Monday, April 30, 2007

Bobby Conn / Last Man Standing Glee Club Birmingham Sunday 29th April 2007

Although the audience was criminally sparse both bands gave it 100% tonight. So, A for effort, but what about the results? Bloody fantastic... which has to be at least A++ (I'll stop with all this grading nonesense right now shall I?). Kicking off in fine style were Last Man Standing. Currently being heralded as the best unsigned band in London (and I wouldn't argue with that) they're a bunch of incredibly talented and experienced musicians with a collection of songs to die for. Fronted by the charismatic Max Vanderwolf (who has to be a shoe in for frontman of the year) the music is a glorious mix of jazz, country, blues, rock and whatever else you fancy. They reminded me in places of The Sensational Alex Harvey band, particularly on a track called 'Nona' that had the same edginess of the SAHB cover version of Jacques Brels 'Next'...which is high praise indeed. I defy anyone to watch Last Man Standing and not tremble, froth at the mouth and lose control of your bladder at the sheer brilliance of it all. I'm hoping to get hold of one of their CD's so I can do one of my legendary (and rare) album this space.

Bobby Conn. Bobby Conn. Bobby Conn. So good. Oh sooooo gooooood. I have to admit to being a recent Conn-vert to fact it's only by seeing the gig listed on The Glee Club website and visiting his My Space site that I discovered him at all. This is a criminal shame. Bobby Conn is a star. No, scratch that, Bobby Conn is a legend. On the strength of the performance I purchased every CD they had after the gig from the lovely Monica Boubou...and, for someone as tight as my good self, that's really something. Reviewing a Bobby Conn gig is a little just have to be there. But, for the sake of those who weren't (that's you I guess), he's as funky as Prince, as out there as Bowie, as gloriously camp as Jobriath and as witty as Wilde (Oscar, not Kim...although Kids In America was a great track...). Below this review you can read my rant about one member of the audience who tried her best to steal the show. Not a chance. Even with Miss Take shoving her oar in, and a sparse crowd, this goes down as one of my best gigs ever...

I urge you to check out the new Bobby Conn album King for a Day (and the title track itself). It makes life worth living. If you get a chance to see him, then take it. In 20 years time people will be giving this guy the respect he - and his entire band - really deserves. Let's make it a whole lot sooner eh?

Bobby Conn / Last Man Standing Glee Club Birmingham Sunday 29th April 2007

Rant bit first...

The review proper is above...but rather than taint what was an excellent night I'm going to vent my spleen over one member of the audience here first.

(1) Sitting right at the front in what was a very intimate setting (the artists were barely 3 feet away) and talking loudly/texting your mates / trying to roll up a ciggie / trying to light said ciggie a thousand not on.

(2) Getting up during the set (oh yes...this really happened) and saying to the lead singer of the band you'd paid to see that you had to go to the loo...again is not on. When Bobby asked, irony dripping from every word, if she'd like him to wait for her...she said yes.

(3) Screaching at the audience that we didn't like her because she was taking the limelight was clearly incorrect...we didn't like you 'cos you're an asshole.

(4) Telling the artist...again during the set...that he was 'a let down' during the first bit (he wasn't...he was brill from start to finish) is totally and utterly unforgivable.

(5) Stating that you are the real fan and that the rest of us were just a typical Birmingham audience (whatever that is supposed to mean) is an insult to our fair city. I've been to hundreds of gigs in Birmingham where the audience have been a delight.

(6) You. Are. A. Mistake. I can only assume you were drunk beyond belief and woke up this morning weeping tears of shame.

If Bobby Conn and / or Last Man Standing were annoyed or offended by this person I apologise on behalf of the people of Birmingham...and the human race in general.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Music Sunday - Great Escape Spesh...

In the absence of any live reviews this week (I've been lying on my sofa scratching myself...oh and watching 18 episodes of Heroes...very good) I'm celebrating the start of festival season with a Great Escape new music special thingy. The Barfly's Great Escape is one of those new kind of festivals that seems to have sprung up in the wake of the success of SXSW and the Camden Crawl. Rather than kipping in a tent and shitting into a hole in the ground you stay in a travel lodge and shit into a hole in the ground instead. Hurrah! Anyway, I think it's the second one this year and I'm going along to catch as many 'new' bands (they are promising us 150 of the buggers) as a young man can fit into three god knows what an 'old' duffa like my good self will fit your bets please. In a vain attempt to not miss the good stuff the Lady Baron has been researching some of the bands playing and has presented me with a list...ladies are good at lists...let's see what we've got...

