Warwickshire.

Only Shadows Feb 2015Nuneaton’s Only Shadows, Leamington’s The Rushmore and Stratford’s Chasing Deer will join forces to provide an energy-packed night of alternative indie, with support from female Warwick-based DJ Keztrel.

Described as “one of the brightest hopes for UK guitar music” by Amazing Radio, headliners Only Shadows will bring their own brand alternative powerpop to Leamington, giving local fans a chance to see them in action before they go on a UK-wide tour in April supporting Young Kato, taking in dates from Nottingham to Southampton.

Citing influences including Editors, Arcade Fire and Placebo, the band have recently released new single ‘Our Sands’, which they’ll be performing live at the Zephyr Lounge.

The Rushmore Feb 2015Support comes from Leamington’s very own The Rushmore, whose energetic blend of indie rock is guaranteed to get the crowd moving. Signed to 4Real Records, the band have been described as “sounding bigger that Godzilla” by The Assembly in Leamington and they will soon be releasing their second album.

Chasing Deer Feb 2015Opening the night are Stratford’s Chasing Deer, kicking off the evening with some amazing acoustic pop rock. The young unsigned band performs a mix of cover songs and original music, and will be treating the Zephyr crowd to a performance of their recently released debut single, ‘Step into the Light’.

DJ Keztrel Feb 2015All three bands will be complimented by two DJ sets from female Warwick-based DJ Keztrel, who’ll be playing a mix of electro and alternative tunes to get people in the mood and round off the evening.

Tickets are £5. They are available directly from the artists, online at, or on the door. Admission policy is 14+.



Preview: Let’s Say F to Cancer @ Rosie Malones 17.05.14

Read our preview of the upcoming ‘Let’s Say F to Cancer’ charity event by Plug&Amp contributor, Richard Ounsworth


Cancer affects everyone. Not to sound like one of those adverts you see or one of the charity collectors you see on the streets, but it does. It’s not a disease that targets race, sex, age, trend or the music you listen to, as illustrated all too well by Stephen’s Story. It affects people you may pass on the street or people you know personally.

Well now is the time to ‘Say F to cancer’. If you’re in the Coventry area on the 17 May, you want to be a part of some fundraising for Macmillan and listen to some awesome music, then head down to Rosie Malones and get involved.

This incredible evening has been set up by someone whose friend has sadly been affected by the disease.  I personally think this is an amazing thing to do for a friend.

Doors open at 5.30pm and the event will run until midnight. The organiser is asking that people donate £2 to the charity but I implore you to donate a bit more. This awesome lineup is easily worth £10.

The lineup includes:

Joe Dolman LAMPJoe Dolman – a talented young guitarist and songwriter (17) with a big online following who could be destined for big things.

Rosetta Fire – playing an acoustic set tonight, their happy, infectious indie tunes and harmonious vocals will have you dancing. This band are definitely one to see.



HuffyHuffy – describes himself as a solo acoustic punk with folk influences. He writes about and campaign for causes close to his heart and is a regular face at anti-fascist and anti-racism events.

Dead Crooners – these four guys sound like ‘what if The League of Gentleman had a band’ and will definitely be fun to see!



War Engine – A bit of Midlands metal is always needed! War Engine will definitely fill the gap for that! Expect awesome guitar work and a lot of pits.

Jonny Concrete – Hip hop/rock/rap/r and b/pretty much everything! Since Dean Ingram decided to make his solo career into a group project, he and the band have created amazing anthems to appeal to a lot of audiences. This is one of Coventry’s best groups and you should definitely catch them.

The ProphetsThe Prophets – The Prophets recently spent a week in London making their brand new EP and after supporting the huge Neck Deep at a packed Kasbah, these guys and girl are definitely going to bring their A game to Rosie Malones.

So get down to Rosie Malones on 17 May for some awesome music from some amazing local talent, all in aid of a very worthy cause.

In review: Coventry Classics – Specials by The Specials

Here’s the first in a series of reviews of classic albums released by Coventry’s famous sons and daughters, which we’ll be publishing on Plug&Amp over the next few weeks.

Daniel Faulkner shares his love for The Specials’ 1979 debut release  and queries whether, 35 years later, the album format really is dead…


Specials – The Specials

I’m not the first person to express my love for this album and, even 35 years later, I won’t be the last.

Back in 1979, and released through Jerry Dammer’s label, the band put out their debut – Specials, the pivot point for Coventry’s musical history. I mean, Elvis Costello was there.

Specials by The Specials is a historical monument that towers higher than either of our Cathedrals, not just the most iconic of Coventry albums, as soon as you hear that trumpet sound you are reminded that you are listening to an album that encapsulates a whole movement.

