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  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 Sixties
-  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 imagined.

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 me.

Don’t remember too much of British Sea Power, make of that what you will. But bare in mind I wasn’t drinking…………

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.

Drew Millward


Nina Nastasia + Great Bear + David Thomas Broughton
2.11.03 -
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.

Drew Millward


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 me ………

Sorry I have no idea what I’m writing about.

James 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!

Minus, or as it is pronounced min-oose, were on next.

The 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!

I am 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.”
 

Drew Millward

Belle and Sebastian
2.12.03 Sheffield, 5.12.03 London
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...

Aline Lemos


The Coral
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 their touch.

Katherine Tomlinson


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 book.

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.

Luke Drozd