gig reviews -dec 05/jan 06
The ICA – 11/01/06
It shames me to say that this
evening is my initiation into the weird and wonderful world of the ICA. But
before you go ahead and call me a typical apathetic Londoner, it’s not the
easiest place to find…I was meant to go and see “Godzilla” there last year
but got lost! Less apathetic…more just pathetic.
This is the 2nd night in a sold-out
run of five, meaning that if you do the simple math it’s obvious that Mogwai
could have packed out a venue five times as big. It’s obviously a ruse to
foist as many of their favourite support acts upon us as possible but
seriously, I can’t believe how tiny the performance area is. There will be
no escape for our ear-drums in such a confined space…thank God I bought my
I amble down the gangway just in
time for the start of the strangely named Uncle John and Whitelock’s set,
and while their unique brand of art-rock and blues initially sounds just as
bizarre, it sure is a grower. They’re interesting to look at, too. The
bassist holds his instrument as if it were a double bass, the drummer pounds
out one intoxicating rhythm after another, and the keyboardist is either
incredibly drunk or incredibly ill…I can’t tell exactly which but he looks
as though he’s about to fall off his stool! And if singer Jacob Lovatt’s
name sounds like that of a gospel preacher, his Ian
Curtis-meets-monk-of-doom vocal style does nothing to dispel that image. The
microphone stand is repeatedly dashed to the ground by his unabashed
flailing and the set climaxes with him spinning off the stage into the
It seems sensible, given the ‘Gwai’s
reputation for extreme volume, to retreat to the back of the room at this
point and it is here that I get chatting to a guy called Andy and (briefly)
his mate Bob. Andy isn’t all that familiar with the band’s oeuvre but he
likes what he’s heard and during the show proffers some interesting thoughts
about what their influences might be. Plus he buys me a pint…what a gent!
As it turns out, the headphones
aren’t required. Mogwai are both quieter and chattier than on the two
previous occasions I’ve seen them live. Front-man and occasional singer
Stuart Braithwaite responds good naturedly to friendly cat-calls from the
crowd, and when a guitar lead/socket interface produces some unexpected
between-song noise, jokes that we’ve just been given a taste of a typical
I soon discover that I am as
familiar with the band’s overall body of work as I thought. It’s been years
since I heard Come On Die Young and Rock Action pretty much passed me by,
although I do recognise “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong” from the latter. “Tracy”,
“Hunted by a Freak” and “Kids Will Be Skeletons”, all favourites of mine,
are indistinguishable from their vinyl counterparts and what new material
they do play doesn’t stand out from the back catalogue, which may not be a
bad thing depending on your point of view but which doesn’t exactly support
Alan McGee’s recent claims about the greatness of the forthcoming Mr Beast.
Overall the set is too subdued to
capture one’s attention throughout and we have to wait for a pre-encore
rendition of “...Fear Satan” before the feedback starts to resonate. Much as
I value my hearing, I feel disappointed not to be pinned to the back wall by
the end of the evening. It seems that in the quest to refine their sound,
Mogwai have lost some of their fire in the process and that’s a real shame.
For those of you who’ve had your heads crammed up your
arses and have therefore no idea what ATP is I will fill you in. It is a
festival curated by musicians taking place in a Pontin’s in Rye on the south
coast of England. Hosts have included Shellac, Autechre and Sonic Youth and
it is quite frankly the greatest festival on the face of the earth. This
time the honour fell upon the shoulders of those prog fools The Mars Volta.
So with a car boot full of booze and a heart full of joy to Camber I did go.
Now with three days and more
bands than you can shake a big stick at ATP is a daunting and exhausting
affair and even if there is a lull in the programme you can head back to
your chalet (yep chalet, none of that tent nonsense, this is for adults you
know) and watch the specially chosen viewing on the ATP channel on the TV
sets provided. Ace!