Luke Toms has a nice 'tash. That's always a good start. Musically there's a heavy slice of Jobriath in there again (his influence grows) with a snatch of Bowie and Elton...perhaps even a hint of Billy Joel per chance...ooh and some Randy Newman. Nice. I like.

Next up we have The Wire. On some tracks they're an electro slightly Scissor Sisters-ish sounding duo from Brixton...shaatt it you slaaag, leave it ahhhhhht...on others like 'It's a Mystery' they're almost Verve-like. Intriguing. Laid back groovemeisters (yes, groovemeisters).

Xerox Teens...hmmm I recall writing about them on this very site last year sometime. They're now called XX Teens...presumably there was a copycat (Xerox? Copy? Geddit? It's good stuff, you're's not...but hey, at least it's free!) band called Xerox Teens operating elsewhere or maybe the Xerox people were gonna sue their ass. Anyway, I'm getting a bit of The Fall here, vocally and musically, which is always a good thing. They have horns too. I like horns. Horns are good. Let's hear it for horns! Listening to Round on their My Space page is a little like listening to a crazy drunken tramp having a benny whilst someone plays Crazy Horses by The Osmonds in the background. There's some great rockabilly style guitar work in there too. Yum.

Doncasters own Neon Plastix claim to be 75% penis and 25% Jazz Burger to which I would add 33% early Duran and 18% Klaxons (yes I know you can't really have more than 100% but I don't believe that Mr Plastix really is 75% penis...I'll check for you when I see him). I'm sensing that they'll be great fun live. V. Good.

Peggy Sue and the Pirates remind me of Kate Nash in places, who in turn reminds me a bit of Regina Spector in places. Telivision (sic) in particular has that great screamy, whispery...freakin' nuts kinda feel.

Finally, for now, Les Breastfeeders, who are coming all the way from Canada...that's right over there...near America and that. Imagine a French punk band and lo...Les Breastfeeders are it (incidently be careful when you're seaching for the band on the net...there are all kinds of 'special' sites dedicated to the more experimental kinds of sexual pleasure out there...I would hate for you to be getting ready for some class French punk only to find yourself staring at Melanie (44 28 36) and her lactating lady bits). Anyway, they are...c'est bon...which is about as much French as I can remember. Merde.

To Lady Baron's list I just have to add bonde do role - a Brazilian party in your pocket. Marina Gasolina makes you want to get up and shake yo funky ass like like they do in Brazil (you know, the ladies with the feathers in their bum...not literally...that's another one of those 'special' sites). Anyway they're ace...the band...not the site with ladies who put...oh you know what I mean.

I'm off to see Bobby Conn mentalist genius ahoy! We should get along like a house on fire...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Officers / The Priory Barfly Birmingham Saturday/Sunday 21st / 22nd April 2007

After the delights of Reverie Strings and Miles Hunt (see the review below) we decided to stay behind for indie / electro night We Get Kicks. In between the DJ played a selection of hits from as long back as was interesting watching the crowd of mainly 30 somethings reliving their youth and dancing around like it was...well...1989. That's the power of music. You can bet yer bottom dollar that anyone who's 18 and reading this ( could happen? They might've strayed here thinking it was some kind of hip music blog with it's twitchy finger on the nuclear button of all that's great in music...mock ye not) will find themselves in some nightclub called Raverz in 2027 bopping away to the golden hits of The Klaxons and moaning about music not being like it was back in the noughties. Anyway, there is a point to all this. As soon as the DJ stopped the music and the Priory came on the vast majority of the audience left. Why? Why oh why are we supposed to just like music made when we're 18? I've seen it loads of's why you rarely get old duffers at gigs by new bands and why so many promoters find it hard to get people along for what are, often, great nights. If it was ok for John Peel to nurse a pale ale as he enjoyed some dub reggae soundclash from Death Monkey Jizz, it's okay for the rest of us. If you're over 30 and reading this go along to a local night this week and if you don't enjoy I'll refund double the difference (LEGAL NOTE: this offer only applies to one legged residents of Papua New Guinea and may be withdrawn at any time for any spurious reason...but you get the point).

