Archive for the ‘Gig reviews’ Category

Walking to this evening’s venue a concerned policeman can be seen sniffing suspiciously around one of the many shady backstreets within the vicinity of Clyde Street, Leicester. Unbeknown to him, a crime was being committed just round the corner at The Musician where a less than 10% capacity crowd had descended to watch a stellar mid-week line-up of raw local talent.

Understandably hesitant initially, Theo Miller grows visibly in stature towards the end of his stage-warming set. Theo’s intelligence shines through in his acoustic repertoire, his comical rhyming couplets coming to the fore on Plans. His lyrical prowess on the likes of Forgive & Forget has won him fans, and a competition: to perform a support slot for Joan Armatrading at De Montfort Hall in November on her 40th anniversary. Fitting is it then, that he departs with Letters, a song about song-writing.

Last time Rosie Doyle entertained at The Musician she was afflicted with a broken string. On this occasion it’s a woefully-tuned top E string and a cold. Despite the mishaps, Rosie adds valuable impetus to the plucking stakes here, epitomised in the skippy number Yellow Brick Road. Her time will come.

Fay Brotherhood – a bizarre meeting of Boudicca versus Cavegirl, bashing out her Pagan-influenced traditional folk. Photo: Steven Seniw/Kicha Media

Fay Brotherhood’s time is already upon us. Born into a blues-loving family based in Coalville, Fay begs to be different. Aesthetically, she is a bizarre meeting [photo left] of Boudicca versus Cavegirl with her dreadlocks and crafty attire. Musically, her traditional folk interpretations of local legends [Black Annis] and battles [Blue Spiral Screams] make for fascinating listening. Combined with Lee Burns’ violin & electric mandolin, Fay’s music accurately recreates rousing Gaelic tones. Chalk Horses for instance is a galloping romp influenced by stone circles and a certain Pagan festival. Lowlands of Holland is another with an ethereal edge. With a name for fame and the conviction to match, now is a great time to Follow the Falcon and join the Brotherhood.

Sporting a “Drink Coca Cola” t-shirt, headline act Chris Ostler climbs to the stage opting, somewhat surprisingly, for a stool. In energising fashion, as if he’d drunken 10 litres of the caffeine-packed drink, Chris’ strumming arm sets off like a piston. Lamplights is the pinnacle of his intermittently emotional set, featuring a beautifully whistled intro. Bullet from Heaven is another highlight, inspired by his Grandad’s participation in World War II. Evidently an accomplished musician, Chris is firmly in the ilk of Ed Sheeran. Also touring with Joan Armatrading in the winter, 2012 promises to be a memorable year for Chris.

And so the evening closes, the buzz dies down and our thanks go to The Musician and promoters Horus Music Ltd for greatly enriching our musical education.

Read more of the release: http://www.horusmusic.co.uk/acoustic-session-on-wednesday-21st-march-2012/

Published by The Monograph.

Advertisements

Charlie Jones is a woman on a mission. Since coming 3rd in the BBC’s 2008 singer/songwriter talent contest, the Birmingham-born blonde has adopted a new incarnation at the head of a jangly five-piece Leicester act. Backed by The Martyrs – four well-dressed remnants of the wild Ego Armalade, [link] Charlie is the star attraction tonight dressed in leopard skin.

She ain't no Nash. Classy Charlie and her Martyr mates have plenty to display. Image: The Monograph

The frustration of enduring a 2 hour-long sound check and resorting to overpriced Carling is dispelled when Charlie et al burst into Cherry Picker. Less Western than KT Tunstall’s Black Horse number, it’s as sweet and fruity as the red prune itself.

Further along is Nothing To Display – a strummed melody about a terminally-gloomy friend who, head in hands, has little to offer, like the vacant message on a mobile phone screen.

Jones resents comparison with Kate Nash. “You always get that. They put you next to another girl with a guitar out there don’t they? I do get a bit annoyed by it. But what can you do?” she retorts. True, there is little Mockney about Charlie’s pure vocals. She deserves another award for taming the blokes from the now-extinct Ego, who exhibit no Flying V’s tonight and are on best behaviour.

Our Side, a passionate song about football and love, successfully paints the colours of the beautiful game. “I’ve got my heart in defence, I’ve got you up front” Charlie sings tactically to the derogatorily-named Kaffir’s alpha male audience.

7 Shades oversees a shift in pace from jig to ballad with a melancholic twist, demonstrating the band’s song-crafting versatility.

Queen of Hearts is the highlight: even the laddish Martyrs trade Jacks for Aces. Incorporating whistling and brassy elements, it’s their stand-out song. Charlie is a beacon, shining brighter than the Martyr’s cheap suit and waistcoats combo.

A lingering suspicion is that Charlie could wipe the floor with X-factor, but she has too much class and dignity to file herself alongside the likes of Cher Lloyd.

