All 17 entries tagged Music Mission 2009

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December 28, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Doves/Super Furry Animals, Manchester Central, 18th December

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

Yey! Did it! One musical resolution kept even if it was by the skin of my teeth sometimes. And what a good way to end the whole shebang, with a homecoming (ish) gig by one of the most underrated bands of the decade – Doves. Not just a homecoming, but an over-the-top, bells and whistles extravaganza, featuring big screens and multiple cameras, suggesting that it might just be possible to relive this experience again. Surely this will be coming out as a live DVD?

If not it’ll be a wasted opportunity, that’s for sure. It’s really saying something that the Super Furry Animals were outdone in the props and tricks department. With a relatively short half hour slot, there wasn’t time for the full range of SFA tricks, but they did kick off ‘Slow Life’ with a man in a John Lennon mask waving signs reading “Applause” and “Woah” at the audience who, to their credit, applauded and woahed on request. It was mostly bigger hits on display, and they still possess the almighty cathartic tune which is ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ – a track which never seems to lack relevance, sadly.

And so to the main attraction – a band who seemed more delighted and overwhelmed than perhaps any other I have eve encountered live. The three Doves – Jimi, Andy and Jez – all grew up in one of Manchester’s many commuter (i.e. bitch) towns, and headlining the 10,000 capacity venue that they stubbornly refer to by its old (i.e. proper) name of GMEX, clearly meant a hell of a lot to them. Thus they cracked out a wide ranging and excellently chosen set.

Tracks like ‘Jetsteams’ and ‘Kingdom Of Rust’ from their latest albums sounded as familiar as the older stuff, and were just well received. The latter, the band’s self described “country song” even inspired a moshpit which surprised Jez into comment. Then there was ‘Black And White Town’ – a song which perfectly captures living in those satellite bitch towns. Few songs sum up my own teenage years so effortlessly. A beered up, enthusiastic Mancunian crowd is one of the most exciting you can find yourself in, and fortunately Doves don’t seem to attract the total dickheads which the more laddish likes of Oasis and The Courtneers attract.

Certainly those laddish bands would never even consider enlisting the London Bulgarian Choir, whose presence gave soaring harmonies to the already utterly wonderful likes of ‘The Cedar Room’ and the usually instrumental ‘Firesuite’ which sounded quite simply epic. Leaving the choir to perform in he gap between the main set and the encore was a masterstroke as they held the audience’s attention through their interweaving harmonies and the sheer passion of their performance.

And exactly the same could be said of Doves themselves. They’ve not quite achieved the break through that fellow (almost) Mancs Elbow managed last year, but it doesn’t matter – on home terrain they rule like kings, and it was an excellent show, one which has reignited my love for them (a love which has lapsed a little recently) and which demonstrates that bands who care, about their music and about their fans, can sometimes get what they deserve.


December 14, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Muse, Liverpool Echo Arena, 5th November

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

I have a confession. Well, less a confession, more a statement which many many agree with, yet strangely it feels somewhat wrong to admit to it. Y’see, I really don’t like ‘United States Of Eurasia’. The one off the new Muse album which sounds like Queen. And when I say it sounds like Queen I mean they excavated Freddie Mercury’s corpse, extracted stem cells, injected them into mice and got those mice to write ‘United States Of Eurasia’.

It isn’t the worst Muse song, and it’s not the worst Muse song to get played at the Echo (echo echo) arena, an honour which falls to ‘Guiding Light’. But ‘…Eurasia’ really isn’t very good. Naturally then it has the best light show and visuals.


This only captures a fraction of the lasers involved – full gallery http://www.gigwise.com/photos/53350/13/Muse-Blitz-Liverpools-Echo-Arena-On-Bonfire-Night—-PHOTOS

You see, Muse live isn’t just about the music (man), it has always been about the visuals. Crack out that copy of their debut Showbiz and look in the booklet inside. There in the centre is the band as youthful newbies, just starting out. Look at how huge their banner is. No band just starting out ever had such a big banner. The sense of the ridiculous and enormous, the sort of attitude which makes Muse the Dubai of the music world, has always been there. So a space like the Echo (echo echo) arena, shiny, new and big, was always going to be filled by the most insane lights and visuals Muse could find. ‘…Eurasia’ had a brilliant mock up of the world map as divided into Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania as dictated by Orwell (albeit managing to attribute Britain and Ireland to Eurasia, not Oceania as they should be), along with swooping lights, flashing words, lasers, sharks, badgers and the strange sense that actually the whole song is rather enjoyable.