The SpecialsStraight away the hooks are there. The tracks are laden with them. From Rudy through Monkey Man, Too Much Too Young and all the way to You’re Wondering Now. There are so many classics on this album.


They refuse to stay outside, banging at the door, taking over the dance floor and sneaking behind the bar. The harmonies and infectious bass grooves keep the songs bouncing whilst Hall challenges you, demanding your attention with his lyrical prowess, timeless articulations and cunning observations. The words ring truer now than they did in ‘79.

Monkey Man defies anyone to not get on their feet, this is Ska at its absolute finest. Never to be repeated with the same urgency and honesty.

Roddy Radiation’s guitar work serves the songs with the subtlety and style needed, aiding the bass – lines, pushing the beat forward to keep your brogues moving. The guitars play together nicely (but not to nicely) and the balance between them is perfect.

When Dawning of a new Era kicks in, if you aren’t sold on the importance of this album then you may as well go home. This is what 12”s were made for.

The+Specials+000_8151What unifies the band on Specials is the camaraderie between members. The gang vocals punctuate that and really pull it all together. The interplay between Staples and Hall is absolutely the stuff of legends.



This album has no plateau. Imagine that. It serves as a window. It puts you in a moment, in a bar, in a place that you’ve never been to. That is why it has stood the test of time. That is why it will continue to do so.

Tip for aspiring bands: Do it the way the Specials would have done it. Or, at least try to.

There is a big argument in the music industry about the strength of the album. Born from marketing strategies that only care about selling singles. The album format is not dead. It’s a great medium, an important one as well. I challenge a band to put out an album on itunes and refuse to sell the tracks individually, just to see what happens. Fight for your art in its entirety. It’s yours to dictate how its listened to. – Daniel Faulkner

God is in the TV: Plug&Amp’s March scene report

Our first ever Coventry & Warwickshire scene report was published by God Is In The TV music and culture zine this month, featuring Perry Manning, Spooky Wagons, Only Shadows and Russian Gun Dogs.

Read extracts from it here, then click on the links to read the full article… 


Welcome to Plug&Amp’s first ever GIITTV scene report for Coventry & Warwickshire, showcasing the best talent from this neck of the woods and bringing you the latest release and gig news.

This month we’ve got a diverse mix of bands and singer-songwriters, brand new releases and some UK wide gigs to report on…

Perry ManningWe start off with news from Perry Manning, a singer-songwriter from Bedworth in Warwickshire who plays “catchy, jangly indie guitar pop music” (NME magazine). Perry released his debut album My Arrogant Ignorant Side in August last year and has supported an impressive array of bands including The View, The Twang, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, Twisted Wheel, Young Knives, and Reverend and the Makers.

Perry has headlined many sold out shows across the UK including the O2 Academy in Islington and Birmingham and is no stranger to festival stages either, having played Coventry’s annual Godiva Festival main stage twice, as well as the Hinckley Music Festival and Strawberry Fields Festival in Leicestershire last year.

If you need a measure of what sort of a guy Perry Manning is, here’s an example. While on his travels last year, he played at the Dublin Castle in Camden. A group of fans who had discovered his music through Twitter missed his show as their train was late. On hearing this, Perry took the group down the road and played them a personal gig in the street round the corner!

Perry is currently working on some new recordings with mixer and producer Curtis Piggon. He’s just released one of those songs, Tango Woman on iTunes and other digital platforms and will soon be releasing more singles from these recording sessions. Tango Woman has received great local feedback and has had repeated airplay on BBC Introducing Coventry and Warwickshire. Read more here…

spookyWagonsNext on to Coventry band, Spooky Wagons, who are still relatively new to the scene, having only been together for around nine months.

They’re a five piece band consisting of three vocals, guitar, bass, piano and drums and have varied influences ranging from blues and folk to alternative indie pop, RnB and soul, all of which can be heard in their unique blend of music that mixes all of these influences effortlessly together to create beautifully crafted sing-a-long tunes that get stuck in your head. Read more here…

Only Shadows 3Some of our local bands have seriously been hitting the road lately and taking their music to crowds around the country, none more so than Only Shadows.

The four piece alt-rock band from Nuneaton have certainly been living up to their promise to “deliver the best live shows” and have jumped in their van over the past few weeks to travel the length of the country, taking in venues including Manchester’s Roadhouse, Woody’s in Cannock, The Firebug in Leicester, Hobo’s in Bridgend (the band’s first ever gig in Wales) and the Hope & Anchor in Islington. Read more here…

RGD Queens Hall 1And finally, an update one of GIITTV’s tips for 2014, Russian Gun Dogs. This year is shaping up to be a very important year indeed for the Coventry band, with new music on the way and a performance at London’s Water Rats on 15 March supporting Kontakte and Baltic Fleet.

