Friday, April 30, 2010

Darwin Deez / Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare and Hounds, Thursday 29th April 2010

Just a mile or two down the road from tonight’s gig our glorious political leaders are boring the pants off the entire population, spewing nonsense from every orifice and promising free prawn cocktails and a year’s subscription to Heat Magazine for anyone who votes for ‘em. I shan’t be voting for any of the three main parties next week. Nope. Instead I’m going to scribble Goodnight Lenin on my voting card and stick a big cross next to that instead. Seriously. I suggest you do the same. It makes a lot more sense, I’m sure they’d do a much better job and, even if they couldn’t solve the impending economic meltdown at least they’d be infinitely more entertaining to watch. I’m becoming a bit of a Goodnight Lenin groupie at the moment, attending all their gigs, following them around record shops, going through their bins...that sort of thing. Once again they put on a cracking show tonight, those glorious three part harmonies, the fiddle, the mandolin....the invisible mouth organ. Tonight also saw the unveiling of a new song, ‘Old Cold Hands’, with the Lenin rocking out a bit more than usual. Add awesome renditions of ‘Crook in the Creek’ and ‘Wenceslas Square’ to the mix, along with their very own tuning tune (‘autoplayed’ by the keyboard while the rest of the band tuned up between songs) and you’ve got the sound of a band on the cusp of great things...

I say, I say, I say...what do you get if you cross Napoleon Dynamite, The Strokes and that Fat Boy Slim ‘Praise You’ video? Sectioned probably, but that’s the best way to describe the all singing, all dancing geek feast that is Darwin Deez. Darwin himself is perm headed and stick thin with a penchant for 80’s thrift store chic and hugging people (the merch desk was proudly ‘selling’ hugs for £0). Somehow, despite all this, like the musical uber geeks and nerds before him (Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, Har Mar Superstar etc) he’s just got the cool thing nailed. Musically the tunes have that New York indie feel, with tracks like ‘Up In The Clouds’, ‘Constellations and (pick of the night)the super catchy ‘Radar Detector’ reminding me of a slightly softer, quirkier Strokes. But the music’s only part of the act. In between most of the tracks the entire band put down their instruments and perform mad dance routines to old 80’s tunes like ‘Automatic’ by the Pointer Sisters or ‘Do the Bartman’ by Bart...man. Like I say, it’s a little like watching Napoleon Dynamite or that Praise You video brought to life, but it’s all done with so much innocent charm that it neatly sidesteps being naff and becomes awesome fun. Arguably it comes close to actually eclipsing the music at times (I’m sure some of the audience would’ve been happy just watching the band throw shapes all night) but that’s a minor quibble and who knows how this particular Darwin will evolve eh?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fool’s Gold / Tempting Rosie / The Flying Nines @ The Rainbow, Tuesday 27th April 2010

Fool’s Gold? Oh dear thought I, another Stone Roses tribute band. But wait, come back...there are no dodgy versions of She’s A Waterfall’ here. This particular Stone Roses are a different kind of proposition altogether...an extraordinary collective of musicians from a wide range of different backgrounds who play everything from Afrobeat to the odd track in Hebrew. Yep, Hebrew (I’ll resist from doing the old Benny Hill gag here...oh alright then... “Teacher: What is Hebrew?” Pupil: “A male teabag”...see I should’ve resisted that shouldn’t I?).

First up, The Flying Nines. Fusing a little Dexy’s with a touch of The Jam they kicked off the night with a pork pie hat full of ska punk. Can’t find a MySpace page for them (maybe they’re a new band?) but they’re another fine addition to Brum’s burgeoning ska scene (yes, there is one...I say so, so there).

Speaking of which (see, told you), next up Tempting Rosie, Birmingham’s very own 7 headed groove machine. I lurve this lot. What’s not to lurve? The Rosie are a darn fine ska pop band with enough energy to power a small...nah...make that a big city. Now there’s the solution to the energy crisis eh? SKA POWER. I can see British Gas getting in on that one. Perhaps we can wire those dudes from The Specials up to the mains too, I reckon they’ve got a few kilowatts in ‘em. Not so sure about Terry Hall though...hmmm...anyway, back to Tempting Rosie. It gladdens the heart to see bands and audiences having such fun together and a healthy pack of bopping teens soon gathered up front to...well...bop their stuff. Pick of the tracks tonight included a skankingly brilliant version of ‘I’m Attracted’, a (new to me...I think) one called ‘The Office’, ‘House of the Dead’, The Beat referencing The Fear...oh to hell with it, it was all good.

Finally Fool's Gold, less a band more of a frantic around the world audio trip (in both senses of the word). Tonight’s gig took in everything from the kind of afrobeat sounds recently popularised by Vampire Weekend through to more Middle Eastern flavas, gypsy jazz, 60’s tinged psych outs...the list goes on and on (a bit like me then eh?). It’s an intoxicating blend that leaves you scrabbling around for anyone to compare them with. Shit. I can’t. I’m stumped. Fool’s Gold are utterly unique, and there ain’t many bands you can say that about. I’m getting spoilt, musically speaking, at the moment. The last few weeks have seen some truly awesome gigs (Patrick Duff and Lucky Soul in the last week alone) so there’s a temptation to get jaded by it all but Fool’s Gold cut through any of that like an oxyacetylene torch through butter (I couldn’t just say ‘knife’ could I...do you know how many attempts it took to spell that word?). For some reason they even prompted me to start doing a peculiar Polynesian grass skirt dance during ‘Poseidon’ (‘Pig Bag’ meets J-pop meets Hebrew dance music) and throwing out some Bhangra style moves during ‘Nadine’ (a blissed out afro jazz groover)...but that’s how this band makes you feel, it’s just impossible to stand still.

The last track of the night, ‘The World Is All There Is’, took this restless energy to its logical conclusion with the band leading the hyped up audience in a mad conga and mass sing-along around the room. Now that’s how you end a show. The only fools tonight were the people who missed this gig...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All The Bands I've Ever Seen

BANDS I HAVE SEEN...1988 –

This is something that I should probably have done years ago given the ball ache I’ve had compiling this list now. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will find it remotely interesting either (I got a bit bored halfway through myself...) but here you go anyway...a list of (most of) the gigs I’ve been to (or at least the ones I can remember).

1988

NOVEMBER
Marc Almond / Sally Timms and the Drifting Cowgirls @ The Powerhouse...ahh bless me...my first proper gig. I was only 6...ish.

1992
APRIL
The Beautiful South / Blammo @ Brighton Event – 29th
Brighton Jazz Bop – Galliano / Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers and others...-?
Marc Almond (12 Years of Tears) @ Nottingham - ?

1993
APRIL
Suede / These Animal Men @ The Hummingbird -7th

1994
FEBRUARY
Elastica + support @ Edwards No.98 - ?
OCTOBER
Blur / Pulp @ Aston Villa Leisure Centre – 5th

1995
JANUARY
Lightning Seeds / Cast @ Edwards No.8 – 31st January
MARCH
Supergrass / Bluetones @ Edwards No.8 – 2nd March
Freak Power @ The Foundry – 7th
APRIL
Ten Benson + support @ The Flapper – 4th
MAY
Marc Almond @ The Foundry – 18th
OCTOBER
Edwyn Collins @ Wulfrun Hall – 27th
NOVEMBER
The Human League + guests@ Civic Hall – 12th
Whale / Placebo @ The Foundry – 16th
Paul Weller @ Aston Villa Leisure Centre – 18th

1996
Unknown gig dates this year:
Ben Folds Five @ The Foundry

MARCH
My Life Story + guests @ Wulfrun Hall – 15th
Lush @ The Foundry – 20th
Dubstar + guests @ Wulfrun – 25th
APRIL
High Llamas / Labradford @ Jug of Ale – 21st
MAY
Catatonia / Space @ Flapper & Firkin – 5th
The Divine Comedy @ Jug of Ale – 14th
Manic Street Preachers @ Civic Hall – 25th

1997
MARCH
Spearhead @ The Foundry – 25th
AUGUST
India Five O – John Peel / Black Star Liner / Cornershop / Talvin Singh @ The Custard Factory – 15th
The Verve + guests @ Civic Hall – 13th
Heaven 17 @ Jaffa Cake (Edinburgh Festival) – 25th
Tindersticks @ Edinburgh Festival – 26th?
OCTOBER
Stereolab + guests @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 1st
Bentley Rhythm Ace / Les Rhythm Digitales @ Birmingham Que Club – 23rd

1998
JANUARY
Midget / Glitterbox / Idlewild @ Flapper & Firkin – 15th
Catatonia + guests @ Wulfrun Hall – 18th
NME Tour ft Stereophonics + guests @ Wulfrun Hall – 22nd
FEBRUARY
Strangelove / Simon Warner @ The Ballroom (Nottingham) – 7th
Primal Scream + guests @ Birmingham Que Club – 13th
Montrose Avenue + support @ The Flapper & Firkin – 21st
Cornershop @ Wulfrun Hall – 25th
MARCH
Spritualized / Acetone @ Birmingham Que Club – 20th
Radio 1 on Tour - Catatonia / Travis / Idlewild @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 25th
APRIL
Dust Junkys / Bullyrag @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 14th
Arab Strap + support @ Flapper & Firkin – 23rd
OCTOBER
Fun Lovin’ Criminals @ Aston Villa Leisure Centre – 14th
NOVEMBER
Bjork @ Symphony Hall – 27th
DECEMBER
Culture Club / The Human League / ABC @ NEC – 10th
Miles Hunt + Malcolm Treece @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 18th

1999
JANUARY
NME Brat Bus Tour – Heavy Stereo / Cardigans / Bluetones / Fluffy @ Wulfrun Hall – 19th
FEBRUARY
The Creatures @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 21st
MARCH
BIS / Velocette / Brassy @ Flapper & Firkin – 23rd
APRIL
Add N to (X) / Hovercraft / Appliance @ Flapper & Firkin – 26th
Hurricane # 1 + guests @ Flapper & Firkin – 29th
MAY
Twist / King Adora @ Flapper & Firkin – 1st
The Fall @ The Foundry – 5th
Marc Almond @ Theatre Royal Nottingham – 30th
JULY
Hot Potato Club Night ft DJ Jarvis Cocker @ The Medicine Bar – 25th
DECEMBER
Buzzcocks @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 19th