And then snap back to reality and it isn’t.

It kind of sums up Muse live. An entire superstructure which is extremely enjoyable in the moment, even when individual elements aren’t actually all that good. Except ‘Guiding Light’ which was crap at the time too.

Muse’s show currently consists of three massive, rotating, video screen covered pillars. Like “St Simeon”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites but with musical instruments. The comparisons with Spinal Tap are so obvious (apart from the flawless functioning of the pillars) that you can only suspect that Muse know the whole thing is mad. Whilst Fever Ray used lasers to create a claustrophobic and intense atmosphere, Muse use lasers because they are big, bright and there. Boys with toys, it works because the toys are really cool.


From http://billboard.blogs.com/mobile_beat/2007/week34/index.html

Oh, and the songs are mostly really very good too. Not all the new album is a write off like ‘…Eurasia’ and ‘Guiding Light’ – ‘Uprising’’s mix of ‘Dr Who’ and Goldfrapp is a slinky treat and ‘Unnatural Selection’ is a heavy-arsed mother of a tune. And as a special treat for being so good we even got a piano version of ‘Cave’, although as ever it was a case of one song off the first album and no more. Perhaps the lasers and visuals don’t like the first album.

There’s surprisingly little one can say about Muse live that hasn’t already been said (although I defy anyone to find another Muse review which references St Simeon). The daftness, the deftness and the spectacle of it is to be expected. They’d have to come back with a stripped down acoustic show to truly shock, but in all honest where would the fun be in that?


December 13, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Pixies, Brixton Academy, 7th October

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

It’s been a very very long time since I was the youngest person at a gig. Heck, a lingering tendency to go watch bands which NME likes means it won’t be too long before I am literally old enough to be mother to some of the crowd. And then there’s Pixies at Brixton Academy…

In all honesty it’s quite unlikely that I was the youngest person there, but in the spread of crowd around where I was there were certainly no obvious examples of people who were younger than me. About ten years older seemed to be the average, not unsurprising really. After all, the Pixies influenced Nirvana, and it has been nearly twenty years since Kurt Cobain’s self confessed attempt to rip them off, aka ­Nevermind, was released.

The four night residency was a bit of an occasion clearly because it definitely attracted gawpers. Gawpers can be the most annoying thing at a gig, standing there impatient for the hits, unresponsive to anything else. Their ilk had already caused Ladyhawke to fall a bit flat earlier in the year, and in typical luck I landed near some.

Considering we had been warned in advance that this was them playing their most famous album, Doolittle, in order, in entirety, it was nice that they started not with the familiar bass rumble of ‘Debaser’, but with some of the album’s b-sides. The gawpers were displeased (“Why are’t they playing the album?”) but at least it allowed us to work out where these eejits were stood and try and sidle away. Oh, and the b-sides are pretty cool, continuations of Doolittle’s style without being ripoffs of any of its tracks. And then that bass rumble…


Rumble rumble – from independent.co.uk

Playing classic albums live and in order is rather in vogue at the moment, which is interesting considering that there’s very very few albums which really work in that context. There’s an interesting story about the tracklisting of U2’s Joshua Tree album, that it was sequenced because Kirsty MacColl, at that time married to U2’s producer, presented them with her ideal tracklisting – her favourite song first, then second favourite, then third and so on. Most albums run out of steam by the end, sag in the middle, frontload the singles in the first half, or generally do things which don’t work in a live context. No one wants to end a gig on a slow, not-particularly notable album track (cf. Arcade Fire, Manchester Apollo 2007, thinking ‘Ocean Of Noise’ is how one ends a set, tisn’t) and yet this is what many many albums end on.

