gig reviews - tasty 23
British Sea Power/The Killers/Vinnie Peculiar
Nina Nastasia + Great Bear + David Thomas Broughton
Million Dead + Minus + Jarcrew
- Belle & Sebastian
- The Coral + The Dead
- The Human League
- Herman Dune + The
Broken Family Band + Homescience + Deerpark
British Sea Power
+ The Killers + Vinnie Peculiar
20.11.03 - Joseph's Well, Leeds
It’s hot, it’s sweaty, it’s too small for this many people, it’s Thursday,
it’s sold out…its Josephs Well!
I am by no means easily lead,
but I’ll try anything once. When my nearest and dearest suggested going to
see British Sea Power, I said “OK, where they playing?” “Josephs Well.” Came
the reply, slightly to my surprise. Surely, I thought, they should be
playing a larger venue than that. I wasn’t wrong.
I'm not sure how many people
Josephs Well holds, but I am sure that the capacity was almost at breaking
point. And I fear the heating may have been on. And everyone was so tall,
and old and there was a fellow in front of us who smelt funny and had long
hair and danced like a fool. They had not attracted the crowd I had
Vinnie Peculiar was shit. He
warrants no more of a review than that. I have seen some truly awful bands
in my time, hell, I’ve even played in some, but this mixture of poetry,
comedy and music was an assault on the senses I would rather forget. Fuck
off, and never darken my doorstep again.
The Killers were dead good. If
you have heard The Faint you may get the idea, but where The Faint start to
sound like a cut price Depeche Mode, The Killers start to sound more like
Joy Division. I don’t want to praise them too much, after the first act
everything seemed to be peachy. But at the time they seemed pretty good to
Don’t remember too much of
British Sea Power, make of that what you will. But bare in mind I wasn’t
And we left before the end.
Remember kids, when someone offers you tickets to a sold out gig at Josephs
Well, JUST SAY NO!
P.S. The Killers and British
Sea Power were both pretty good, not my cup of tea, but pretty good none the
less. My problems with venue and the fact I’m a short arse ruined the night…
curse my wretched stout frame. But the first guy was a bag of shite.
Nina Nastasia +
Great Bear + David Thomas Broughton
St John's Church, Leeds
There comes a time in every mans life when it is time to admit to yourself
that maybe the years are passing, and age is creeping up on you. (This does
apply to women as well. Just one look at Leslie Ash would be an indication
of that.) A good guide to this time is when the prospect of sitting in a
church on a Sunday evening becomes infinitely more appealing than spending a
Friday night shoe-horned into a sweaty auditorium with 1000-2000 pungent
individuals. And as such I was looking forward to this show immensely. Add
to this the fact that cans of lager were available for 60p a go (yes, you
heard! 60p …I love Leeds at times.) this was going to be a treat.
I had my initial misgivings
about the venue, but as with so many things I was indeed proved wrong. Had I
not had the foresight to bring some suitable winter clothing the whole
affair could have been a lot more unpleasant.
The evening’s proceedings were
kicked off in fine fashion by David Thomas Broughton (I really hope I got
the name right), it’s the first time I have seen this fellow, and I really
hope it isn’t the last. I found it really difficult to put my finger on
anyone he really sounded like; I suppose there were elements of Will Oldham,
a little St. Thomas perhaps, but without sounding too much like either. The
major attraction is his amazing voice, and I really cannot draw comparisons
on that count, just bloody fantastic. The quality of song writing was very
impressive and I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard quite a bit more from
him. I for one will be looking out to catch him again.
Great Bear were on next, who
after such a strong opening act did seem to loose the attention of the
crowd. I had heard them before on CD and not been overly impressed, and
unfortunately live was a similar experience. There is some very impressive
guitar work and drumming going on within the band, and musically I would
find it had to fault, but the vocals just ain’t my thing. A very good case
of less is more.