RGD have been very busily writing and recording new songs ready to go into the studio with Editors’ producer Gavin Monaghan who has been on board with the band’s two previous releases, the anthemic Survive and Surrender. We’ve been privileged to hear two of these demo tracks, Hertz and Surround You. These are exciting times. Read more here…

That should keep you busy until next month, when we’ll bring you the latest from yet more bands and artists from our diverse and exciting music scene in Coventry & Warwickshire.

Louise Ali, Plug&Amp

Love Music Magazine featured interview: Diamond Skyes

Diamond Skyes were the first ever Plug&Amp featured band to appear in the March issue of Love Music Magazine.

Love Music Magazine logo

You can read the full article here, but here are some of the highlights from their interview together with photos from their recent gig at The Flapper in Birmingham…

Diamond Skyes Flapper 3“We’re Diamond Skyes from Leamington Spa. We have been together since January 2013. We have Tom Spencer on vocals and guitar, Pembroke Tenneson on vocals and guitar, Matt Whatson on drums and Tom Stanford on bass.”

 What would you say inspires your music?

Tom Stanford: “All sorts of bands, anything that connects with me on an emotional level. Films are now starting to influence my writing too from the atmospheres they create.”

Matt Whatson: “Funk, jazz, punk and wanting to sound like Led Zeppelin!”

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Diamond Skyes Flapper 1Tom Spencer: “Our gig at the Flapper in Birmingham was a special moment; we felt great on stage and the songs really came together nicely. There was a buzz around the place and it was great to have lots of mates there, quality night really.”

What advice would you offer to other new musicians looking to get where you are in their career?

Tom Stanford: “Practice, practice, practice. Get your set tight. Make as many contacts as possible.”

Pembroke Tenneson: “Buy an instrument and find some people to play with. You’re pretty much there then.”

Matt Whatson: “When writing Rock n Roll, try to play the Roll!”

What is coming up for you this year?

Diamond Skyes Flapper 2Tom Stanford: “We are looking at playing some small local festivals.”

Tom Spencer: “Lots of new tunes, lots of gigs and hopefully an new EP by the end of the year.”

Pembroke Tenneson: “Success and self-delusion!”

Diamond Skyes Flapper 5

Read the rest of the Diamond Skyes interview on pages 19 – 21 of the March issue of Love Music Magazine here.