Fortunately in this context Doolittle is special. For a start it ends on ‘Gouge Away’ which is heavy, intense, loud, fast and bloody wonderful. Doolittle is not an album which goes gently into the night. Secondly all the well known tracks are spaced out throughout the album. ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ is track seven. Thirdly it’s a really well paced album, tracks work well together, and it’s one of the most coherent albums of all time, if nothing else. In short it really worked live.

There was also the stage design which features huge screens projecting some of the best live visuals I’ve seen in a while. Whether it’s (biologically accurate) hearts running around during ‘La La Love You’, or the adorably cute footage of the band gurning and laughing at the audience (Frank smiles!), it was all very entertaining.


From Drowned In Sound’s rather excellent gallery – http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4138140-in-photos—pixies-brixton-academy-london/photo/2#photo – check the lot out.

The encore was a little less satisfying, partially because we got ‘Into The White’ rather than ‘Gigantic’, and partially because they kicked it off with ‘Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)’, a version of the song they have played rather a lot at gigs recently, which prompted the gawpers to loudly shout “You’ve already played this one”. If ever there was an indicator that these people knew ‘Debaser’ and nothing else, that was it.

Still, they didn’t ruin it. The jury’s still out on whether whole album shows work, but this is a definite case in favour.


December 11, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Charlotte Hatherley, Night & Day Cafe, 16th September

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

It’s a sad fact of life that not everyone is allowed to have gig superpowers. Being in possession of a gig superpower can thus confer tremendous responsibilities on the owner. I have one and a half gig superpowers. The half power is height – at 5’ 10” I am taller than the vast majority of females and significant number of males. This makes viewing the stage quite a lot easier than it does for several my regular gig going mates, most of whom appear to be average height females. Unfortunately it only constitutes half a power because I am still below average height for a male and will always suffer when some 6’ 4” lump decides to stand in front of me.

My other power is far more useful – very sharp elbows. Here the responsibility to others kicks in. I can use these dangerous weapons to repel space invaders, but I should try not to use them too often for a bruised rib is no memento to take from a concert. However should lumps barge into mine, or my average heighted friends’, space too much they will find a short, sharp shock awaiting.

My other friends have their own gig powers. Sarah (see “Of Montreal, January):”http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/hollycruise/entry/music_1/ has free ticket/guestlist acquisition powers. A couple of my Manic Street Preachers loving mates have super-front-row-attraction powers, especially when it’s the front row directly below Nicky Wire. And Cheryl has an unerring ability to meet the band.

And so we went to see Charlotte Hatherley, not realising that we would see her, see her, then see her. Or rather Cheryl would see her, see her then see her. The first sighting consisted of Cheryl’s gig superpower kicking in in its usual location, the ladies’ loo. Not that any words were exchanged.


From here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/25880052@N08/3943072570/in/photostream/ – someone who was probably stood about ten feet in front of me. Night & Day isn’t a big venue.

The second sighting was the gig itself. There’s a few things which are hard to believe about Charlotte Hatherley, starting with the fact that she’s only barely 30. It feels like she’s been around forever, largely because she has in indie terms. She’s only on her third solo album, and it was this which made up the bulk of the night’s set.

It’s always been a bit of a strange one that Charlotte didn’t write many songs at all for Ash, but when she was a member they produced most of their really good, really poppy stuff. Then she left and Ash got seriously into heavy songs that no one really wanted to listen to so much, whilst Charlotte released two albums of pretty good poppy indie with occasional tracks of really-rather-damn-good poppy indie. Which no one wanted to listen to so much. Fools.

So we scooted on down to her low key tour to promote the new album and see her on a break from her day job, playing guitar and laughing at equipment misfortune for Bat For Lashes.

As the guitarist in a three piece she was certainly taking the starring role, and if it was light on older tracks, it was telling that the ones chosen were the likes of ‘Behave’ or ‘I Want You To Know’, the ones where it wasn’t a simple case of power chord thrash. The new songs lived up to this, they were all little nuggets of guitarwork, sometimes loud, sometimes quieter, which seem rather at odds with the current trend for guitars to be either unimaginatively ploddy, unimaginatively ripping off The Strokes, or subservient to synths. We’re not talking fret wanking solos, just clever little riffs and plays. If there was nothing quite as disorientatingly brilliant as ‘Behave’ then it didn’t matter because, as I said, she played that. And some of the other songs were brilliant in other ways. Wahey!