I won’t even try to describe
what went on from then on, but needless to say it was good. Last time I saw
Nina Nastasia it was with a full band, this time however it is the stripped
down version, just Nina, a cellist and a chap on viola. Both times I have
been left speechless. If you haven’t already go and buy her albums and if
you get the chance, see her live………….and that’s all I got to say about that.
Million Dead + Minus + Jarcrew
29.11.03 - The Cockpit, Leeds
You know those large scrumpy jugs, the ones with the handles on the neck?
Big things, about 7.5% a.b.v.? Well, I had spent the evening revelling in
the delights of the West Country’s finest produce. All I can suggest to
others is, do not follow in my footsteps. The desired effect from drinking
such a brew would, obviously be a state of drunkenness; this however is
not the case. As opposed to feeling light headed, a wave of heat overcame
have no idea what I’m writing about.
wanted a chip butty, and as a result of this, by the time we had arrived
Jarcrew were already on stage. Oh, sweet lord, they are good. Turns out
they had just started anyway, which is a good thing for James; if I had
missed anymore he may have lost an eye or two. They really are that good.
I am fully aware it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it works for me.
There are a lot of bands around at the moment playing pretty jerky, stop
start post rock, and who have spent some time listening to various New
Wave bands, but Jarcrew seem to do it better than most. I could list bands
that are probably an influence on them, but it would be pointless, as they
don’t really sound like any of them. There is a healthy dose of electronic
noodlings to add to the proceedings, and all neatly presented in what can
only be described as somewhat of a kinetic performance. Rock on!
as it is pronounced min-oose, were on next.
headlining act turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib. The whole affair
was, to say the least tiresome. Word on the street was that Million Dead
put on a great live show; balls. I have their album, and have enjoyed it,
but this has all gone too far. I struggled to tell for sure which track
they were playing, and their stage presence was minimal to say the least.
I fear the lead singer may have loved the band a lot more than anyone else
in the room. We went to The Scarborough for a drink before they finished
their set. Disappointing, should try harder!
aware I didn’t write anything about minus, but as my mum once said, “if
you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Belle and Sebastian
I Left the North... I Travelled South...
They finally did it! B&S on tour in the UK, and I was there to confirm
what I already knew: that they are as sweet, mellow, funny and concise as
ever. Fun is what they seem to be having. What band would come up with a
karaoke for the fans? What band members would discuss on stage whether The
Rolling Stones were better than The Smiths?
They certainly have had a lot going on in 2003, with the release of the
new album Dear Catastrophe Waitress and the DVD Fans Only. Needless to
say, both are superb examples of the band's fine current form.
The Sheffield gig- first in their UK tour- had Stevie Jackson nervous on
stage, as he confessed. Luckily, it didn't last for too long. The set was
amazingly permeated with old gems like 'Expectations', 'Waking up to us',
'Photo Jenny', 'Dog on Wheels', 'Beautiful' and 'Like Dylan in the
Movies'. The new songs were equally welcome, especially the dreamy 'Travellin'
Light', to be released sometime in the near future as a single. The hits
from the new album included 'Step into my office', 'Stay Loose', 'If you
find yourself caught in love', 'Roy Walker', among others. Dancing to
'Wrapped up in Books' or ' Sleep the Clock Around', B&S did not disappoint
at all, pleasing the old fans and the new ones, too, who perhaps were not
very familiar with some olders tunes. Stuart Murdoch actually asked at the
start: 'Who are you, anyway? New, old fans?' Ok, the band might have been
a bit tense at the start. Though by the time two fans were invited on
stage to sing Human League's 'Don't you want me, baby', the atmosphere was
like being in a friend's party where all is well and everyone is having a
great time. The fun conitnued for me as I ventured backstage to say
'hello'. Sarah Martin, Chris Beans Gueddes, Stuart, Murray (violins) plus
some friends of theirs were chilling out. Stevie Jackson showed up next. I
was very shy for maybe 5 minutes but it was 'all good' in the end. My
friend and I even convinced some of them to check out the club night,
Offbeat, that was taking place after the gig. So off we went. A few Jack
Daniel's later Stevie and I were dancing to 'Cemetry Gates' by the
Smiths(even though he admitted to preferring the Stones over the Smiths,
bah!). I couldn't have asked for a better night, really. Another highlight
of the night: basically Stevie hadn't a clue where the hotel was so we
kindly drove him there. As we got into the car, the cd player hit 'Step
into...' and he went ' Turn that off, it reminds me of work!.'
