December gig guide for Cambridge

Previews Lianne La Havas, Nai Harvest, Happy Mondays, Chris T-T and a host of Christmas parties

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There is plenty of alternatives to yuletide songs, carols and Christmas party classics this December in Cambridge…

Having said that, the festive period does play inspiration to a host of shows this month. Infectious folk pop outfit Fred’s House, who headlined the J2 earlier this year host a Christmas get together at The Portland Arms on the 17th. Special guests on the night include Said The Maiden, a three-piece who perform traditional inspired folk songs, arranged with delightful, exceptionally tight three part harmonies, often a capella.

The vibe will be much louder at the Green Mind Christmas event at the same venue on the 27th with post-punk outfit Standing Like Statues headlining. The Portland also hosts the Church Of Noise Christmas night out on the 12th. Headlining will be the rather ace City Of Thieves. Born out of the ashes of Four Wheel Drive, these guys play in-yer-face rock in the vein of Airbourne and AC/DC.

The end of the year also marks the annual Christmas shows of some of our best musicians. Cambridge stalwarts Ezio play the Cambridge Junction on the 12th whilst Jay Williams (ex The Broken Family Band) returns to J2 with the I Strip for Couples ensemble on the 2nd. Promising a night of cinematic, rock, orchestral, indie, alt country music, peppered with rap and occasional operatic moments  – they will also be showcasing tracks from the two new albums Jay is currently writing.

Away from the festivities, we seriously recommend the double header at The Portland on the 1st. Headlining are Jaws, a band who have muscled up since their debut LP and shedded their former beach-pop skin. Their new sound is all crunching riffs and swirling shoegaze in the vein of Bleach-era Nirvana meets the fuzzy euphoria of Smashing Pumpkins.

Support on the 1st comes from Sheffield two-piece Nai Harvest, a pair of best friends who have found their sound on their own terms. After two years of nearly relentless touring that took them to the other side of the world and back, the band has fully articulated that sound with this year’s debut LP Hairball. Expect a sound racing through ‘80s and ‘90s-influenced indie rock, taking sharp turns into hazy garage punk and feedback-laden grunge.

Staying at the Cambridge Junction, Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes brings his recently Mercury Prize nominated solo album to town on the 9th. Released earlier in the Autumn, Coombes’ latest record is both ambitious and affecting and some of his finest work to date.

Other tips at the Cambridge Junction this month include Fozzy (2nd) Fish (7th) and Dr Feelgood & Nine Below Zero (10th).

Known for some Christmas Songs of their own, The Darkness play the Cambridge Corn Exchange on the 1st. Expect a night filled with big tracks from their repertoire as well material from their latest release ‘Last Of Our Kind’.

Anyone of a ‘certain age’ in the late 1980s and early ‘90s will remember just how much of an influence on the dance and Indie music culture the Happy Mondays really were. Iconic Mancunian musicians that paved the way for bands like Oasis and Blur to move to the forefront of ‘Cool Britannia’ later on, Shaun and Paul Ryder, accompanied by the permanently happy Bez, set the tone for an explosion of unique pop music that summed up an entire era. The Happy Mondays paly the Corn Exchange on the 5th.

Lianne La Havas has had a massive 2015, a summer of festival appearances was then complimented by widespread critical acclaim for her second album, ‘Blood’. Lianne La Havas made a huge breakthrough with her Top 5 debut album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ which sold 200,000 copies and won Album of the Year at iTunes as well as Barclaycard Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello Best Album nominations. La Havas plays the Corn Exchange on the 7th.

Else where in Cambridge this month, the UK Subs play The Portland on the 3rd and Chris T-T plays the intimate CB2 on the 7th. Finally, ati-folk hero and the man Jarvis Cocker described as “the best lyricist working in the US today” Jeffrey Lewis is back in Cambridge. Lewis, who has a new record on the way and who always brings the goods when he plays Cambridge is back at The Portland on the 16th.

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