2000
FEBRUARY
Moby @ Wulfrun Hall – 9th
Dr John @ Alexandra Theatre – 26th
MARCH
Macy Gray / Black Eyed Peas @ The Brighton Centre – 26th
DECEMBER
The Wonderstuff @ Dudley JB’s – 10th
Primal Scream + guests @ Birmingham Academy (BA) – 20th

2001
MARCH
Soft Cell @ Ocean Hackney – 17th
Starsailor @ BA2 – 25th
MAY
Muse + guests @ BA – 23rd
Acid Mothers Temple @ The Flapper & Firkin – 29th
JUNE
The Strokes @ BA2 – 26th (postponed?)
AUGUST
V2001 – Kylie Minogue / Red Hot Chilli Peppers @ Weston Park – 18th - 19th
SEPTEMBER
Save Ferris / Lightyear / Lubby Nugget @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 11th
Pulp @ BA – 28th
The Charlatans @ BA – 29th
Super Furry Animals + guests @ BA – 30th
NOVEMBER
Basement Jaxx @ BA – 1st

2002
FEBRUARY
The Hives / Randy / Sahara Hot Nights @ BA 2 – 8th
The Strokes @ BA – 24th
APRIL
Gomez + guests @ BA – 22nd
JUNE
Macy Gray + guests @ BA – 4th
AUGUST
The Pattern / The Beatings / Har Mar Superstar @ BA2 – 21st
Von Bondies + guests @ BA2 – 30th
SEPTEMBER
Love ft Arthur Lee @ BA2 – 1st
Elvis Costello / Chris Difford @ BA – 12th
The Bellrays + guests @ BA2 – 18th
OCTOBER
Supergrass + guests @ BA – 21st
Morrissey + guests @ BA – 30th

2003
JANUARY
NME Awards Tour 2003 @ BA – 28th
FEBRUARY
Teenage Fanclub + guests @ BA2 – 13th
MARCH
Jurassic 5 / Cut Copy @ BA – 7th
Jimmy Cliff + guests @ BA – 24th
MAY
Electric 6 + guests @ BA2 – 11th
JUNE
The Kills + guests @ BA – 13th

2004
JANUARY
My Chemical Romance @ Bar Academy – 24th
NME Awards Tour ft Funeral For A Friend / The Rapture / Von Bondies / Franz Ferdinand @ BA – 27th
OCTOBER
The Wonder Stuff + guests @ BA – 8th
DECEMBER
The Dresden Dolls + guests @ The Medicine Bar – 9th
Coldrice New Years Eve Party ft Copter / The Big Bang @ BA – 31st

2005
JANUARY
Adam Green + guests @ Bar Academy – 26th
FEBRUARY
REM + guests @ NEC Arena – 23rd
MARCH
The Rakes + guests @ Bar Academy – 22nd
Pink Grease / Protocol @ Bar Academy – 29th
APRIL
Coldrice Salutes The Blues! ft T Model Ford @ Bar Academy – 9th
Kaiser Chiefs + guests @ BA – 15th
Glen Tilbrook / Jim Bianco @ The Abbey Pub (Chicago) – April 20th
Memphis in May Festival - Jerry Lee Lewis / WAR / The Killers / Mavis Staples / Billy Idol / Phish / Lisa Marie Presley @ Memphis – April sometime
Muck Sticky @ A square somewhere in Memphis – April sometime
MAY
The Go Team + guests @ BA2 – 8th
JUNE
Twisted Folk Tour ft Vetiver / Micah P Hinson / Currituck Co@ BA2 – 11th
SEPTEMBER
The Infadels + guests @ Bar Academy – 26th
The Research / Piskie Sits / The Ripps @ Bar Academy – 27th
NOVEMBER
Kid Carpet + guests @ Bar Academy
Gogol Bordello + guests @ Bar Academy – 29th
DECEMBER
Nigel Clark + guests @ Bar Academy – 13th

2006
MARCH
Good Shoes / Rumble Strips @ Bar Academy – 26th
APRIL
The Slackers / Big Hand @ Bar Academy – 9th
MAY
Mystery Jets / Spinto Band @ BA2 – 5th
Absentee + guests @ Bar Academy – 6th
Tilly & the Wall + guests @ Bar Academy – 16th
AUGUST
Cud – August 16th @ Barfly
Jeffrey Lewis / NY Howl / Faceometer @ Jug Of Ale – 24th August
The Grates / The Hot Puppies @ Birmingham Bar Fly – 27th August
Michael Franti & Spearhead @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 31st August
SEPTEMBER
Moseley Folk Festival 2nd/3rd
Pentangle / Andy Votel / Seth Lakeman / Nick Harper / The Toy Hearts / Vijay Kishore
The Destroyers (vs Mitchell and Kenyon) @ Curzon Street Station – 9th
The Destroyers @ Artsfest 10th
The Pipettes / The Hot Puppies @ BA2 – 20th
OCTOBER
PTV3 / Pram / The Courtesy Group @ Barfly – 6th
Vincent Vincent & The Villains / Hufdis Huld / Second Sun Rising @ Jug of Ale – 16th
Coptor / The Grease Monkeys / The Sugars / The Dexateens / Dan Sartain / Swampmeat / The Big Bang @ somewhere in Digbeth – 21st
The Long Blones / 1990’s / Monkey Swalows The Universe @ BA2 – 28th
NOVEMBER
The Gossip / Comanechi / Panther @ BA2 – 2nd
Luke Haines / Lisa Lindley Jones @ Bar Academy – 8th
Dufus / Mr Bones and the Dreamers @ Jug of Ale – 12th
Bromheads Jacket / Oxford Glamour Models @ Barfly – 22nd
Jeffrey Lewis Band / Kate Goes / Deadly Long Legs / Let’s Wrestle @ Bar Academy – 25th
The Rumble Strips / The Answering Machine @ Bar Academy – 29th
DECEMBER
Captain / Polytechnic / Envy & Other Sins @ Barfly – 1st
Men Women and Children / Kill The Arcade / Montana @ Barfly – 2nd
Misty’s Big Adventure / ZX Spectrum Orchestra @ Glee Club – 6th
Billy Bragg / Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. @ BA – 13th
Fyfe Dangerfield / Godfrey Salter and his Invisible Ducks @ Glee Club – 17th

2007
JANUARY
Electric Animals / Nigel Clark / Love Bites @ Barfly – 12th
The Wombats / The Lights / Curzon Circle @ Barfly – 14th
Ghosts / Prospect Lane / The Hoi Poloi / Ben Calvert @ Barfly – 17th
The View / Ripcord @ Barfly – 24th
Pop Levi / Hot Machine @ Bar Academy – 29th
FEBRUARY
Foals / The Ripps / Linear / Mary Luxembourg and the Black Bats @ Sunflower Lounge – 9th?
Crass Communication / The Hussy’s / Adventure Club @ Barfly – 13th
Union of Knives / 35 Seconds / Grandscope / Selotape @ Barfly – 22nd
Mika / Leon Jean Marie @ Barfly – 23rd
Forward Russia / Men Women & Children @ BA2 – 24th
Tilly & The Wall / The Little Ones @ Bar Academy – 25th
MARCH
Los Campesinos! / Sky Larkin / Johnny Foreigner / Kate Goes @ Barfly – 2nd
Gallows / The Scare @ Bar Academy – 4th
Gruff Rhys / Voice of the Seven Woods / 9 Bach @ Glee Club – 6th
Fillmore Gears / Prospect Lane / Smart Soutane @ Bar Academy – 9th
Pull Tiger Tail / Ali Love / I Say Marvin @ Barfly – 13th
The Sounds / Under The Influence / Low vs Diamond @ Bar Academy – 20th
Misty’s Big Adventure / Poppy and the Jezebels @ Glee Club – 27th
APRIL
Indigo Moss / Dan Whitehouse @ Glee Club – 10th
The Archer Home / Vix n’the Kix / Reverie Strings @ Sunflower Lounge – 11th
Miles Hunt / Reverie Strings @ Barfly – 21st
The Officers / The Priory @ Barfly 21st / 22nd
Bobby Conn / Last Man Standing @ Glee Club – 29th
MAY
The Ganders / The Riptides / Strangeways @ The Flapper – 11th
Julian Cope / Dan Whitehouse @ Glee Club – 16th
The Great Escape 17th – 19th
Day One – Eternal Erection / Peggy Sue & The Pirates / Peter Van Poel / 586 / Les Breastfeeders / The Foals / Gallows
Day Two – Fat Boy Slim in conversation with Rob Da Bank / Barbara Carlotti / Emily Loizeau / Howard Marks in conversation with Shaun Ryder / Young Soul Rebels / The Pistolas / Sex Panther / Help She Can’t Swim / Johnossi / The Hat / Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
Day Three – Rattatag / Die!Die!Die! / BIB / Tiger Force / Shrag / MIT / Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip / Bonde de Role / Kate Nash / Mr Hudson & The Library / Spleen / Lethal Bizzle / Blak Twang
Candie Payne / The Draytones @ Bar Academy – 22nd
Datarock / Velofax / Ottogono / Annuals @ Rainbow then Barfly – 25th
The Rumble Strips / The Little Ones / Pull Tiger Tail / Blood Red Shoes @ BA2 28th
JUNE
Mr Derry / The Gravity Crisis / Untitled Musical Project / Zebedy Rays @ Flapper – 1st
Seasick Steve / Duke Garwood @ MAC (outdoors) – 2nd
Glastonbury
CUD / Ned’s Atomic Dustbin / Kid Harpoon / Guilty Pleasures (featuring The Magic Numbers /Tim Burgess / Les from the Bay City Rollers and Suggs) / Lily Allen (with Lynville Golding and Terry Hall) / !!!
Rootsville – Birmingham Community Gospel Choir / Chrissy Van Dyke / Soweto Kinch / The Young Zulu Warriors / The Dholblasters / The Inspiral Carpets / The Ripps / Dandi Wind
JULY
Tokyo Police Club / Destroy Cowboy / The Indigos @ Barfly – 4th
Shiney Toy Guns / Neon Plastix / Trailer / Sevenball @ Barfly – 23rd
Lo-Fi-Fnk / Johnny Foreigner @ The Rainbow – 31st
AUGUST
Copter / Beestung Lips / Swampmeat / Velvet Texas Cannonball @ The Rainbow – 9th
Moseley Festival @ Moseley Private Park – 11th
David Garside / Little Sister / Ben Calvert / Allies / The Celturian / Just Us / 360
The Brascoes / Escobar / The Vehicles / The Mannequin Republic @ The Rainbow – 17th
MC Devvo / Hot Spunk / Crystal Castles @ Barfly – 18th / early 19th
DeVotchKa @ BA2 – 21st
Brite Lights / Prospect Lane / The Policy / Guile @ The Rainbow – 31st
SEPTEMBER
Billy Bob Thornton @ Slims (San Francisco) – c. 9th
Love (Cirque show) @ The Mirage (Las Vegas) – 13th
PTV3 @ BA2 – 18th
Blood Red Shoes / The Ghost of a Thousand @ Bar Academy – 19th
OCTOBER
Stars / Lily Fraser @ Barfly – 1st
The Puppini Sisters / Patti Plinko and her Boy – 2nd
Finding Calcutta / Reverie (Strings) / Le Retrouvailles / Little Palm @ The Rainbow –5th
Thomas Dolby @ BA2 – 8th
The Others / The Motive / Geezer / Bootleg Poets @ The Rainbow – 12th
The Bourgeois Four / Ill Ease / Fade To Sepia @ The Actress & Bishop – 13th
Pram / Modified Toy Orchestra / Shady Bard @ Town Hall – 15th
The Rumble Strips / The Answering Machine @ BA2 – 16th
And What Will Be Left Of Them? / Liner / Dead World Leaders / Shocked Elevator Family @ The Rainbow – 19th
Flamboyant Bella / Big Ice Gem / Bi-Polar Baby @ Bar Academy – 21st
Oneyesblue / The Allies / Honeytrap / All Your Peers @ The Rainbow – 26th
Shy Child / We Smoke Fags @ Bar Academy – 28th
NOVEMBER
Gigbeth – Nizlopi / Achanak / Soweto Kinch @ Digbeth High Street – 1st
Destroy Cowboy / Guile @ Barfly – 2nd
BC Camplight / Dan Whitehouse @ Glee Club – 5th
The Foxes / The Will To Rally / Killerapollo @ The Rainbow – 9th
Jeffree Star / My Passion @ Bar Academy – 14th
Guile / The Hoi Polloi / Blisst / Telegramme @ The Rainbow – 16th
The Fall / Miss Halliwell @ Barfly – 22nd
The Dirty Backbeats / The Velvet Texas Cannonball / Mills and Boon / The Fake Tracies / Burnst @ The Rainbow – 23rd
Chris Tye / Leitmotif / Jodi Lawrence / Vix n’the Kix @ The Rainbow – 30th
DECEMBER
Marc Almond / Lee Griffith @ BA2 – 1st
Destroy Cowboy / Grandscope / This Machine is Off / The Dogfight Revolution @ The Rainbow – 7th
The Scarlet Harlots / The Allies / Prospect Lane / The Bourgeois Four @ The Rainbow – 14th
Carina Round / Lupen Crook and the Murderbirds / Tom Bellamy @ Bar Academy – 10th
The High Society / Trust My Dishonour / The First Seven @ The Rainbow – 21st

