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The Three Johns / The Great Leap Forward / Tom Hyatt

Saturday, 4 February 2017 - 8:00pm
The Three Johns started in 1981 when Mekons guitarist John Langford was deserted by the rest of his band after they finished Uni and decided to form a band with the only other two people left in Leeds who wanted to play music, both of which were called John, one being John Hyatt. Honorary John, Philip Brennan, joined on stage at their second gig, and then one of the real Johns left, leaving three again, Langford (guitar), Brenny (bass) and Hyatt (vocals) plus Hugo the drum machine. 
The Three Johns specialize in abrasive, politically charged, danceable rock and are a silly-serious bunch of political and cultural provocateurs. Recording during the Thatcher years in the 80s, the Johns were openly antagonistic to the new ultra-right wing vision of Britain's future. And while their elliptical and epigrammatic lyrics might not have offered the sloganeering that would easily identify them as lefties, certainly there were enough hints dropped along the way to remove any doubt, including innumerable Miners' Benefit gigs. 
Unlike other rock agit-prop, the Johns played a fairly accessible version of polemical post-punk anti-pop that embraced big, messy arena-rock-sounding guitars and hard, repetitive, quasi-hip-hop dance beats. With their collective tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Johns took on British and American obsession with materialism, the diabolical Reagan-Thatcher lovefest and the machinations of the pop music industry, all of it done with a great sense of humor mixed in with genuine fear and horror.  
The Three Johns were one of the most-loved and respected groups of the UK 80s underground, and a great favourite of John  Peel.  They recorded 6 Peel sessions, and made it into living rooms across the land on 'The Tube' and 'Whistle Test'. Although their records sold in large numbers, they just failed to cross over into chart success, with their biggest selling single, 'Death of the European' stalling at 41 after suffering from a lack of airplay following the Heysel disaster. The Three Johns continued to record throughout the 80s, put out a series of terrific albums, and were one of only a few UK indie bands to make a dent in the USA. 
After the release of Eat Your Sons in 1990, Jon Langford turned his attention full-time to the Mekons and also moved to Chicago, putting The Three Johns on what turned out to be a long hiatus.  Since first reconvening for a comeback gig in 2006, The Three Johns have done  shows on the occasions when Langford has returned to the UK, always retaining their characteristic verve and vitality.   Late-comers can now catch up with their 'Volume 1' CD box set which was released to great acclaim last year.  Their set is guaranteed to impress and make you smile.
The Great Leap Forward were formed by former Big Flame member Alan Brown, after Big Flame split up in 1986.  Essentially a solo project, although various musicians were added for live performances, Great Leap Forward was Alan's attempt at a more accessible sound than the notoriously uncompromising Big Flame whilst retaining his overtly political lyrics.  Needless to say, GLF were still completely wilful and esoteric by today's standards, with Alan crooning Josef K style over a shredded guitar orchestra. Great Leap Forward's original run ended in 1990 after four 12" EPs and an album, mostly on the wonderful Ron Johnson Records, and two Peel sessions (in addition to the four Peel sessions notched up by Big Flame). 
In 2008, Alan revived The Great Leap Forward and released a CD of new material, ‘Finished Unfinished Business’, largely songs he'd shelved when he put GLF on hold in 1990. This was followed in 2012 by a great new album of freshly-minted tunes, This Is Our Decade of Living Cheaply and Getting By. At this time, Alan did a couple of solo GLF acoustic sets at select gigs.  One of these solo shows was at the 2012 ‘Twang Club’ Un-Peeled show, when he also joined Sarandon for a tantalising run through 'Let's Jive Whilst We're Still Alive' from the GLF Ron Johnson era, prompting stunned audience members to shout "Judas."
Following a successful run-out at the 2016 edition of Un-Peeled, Great Leap Forward have now reverted to their original live proposition of two men and a drum machine (Alan is joined by Simon Williams from Sarandon on bass) and are performing full 'electric' sets for the first time in over 25 years. Tuff Life Boogie cannot over-emphasise how much your life will be improved if you are there to witness this truly momentous comeback!
Tom Hyatt
Tom Hyatt is a unique and stand-out artist on the London live circuit. His explosive voice delivers dynamic and forthright songs, faithfully distilling the singer/songwriter down to its most compelling roots.
Working solo, Hyatt’s varied songs are performed with either a propulsive, percussive guitar or a fluid, contemplative piano. When joined by choice collaborator Maya McCourt on cello the sound expands to take on further dimensions. Often attracting comparisons to the likes of Jackson Browne, John Martyn and Tim Buckley, his shows recall past greats whilst being firmly placed on the cutting edge.
“Sophistication and aplomb which is incredibly rare… one of the most intelligent, relevant singer-songwriters in the country”
Louder Than War
Tickets £8 advance / £10 on the door. Saturday 4th February 2017, 7.30pm.
Available from WeGotTickets, SEE Tickets & Skiddle
Also in person from Continental Bar (01772 499 425) & Action Records (01772 884 772) 
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