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  gig reviews -feb 2004

- Death Cab for Cutie
- Bearsuit + Almanacs + The Liberty Ship
- Jarcrew + People in Planes + Les Flames
- Ryan Adams + Jesses Malin
- The Twilight Singers + Obi
- Winnebago Deal + Amplifier
-
Carina Round + The Honeymoon Machine + Barfly
-
Engerica + Tract + Higher Sight + Wicked Whilst Sleeping
- I am Kloot + Kings Have Long Arms

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Photos Courtesy of Dave Lilley

Death Cab for Cutie
11.02.04 - Nottingham Rescue Rooms

Never had I seen the Rescue Rooms so busy. Expectations were high for the melodious, sentimental indie rockers of Death Cab for Cutie, yet it was surprising to find the venue so ridiculously jammed. I did not want to stay and see the supporting band - The Cribbs, because the place was so packed. The word was that they weren't very good anyway... However, because we weren't there to secure a place, when my comrades and I returned to the venue, DCFC had already started playing! Taken aback by 'Title Track', I tried to make my way towards the stage. They sounded perfectly tuned with the sadness, melancholy and hope chanted in the lyrics. A sympathetic and smiley Ben Gibbard seemed to be overwhelmed with the response from the audience, perhaps by the simple fact that the gig was sold out. Surprise, surprise. Still, there was something missing. With songs like 'For What Reason', '405' and 'Company Calls' it becomes quite clear to realise the position they've gained with the passing of time, because they are such catchy, confusingly cute songs. A Cure cover ('Love Song') followed, which was recognised as disappointing by the band members themselves. I thought it was not so bad, apart from the fact that they shortened the song! The problem with DCFC was that on stage, they did not come across as very special, but instead, just like an ordinary band. All characteristics that make them different and loved seemed to disappear and blend into a dull atmosphere. Despite literally bringing the house down (chunks of poisonous ceiling paint were falling onto bassist Nicholas Harmer's head) somehow their live performance did not do justice to their songs. The most impressive aspect of the night for me was how unexpectedly busy it was. I wonder if other fans felt as ambiguous about the night as I did.

Aline Lemos

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Bearsuit + Almanacs + The Liberty Ship
31.1.04 - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
It doesn't come much more indie than this. Comrade Blanchard, the rock god that he is, is constantly muttering under his breath about hair slides and duffel coats. And I don't think he means he's going shopping. This is a foreign country for half of the tasty team present this evening.
 

So, it's good job that he's been drinking for half the afternoon. We reach the Rescue Rooms, via train, pub and taxi, with Pete Popkiss in tow. And it's pissing down. Luckily we've invested in some new hair nets, so you don't have to worry about how we look. The Liberty Ship, for some reason, are on first. When you've just released an album as magnificent as 'Tide' you should be headlining above...pftt...well, even the Weather Girls. But as someone said to me a few days before this gig, Elston's getting on a bit now, and he probably had to home to watch Holby City.  

I hope he made it, because The Liberty Ship really are ace at the moment - much better than six months ago. Marc has a hangover (how unprofessional!), and looks a bit buggered, but this only adds to their charm, as they run through a selection from the album, as well as craftily sneaking in a couple of new songs - one of which, happily, sounds like early Wedding Present. Marc's grumpy northern persona is coming on leaps and bounds.  

And so onto Sheffield's Almanacs - a sort of 21st Century baroque La's, with a couple of the Supremes thrown in at the front of the stage to spice things up. I've just made them sound terrible, but - WAIT! - they're ace! Honest! Almanacs have that canny ability to hold a crowd without really trying to hard...or at least seeming to, and the front man fella-me-lad has a lovely singing voice. If I were Steve Jackson from the Grimsby Telegraph, I'd end this paragraph with...'ones to watch on the local scene!'  

But I'm not. I doubt he'd have managed to stay around for Bearsuit. For a start, if I saw him out he'd be the recipient of a quite nasty Chinese burn, and he'd be off…crying into the night. Back on planet earth and Bearsuit are doing their toytown indie pop thang, and very lovely it is too. Lisa Bear is clearly mental and dances and yelps like a mental bugger, as Bearsuit include only the minimum of crowd pleasers and decide to instead run through a few off their new album. Hurrah!  