Now please bear with me
through this overview of the weekend as time has used its shitty digits to
meld this into one huge musical lump and I lost my guide during the weekend
so some details may be incorrect. You don’t like it you fucking go yourself
So day one, a belly full of Stella and Jim
Beam in my bag I was ready for whatever Mars Volta had to throw at me. First
up Battles, Warps newest signings, take to the stage and are quite frankly
stunning. Representing some Warp’s slightly changing musical view, this
guitar based lot with a hint of electronic tricks prove a hit with nearly
everyone I spoke to. Probably why they got a reprise at 1am for all those
who didn’t get there in time first time round. Another corker for day one
came from Jaga Jazzist’s, a 10 piece Norwegian neo-classical tour de force.
also prove to be the first of the weekend’s hip-hop acts a real delight as
well. From here the night spirals off into a booze soaked mist.
Day two and a hangover like no other isn’t
gona stop me as today holds some of the festivals greatest moments. Beans &
Holy Fuck supply some guitar and electronica fuelled hip-hop, The Fucking
Champs rock like no else before or after them and Mastodon and High on Fire
have to be seen to be believed. However band of the day award goes to the
princely Les Savy Fav. I’ve wanted to see these chaps for a while and I
wasn’t disappointed. It takes a lot nowadays to get me to the front of a gig
dancing my arse off but I did it for these guys. Hot and sweaty I left the
venue and again the booze took over allowing fleeting recollections of the
Stones Throw club night and the excellent Madlib, a party in the chalet with
some very strange French blokes and a near fist fight and then
reconciliation with my younger brother…oh and Mars Volta played a couple of
prog rock tunes apparently. God bless you alcohol.
Day three pays witness to a broken man. The
only way through is beer. As a day it feels more like me watching myself at
a festival than actually being there but I slaved on. I’m good like that.
Kicking off downstairs were a festival highlight, Gris Gris, who play fuzzed
up folky rock that is beautiful discordant and freaky. Check them out and I
promise you will be fall for their charms. Hella proceeded to rock me to my
core (or was that yesterday?) and Anthony and the Johnson’s calmed it all
down again. It was just down to Acid Mothers Temple to confuse the fuck out
of my bewildered body and the festival to break down Lord of the Flies
Now then people this is a summary of the
weekend and there were many great bands playing not mentioned here, some I
saw, some I missed some I apparently saw, but that’s life at a festival with
a weak mind and body for you. One things for sure though, ATP is always a
fucking good time and I for one am counting my pennies in preparation for
buying my tickets for next years events. God bless you ATP, the only
festival in my book…not that anyone’s ever read it and those that did gave
it a poor review.
Against all my better judgement and a hangover from
hell I made my way to the Faversham pretty much straight after having
stepped out the car having returned from ATP. Hey Gris Gris were so good on
the Sunday in Camber it seemed silly to pass up seeing them again on my home
First however there were the
support bands and to be honest the first two won’t even get a mention due to
utter mediocrity. Ok so maybe my mental state was less than forgiving but
However all was to change with
Quack Quack taking to the stage, well in front of the stage at least. They
plough through what turns out to be a far too short set of pop infused kraut
goodness that had the kids (well me) gagging for more. It is no exaggeration
to say these guys could be the best band in the UK.
Finally for the second day in
a row I had the pleasure of enjoying Gris Gris. Far louder and somehow more
unhinged than their ATP appearance Gris Gris fuzz and rock with more soul
than most other bands out there, a sort of psych folk punk maybe. I have to
say I think the smaller venue was far more suited to their sound allowing
you to be almost enveloped in the buzzing wonder. Just a shame a few more
people didn’t come to share the joy.
On arrival at the
Faversham it was immediately noticeable how empty the place was and how
lacking in atmosphere it was. There was certainly no shortage of equipment
but another ten people would have without doubt plumped up the atmosphere
nicely, it just seemed as if the air was lacking something... but the bands
dealt with what they were given and support band 'Quack Quack' set up all
their gear in front of the stage on the dance floor so that they were level
with the audience which I thought was a nice touch and so their performance
became an intimate experience between us and them.
