Hardwicke Circus Reviews

Hardwicke Circus, New Wave Punk Worley’s at The Swan
Stourport 19th July 2019

Thursday nights in Stourport can be eventful in some way or other. Sliding into the Swan on the warm night, it was wonderful to feel a buzzing atmosphere all around from the audience..Headliners tonight Hardwicke Circus stormed onto the stage with pure professionalism. .Blending Americana with Indie Rock, the septet stopped by at the Swan the night before they journeyed to Hyde Park for their Bob Dylan and Neil Young support slot. .Taking to the stage with hit after hit, the musicianship in this band is incredible. Bouncing off one another with killer arrangements, the band are filled with youngsters too. .Hits such as “Walda” and “Woman” created a stadium feel in the Swan. Anthem after anthem, this band are all about the arrangements. Including a brass section alongside the warm rock structures, it created a soulful performance to each track. .Rock stars in the making, imagine The Rolling Stones creating an album with The Doors jamming with Primal Scream… THIS is Hardwicke Circus. Transforming their influences into their own originality, this night was one to remember for time to come. A beautiful rock and roll journey was had by all. Having heard about the success of their Hyde Park gig, it’s no surprise that this band are destined for stardom. They well and truly tore the roof off the Swan.

Chloe Mogg
Slap Magazine Worchester.

Hardwicke Circus, Hope & Anchor London - RNR Magazine

For out of town bands trying to make a dent in the concioussness of the capital's great and good, the second day of the new year is one of the worst to attempt it. Hardwicke Circus seemed totally unfazed by it though, as the alramingly fresh faced septet took to the stage of the famous pub rock haven. The last night of a monthly residency, the proud Cumbrians have been slogging it around the UK for a couple of years taking it all in their youthful stride, and their dogged tenacity finally seems to be paying off.

They've got the songs to do it to, cheerily charasmatic frontman and songwriter Jonny Foster has dozens of them, as their two sets tonight prove. The radio ready rock/soul of Nowhere Left To Run, the banner waving Why You Looking For Love, and the spruce funk of Nobody Loves You (Like I Do) all scream "geniuses at work". On top of that there's a handful of well chosen covers - Dylan, The Jags, Harold Melvin. Not particularly obvious, but crowd pleasers all. 

There's a retro pub rock element but that's just because it's great classic music that gets under the skin and into the feet. This isn't hard-nosed striped down RnB of Dr Feelgood, this is the real rhythm and blues - soulful, funky, passionate - played by a bunch of guys who love to play, not for fame but because they love it and believe in it, and know they can deliver. They're already lined up for several of this year's festivals. Get in early for the feel good hit of the summer!

Hardwicke Circus live at the Hope & Anchor, Islington 07/11/18

The band played a great set from a standing start and they managed to take a tried and tested format and enliven it with youthful vigour, twisting the tropes of soul and rock into some stimulating shapes. So disco keys met sledgehammer guitars (Chips Are Down); the horn section got as many soloes as the guitars and the tempos varied delightfully to keep the crowd engaged (although not so engaged they matched the Brum crowd during a cheekily requested singalong, to our fair City’s shame). There are plenty of bands with ability but this outfit’s advantage is Jonny Foster, a charismatic front man evoking the spirits of all the right icons, all hair, shape throwing and rabble rousing; his raspy soulful pipes showing promise already.

INTRODUCING: Hardwicke Circus, by Elly Bailey

Seven-piece band Hardwicke Circus, whose members include a trombone player, a saxophone player, and a keys player, are paying homage to the great bands of the past. They take influences but they don’t copy, and the result is a unique sound, soul-infused classic rock ‘n roll.

Having gained a large internet following, and fans all over the UK through playing countless shows, they are quickly gaining a reputation as the next rock band set to take over the music industry. Watching them live only enforces this belief.

Seeing a seven-membered band onstage is not a common thing anymore, especially at grassroots level, but this is what makes them stand out. They blend well together, creating a full performance that you can’t take your eyes off.

Lead singer and guitarist Jonny Foster will entice you with his smooth, confident vocals, but also his unpretentious swagger. With a Jagger-esc vibe about him and the looks and clothes to match, he makes the perfect frontman for the band, managing to keep his voice heard amongst the seven instruments that are being played, all whilst making it look easy.

Over the past two years the band have come up with numerous releases, but most recently have announced their newest demo ‘Let’s Make New Mistakes.’

Starting off with a solo guitar riff, the song goes into a relaxed, humble sounding beat that will make you smile. ‘I might not be everything you want me to be,” sings Jonny. This may sound like a sad sentiment, but the song has a sweet uplifting essence, with the music and vocals building throughout, ending with a groovy mix of instruments, that you can’t help but dance to.

Proudly hailing from Carlisle, Cumbria, Hardwicke Circus have recently announced a run of shows in their hometown, in order to raise money for them to get a tour bus.