By this time, the tasty contingent is a bit pissed to be honest. We get lost staggering upstairs to dance to some djs that we'd co-arranged. Then drink some more. Blanchard slips downstairs in search of music that you can't cry into your sleeve to, and we eventually arrive home via the only taxi driver in the solar system that doesn't know where Trent Bridge cricket ground is. A familiar end to a most pleasant evening.

Sam Metcalf


Jarcrew + People in Planes + Les Flames
28.1.04 - Josephs Well, Leeds

Cold?! You don’t know the meaning of the word! At some point throughout the day I had lost almost all the feeling in my extremities, I had no sense in my feet, and en rout to the gig I had the pleasure of my hand becoming attached to my petrol cap. Now I’m not one to complain... but this weather is enough to make a saint swear, and as an old teacher of mine once said, ‘I ‘aint no saint’. Who’d live up north, eh?

The weather factor is the only explanation I can think of for the poor turn out at tonight’s event, that and people are still catching on to the fact that Jarcrew are one of the best live acts I have see in many a year. And this was to be no exception.

Due to a slightly late arrival, and complications with the guest list (cheers Sam!) I missed the first band completely, they may have been good but alas I shall never know. I did however catch Les Flames. I have to stress that this is only personal opinion, but I am not a fan. There is nothing at fault with Les Flames; they play catchy as hell, aggressive punk rock, littered with obscenities. No problem there then! You say, but it just doesn’t work for me, and to my annoyance I have no idea why. Maybe one day it will all make sense.

I had no idea what to expect from the next band, in fact due to lack of advertisement I had no idea who the next band were at all. As it transpired it was People in Planes.

We are not amused.

Acid jazz, funk, stadium rock……… Oh, and an over powering likeness to Muse. I fucking hate Muse; in no uncertain terms they are cat shit. They make music for an audience of miserable 16 year olds and 30+ IT workers who usually listen to Machine Head.

People in Planes fare slightly better in my estimation, but only marginally. It all passed me by somewhat. The set seemed to be a trawl through various styles and genres all a little too insipid and dull.

Toward the end of the set the guitarist produced from his case a Gibson Flying V, this is the only point in my mind I can remember an entire band being upstaged by a single instrument. Who knows they may get better…………

Jarcrew however are better, in fact they are one of the best! Seriously. I have had the pleasure of seeing Jarcrew before, and I hope this will not be the last time. As I mentioned before the turn out was not what you could have hoped for, but when such a majority of the assembled crowd are dancing their little asses off, who cares? Jarcrew have a strange ability to make people dance, and that is only one of the many great things about this band. There are plenty of bands that have obviously been an influence on Jarcrew but it would be pointless to list them, all you need to know is that they are one of the best live bands you are likely to see…ever. Seriously! 

Drew Millward


Ryan Adams + Jesse Malin
18.1.04 - Rock City, Nottingham

How to fill a Sunday afternoon in Nottingham? With great fucking difficulty, all the more difficult due to the fact that neither I, nor my significant other had any money. But you’re not interested in my Sunday activities. All I must warn you is that Hard Rock Café is not an establishment to visit for a cheap lunch. But I did get to see Mick Jaggers pants… Its all swings and roundabouts I suppose.

I’m not wholeheartedly sure why I am writing this, apart from the fact that this was the singularly most rock and roll performance I have ever seen.

The cold and the fact that it was a dull wet Sunday had, in all honesty dampened my spirit and enthusiasm, but that was all to change.

Rock City, in my opinion is a great venue, and with a great view of the action on stage not usually afforded to those of us of a slightly shorter stature I was pretty excited.

Jesse Malin was bloody good. If you like a bit of Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen (which I do, and anyone who has a bad word to say about Springsteen should see me in the car park later) you could do a lot worse than giving him a listen. The previous comparisons are pretty obvious in the music but all the tunes are of a high quality and played with a pretty cool New York swagger. I’m sure having friends such as Ryan Adams is never going to hurt your career, but this boy is first class. For the more up beat tracks he is joined on stage by Mr. Adams’ backing band and Ryan himself on drumming duties. I for one was impressed. All this and still nice enough to sell his own merchandise and chat with people after. Top banana!

I can only liken the experience that followed to that of a car crash, not a wholly pleasant experience, but nonetheless compulsive viewing. I knew full well that the man liked a drink or two, or in this case a bottle of wine or six, but some people don’t know when to say when.