2008
JANUARY
Electric Animals / Murdoch / The Archives / Soldier @ The Rainbow – 18th
Yeti / The Foxes / The Allies @ The Barfly – 24th
The Allies / The Vehicles / The Leonards @ The Rainbow – 25th
Stars / Apostle of Hustle / Destroy Cowboy @ Barfly – 28th
FEBRUARY
Kate Goes / Vix n’the Kix / Bom & His Magic Drumstick / Anyone for Shark @ The Rainbow – 1st
This Love Affair / Liner / The Lionhearts / New Street Adventure @ The Rainbow – 8th
Late of the Pier / Video Nasties / Slagsmalsklubben @ Bar Academy – 16th
Elle S’appelle / Go faster >>> / Sunset Cinema Club @ Barfly – 19th
XX Teens / The Courtesy Group / Magnifikatz / Betty and the ID
The Anomalies / Old School Tie / 360 / Prospect Lane @ H & H (Hare and Hounds) – 29th
MARCH
MGMT / Virgin Passages @ Bar Academy – 3rd
Yeasayer / Everett @ Bar Academy – 5th
Einstellung / Kyte / Dead Fish / IO / Windscale @ The Rainbow – 7th
Cud / Big Ice Gem @ Barfly – 8th
She’s a Kamikaze Machine @ Barfly – 8th/9th
Duffy @ Glee Club – 11th
The Indigos / My Device / The Joe Fox Band / Strangetime @ The Rainbow – 14th
Cut Off Your Hands / Sunset Cinema Club / William / Mayday @ The Yardbird – 19th
Dodgy / Mark Morris / Misty’s Big Adventure @ BA2 – 25th
Mirror! Mirror! / Ok Tokyo / The Vehicles / Your Biggest Fanclub @ The Rainbow – 28th
APRIL
Holy Fuck / Free Blood @ Barfly – 3rd
Die!Die!Die! / Wander Phantom / Cromwell’s League / Theatre of the Absurd @ The Rainbow – 4th
DeVotchKa @ BA2 – 8th
Sheelanagig @ The Yardbird – 8th
The High Society / The Dirty Riffs / AFD Shift / DRAG / Trust My Dishonour @ The Rainbow – 11th
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings @ The Yardbird – 13th
Alphabeat / Leon Jean Marie @ Bar Academy – 22nd
Billy Bragg / Kitty, Daisy & Lewis / Chris Wood @ The Town Hall – 25th
Seth Lakeman / Tuung / Sharron Kraus @ The Town Hall – 26th
MAY
Vampire Weekend / White Williams @ BA2 – 2nd
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip / Gideon Conn / Producers With Computers / Polar Bear @ BA2
The Anomalies / Prospect Lane / Old School Tie / Geezer @ The Cross (Moseley) – 9th
The Great Escape Festival -15th – 17th
Day One – Doll & the Kicks / Official Secrets Act / Eugene McGuiness / Sometime / AA Bondy / Okkervil River / Arun Gosh / Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee
Day Two
Rosie Oddie / In conversation – Dave Ball, Richard Norris, Phil Hartnoll/ In conversation – David Quantick and Seymour Stein / Drums of Death / Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya / Jennifer Gentle / Bishi
Day Three
The Young Republic / Vola and the Oriental Machine / Levelload / Bo-Peep / Bon Iver / Glasvegas / Nils Bech
The Siege / Bryn Christopher / Jamie Croft / Only The Good @ The Flapper – 23rd
Santogold @ Bar Academy – Bar Academy – 26th
Guile / Mr Derry / Dogfight Revolution / Funhouse Robots @ The Rainbow – 30th
JUNE
This Love Affair / All Your Peers / Rase / Laredo @ The Rainbow – 6th
Robyn / Sam Sparro @ BA – 7th
Riot Night / Mutablis / In the Back of the Real @ The Custard Factory – 10th
Old School Tie / The Hoi Polloi / Talk / Colonel Fabien @ The Rainbow – 20th
The Retro Spankees / Kate Goes / Anyone For Shark / Finding Calcutta / Tom Peel @ The Rainbow – 28th
JULY
The Presets / Deluka @ The Rainbow – 2nd
Supersonic Festival - 11th – 13th
Day One
Cutting Pink With Knives / Dokkebi Q / Bogulta / Dalek
Day Two
Cath and Phil Tyler / Black Sun / The Owl Service / The Courtesy Group / Justice Yeldham / Efterklang / Oxbow / Fuck Buttons / Battles / Harvey Milk
Day Three
Max Tundra / Parts and Labor / Earth / Fucked Up / Kikuri / Gravetemple / Harmonia
Velvet Texas Cannonball / Burnside / Telegramme / The Archives @ The Rainbow – 18th
Jose Vanders / Little Palm / Gemma Quarterman @ The Rainbow – 21st
Toby Goodshank / Gary Nock and his Band / Dizzy Spells Martian / Jamie Croft @ The Rainbow – 24th
AUGUST
The Big Chill Festival
Jamie Woon, Jim White, Son of Dave, Martina Topley-Bird, Pama International, a bit of Roison Murphy, The Irresistble Force, Lykke Li, The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, The Hot 8 Brass Band, Fujiya & Miyagi, a bit of The Mighty Boosh, a bit of 'Still Black, Still Proud', a bit of Trentmoller, Norman Jay, Orcestra Baobab, Jilted John , Imagined Village (featuring the lovely Eliza Carthy), Camille and Leonard Cohen
The Crimes / The Hot Monocles / The Cubans / Danny’s Last Dance @ The Rainbow – 8th
Untitled Musical Project / Your Biggest Fanclub / Sabotage Left / Theatre of the Absurd @ The Rainbow – 22nd
Barnesy / Long Road Ghosts / Dastards / The Red Caps / Old School Tie / 360 @ The Sound Bar – 23rd
Moseley Folk Festival -29th – 31st
Vijay Kishore/Gemma Quarterman / Ben Calvert / Peter Moran /Chris Wood / Lucy and the Caterpillar / The Accidental/Albino / Kinkajou /The Destroyers / Chris T-T/Waterson: Carthy /Ian Campbell/Seth Lakeman
SEPTEMBER
Rose McDowell / Gemma Quarterman @ The Sound Bar – 3rd
Rogue States / This Beautiful Thief / The Likely Lads @ The Rainbow – 8th
The Dizzolvers / The Fighting Cocks / Streetsoul Productions @ The Rainbow – 26th
OCTOBER
The Bureau @ The Sound Bar – 3rd
Ladyhawke / Deluka / Death Ohh Eff / Electrilickers @ The Rainbow – 6th
Glenn Tilbrook / Emily Maguire @ The Glee Club – 21st
The Allies / Mr Derry / The Jaayz @ The Rainbow – 31st
NOVEMBER
Dr Dog / Wye Oak @ The Glee Club – 3rd
Neon Neon / Yo Majesty @ The Glee Club – 10th
Monotonix / Mirror! Mirror! / Black & Reds @ The Rainbow – 12th
Baby Dee / Paul Curreri / Black Carrot @ The Glee Club – 27th
DECEMBER
Shit and Shine / The Courtesy Group / Mills & Boon @ The Rainbow – 1st
TV On The Radio / The Big Pink @ The Academy – 7th
The Puppini Sisters @ The Town Hall – 10th
Envy & Other Sins / The Heathers / Mr Bones and the Dreamers / Tom Peel @ The Rainbow – 18th
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster / The High Society / The Indigos @ The Rainbow – 20th

