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Erotic Secrets Of Pompeii – Fulford Arms, York – Thursday 9th March 2023

This was another show from the Northern Radar stalwart Simon Pattinson, he has never let me down with any of the lineups he has created so far. Would this gig be the first letdown? Read on to find out good people. First up was one of York’s finest young bands, City Snakes (look out for an interview with them here very soon). They were a relatively last-minute addition to the bill after the mighty Sun King had to drop out due to illness. and I have seen them in that position before. It never deters them in the slightest and I always feel that they play every gig as if they were headliners and they always look like they are having megatons of fun. This was an incendiary set to kick off the proceedings at the marvelous Fulford Arms. City Snakes get better every time that I see them. The rhythm section could be parachuted into the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and I think it would be hard to spot the change. “Spin Me Round”, “Paranoia” and “Mayfly” are awesome songs but the new single “Black And White” tops those with its fabulous blues-infused garage punk vibe. Get City Snakes in your life now!

Next, it was the turn of Black Skies, a band who have played up to now just a handful of gigs, although for me they sound like they have been playing together for years. They sound a little grungier, heavier, and probably better than Reef. There are also some slivers of the Spin Doctors in there too. They have some staggeringly good songs, notably “Soul” and “Reason”. Their drummer has all of Dave Grohl’s finest tropes and is clearly a key element of Black Skies’ engine room. One particular highlight in a great set was their smoky, heavy, swampy take on Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good”. This version took back ownership of the song after Matt Bellamy’s somewhat histrionic and over-the-top take on the tune.

I love the name of the headliners Erotic Secrets Of Pompeii and until this gig, I have never heard of or seen them before. How can I tell you exactly what they are like? Well, I will try to do that by borrowing one of Rod Serling’s opening narrations from the original Twilight Zone TV series. “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone“. Believe me, that sums up this great band really well. Imagine a laboratory that stores the DNA of thousands of rock stars. A lab assistant, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, spills the vials containing Jim Morrison, Richard Jobson, Gary Numan, and Ian Curtis. The cleaner then accidentally blends them all in the dustpan and creates the Erotic Secrets Of Pompeii frontman. The band behind him could be a reincarnation of Bowie’s Isolar 2 touring band from 1978 but with Robert Fripp and Tom Verlaine added on guitar. Erotic Secrets Of Pompeii are a truly and wonderfully different band and one that is perfect for this century and this sad, mad world that we live in.

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