Launching into several tracks from ‘Rock and Roll’, which to be fair, is far from the best material he has produced, he comes across as an angry and confused man locked in booze hell. We were treated to many more tracks from across all the albums, a little too much of the latter to be fully satisfying, but all played with urgency and panache.

As the set drew on it was obvious that the old hooch was beginning to take its toll. Songs were abandoned midway, words forgotten and at one point the failure to play a keyboard (despite numerous attempts to nail Brown Sugar)…

The encore consisted of an anecdote about girls in McDonald’s.

The rest of the band had apparently taken ecstasy the previous night, while Ryan had enjoyed an evening of rest, but it was pretty clear that he had indulged by this point. An attempt at a Tears for Fears cover version, a manic laughing fit and the mounting of the PA system followed.

Genius, debauchery, rock and roll…

Drew Millward


The Twilight Singers + Obi
3.2.04 - Hop and Grape, Manchester

I have to say that no one told me that I would have to risk life limb for this bloody fanzine. I cannot recommend to anyone a trans-Pennine trek in winds of like I had never seen. You need to start worrying when your car won’t get above 45mph due to mammoth head winds. But thus is my professionalism and dedication to the cause.

I was really in no mood to be going to a gig on a winters Monday night to be honest. There are not many bands or artists that could drew me away from a cup of cocoa and a early night, on a 100 mile round trip to see them on a school night; but Greg Dulli is one who could.

Despite the shit journey to Manchester, I was in pretty high spirits, partially due to the excitement of seeing one of my all time favourite singers/song writers and in part because I was somewhat elated not to have been flattened by an 18-wheeler. But I digress.

We arrived just in time to see the opening of Obi’s set. I had never heard of them prior to the gig, although in the following week they seemed to be everywhere, including being single of the week in ‘The Guide’, and from what I saw of them we shall be hearing much more. If the meek do inherit the earth, Obi, I imagine will hold quite a share of it. Mild mannered doesn’t seem to do them justice. I don’t mean that in any negative way either, it is nice (that’s the word) to see a band that don’t strut around the stage like fighting cocks (the bird), and actually engage with the audience. The music is, as the bands demeanour would suggest. There are clear echoes of Nick Drake, and Syd Barrett I guess that comes from having such an Anglicised sound, which another refreshing aspect of Obi. I don’t want to suggest that there sound I too nice (read, wet), their songs veer from foot tapping pop to some heartfelt ballads and everything in between. I am pleased to say they sound great on record as well. Well done.

As I may have indicated earlier on I am, and have been for many years, big fan of Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs. I never got the chance to see the Afghan Whigs so this was the closest I was going to get.

The set mainly comprised of a pretty fair mix of tracks from the two Twilight Singers albums, which are on the whole a lot heavier when played live than on record, which is no bad thing. With the added rock of a live performance the new material sounds even more like ‘Black Love’ era Whigs, with the more upbeat numbers (last single ‘Teenage Waistband’) sounding like they could have come straight from the same sessions as ‘1965’. A large cheer is heard mid set when an interlude between songs (pauses between any tracks were few and far between, Shane would think it very professional) breaks into ‘Gentlemen’, this is only a taste of what is to come. All the new material is good, and had it been anyone else, or band without so many expectations pinned on them, it would have been great. But…

It is not often a band will perform two encores, I personally can only remember Metallica doing such a thing, but once again it happened here. The first made up generally of covers, and a fair amount of horseplay, culminating in an impressive rendition of the outro to ‘Layla’. But I fear the second encore may have been why such a crowd had gathered. From then on we were treated to a succession of Afghan Whigs tunes and a ‘balls out’ rocking cover of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outcast, all played note perfect, almost as a thank you to the crowd for not leaving during the new material. I for one was thankful for this.

As good as the show was I couldn’t help but wish I had just seen the Afghan Whigs. As with Bob Mold, Frank Black and now Greg Dulli, maybe a change isn’t as good as a holiday.

Drew Millward


Winnebago Deal + Amplifier
11.2.04 - Cockpit, Leeds

I had no idea real about either of these bands, and hence no inclination to venture out on a Wednesday night to what, in my opinion is one of the worst venues in the country. If you haven’t experienced the Cockpit, I can only liken it to the inside of a oil barrel, split length ways, and heated until all inside are on the verge of collapse. Sound good? No. I know. But when the call comes to report from the provinces on exciting new exponents of the rock sound, well you just got to go. And for the first fifteen minutes I am bloody glad I did.

