Gig review – Take The Stage: Relaunch at Duffy’s Bar, Wednesday 3rd April 2024

Honest Dave. Photo (c) @ohnicolajoy (Instagram)

All photographs by Nicolas Joy Palmer @ohnicolajoy (Instagram)

Reviewed by Kaia Bliss

After a short hiatus and change of venue, Take the Stage hosted and curated by the talented Luke Broughton (now in its 2nd year), re-launched with a bang in its new residency at Duffy’s Bar on Pocklington’s Walk on 3rd April 2024.

The gig was held in an intimate yet atmospheric spacious area (in the rear of the bar) set back with a cosy yet accessible stage for performers and Russ, an experienced sound engineer; evidenced by leaving the audience, feedback-free and with crystal clear and enhanced sounds all evening. Coloured lighting, added to the atmosphere and was more than enough to see all on stage. It had ample room for seating and standing and still left space for dancing. Akin to a tardis if you like, deceiving from the outside but then boom, room inside for more.

The set list for Take the Stage highlighted a mindblowing veritable cornucopia of musical artists, bands and spoken word logophiles, featuring (in no particular order):

Viginia’s Wolves
Honest Dave
Julia Wood
Kerry Gallagher
Rupert Simms

First in the lineup was Rupert Simms. What I’d like to call the ‘thinking man’s musician’. A fabulous opening act with tuneful melodies that were soothing, satirical, cheeky and sometimes with comical musings and thrust with a powerful voice. His set included: Who knows where the time goes, Dad Jokes (which had a lovely spanish guitar feel and witty, saucy lyrics), Benny on the Buses (more upbeat in its feel and had clear moments of softness in its tune) and Agents to the left. Holding a strong confidence in his stage presence, often seen in seasoned musicians full of hardened experience. Playing and singing with his acoustic guitar masterfully; energising and setting the scene for the ambience of the room for the next acts to follow.

Next in line, was the talented spoken word artist KEZ (Kerry Gallagher) who wrote one of the poems whilst listening to the first performer, with the second poem inspired by her best friend (both poems were untitled). Great deliverance in speech and pausing for effect where necessary; Her words took you through the highs and lows of a lyrical journey, driven yet graceful, echoing the delicacy in her vocal tones but still delivering an unstoppable railroad of sentiments with a kung fu kick, her words flowed seamlessly through her, timelessly dancing on the air, holding the audience captive to their meanings.

Spoken word artist: Julia Wood then left no stone unturned in her raw, no hold bars, dramatic and punchy, thought-provoking, spoken word poems, I particularly enjoyed Scrolling cats on instagram and Age against the machine. The intensity in her deliverance was voltaic, commanding the stage and audience’s attention with a vivid audacity. Topics ranged from the horse’s bit (the leather strap placed in horses mouths) to the male phallus! Funny, political, stark and deeply passionate deliverance and performance. The audience chuckled, laughed, gasped and pondered.

Once seen, never to be forgotten!

Julia Wood. Photo (c) @ohnicolajoy (Instagram)

Virginia’s Wolves then woke the room up with their explosive high energy, punk, rock and high octane tunes (some of which were Get outta my head, Always talking will you please shut up); A line up of four immensely talented females: Chrissie (bass, vocals) Lucy (drums, vocals) Pritti (bass, vocals) and Dina (guitar, vocals) and joined by Olivia (Boilers). Their first song had excellent reverb on the drums and a wonderfully grungy undertone, toe-tappingly fabulous with excellent bass and guitar playing throughout their set. Technically they are all bursting at the seams good; deep vocals and the interchanging of vocal leads, on-point rhythm, beats and timing, variable tunes, catchy lyrics and choruses that elevate their songs to another level, beyond par excellence drumming, (which you can feel throughout your whole body); strong guitar leads and stage presence.

They’ve got it all. Clean starts and clean endings to their songs. An absolute cracker of a band to watch, listen and dance to, leaving an electric, euphoric atmosphere and lasting impression.

Leannán. Photo (c) @ohnicolajoy (Instagram)


Husband and wife duo, Amy (vocals) Steve (guitar, vocals), brought the crowd back down to earth and a mellowed state, with people singing reminiscently along to their soft symphony of harmonised, soulfully dusky vocals, easy listening blues and intricate playing of the acoustic guitar. Singing covers like Dolly Parton’s Joleen and Tennesse Whiskey, through to 80’s pop Footloose all with ease. Both came across as having a comfortable and relaxed stage presence.

Their vocal duets imbued the room with a cheerful familiarity. A joy to listen to such well-timed, seamlessly blended harmonies and honest yet masterful guitar playing.

Boilermen broke the calm with their own blend of unrestrained, anarchic, testosterone-fuelled, head-splitting heavy rock tunes and tongue-in-cheek banter.

These three cheeky chappies comprising Chris (drums), Pete (guitar) and Steve (bass and vocals) hit a huge sucker punch of rock relish with the crowd throughout. If you weren’t awake and jumping up from Viginia’s Wolves, you would be with their first three short, sharp, relentlessly raw heavy metal rock tunes; with audience members springing to their feet to headband along. Qualified boiler maintenance men (hence the band name); Their timing, sound and tune all came together (for me) whilst covering one of the lead singer’s favourite songs (3 Johns).
It’s clear they are all deeply passionate about the music they create and it shows in their performances and sound.

The piece de resistance and last performance of the evening was Honest Dave Comprising Dave (guitar, vocals) and Shaz (Saxophonist, percussion and visual interpreter artiste).

We were taken on an explorational journey of sounds to songs such as I Am a Witch, Potter and Blood (written from deeper political, social and personal meanings and experiences). I can only say, it was a transcendental, ephemeral mind-blowing experience hearing this band and a joy to see the sounds engulfing the whole room with the unbelievably crisp, unwavering falsetto pitch and vocal ranges from Dave, coupled with the magical interplay of saxophone and percussion interludes. The very clever layering of sounds and visual interpretation by Shaz, added deeper dimensionality to their performances and was spellbinding to watch and hear.  You were held captive with each song, so much so, that the audience waited with bated breath and pin-drop silence between each track. Mesmeric, hypnotic and awe-inspiring. I’m hooked and so should you be, one to watch and follow.

To sum up, a beautiful evening bursting with a smorgasbord of exceptional talent; taking one through a journey of sometimes comical, thought-provoking stark, social and political musings through to the raw punk and unfiltered heavy rock headbanging and ending the evening with enduring, sounds and experiences to drift you into heavenly bliss.

Would I recommend attending the next Take the Stage? By heck I would!

Catch them at Duffy’s Bar, Wednesday, May 1st 2024 from 7pm onwards (click here for the Facebook event). (The 1st Wednesday of every month). Pay as you feel.