As soon as Quack
Quack begin there is an explosion of sounds and each musician, of which
there are three (bass, Keys, Percussion), is absorbed in his instrument. I
was particularly paying attention to the drummer whose whole body became
completely consumed with complex rhythms and beats of a variety of tempos
and styles, so complex even that I often found it difficult to tap my toes
along to it but I found their whole set very interesting, original and
uplifting. Quack Quack could be likened to Mogwai or any other instrumental
'chill out' (inverted commas because some tracks were much more up-beat) but
there is something a little more stimulating about this experimental trio,
and maybe that's just it, that they do experiment and are hungry for new
This then brings me
to Gris Gris who returned their set up to the stage which proved to be a
tight squeeze considering the amount of equipment they were using and how
much they liked to wonder around. I waited for their set to begin with much
anticipating of what they were going to sound like after reading comments
such as "...The set was an anvil of perfection, on which the band pounded
out glowing hot weaponry that cut the audience down to pieces of raw awe."
(Chad Cheatham) previous to the gig.
If music is
described as organized sound then this was definitely not music. The concept
was interesting and exiting, a concept which was very much embraced by
psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead; a form that has no form, a
structure that has no structure. But even in a structure that has no
structure, a single thread needs to be weaved throughout whatever elements
of the music to keep the listener listening. What I heard was each member of
the band performing his own act simultaneously which just resulted in
discordant noise. It was a bit like watching four different musical
performances of varying styles, all at the same time. Gris Gris had energy
and substance but musically I think they need to fuse a little more of each
I have never reviewed anything in my life, although
once I wrote a sarcastic email to a newspaper at three in the morning.
Consequently, when my good friends at Tasty Fanzine called me on the red
telephone and asked me to accept two tickets to see Doves in return for
writing about it the next day, I jumped at the chance, and so it came to
pass that one chilly evening in December I quit my mansion-garret in deepest
Fauxhemia and headed out to the Carling Apollo, Hammersmith.
Now I really like a bit of
Doves, so I was anxious to make sure my review didn't simply consist of an
account of me standing up and dancing around like an idiot child. No. You,
the reader, deserve your full money's worth (given that Tasty Fanzine is
free, I think I have delivered exactly that). For this reason I donned the
mantle of impenetrable cynicism affected by all writers for NME. Add to
this a notepad and a charming guest to impress with my journalistic
credentials, and I was ready to do battle.
The line-up was started by
Stubbzy, playing one-man acoustic rock songs. The Carling Apollo is huge;
at this point it was still largely empty, and most of those there were
chattering excitedly about Doves and beer and things of that nature, so to
appear with nothing but a few barre chords for protection must have taken
balls of granite. Unfortunately he only had prefabricated concrete and
glass music to go with them, but his courage will not be forgotten.
Next up were
A tightly bound, highly maneuverable five-piece, their sound was variously
reminiscent of Blur and even A-Ha, but most of all of an I Should Coco-era
Supergrass, albeit the jittery speed-pop of Caught By The Fuzz rather than
the mockney rebelry of Alright. Their combination of raw energy with
endearingly fresh larkiness supported an impressively varied repertoire and
gave them an original, but not outlandish, sound. The last song, my
personal favourite, suggested that there was much more still to come from
this band. They succeeded in winning me over, and I really hope to see them
Hawley, by contrast, calmed
the pace down a bit with croony songs reminiscent of Henry Mancini and Pat
Boone. It made me want to go "Ah woodle-dee doo wop bop bop", but only
briefly. In fairness to him, I must say he has a very fine voice and the
musicians played superbly, but the repertoire paled for me after the first
few songs, and I felt his sound didn't sit well with the evening as a
whole. Still, he is an amiable balladeer.