As always my arrival was timed impeccably, metered by picking the little lady up from work, we arrived just in time to see Amplifier take the stage. And in the words of a little known Cliff Richard song ‘Why does the devil get all the good music?’ Amplifier create quite a din (quite a din? Am I 63?), I imagine it is similar to the sound of Satan himself in a bar room brawl with Zeus, with Thor as the bent ref. Hang on. That’s just rubbish. It’s more like the sound of Queens of the Stone Age, before they went all rubbish (just listen to the debut album), and a healthy dose of Tool, and Cave In. The simpler moments within the music seem to work the best here; the pounding drums and slabs of guitar and bass work a treat. I do however think the more noodley moments fall a little flat. But in fairness I think that has more to do with the awful sound in the venue than anything the band were doing. I was impressed all in all, it has been too long since I heard a good very heavy/melodic band, there just isn’t that many around, so we should treasure the ones we have. Three cheers for Amplifier!

As I mentioned before, the sound was up to its usual standards, which meant:

Two members + guitar + drums = soundswampmudnoisemesspigmuckcatshit

And in all fairness it had nowt to do with the band, who, by the way, rock!

Winnebago Deal don’t bring anything new to the table but they do bring some quality rock. I suppose it used to be called ‘stoner rock’ although no doubt I would be shot in some quarters for suggesting such a thing. They reminded me of bands like Fu Manchu, Nebula, Orange Goblin only with slightly more of a rock n’ roll feel a la Rocket From The Crypt (or a list of a million and one other bands), which all sounds like a barrel of monkeys to me.

Great bands, shame about the sound.

Drew Millward


 



 

Carina Round + The Honeymoon Machine + Barfly
15.1.04 - Life Cafe, Manchester
Wolverhampton songstress Carina Round graced Manchester tonight for part of her current UK tour to promote new self-funded album "The Disconnected." The gathered audience was thanked for digging to find this artists work, and for nicely filling the venue.

Barfly was an apt name for the opening band tonight as 505 of the growing crowd lingered with an arm on the bar like Les Battersby or stayed close to it, as the sprightly Suede meets  Supergrass style indie rockers swept through a pleasing set. The geology influenced track 'Searching For The Sun' managed to woo the audience into a bit of toe tapping. However, pleas from the front man that the area around the stage was " not toxic" went unheeded.

My psychic skills told me that the majority of the 150 or so crowd were thinking "are Toni & Guy having a January sale?" As The Cooper Temple Clause lookalikes The Honeymoon Machine strolled on to the stage and produced  keyboard influenced indie that is a mixture between the aformentioned band and The Libertines. However, the audience judged them on their music rather than their looks and gave The Barfly a far better reception.


A modest Carina ventured out onto the stage coyly stating "There's so many of you," which gained an appreciative smile from the crowd gathered in the intimate venue. Dressed in a conservative but classy black suit, she appeared as modest as her opening songs "Shoot" and "Motel 74" which both struck the mood with the audience.
New single "Lacuna" struck a welcome response, with most of the relaxed audience (appearing to expect a sitting down gig) joining in enigmatically.

Carina flitted from acoustic to electric guitar and back again as though indecisive like a child in a sweet shop, and equally familiar "Into My Blood" showed just what she can do on vocals. Her unpredictable style is one part soft mellow vocals, lulling you into a sense of security, and another part ear piercing screams and tuneful expressions of anger, as though swapping the singer on stage. Her musicians (double bassist, guitarist, and drummer) all just carry on as though this is a normal occurrence and are not deterred.

"Elegy" and "Let It Fall" were charismatic performances, indicating the night was coming to a close, with Carina swishing off stage confidently as though she herself owned it, to positive applause and cheers from the crowd, who continued the appreciation, whilst wishing for more.
Five minutes had not passed before we got our wish, as the band headed back for one more song. "Monument" proved to be an epic performance, with plenty of the screams, riffs and not a part of the stage left untouched by the singer, whose unpredictable dancing did not leave a part of the stage untouched, with Carina only returning to the microphone when it was her turn to sing, between the instrumental parts, which gave the musicians a chance to shine. A mesmerising night and a singer you should certainly be hearing more of in the future.