Right, after another Grolsch or two we took advantage of the £1 bottles of Carling (gas-tastic) and hooked ourselves to the front barriers for a dose of The Priory. A splendid mix of plinky keyboards, lush synths, pounding drums, driving guitar and distinctive vocals, The Priory's music has a lot more to it than their image might suggest. Ask Yourself is just gagging to be a hit (gagging I say), but a much slower track like Reaction hints at the fact that this band thinks as much as it (yes...he's going to do it...musical cliche ahoy) Actually, now here's a thought, Never Changes has a nice string opening that may, or may not, have been done on a 'COMPUTA'. Why not hook up with the Strings (from Reverie Strings)? Hmmm. Anyway, I really liked The Priory even more than I expected too...check yourself in as soon as you get the chance (as ever, did you see what I did there? The Priory? Check in? Like in the Priory where Pete D keeps going? Oh alright then...).

The Officers marched (they didn't really but that would've been a nice touch) onto the stage at around 12.30am...just as I was tucking into another Carling (no bouncing around for me then). Straighoutta Leeds, they have the same bowel shaking electro power as Evil Heat era Primal Scream with a cheeky dash of Kasabian. Despite a meagre audience and some young folk who kept screaming that the keyboard player wasn't playing his keyboard (which the lead singer handled quite brilliantly by handing the pesky imps his microphone and giving them the chance to make fools of themselves) they put on a stirring performance. With a bigger crowd, more exposure for the material and the synths a bit more up in the mix they'll be a formidable live draw. They're back at the Barfly on 27th May and I can heartily recomend that you join them. Check out SWR Home for an immediate idea of what you're in for.

Miles Hunt / Reverie Strings Barfly Birmingham Saturday 21st April 2007

This review is spilt into two've probably read the second bit first...'cos it comes first...but it was second. Right? So, the review of two halves started with a pint at The Wellington pub on Bennets Hill. Real ale a go go. Suitably refreshed we toddled down to the Barfly for a swift Grolsch (you can see how this evening was going already can't you) and then an unexpected treat...The Reverie Strings! Having seen them a week or so ago at The Sunflower Lounge gig I hadn't expected to see them again quite so quickly. Would they match up to my first gig reverie? In a word....yes. Despite being a (wo)man down, one of the 'strings' was working elsewhere, they were every bit as special the second time round. Vocalist Ian has the kind of delivery that makes great singing look easy, whilst Helen and Julia (viola and cello respectively) are clasically trained musicians with a natural flair for adapting their instruments to fit the lyrics and feel of the material. You can tell a great band when you recognise and get a warm glow for songs after just one listen. Reverie Strings are just such a band.

A fan of The Wonderstuff since back in the day, I've been fortunate to see Miles quite a few times over the past few years. He came back on the live music scene with some great acoustic shows at The Flapper, Ronnie Scotts and The Irish Centre, then reformed the original Stuffies (minus The Bass Thing RIP) for a great gig at Dudley JB's. Something happened after that and The Wonderstuff came back with a different line up (although the core of Malc Treece and Miles remained). Now The Wonderstuff features the talents of Erica Nockalls (also from the Birmingham Conservatoire...just like the Strings section of the Reverie Strings). The two of them have recorded a new album whilst the Malcolm enjoys fatherhood for a while. Here endeth the history lesson.

In terms of songwriting talent I'd put Miles hunt in the same category as someone like Elvis Costello. He's written an incredible range of material (200 tracks for The Wonderstuff alone) and is responsible for some of the best British records of the last 20 years. Why he isn't lauded as much as other artists is a mystery...could it be that the self confessed 'moody bastard' persona of early Hunt and his decision to split the Stuffies at the very height of their fame has frightened over the sensative taste makers. Well, balls to 'em. Miles Hunt is still scarily great. Erica adds a whole new dimension to tracks like Cartoon Boyfriend and Caught In My Shadow whilst new material seems every bit as strong as the stuff he was doing way back when. Sprinkling the set (yes, I know there's a water shortage...what the hell has happened to all of the rain...but it was only a metaphorical sprinkle...quite acceptable) with anecdotes, the odd fag and regular glugs from a bottle of vin rouge he seems quite content with his place in the musical world...and I'm quite happy to have him here...but, you mark my words, one day 'they'll' wake up and realise just how good he was/is. The groove machine (no matter how many legs it might have now) storms on.