A short break and, at
last, a sound like church bells underwater announced the arrival of
They opened powerfully with Snowden, following swiftly with Sky Starts
Falling and a video that would have had Howard Hughes in ecstasy. These and
the well-titled Pounding set the tone for a vigorous performance which
incorporated a wide range of their material, from the nice-dreamy Sea Song
or the hotel californication of One Of These Days to the Northern
Soul-influenced Black and White Town. Atmospheric lighting and video
footage helped immerse the audience in the music. Technical issues
postponed, but did not prevent, Last Broadcast, but as bassist and singer
Jimi Goodwin said, it wouldn't be a Doves gig without technical issues.
The energy didn't flag for a
moment in over an hour, climaxing in a massive and concrete performance of
Satellites (which showed off the 6,000 horsepower coupled to the driveshaft
of drummer Andy Williams). At this point a cute video sequence showed the
band going outside, riding four feet in a limousine, and enjoying a swift
pint, while the audience cheered every fifteen seconds, hoping they would be
And then, of course, they
were, with the soul-boisterous Here It Comes, the gentler M62 Song, and,
finally and triumphantly, the epic There Goes The Fear. Abandoning cynicism
to the real journalists, I stood up and danced around like an idiot child.
The day has arrived, I have the songs in my head,
let’s go. But I don’t like Bush Hall. Never mind. Get to the front with the
rest of the geeks. I’m there, front left, good view, red wine has had some
effect, but not enough for a disruptive wee. He’s on, John Darnielle is on
the stage, and we’re all thrilled, and never before have I been amongst a
more adoring crowd, a large number of which probably used to get beaten up
at school, but with a sackful of albums, ep’s and cassettes this is a cult
following. We are here as part of 4AD’s 25th anniversary celebration, 4AD
has been home for the last three Mountain Goats releases, and unsurprisingly
it’s material from these albums which dominate the set.
He’s quite simply amazing.
Playing tonight with acoustic guitar accompanied by Peter Hughes on bass and
backing vocals nothing is lost from the records. He rattles along, playing
hit after hit, that’s hits if you know The Mountain Goats, and there’s no
time for breath, just keep them coming john, please, you’re very good and we
all love you, some more than others, slightly creepy perhaps, but they own
your first cassette release, and you’ve given them a voice in the world.
He can do no wrong, we would
have applauded a dump. Now all I need are those cassettes, the coach doesn’t
have a cd player.
It was about 12 years ago when I first heard 'Leave
Home' being played in a club and was instantly hooked on The Chemical
Brothers. Some achievement considering I was a hardened combat wearing, Doc
Marten-clod grunge kid. But then that has always been the secret of The
Chems- they seem to appeal to everyone. So it was kind of fitting that I was
finally going to see them live only a few yards away from the club I first
heard them in.
thing about playing a gig in Newcastle as opposed to Leeds is that the crowd
is so up for it. There's no standing around, almost challenging the band to
entertain you. The audience is fully part of the performance - willing the
band on. So combine this atmosphere with the Chems popular appeal and you've
got a killer show.
recently reconstructed floor to the Academy was given a severe testing as
the set kicked off with a storming version of 'Block Rockin' Beats'. And the
boys didn't seem to take the foot of the gas until the very end of the set.
Awesome visuals and an array of very hi-tech looking equipment (seemingly
only used for producing little red flashing LEDs every so often) animated
the whole show, though it would have been just as good in a disused
warehouse in Byker. Recent single 'Galvanise' obviously went down a treat
but constant tempo meant there was never a slow point. 12 years and well
worth the wait - an awesome show.
