The Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Shopping Centre Expansion: The threat it poses to Huddersfield’s music scene and a whole town

To the wider rock/metal community, this next post concerning the plight of a beloved local rock bar/gig venue (pictured above) isn’t going to be of too much major concern to you. And indeed, this particular venue only makes up a part of the wider picture which is to be affected.

The Parish, Huddersfield, has in recent years played host to a number of recognised national and international bands, including: Ginger, The Scaramanga Six, Humanfly, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, Dragged Into Sunlight, G.U. Medicine, OPM, Agent Orange, Dyscarnate, Evile, Sorry and the Sinatras, Boyhitscar, Left Side Brain, Wheatus…the list could go on and on. It already was and remains more than that. It is without question Huddersfield’s premier rock bar, not doing too bad for itself in the face of larger venues further afield in Leeds, Manchester, etc.
The building itself is steeped in history too. Before that it was The Parish Pump, The Cornerhouse, and several incarnations before that. The building is also a National Heritage Grade II listed building.  It’s been around since 1720, the oldest pub in the town, and in 2020 – it’s not that far off! – the building will be 300 years old. An impressive stat for you there.
Which is why the news that Kirklees Council have signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Peter Everest, MD for WD Limited – a company specialising in bland shopping centre upon bland shopping centre -, paving the way for a £40m expansion of Huddersfield’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre, known as Kingsgate: Phase 2. This fact this expansion would swallow up The Parish as well as other landmarks, including Grade II listed buildings Oldgate House, and the Palace Theatre, is of major concern. WD Huddersfield previously tried to run through these buildings back in 2008, but the council then overwhelmingly rejected the proposals 13 votes to 2. WD won an appeal against the decision but plans went on hold due to the recession. Now WD think the time is right to proceed, and pictures showing Kirklees Councillor Mehboob Khan (one of the ‘2’) and W D Limited director Peter Everest smugly posing for photos with a pen and paper were plastered across the local Huddersfield Examiner newspaper. All this without proper consultation. The flashpoint for alarm was set off there and then.

While it’s all well and good investing in permanent jobs for the future it’s important to bear in mind the rest of the town centre, which already has several empty units, including several empty former shops running along New Street, one of the town’s main shopping streets. Every so often I walk down there and am almost running out of room to count the number of empty shops on my fingers alone. Look, there’s two for you right there (above)! Why the local council and W D Limited insist on further drawing people away from those areas and in effect creating a ghost town in its actual centre does not make sound logical sense, and anyone who’s walked through a town centre in the day time when there’s nobody about on the rare occasions the shops aren’t open will realise how eerie the sense of walking in an area full of empty buildings and no people can be.
The cannibalisation of the town centre is something that W D Limited say they are seeking to avoid – something which they initiated when the centre was originally built in 2002, with various high street names flocking to the centre leaving their former town centre units to pound shops, charity shops, or even simply vacant. There are empty units in town that haven’t been filled with anything for months, even years. The high street is a dying breed and expanding a shopping centre to take up a huge chunk of the town centre, destroying its local history and architecture and ensuring the town becomes as vacant as its empty units is not the way forward.
The claim that this development will create up to 900 new jobs (600 in retail, 300 in construction) doesn’t wash either. Why would we be against creation of new jobs? Well, we’re not – but the town’s centre has enough empty units without the need to build further, and in doing so you’d only have more shops shutting up, and more jobs potentially lost. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the figures don’t add up, and offer false promises in a consistently volatile high street.

Returning to The Parish, the argument of ‘save our local’ doesn’t hold up enough substance and never will, so regulars to the pub and anyone reading this post, wherever you are, should take into account the following points. It is worth bearing in mind the pub’s history (discussed earlier), it’s listed status (also discussed earlier), and it’s potential as a tourist venue in recent times – given that people will travel from further afield to see bands such as the aforementioned. In the face of venues in bigger cities such as Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, The Parish can be considered one of Huddersfield’s success stories in terms of an alternative venue outside the major cities, putting Huddersfield on the alternative scene map. Such things are nothing new, and Huddersfield is a larger town than many, but considering the live music power base lies within the cities; The Parish’s achievement is no small feat.

The Parish only makes up a small part of the wider picture here, but is still an important one, and make no mistake; the wider implications for Huddersfield‘s music scene and indeed the town as a whole are massive. It’s listed status doesn’t make it invincible, thoughh it is pretty damn important, and the wave of feeling within the community is huge. The project is expected to be completed in 2016, so the threat, while not imminent, still looms large, and given we tried to back The Well before its closure, its only fair we try and do the same for what is essentially our hometown venue and indeed our home town. The high street is in need of innovation – not overpopulation and cannibalisation.
That’s why a campaign has been launched to try to stop the expansion of the Kingsgate Shopping Centre in the wake of this news. A public meeting is due to be kindly hosted by The Parish this Saturday (31st March) from 2:00pm-5:00pm. Anyone can attend as the group aims to establish a plan of action to fight off this threat. All the points made above in this article and more will be discussed. I’m aware that this meeting is likely to concern local folk more than the majority of We Must Obey’s audience, but we aim to support our local scene where we can. Even if you’re not local, even if you’re reading this from another country, any support would be greatly appreciated, even if it’s just liking the group on Facebook. This is to be the start of a fight we intend to win, however stacked against us the odds may be.
You can find a wealth of information and discussion on the group’s Facebook page as well as a wealth of links to material and other resources to do with this particular protest. The reasons for our campaign are not fully listed here as this is primarily a music website and not one that always dedicates itself to external issues. Where they converge upon musical territory, and indeed where it looms large over our local burgeoning music scene, we must stand up for ourselves. History tells us councillors, politicians and suited fat cats do not listen to the demands of the people. This is something we must change, and change fast.
Peter Clegg