If You Find Yourself Caught in London
Later that week, I travelled to London to see them again, at the Astoria.
Full house. The supporting band that night was 'The Johnny 7' with the
karaoke. Quite a brilliant idea, and again, how much fun can you get?
Tons. It was quite hilarious. The set was a bit different from the
Sheffield one and included 'The State I'm in' . Simply stunning. It also
included Mick Cooke singing... Stuart Murdoch stage diving... Swedish fans
grabbing his arse... among other amazing little moments. The night
finished with a party, with Chris Beans and Richard Colburn (plus others)
djing. It wasn't an indie night, though. Fair enough. But it got us
dancing to stuff like Michael Jackson's 'Billy Jean'. Oh well, things you
do for love...
16.12.03, Warrington Parr Hall
The Dead Sixties with their
wacky ska mixed with psychedelic rock sound, that has them pitched somewhere
between Madness and The Coral themselves, were worthy openers who played
with humility and unpredictability. When the main act arrived on stage to a
rapturous reception, talented front man James Skelly declared that he wasn’t
well, but would do his best (they had to cancel a few Irish gigs because he
lost his voice). Most of the crowd forgot about this three minutes later
after they had heard the impressive rat race decrying ‘Bill McCai’, which is
their second album’s equivalent to ‘Simon Diamond’ on their self titled
debut album, but the latter track was omitted from the set list tonight.
There has not been a song like tonight’s opener since ‘Smithers-Jones’ by
The Jam. Skelly clad in his now trademark Texas style hat, sang it perfectly
with passion and belief that saw a few members of the audience’s eyes start
to fill up.
It is hard to believe that The
Coral included tracks from their third album ‘Nightfreak & The Sons Of
Becker’ out on 26/01/04, as most of the bands who where discovered at the
same time are still plugging their debut albums (The Libertines and The
Music). ‘Precious Eyes’ shows that the Wirral boys are mellowing slightly,
as well as giving indicating that their sound is becoming smoother. James
Skelly, ever the perfectionist, had a dig at his band mates for tuning their
guitars and giving away what the next song was going to be. ‘Skeleton Key’,
‘Goodbye’ and ‘Don’t Think You’re The First’ were the most well received
tracks, from an hours long foray into the insightful and slightly wacky
world of The Coral. The set ended with the thumping and heavy instrumental
track ‘Migraine’ from their next album, which saw drummer Ian Skelly being
left on the stage to do a blasting bare chested solo that makes Dave Grohl’s
efforts in Nirvana seem like a brass band audition.
Dave Adair (Adairneil@aol.com)
The Human League
"From the town to the country from the country to the town, join us come and
join us, From the valley to the hillside from the hillside to the valley,
join us, come and join us."
Paul Oakey along with stunningly dressed Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley,
greeted the amicable crowd, as they meant to go on, and genuinely did want
them to join in, from the punchy "Old Town" onwards, making the afore
mentioned lyrics ring true.
The crowd really obliged as familiar sounds of "Love Action" rang through
the cosy theatre venue. The nostalgia fest continued with a hit soundtrack
to the eighties, "Mirror Man" and political offering "The Lebanon" before
the mood was quietened down a little for Susanne Sulley's solo, "One Man in
My Heart" to which the dancing ended, and arm swaying started, whilst the
crowd looked on admirably.
Back to the eighties with hit single and inevitable sing along tune,
"Human," and infectious offering, "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of."
More nostalgic sing-a-long material in the form of "Fascination" and upbeat
"Tell Me When," before the one everyone was waiting for, admittedly or not,
"Don't You Want Me"which undoubtedly started the Christmas festivities, it
won't be the last time you will hear it before the new year either.