6.10.05 – The Faversham, Leeds
On first inspection of his latest album ‘I Sincerely
Apologise For All The Trouble I have Caused’, there isn’t an awful lot you
can say about David Ford, other than that he is a competent
singer-songwriter more than capable of writing touching, weepy laments
custom designed for a heart broken demograph. At worst, he trundles along
the Blunt, Gray, Rice, Fretwell, or any other mono-syllabic-surnamed
singer-songwriter I care to think of, contingent. But arguably, Mr Ford does
have the talent to overcome these easy comparisons and to stamp a little
individuality onto this well trodden public foot path.
essence, this was an impressive performance with luscious harmonies and deft
musicianship right from the beginning. This was massively helped along by
his lovely backing band, ‘The Late Greats’ and the crisp as a fresh tenner
live mix that the sound engineer provided. After a worryingly slow, plodding
introduction, the Fordists become slightly more lively and involved,
utilising a loose, slowing down/speeding up dynamic that is quintessential
to making a songwriter’s live act more accessible to the basking audience.
But it soon becomes clear that David Ford is a very talented man, and
throughout the performance on this brisk autumn evening, he sings, plays the
guitar, harmonica, banjo, piano and a brief stint on the drums; but one
can’t help but think there is an element of rubbing his talent into the
audiences, moist, tear stained faces. You could say that a jack of all
trades is, more often than not, a master of none, but David Ford’s real
aptitude remains in his song craft.
in cynicism and a with healthy dose of political conscience to boot, David
Ford has the vocal capacity to deliver his intelligible lyrics with a
control and confidence that makes him seem older and more experience than
his trilby-toting appearance might suggest. And after a rousing, piano lead
rendition of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, it becomes obvious
where his bitterly ironic, self depreciating influences lie. I’d like to
point out that ‘Cheer Up You Miserable Fuck’ are his words and not mine. He
has that not quite so rare talent of making you think you’ve heard this all
before; songs with meaning and content but just not enough variety to keep
one interested. Tonight, his songs seem to be especially drawn out and could
probably be half as long and have twice as much impact; and when worked out
mathematically, it equals - a bit of a shame.
would be nearly impossible to love Mr. Ford’s lowly, sob inducing music but
it inflicts a certain amount of fondness onto his listeners. In all, he is a
cut above many other singer-songwriters doing the rounds at the moment but
whose music still wouldn’t look out of place on a soundtrack of a cuddly
English drama such as ‘Teachers’ or ‘Cold Feet’. That said, I don’t think he
has that much to be apologising for.
Sometimes it’s best not to get your hopes up to high.
Like at Christmas or your birthday a really anticipated gig can leave you
feeling hollow and alone if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. I have
been waiting to see both Dirty Three and Josh Pearson for years and the
excitement I felt before this gig was palpable. However things began to go
awry as soon as I set foot in the venue. The dreaded, ‘you’re not on the
list’ speech, my ‘don’t you know who I am’ retort, the ‘no’ response and the
final payment of 11 sulking pounds.
seat I decided to ignore my newly emptied wallet (easy considering its new
light weight) and get ready to enjoy Josh Pearson. For those not in the know
Mr. Pearson is the big, sexy, bearded wonder who fronts Lift To Experience.
Their debut album enchanted me and is still one of my favourite records. His
solo work had to be good right? Well yes exactly right, but it was hard to
truly engage with it due to all the hipster talkers waffling on around me
like it was some sort of WI meeting. Still his songs played like a pared
back LTE and while being previously acquainted with the songs would have
been nice it really didn’t matter. I look forward to the album.
bands I tried to settle myself and quash the rage that the babbling bastards
had awakened in me and by the time Dirty Three came on I was calm and ready
to be taken on an antipodeon musical journey.
thing that strikes you about Dirty three is Warren Ellis their main man and
fiddle player. He is confident and comfortable on stage and through the show
his witty banter is a joy. Stories of dead musicians in hell, bong smoking
surfies and why ladies prefer Dirty Three to Robbie Williams mean that you
could happily sit there and listen to his non-sensical ramblings for quite
some time. However that’s not why we are here is it? So on with the music
and it is every bit as wonderful as I hoped. They saw, thrash, lull and
drift through old favourites (‘Sues Last ride’ & ‘Red’ for instance) as well
as good chunk of material off the new record Cinder too. It is a mass of
emotion and feeling and quite frankly a staggering thing to behold, truly
awesome in its magnitude.
