Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Pipettes / The Hot Puppies Birmingham Academy 2 Wednesday 20th September 2006

Hmmm sweaty. This gig had sold out a while back so it was always going to be a bit moist...and so it proved. Got there a bit later than normal so we lost out on our front row by the speakers spot, but got close enough to perv...sorry...enjoy the sounds of The Hot Puppies. They were as good as the last time we saw them (supporting The Grates), with lead singer (insert lead singers name here if you know it) sounding even more Marianne Faithful in parts. Plus they have a Theramin. All good bands need a Theramin.

I love The Pipettes. They are like all the best girl bands of the 60's - 80's wrapped up in polka dot. Vocally much stronger than I'd expected (and with a solid real life band behind them) they were bloody good fun. And that's what music should be all about (unless you're feeling all depressed and which case you probably want a spot of Leonard Cohen or, if you really want to end it all, Coldplay). The fact that they are the 'prettiest girls you've ever met' (their words) kind of helps too.

Anyway, no pictures of the gig. Instead (drum roll please) an actual set list...used by the band...that I nicked off the stage. Ha!

PS: The links on this blog are to the band sites...not My Space...cos My Space keeps giving me viruses and therefore sucks (for today anyway).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Space you are spoiling us...

New albums from Scissor Sisters and The Rapture are currently available to listen ripping...honest...on My Space. Hurrah!! Although they usually vanish again in a matter of hours. Boooo. Wasn't sure about Ta Dah when I first heard it but it's a bit of a grower pop pickers. Sounds even more like Elton John on speed than the first album. Not that Elton John has ever been on speed...

(The picture was taken in Chicago last year by the way...'cos I don't have any pictures of Scissor Sisters or The Rapture...but it's sort of American isn't it? Oh alright, please yourselves).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Destroyers...again! Birmingham Artsfest 10th September 2006

Okay. Last time I mention The Destroyers for a while...I promise. This was the third time that I'd seen them in a week and they just seem to get better and better. This isn't really a review though...just an excuse to post a couple of pictures that aren't too bad by my modest standards.

The whole Birmingham Artsfest thingy seemed pretty good on the whole. Not that I got to see much of it. It's all just a bit too much, if you know what I mean. You spend so long deciding what to go and see next that you end up jacking it all in and going to Weatherspoons for a pint of Weston's Organic Cider (see I'm trying this product placement malarky to try and get loadsa freebies...think anyone will notice? neither).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Destroyers vs Mitchell and Kenyon Curzon Street Station, Eastside (aiiieee!) Saturday 9th September 2006

Having been captivated by the mighty The Destroyers at last weeks Folk Festival (yes I know I didn't mention them but I was saving it up for this entry so there...anorak) I was cock a hoop (yes my cock was never more 'a hoop') to discover that they were going to be soundtracking some old movies as part of the Birmingham Artsfest. For the uninitiated, The Destroyers are a 14 (I think) piece band that play a variety of instruments in a style that could be called Eastern European gypsy folk - so I will. They're not as punky as yer Gogol Bordello, but just as up beat and life affirming (can't you just tell I'm writing this on a Sunday afternoon?). Anywho, they were, once again, utterly brilliant. Playing aong to silent movies can't, I guess, be easy but they were pretty faultless and gave you a feeling for just how much fun the early movie houses must have been.

I'm off to catch their Artsfest set this afternoon and will try to take some more crappy pictures that won't do them any justice. In the meantime the shot above comes from my seminal master work "Crappy Shots of the Moseley Folk Festival Volume One". Hurrah!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moseley Folk Festival Moseley Park 2nd / 3rd September 2006

All together now..."Alllllllll around my hat". Yes, yet another foray into Folk for the good Baron. This time a whole two days of it and by heaven it threw up some pretty incredible performances. It was the first Moseley Folk Festival ever, but the organisation was spot on (except the scrumpy kept running out, but maybe that was a good thing).

I won't bore you with a list of all the artists who performed (you can find this for yourselves right here you lazy tinkers) but there are a few that scream out to be mentioned. So, here we go:

Pentangle, fronted by Jacqui McShee, were one of those bands I'd heard about but never really listened to. She has a remarkable voice, just what you want a folk voice to sound like (if that makes any sense) and they were, for me, one of the highlights of Day One.

Andy Votel. Genius DJ, loves his music and a bloody nice bloke to boot.

Seth Lakeman. Mrs Baron wouldn't forgive me if I didn't mention him, but he really is bloody good (that's a photo of Seth in action at he beginning of this piece by the way. Artistic or crap - you decide).

Nick Harper was possibly the finest guitarist I have ever seen. Ever. He played his guitar with his teeth, the side of the stage and even changed a string...whilst still playing and singing. Beat that Jimi. Vocally he reminded me a little of Phil Ochs, an unsung Folk legend who should really be up there with Bob Dylan in my books. If you get the chance to see him live you simply must.

Which is a nice link into another must see...The Toy Hearts. Fronted by sisters Hannah and Sophia they're a remarkable bluegrass band that really deserve to make it big. Fans of the Be Good Tanyas will be in heaven...but then so should anybody who just loves great music. The whole band are brilliant musicians, including the sisters' dad who plays a mean slide guitar and banjo (and who was in the Jerry Lewis film too by the way....see, educational and informative). Bags of energy and the kind of close harmonies that you can only get to hear once in a blue(grass) moon made this a really special performance. Debut album "If the Blues Should Come Calling" is out soon. Buy it and you'll be thanking me forever.

Last, but by no means least, Vijay Kishore who played just a few songs on the Acoustic Stage. You know those voices that suddenly make the hairs on your neck stand up, someone like Jeff Buckley or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (legendary Qawwali singer) for example, well Vijay is right up there. During the last song he played, Freedom, he held on to the most beautiful note for what seemed like forever. And I kind of wish it had been. In a world full of Blunts, it's time someone like Vijay really got the exposure they deserve. You can make your own mind up when he plays the Birmingham Glee club in on October 27th (check his My Space site for other dates).

So that's it, in a nutshell. I pretty much enjoyed all of the acts, but these were, for me, the highlights.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Michael Franti & Spearhead Birmingham Academy 2 31st August 2006

No support on this one...which was a little strange...but as ever the towering form of Mr F more than made up for it. Michael Franti is possibly one of the greatest live performers around and one of the few men capable of getting my good self to believe in the peace, love and understanding stuff that my cold, hard cynical heart normally rejects. In fact, if Mr F were made President of the US of A, I'm fairly sure he could inspire the millions of nutters who are all busy trying to blow each other up with increasingly devious devices to sit down and spark up a phat one.

Back to the music. Needless to say we were treated to a number of old faves as well as tracks from the new album. No 'Freaky People' sadly, but then, after a two hour set that saw Mr F sweat his own body weight several times over we can forgive him that. New album 'Yell Fire' is, unsurprisingly, all about the Gulf war and Michael has been touring Iraq (brave man) to find out, in the words of his spiritual godfather, Mr Marvin Gaye, what's going on. The gist of his findings is that it's all a bit of a mess and that we should get the hell outta there quick smart. I'd love to believe that this would work and that everyone would get on. And, during the gig, for a few minutes you sort of feel that everyone would. Which is as good a review of Mr F's performance as you could ever wish for.

For the uninitiated track down a copy of Spearhead's seminal work (urrgggh messy) Stay Human, one of the great 'lost' albums of all time.