Layers of History: Water Rats, Russian Gun Dogs and the Ghosts of Britpop

Read Plug&Amp’s submission to God Is In The TV music & culture zine’s Britpop Month, featuring our very own Russian Gun Dogs
It’s Thursday 27th January 1994. A band called Oasis are about to step on the stage at 328 Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross.  If you’re a Londoner, an indie kid, a Gallagher fan or work in the music industry (or you could be all of the above) you will know this legendary venue: The Water Rats.
water-rats oasis poster
Also on the bill that night are two other bands that didn’t stand the test of time: Cream Soda and Orange Deluxe. But let’s peel back the layers of history just a little further to look at the events that led up to this day.
May 1993 and Oasis are signed to Creation Records after Alan McGee just happens to catch them playing at the equally legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow.
Fast forward to 1st December and the band begin their pre-Christmas tour at the Birmingham Institute. Apparently, some promoters around the country manage to book them for just £50. Other dates on this tour include Warwick University (which is actually in Coventry – but we’ll come to the Coventry connection a bit later) and Liverpool’s Crazy House. Reviewing their gig at the Institute, the NME‘s infamous Johnny Cigarettes gives his opinion in his usual disparaging style:
“If Oasis didn’t exist, no one would want to invent them. For a start, they look and sound like they’re long overdue product from a bankrupt Polymer Records Manc Scally also-rans factory. Vaguely trippy guitar almost-tunes with vaguely late ’60s rock tendencies, vaguely Ian Brown as Tim Burgess front man, singing in a vaguely tuneless half-whine, vaguely shaking a tambourine, vaguely… er, yes, well, you get the picture.”
Tour over, it’s the 4th January 1994 and sessions that the band recorded before Christmas are finally broadcast on BBC Radio 1. It is the first time that the world has ever heard ‘Shakermaker’, ‘Up in the sky’, ‘Bring it on down’ and ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’.
On 8th January, the band are ushered off to Monnow Valley Studios to record more songs. The next day, 9th January, a limited white label 12″ promo single of ‘Columbia’ is being plugged to radio stations. Back in Wales, however, the relationship between the band, Dave Batchelor (producer) and Dave Scott (engineer) reportedly quickly disintegrates.
On 15th January, an issue of the NME presents top tips for 1994, hinting at a short-lived prototype Britpop scene: “The New Wave of the New Wave”. Among bands approved by the New Musical Express are Elastica, Suede, Shed 7 and Echobelly, with Elastica making the front cover.
Legend has it that when a Creation rep arrives at Monnow Valley Studios on 26th January, only a rudimentary ‘Slide Away’ and a handful of Rolling Stones covers with Noel singing have been recorded by the band. The £800 a day studio fee has been wasted. Meanwhile, back in London, in response to another bland list of nominees for the Brit Awards, the NME stages its first ever BRAT Awards. Winners include Radiohead, Suede, Elastica… and Oasis.
monto_water_rats1And so, back to the start… or is it the future? It’s Thursday 27th January. The first gig of 1994 for the band (and a media-friendly one at that) at The Splash Club at 328 Grays Inn Road: The Water Rats.
The event is widely regarded as Oasis’ big breakthrough gig in London. They play in front of a sell-out crowd including numerous supportive journalists and early fans. Over 200 disciples are turned away at the door of the packed venue.
If you were in the right place (London) at the right time (effectively – although nobody knew it at the time – the start of the biggest British cultural and musical movement of the 1990s), this must have seemed like a significant event, even if the packed crowd in that relatively small back-room venue didn’t know quite what lay ahead, neither for Oasis nor for the British music scene and the frenzy that brothers Gallagher and co. would go on to create.
So close your eyes for a second and imagine what it would have been like to have been in that moment. In that building. Peel back time like an onion. Feel the layers and layers of historical energy that exist within the four walls of that building: The Water Rats. Keep your eyes closed a little longer. In your mind’s eye, can you see them? The ghosts of Britpop. They are all around you. Twenty years ago. It’s closer than you think.
Ok, so leave your mind’s eye and come back to me for a moment as we continue our time travelling adventure through Britpop. It’s now April 1994 and ‘Supersonic’ is released, reaching no. 31 in the UK charts. In fact, Oasis didn’t have their first number one hit until a year later, in April 1995, when they released ‘Some Might Say’.
Another year on, in April 1996 – two years after their Water Rats gig – Oasis have reached such stratospheric fame that they are able to sell out not just one but two nights at Manchester’s Maine Road stadium, playing to a 40,000 strong crowd. They are supported by Ocean Colour Scene and the Manic Street Preachers. Some might say this truly was rock as a ‘religious spectacle’. The event seemed to encapsulate the feeling of Britpop euphoria that ran rife through the country at that time.
As one fan at Maine Road put it, “It was better than great, it gave everybody there the sense of being part of something special.” But everyone knew it couldn’t last forever. This fan could obviously see into the future: “Cherish (Oasis) now, because they won’t be here forever and in years to come there’ll be people asking what all the fuss was about. Show them the Maine Road video – then they’ll understand.”
And so to the Coventry connection. What possible effect could the events at The Water Rats and at Maine Road (and, of course, at Knebworth later in 1996) have on someone growing up in the centre of the country – Coventry, a city with it’s own rich musical heritage – during the Britpop era? And how has it influenced the musicians that are trying to make their mark today, twenty years later?
RGD Queens Hall 2“Growing up, I remember watching the ‘live at Maine road’ video avidly – like every week I’d watch it, and dream about playing shows in front of huge crowds,” says Paul Watters, lead singer of Coventry band, Russian Gun Dogs. “But playing to intimate crowds – like when Noel would play songs like ‘Cast no shadow’ and ‘The Masterplan’ – also appealed to me.”
“In interviews from that time, they lament the fact they were too big now to play clubs, namely the Marquee Club (where they played on 8th June 1994) and The Water Rats,” continues Paul. “As a band, we’re well aware about Oasis playing there.”
And so Russian Gun Dogs should be. Because as well as being Oasis fans growing up, they have another reason to be well aware of The Water Rats connection. Because Russian Gun Dogs themselves play at the legendary Kings Cross venue next month, just over twenty years after that significant moment in British musical history.
And so the circle is complete. Let’s fast forward a little…
RGD Queens Hall 3It’s Saturday 15th March 2014. A band called Russian Gun Dogs are about to step on the stage at 328 Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross: The Water Rats. Also on the bill that night are two other bands: Baltic Fleet and Kontakte. Who knows which bands will stand the test of time.
But one thing is certain. Russian Gun Dogs will feel the layers and layers of historical energy that exist within the four walls of that building.
“I like to think the essence of that Oasis line up, Oasis MK1, resonates between those walls,” says Paul. “60% of Russian Gun Dogs will be acutely aware of that. We’ll feel it and we’ll take it back home with us.”
The ghosts of Britpop. They are all around you. Twenty years ago. It’s closer than you think.
Russian Gun Dogs, Kontakte and Baltic Fleet play The Water Rats on Saturday 15th March 2014.
Russian Gun Dogs photographs courtesy of Nivi Morales