2009
JANUARY
The Voluntary Butler Scheme / The Lights / LP45 / Beneva @ The Rainbow – 9th
Ugly Duckling / Jim Screech / Unfriendly Neighbours @ The Rainbow – 14th
Heloise & the Savoir Faire / Hitchcock / The Riptides / 10 Guitars @ The Rainbow – 30th
FEBRUARY
The Crimes / La Roux / The Electrilickers / Death Ohh Eff @ The Rainbow – 6th
The Coast / All Your Peers / The Heathers / Tom Peel @ The Rainbow – 13th
Velvet Texas Cannonball / Silence Is Dead / Jensen and the Interceptors @ The Rainbow – 20th
Joss Stone / Adam Isaac @ The Rainbow – 23rd
Anyone For Shark / The Ladders / 360 / The Traps @ The Rainbow – 27th
MARCH
Marmaduke Duke / Airship @ The Rainbow – 2nd
Ipso Facto / Hatcham Social / Poppy & the Jezebels @ The Rainbow – 4th
Miss Halliwell / King of Conspiracy / Dead Fish / The Concept : Mk @ The Rainbow – 7th
The Rumble Strips / Wet Paint @ The Rainbow – 9th
The Foxes / The Turns / The Vehicles / The Carpels @ The Rainbow – 12th
Finley Quaye / Burnside @ The Rainbow – 19th
Barrington / Colonel Fabien / Is I Cinema @ The Rainbow – 20th
Frankmusik @ a shop in Birmingham (Candy something or other...) – 29th
Gary Go / VV Brown / Elviin @ The Glee Club – 31th
APRIL
The Anomalies / Old School Tie / The Suit @ The Rainbow – 3rd
Gemma Quarterman / The Haiku / Small Blue Fish / The Great Plain @ The Island Bar – 14th
Bombay Bicycle Club / tantrums / Black Market Empire @ The Rainbow – 18th
The Virgins / Amazing Baby / Chew Lips @ The Rainbow – 21st
Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet @ The Symphony Hall – 24th
MAY
Die!Die!Die! / Sabotage Left / Vinny and the Curse / Black Heart Generator @ The Rainbow – 1st
Navvy / Poppy and the Jezebels / Tempting Rosie / Panda Pop Culture @ The Rainbow – 4th
The Heathers / Hitchcock / 10 Guitars @ The Rainbow – 8th
The Great Escape Festival 2009, Brighton – 14th-16th
Day One : Panama Kings / Apples / Hjaltalin / The Invisible / Cocknbullkid / Killa Kella / Fandeath
Day Two : Turbowolf / Tom Allalone and the 78’s / The Alexandria Quartet / Advaita / Medusa / Rainbow Arabia / Duchess Says / The John Steels Singers / Bang Bang Eche / The Miserable Rich / 80Kidz / Ou Est Le Swimming Pool
Day Three : Bang Bang Eche / Conan Mockasin / Babyshambles / Ben Kweller / Banjo or Freakout / Three Trapped Tigers / School of 7 Bells / White Denim
Seth Lakeman / Megson / Nancy Elizabeth @ The Symphony Hall – 17th
Vivian Girls / Male Bonding / The Deadlights @ The Rainbow – 19th
Antony & the Johnsons @ The Symphony Hall
Mr Hudson / MPHO / Alan Pownall @ The Rainbow – 23rd
Dan Smith / LP45 / Get Frank @ The Rainbow – 29th
JUNE
The Flyover Show @ under a flyover in Hockley – 13th Soweto Kinch / Tan / Jonzi D / Tumi / Spokinn Movement / Natty / MC Bashy / Ty / Robert Mitchell and Corey Mwamba
JULY
Cornbury Festival @ Charlbury – 10 - 12th
Day One : The Boy Least Likely To / Dodgy / The Magic Numbers / Sharleen Spiteri / The Damned / Scouting For Girls
Day Two: 3 Daft Monkeys / The New Forbidden / The Lightning Seeds / Mary Couglan / Peatbog Faeries / The Sugababes
The Temper Trap / I Thee Lothario / Black Market Empire @ The Rainbow – 14th
D’espairsRay / Heaven’s Basement @ The Rainbow – 16th
Kid British / The Anomalies / Tempting Rosie @ The Rainbow – 20th
Hjaltalin / Mr Bones & the Dreamers / 51 Breaks / This Beautiful Thief @ The Rainbow – 24th
Emiliana Torrini / Island Line @ The Glee Club – 28th
Cornershop @ BA2 – 31st
AUGUST
The Big Chill Festival 2009 7-9th
United Vibrations / John Cooper Clarke / GaBle / Alice Russell / Hypnotic Brass Ensemble / David Byrne / Erik Truffaz / The Leisure Society / Sweet Billy Pilgrim / James Yuill / Wildbirds and Peacedrums / Basement Jaxx / Sons of Arqa / Pharoah Saunders / Max Romeo / Penguin Cafe / Bonobo / Chrome Hoof / Tom Brosseau / Oren Marshall / Edward II / Sneaky / Andrew Bird / Rodriguez / Amadou & Mariam / Broken Records / Aruba Red / Telepathe
Talks: Michael Lang (Woodstock founder) / Simon Gandolfi
Pull Tiger Tail / The Vehicles / Black Market Empire @ The Flapper – 19th
Dirty Rapture / Dale Tomkins / The Dirty Knecks / All The More @ The Actress & Bishop – 28th
SEPTEMBER
Moseley Folk Festival 2009 4th – 6th
Day One: Ben Calvert / Fancy Toys / Circulus / Rose Ellinor Dougal / Frida Hyvonen / St Etienne
Day Two: Pritam Singh / The Demon Barber Roadshow / Beth Jeans Houghton / Drever, McCusker / Woomble / Comus / Beth Orton
Day Three: Wizz Jones / Jim Moray / The Bad Shepherds / Carthy and Swarbrick / Jethro Tull
Also saw over the three days: Mary Hampton / The Pastels and Tenniscoats / Jackie Oates / Vetiver / Wolf People / Kelli Ali / Hunter Robinson / Cara Dillon / Ella Edmondson / Mama Matrix
Kyle Audlist / Cookin’ On 3 Burners @ The Yardbird – 11th
ArtsFest 2009 – Anthony Joseph and the Spasm Band
The Lemonheads @ The Irish Centre – 15th
Alela Diane / Laura Gibson @ The Town Hall – 16th
OCTOBER
Zu / Beestung Lips / Das Bastard @ The Rainbow – 2nd
General Fiasco / The Onlookers / The Fall, The Rise @ BA3 – 4th
Doll & the Kicks / The Lights / Drunk Lovers / Saints and Sinners @ The Hare & Hounds – 5th
Bollywood Steps @ Victoria Square – 8th
The Destroyers / The Toy Hearts / The Old Dance School @ The Town Hall – 11th
The Slits / PENS / The Courtesy Group @ The Rainbow – 14th
The Miserable Rich / Babel / The Random Family @ The Glee Club – 15th
Nine Black Alps / Sucioperro / Black Market Empire @ The Hare & Hounds – 19th
The Twilight Sad / Mutineers / Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare & Hounds – 26th
Everything Everything / Findo gask / Fix Monday @ The Flapper – 28th
Marc Almond / Baby Dee @ The Alexandra Theatre – 29th
Delphic / Two Door Cinema Club / Old School Tie @ The Rainbow – 30th
NOVEMBER
The Sunshine Underground / Andre Aristotle @ The Hare & Hounds – 16th
CHEW LiPS / I Thee Lothario / 51 Breaks @ The Flapper – 24th
The Heavy / At The Zoo / Smiley Mic @ The Rainbow – 27th
DECEMBER
Paloma Faith / Josh Weller @ BA2 – 3rd
Chris Wood’s Handmade Life @ Moseley All Services Club – 4th
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart / Depreciation Guild / Little Palm @ BA2 – 5th
Marilyn Manson / esOterica @ BA 13th
The Raveonettes / The Northwestern @ The Hare & Hounds – 17th

