Brief notes: Chris T–T, Birmingham Academy 3, 15th March
I have a full review of Chris’ new album being published elsewhere in the very near future, and since a large amount of the show was Chris playing that album in full, and also because it’s 1.35am and I have to be in work tomorrow, this isn’t really a proper review, more just a collection of thoughts.
It took 45 minutes to find the new Academy venue in Birmingham. I got close once, gave up then turned around. It was just around the corner. I threw away my last shred of manliness and became a dedicated metrosexual by stopping and asking for directions. Seems to be a nice place though and the room is lovely. Then again, the inside of a skip is lovely compared to the Academy so… Also not sure how good the sound is. It sort of sucked. Don’t know if that’s because the main sound guy had to leave due to an emergency, because the speakers are naff (they did seem to hiss a lot) or because the room has bad acoustics.
Support act was Before I Explode, weird crazy electro that seemed quite good, though couldn’t make out the lyrics. The girl seemed to talk between songs in a Brummie accent, but sing in mockney. Still, all was forgiven as she was stunning – looked kind of like Lily Allen if she’d looked after herself, ate properly and laid off the coke.
Chris’ set was awesome, apparently there were some tuning problems, my hearing didn’t even notice that, although the (electric) piano was annoyingly fuzzy. Guess you can’t really expect the Academy to have a spare baby-grand lying around though. Sound problems aside, the new album sounds brilliant stripped down to just guitar or piano. I think I actually prefer the guitar-based version of Love Is Not Rescue to the organ-led one on the album. I also think it might be awesome done on straight piano.
Apparently the critics don’t like Elephant In The Room. Wish I’d have talked about it in my review now as I really do. I kind of think the point of it (and I may be well of the mark) is that the chorus refrain, “we can still win”, is sung without any heart, passion or belief. It’s sung in a way that says “we can’t”. Which I really like. But maybe I’m missing the point.
We get the rest of album, well nine tenths of it anyway, some of which works really well live, whereas other tracks sort of struggle without the full arrangements on the album. Can’t wait to hear some of these songs done with the Hoodrats (hopefully later in the year).
Then we get M1 Song and Hedgehog Song which are always fun, before it goes a bit shouty and political with Huntsman Comes A’Marchin, Cull (“this is for any billionaire emos”) and Preaching to the Converted. For the first time ever I got to see Chris get through all three of these without breaking a guitar string.
Then we get some requests. I was going to shout for A-Z because it’s awesome on piano but a) I was quite intrigued to see what other people wanted to hear, as last time I saw Chris in Birmingham there were nine people there, and eight were there to see Thomas White and b) the fuzzy piano noise was annoying me a bit. So we got to hear Sellotape and see Chris’ happy realisation that slating Glee fits perfectly in to the song, next to the moans about Dawson’s Creek and Hollyoaks. I’ll defend the first and last series of The OC to the death though – it may have been US wish-fulfillment melodrama, but it was by far the best written and best acted melodrama on TV.
Ankles on the piano was also a treat, and we finished with Giraffes No.1. Except when Chris tried to walk out to the merch stand and end the gig, we didn’t let him. An important lesson is learned: if you tell the audience that you’re not going to bother with walking off, waiting for applause, and walking back on again, you only get out of doing a “fake” encore. If you were going to get a proper encore because the crowd truly want one then you’ll have to do it anyway.
More requests and we get Old Men and A Plague On Both Your Houses to close: “Plague is really good and that but it’s a really dark and long track to end on… oh sod it we’ll do it anyway”.
All in all an awesome gig, marred by some technical problems. Although I’m not sure the technical problems that annoyed me were the ones anyone else noticed.