PS: I'm glad to report that Miles stayed behind after the gig and could still be seen at the bar long after the We Get Kicks bands had finished (the wee small hours...well for me anyway). I wanted to shake his hand for a job well done but he had a drink in each one so I had to make do with a manly pat on the back. Good work fella.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Billy Childish Rules UK!

Just randomnly cruising My you do...and chanced upon the Billy Childish page. Only had the pleasure of seeing him once (cue one of those dreamy thought bubble things they have in Tom and Jerry cartoons) Glasto a few years back. He was playing the New Band Tent (well hey, he's only been around for 25 odd years) and made the sound guys unplug everything apart from his trusty valve amp. Just as he was about to come on someone asked if he wanted the smoke machine employed as he took to the stage "Fuck off, I've been fightin' for 25 years against that crap"...needless to say the tent remained a smoke free zone for the duration of, what was, one of the best sets I've ever seen (god...I sound like one of those blokes off the telly who talk about plays by obscure French writers with an absinthe problem...hmmmmm absinthe).

Anyway, pour yourself a real ale and have a listen to Archive From 1959.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Archer Home / Vix n'the Kix / Reverie Strings Wednesday 11th April 2007 Sunflower Lounge Birmingham

This was one of those gigs that I really love. The kind where you don't really know what to expect. You haven't heard the album, listened to the songs on My Space or read about them in NME. Drawn by Vix n'the Kix (fronted by the divine Vix ne Fuzzbox) I was blown away (not literally...I'm not Dorothy...a bit camp maybe but not Dorothy) by openers Reverie Strings. On their My Space page are some of the songs they played. These feature a full band. Live they performed just with the string bit. I'm not sure which I prefer yet 'cos I've not seen the full live band yet, but the string experience was brilliant. Vocally Ian Darby has echoes of Nick Drake, John Martyn and the bloke out of Gomez, but with more roundness (if that makes any sense...but when's that stopped me eh?). The lyrics are evocative and the strings as lush as a punnet of strawberries covered in clotted cream on a hot summers day.Hmmmmmm. I think you can buy their CD through their My Space page and can heartily recommend it. Simply brilliant.

Up next were Vix n'the Kix. I've been a fan of Vix since Fuzzbox's Bostin Steve Austin days, but I loved the whole International Rescue / Pink Sunshine stuff too. Fuzzbox are a band that deserve a load more respect and I've bigged them up on this very site more than once. But that was then, this is now...and I'm pleased to report that Vix n'the Kix are just as bostin. Vix has pulled together a great band (featuring Sophia from the brilliant Toy Hearts, Bexx who has a stunning rockabilly kind of track on her My Space page and Louise who's done some really cool ambient sound collages). You can hear an ickle bit of Bye Bye (surely the first Vix n'the Kix number one record?) on their My Space page. They have the look, the feel and that ingredient X all great bands only concern is that all of them seem to be so busy with their other projects that this band won't get the time it deserves! They're playing the Bar Academy on the 24th May though - it's a must see.

I thought that was it...and so did a lot of the audience but then another band came on - The Archer Home a deathmetal-tastic blast of noise that well and truly RAWWWWKED. It's not a genre that I know loads about so I won't pretend...but it just seemed like the perfect end to a perfect evening. Loads of energy, some wicked fret wanking (answers on a postcard please) and vocals from Satan himself...and you just know he has all the best tunes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Indigo Moss / Dan Whitehouse Glee Club Birmingham Tuesday April 10th 2007

In the more intimate 'studio' for this one and sat right at the front...right at the front...almost on the stage in fact. Opener Dan Whitehouse was close enough to touch...but I'm not that kind of boy. Anyway...unlike many singer songwriters Dan has an incredibly powerful voice, indeed at some points in an impressive performance he ended up on tip toe with the sheer effort being exerted. He's got a strong set of songs too, catchy hooks and the kind of ooomph that many solo performers really lack (by the way the link isn't a mistake...he was/is in a band called Parade too). Well worth catching if you have the chance.

