London duo The Pearl Hearts are out to show that the UK can rival Brody Dalle and Deap Vally when it comes to feisty women playing blues-driven rock.

The Pearl Hearts

As well as glowering beneath spirit-level fringes, these warrior princesses channel the likes of Led Zep and Black Sabbath into their seismic brand of heavy blues – and incorporate loops and samples for good measure.

Their debut album is called Glitter And Spit and, if you need to know more, you can find out at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Friday 23 August.

GRIFF Rhys Jones is back and once again “all over the place” previewing new material for his forthcoming stand-up tour.

Following sellout performances of his previous one-man entertainments, Jones and Smith and Where Was I?, there’s a chance to catch one half of Smith & Jones, one quarter of Not the Nine O’Clock News and one third of Three Men In a Boat in a much more intimate setting than usual.

Griff Rhys Jones

Griff will be testing out the material for his new show, All Over The Place, at the Bellerby Studio at G Live, Guildford, on Wednesday next week, 21 August.

Expect stories, riffs, observations and…er, details of his recent medical procedures.

This is the Kit is singer songwriter Kate Stables – often with the assistance of bassist Rozi Plain, guitarist Neil Smith and drummer Jamie Whitby-Coles.

The musical project has taken Kate from Winchester to Bristol to Paris, where she has now lived for 10 years, as well as tours, festivals and the adoration of people like Guy Garvey, The National and Sharon van Etten.

Kate Stables and friends are lined up for the Boileroom

Ten years and four albums after setting out, This Is The Kit is a name to be reckoned with and you can check out what all the fuss is about when she/they play at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Sunday 11 August.

THE Barricade Boys will bring the songs of the West End to Surrey tomorrow night (Friday) – as they lower the curtain on this year’s Guildford Fringe Festival.

Named after their starring roles in Les Miserables, the current line-up is Scott Garnham (Nativity! The Musical, Billy Elliot The Musical, Made in Dagenham), Simon Schofield (title role in Oliver! London Palladium, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Sound of Music, Doctor Doolitle), Dougie Carter (Sunset Boulevard, La Cage aux Folles) and Kieran Brown (Wicked, Love Never Dies).

CREATING THEIR OWN FUN – The Barricade Boys are the final act in the 2019 Guildford Fringe Festival

The Barricade Boys also promise powerful ballads and operatic arias plus pop, rock and swing – all given a different twist.

“Well naturally we sing all the classic Les Misérablessongs which everyone loves and enjoys but we do them slightly differently, with our unique four-part arrangements,” explains Scott.

“However, we don’t only perform Les Misérablesand musical theatre songs – we actually have a lot of variety in the show. We sing songs from all genres from rock ’n’ roll to pop. We’ve tried to create a really fun show with a special atmosphere – so if you feel like singing or dancing in the aisles you can, or you can just sit back and enjoy.

“It’s not every night that you can watch a show which goes from Bohemian Rhapsody to Frankie Valli plus our unique arrangements of those Les Mis classics.”

You can sure the foursome have the ability to pull off this feat.

“We’ve appeared in the West End to 2,000 people, we’ve appeared at The Other Palace to 200 people and we’ve appeared at West End LIVE to 20,000 people so we’re pretty good at always adapting and creating a version of our show that can be enjoyed no matter where you see it,” he adds. “Guildford will be a very special night as we’ve got a live band on stage with us and a local choir.”

Scott formed The Barricade Boys with Simon three years ago and the show was a success from the start.

“The themes and songs from Les Misérablesare timeless and they certainly unite us all as a group but I think ultimately the key to the success of the group has been the fact we’ve always produced a show we’d want to watch,” he explains.

“We perform songs we like singing, we have a lot of fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously but make sure the sound we create is truly magical. That seems to come across in the audience and as long as people keep coming to see us perform, we’ll keep performing the show we love.”

And he says coming to Surrey is always special – even after the West End and Broadways.

“We closed Guildford Fringe Festival last year and the atmosphere was electric,” says Scott. “When they asked to do it again this year we absolutely jumped at the chance. This has been an exciting year for us with a 34-date UK tour and a tour of the US but we can honestly say this is a show we’re really excited about.”

The Barricade Boys perform at G Live, Guildford, Friday 26th July 2019

SIX albums in, Cancer Bats are the proof that loud, gritty, and ranting punk rock is still alive and thrashing in Canada.