I’ve long based my ‘girls prefer riffs to solos’ theory on Charlotte’s playing, and on new tracks like ‘White’ (twangy verse, swooshy chorus) or the endearingly stalkerish ‘Alexander’.


ibid.

Having said all that, it was the power chord thrash of ‘Kim Wilde’ which closed the show, and led to sighting number three. As I waffled to Cheryl about how I first heard ‘Kim Wilde’ (Charlotte’s first solo single) whilst working in a hotel kitchen where I met, you guessed it, Kim Wilde herself, I joked “I should tell Charlotte that story”. Naturally Cheryl’s gig power was working wonders that night for poor Charlotte chose that precise moment to walk past us and was thus subjected to a not particularly interesting story about me, Kim Wilde and ‘Kim Wilde’. On reflection, if I was going to tell her any story from my time working in that hotel then the one where I blew a microwave up whilst melting a tinfoil voodoo doll of the owner would have been a better idea.

But she didn’t write a song about that so really, it was her own fault.


December 08, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Reading Festival

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.
Reading Festival

In haiku format

(Wondering if I
Can keep this haiku mode up –
I very much can)

The Temper Trap

Average indie pop
Singer’s voice a class above
Enjoyable outcome

KASMS

Angry thrashing noise
Coming from petite females
With drumming boys too

Fight Like Apes

Wave poles and keyboards
MayKay – rock goddess onstage
Pure punk energy

Everything Everything

Epic majestic
Bad luck – we miss half the set
What we heard was great

Faith No More

Play much classic metal
Interrupt hits to surprise with
Eastenders theme tune


From http://www.bbc.co.uk/readingandleeds/2009/photos/

Metric

New album perfect
For big stage at festival
Emily so bright

Patrick Wolf

Dressed in gimp outfit
Scaling stage and crowd surfing
Scene made, drunken Wolf

Them Crooked Vultures

Unannounced rock show
Heavy groove conquers whole crowd
John Paul Jones triumphs


From http://www.bbc.co.uk/readingandleeds/2009/photos/

Soft Toy Emergency

Eighteen months we find
This band supports all we see
Finally they shine

65daysofstatic

Epic post-rock sound
Balance guitar on chin so
Whole crowd impressed

Prodigy

Weekend’s biggest crowd
Lairy as you would assume
Reflecting the band

Glasvegas

When they play songs which
I have heard on radio
Twas surprise good time

The xx

Your dark and moody
Sounds of the urban decay
Still work in large tent

Frank Turner

Billy Bragg 09?
Perhaps but your voice still seems
Your own in humour

Metronomy

Live drummer add on
More power to your toy synths
Geeks inherit earth


From http://www.bbc.co.uk/readingandleeds/2009/photos/

Brand New

Inclement weather
Wind steals your sound although
Could have played big hits

Crystal Castles

Oh Alice, you scream
Unintelligible lyrics
As synth dies loudly

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Colour explosion
Sonic explosion follows
Under all-seeing eye


From http://www.songkick.com

Bloc Party

Live so erratic
This time lively and tuneful
Old stuff still the best

Radiohead

To start with shock ‘Creep’
Follow with anthems and more
Perfect headliner


December 07, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Fever Ray, Manchester Academy 2, 14th July

Writing about web page http://godisinthetvzine.co.uk/content/content_detail.php?id=3540&type=Live

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

This particular review has already appeared at the ace God Is In The TV Zine, go there for some excellent music writing.

Do you have that special pile of CDs, the one mentally labelled ‘summer’ music, destined for car stereos as if the sheer power of association with blazing sunshine can force the clouds from the sky and drag the beams of vitamin D down to this sullen, sopping island? If so then the rain which hammered the streets of Manchester for most of the week around the time of Fever Ray’s invasion of the city could only have been attracted by these purveyors of the most claustrophobic and introverted piece of musical brilliance released this year. For this wasn’t the usual cold rain, whipped along by winds from the chilly Russian plains. This was tight, close rain, drenching the air with humidity even when it wasn’t pouring from the sky. It was uncomfortable and oppressive. It was one extended metaphor for one of the best gigs of the year.

