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  gig reviews - oct 04

Geoffrey Love + Fixit Kid + Bearsuit
The Social, Nottingham

Thingy starts off his set with a pointless story about kicking a dog. It lacked relevancy, imagination, narrative and basic structure and took so long to deliver in his affected world weary drawl, the sun had imploded by the time he came to sing. When he did finally come to intone words into a microphone he sounded exactly like you’d imagine a man who had just delivered an ill conceived account of kicking a dog would sound. A bit like one of the millions of Smogesque troubadours doing the rounds as support acts. I can’t remember if he had a beard but I bet he did. 

Fixit Kid were so fucking appalling I had to escape downstairs after 30 seconds. Downstairs were playing fashionable reggae but it came as blessed relief after the aural defecation pouring into my bruised ears upstairs. Imagine a tone deaf Mogwai without the quiet bits. Or the interesting bits. Very Loud. Well that’s what I gathered from 30 seconds anyway.  The lead singer was also very rude. The condescending twat. Why they were supporting Bearsuit I don’t know. Well they were probably cheap anyway. It’s a good thing no one reads Tasty fanzine or else I think he might batter me. 

Bearsuit were ace. They seem to have a more selective audience since they last played here, which is a shame. Any way you know what your getting with Bearsuit: Casio beats, flutes, twee screaming, enthusiasm, pig tails and general indie pop cuteness. With bears. All their songs sound rather similar, but what a song. I was quite drunk by this point so can’t really remember much else. Except Lisa Bearsuit was wearing the same skirt as when she last played Nottingham. The shame. Still fancy her though. 

Jamie Collings


MJ Hibbett + Adam from The Hectic Collectors + Frankie Machine
22.9.04 Sheffield, some disused factory somewhere

Whether you like a record doesn't just depend on the three minutes or three quarters of an hour when you sit and listen to it. You can't separate the act of listening from the context: from what you know about the artist, from whether you've had a bad week at work. And when no bugger else knows about some bedroom pop gem from Malmo that you've just discovered online, it feels somehow more precious and nice. This is often wrongly dismissed as indie snobbery. It is actually just the pleasure of holding a secret. 

This is why tonight is very special indeed. Five of us are loping gingerly around a belt of disused factories in search of tonight's venue-switched Hibbett gig: handsome, dusty buildings tower above us, housing ghosts of steel and unsafe stairs. Drawn by the sound of drums, we shuffle like the Scooby gang up four deathtrap flights, find out we're in the wrong place, get some directions, and shuffle back onto the street to follow them. 

Here we are then: two small rooms skulking in the very heart of a huge, dark, crumbling, old labyrinth of a place: no bar, everyone drinking cans, smoking weed, passing stuff round, sitting on mucky floors and battered sofas in between pots of paint and stepladders, drifting off to explore mazy, murky rooms and miles of blackened corridor. The tenuous legality of the event appears to hang upon its status as a 'private party' rather than a gig. I resolve to stage a few private parties in my back yard. 

Frankie Machine's plaintive acoustic tone avoids Kings of Convenience dreariness with some taut arrangements, laconic melodies and sudden, potent lyrics. It's beautiful because it could shatter into tears at any moment. Adam struggles gamely with poor sound, which MJH gives up on altogether to play genuinely unplugged. No licence means no licensing laws means time for two encores: Hibbett's brilliant reading of 'Boom Shake the Room' has never been so apposite, and the crowd go wild, giddy from the rich vibe of DIY stealth that prevails and makes tonight the best damn gig I have ever been to in my whole useless life. 

Pete Popkiss

I Like Trains + Nikoli + Vib Gyor
2.10.04 - Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 

‘Liverpool Will Forget You’; the words flickered up on a small projection screen at the back of the stage, merging through a faint super 8 film, re-enforcing an already catchy chorus. I Like Trains crowd on to the small stage, presenting a look somewhere between The Libertines and Franz Ferdinand that seems a bit at odds with being squashed in to The Royal Park Cellars. The lyrics continue to be re-iterated by the fifth band member, who stands with his back to the audience, alternating between slide and film projectors and trumpet. It’s a bit distracting to their sound, which is further complicated by a vast array of bizarre twists, such as the melodica and violin bow on electric guitar.