The Toronto outfit cite the likes of Black Flag, Down, Led Zeppelin, Entombed, and Black Sabbath as influences – and have even toured Canada as a Sabbath cover band under the moniker Bat Sabbath.

BOILEROOM – Cancer Bats will be promoting their latest album The Spark That Moves

But don’t worry, cover versions will be kept to a minimum when the tour to promote their sixth album, The Spark That Moves, arrives at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Sunday 4 August.

The Physics House Band may not sound like your average band name – but then this foursome are not your average band.

They create avant-garde compositions that capture everything from jazz to prog to psych to doom-metal, all combined together with a furious energy transcending to their mind-bending live shows.

DARKNESS AND LIGHT – The Physics House Band

Their recently completed third record explores further into the expanses of intense darkness and light, involving soft ambient synths, angular guitars and saxophones.

The bulk of the record was written over a two-week period in a secluded farmhouse turned studio on Start Point, a Devonshire headland located between the English channel and the Celtic Sea. The record is a reflection of that time, as the cabin fever drew ever closer.

Find out what it all means when The Physics House Band play at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Monday (22 July).

IT’S tribute time at G Live in Guildford, two salutes to major artists on stage next week.

The ELO Experience, emulating Jeff Lynn and The Electric Light Orchestra, heads to the venue on Wednesday (24 July) followed the next day by The Estefan Experience, a tribute to Latin songstress Gloria Estefan.

SOUNDS OF THE 70s -The ELO Experience re create the sounds of the Electric Light Orchestra

The legacy left by Jeff Lynne and The Electric Light Orchestra barely needs any introduction – suffice to say that between 1972 and 1986 they achieved more combined UK and US Top 40 hits than any other band, including 10538 Overture, Evil Woman, Living Thing, Diary of Horace Wimp, Don’t Bring me Down and, of course, Mr Blue Sky.

As for the Queen Of Latin Pop, the real Gloria Estefan sold over 100 million album and won 26 Grammy Awards. The tribute show will feature a 12-piece band with Cuban-themed singers and dancers and songs like Get On Your Feet, Conga, 1-2-3, Rhythm is Gonna Get You, Anything For You, Dr Beat and many more.

First it was a massive bestseller, then a blockbuster film starring Emily Blunt, so there’s a lot of pressure on former EastEnders star Samantha Womack as she takes the title role in the stage version of psychological thriller Girl On The Train.

But the woman who played Ronnie Mitchell in the Albert Square soap is undaunted by taking on the character of Rachel Watson.

SUSPENSE – Samantha Womack and Adam Jackson-Smith, who plays Tom Watson, rehearsing Girl on the Train

“The good thing is this is the only part I’ve ever done where I can look absolutely terrible,” she laughs. “I don’t have to put any makeup on – she’s permanently hungover or drunk anyway… I’ve never done a part where I can be that relaxed. I can turn up in a pair of cargo pants and just walk on stage!”

But Samantha does think the theatre version of Girl On The Train can offer something the film couldn’t.

“It’s hard to do a novel like this and do it justice in a film because you have to make it feel like ‘real life’, and you don’t have so much access to inside someone’s head in a film,” she explains. “I think it really needed a bit more of that. I think in the play we’ve got a little bit more of that in.”

She said that she read Paula Hawkins’ novel when it came out and was “captivated” but adds: “I didn’t want to reread it and contaminate the play as I wanted to treat the show as its own thing.

“The opportunity to take on a role like this is incredibly exciting. I’ve been fascinated by thrillers for a long time and this kind of storytelling, like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, offers us a voyeurs journey into a world which is dangerous and full of suspense.”

For the uninitiated, Samantha goes on: “It’s a thriller and a dark drama about coercive control, abuse and fixating on perfection and all the characters are imperfect and damaged in their own way.

“I play Rachel, who has been in an abusive relationship, lost her job and she also can’t conceive so drinks a lot and has a sketchy memory. She sits on the train drinking vodka and fixates on a couple she can see from the window about their perfect life.

“Next the policeman turns up and the woman she has been watching goes missing and due to her memory blackouts she can’t remember if she was involved in the disappearance and becomes paranoid.”

It’s a complex character to portray and she adds: “Rachel has taken a little while for me to get right because she is quite rude and disillusioned and provokes everyone she meets but the audience still needs to champion her which is a difficult balance but she is really lovely to play.