So as the
metaphoric curtain falls and I leave I have this mix of feelings. Yes Dirty
Three were great, but I’m now poor and I didn’t even manage to get one of
the limited tour CDs and the whole experience was marred by so many bloody
talkers (even during Dirty Three). I feel energised and yet still somehow
hollow. Curse you anticipation, curse you and your sibling excitement.
a foot note if you were one of those bastards who waffled inanely throughout
the gig I would like to wish you a slow and painful death, perhaps under
something really heavy or in a car crash. Then while you wait at heavens
door I hope God himself greets you explaining that you aren’t welcome and
that all he can bestow upon you is a faint ember with which you can guide
yourself through an eternal purgatory forever haunted by the sound of the
continuous gratuitous tripe you were uttering on the evening of 22nd
of November 2005.
Arriving regrettably early, I had to endure a hellish
30 minutes of Killa Kella, when 30 seconds would have been more than enough.
It wasn’t so much his wacky beat-boxing antics, but Mr Kella’s rapscallion
chum who was irritating beyond belief, yapping like a little dog that has
just wee-wee’d on your freshly ironed chinos. Prick. Anyway, haircuts ahoy,
the said Icicles take to the stage, yelping, barking and growling through a
thankfully brief set of noisy numbers. The performance was nothing short of
incendiary, which saw them leaping and bounding across the stage, taking it
in turns to damage their vocal cords and the audiences eardrums. The music
was a fantastic cacophony of abrasive drum machines, rancid synthesizers and
tattered guitars so loud you couldn’t actually hear what was going on. A
short lived but a nonetheless positive experience which left me slightly
confused and none the wiser…. in other words, a pretty good gig by anyone’s
the Test Icicles come across as a trio of obnoxious chancers, who
deliberately want to get, get, get on your nerves, and the infuriating thing
is that they are able to provoke this reaction with relative ease. This
could either be because they serve as a parody of the Nathan Barley esq.
world dominated by i-Brain Nano pods and angular hair concepts, or they are
part of the loathsome mass of morons they may or may not be critiquing.
Frustratingly, I still can’t decide which would be more appropriate, or
indeed funnier, for the testing times in which we live. To say that Test
Icicles, the nerdy ambassadors of myspace.com, are a one trick pony might be
accurate, but would be way beside the point.
funny because their name looks like testicles!! But under closer scrutiny,
it’s about as funny as cold, shrivelled ball-bags.
Whether you take the bait or not is neither here nor there, but I would say
that some people fish for compliments, others for controversy and some
people are just a little bit fishy.
Whatever possessed someone to put a gig on in the tiny upstairs room above
the bar at The Cockpit? As if the railway arch ceilings of The main rooms
don't spoil the sound enough, someone thought it would be a good idea to jam
everyone within 10 feet of a pretty meaty PA system. My ears are still
Which may account for missing
the name of the first support act. Someone from Nottingham apparently who
pull of a very passable impression of The Rapture complete with pseudo
falsetto vocals and much cow bell action. Very good start to proceedings.
All of which warmed us up
nicely for some Sunderland hardcore action. Safely ensconced in the second
row (as far back as you could go and still see the band) I witnessed at
close quarters the ferocity that This Aint Vegas put into their performance.
Like a frenetic frantic beast but underlined by precision and uncanny
accuracy they swaggered their way through a lightning set which only let up
during their slightly annoying protracted inter-song delays. But when
someone sounds this good you don't mind hanging around for a bit. The duel
vocal attack has a laddish quality that always threatens to unravel into a
bawlish football chant. But they always manage to keep it together and in
control. Some lovely Rickenbacker sounds and scissor stepping from the
guitarist too while the bass player just efficiently ploughed out his lines
from the back of the stage.