Live Review: G.U. Medicine @ The Parish, Huddersfield, 23/03/2012

So that’s your lot. Any of you ever hoping to catch G.U. Medicine live again, should you not have been in attendance here, have more than likely missed the boat. G.U Medicine signed off in style, delivering a typically raucous set to a packed out crowd in Huddersfield, rallying through a set comprising of their best material from over the years. Songs like ‘Needles and Pins’ and ‘Alcoholocaust’ hit the mark just like they always did and will always do, and damn you can headbang like always to ‘Dirty Little Girl’. Original guitarist/vocalist Lee Storrar rejoined the band to sing ‘Lords of Oblivion’ and Mr. Shiraz vocalist Mikey Baird even got up at one point to sing ‘The Right Time’ with the band. It was a party atmosphere that embodied what the band were all about – sleaze, danger, booze, and all out rock action. The cans of Carling dotted around the stage should have hinted at that alone, if not the band’s association with Jagermeister which has been prevalent over the last couple of years. Now the UK is one more quality rock band short. We probably can’t hold out much hope for a G.U. reunion, at least not in this vein, but this was a fitting finale nonetheless.

Peter Clegg

Wadge – Tiki Gods, No Masters

Wadge

Tiki Gods, No Masters EP
Grindcore Karaoke
Anyone who either has a keen ear for diving into the weirder excesses of grindcore, or indeed anyone who was an early visitor to this site may well be aware of Canadian drum-machine surf-grinders Wadge. That description is very real. Although it turns out they’ve been around since 1991, it was only when they released an album on J Randall’s Grindcore Karaoke label last year entitled ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘ that they came to slightly wider attention. ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘ indulged in all manner of Tiki, surf and general island themes with a grind ethic, as well as some pretty tinny production which grated due to the record’s excessive (in grind circles, at least) length. That said, it had some memorable highlights and the ridiculousity does not let up on new release, ‘Tiki Gods, No Masters‘. It should have seen light a couple of years ago as part of a split, but almost got washed away with the tide when Brazilian split partners Dispepsiaa called it a day.
Where its predecessor contained thirty-three tracks, the new release is a simple five-track blast that feels just about right. Everything about this release is concerned with Tiki – if you’ve read into Maori mythology you’ll probably find a lot to do with procreation, and not a frenzied tribe out for blood and grindcore, but Wadge clearly don’t take things seriously, as this EP suggests. The middle track, the instrumental ‘Voyage of the Tiki’ is the only one that allows their surf leanings to fully flourish, but it doesn’t half evoke an image of a grind B-52s. That comes sandwiched between four other tracks of desert island grind, with the title track seeing Wadge state where they’re all about: “Tiki Gods, No Masters/the only life I lead/Surf and grind till I die/For tiki I will bleed”.
The quality of the production, while still not the greatest, is an improvement on ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘, and undoubtedly having far fewer songs on this release makes the gimmick more enjoyable and free of any threat of becoming weary. Wadge remain shrouded in mystery and perhaps that’s why it’s taken a good twenty years or so for their bizarre mix to come to the surface. But ‘Tiki Gods, No Masters‘ is a definitive step in the right direction, regardless of how silly you might find it. And who cares if they find even minor acceptance? This sort of thing was designed to delight the underground and the quirk in you.
Peter Clegg

Visions: The Bendal Interlude – Odourama (NSFW)

 
Liverpool hasn’t been short on top quality bands of late, with acts like SSS, Voorhees, Lifeless, Iron Witch and The Bendal Interlude all coming up with the goods over the year. All of them know how to play nasty too when required, and the chaps in The Bendal Interlude have certainly delivered a video nasty here in the form of ‘Odourama’, taken from their forthcoming EP of the same name. The video itself has a real 90’s feel to it – maybe it’s the way it’s shot that does it for me – and its mired in a mixture of jiggery pokery and sickening sights. Crafted from the twisted genius that is Tom Lee Rutter at Carnie Film Productions, prepare to be disgusted and abhorred at the sights you’re about to see – while grooving out to a thoroughly righteous, heavy stoner metal jam. And yes, that is an NSFW label I’m using. It’s not the most shocking, just proper graphic. If you like that sort of thing. Which you obviously do. After the jump.
 