The potential of this band is huge, and being hindered by a detail as frustrating as travel is not something that these boys are going to let happen. They have cleverly taken matters into their own hands, and on the 24th, 25th and 26th of August the band will be taking over The Source, with different support acts playing each night and all money going towards the bus money fund. Definitely a set of shows that you should check out if you’re in the area!

Cool, young and talented, Hardwicke Circus are a band that are making waves, creating something different, and standing out in the sea of similarity in the music industry. 100% ones to watch.

Please Don't Try This at Home, track review by Where The Music Meets

Ready for some modern old-sounding indie-rock? Hardwicke Circus, a.k.a. the most styled kids on the block have just surprised the hell out of us here at WtMM. Already reaching a lot of consensus around the Web, these guys bring all the guns to every song they make. The latest one is probably the best example of their power.

Please Don’t Try This At Home, is an unpretentious rock anthem that sounds like an homage to the great great bands. The vocals sound a bit like Jagger. The amount of band power does not shy away from The Doors or the guys that play with Bruce Springsteen for hours and hours. And there are definitely abundant amounts of The Who all over the song –  just listen to those epic entrance guitars! But the best of it all is the amount of feeling put into the song. It sure shows these guys are having fun doing it. Makes impossible to stay still while listening. And very easy to fall in a sort of bro-love with this seven guys.

And if you feel this might be one-in-a-million, try to stay indifferent to their previous releases: the ingenious sun-set starter Why You Looking For Love?, the gunny When The Chips Are Down, or the Springsteen sounding Nowhere Left To Run. All of them released in under a year.

Their forthcoming EP entitled Hot Moves comes out on 13th October. We should expect for a show-maker, party-starter, heart-warmer of a disc.

Southside Johnny support review by Andy Nathan

Even support band Hardwicke Circus looked and sounded like young Asbury Jukes protégés, with a horn section and lead singer Jonny Foster, one of two brothers, coming over like a young Mick Jagger or Van Morrison, long-haired and loose-limbed with a rough-edged R n B voice. It was therefore something of a shock a few songs in when he introduced the band as from Carlisle as I had assumed to that point they were New Jerseyites.

Songs like ‘Heartless Woman’ and ‘Nobody Does You Like I Do’ impressed alongside a cover of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, the musicianship was very tight, and while very sixties influenced, they showed enough freshness to be marked as an interesting sounding band potentially  going places.

Nozstock 2017, by Gavin Brown

Hardwicke Circus were another revelation on the Orchard Stage, the band came across like prime Rolling Stones and the Small Faces clashing heads with Give Out But Don’t Give Up era Primal Scream and the Black Crowes and the band have got the songs to match. A twelve legged rock n roll machine, they swaggered across the stage and belted out some stadium sized anthems in the Sunday sun. The songs the band play like Walder and Rebel Because Of You are big and anthemic with great use of the organ and at times have huge eighties style choruses that ring out and are perfect to sing along to. Hardwicke Circus are another band to definitely seek out and they easily deliver another highlight of the weekend.

Kendal Calling 2016, by The Confidentials

The Carlisle band got Saturday started with an immediate groove. The crowd were slow to warm up after a presumably heavy night the evening before, but the boys were on point from beat one, letting everyone know they're not a first-on-the-bill sort of act. It wasn't long until the tent was rocking, and all before anyone had time to grab lunch. Hardwicke Circus will soon outgrow stages like the one they played at KC16, and not just because there are so many of them crammed onto the stage. Like many acts they were spotted across the festival checking out their favourite performances and chatting to fans - a much-loved trait of bands at KC.

Kendal Calling 2016, by Never Enough Notes

Carlisle-band Hardwicke Circus took to the House Party Stage early on Saturday afternoon, packing out the tent. With influences from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones, these guys are vintage-tinged rock at its best. If you like 60s indie with a modern twist, give these guys a listen.

O2 Academy Belfast supporting Alabama 3, by Jonathon Kardasz

Look, anyone who doesn’t turn up for the support band(s) at a gig is a chump because who knows when you might see the latest best band you’ve never seen? Hardwicke Circus started their set in a virtually empty venue, but from the first song they had the few present tapping their feet and grinning, and everyone that arrived during the twelve song set ended up likewise, filling the floor and enjoying a powerful horn driven set of soul infused rock songs. The seven piece band had endured a six hour drive from Cumbria but that didn’t stop ‘em filing the room with youthful enthusiasm and chops that belied their age.

A disparate bunch, they managed to look like a band despite seemingly having no sartorial commonality (much like the E Street Band when they first started out), thus Jonny Foster (guitar & vox), Zack McDade (guitar) and Ben Wilde (bass) rocked the, well rock look – waistcoats, drainpipes, paisley shirt etc. and as for the horn section (Andy Phillips & Nick Kent) – well have you ever seen a horn section that wasn’t dapper or without at least one trilby? But massive applause for Lewis Bewley on keys and an insanely gonzo fringed cowboy shirt and humongous applause for drummer Tom Foster and a three piece shirtless suit combo the likes of which haven’t been seen on stage since Mud were in their polyester pomp.