And so on to headliners This
Et Al who broke my heart again. This time perilously perched on the railings
of the balcony to capture a glimpse of the top of the band's heads I felt a
little bit let down. this Et Al have a huge, complex sound which comes
across perfectly on record and is one of the most exciting things around at
the moment. but within the confines of The Cockpit's crinkly tinned roof
everything seemed to swim together in a big old trashy noise occasionally
punctuated by Wu's wailing vocals or some guitar histrionics. the one
constant was the seriously impressive drumming which tried to hang
everything together but too often the tracks seemed to fall apart in a
chaotic cacophony. Put This Et Al on somewhere with decent acoustics and a
good sound guy, then judge them. And make sure that This Aint Vegas are on
the bill too.
More beards than you can shake a stick at here, on and
off stage, so just as well I like beards, and shaking sticks.
Akron Family. They seem like very nice young men, delighted to simply be
playing music, and what a joy that music is. In half an hour they span
quiet, loud, folk, post rock and even barber shop, all delivered whilst
sitting down with great charm and exuberance.
Dirty Three play the sort of music that should bring in the New Year, whilst
all around dance, swig ale and then collapse. They are quite simply awesome.
Violinist Warren Ellis exudes charisma and displays great skill by playing
and karate chop kicking at the same time. The set spans both new and older
work, with tracks from the latest record ‘cinder’ along side material from
‘ocean Songs’ and ‘Horse Stories’. Each track is introduced by Ellis telling
us a little about the compositions, such as (not word for word) ‘ This is a
song about living in a hole, you’ve been there five or six years, getting
comfortable, when you decide to check on the outside, so you build yourself
a periscope from used toilet rolls, attach a mirror and look out, and on the
horizon you see angels, then you hear the sound of tuba’s, and its then that
realise everything is fucked’. It’s rousing stuff, Ellis’ violin creaks and
roars, I could watch them all night, if anyone is making more emotive, raw,
honest and timeless music then I’m yet to hear it.
Banhart is by now quite literally hotly anticipated, and when he enters the
stage, flanked by his band ‘The Hairy Fairy’, people seem rather pleased. I
have never been too sure about Banhart, on record the songs are nice, good
voice, good instrumentation, I quite like them. However, the sight of the
man, and his bearded comrades is just annoying. He opens the set with a song
sung in Spanish taken from the new album, and it’s now you remember what you
like about him, it sounds nice, it’s a nice sound, just close your eyes,
forget the beads, the waistcoats and the rest of the hippy shit, it will all
be fine. But I can’t, just can’t do it, I have to look, and what do I see,
it’s the fucking eagles, with new, quite good material, and better hair, not
band are tight and well rehearsed and live his voice doesn’t let him down,
but I can’t help but feel that he’s not a front man, and when playing with a
band that’s what’s required, and surly the venue is too big for free love,
(£3.30 a can of red stripe) he needs a small coffee house somewhere in the
bay, which sells flavoured teas, and girls with unkempt pubic hair can sit
around naked, besotted by his ‘freakiness’. I am not a girl and I don’t like
flavoured tea, and my pubic hair is beautifully trimmed, and I’m not
besotted by his ‘freakiness’. Nice songs, just play behind the curtain next
time. But that would be ridiculous I know.
Interesting footnote: I once played on the same bill as The Southern
Electrics. It was at the Bull & Gate some 3 ½ years ago, the first time the
band I was in at that time had ever played London (or gigged, for that
matter), and they were the headline act. I remember thinking that they
weren’t particularly good and someone making reference to the lead singer as
a “third-rate Michael Hutchence”. And yet, here I am at this, their second
single launch party this year. Hey, what do I know? Perhaps time, as Michael
Ball once warbled, really does change everything…or perhaps not.
Anyway, it warms the cockles
of my heart ever so slightly to find that support for this evening comes
from Nigel Clark, former lead singer of Britpop bandwagon-jumpers Dodgy.