“I suppose everyone you play, you have to like, or understand at least. She’s someone who’s lost her way and been manipulated for a long time and had the misfortune to not have a baby, and so you find her at her lowest point, but what’s quite nice about her is that she’s quite firey and when she’s drunk she’s unpredictable.

“She’s a very good anti-hero. I liked reading about her, and when she’s drunk she’ll say out loud what other people won’t normally say and I love playing a character like that.”

The Girl on the Traincomes to Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from Monday (8 July) until Saturday 13 July.

THE Mantic Muddlers needed a big sound for their new album, Tall Tales and the Gospel Truth, so they recorded all 12 tracks in a kitchen…over one weekend.

“It was a challenge but we did it,” says frontman Jacob Davies. “We recorded it live and absolutely have not manipulated anything. We did about four takes of every song and picked our favourites.”

Of course it wasn’t just any kitchen, but an industrial one in a former day centre for people with disabilities – next to a rail line with trains going past and vibrating the building every 15 minutes.

Roots, rattle and roll with The Mantic Muddlers (l-r) Laurence Evans, Jacob Davies and George Mercer

“Yeah, at one point a train rumbles past at the end of a track,” laughs the singer and guitarist. “But actually it was brilliant. The kitchen is full of shiny surfaces and the acoustics are great.

“We went there once to rehearse and we thought ‘this is a big sound’. There’s no carpet and everything is solid, there’s a wooden floor, metal furniture and cookers and sinks, lots of natural reverb. It helps to lift the playing.”

The result is Tall Tales & The Gospel Truth, the roots trio’s second release, following a six-track CD in 2017, but Jacob insists the new album is their true debut.

“This one that feels more like us,” he explains. “The intention was always there, from the first few tracks, that it would be an album. We’ve let them develop and grow and worked really hard on them.”

The Hampshire outfit have been a settled three-piece for about three years, the singer’s musical partners being double bass player George Mercer and violin player Laurence Evans.

George has provided rock solid basslines since he and Jacob were in a heavy metal band in school, but Laurence’s one-man string section is a more recent addition after he approached the others after a pub gig. 

“He came up and said: “I can play violin”, so I invited him round my house…and two notes in I was nearly crying, it’s such a unique instrument. I was like “yes!” and he was in the band from that moment,” says the frontman.

Laurence’s strings skill has been honed from a young age playing in the school orchestra and a mixed background ranging from Frank Zappa to Stephane Grappelli. “I started with classical, but got into jazz and always loved improvising,” he explains.

Jacob admits: “Musically we’ve come from different places. Me and George come from a rock and heavy metal background, whereas Laurence knows what he’s doing!

“But where does metal come from? Rock ‘n’ roll. And where does that come from? Eventually you get back to the blues, gospel, soul and slave music. They all have the same energy and, for me, it’s all about the energy.”

Whatever way you describe it, The Muddlers’ roots, rattle and roll sound has won them plenty of fans and upcoming gigs include the Twisted Village Festival, the Big Top tent at Victorious in Portsmouth, and a recent support slot with the legendary Johnny Mars.

The official launch gig for Tall Tales & The Gospel Truth will be at the Star Inn, Guildford, on Thursday (27 June), which was booked before they’d even recorded the album.

“Well, it’s quite good to put your back against the wall sometimes,” says Laurence.

FROM broadcasting legends to ballet, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is to host a series of one-off shows from Wednesday to Saturday next week, 19-22 June.

First up is John Sergeant, former chief political correspondent for the BBC and ITN political Editor who many people remember better for his quirky performances on Strictly Come Dancing.

John Sergeant reveals a collection of anecdotes from his life at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre next Wednesday

In An Audience with John Sergeant on Wednesday, the audience will hear stories and anecdotes from the Have I Got News for You, The One Show, QI, Room 101 and, of course, the world of politics.

Two ballets will then take over the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre stage. Coppélia (Thursday) tells the story of an eccentric toymaker and his beloved doll, while Giselle (Friday) tells how Giselle, a peasant girl, falls in love with Count Albrecht, who has told her he is a villager named Loys. Her discovery of his true identity has devastating consequences.

An Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson (Saturday 22) sees a visit by a man who has interviewed more than 2,000 of the most important cultural figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. He’ll discuss as many of them as they get through in conversation with his son Mike.