The band played a great set from a standing start and they managed to take a tried and tested format and enliven it with youthful vigour, twisting the tropes of soul and rock into some stimulating shapes. So disco keys met sledgehammer guitars (Chips Are Down); the horn section got as many soloes as the guitars and the tempos varied delightfully to keep the crowd engaged (although not so engaged they matched the Brum crowd during a cheekily requested singalong, to our fair City’s shame). There are plenty of bands with ability but this outfit’s advantage is Jonny Foster, a charismatic front man evoking the spirits of all the right icons, all hair, shape throwing and rabble rousing; his raspy soulful pipes showing promise already.

The only time their youth showed was a mid-set decision to sandwich a cracking original Drive with two covers, preceding it with Baby Please Don’t Go and following it with Love Her Madly, something of a misfire as their own excellent tune was expunged from the memory by the all persuasive chorus of an overly familiar tune (even if the band did breathe new life in to it as a Doors / Stax hybrid). It’s a gamble covering material in this situation – sure, a familiar tune gets the crowd grooving and can be fun to play, but the risk is the set ends with the crowd’s mind buzzing with the cover rather than the originals. That comment notwithstanding, this was a splendid set from a band with much promise – given the popularity of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and St Paul & the Broken Bones it’s great to see home-grown talent with the potential to match the challenge from over the pond.

Social Music EP, by Ben Walker

Hardwicke Circus is the name of a seven-piece from Carlisle who specialise in bringing some heavily melodic rhythm and blues music in a complete package that really packs a punch. Following their self-titled 2015 EP, the band have now returned with Social Music, another a five tracked EP acting as a brilliant taster to what this band are all about and how much they have to offer audiences.

Kicking things off is ‘Nowhere Left To Run’, a piano led intro that instantly bursts into a kaleidoscope of instruments: a bit of synth, trumpets, bass and guitar all intertwine for a few bars before vocalist Johnny Foster’s husked vocals kick in, carrying the track in a different direction than expected. The transition into the pre-chorus’ high “oohs” is fantastic and really shows a lot of range in Johnny’s voice. The track only continues to grow as each instrument proceeds to fade in and out of the ear and the occasional flourishes from the guitar really boost the song in such a way that it makes for an interesting listen throughout. The structure is somewhat abnormal is hitting the ear in an unusual, but delightful way before heading into a superbly played saxophone solo that simply comes out of nowhere. A great start and a great introduction to the band.

It is often hard for a seven-piece to truly utilise their full potential, however Hardwicke Circus’ following number, ‘Ride On The Track’ uses each instrument in such a way that it does not dominate Johnny’s vocals but simply makes for some incredibly well used backing sound. The almost western vibe to the track is incredibly different from the predecessor yet still makes for an equally pleasant listen, the simple but incredibly bold guitar solos add a beautiful dynamic which forces the head to bob along to. Just like making the most of their instruments, it is equally easy for seven piece bands to overcomplicate, however the simplicity of this track is what really brings it to life, it really does feel as though each instrument is working together instead of trying to trump the rest, which makes for an overall listen that is definitely something remarkable.

‘Love Her Madly’ stresses a far faster tone and a lower tone to Johnny’s voice, whilst yet another drastically different sound is created and, compared to the other numbers, the track does not particularly shine out from the rest of the record. Not only are the vocals somewhat too hard hitting. There doesn't seem to be much of a message and the instrumentation definitely overpowers the song. The song does grow into a more interesting listen with the sporadic flourishes from the trumpets and, as the other sounds begin to pile up, they do reach a nice level of composition. However the track feels like a minor bump compared to the rest of the record’s overall tone.

The variation throughout Social Music is definitely admirable as, in the space of just five songs, Hardwicke Circus have managed to successfully demonstrate almost every aspect of their sound. Whether it be through the subtle nuances of the backing instrumentation or a powerful solo, the record seems to have most aspects covered. ‘Woman’ holds an incredibly driven bass and guitar intro which catches the ear instantly and feels like the most ‘rocky’ part of the record. The backing bassline bounces brilliantly off of Johnny’s lyrics and yet another subtle spring from the keys really morphs the track into a holistic package and possibly the highlight of the record.

Subtlety definitely does a lot for Hardwicke Circus and they have clearly learned to feature the trait into their tracks and, as such, Social Music is a brilliant demonstration into what the band are all about. Is the record revolutionary? No, but nor does it set out to be. As the title implies, Social Music is about just that, providing a chilled out vibe that people can bond over and, in that respect, whether it be seeing this band live, or simply listening to it in the background with a mate, Hardwicke Circus have achieved their goals and have produced an EP that I feel many will come to enjoy. I feel like we are just on the tip of the iceberg with Hardwicke Circus and they are still only just finding their feet. Whilst their sound definitely does pack a punch, I personally am intrigued and can’t wait to see how they manage to grow it further.

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