Press to MECO hit the stage on February 5

Independent Venue Week (IVW) is back with a bang for February – and The Black Prince gets stuck in with Andy Bell Space Station (Feb 2).

The Space Station is the latest treat from the Ride guitarist who has also coloured up Oasis and Beady Eye in his time. His skills have also been utilised by everyone from Pink Floyd to Talk Talk and The Brian Jonestown Massacre in a career that has delivered plenty. Then there’s his electronic streak and remix work, delivered as GLOK. Music flows wherever this man goes, and Northampton is in for a real treat with his arrival.

Space Station was founded during lockdown, at the Lo-Fi coffee shop in Crouch End. Andy began streaming performances at the empty coffee emporium, helping music fans to get their quota of musical caffeine during the dour times by playing electric guitar along to reworked versions of backing tracks from his catalogue of projects. ‘The backing tracks are deconstructed and extended in a way that makes them easy to improvise over,’ apparently. Or at least that’s how it works when you are as talented as Mr Bell is.

Andy Bell kicks things off in February at The Black
Prince with the Andy Bell Space Station

Mid-week gigs aren’t supposed to be this cool – or cheap; tickets are just £6. Maps will provide a DJ set on the night too. The venue will still be sweaty from the night before when London’s Tiña bring psych-pop to the stage, much of it lifted from their debut album, Positive Mental Health Music, which crammed a whole heap of emotions and tricky subjects into its 11 songs; anxiety, depression, love, sex, isolation, fear and failure are all covered in the ‘honest and intimate portrait,’ with frontman Josh Loftin using the material to ‘work through a mental breakdown.’

The ‘fampton’s own bloody/bath will support on the night. Songwriter and multi instrumentalist Kailan Price is making friends and influencing still more for his music making, which takes influence from the ‘80s tunes that found their way to him courtesy of his late mother. ‘If The Cure created their records in a Northampton bedroom, this is what it would sound like,’ declared Manchester’s Yuck magazine.

Opening up the bill falls to Megalashhh, visiting from London with their pile of unsettling psychotronica. Plenty has happened since The Virginmarys (Feb 4) issued their debut album back in 2013, including plum support slots with artists including QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal, Skunk Anansie and Slash.

And they’ve accumulated more than 10 million streams on Spotify. The band is now operating as a duo with Ally and Danny in control of everything. “We are hugely excited about this decision, and though perhaps a little scary first off, we’re really going to thrive from the challenge of playing strictly as a duo, with bigger riffs, higher power and fresher sounds than ever before, guaranteed!” they promised. “The live show will be bigger than ever, and of course we’ll still be honouring the older material at the gigs as well,” they added.

Local favourite
FFSYTHO?! brings grime to the party on Feb 6

Slick riffs and easily identifiable influences meld with the rich vocals of Henrik Steenholdt to provide the backbone of Empyre’s hard rock sound, but when they choose to, they can cut a clear tune of stripped back emotion too. The pandemic only served to see their creativity surge; they issued seven singles, 15 music videos and the acoustic album,
The Other Side. Work has since begun on their second electric album. They support The
Virginmary’s, along with Northamptonshire’s Apollo whose roots can be traced back to a chance meeting at a Starbucks between two members back in 2019.

Since then, they’ve brewed up intriguing tracks including The Getaway and Lay My Body Down. Tap to their social media pages to tickle your ears with those. Despite hardly having had the chance to play for the musically curious thanks to covid, they debuted at The Black Prince, so this is a return to familiarity for the quartet.

Press to MECO (Feb 5) had been spreading their noise for a decade or so when it came to working on their third album, but it could so easily have been curtains for the trio: “When Luke and I hid away to begin writing this album, we were on the brink of giving up pursuing a career in music,” Lewis Williams said, “However, these songs helped us rediscover our love for the process and why we even do this in the first place,” he said. Then Jake Crawford entered the ranks to replace Adam Roffee on bass, and they ended up flying producer Machine (who has captured magnificent releases by artists including Clutch) over from the States and took up residence in a 15th century tower in the Cotswolds to record Transmute.

It was issued through Marshall Records in August, feeding their fans a carefully crafted fusion of typically great MECO stuff.It also rejuvenated the band: “We’ve learnt more about ourselves and about music in the last two years than we have in the last 10, and for that we have this album and our collective perseverance through hardship to be
thankful for.”

Show support this time will be courtesy of Pillowhead and RETREAT! RETREAT! There’s a local goodie in place for the final IVW gig from a lady who boasts a tongue sharper than broken glass: Northampton’s grime MC FFSYTHO?! (Feb 6)

As live shows go, sets at Reading and Leeds Festivals are right up there on the cool scale,
and that’s what happened in 2021 when FFSYTHO?! trod the Introducing stage. Her freestyle abilities have made her a hit with Radio 1 and 1Xtra showing support, and everyone who has passed that eye-catching and quite marvellous mural of the lady by the Grosvenor Centre will know her face.

Also hitting up the venue before February says ‘ta ra’ catch The Barratts (Feb 11), Pulp Friction (Feb 12) promise ‘the world’s best live tribute to Quentin Tarantino’ with singing,
dancing and theatrical performance. We Are Not Devo (no explanation required) will be
joined by NN’s Venus Fly Trap and Gestalt for their date (Feb 18) She Chameleon (Feb 20) will get busy delivering the music of Marillion, and last up (Feb 25), give a warm anti-bac and mask attired welcome to Bristol techno heads Scalping, with able support from Mandy, Indiana and Drownd.

For info and tickets visit FB: blackprincenn. If there’s nothing in that lot to tickle your
fancy, you need to visit your GP.