Fantasy Time for ‘live’ music


Some meanderings with Alan Dearling

In the few weeks of pre-festive time, I was invited to a number of musical gatherings clutching my cameras, pen and notepad. A crazy mix of musical genres ranging far and wide from community singing/playing, to grungy Americana, indie-folk and punk… BUT all ‘live’ and full of energy and bubbling enthusiasm. All the gigs/events were at least as much about the audience, participation and involvement, as the music in isolation. In fact, none of the events I witnessed really existed without their interactions with the audience.

First up, I’d gone along to an upstairs gig at the Golden Lion in Todmorden. Crywank was headlining with the Young Devils in support. However, my conspiracy-mind conjured up a situation where after about 20 minutes of really rather accomplished gruff Americana from the Devils, the room lights were turned off, and a couple of back stage lights were all that was left. Even with my fairly specialist Sony A7s cameras – no chance to take any more in-focus pics – though I did rather like the fuzzy and weird image that I discovered afterwards. Young Devils…indeed… 

The titles of the Young Devils’ tracks provide a flavour of their brand of Devil’s Music: Forked Tongue: Sermon One; O’ Dearest Reaper; Dead Man’s Final Glory; Forked Tongue: Sermon Two; Forked Path To The Crossroads; Forked Tongue: Sermon Three; In The Pines; At Rest. It’s music of the black arts and occult, which the duo served up in some savoury dollops of bluesy darkness. I’d like to see them again – I enjoyed seeing them briefly before the dimming of the lights! Music for witches, ghouls and people of the Dark.

Check them out:


The Young Devils’ dark-intoned singer…and bassist…

And, here’s the decidedly weird image that I took after the lights went down. Maybe the spirits were communicating with my camera. Is this a Devil I see before me????



I next ventured downstairs and was able to engage with a packed room: in fact a full-blown concert from the Calderdale Fantasy Orchestra. Bright, bouncy, community music at its excellent best.  I’ve seen various events that they have been involved in during their short life. This one appeared to be a rehearsal and performance, ready for more festive shows.

I’ve previously learned that the Calderdale Fantasy Orchestra and Choir is a community project led by David Insua-Cao. He’s got quite a track record with Giffords Circus, 1927 Theatre Company, and the Spymonkey Theatre.  They are ever evolving, with currently over 50 musicians, both professional and amateur, from across the Calder Valley. Their sense of fun is infectious! I’ve even played a couple of my Vietnamese jaw’s harps with them before in the local Unitarian church at a ‘Music for the Many’ summer event.

Currently, posters are up around the Calder Valley (and info on-line) advertising a two-day event to promote their own collectively created version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ early in 2023.

From their on-line publicity I have discovered that: “The Fantasy Orchestra worldwide is a global psychedelic Community Orchestra, based in Bristol, Paris, Nantes and Calderdale, which has been active since 2012. We play eclectic songs: from Sun-Ra to Moondog, Anna Meredith to Henry Mancini to Beyonce for the Orchestra and Choir to perform, we also throw in lots of improvisational ideas, so there’s plenty to have fun with. Bristol was first, Paris was second, & thanks to a former musical director of the Bristol posse moving to Calderdale, Todmorden was next.”

Dave Croft’s video of the Spooktacular:

A brief burst of ‘I feel love’:

And the Orchestra in rehearsal:

So, with no lighting, sadly I didn’t actually take photos of Crywank. They have quite a solid following in the north-east of England. Tuneful-ish, maybe Smiths-like, kind-of melancholy indie-folk with plenty of festering musical ear-worms. Even reminded me a bit of Wildman Fischer from many moons ago… Much weirdness…

Crywank, Nice people session from Toronto:

Live on Alibi Lounge:

And, Wildman Fischer:

The System, Alternative, Thought Control, Godam & Dave Chaos 55th Birthday Shindig

I get very confused (being a bear of little brain) when bands have at least three ‘identities’. Are they ‘Alternative, Thought Control or The System? Does it really matter…? Methinks, not. It was a lively, noisy, quirky, indie-punky party night up in the top-floor at Monty’s Night Club. Lots of friendly, odd-ball festi-people enjoying the vibes and freakish dance moves.

A really good quality stage, sound and lights. Godam came on first and provided some lively, upbeat punkish sounds.


Here’s some samples from the main players on the night:

The System, Omega Tribe & Alternative at Faslane Peace Camp at the outdoor stage.  A nice (longish) video:

Here’s a live video from Bannermans in Edinburgh. Billed as Alternative MkIII with guest vocals from Craig Nichol (Trinity: Another Subversive Peace Song; Who’s Sussed?, and Killing Machine:

Good to meet Gordy Moore and Godam, Alternative/The System in their various guises, and enjoy the company of many in the audience. Plenty of opportunities for some pogo-ing!!!!

Personally, it was lovely to spend some time with Andy and Marnie who are in the two main bands of the evening’s festivities… not seen them since Surplus festi on the Welsh Border before Covid.

The Spirit of Punk is Live ‘n’ well!

Finally, Magic Will (Butler) entertaining the Chrissie crowd at The Pub. A happy, smiling, melodist-minstrel… lots of audience participation too… Fantasy Fantastical Music, indeed.

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