Never lit with more than the most meagre half light, Fever Ray’s live form consists of Karin Dreijer Andersson, the woman who went from frothy Texas light indie pop with the successful-only-in-Sweden group Honey Is Cool, to the evil pop/techno/electronica hybrid which is The Knife, her project with her brother. The Knife managed to be popular in a lot of places by virtue of great songs, and yet they rarely did interviews and almost totally shunned live shows. This is what makes tonight something of an event. No one is expecting any Knife songs, just a glimpse of the woman who voices them.

Fever Ray is The Knife without the beats. The self-titled album is a dense but strangely immediate record, mostly written whilst Karin was gripped with a drowsy postnatal insomnia. In live form, Fever Ray aim to capture this state, where dreams half form to corrupt the reality of what’s around you.

With a stage decorated by lamps (a motif adopted from the disorientating video for ‘Triangle Walks’, the second single) the band slip into view almost totally under the cover of darkness. What little light there is doesn’t offer much comfort. Two characters out of a Venetian charivari appear, masked and sinister. A smaller figure arrives dressed as one of the red suited royal guards from the Star Wars films. There’s what appears to be a gorilla with its chest ripped open and its ribs showing. And there’s a huge mound of deer skin and antlers with a freakish shrunken head attached to the front. It’s a million miles from Jonny Borrell titting around in white trousers. Thank god.

It emerges that the mound of mangled deer is Karin. She looms towards the dual microphone in the centre of the stage, and begins to sing the opening track of both her album, and her campaign as Fever Ray, the single ‘If I Had A Heart’. It would have to be a courageous heart. Previously employing her trademark low pitched vocals on The Knife’s albums gave Karin the ability to sing like a man and present subversive ideas on gender and society. With Fever Ray it is used to conjure a twisted alternate reality, substituting ‘If I Had A Hearts’ lovelorn lyrics with a brooding deep voice. Live, it’s just shit scary. Booming to the extent that it’s not even totally apparent that it’s a vocal rather than a particularly deep bass note, she roars whilst not roaring, her physical stillness under that roadkill costume focusing the audience ever more on the rumble. “This will never end/‘Cos I want more/More/Give me more, give me more”. Chills abound.

And at that moment we are boxed in. Fever Ray’s stage show amounted to little more than strange costume, those lamps, and two powerful lasers, beaming from the back of the stage. But from simple components are great things made. As ‘If I Had A Heart’ began the lasers blasted out to the back wall of the room, then fanned out over us. As the dry ice from the stage rose it danced about in the lasers’ paths. The effect was to impose a seemingly liquid roof on the audience, as if we were trapped underwater whilst onstage monsters roared.

We weren’t to be held prisoner there for the whole gig, indeed the mood soon lightened, as did the lighting. Tracks like ‘Seven’ and ‘Triangle Walks’ do have a lightness to them, there was even a degree of dancing, although it was limited and felt more like people were being controlled by the pulsing rhythms of the music rather than any arms-in-the-air rave mood. Karin even took off her roadkill, although she had painted her face with a strange pallor and a black triangle. She sang into a regular mic too, allowing us to hear her rather sweet real singing voice rather than the effects laden rumble. But this did not mean we could relax. The mood of the show shifted almost at random. The calm ‘Leave The Streets Empty For Me’, a duet with the keyboardist formerly dressed as a Star Wars soldier, contracted with the dense rant of ‘I’m Not Done’ (way more terrifying than on record). The set was similar. Lasers would gush over our heads one moment, to be replaced by the warm glow of the lamps the next. It was stunning.

At times it felt more like theatre than a rock gig, the audience politely clapping in between songs, not a sound heard from anywhere until the futile shouts for an encore after the band had vanished from the stage under cover of darkness. And what theatre! If nothing else, music should aim to move, and Fever Ray delivered that and then some. The middle eight of ‘Dry And Dusty’ in particular shone, Karin’s downshifted robo-voice for once calming rather than sinister before suddenly lifting into a crescendo in which, through the digital effects, her own humanity was so very visible.