With Florence & The Machine, Marina & The Diamonds and Esben & The Witch already established, Charlie & The Martyrs face stiff competition from other female-fronted acts, if only in the name stakes.

Surely though it’s only a matter of time before Charlie assumes her title in waiting, the “heroine of Halesowen” in what is her most promising outfit yet.

Review of Charlie & The Martyrs @ Kaffir Inn, Whetstone – 18th November 2011

Myspace here, Monograph interview here.

Echo & The Bunnymen have a legacy. Evidently this is something Ian McCulloch needs to learn and not ruin. “We think it’s important to keep coming back” the gruff, notoriously uncompromising vocalist tells this evening’s all-seater audience. The lavish decor of Manchester’s Palace Theatre provides suitable backrest for the ageing crowd, 80% of which I hazard are 40-plus somethings. “Anyone got verrrtigo?” he quizzes the third tier, accentuating his Liverpudlian Rs.

Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain (cover art)

Arctic Monkeys poster – coincidence or influence?

Musically, The Doors-inspired Bunnymen are a hard band to define. A swift tour of the venue leaves me equally befuddled after spotting fans exhibiting a collection of Ramones, Cribs and Avril Lavigne shirts. A post-punk classification perhaps?

Tonight Echo are back to showcase in full their flagship album Ocean Rain; released in 1984 at the height of their powers. The addition of strings makes it an extra bit special. In a warming introduction, the string sextet treats us to a version of Love Will Tear Us Apart (always a winner in Manchester).

The first Bunnymen half of the evening is a greatest hits rendition. Initially I’m more blown away by the relentless outgassing of dry ice. McCulloch’s chronic croakiness is probably a symptom. Rescue and Never Stop rouse the restless when the Scouse singer unexpectedly harmonises with a throng of boisterous mid-tier Geordies.

After the interval we return for the Ocean Rain run-through. Immediately the beautiful Silver sparkles, inspiring outbursts of “la la la la las” and “ti ti ti ti tips”. The supplementary strings add powerful backing to Nocturnal Me and the stirring Thorn of Crowns.

The Bunnymen are riding a wave once The Killing Moon has set, and it heightens after navigating the glorious Seven Seas. All waves have to crash however and when a crowd disturbance first curtails Ocean Rain, McCulloch’s own tempestuous nature is provoked.

The Ocean Rain interruption doesn’t leave us entirely drenched with disappointment. An encore of Nothing Lasts Forever and Lips Like Sugar go some way towards sweetening the sour taste.

Today the Echo influence manifests perhaps most closely in the 4th album material of Arctic Monkeys – who were dubbed their ‘spiritual heirs’ by The Guardian. Comparisons are futile though as Echo have carved out an uncontested niche for themselves over the years. Through the haze and controversy aside this was a close to triumphant performance of their best.

@ Don Valley Bowl

10/06/2011

Arriving at the Don Valley Bowl, one would be forgiven for thinking the venue was playing host to a travelling circus. A giant marquee – last seen enclosing BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend – had been raised to cover the Arctic Monkeys’ twin evening concerts. The Bowl, situated in the backyard of Sheffield Ice Arena and the Don Valley Stadium which hosts the city’s half marathon, was primed. Tonight’s two hour headline set is equally testing but the Sheffield sensations successfully avoid a slip-up here.

First up shortly after 6 o’clock are the Steel City’s own Dead Sons. Considering the band’s first gig was only last July in a sweaty and packed DQ, as part of Tramlines 2010, they have progressed markedly. The five-piece act includes ex-Milburners Tom Green and Joe Rowley whose vocals are Tom Meighan-esque. Here they provide a vintage, night-warming support slot notable for a lack of audience interaction. I Am The Lord and Junk Room stand out in particular, encouraging the first moshing with their shades of Kasabian’s electronica backed by thrashing cymbals. This lot could be very good.

The Vaccines take to the stage next providing a welcome injection of indie pop prowess. They are currently riding the wave of their hype-driven debut record What Did You Expect…? which alike the Arctic Monkeys’ first effort was brought a week forwards on release. Tonight the London four-piece treat us to 7 numbers including the 87 second romp of Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra). Justin Young’s vocals are strangely anthemic on Wetsuit – possibly the first ever song written about donning aquatic swimwear. The highlight though is a riveting run-through of If You Wanna, a trademark indie track already on playlists in the likes of Bungalows and Bears.

To complete the support acts Miles Kane swaggers on to a raucous reception while gesticulating for more decibels. “We are very happy to be here” says Kane, a scouser, who some variously label as Alex Turner’s doppelganger or musical alter-ego. The ‘other brother’ in the Last Shadow Puppets make-up proceeds through 10 of the 12 songs off his debut solo LP Colour Of The Trap which peaked at an agonising number 11 in the UK Albums Chart. Ending with the catchy single Inhaler, Kane’s set leaves few breathless but it certainly pleases the fluorescent adolescents within the heterogeneously-aged crowd.

