Gig Review by Andrew Lindsay with Photography by Tony Butterworth

The Apples

Built as a cinema in 1913, the Holmfirth Picturedrome bills itself as ‘The North of England’s Finest Intimate Music Venue’. That’s a bit of a mouthful but it really is one of the best places to enjoy live music in West Yorkshire. You can dance in the stalls, slide around on the sticky bar floor or sit and watch from the circle. There are three bars; no ice cream and it can get a bit chilly (heating is Edwardian style). It’s the audiences that this venue attracts that make the place special – they are always up for a good time and do bring out the best in the performers.

The Apples
The Apples

Tonight sees the return of The Apples, an eight piece jazz funk outfit from Israel. They are neatly paired with supporting act Byron Street Social to deliver an adventurous musical voyage far removed from Holmfirth’s unvaried diet of tribute and reformed bands (Big Country were on the previous night). So tonight’s the night for another music in a different kitchen.

Byron Street Social

Byron Street Social are something of a revelation. Formed in 2012 by a nucleus of former students from nearby Huddersfield University they have evolved into another eight piece collective (drums/bass/guitar/sax/trumpet/keyboards) fronted by two vocalists. Josh Tempest is a great rapper and he blended well with Molly Hill’s vocals. Both have stage presence, move confidently and provide an attractive focal point. Molly is a major asset to the band thanks to an excellent pop/soul voice that could just about nail anything.

Byron Street Social

Such a large combo with all the attendant personnel pitfalls could so easily end up in a mess but the disparate elements pull together perfectly to create a melange of hip-hop and funk with an undercurrent of dub reggae and a hint of soul. Comparisons are hard to come by (the presence of the horn section suggests early UB40 and Black Uhuru) but that’s the point. They are different. They also bring an engaging vitality to the proceedings. For sure they had brought along a posse of loyal fans but they went beyond that and created a rapport with a big section of the mixed age crowd who had mostly turned up out of curiosity or a desire to avoid a Saturday evening watching ‘ X Factor’. Everybody danced.

The Apples
The Apples

Headliners The Apples are a different kettle of funk. This is their last night of a seven date English tour and they are a tightly honed outfit. Together since 2002, they have released four albums (the last ‘Fly On It’ in 2012) and are musically at the top of their game. The sound is undeniably jazz-funk with the emphasis on the latter. It is made different by the central presence of two DJs who scratch and sample over the brass section (trumpet, trombone, saxes) and the dominating drums and double bass. No vocals to speak of and much freeforming improvisation may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but The Apples go down a storm with the aficionados. They cook up a dense and infectious groove.

The Apples

It is not always easy to tell where the numbers start and finish. A little more light and shade would enhance a set which is constructed for dancing. The band slowly but surely start to interact with the entire audience and achieve a connection that was hitherto missing. As live performers they generate an energy that is sometimes absent from their more clinical, polished studio recordings. The floor is moving and grooving. And as the set draws to a close the gas is turned up; the heat is on full blast and a chilly Picturedrome is a distant memory.

The Apples

2 Responses to “The Apples + Byron Street Social at the Picturedrome, Holmfirth, UK – 26th October 2013”

  1. Catherine Argyle Says:

    This was a great gig and such a good review- it made me relive the whole experience, including the moment I took my coat off!!

  2. Victoria Musgrave Says:

    The evening was a very pleasant surprise, having no previous knowledge of either band. The write up is succinct and summarises perfectly the event and the sensitive photography brings back some lovely memories. Thank you.

Leave a Reply