Use of the word visceral seems confined to music like fast punk rock, but this show managed to be stylistically the total opposite whilst being more deserving of the adjective than any other show this year (and probably most other years). Short but sweet, and perfect.


December 04, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Basement Jaxx, University of Warwick Final Fling, 18th June

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

And now a collection of recollections from Basement Jaxx’s gig. As we’re all very familiar with their music, this will take the form of the increasingly mad costumes they were wearing. Fashion, darlink, fashion!

I’m sure it made sense at the time… I am an excellent photographer as you can see.


December 03, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Blur, MEN Arena, 26th June

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

:D

:D

:D

Sorry if you were expecting coherence, but I had waited fifteen years and it was all too awesome for words.

That and I collapsed afterwards with really bad flu (swine-ness unconfirmed at present time).


December 01, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Little Boots & Soft Toy Emergency, Liverpool Academy 2, 22nd May

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.

I have a confession. I appear to be accidentally stalking Soft Toy Emergency. No really. Get tickets to see Metronomy, who’s supporting? STE. Get tickets to see Crystal Castles, who’s supporting? STE. Get tickets to the opera, who’s supporting? Actually I dunno, does opera do support acts? I am not cultured, so don’t do opera, for all I know they have ice cream fights and squid orgies at the opera. Inky.

But STE do seem to follow me around, or possibly vice versa, for there they were, supporting Little Boots! So were another band about whom I remember very little except a) it was their first ever gig, and b) one of their songs sounded like that old kids song about “A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut”. You know, the one which transforms childhood obesity into a catchy ditty. STE were a bit better than this. Infact their combination of shouty girl singer, hammering bass, 8-bitty synths and general hi-NRG has lead at least one of my mates to conclude they are the result of a scientist trying to create my ideal band. Who knows. It might just work, at the Little Boots gig, over a year after I first accidentally saw them, STE had definitely pumped up the sound and stage show. In another year they could, theoretically, be wonderful (even if they are signed All Around The World, home to some of the current era’s most ear-rapingly bad music – Scooter, Styles and Ultrabeat, anyone?).


From their Facebook group.

But la.

Tonight is about pop which isn’t, or is it? Just who is Little Boots? Ok, I know she’s Victoria Hesketh, but who is she? Is she a genuine pop princess, crafting little pop earworms to infect the mobile phones of those antisocial twats who need to serenade the whole bus? Or is she making credible, indie-electro, self-penned and cool? Or both? Or neither?

It’s all so very hard to tell, and in concert it’s not much more obvious. Yes, the Academy 2 in Liverpool is a tiny cavern (ho ho), so there’s no room for mass costume changes, reams of dancers and backing singers (although she has subsequently acquired two, one of whom, hilariously, looks just like La Roux), or massive stage shows with anamatronic unicorns. But you suspect this is really is because of a lack of massive record label investment. It’s not a criticism. ‘New In Town’ and ‘Earthquake’ are so instant that you’re singing along with the chorus before you’ve even heard it, and had they been given to Girls Aloud would have been number one forever. With the benefit of hindsight it might seem easy to say, but at the time it was obvious that the unreleased ‘Remedy’ was set to rock some serious socks over the summer. I’ve rarely seen a crowd go so mental for an unreleased track.

But then there’s those nods to the indier side of things. That “Tenori-on,”:http://tenori-on.yamaha-europe.com/uk/ a Japanese sequencer which looks and sounds stunning sits onstage just next to Miss Boots, as does her own personal little synth. She barely touches either, but you sense they are there to act as barriers – ‘look’, they say, ‘she wrote all these songs on us, we are proof that she is 4real’. Then there’s the clambering over the stage like a rock star, which resulted, cutely, in Hesketh getting stuck on a speaker stack, wedged underneath a monitor. For a moment it looked like someone was going to have to get a stick and poke her down.