Peter Clegg
The Bendal Interlude – Odourama
 

Napalm Death – Utilitarian

Napalm Death

Utilitarian
Century Media
Robin van Persie. The Klitschko brothers. Rahul Dravid. Valve. Eeyore. The one thing all these names have in common is reliability. In the case of all but Eeyore (for whom I can’t vouch ‘performance’), quality is another synonymous trait. These people, companies and indeed characters possess an unbelievable ability to produce striking results again and again and again. And again. And yes, again.


I could use other musical examples, but where’s the fun in that? Everybody knows AC/DC deliver good riffs, Ramones great three-chord melodies and The Wildhearts deliver cracking choruses again and again. I don’t need to go over them all the time. So to get to the point, on their fifteenth studio album ‘Utilitarian‘, have Napalm Death’s standards slipped? Not a chance. The Birmingham grindcore legends post-millennium renaissance continues on its constantly rising boom in stark comparison to the world economy’s bust, and, even in a genre where is in rude health at present, one of the scene’s forerunners is back to rightfully reclaim their throne.
‘Circumspect’, an instrumental intro’, ratchets up the tension nicely before exploding in the form of ‘Errors in the Signals’. The ‘Death rear up with their blaring racket in full force, Barney Greenway’s vocals still as vicious as ever. Its evident already at this point that their ability to get in your face with forcible intent is undiminished, and the remainder of ‘Utilitarian‘ goes about in pretty much the same manner. Even as nothing much is done to greatly reinvent the way, its quality that counts all the way with this release.
Napalm Death – Analysis Paralysis
The tools mastered by their many years remain as effective as ever. The slight tempo shift during ‘Protection Racket’ has been utilised many a time over the years, but is as reliable and effective as the aforementioned Ramones’ three-chord policy, and you’d be a fool to not be circle-pitting as it kicks in. Their years of experience shine through, with Mitch Harris stepping up to provide lead vocals on ‘The Wolf I Feed’, evoking the soul of Killing Joke with ominous vocals on songs such as ‘Fall on Their Swords’, and simply wanting to make you go absolutely nuts during tracks like ‘Quarantined’ and ‘Blank Look About Face’.
Unquestionably Napalm Death have delivered the goods again. Rarely do they fall on their own swords, and even in an era where grind has risen back up to prominence and is chock full of pretenders to the throne, Napalm Death still claim the seat, and particularly in a world full of injustices and moral, ethical and political quandries, could well still be there for years to come.
Peter Clegg

Fister – Violence

Fister
Violence EP

The best sludge metal is often mired in nihilistic rage, misanthropy and sheer fuck-it-all attitude. It’s heavier than a herd of elephants riding a gam of whales, if such a thing ever came to fruition. Fister, if you didn’t know, play real heavy sludge/doom metal, and they don’t mess about when it comes to pounding your head with slow megaton riffs and the loud beat of the drums, in much the same fashion as described above.

Violence‘ is five different tracks but could well be one track divided into five parts, given the song titles and the fact each song flows into the next one. Vocals are kept to a minimum here, but where they do crop up, they’re as standard for this sort of music – nasty, savage and raw. And save for ‘Violence III: Trail of Tears’, a sparse acoustic, instrumental number, each track takes you further and further into the sonic abyss.

It’s delightfully miserable and the production is perfect for what they’re pitching. They can go long stretches, such as in opener ‘Violence I: Forced Extinction’ where feedback rings out over the heavy boom of the drums, and it sounds just right. It sounds like they could have recorded it in an underground trench with all the rats and other horrors, though its nowhere near lo-fi, much more akin to Eyehategod’s older records instead.

I find it incredible that three records in, Fister are still independent. Maybe they just want it their own way, which is fine. Because they seem more than capable of annihilating one listener after another. ‘Violence‘ is unquestionably their best work yet, but Fister themselves surely know the bar has been set, and is unquestionably more than capable of being bettered.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Violence‘ here (name-your-price)

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=2548112044/size=grande2/bgcol=7e1b1b/linkcol=4285BB/

Official site 
Facebook 
Last.fm 

Visions: Mark Lanegan Band – The Gravedigger’s Song

Circumstances did not allow me to be able to go and catch Mark Lanegan on his recent UK tour, something which I regret for not having discovered it sooner. Nonetheless, he and his band have at least provided some (dis)comfort in the form of the new video for new album ‘Blues Funeral’s opening track, ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’. Right from the off, I felt a tinge of unease. Directed by Alistair Legrand and produced by Jack Richardson, this haunting bluesy number gets a befitting clip. Set in a house filled with ghosts, full of ghostly women and children staring blankly into your soul, often from nowhere, amongst other slightly grisly images of blood, taxidermy, and generally all things dark. Its a loving tribute to old-school horror films and certainly one of the more capitivating videos I’ve watched recently. Check it out above and indulge yourself in Legrand’s mildly disturbing vision.
Peter Clegg