While his new material follows pretty much the same formula with perhaps
just an added splash of West Coast sunshine pop, it’s obvious he’s still got
the knack to pen a good tune. Maybe there’s nothing as immediate as some of
the old classics but, having probably made a ton of cash sound-tracking all
those car adverts, Nigel can afford to just have fun. Now all he has to do
is make his guitarist stop pulling those ghastly faces.
Southern Electrics certainly
look more like a professional outfit these days (or a bunch of
Stroke-a-likes the more cynical amongst you) but within seconds of them
launching into “Electric Superhighway” (a track they were playing back in
the Bull & Gate days) it becomes apparent that there are one or two minor
problems that they might want to address.
The main one is that they
don’t have much in the way of actual songs…or hooks…or choruses…or ideas…and
all the expensive gear in the world can’t hide that fact. Secondly, the
singer can’t decide whether he wants to be Liam Gallagher or…wait for
it…Michael Hutchence. And he can’t sing. They perform “Save You”, the new
single, and he doesn’t sound like he means it at all.
The final nail in the coffin comes in the
shape of the third song. It’s called “Alien”. And it’s about falling in love
with an alien. And the words go “I fell in love with an alien…she came down
from an asteroid…she took me out to a restaurant”, and so on. Honestly, the
written word cannot do justice to how bad it was. But that was the point at
which I realised I had better things to be doing and went home.
It’s a nice seated affair in the wardrobe tonight for
what essentially is a folk night. I arrive just as the huge iron man frame
of Crooked Fingers’ is getting into the swing of things. Who has possibly
perfected his Dylanesque vocals a little too much, but that’s of no point
seeing as Dylan has a good voice, which he got from consistent vocal
meanderings. He’s all right, talented and sings of women coming from the sea
and people covered in blue bottles.
Jose Gonzales takes the
stage next with the modest confidence of a Swede (not the vegetable). From
the start it’s a technically accomplished performance in which his delivery
is so close to the perfection of his studio album it’s hard to believe it’s
live. It’s a good set as well ending with his covers of Kyle’s “hand on your
heart” and Massive Attacks’ “Tear Drops”.
Now for a King he
doesn’t quite look the part but King Creosote actually isn’t anyway. He is
just a small Scottish inventor who writes better songs than the whole music
industry can in its whole life span.
Not backed by the
earlies like last time I saw him although they are at the bar getting shit
faced, he takes the stage with a small backing band and we’re off. Each song
is as good as the last if not getting slightly better. There’s a slight
lapse of energy in the middle of the set for me but even the lounge jazz
version of his new single “………” is classy even if it is a piss take. Finally
it all ended with an encore involving all the previous acts to get on stage
and sing one of the Kings songs. Crooked fingers tried his best while Jose
Gonzales looked slightly uncomfortable until he found a gazoo and spent the
rest of the song trying to work out how to use it, (ha stupid vegetable). It
was a bit like live 8 but without a stage covered in shit bands.
2.11.05 - Leeds Metropolitan University SU
It's tricky when you go and see a band you know
nothing about, and thankfully your friend says they will do the review. Then
a month passes and still no review. So apologies for the complete
sketchiness of this report but at least it does exist.
My knowledge of the
Turin Brakes had been limited to thinking it was a cool name. I had
absolutely no idea they wrote lilting acoustic songs and played from those
musician stools like the ones that Des O'Connor would sing from. There was
undoubtedly some fantastic guitar work but, being a child of the MTV
generation, I found it all a bit, well, boring. Of greater concern was the
way I suddenly had to question my own existence - certainly not wanted at a
gig. There I was surrounded by what could only be described as a very middle
class, middle aged audience who were absolutely loving the show and getting
down (in the gently vibrating piss poor way your Dad might dance at a
wedding). I am a little bit younger than these folk but not so different. I
can't imagine ever going to a show like this and coming over all doe-eyed.
But at the same time I can't really hold my own in a mosh pit anymore. Where
to next for us in betweeners? Oh dear...