Katherine Tomlinson and David Adair


  Engerica + Tract + Higher Sight + Wicked Whilst Sleeping
3.2.04 - Joseph's Well, Leeds

I'll be honest, I had no intention of venturing down to Joseph's Well on a wet Tuesday in February but I'm a professional and so when the call came through I agreed. I am a selfless human being lest we forget. So we started the evening with ' Wicked Whilst Sleeping', the first of four shoddily named bands (seriously people , were all the good names gone), and a fresh faced lot they are too. They started off on a promising note, with a short instrumental number, and I thought my dismal walk in the rain may have been worth it, and then, well, disappeared into mediocrity. They dole out generic hardcore and are largely uninspiring. My only advice goes to the lead singer. Stop touching your bottom whilst you're on stage young man. It's off putting and makes girls wonder if your fingers smell.

I was then driven back to the solace of the bar by ' Higher Sight', a band comparable to ordering an ice-cream with the works but only receiving a cone. Boring and ultimately quite an upsetting experience that leaves you feeling empty, sigh.

And then 'Tract'. No worse than the previous two offerings but not much better either. At their worst they remind me of the worst bits of 'Incubus' and...oh balls to it, I can't be arsed. No really.

I left it to the headliners, 'Engerica', to save me from the monotony of an evening that would have been much better spent at home eating crisps. And to be honest they just about did as well. 'Engerica' indulge in a blend of hardcore rock and roll and on occasions they unfortunately fall into the trap of sounding like a variety of other slightly angry rock and roll bands currently pedalling their shitty wears. However, for all their faults, there's one thing that saves them. They know about 'The Rock'. No not the wrestler who's always asking people to smell his cooking ( there's no room in the kitchen for smugness Mr The Rock), but the music of the same name. Whenever my attention began to wane, they managed to pull a little something out the bag to keep me interested. These boys will never change the face of music and they aren't pushing any musical boundaries, but, as The Rock said to Wyclef Jean, 'It doesn't matter'. They did however stop me from slipping into a tedium induced coma so for that I give thanks. I then went home and ate crisps.

Luke Drozd


  I am Kloot + Kings Have Long Arms
31.1.03 - Night & Day, Manchester
Dressed as though attending a festival, Kings Have Long Arms frontman, Adrian Flanarga graced the stage with an overconfident persona, that often appears evident in many Manchester bands been and gone, before politely shaking the hands with the entire front row in business meeting style.
Actually hailing from Salford, the tight-knit crowd gathered were greeted to the sounds of "Good Evening Salford" and were continuously asked what side of the Irwell they were from?
Backed by the theatrical version of Slipknot, on keyboards and drum machine, Flanarga was ready to go. The trio's electro beats pounded through the intimate venue like an army going to war, and the sheer intensity and decibels got the most ardent rock fans tapping their feet. An interesting choice of support for a rock band, such as I am Kloot, perhaps prompting them to wind up the gathered guitar loving crowd with their memorable "Rock and Roll is Dead," Where's the guitars indeed?


Well, not far off, as it was not long before I am Kloot ventured on stage to a well receptive audience, which was in no doubt ready to welcome something of a little more familiar genre. Seemingly a favourite venue, the intimate Night and Day Café once again welcomed John Bramwell to his earlier place of employment, however this time on the other side, performing to the crowds he previously organised for. Meanwhile, the sullen bassist preferred to take a seat before getting ready to wow the gathered crowd in the intimate venue. Announcing to the receptive crowd and overlooking constant shouts, of "who are ya?" reacting with the sardonic, but effective answer "I am Kloot," that we were already better than last nights crowd, before getting down to business with current single "From Your Favourite Sky" which consumed the crowd with its crisp sound, and ensured that they were awe inspired. This cut like a knife atmosphere was maintained throughout a mixture of acoustic and electric numbers, including "Not a Reasonable Man" the metaphoric "Cuckoo" and crowd favourite "Three Feet Tall" meaning plentiful instrument swapping, only breaking halfway through to introduce songs coyly, and to tell us the awaited teaser in the form of an entertaining Ian Duncan Smith claim to fame story, not that these guys need it.


Katherine Tomlinson