Despite having been minus the use of one ear since 1996, I absolutely love listening to music and going to see bands whenever I can, but whilst there have been times when I’ve come across some fantastic, but not particularly well-known groups, there have been other periods when I’ve tended to stick with the tried and trusted (which usually meant The Alarm!).
Much as the late 70s/early 80s was a brilliant time to be growing up (speaking musically) with the arrival and equally swift departure of punk, coupled with the “post-punk”, “new wave” and “indie” bands that emerged as a result, things were perhaps not quite so vibrant a decade or so later... or perhaps the sounds of the age just didn’t appeal to my taste...
You can count on the fingers of one hand the bands that have truly changed the face of the musical world (I’ll give you the Beatles and the Sex Pistols, you can debate the others...), but there have been certain genres that have arguably influenced a generation – to a greater or lesser degree. Bands and sounds tend to be pigeon-holed and the term “Britpop” might mean different things to different people – maybe The Stone Roses were the catalyst, maybe not – but for me the music briefly revived feelings of younger years and by the mid-90s, bands like Oasis, Blur, Cast, Suede, Pulp, Elastica, Sleeper etc were household names and regularly featuring in or near the top of the singles charts.
My absolute favourite band from those days was Echobelly. They just had a great sound and in Sonya Madan a singer who, whilst blessed with a wonderful voice, just seemed to have a presence, that unexplainable something that set the band apart from the others.
Their first two albums (“Everyone’s Got One” and “On”) reached the top ten, although singles chart success (“Great Things” apart, possibly) eluded them. A third album “Lustra”) followed in 1997, but despite releasing more work early in the new decade, little had been heard of Echobelly (well at least not in my house) since those heady days in the mid- to late-90s.
Then, just a few days ago, I replied to a Facebook post from Lex Pretorius, lead singer of the excellent young band Everybody Looks Famous, in which she asked about favourite “front women”. My reply mentioned Sonya Madan and I took the opportunity (via the miracles of YouTube of Spotify) to reminisce... only to discover that Sonya and guitarist Glenn Johansson had recently recorded some acoustic tracks under the name Calm of Zero.
I listened to the songs... two or three times over... and was captivated all over again by the haunting beauty of Sonya’s voice. I felt compelled to send a quick message to the duo, letting them know how much I had enjoyed their latest recordings – I even got a reply – but sadly the story doesn’t have the happiest of endings.
Elaine and I don’t get out much, but we have two big nights out in June, one of which happens to be on the 17th, the same date that Calm of Zero are playing in Newcastle. I would have loved to see Sonya and Glen, but unless they fancy meeting up for a coffee during the afternoon, it looks like I’m going to be denied...
But undeterred, I will end this short musical offering by wishing both every success now and in the future – and, in the words of Agnetha and Frida: “Thank you for the music”.
All my own work... almost.