Headliners Indigo Moss were a real delight. Appalachian / bluegrassey with a strong skiffle edge (think Lonnie Donnigan meets the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack). Lead Moss, Mr Trevor, has a really distinctive voice...kind of how I'd imagine Steve Buscimi sounding if he sang. It fitted in perfectly with the music (brilliantly played by all concerned) and sort of gave it a more modern twist in my head. Some of the songs rattle along like a steamtrain at full pelt...down a steep hill...with lots of people pushing it...and I kind of wished I wasn't sitting down (it just made you want to dance...I had to make do with furious toe tapping). They have an album out right now and are certain to be touring some of the festivals. If you've never heard music of this genre before, Indigo Moss is the perfect place to start. Check our Dang Nabbit and Start Over Again and if you don't fall in love with them I'll give you your money back...oh hang on you don't pay to read this do you? Oh balls. Anyway, 'indigo' and have a listen (see what I did there...)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Get stuck in...

In lieu of an easter egg for each and every one of you here's a cracking (yes...easter puns ahoy) tip for you. Bobby Conn is a kind of early Bowie/Jobriath-ish star in waiting. No doubt Morrissey will be drooling over him in 20 years time, but I am drooling (musically speaking) over him today. Enjoy. Loads of videos here!

Oh...check out Motocade too...Hot Hot Heat-ish with an ace track called Best Friends...

Leave it tout...

In the absence of any live reviews ('normal' service will be resumed next week)I'm going to folow up my last Glasto ticket post with a little rant. A rantette if you will. A 'ran' a 'ra'...or maybe even a 'r'. Anyway...

Mr Eavis or Lord Glastonbury to his mates, has this year, for the first time ever, stamped out the evilness that is the 'ticket tout'. Now I have no real problem with the dudes who stand outside gigs screaming 'tickettttsssssbuyorsellllll' at anyone who walks within 1500m of their pitch. They are a part of the 'gig lore', like watered down Strongbow and that annoying 8ft bloke with mad hair who always seems to stand in front of you (who is that guy?). No, as I have ranted before and as I will rant again, my problem is with the 'people' who buy tickets just to sell them at a vastly inflated price to real fans who missed the boat because Mr/Mrs Hometouter purchased 50 tickets. Happily most of the bands that I go to see are new-ish and have yet to forge a massive fan base. Many, alas, will not get anywhere and will end up back at the complaints desk at B & Q or stacking butters and fats in their local Somerfield (I've been there brothers and sisters). But that's a posting for another day.

Back to the rant...recently I wanted to buy tickets for a Marc Almond gig in London. The face value of these tickets is £39. Being the dizzy young chap that I am I wasn't sitting waiting for the tickets to come on sale. I was at work. Clearly a vast number of people were not, and the tickets sold out in minutes. Fair enough, if you're a real fan and you get there before me, no problemo. However, within minutes, tickets were flooding on to ebay for £250 a pair. Considering there were only 1,000 tickets in total the number that I have now appeared on ebay must be in the region of around 20%-25% over the last few weeks. That's 1 in 4 tickets going to evil blood sucking music hating heartless pieces of crap.

The solution surely is pretty simple. Only accept credit or debit card payments (most people pay this way for everything nowadays...even chewing gum for christsake) don't give out tickets, instead swipe the card to gain entry to the gig. This should eliminate hometouters for ever whahahahahahah. I'm pretty sure that ebay wouldn't be too pleased with this though as they currently have around 15,000 ticket listings, each one earning them lots of lovely dosh. Tough tits. Home touters rip off kids who really can't afford to be ripped off, stop 'real' music fans from going to gigs and make more money for talentless jizz monkeys than some of the frickin' musicians who are actually playing the gig. Still, in this morally bankrupt world that we all inhabit where criminally inept naval personel can get captured, paraded like D list celebs and then sell their story for £250,000 it's pretty much par for the course eh?

Like I say...'normal' service will be resumed soon.

Hey! Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

So, tried clicking and ringing for about 40 minutes then gave up and went back to bed...tried agin at 10.20...gave up...went back to bed...tried again at 11.04...gave up...hang on...wait a second...mon dieu...I'm on the site....AAAAAAAGGGGHHH!

Only coach tickets left (an extra £40 each but at least I can stay up on Sunday night drinking pear cider without worrying about the drive back home on Monday...yay!), enter card number...don't fuck it up now...just a few more clicks...done! Now just have to wait for the 'confirmation email...'

Why do I put myself through this? Because it's Glasto. The best music festival in the world (even with all the corporate stuff, trust fund gimpoids and overflowing toilets). If you didn't get tickets there may still be a chance on 22nd April (when the returns come back on sale). If you did, well, I'll see you by the Scrumpy bus as the sun sets on the Wednesday evening...mine's a pint...