There’s also something achingly hip about covering ‘Love Kills’ by Freddie Mercury and Giorgio Moroder, as if to say that merely covering late 80s Stock-Waterman-Aitkin just isn’t cool enough. It could also be a tacit acknowledgement that her best song, the thunderous ‘Stuck On Repeat’, is rather similar to Moroder’s Donna Summer classic ‘I Feel Love’. Mind you, if you’re going to finish a gig on an extended version of any song, ‘Stuck On Repeat’ is a fantastic choice, sending the audience crazy.


From telegraph.co.uk, and boy do I want some mobiles like those!

If nothing else, this night proved once more that talking to randoms can be an endless source of fun. This time around we collected a lovely auntie/niece combo, the auntie of whom turned out to have been in early 1990s dance act Oceanic. If you can’t remember them then you probably don’t remember the early 1990s and will almost certainly not realise that neon leggings didn’t look good then and don’t now, so stop buying them! The good news is this ‘Top Of The Pops’ footage of Oceanic features no neon leggings on band members:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxFJga1QWCI

Another brilliant fact about Oceanic – they called their album That CD/LP/Cassette by Oceanic (delete as applicable). You can tell they’re Scousers from the sense of humour.

Any chance of a Little Boots cover?


September 09, 2009

Music Resolution 2009 – Ladyhawke, Manchester Academy 2, 17th May

Join me and my New Year’s Resolution to go to at least one gig every month of 2009.


The problem with gigs is that the artist isn't necessarily the master of their own fortunes, even as they stand up there in front of the audience and put on the show everyone's theoretically there to enjoy. A bad audience can cause even a good performance to fall curiously flat. This can often be the case when an artist rides a wave of hype or a big hit – audiences are dragged in on flimsier pretences than for many other gigs. Whether to be seen as the coolest kids, or to hear the one or two songs they actually know from the radio, crowds can be awkward and unmoved in the face of almost anything.

Reports of early Ladyhawke gigs suggested that this talented Kiwi wasn't the most outgoing onstage presence, partially down to shyness emanating from her Aspergers. But a long period of touring appears to have hardened and encouraged the woman known to her parents as Phillipa Brown.

In Manchester, in the upgraded Academy 2 (she was originally due to be crammed into everyone's favourite chapel of crap acoustics, the Bar Academy), she was engaging albeit in a determined and single minded way, bringing her songs to the audience from behind her fringe but with more stage banter than expected. A guitar malfunction prompted the sort of deadpan, Kiwi-accented commentary which might be more familiar to fans of those other popular New Zealanders, Flight of the Concords. “G's in tune... D's in tune... Sorry this is boring while I tune... A was very out of tune, sorry if anyone heard that... oh my god, E's so flat!”. It almost felt wrong to grin broadly as she declared the encore would begin with a cover of a song by “Petty Smath”.


ladyhawke

Pouting on tall buildings - 8/10 rockstar points.


It was a good cover too. Heck, all the songs, barring one, were well played, slightly heavier than the album, and delivered by a woman rightfully riding high on acclaim for them. Even if the superlative album opener 'Magic' fell slightly flat as the first song (its delicate, Depeche Mode-esque, electronic acoustics are presumably not the easiest to recreate, even without the Bar Academy's 'assistance'), the rest of the tracks were bashed out with suitable aplomb.

Yet the whole thing felt a bit flat. The audience just didn't seem to be engaging with the music, there was no rush of excitement for the surging album tracks like 'Professional Suicide’ (possibly one of the best tracks of the night) or the strutting ‘Manipulating Woman’. Even bone fide single ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ didn’t seem to be enough to rouse the crowd.

Having to wait for the hits of ‘Paris Is Burning’ and ‘My Delerium’ to spark the crowd was actually quite frustrating for those of us who have bothered to listen to the whole album. It had all the potential to be a brilliant gig and, ‘Magic’ apart, all the songs were rendered in a beautifully faithful way by Brown and co.

Brown has charm and tunes, she just needs fans who actually want to listen to more than just the singles. I hate to fall victim to indie snobbery tendencies, but perhaps it would have been better to leave this gig in the Bar Academy and not admit the singles-only fans…


January 2020

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