2010
JANUARY
The Imagined Village / Chris Wood @ The Town Hall – 21st
FEBRUARY
Hot Club De Paris / TANTRUMS / Barnsey @ The Rainbow – 8th
NME Awards Tour 2010 – The Maccabees / Bombay Bicycle Club / The Big Pink / The Drums @ BA – 11th
The Scholars / Chapel Club / The Naked Youth @ The Flapper – 13th
Hot Chip / Casiokids / Grosvenor @ BA – 20th
First Aid Kit / Goodnight Lenin / Jodie and the Jet Plane @ The Rainbow – 22nd
MARCH
Los Campesinos! / Swanton Bombs / Islet @ The Rainbow – 1st
Girls / Spectrals / Circus Town @ The Hare & Hounds – 3rd
The Miserable Rich / Dan Whitehouse @ The Glee Club – 4th
The XX / These New Puritans / Glasser @ BA2 – 5th
I Thee Lothario / Isolated Atoms / 51 Breaks / Corelli @ The Sound Bar – 13th
Vix n’the Kix / Kat Vipers / Little L @ The Hare & Hounds – 15th
The Joy Formidable / Baddies / Airship @ BA3 – 20th
Mamas Gun / Arabella / 1EYE @ BA3 - 23rd
Dan Le Sac vs Scoobius Pip / B Dolan / Sound of Rum @ BA2 – 26th
APRIL
Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam @ BA3 – 6th
King Adora / Vinny and the Curse @ The Hare and Hounds – 7th
La Brass Banda / Fistful of Dynamite / Gurdan Thomas @ The Hare and Hounds – 15th
Kate Nash / Brigette Aphrodite @ The Hare & Hounds – 17th
Robyn Hitchcock / Mike Heron and Georgia Seddon @ BA2 – 18th
Boy George @ Town Hall – 19th
Patrick Duff @ The Hare & Hounds – 22nd
Lucky Soul / Fix Monday / China Red (didn’t appear due to volcanic ash...) @ The Flapper – 24th
Fool’s Gold / Tempting Rosie / The Flying Nines @ The Rainbow – 27th
Darwin Deez / Goodnight Lenin @ The Hare & Hounds – 29th
MAY
The Bluetones / Apples / Black Market Empire @ BA2 – 3rd
John Fell / I Thee Lothario @ The Sound Bar (for my...ahem...40th birthday party) – 9th
Flight of the Conchords @ NIA – 11th
Grace and Danger (the songs of John Martyn) @ Town Hall ft Danny Thompson / Eddi Reader / Scott Matthews / Ian McNabb / Beverley Martyn – 14th
Goodnight Lenin @ Symphony Hall Bar – 15th
The Graham Coxon Power Acoustic Ensemble @ Town Hall – 15th
Fuzzbox / [dweeb] @ The Academy – 22nd
Dan Sartain / The Rivers Presley Set @ The Hare & Hounds – 27th
Arcadian Kicks / Shackletons / I Thee Lothario / King Singh and Grease Boy – 29th
The Flyover Show 2010 @ a flyover in Hockley
Soweto Kinch / Dreemz / RPM / Roxxxanne / Judy’s House / Janet Kay / Eska Mtungwazi / Ms Dynamite
JUNE
Villagers / John Fell @ The Glee Club – 1st
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster / Bad For Lazarus / Black Fangs @ The Hare & Hounds – 2nd
The Miserable Rich / Dan Whitehouse / Adelaide’s Cape @ The Glee Club – 10th
Band of Horses / Darker My Love @ Wulfrun Hall – 14th
JULY
Mostly Jazz – 3rd - 4th
Day One: Groove Cartel / The Get Up / Jodi Anne Bickley / Led Bib / Nick Pride & the Pimptones / Polar Bear / The James Taylor Quartet / Quantic and his Combo Barbaro / Sun Ra Arkestra
Day Two: Andy Hamilton / The Bright Size Gypsy’s / Cymande / Portico Quartet / Sara Coleman / Courtney Pine
Polly & the Billets Doux/ Adelaide’s Cape / Dan Whitehouse @ The Hare & Hounds – 5th
First Aid Kit / Goodnight Lenin / Mr Bones & the Dreamers @ The Hare and Hounds – 15th
Mighty Mighty @ Warley Woods Party in the Park – 18th
Soil & Pimp Sessions @ The Hare & Hounds – 21st
William Control / Octane Ok / Elmo Sexwhistle / Obscure Pleasures @ The Flapper – 22nd
Chapel Club / Dead Lights / Victories At Sea @ The Flapper – 23rd
Bears House @ The Mac ft Polar Bear/ Barnsey / Eliza Little / Jodi Anne Bickley / LCB / Matt Windle / Kim Trusty – 31st
AUGUST
The Phenomenal Handclap Band @ The Hare & Hounds – 4th
Goodnight Lenin / Boat To Row / The Young Runaways / Jodi Anne Bickley @ The Hare & Hounds – 6th
Ugly Duckling / Kinny / Smiley Mic / DJ Mylz @ The Hare & Hounds – 25th
I Blame Coco / The Traps @ The Hare & Hounds – 26th
SEPTEMBER
Moseley Folk Festival 2010
Day One: Ben Calvert / Matthew P / Sparrow & the Workshop / Vadoinmessico / Erland and the Carnival / Hannah Peel / Fyfe Dangerfield / Turin Breaks / Divine Comedy
Day Two: Lisa Knapp / Alasdair Roberts / Johnny Flynn / Malpas / Spider John Koerner / The High Llamas / The Low Anthem / Goodnight Lenin / Donovan
Day Three: Sam Walter / Martin Simpson / Little Sister / The Destroyers / John Renbourn / Urban Folk Quartet / Lunasa / Rainbow Chasers / The Unthanks / The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
ArtsFest 2010
Goodnight Lenin / Tempting Rosie / The Heels / The Arcadian Kicks / The Black and Reds / The Twang
Gong / Nik Turner’s Space Ritual @ HMV Institute – 20th
Paul Heaton / Liam Frost @ The Glee Club – 26th
NME Tour ft The Joy Formidable / Chapel Club / Flats @ BA2 – 27th
Mark Ronson and the Business International (with Duran Duran) / Rose Ellinor Dougal @ The HMV Institute – 28th
OCTOBER
O. Children / At The Zoo @ The Flapper – 1st
Islet / Ace Bushy Striptease / This Is Sinister @ The Flapper – 2nd

There are, inevitably, some gaps in this list caused by my failing memory. Here are some of the gigs that I can remember going to...but can’t remember when. Any ideas?

Big Boss Man @ some bar in Birmingham...late 90’s...the bar seemed to shut after about three days ...it was near The Foundry.

Editors @ The Flapper (this was a free gig a few years back just before they really broke big)

Quantic Soul Orchestra @ The Hare and Hounds

Edwards No. 8

Credit To The Nation / Collapsed Lung / Bullets and Blue Eyes
The Voodoo Queens + support
Elastica + support

Coldrice Nights
I was a semi regular at Coldrice’s legendary Bar Academy gigs around 2002 – 2004 and here are just a few of the bands I can remember seeing play...again the dates escape me:
David Viner
Monsieur Jeffrey Evans
The Priscillas
Guitar Wolf
The Bassholes
Copter
The Big Bang
Bob Log III
The Woggles
Les Georges Leningrad
The Rogers Sisters
Ronnie Scotts

I also attended these gigs at Ronnie Scotts (now a strip joint) in Birmingham (and a few others between 1993 and 2002...but lord knows when):

All About Eve
Black
Magnetic Fields
Mark King (Level 42)
Belinda Carlisle
Honor Blackman
Carmel
Mari Wilson
The Manfreds
Nigel Kennedy
Medieval Babes
Carina Round
George Melly

Medicine Bar

Selfish Cunt
Lydia Lunch
Selfish Cunt / Martini Henry Rifles

Misty’s Big Adventure

I’ve seen this band oodles of times but I’m buggered if I can remember the early dates. The first time was at The Flapper & Firkin though...at the time of their first self released album (you know...the one with My Vegetable Friend on it).
Glastonburys
Oh so many Glastonburys...1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007...and 2010...but I only saw a car park that year. Nice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lucky Soul / Fix Monday / China Red @ The Flapper, Saturday 24th April 2010

A few years back the other half, Lady Baron, picked up an album at a record fair by a band we’d never heard before. We do that sort of thing (I know...what a mad and crazy life we lead eh?). It’s a hangover from the days when you couldn’t discover new music without a few punts on unknown stuff...it’s a bit hit and miss but every once in a while you get some real gems. This particular album by a certain ‘Lucky Soul’ was one of them. 60’s white girl soul at its very best it preceded Duffy by a good year or two. But whereas the Duffster hit the big time Lucky Soul failed to live up to their name and were, in the UK at least) criminally neglected in my humble opinion. Now they’re back and it’s time to make amends people.

First up though electro drum n’bassers China Red...or at least it should’ve been. It seems that their lead singer Sam is stuck in a volcano somewhere. Shame, I was rather looking forward to a bit of d n’b. I placated myself with a rather fine Cosmopolitan Cocktail made by a delightful young lady on the bar and settled down for another fix of Fix Monday instead, an instantly loveable bunch of chaps with a set stuffed full of optimistic tunes that bring a smile to the face and a tap to the toe (the perfect cure for water on the knee...). I’ve been lucky enough to see ‘em a fair few times over the last year or so and they never fail to impress. ‘This Will Make My Life Better’ and ‘I Change’ (with its delicious harmony bits) remain my favourites, but a newer, rockier track ‘Rise’ came off really well tonight and their regular a’capella “reverse stage invasion” (where the whole band decamp from the stage to the audience) version ‘Of The People You Meet’ remained spine tingingly great. On top of being lovely people (I had the pleasure of chatting to a couple of them after the gig), the band seem to be putting in that little extra effort (badges and cards all over the venue and decent website rather than just the obligatory My Space page) in everything they do. Their latest thang is to recruit the audience to film particular songs in their set then use the resulting footage to make a video. It’s a neat idea and the ones I’ve watched work surprisingly well.

After much gear humping (they were moving it I mean...not making lurve to an amplifier...that could be dangerous kids...jizz and electricity don’t mix well) Lucky Soul blessed us with the kind of set that makes you go a little bit moist in your trouser area (that’s put you off your tea now hasn’t it?). They’re a cracking live band, which is a great start, but what’s most important is that they’re writing some of the lushest pop and soul tracks around. If there’s a pop god up there in the heavens he’s answered our prayers for the perfect Summer soundtrack in their frankly essential new album ‘A Coming of Age’ which effortlessly blends influences to create tracks that are as fresh as daisy but have that feel of being long established classics. Set opener ‘Whoa Billy’ (from said album) added some glam rock footstomping to the mix for example whilst ‘White Russian Doll’ (one of the many highlights in a set that didn’t have a single duff moment) had an ultra hip Stereolab-ish feel. It’s like pop heroin...fast acting, instantly addictive and liable to make you keel over grinning like an idiot as you willingly OD. At the heart of it all there’s the scrummily angel voiced Ali Howard who spent the night shimmying all over the stage in her stockinged feet (that’s a very brave thing to do in The Flapper)...and I do love a good shimmy. If you’re a fan of Dusty, St Etienne, Candie Payne...hell...if you like music at all... you’ll just la la la la la love this band. Lucky soul? Lucky us.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Patrick Duff @ The Hare & Hounds, Thursday 22nd April 2010

Back in the 90’s Strangelove achieved a reasonable degree of success with a few top 40 singles and major tour slots with Suede, Radiohead and the Manics. They deserved to be bigger in my humble opinion, mainly down to their enigmatic lead singer Patrick Duff. It’s probably just as well that they weren't though, as Patrick decided to jack it all in, seemingly becoming disillusioned with the whole sex, drugs and rock n’roll business. He is, however, already responsible for two of my favourite live moments of all time:

(1) At a Strangelove gig in Nottingham in the late 90's he threw down his mic mid song, leapt into the crowd and carried on singing as he weaved his way amongst us, his voice somehow carrying across the entire room as clear as a bell.

(2) As a solo performer he played a gig at the Bar Academy a few years back (March 2006 in fact) which attracted about 12 of us. After putting his heart and soul into the gig he came back out for the traditional encore and, rather than staying on stage, he invited us all to sit in the middle of the room together and introduce ourselves to him before he played a handful of covers (including the theme tune to Postman Pat). I don’t know why this touched me so much but, years later, it still does.

Fast forward a few years and Patrick’s back in Birmingham to promote his new album, The Mad Straight Road. Would we get more than 12 people this time...? Yes. Would he make it three in a row and blow me way again? What do you think? Coming on stage at around 9pm (no support band, but Mr Bones and the Dreamers did a fine job as DJ’s) to a version of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ (not sure which one) Patrick approached a huge gong on the right of the stage. He banged it. I’m not sure what sort of gong it was but it rang out for a good few seconds. The noise subsided. He banged it again. Then waited. Then again. The over and over again...furiously, the noise became thunderous. And then silence. No more mention was made of the gong, nor was it used again, but, if it was done to gain our attention, it worked. You could hear a pin drop. He began with a song called ‘Dead Man Singing’, summoning up the spirits of Brecht, Brel and Berlin, Cave, Cohen and Cash. Staring out, glassy eyed, singing words that clearly meant the world to him (you really don’t get that with too many singers) it was an emotional overture to a show that was just a privilege to be part of.

