gig reviews -march 05
4.3.05 - The Cockpit, Leeds
It had been a couple of years since Black Wire had last dazzled me at Leeds
Met Uni while supporting Ladytron, a somewhat unlikely collaboration. Like
last time, the venue is full of fashionista (as we undeniably untrendy types
like to call them) - you know, skinny tie, scarf wearing types and the like.
Initial concerns that I had
inadvertently ended up at a Kaiser Chiefs gig are crushed when the three-man
Black Wire enter the stage. Well, yeah, they do wear skinny ties but this
music has got much more of a punk edge to it than the current crop of edgy
guitar indie that is found around every corner. Black Wire's sound is
fuelled by a relentless drum machine (apart from a few pregnant pauses
between songs which see the band members cast anxious glances towards the
sound desk) and their on stage persona is a fury of hair, whirring arms and
More self assured in a
headline slot than in support, Black Wire seem to have come of age and
effortlessly play the crowd to the point where there is a completely
unchoreographed stage invasion which sees a few burly security men wade
anxiously towards stage before realising it's all in good humour and that
they might have trouble shifting 50 people off the stage. I feel a bit
cheated later when I see the video has exactly the same set-up, complete
with stage invasion, but it sure did look rock 'n' roll.
Nottingham Rescue Rooms
With support from his own four piece band, The Gnomes, and a top hat with
which to entertain himself, Adam Green puts on quite a show. The Rescue
Rooms is filled with eager young hipsters with Adam the hippest of them all.
He commands the stage with grace and humour. Formerly one half of the Mouldy
Peaches, he is now three albums into a remarkable solo career. This
eccentric young fella performs charming ditties, combining painstakingly
constructed tunes with quirky, off the wall lyrics. Green certainly has a
way with words, even at their most offensive his witty lyrics retain a
certain sweetness and simplicity making his music accessible and enjoyable
in spite of, or maybe even because of, the absurdity. The challenging "No
Legs" may shock, but like his comical take on current affairs "Jessica
Simpson", it leaves us giggling. With a good mix of old and new, this
modern-day doyen of anti-folk enthrals his audience with lyrical genius and
meticulously crafted tunes and he certainly seems to enjoy his own show with
those special dance moves, air piano and that hat adding to the fun!
Half Biscuit + MJ Hibbert &The Validators
Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Tasty Towers favourite and all round nice guy Martinez Jigsaw Hibbert, kicks
off proceedings to a fairly small and unappreciative crowd. The AWOL daft
bastards don’t know what they’re missing as we’re bombarded with pop gems
about shoddy old skool computers and cockle warming ditties about what
happened to your old classmates. They’re tighter than a lemon juice smeared
lady virgin live, with some splendidly warm violining combined with some
equally excellent glasses being pushed up nose action. The quintessential
speccy indie lead singer manoeuvre. I suggest you go and track them
immediately, even if is just to pop round their houses try on their
underwear and eat their rich tea biscuits.
a million crinkled balding heads spring forth, as if from nowhere. Probably
been round Homebase returning those crystal chandeliers the wife decided she
didn’t like after all. Unfortunately after two songs my horribly overworked
bladder packed in and I had to trudge through 400 pogoing beer guts.
Trudging back, this time through 400 pogoing beer arses I notice that every
second person appears to be from Liverpool, clearly national Express made a
killing tonight. Some more tunes are played and my hard fought position at
the front begins to feel more like my hard fought position at the Battle of
the Somme. ‘Light at the end of a tunnel’ comes on and I fear my rapidly
refilling bladder is going to be exploded by the numerous flying belly flops
of the collective biscuit army. Me and Tasty Sam trudge defeatedly back to
the bar slinging vulgar regional stereotypes around. We later rejoin the
very back of the crowd to see the top of Neil’s head perform a few more
numbers ’24 hour garage people’ and ‘Fred Titmus’ leap pleasantly to mind.
Drunk and annoyed at having gone from being crushed against the front stage
to being crushed against the back door we make an exit, go back to the bar
and Sam tells me all about the time he got a tin of Tesco value baked beans
stuck up his anus. In a few days we will be called ‘poofs’ on the official
HMHB website. A glorious ending to a gigging debacle.
Collings aged 23 3/4
Hood + Semi-Squared + The Unpleasants
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Hood’s new album has been lauded with much favourable press over resent
weeks and on the back of this gig promised a lot form one of Domino Records
disappointment at the dropping out of printed Circuit was soon swept away as
The Unpleasants, a member of Hoods, gave us a quick insight into his solo
musical outings that are akin to Danny Elfmans friendlier electronic cousin.
Looped and sampled keys built to form sweet unnerving melodies that while
not always quite getting there were still an unexpected treat.
semi-squared and his magical Playstation graced us with his usual array of
bleeps, clicks and grooves. I’m never sure how to describe his music but for
now I’ll just say it’s electronically wonderful.
Finally Hood graced, well not the stage but
the floor just in front, drum kit all dolled up in fairy lights and a
twinkle in their eyes. Hood’s blend of folk, rock and electronica manages to
sound warm and haunting and also very British all at the same time. Vocal
harmonies, samples and a tight percussive element make Hood an enjoyable
live experience. This said nothing ever actually struck as anything more
than just pretty good. They seem to teeter on the brink of great but never
quite make it. A minor quibble though for what was an engaging and uplifting
evening of performances.
Kelly Joe Phelps + Rob Kurreri
28.2.05 - City Varieties Theatre, Leeds
This is the second time Phelps has graced the wonder of the musical hall
interior that is the City Varieties but this time the blues guitarist has
done away with his usual backing band and set out alone. But before we could
see if this shift was for better or worse we had support provided by Rob
Kurreri is somewhat of a prodigy of Phelps who as well as taking him on tour
produced and performed on his most recent album. Rob Kurreri is at first
deceptive the slight bearded man with the friendly demeanour who graces the
stage is no indication to the wonderful soul filled voice that he
possesses. It is fair to say that Rob Kurreri is cut from a similar cloth
as Phelps. He plays heavily Blues inflected folk with style and passion.
His songs are lovingly constructed and full of whimsy. I can honestly say
it’s been a long time since a support act has won my heart so easily.
short intermission we have what we’ve all been waiting for, Kelly Joe Phelps
himself. Phelps always reminds of a bear the way he self-consciously wanders
onto the stage, verging on a lumber really. As he sits down to thank us fro
coming you are drawn to his deep affectionate voice one that proves at time
to indecipherable from the back of the hall is somehow a welcome calming
always compelling about Phelps live as apposed to Phelps on CD is that they
are genuinely to deferent things. On stage he allows himself to rearrange
and play with songs in that time honoured blues way. Tonight we hear
re-imaginings of excellent Phelps originals like Jericho and Fleashine which
at times are almost unrecognisably different form their studio siblings but
no less compelling. We also get to her Phelps paying tribute to one of his
musical heroes Skip James through his superb rendition of Killing floor
for as much as his songwriting is compelling I can never help myself
drifting into a near trance just watching him play guitar. He remains the
best live guitar I think I have seen and the only thing I feel disappointed
by is his choice to move away from doing any of the slide numbers from which
he made his name.
Phelps continues to be one of the worlds leading blues and folk figures,
producing some of the finest records in the genre, but to really hear him at
his finest, he really must be seen live.