Thursday 4th April 2019
If you are a music fan and have not yet been to The Swan, it is definitely worth a visit. Decorated virtually floor to ceiling with music posters, album artwork and even guitars, there’s something incredibly atmospheric about it as both a pub- at the heart of Stourport town in the Wyre Forest- and also as a gig venue.
‘Atmospheric’ also had to be the first word to spring to mind looking back at the most recent ‘Up and Coming’ gig at The Swan, which promised a night of ‘great music’ from ‘new musical talent’, and certainly delivered.
First on the line-up was Jim Preece, who got the night off to an intriguing start with his impressive solo bass pieces. One song in particular, ‘Light Years’, was clearly a favourite with the audience, and despite the music’s intentional lack of commercialism he received healthy cheers and rounds of applause at the end of his set.
Preece was also co-host of the event and went on to talk the audience through the other acts that would be appearing that night- the next of which being singer-songwriter Ryan Sparrow and his band. Continuing in the melodic vein of the first act, Sparrow’s delicate folk-esque songwriting wowed the audience, particularly the tracks towards the start of the set and when his band really got going with their harmonies.
Humble Helios were next to take to the stage, stepping things up a notch with their unashamedly melancholy yet undeniably groovy brand of alt-pop. Front-woman Victoria Pingree’s dreamy vocal style sat comfortably over a tight rhythm section and guitarist’s Vikki Matthews melodic lines, whilst later in their set the band showcased a refreshing sense of humour with a gem of a track concerning actor Tom Hanks’s potential qualities as a parent(!)
At this point the audience were sufficiently riled up and now ready for something more rock-orientated, which they were duly served by the night’s remaining two acts.
In fact, ‘rock-orientated’ might be a slight understatement in relation to five-piece band Electric Raptor (who were next on the bill); their sound is perhaps better defined as heavy rock with hints of prog-metal and rockabilly, all with an undercurrent of a strangely endearing, punk-esque DIY attitude.
And though there were parts of the music that may not have been to everyone’s taste, you couldn’t fault the musicianship within the band, nor the incredible energy levels of engaging frontman Ryan Darling and sparky trumpet player Ben Horobin. It was clear the audience loved them too, and despite the low-key, cosy nature of the pub, for half an hour or so Electric Raptor had the audience (and noise levels) escalating to that of a real rock gig.
Finally, there was Tree of Wyrd, a four-piece alt-folk band fronted by striking lead singer Hannah Law. With many different styles of music nestled comfortably in their songs they were clearly an outfit with a multi-dimensional sound, but still one that is ultimately recognisable as their own. Once again there was incredible musicianship from the members of the band that did not go unnoticed by the audience, particularly when the lead guitarist switched to violin, with her playing prompting more than one awe-struck comment from various crowd members.
Tree of Wyrd
Tree of Wyrd provided a fantastic end to an immensely enjoyable and varied night, with The Swan acting as a sufficiently quirky background to the whole proceedings.
Be sure to keep an eye and ear out for these ‘up and coming’ young talents in the future!
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Photos by Imogen Bebb
With thanks to Ben Alexander and Jim Preece for organising the event.