I know a little of Patrick’s recent life and times and he gave us bit more of a flavour tonight. Clearly he’s been (and is going) through an extended period of reflection over the meaning of life, love and success. ‘I spent a while wandering through the woods’ he confessed, reflecting on the aftermath of Strangelove’s split. Then he went off to South Africa to spend time with an 80 year old woman (Madosini Manqina) who'd just been ‘discovered’ and was playing WOMAD. She awoke his true love for music again and they ending up playing together (he even lived in her village for a while). Then he came back to the UK and...well...spent some years in his bedroom, just writing songs. And what songs they are. Lyrically rich and emotionally charged, but somehow retaining a catchiness that most artists would give their right arm for, he held each and every one of us spellbound for 90 minutes. And I don’t use that word lightly. The voice is as strong and incredibly powerful as ever, the guitar playing, simple but beautifully structured and the modesty and the immense gratitude he showed to us for turning up was vastly disproportionate to the pleasure we had in watching him. I ain’t gonna give a breakdown of all the songs he played (no one but Patrick could do them justice). Just go and buy the album...I’m not sure where from...I’m sure someone will tell us. But on top of ‘Dead Man Singing’ you can listen to two of the other standouts from last night’s set on his MySpace page, ‘Three Little Monkeys’ (which last night featured rather fine trumpet noises from Patrick) and ‘Poor Old John’ (inspired by Patrick’s discovery that his great grandfather had been educated in a ditch school in Ireland...literally a ditch...which the kids sat in), featuring Patrick’s best Nick Cave-esque vocals.

Patrick’s tours (and indeed any live performance) seem to be increasingly rare and precious things these days. Tonight he acknowledged the help and support of a guy called ‘Rob’ (one of Mr Bones and the Dreamers) for getting him “out of Bristol and his comfort zone” so who knows when, or indeed if, I’ll get the chance to see him again? If this was the last time however it's a great memory to have. Whilst some might measure success in terms of record sales and column inches, sponsorship deals and chat show appearances, surely success as an artist boils down to just one thing – the ability to truly connect with another being through your words and music. If that’s the measure that really counts (and I’m convinced it is) last night Patrick achieved more than most.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meursault - 'All Creatures Will Make Merry'

There’s something in the Scottish make up that’s more than a little dark and melancholy isn’t there? Take Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons for example...okay, let’s keep this musical then. How about Arab Strap, Glasvegas and The Twilight Sad? That’s some dark shit going on there. Happily (maybe that’s the wrong word here) I rather like the dark shit, somehow it makes you realise that things (despite being covered in volcanic ash and subjected to David Cameron’s smug leering face every 30 seconds) ain’t so bad after all. Hailing from Edinburgh Meursault join this grand tradition of Scots miserablists with their new album, ironically titled ‘All Creatures Will Make Merry’. It’s uneasy listening, veering between the ultra Low Fi of ‘One Day This’ll Will Be Fields’ (which sounds like it’s been recorded on a well worn bit of tape then rubbed against some sandpaper before being buried in a tin can for a month...but that’s a good thing) and the full on sonic assault of ‘What You Don’t Have’ (which sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain at a rave...in a steelworks). Elsewhere there’s a more traditional folk flavour (think the Fence Collective) on tracks like ‘Another’ which just about gives you time to recover your thoughts before the album’s standout track ‘Song For Martin Kippenberger’ (heavy drinking German artist who died of liver cancer in 1997...you’re getting the picture here right?) pummels what’s left of your positivity into a bloody pulp with lead singer Neil Pennycook screaming “Please don’t save me” against a haunting backdrop of strings and piano. If, in the words of our Scottish cousins, you like a “wee dram of the hard stuff” this album will blow you away.

All Creatures Will Make Merry is out on Song, by Toad Records on May 24th

Boy George @ Birmingham Town Hall, Monday 19th April 2010

It’s hard to appreciate just what a big deal Boy George was back in the early 80’s. First of all the ‘is he a she debate?’ was, I recall, something of a national obsession, helping to catapult Culture Club into the big time all over the world. Then the drugs took hold and George was all over the papers again, this time literally fighting for life (at one point he was even outed by his own brother who claimed George had just days to live...looking at footage of the time he had a point). In recent years it’s been all about his battles with the law, culminating with what he tonight called his ‘holiday’ at her majesty’s pleasure last year. The fact that he’s arguably better known for all this other stuff right now than he is for his music is a real shame. Strip away the fuck ups (and boy, George has made his fair share) and there’s a lusciously rich vein of classic pop and dance anthems to get stuck into. Tonight, happily, George decided to do just that, covering all bases from early Culture Club through to his early solo stuff on to Jesus Loves You and right up to date with current single ‘Amazing Grace’.

The venue was packed out with its fair share of forty something Old Romantics as well as a handful of people who’d made a real effort to make themselves look as George-ous as possible. Two chaps in particular pulled off the current George look (Philip Treacy hat, jacket with a few sparkly bits and a little pattern drawn on the side of his face in eyeliner...I think...I’m not a make-up expert despite my priddy, priddy face...it’s all natural you know) really well.

There was no support act so, bang on 8 pm (that’s probably locking up time in Pentonville), George and co came on, thanking the crowd for making it through the volcanic ash, before opening up with a lively rendition of ‘Generations of Love’. Given his well publicised battles with all kinds of nasty shit and the fact that he’s nudging close to 50 the voice is holding up remarkably well. It’s got a richer, much more lived in tone now...bearing the scars of a thousand and one late nights and last chances no doubt. George then attempted to engage in a little political debate. The audience weren’t up for it. At last we the people seem to have realised that voting is about as much use as trying to empty an ocean with a teaspoon. George did come out as a Liberal Democratic though...so expect to see Nick Clegg havin’ it large down at Heaven in a pair of PVC hotpants sometime soon.

The next number, ‘Vote for Love’ was probably the weakest of the night, nothing bad about it in particular but it just sort of bounced along like a slightly deflated balloon at a children’s party. The rest of the set however was a celebration of the best of the Boy. ‘Everything I Own’ got the oldies up and dancing and from then on in there wasn’t a duff moment. I’m not a massive fan of ‘Amazing Grace’ but tonight’s stripped back reworking achieved the kind of hope in the face of adversity that I think George was going for in the first place. ‘Pentonville Blues’, also inspired by his ‘holiday’ and dedicated to Jonny Cash (another artist with a penchant for prisons...although not as an inmate) revisits George’s love of reggae and came off really well for a new track that, I’m guessing, most of the audience were unfamiliar with. Naturally the Culture Club numbers went down like lube at a fisting party with ‘Victims’ (probably the best song he’s ever done), ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’ all getting an airing. Some of the tracks are so well known that I can forgive a little bit of karaoke-ness creeping in here and there. Lordy knows how many times he’s sung ‘Karma Chameleon’, but far from being naff, perhaps because George is such as survivor, it was a pretty joyful affair. The most surprising moments tonight were the cover versions, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ and ‘Down By The Riverside’ all of which made the best use of that rich, smokiness George’s voice now possesses. ‘Nobody Knows...’ in particular had the kind of feel that only comes from going through some serious shit in your life. Admittedly most of its self inflicted in George’s case, whereas the origins of the song lie in the struggles of people enslaved by others, but nevertheless it was a truly soulful rendition. Add ‘Bow Down Mister’, T-Rex’s ‘Get It On’ and an old, long forgotten track of George’s called ‘The Deal’ and, as sets go, it was a wilfully eclectic mix covering everything from gospel, soul, blues, pop, disco and reggae to Hindu devotionals. I’m struggling to think of anyone else who could pull it off? Despite, or maybe because of his trials and tribulations, tonight the Boy done good.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock / Mike Heron and Georgia Seddon @ The Academy 2, Sunday 18th April 2010

In a world that (quite rightly) holds the psychedelic ramblings of Syd Barrett in such high esteem why the chuff isn’t Robyn Hitchcock much better known and respected? It’s a mystery to me, just like some of his lyrics in fact, but as I’m discovering, that’s part of the charm of a man who has, for over 30 years, seemingly ploughed his own sweet furrow through the musical landscape.

Before diving into a world of sex, death and insects (these, famously, seem to be the subjects that most preoccupy Mr H) we had another cult figure in the form of Mike Heron, one of the founder fathers of The Incredible String Band – a legendary psych folk group who, I’m sure I read somewhere, went on to influence a little known rock band called Led Zeppelin. Now where the hell did they expect to get with a ridiculous name like that eh? Tonight Mike was joined by his daughter Georgia Seddon and another lady on a fiddle whose name I missed (‘cos I’m a bit slow) and together they gave us an intimate set that covered some of the Incredible String Band’s tracks (‘Painting Box’ was one of the standout numbers) as well as several of Georgia’s own compositions. Georgia’s got a beautiful voice and a couple of her solo songs (just her on a keyboard), ‘Bridges’ and ‘Bird’ were just gorgeous.

There wasn’t a huge crowd tonight but by the time Robyn came on there were just enough people in the room to create a decent atmosphere. I must admit I’m pretty new to Mr Hitchcock’s oeuvre and I didn’t really know what to expect from the live show. I knew he played on his own sometimes or with various bands (notably the Venus 3 featuring Peter Buck from REM), he’s also well known for lengthy in between song chats...perhaps, like his film directing namesake (but no relation), he likes keeping his audiences in suspense? Tonight we got Robyn (sporting a lively black and white polka dot shirt and matching guitar) with band (guitar, drums, percussion and cello) and, from the outset, any expectations of the evening were knocked into a cocked hat, albeit one stuffed full of insects having sex with dead rock stars. Before the gig started Robyn got all of the TVs that line the wall of the venue turned off (they’re on all of the time there to advertise forthcoming gigs...Scouting For Fish, Mr Blobby’s 25th Anniversary Tour, Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang...that sort of thing). One by one the screens were banished by some silent operative up in the sound booth, somehow this little moment felt like we were being temporarily cut off from the outside world and plunged deep into Robyn’s. Then the ‘Wreck of The Arthur Lee’ opened proceedings, building slowly it morphed into a bewitching Sergeant Pepper-y climax and, from that moment on, I was a fully blown convert. Hitchcockalujah!

