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  tasty 19 gig reviews

- Flaming Lips/British Sea Power
- Tender Trap/Farming Incident/The Liberty Ship


Flaming Lips and British Sea Power
January 20th 2003

"Like a giant birthday party with drugs!"
Outside it’s cold and wet; a dreary midwinter night. Inside my mood matches the weather. Too much work, too little money, and the general suckiness of life is getting me down. I’m enjoying wallowing in self-pity as the stage goes dark for the first band, British Sea Power. And the stage is certainly set, covered as it is with tree branches and wreaths of leaves as if for a primary school pageant. From a corner, the giant stuffed owl perched on his amp surveys the audience critically. And so it begins. The huge screen flickers in the darkness. We’re travelling through space as an archaic BBC voice guides us through a vision of stars and nebulas. Swiftly though it crashes back down to earth - it’s the second world war - we’re inside the head of a young pilot about to die. The footage is strange but involving, it follows the conversation of the pilot about to crash land with the last person he’ll ever speak to, a beautiful American radio operator. As the pilot dives, apparently to his death, the band come on one by one, looking like an escaped crew of mad scientists decked out in white coats and weird hats. Except the singer who looks like he may have escaped from Travis. It’s a great entrance! Without introduction they pick up their instruments and start playing an instrumental track with beautiful layered guitars à la Mogwai, with an added pinch of Do Make Say Think. This as it turns out is British Sea Power at their very best. The next song has vocals, which while pleasant and quite theatric (in a deep throated rock’n’roll kind of way) are a little unremarkable and don’t quite match the quality of the music. The tunes are tighter and more traditionally songlike after this, which is a shame cos sprawling instrumental meltdowns are much more fun. There are some lovely fuzzed up guitar parts which are quite reminiscent of Sonic Youth without ever sounding much like them and some strong and interesting bass lines add momentum to the whole thing. They are erm...quite an energetic band. Acrobatics abound, with one guitarist making impressively wide shapes with his arms and legs. At one point the keyboardist takes a drum and marches, while beating it, into the audience; hauling himself over the barrier head first to make it back in time for the next number. Other silliness includes, impromptu piggybacks and knocking the owl off his perch while jumping over an amp. It’s fun to watch and I’m feeling slightly cheerier than an hour ago. The audience too is warmed up and ready for some Flips action.

5…4…3…2…1...TONIGHT…YOU’RE…LIFE…WILL…CHANGE…FOREVER! One by one the words hit the screen, screaming bright, interspersed with footage of naked people gyrating. Two giant disco balls are sending lots of pretty shooting lights all over the stage while a thudding beat starts up. The excitement is palpable, we’re all straining to see…& then at last they come on! All grins and waves; Wayne in his white suit and the rest in a variety of animal costumes, pink Easter bunnies, tigers and zebras! Immediately they launch into a gloriously technicoloured version of Race For The Prize which seems to lift and light the room with a brilliant glow of pure joy. When his arms are free Wayne send giant inflatable coloured balls into the audience for us to play with during the set. He also starts hosing us with tons and tons of snowy white confetti and it’s so lovely it’s just like Christmas. It’s no exaggeration to say that this might be the happiest moment of my entire life! The music is beautiful and everyone is happy. Even the bouncers are having fun playing with the balls as they come their way, and I’ve never even seen a bouncer smile in Rock City before!

As for actual songs played well A Spoonful Weighs a Ton, Waiting for Superman (complete with the random application of fake blood by both Wayne and audience members), Fight Test (the one that sounds like a cat Stevens song but better), She Don’t Use Jelly (old favourite) and Do You Realise (beautiful!) all get an airing and are punctuated with much arm waving and fist punching in the air. When introducing All We Have is Now (a song bout squeezing as much life out of the present moment as possible) Wayne points out that Santa is sat in the corner and begins to weigh up the various merits of believing in him as opposed to God. Unsurprisingly Santa comes out the clear winner. And all this talk of Santa naturally leads on to more talk of bunnies and birthdays and drugs, with Wayne finally summing up the Flips experience as being like ‘a giant birthday party with drugs’. And since this is a birthday party we need a birthday boy or girl, so Wayne searches the audience for a couple of candidates and we all end up singing happy birthday to two random people whose names I’ve forgotten but who will probably remember this night for the rest of their lives. Then Steven chimes in informing us that it was in fact Wayne’s forty second birthday last week, so then we have to sing it all over again, but we don’t mind cos it’s fun. Another highlight is when Wayne invites the audience to sing along with him for ‘Yoshimi..’ and tells us why you should never be ashamed of singing or smiling to yourself cos it’s just nice. He drags the ending of the song out to get us to sing the chorus about a million times while he gets his scary hand puppet to ‘sing’ along too (there’s a camera on the mike stand so we get a treated to a ginormous close up of Wayne and weird puppet’s face). For an encore they play Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon which sends the audience into a kind of happy trance and ends the evening with a warm glow. This is the closest thing to a (drug induced) spiritual experience I’ve ever had and like everyone else here tonight I float out of Rock City grinning like a maniac. Strangely somehow everything is changed and it seems that life is kind of wonderful.

by Selene Hinton 

Tender Trap/Farming Incident/The Liberty Ship,
Tasty fanzine Christmas party
Junktion 7, Nottingham

Amongst the throng of office parties and last minute shoppers, sanity reigned at Junktion 7, where a triumvirate of only the finest bands held court.

In truth, the turnout for this gig was disappointing, but that was probably something to do with my laissez-faire attitude to actual process of promoting, than the draw of the bands.

Anyway, those that did gather were tempted first by the always excellent Liberty Ship, playing Junktion 7 for the third time in six months, but sounding as fresh and exciting as ever. Marc Elston wields one of the finest Rickenbackers around and complemented by sullen yet sweet female vocals and a battered old keyboard, The Liberty Ship have taken on a new dimension. Not exactly krautrock, but much, much more than sixties revivalists, a claim that could be levelled against them by the more narrow minded of the Nottingham clique. Anyway, they were ace.

Farming Incident are old skool indie. They have no truck with any kind of nostalgia, unless you call a hankering for the days of The Fall’s ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’ some kind of nostalgia. But let’s not, let’s just celebrate a truly authentic band, one that follows no kind of blueprint, but makes the rules up as it goes along. The constant swapping of instruments between songs is novel, if a little disruptive to the flow of the performance, but again, a knackered old keyboard is used brilliantly by the best one fingered keyboardist in the world, Dave Proctor. Farming Incident finish with ‘The Equaliser’ - a sprawling song that builds like a Mogwai epic, but rocks like no other at the end and ends with Proctor hanging on two notes on his keyboard until the suffocation of it all becomes impossible.

Whilst Farming Incident are brutally good, Tender Trap are just that. The complete antithesis of what has gone before, the still three piece whip their way through a set of perfect pop songs from their recent album, ‘Film Molecules’, and quite why the crowd has thinned so much is beyond me, because they’re not only missing a fine, fine band, they’re missing an Amelia Fletcher band, and that, my friends, is a guarantee of quality.

A fine night, from what I can remember, anyway. We shall meet again...