Four months waiting and finally it’s the turn of the Arctic Monkeys. Waltzing on stage to Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing, Sheffield’s prodigal sons embrace their homecoming crowd. “Tonight there’ll be some love” Alex Turner promises during the evening’s opener The View From The Afternoon. With Turner sporting a t-shirt featuring the Sheffield City Council emblem, tonight’s gig indeed bears all the hallmarks of an affectionate reunion. “Who’s from High Green?” he later quizzes the 10,000-odd faithful herded into the band’s specially-erected tent, to a decent response.

The selection of The Full Monty title track is a stroke of genius. It immediately has the expectant fans boogying and in full voice which is important after their poorly received 2009 Reading & Leeds headlining performances. And to further silence those doubters the Monkeys blister through an opening quartet of “early” songs including the wall of sound that is Brianstorm and the irresistible solos of Still Take You Home.

The term “early” is now synonymous with the pre-Humbug era of Arctic Monkeys discography. That Josh Homme-influenced third album recorded in the Mojave ironically deserted a substantial proportion of the Arctic’s fanbase and is thus reflected in the inclusion tonight of only three numbers from its sleeve. Conversely the material from the newly released fourth attempt Suck It And See blends in seamlessly. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala in particular complements the chimes of Cornerstone and a rare, celebrated acoustic version of Mardy Bum, when the Monkeys decide to “slow things down”.

The bulk of the set leans on the first two albums with Nick O’Malley’s basslines reverberating around the tent interior on Teddy Picker and If You Were There, Beware. It doesn’t take a sharp eye to tell that the youthful exuberance and passion are absent from the inevitable renditions of When The Sun Goes Down and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. The quartet must loathe playing the two club-adopted classics but are well aware that a riot would ensue in the event of their exclusion. When Kane surprisingly returns to stage there are excited whispers of a Last Shadow Puppets cameo but the wishful thinking is swiftly dispelled. Cue instead the spine-tingling 505 with Kane on guitar.

Fittingly the night closes with A Certain Romance, signalled by Matt Helders’ rumbling drums. Turner chuckles when chewing his lyrics on the last verse. “Oh I don’t care” he wanes, but neither do the adoring masses who rejoicingly recite for him. “It’s been an honour Sheffield” says the departing Turner. The feeling is mutual duck.

Rating: 9 out of 10

This review was published by Sheffield Scenester and can be found at: http://www.thesheffieldscenester.co.uk/#/arctic-monkeys/4552752446

Were you there? Is this a fair reflection of the gig?

@ Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield

10/06/2011

Waltzing on stage to Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing, Sheffield’s prodigal sons embrace their homecoming crowd. “Tonight there’ll be some love” Alex Turner promises during the evening’s opener The View From The Afternoon. With Turner sporting a t-shirt featuring the Sheffield City Council emblem, tonight’s gig indeed bears all the hallmarks of an affectionate reunion. “Who’s from High Green?” he later quizzes the 10,000-odd faithful herded into the band’s specially-erected tent, to a decent response.

The selection of The Full Monty title track is a stroke of genius. Whether or not it’s an improvised selection in response to Miles Kane’s largely mediocre support set is open to debate. Either way it immediately has the expectant fans boogying and in full voice which is important after their poorly received 2009 Reading & Leeds headlining performances. And to further silence the doubters the Monkeys blister through an opening quartet of “early” songs including the wall of sound that is Brianstorm and the irresistible solos of Still Take You Home.

The term “early” is now synonymous with the pre-Humbug era of Arctic Monkeys discography. That Josh Homme-influenced third album recorded in the Mojave ironically deserted a substantial proportion of the Arctic’s fanbase and is thus reflected in the inclusion tonight of only three numbers from its sleeve. Conversely the material from the newly released fourth attempt Suck It And See blends in seamlessly. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala in particular complements the chimes of Cornerstone and a rare, celebrated acoustic version of Mardy Bum, when the Monkeys decide to “slow things down”.

The bulk of the set leans on the first two albums with Nick O’Malley’s basslines reverberating around the tent interior on Teddy Picker and If You Were There, Beware. It doesn’t take a sharp eye to tell that the youthful exuberance and passion are absent from the inevitable renditions of When The Sun Goes Down and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. The quartet must loathe playing the two club-adopted classics but are well aware that a riot would ensue in the event of their exclusion. When Kane surprisingly returns to stage there are excited whispers of a Last Shadow Puppets cameo but the wishful thinking is swiftly dispelled. Cue instead the spine-tingling 505 with Kane on guitar.

Fittingly the night closes with A Certain Romance, signalled by Matt Helders’ rumbling drums. Turner chuckles when chewing his lyrics on the last verse. “Oh I don’t care” he wanes, but neither do the adoring masses who rejoicingly recite for him. “It’s been an honour Sheffield” says the departing Turner. The feeling is mutual duck.

Rating: 9 out of 10