Whilst Robyn’s not, in the conventional sense, the strongest vocalist in the world there are touches of Dylan, Lennon, Barrett and Bowie in there...in other words some of the most interesting voices of the last 40 years. Get into it and it’s a wonderful thing...dreamy and spaced out but still capable of delivering a killer chorus. Having a band behind him makes all the difference and tonight a couple of the guys added backing vocals which, like the seasoning on a nice piece of fillet steak, just got your mouthwatering that little bit more. The addition of a cello player was similarly inspired, giving a lushness to the material that’s not always there on some of the recorded or live versions that I've been listening to.

There wasn’t too much chat tonight, Robyn blamed the volcanic ash for getting into his throat, but he did find time to riff about whether the dragon (from Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’) had ever exited...or whether it was stuck on the 17th Floor of the nearby Radisson Hotel. He also explained why goldfish never mistook boiling water for normal temperature water...they have a built in heat seeking device. It makes sense to me. Have you ever seen a goldfish leap into a cup of tea? Exactly. Er...anyway, back to the music. Like I say, I’m pretty new to all this stuff but there were a good half a dozen tracks from tonight’s set that really stuck a chord. On top of Arthur Lee, standouts included ‘America’ (The Beatles meet the Psychedelic Furs), ‘Antwoman’ (a twisted T-Rex-ish tune), ‘Sounds Great When You’re Dead’, ‘NY Doll’ (a slow burning tribute to another dead Arthur...this time Mr ‘Killer’ Kane from the New York Dolls), ‘Ordinary Millionaire’ (with music written by Jonny Marr no less) and ‘Zipper In My Spine’ (the most Bowie-ish – Ziggy era – track of tonight’s set). I list all these tracks purely to give you an entry into what is, by anyone’s standards, an extensive archive of material. And enter it you should. Sometimes you find that a ‘cult artist’ is a cult for a reason...either they’re just too out there for your average punter or they’re actually no bloody good. Neither of these applies to Mr Hitchcock, which makes his relative obscurity in the UK (he seems to have more of a following in the US) even more odd. Continue to ignore him and, well, you’re just ‘Robyn’ yourself of a truly, truly great artist.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kate Nash / Brigette Aphrodite @ The Hare & Hounds, Saturday 17th April 2010

As angry clouds of volcanic ash sweep across the country from our dear friends in Iceland (presumably in part-payment for the £400 gazillion they owe us?), an (at times) equally angry Kate Nash is doing likewise, bringing her all new Riot Grrrrllllllllll act to the Hairy Hounds. I can’t believe it’s been three years since her debut but I guess, looking back, all the signs were there. Beneath the cutesy talky talk vocals there was plenty of bitterness...sorry bittahness (yep, must be all those lemon’s she’s been eating). Now she’s come out in praise of Le Tigre and Bikini Kill and, at times, tonight’s gig reminded me of those far off days when Riot Grrrl’s Voodoo Queens reigned supreme (was anyone else out there at their Edwards Gig in 1993? Oh. Just me then).

First up though, and far from angry, was bundle of fun (and mad as a bag full of bees) Brigitte Aphrodite. Wearing what looked like a skirt made of artificial flowers (which proceeded to slide down her thighs until she slipped it off altogether towards the end of the set, revealing what she happily proclaimed were “my big pants!”) she’s part Helen Love, part Carry On era Barbara Windsor. Cop a load of this lyric from ‘She’s a Blue Ice Cream Rink’ “Incey wincey, wider, wider, I used to masturbate over Kit from Knight Rider...it’s true!” I’ve never tried wanking over any vehicle, famous or otherwise, and I doubt whether the local old bill would look too kindly on me trying to crack one off over next door’s Ford Focus but, if it makes me half as unselfconsciously batty as our Brigitte then it might just be worth a try.

Casting aside any thoughts of jizzing over automobiles tonight Kate Nash gave us something old, something new, something borrowed and, with tracks like ‘R & B Song’ and ‘Mansion Song’...nice use of the word song there...it’s always good to remind us what we’re listening to eh?) something blue. The last time I saw Nash a few years back she was a bit slapdash, which was part of her charm. Things haven’t changed that much and, actually, this rough n’ ready feel really suits some of the new, grungier songs better than the older stuff. Relaxed enough to sing snippets of Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ and Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ in between tracks she seemed both excited about the prospect of her new album’s imminent release and, perhaps, a little apprehensive about the reception that some of the new material would get. We had to wait a while for the harder edged tunes and, at first, it was business as normal with new single ‘Do Wah Doo’ in particular coming off like classic Nash. A catchy 60’s girl group take off (not unlike The Pipettes in fact) it’s full of Nash-isms “Everyone thinks she’s a bit of all right, I think that she is not so niiiice. Every guy is looking in her eyes, every guy is...” (wait for it, can you guess what’s coming next...yep) “...checking out her thighs”. I must admit that’s not the bit of a lady that I’m normally attracted to, but there we go, maybe that’s just me. Clearly I’m more interested in bonnets and door panels these days anyway. ‘Foundations’ went on to get the reception and sing along you’d expect and, to be fair, it remains arguably her best track. But the more interesting stuff (for me at least) were the new songs. ‘Kiss That Grrrl’, like’ Doo Wah Doo’ has a bit of a 60’s vibe, ‘I Hate Seagulls’ was stripped back, just Kate, her guitar and a list of her least favourite things prefaced by a justifiably impassioned rant against homophobia (judging by the conversation I overheard on a bus coming over to tonight’s gig it’s alive and well out there). These fairly Nash-tural songs made the jarring contrast of the some of her other tracks even more noticeable. Take ‘I Just Love You More’, a loud, thrashy love song that (on top of the obvious Riot Grrrl influences) reminded me of early PJ Harvey in places. Then there’s Mansion Song. Starting off as a spoken word piece it seems to be Kate’s take on the groupie culture and...well...it’s pretty grim stuff “I wanna be fucked and then rolled over, ‘cause I’m an independent woman of the 21st Century” and “I can get fucked like the best of men, like the best of men, like the worst of pain inflicted on another young girl again” spat Kate venomously before the squalling musical bit began. After that even ‘Merry Happy’ from her debut album seemed to have a harder edge, ending up with Kate bashing the crap out of her battered keyboard.

Where does she go from here? Well there’s not enough full on feisty female rock around right now and, judging by some of tonight’s noisy highlights, I can see her shaving off her hair, getting a tattoo of Lydia Lunch on her chest and forming an all female Bikini Kill tribute band. Whilst it might not please all of her fans that could...wait for it...make me ‘Merry Happy’ indeed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

La Brass Banda / Fistful of Dynamite / Gurdan Thomas @ The Hare & Hounds, Thursday 15th April 2010

Whilst the rest of the nation is witnessing the first historical (or should that be hysterical?) debate between our three ‘glorious’ ‘political’ ‘leaders’ the Hare & Hounds is playing host to a different (and much more enjoyable) brand of insanity in the form of Bavaria’s number one brass/dance/euro pop/mariachi band. Okay, admittedly there aren’t that many Bavarian brass/dance/euro pop/mariachi bands, but even if there were I think you’d have to go some to beat the sheer joyful exuberance of La Brass Banda.

Before all that though is Gurdan Thomas, which sounds a little like a welsh stand up comedian (“Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the comedy stylings of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch's very own Gurdan Thomas!"). It is in fact a group of people, a ‘musical collective’ formed in Brum in 2007 and now seemingly based in Bavaria. Gurdan himself, the lead singer, comes off like a cross between Neil’s Innes (Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) and Hannon (The Divine Comedy) and Mr Stop the Cavalry himself, Jona Lewie. The band’s got a loveably laid back, easy style (part folk, part jazz, part pop) and end up sounding familiar but somehow totally unique at the same time.“Some will live, some will die, horribly and we don’t know why” sang Gurden cheerfully on ‘God is Me’, a crackingly good oompahpah of a tune that’s as neat an encapsulation of the human condition as you’re ever likely to hear. ‘Gurden enough’ to be as winningly off the wall as Misty’s Big Adventure...and that’s high praise indeed.

Next up another Birmingham musical collective (there were thousands of ‘em...well...9...at least...they kept moving about and I find it had to count past 7) Fistful of Dynamite. I don’t recommend carrying around fistfuls of dynamite myself. You’re liable to be shot, blown up or sectioned before you can say jihad. I’ve no hesitation in recommending this particular Fistful of Dynamite though (Cheesy? Moi? Pass the crackers please), the funkiest thing to come out of Brum since Jasper Carrot’s moped. Goddamn it this lot are funky when they get into the groove, some brilliant playing there. Tight as a nun’s chuff. There was plenty of crowd participation too, not something I’m normally down with but they won me over and I ended up shouting ‘Fistful’ and ‘Partaaaaay’ as loud as anyone else in the room. I particularly liked the song about supermarkets (I spend a lot of time in supermarkets...I’m a bastard for the cereal aisle...can’t get enough of it...and don’t get me started on butters and fats...drool) and the aforementioned ‘Fistful!’, with its Stevie Wonder tinged vibe, was a solid gold, hands in the air hip hop classic.

Finally, La Brass Banda, five bare footed Bavarian’s on a mission to brass up your ass (literally at times, thanks to some brave in crowd excursions) with such inventive cover versions as Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’ (or ‘Around ‘da’ World’ as it was tonight) and Reel to Reel’s ‘I Like to Move It’. It sounds painful right? About as much fun as having your knackers trapped in a car door (trust me ladies, that hurts). But suspend your ‘too cool for school’ attitude for a while there scenesters and you’ll find that it’s all hugely entertaining. In fact I’d actually like to suggest that, along with Gogol Bordello, La Brass Banda are nothing short of the ultimate party band. A musical Bierkeller if you will. Anyone that gets me leaping about these days screaming along to a Bavarian brass version of Salt n Pepa’s ‘Push It’ has to be pretty special. Their ‘Hey Mr Batty Boy, Batty Me Banana’ (performed as their alter egos The Holy Moly Palomy Fist Fucking Band), will also live with me forever...undoubtedly the first and only example of Bavarian Brass Ragga ever heard on planet earth. Phantastisch!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I’m with the Banda...

