Ahhh the restorative qualities of the JD Weatherspoon Burger Meal (£4.59 for a burger, chips and a pint of Strongbow) and some quality music. Genius. Despite suffering from the after effects of too much cheap red wine and just 3 hours sleep (the result of an awards 'do' in London on Thursday night...yes I did win something thank you for asking) I made it to The Cross just in time to catch openers Geezer. I've seen them before at a Kamikaze! 444 night (I think they've got a slightly different line up now though...ahhh yes, a new bassist). I have to say that I was still feeling a little like death warmed up when I arrived at The Cross but, by the end of Geezer's set, I had started to make a remarkable recovery. So there we go. Cast aside Alka Seltzer if you have a hangover, just get yourself down to a Geezer gig. The music? Oh yes. It's a smart blend of indie rock with a simmering side order of ska. Lead Geez, Robb, has a strong live vocal and the rest of the band are nicely grooved out for the ska-ish numbers and full on for the rockier tracks. Check out Stalker and Real You for a taster.
Next up Old School Tie. I really like this lot. Like I said before in a previous review there's a real festival vibe about the band (reminds me of Glasto's past...), great dubby wig outs blended with threads of Sigur Ros deftness (just listen to Glass Cage...see?), it's seriously beautiful stuff. What makes music such a powerful thing is the ability of people to take all sorts of influences and fuse them together to make something that's timeless but new (yes, I know that's a contradiction...sue me...actually don't...I'm not made of money). I was lucky enough to catch up with the drummer after the show (a nicer chap you couldn't wish to meet) and he tipped me off about their very own festival, Field View, that's on August 9th. Eco friendly, intimate (I think there's about 500 tickets) and with a 10+ bands for the mind meltingly fabulous price of £7 it is, for me, the shape of festivals to come. I'm not going to join the current Glasto bashing that's so popular the moment. Yes, of course it's changed. It had to. It's a shame, but there you go. You pays your money and you takes your chance. Field View looks to recapture, as well as refresh, the spirit of the original festivals and I can think of no better band than Old School Tie to do just that. Oh, do me a favour too, crank up your speakers, open your windows and play Gods Electric Super Scene at full blast today. It's awesome. Share the love.
Third band of the night (and probably the band I've seen most over the last 12 months stat fans) Prospect Lane. I mention the fact that I've seen them live so many times 'cos I still love seeing them. That's praise indeed. If you see a band loads of times there's a tendancy to get a little blase, but Michael and co put so much into it that's there's never any danger of that. Isolation and Fickle both came off really well tonight and I loved that moment between us just before the now infamous Alice Deejay cover version (which worked the audience up into a sweat soaked orgasm...ooh messy). For me they're still one hot (very hot tonight in fact) prospect.
Last up, all hail, we're not worthy...ladies and gentlemen...the hardest working men in hip hop...it's The Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnomalies. How in the name of all things holy does Crowe do that beatbox stuff? Like most humans he only seems to have one mouth and one nose, yet at times I could swear he was producing about six distinct sounds. He is, for my money, the Hendrix of beatboxers, and you don't get no better than that. Murf and Goldseal hit the stage, with DJ Mayhem on the wheels of steel, and the energy level never fell below 100%. I defy anyone to watch The Anomalies and not love it. Every little bit. They did another one of their world famous freestyles, rapping about items given to them by the crowd. I still don't know how they do it. Maybe they're like that guy from Heroes (Hero...that's the dude), you know, the one who can freeze time. P'raps they freeze time, go away, write and rehearse it then come back on stage and unfreeze us all. Thanks to a broken guitar string we were treated to another freestyle whilst a replacement was sourced...so much better than just watching someone fanny about changing strings. Why don't all guitarists do that. Oh...they can't. I once saw Nick Harper change a guitar string whilst still playing his guitar though. But then Nick Harper is probably one of the best guitarists in the world right now. Just as The Anomalies are probably one of the best hip hop bands in the world too. Seriously. Set closer, Funk Soul Brother, saw pretty much everyone in the venue bouncing up and down like loons...including me...hangover, schmangover. NB: No Lo tonight (not sure if she's left the band or not...I'll find out).
So, there we go. Before I go and lie down a word or two about the venue (as it was my first time there and all that). It's brilliant (that's two words, my work here is done). No, there's more. In contrast to a lot of Brum venues it's a classy place. It feels a world apart from a lot of the sticky floored pits that I love and loathe in equal measure and, aside from one or two minor quibbles (the stage location being one, but that's being moved soon) it's the kind of venue that Birmingham is screaming out for. The VIP area (for bands and celebs) is nice enough to live in and, with Platform Promotions drink offers including double vodka and cokes for £2.50, it's affordable too. You'll find The Cross on Moseley 'high street' (the Alcester Road, just up from the traffic lights (going towards Kings Heath way).