 

I Like Trains seem to understand each other as a band, but they are still new to the gig circuit and as such they are building their confidence. An array of technical problems left them a bit shaky and rubbed the edges off their grooming, I liked it. It broke down the superficialities and gave an insight in to where this band could go with a bit less image anxiety and more conviction in the music.

 

Nikoli, a band with a consistent reputation and a dedication to their music, launch in to their set with strong drums and keyboard. As they move through ‘Always’ and ‘Resigned’ the vocals are reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins, pushing confident songs in which all members seem to take ownership. Four way vocal harmonies set off the melodies and bring depth to the acoustic rendition of ‘Lock Down’.

 

In ‘She asks me’ the song breaks down and gives a moment of clarity within the music that is perhaps lacking through the set as a whole. It is hard to hear the layers of the individual instruments, and leaves an impression of their not being enough definition. A highly competent four piece, they could allow the individual instruments to take their own directions, lowering the overall density of sound and making for a more coherent whole.

 

Vib Gyor are a band that fit in well with the current climate of melody led song writing. Sitting alongside the likes of Razorlight and Interpol, the passion of the band is certainly of equal measure to these Indie stalwarts but whether the tunes themselves would hook you within a wider arena is hard to say.

 

‘Church Bell’ leads in with poise through the drums and a lucid build up. There is a clear direction that has been adopted by each instrument and this gives a strong overall impression. The harmonic riff of ‘Faun’ holds throughout the song and makes you believe in them as band and convinces me that they believe in themselves enough to tweak these catchy and well rounded songs in to something pretty special.

 

Lucy Gibson

www.itchyfingers.org


PJ Harvey
7.9.04- Leeds University

It doesn't seem five minutes since I was stood in the middle of a field with 50,000 Tennants-swilling Scots watching Peej at T in the Park. As the sound drifted across the festival arena all the old favourites were recognisable and Polly was certainly commanding the audience from the huge stage but I couldn't really get into it. Perhaps it was because I knew I was missing Goldfrapp on the other stage but more likely because it just wasn't a great gig. So I was really looking forward to the gig at Leeds Uni so she could set the record straight.

It's a funny place Leeds Uni. By day refectory serving an assortment of seemingly inedible meals to the few students who actually still eat in refectories. As a venue it has the most ridiculous bar queue system and only offers a few luke warm cans when you get to the end of it. There is a huge balcony half way across the room so it is impossible to see anything from further than half way back and the toilets might as well be in a Bradford they seem so far away. Add to that an ambient temperature even on a moderate September night of about 35 degrees and you don't get an environment conducive to enjoying good live music.

So why is it that every gig I see there seems to be fantastic? Therapy? Ian Brown and now PJ Harvey. Even though it seemed in places as though Polly was just going through the motions on stage I don't think I ever really understood what an amazing voice she possesses. All the angst ridden early albums like 'Dry' and 'Rid of Me' were punctuated by the banshee like vocals and the Mercury Prize winning 'Tales from the City...' showed what an amazing songwriting talent Peej possesses. But all of these albums are mixed and produced to give a reasonably even sound, even those done by Steve Albini. In comparison, what we get tonight is the full power of her vocals almost single handedly carrying the at times chaotic and confused guitars. It didn't help having a couple of session guitarists in the band who clearly thought they were as important as PJ (I think not!) and the clear highlights for me were the tracks she performed solo such as 'Rid of Me'.

But the odd dodgy moment was far forgotten after two encores which included a lot of material from her earlier records which still sounds as fresh as ever. Maybe it was especially poignant for me because my first girlfriend introduced me to the music of PJ Harvey and it still makes me think of her every time I hear PJ Harvey records now. But I didn't look like the only person who emerged afterwards looking like they had just experienced something very special by an incredibly gifted and charismatic performer.

Shane Blanchard