With many of the hits covered, the crowd was left wondering whether an
encore would happen, and what it would be, suddenly realising "Electric
Dreams" was a sure bet for one song, and were left wondering about the other
if there was to be one. A costume change later and the band was back on
stage, as the crowd was proven right, with the opening chords to "Electric
Dreams" rang out, instantly bringing them to life once more. This was the
chance for new guitarist Nick Burke to shine, as he performed his own guitar
solo, to a great reception. Wondering what the last song might be, the crowd
was put out of their misery soon after, as the ending tune was the catchy
sing-a-long "The Sound Of The Crowd" which described the reception
perfectly. The Human League gave an energy and nostalgia packed show, full
of favourites and new tunes to the lesser trained ear, the Christmas party
feel really brought the place to life, and they are a band who has not lost
Herman Dune + The Broken
Family Band + Homescience + Deerpark
9.1.04 - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
It's a mild January evening at the
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, a venue that is equally home to Bingo and pub
quizzes as it is to a range of diverse contemporary music. A place where
they threaten to charge for tap water (because they pay water rates too you
know) and they have ornaments on a shelf in the ladies toilet to spruce it
up somewhat (men apparently can't be trusted with such luxuries). Tonight
though it is to be host to a range of Americana and Alt. Country....from
Sweden and England.
Anyway first on
stage were 'Deerpark'. I'd heard quite positive reviews for this band in the
past and the flyer for the night promised a lot. Reminiscent of Smog and
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy' to be precise. Now that's a biggee to live up to and,
quite frankly, they fall quite a way short. They play lilting string and
guitar driven Americana and musically I could hear the comparisons to bands
like 'Smog' and maybe 'Thee More Shallows' but there's still a way to go to
reach these heights. Musically they were pretty tight and when their tunes
did begin to build they end up with a rich layered sound. However they just
never seem to quite make it, there is just a little something missing. This,
coupled with what I found to be a quite weak vocal performance, meant that,
yes, I can see what they aspire to but it's always just out of reach.
Following this were
'Homescience', a band so truly awful that it felt like they were teasing me.
I've a good mind to tell their parents. I don't want to force my mind to
dwell on the ordeal to much so I'll be brief. This is shoe-gazing, indie
nonsense dressed up so as to try and fool us, but as Mr. Drew Millward once
said, 'anyone can put lippy on a pig'. At one point the drummer made a
repetitive noise with her mouth (but certainly not singing), that was
reminiscent of repeatedly having a small pointed stick forced in your ear.
One of the worst bands I have seen in a long time.
After the aural
attack we'd just received we deserved to be rewarded, and rewarded we were,
for it was the next act, 'The Broken Family Band', who truly stole tonight's
show. They proved to be one of the most enjoyable bands I've seen in a long
time. With a host of beautifully crafted tunes which manage to be both
uplifting and unsettling at the same time, the 'BFB' can blend from laid
back whimsey to foot-stomping excellence seamlessly.
Lyrically too they
can be both sweet and darkly comic in the same breath. They reminded me of
'Clem Snide' (especially vocally) and 'Menlo Park' with perhaps slight nods
towards 'Calexico'. Yes, that good! Praise doesn't come much higher in my
Finally we had
tonight's headliners, those American music loving Swedes, 'Herman Dune'.
Now, I'll be honest, I heard some of their work a couple of years ago and
frankly I wasn't blown away, so I wasn't expecting too much from tonight's
performance either. However I was pleasantly surprised. They began strong
and there were some great moments in their set, including a Ukulele and saw
duet (much better than it sounds, trust me). When they were good they were
very good displaying an ability to write truly salient songs. However for
all the great songs in the set there was a reasonable measure of pretty
average ones too. Now maybe I was missing something, but occasionally they
just seemed to lapse in to mediocrity, failing to keep me interested. They
began to meander a little, which was a real shame on the strength of their
other material. The crowd however were more than responsive so, hey, there
you go. I will say this though, any band with a guitarist who can sing
whilst smoking a cigarette gets a tip of the hat from me.