The weekend of the 5th and 6th October saw another festival of music in Southampton, the weather was reasonable and so we went for a walk around a few of the events, a couple of pubs and a meal in the evening……
The music was due to start around 1 p.m. and there were a wide range of locations, mostly set in historical setting around the city. We decided that the best idea would be to have lunch down at Town Quays and work our way from there to a couple of the sites where there was music playing – there were so many bands and locations it was always going to be impossible to see many sessions, but we saw this more as a trip around places we haven’t been to (mostly in the City Walls). So, the first stop was The Platform Tavern, where we have been several times and new that they did good pub food. This pub is on the front at Town Quays so is ideally placed for visiting the bottom end of town. The lunch menu is reasonably good and we had two meals for £10, which is not too bad – the food is cooked well and was tasty – I had a wrap filled with Cajun Chicken and their locally brewed beer, DNA, was excellent as always. From there we made our way to The Weigh House in French Street. This is a grade 2 listed building that dates from the 13th century and is believed to have housed the King’s weigh beam and was an interesting setting for the music. There were a whole string of bands listed, which meant this was probably the best place to hear different types of music, but what intrigued me was that some of the sessions were indoors and I was interested to find out what that meant (knowing that the building had no roof). When we arrived we could see that the outside music was just inside the metal gate in the main room of the building, but no one was playing at that moment so we made our way through an exit at the back to find the indoor music. Somewhat surprisingly this led into an underground cellar-like room with a stone arched ceiling. There were only a couple of people listening to the last few pieces by a one-man band called Amongst The Pigeons. He was basically producing a synthetic music mix from keyboards and synthesiser, which reminded me a little of Tangerine Dream. I had thought to ask him if he knew their music, but he had to get out of the way as the next band arrived. I actually thought the music he produced was good; although, sometimes a little too repetitive, especially at the end of the tracks. What it did show was how the stone walls were going to make a “wall of sound” effect on the music. We had grabbed a couple of seats at the back, but the next band, The Flying Alexanders, was unexpectedly popular and we ended up with a lot of people standing in front of us. The band consisted of a lead singer, who was a big lad who looked like he would have a strong voice, a drummer, bass player and lead guitar, they produced a fast rock sound that illustrated the “wall of sound” effect and we were glad that our ears were sheltered a little by the crowd. Still it was good to see that the music event was attracting a crowd and I think in any other setting I would have enjoyed the band. We listened to a few tracks and then made our way out.
The next location was to be King John’s Palace, which was originally a 12th Century building, but was altered to become part of the City Wall’s defence in the 14th Century, but before we got there we stopped for a drink and comfort break at The Duke of Wellington pub in Bugle Street – always a popular spot, but this time we ran into a wedding party! I hope they had a good day, but it is not every day you see a bride sat in the local pub. The music that we heard at King John’s Palace was much more folk-orientated and the singer – Lucy Kitchen – played acoustic guitar and sang her own songs. She is a very talented young lady, with a really good voice and a good repertoire of songs. We sat through most of session, but I knew we had to move on to catch other bands and places! So far we were enjoying this event and I was very impressed by the organisation that must have been put into it to ensure it ran smoothly.
The next location was to be The Castle Vault, which is just along the wall from John’s Palace and when we got there it was already quite full of people and a band called “Not Made in China” were playing. The setting was something similar to the first underground cellar; although larger. The stone walls were again reflecting the sound, but it was not too bad from where we were stood at the entrance. Once again I was glad to see that there was a good-sized audience and it was clear that this event was working and very popular. The band had a very individual sound, which I thought was let down a little by the lead singer’s voice being a little flat (maybe she had a cold), but overall they sounded good and were popular. I am not totally convinced by the “underground” style setting for amplified music, but that is just a personal view. however, I think making more people aware of these places (and maybe the history surrounding them) is a good idea.
After listening to a few tracks by Not Made in China we made our way back to the first venue (The Weigh House) for the final outdoor acoustic band – The Doghouse Boat Boys – we have seen this band before at The Platform Tavern, but they were very much an amplified band, so I was interested to see how they would do unplugged. The band had already started when we got there and there was good crowd in The Weigh house courtyard area. The band has a good following and we recognised people we had seen before at their gig. The upbeat, almost bluegrass sound, always gets people dancing and there was a good deal of that happening already. Their music is a cheerful stomp and a little afternoon alcohol had certainly warmed the occasion. They were just as good unplugged and I was surprised how clear I could hear them despite only just being inside the gate.
So, overall a good day out and another success for Southampton Councils entertainment people – these concerts must boost local economy – I think they are a good idea and will maybe get more people listening to local bands. We moved onto Oxford Street area and found ourselves at Kuti’s Indian restaurant for a meal. I can really recommend this restaurant – the service was excellent (we got a seat easily without booking) and the food was an amazingly wide choice across a wide range of flavours. We really enjoyed the meal and the whole day.