Take a Bavarian brass section, add some drums and a funky bass, stick in a few bonkers cover versions (Daft Punk’s ‘Around the World’, Reel 2 Reel’s ‘I Like to Move it Move it’ and Salt n’ Pepa’s ‘Push It’ spring to mind) and you’ve got the funkiest band this side of the Danube. Ja, this week (Thursday 15th April) La Brass Banda bring da noise to The Hare and Hounds in what promises to be a frankly insane mash up of Euro pop, mariachi and Bavarian Polka. And if that isn’t enough to prise you away from the first 'exciting' televised election debate (I can feel my sphincter clenching at the thought of any of ‘em running the country...'zefix' as they say in Bavaria) then there’s no hope for you. Support comes from Brummie funkateers Fistful of Dynamite and the intriguing sounding anti folksters Gurdan Thomas.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Why I’m Falling for Robyn Hitchcock...

Robyn Hitchcock might not be on your musical radar right now but just a cursory glance at his CV and a quick listen to a couple of tracks and you'll see what you're missing. One of the founding fathers of the post punk movement through his work as one of The Soft Boys he’s since gone on to produce well over a dozen other fine albums bearing influences that range from Dylan and Lennon to Barrett and Buck (Peter that is). I’m only just starting to explore his work, but this track with The Venus 3 is rapidly becoming a favourite. See what you think and if you like what you hear (trust me on this one) get ye along to The Academy in Birmingham on Sunday 18th April when you’ve got a rare chance to see the great man himself up close and personal.

Never mind the bollocks...

Egotistical svengali with a penchant for rewriting history or godfather of punk and underrated creator of a surprisingly eclectic mix of tunes (embracing everything from hip hop and opera to the currently in vogue...actually he pushed 'voguing' too didn't he...8-bit movement which he championed all the way back in 2003)? I favour the second definition of Malcolm McLaren myself. Inevitably even those who’ve been rather critical of him in the past (especially the butter bothering Mr Lydon) have come out to pay their respects. I doubt whether the Pistols would have got very far without him and, even though they weren’t the first ‘punk’ band by a long shot, without them our musical and cultural landscape would be a far blander place. In tribute to their mentor here’s an often forgotten McClaren classic, ‘Waltz Dancing’, from his Bootzilla Orchestra days way back in 1989.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

King Adora / Vinny and the Curse @ The Hare & Hounds, Wednesday 7th April 2010

It’s getting pretty popular this reforming business isn’t it? Name a band that split up at any time in the last 50 years and there’s a fair chance – at some point – that they’ll put their ‘musical differences’ aside, forget the fact that the drummer shagged his way through the rest of the band’s significant others (and ate all of the crab sandwiches backstage) and head out on tour...with varying degrees of success. The highest profile reformers du jour are, of course, The Libertines. A band that hit its peak way back in the early noughties, not unlike tonight’s headliners in fact. Although I doubt whether any of King Adora have shagged Kate Moss and burgled Carl Barat's flat...then again...

Anyway first up a band that has yet to split and reform, Vinny and the Curse, a three man, raw as an open wound garage rock band with a battered suitcase full of frantic, dirty tunes and enough energy to bring Lux Interior back from the dead. Vinny used to be the lead singer of the Big Bang...they have split up...for now...so his cool band credentials are well and truly proven. V and the C are a more unpolished proposition but actually that’s what I like about them. Kicking off with ‘The Change In Me’ - which sounds as though it could’ve come straight off one of those hip Nuggets compilations - the whole set was one short, glorious burst of energy, the only curse being its brevity.

After Vinny and his Curse had left the stage, no doubt on their way to an all night house party somewhere just south of Tacoma, the air was thick with expectation, sweat and cheap perfume. Of course King Adora were on ‘home turf’ tonight, but even taking this into account, there genuinely seemed to be a huge excitement about their second coming. After a quick video montage showing highlights of the band pre-split, ending with a photo of them right now (as in their heyday the eyeliner’s still in place, the hair’s a little thinner perhaps, the belly’s a little rounder...it comes to us all...unless you’re Iggy Pop that is...although I’m finding it increasingly hard to spot the difference between him and his bizarre freakin’ puppet on those oh so rock n’roll car insurance ads) they took to the stage and launched straight into glam sleaze classic ‘The Law’ (from debut album ‘Vibrate You’), an everyday tale of copping off with a policewomen in the back of her panda. I guess that’s what they call ‘community relations’ nowadays. The super fans at the front went nuts, one girl just behind me yelled ‘Best fucking band ever’ down my ear and, at that precise moment, it would take a cold, dark heart to disagree with her.

The band seemed genuinely surprised at the welcome. “I don’t know why we split up now” pondered Maxi to the capacity (and glammed up) crowd after a few numbers. Good question. Whatever the reasons they were every bit as sleazy and thrashy as they were back in the day. Maxi’s wearing particularly well “I can still get into the old clothes” he boasted just before camping his way through ‘Big Isn’t Beautiful’, mascara starting to run a little and lippie already looking less than catwalk perfect. One thing that has changed however is the band’s stamina. Where once the set would’ve ejaculated itself out after just 20 minutes or so tonight they managed a tantric hour plus, mostly made up from tracks off their debut album. We got a couple from the follow up ‘Who Do You Love’ though. Once again Maxi had something to say on the matter “I know none of you bought it but we did make a second album” (cue more screaming from the super fans and a shrieking chorus of “I did”). This prefaced the distinctly T-Rex-ish ‘Drag’ and ‘Nine Inches of Pure Malice’, both cracking tracks and a reminder of what might have been if they hadn’t jacked it all in back in 2004. Tonight wasn’t about regrets though. It was a celebration of a band that still means a huge amount to people...perhaps most of all to the four people up there on the stage. “See you in six years” quipped Maxi as the set reached its messy climax. Hmmmm...given the orgasmic reaction of tonight’s crowd I wouldn’t be so sure. There’s a London gig on Friday night, that’ll be a bigger test. Pass that and, who knows, strange as it might seem this King may just reign once more...

Head over to my other home at Gig Junkies and you'll see this review all over again but this time with added piccies courtesy of Mr Wayne Fox esq. Now that's value.

Check out The Blue Whale Blog's version of events too...nice use of the word 'bukakke'.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam @ The Academy Birmingham, Tuesday 6th April 2010

“Wooooohhh ma woman dun’ lef me and ma cat got fleas, I ain’t got nothin’ ‘cept for this infectious disease...”...yes, I’ve got the blues. Actually I haven’t (that infectious disease has cleared up a treat now too), but Davy Knowles, 23 year old guitarist and singer from the Isle of Man certainly has. A new name to me but he’s seemingly been wowing the blues guitar world for a while now, notching up appearances with The Who and Lynyrd Skynyrd amongst many others and recruiting none other than Mr Talk Box himself, Peter Frampton, to produce his latest album.

Musical genres may come and go but the blues has stubbornly refused to curl up and die since its birth way back at the start of the 20th Century. Originally the preserve of mainly African-American musicians it was, of course, adopted and adapted (with huge success) by the likes of John Mayall and Eric Clapton some 40 years later. Now here we are another four decades on and young Mr Knowles is keeping the flame alive in a world that arguably has as much to be blue about as it did back in the ‘20’s.

He’s certainly got the voice, a little gruffer onstage than it is on record perhaps. No doubt as he gets older, marries a no good ho’, hits the bottle and ends up smoking 60 a day and snorting coke off rabbits it’ll get even more bluesy. But it’s the guitar playing that really grabs you by the balls...that’s some talent there. I’ve sat and watched old clips of Clapton in his Cream prime, now I’ve seen Davy in his and it’s a close call. I daresay old blues fans will be sitting there casting a fatwa upon my name for merely suggesting such a thing (although a large portion of the audience tonight WERE old blues fans) but, to my ears, Davy’s playing has all the subtlety and inventiveness of Clappers himself.

Opening number tonight (with shades of Wild Wood era Paul Weller and perhaps a snatch of Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’), ‘Tear Down the Walls’ started off well enough, a nice chugging riff and Davy’s ‘older than his years’ vocals. Then. Then...well...then we got nothing less than a spine tingling display of guitar playing that prompted my other half (who’s been to the odd thousand or so gigs over the last twenty years) to ask whether he was playing a ‘special’ guitar? Nope. The guitar’s normal, it’s the talent that’s special. I never saw Hendrix or Clapton live. Sure there’s loads of footage out there but you can’t capture the atmosphere, the crackle in the air that you get with a truly awesome live performance but, judging as best I can, and putting aside all emotion...hmmm...I reckon Davy’s THAT good.

Incredibly this was his first visit to Birmingham and his UK tours are all too rare (he’s based in the US at the moment) so he seemed pretty humbled by the turn out. The three blokes behind me seemed to be following him on all of his four dates...can’t say I blame them really. Although most of the songs followed the same pattern (verse, chorus, guitar solo...people swooning open mouthed...verse, chorus etc) I could’ve watched him forever. How he teased some of the sounds from that instrument I’ll never know, I’m sure he has 8 fingers on his left hand...that’s the only logical explanation...perhaps, in good ‘ol blues tradition, he’s sold his soul to the devil? Despite the talent here’s absolutely no ego there at all though. During a sublime solo in the middle of ‘Come Home’ someone’s mobile ‘phone went off (yes, I know, as Quentin Crisp so wisely observed, “other people are a mistake”), Davy gave a wry smile and carried on playing. At the end of the song he even made a joke of it, “Hey, I thought it was right in tune”. Bless him.

Other (more intentional) highlights included a fine cover of CSN & Y’s ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, new track ‘Catch the Moon’ and ‘Coming Up For Air’ (the title track of his new album). Predictably the near capacity crowd didn’t want to let him go and he came on for his planned encore ‘Messin’ then happily gave us another (not included on the set list). Afterwards Davy and the band pulled up a table and sold CDs as well as signing everything shoved in front of them. Tellingly a number of grizzled old blues fans were in the queue, clutching bits of paper, drum sticks and plectrums grabbed from the stage like holy relics, which is quite apt really. Back in the day there was a saying amongst serious music fans - ‘Clapton is god’. Maybe he was, but now there’s a new messiah in town. Hallelujah.

Set List

Tear Down the Walls

Riverbed

Coming Up For Air

Outside Woman Blues

Worried Down With The Blues

Come Home

Catch The Moon

Searchin’

Almost Cut My Hair

Encore

Messin’

...plus one other that he didn’t introduce...and I can’t guess what it was...’cos I’m a bit crap