Wednesday, 11 August 2010

T In The Park (part 2!)

On Saturday morning we awoke to yet more rain and found that the entire campsite had been turned into one massive mudbath! The friend I was sharing a tent with decided that she couldn’t bear to face the weather so I made my way down to the arena alone to catch one of my current favourite bands, The Sunshine Underground, play the NME stage. I couldn’t help but feel they would have been much more suited to playing one of the tents as their sound seemed a little bit lost on the big stage. After all, they are more accustomed to a dark club than an outdoor field. Nonetheless they put in an uplifting performance that managed distract the crowd from the horrific Scottish weather we had been burdened with. Craig Wellington’s voice honestly has to be one of the most impressive things I’ve ever heard, his vocals are simply stunning (and, with the blonde hair and cheeky smile, he’s pretty easy on the eye too!). If ever a song was written for a festival, it’s “Borders” which was, of course, the pinnacle moment of the set. I’m happy to report that braving the rain and wind was a gratifying decision!

After meeting up with some friends again, my next stop was the King Tuts tent for Frightened Rabbit. For me, this was a bit surreal. The first time I ever seen Frightened Rabbit live it was in a tiny pub in front of 100 or so people, to see them play in front of thousands of highly appreciating fans was just something special. It seemed the entire crowd was singing out as Frabbit ripped through a heartfelt set which consisted mainly of their more cheerful songs and put in one of the most memorable performances of the weekend. Frontman Scott Hutchison was completely overwhelmed by the reception his band were greeted with and seemed visibly moved at points. The final singalong of “Keep Yourself Warm” was a triumphant finish to, what could prove to be, a determining moment for Frightened Rabbit. It’s awesome to see Frabbit finally getting the attention they deserve, albeit a few albums too late! (I realise this made me sound like one of those “I saw them at the beginning therefore I am a better fan” people, I’m really not. Although I’ve liked Frabbit since the Sing The Greys days, I didn’t have the privilege of seeing them live until last summer. Thought I’d clear that up!)

It took all I had to drag myself away from the King Tuts tent once Frightened Rabbit had finished. The knowledge that We Are Scientists, and then The Coral, would be playing next made it almost agonising to leave. But The Courteeners would be playing the NME stage soon and I knew I’d never forgive myself for passing up any chance to see them! The Black Keys were already on stage when I arrived. Unfortunately my enjoyment of their set was marred by a typical drunk Scottish bloke that refused to leave me alone for any amount of time. However, their dirty blues and funky rhythms seemed to get a large portion of the crowd moving and they’re definitely a band I’d like to see more of in the future.

As I had arrived at the stage so early I managed to get a decent spot for The Courteeners, I was determined not to have a repeat of Jamie T! I quickly made friends with a few guys from Manchester who decided they were going to “look after me”. The Courteeners were, as always, fantastic. I won’t say much because I know myself that I’m far too biased when it comes to this band! They did get one of the best crowd reactions of the weekend though and I was proclaimed to be a “genius” for being the only female to survive down the front for the entire set. This achievement came at a price: I walked away from the stage with a ripped shirt, drenched in beer, covered in polystyrene balls and missing a hair bobble. It seems, as well as being born in the wrong era, I was born the wrong gender!

Obviously, due to the state I was in, I couldn’t join everyone else watching 30 Seconds To Mars and had to head back to the tent to get changed. As my luck would have it, my phone battery ran out at this point, leaving me alone for the rest of the night. Well, I say alone, I was befriended by an Irish man who got lost on his way to see Mumford and Sons and decided to join me watching Eminem instead. I wasn’t planning on seeing Eminem initially but, in the end, it was an opportunity I couldn’t deny myself! Despite arriving an hour or so late on stage, he was absolutely brilliant! He unleashed a career spanning set on the adoring crowd and was joined on stage by D12, which only made things even more entertaining. I was also massively impressed with the amount of Scottish people that could rap along perfectly to each song. My only complaint would be his constant references to “Edin-burg”, surely, haven gotten the place completely wrong, he could have at least pronounced it correctly! Back at the campsite, everyone was buzzing with the comprehension that we had all witnessed a truly unique T in the Park moment.

Friday, 30 July 2010

T In The Park (part 1!)

T In The Park 2010. My first ever music festival. I’d been planning this weekend since I was about 13 and first discovered music outside the charts. I’m a little bit late with this review (okay, nearing 3 weeks late) but, really, it’s been hard to put into words without detailing, every last joke shared, every new friend made, every mud-filled walk from the campsite to the arena: all the little things that pulled together to help make T In The Park 2010 one of the most memorable weekends of my life. However, I shall try my hardest to stick to the most important part of the weekend which is, of course, the music.

I headed to the festival with one of my best friends but, in some lucky coincidence, we ended up camped next to just about every single person we knew that was attending so I had a plethora of friends to share my first titp experience with. As we arrived on the Thursday, and the music didn’t start until 5pm on Friday, we had an entire day to explore the campsite. Or, at least, that was the plan. In reality it was spent with a few of us lying down, complaining about the weather and hoping the tent wouldn’t give up on us (this didn’t happen until early Sunday morning: running through the mud trying to catch an “outer tent” is certainly an interesting way to spend 6am on a Sunday morning). Miraculously, the rain and wind ceased mere minutes before we began our long walk to the arena and, thus, the festival began.

Technically Kids In Glass Houses were the first act of the weekend for us. We were more interested in sitting in the sun and eating overpriced chips than actually watching/listening to them though. I’ll be merciful and say this is the reason why I found them seriously horrific and not because the singer sounded like he was in severe pain 70% of the time. Needless to say, we quickly moved on. My two friends wanted to see 3oh!3 next at the King Tuts tent (I’m not really sure why either) so I tagged along as there wasn’t much else on. I don’t really “get” 3oh!3, they’re just not my thing at all. But, I have to give credit were it's due: they know how to get a crowd going. Opening with “Starstrukk” they had most of the packed tent in a frenzy, screaming the lyrics back at them. What 3oh!3 lack in lyrical talent ("I'm gonna have a house my house" was my personal favourite) they make up for in enthusiasm and stage presence and both members of the electro-pop duo were forever active as they flew through their set, even splitting the crowd for the old clich├ęd "which side is louder" competition". Unfortunately their set also saw the beginning of the insistent "here we fucking go" chants which were ever-present throughout the weekend (I don’t care how condescending I come across: I really, really hate those chants). It was all a bit over the top and, as I said, not really my thing, but it was fun nonetheless and their fans enjoyed it which is the most important thing (and halfway through the set I worked out what the weird hand gestures everyone was doing meant: 3oh!3 apparently…)

Next up for us was Jamie T at the NME/Radio 1 stage. I'd have rather seen Editors personally but I was outvoted and felt it best not to argue. This was a low point of the festival for me. It had absolutely nothing to do with Jamie T's performance (which I ended up hearing basically none of anyway) and all to do with the ignorant crowd that had gathered to watch him. I’m not sure what was worse: the guys in front of us who insisted on pulling each other’s trousers down every 5 seconds or the group of “fans” that felt it was necessary to sing “Sheila”…during other songs. I felt extremely sorry for all the proper Jamie T fans (including my friend who completely adores him) that had the set ruined for them by a significant amount of inconsiderate arseholes.

I was feeling pretty down by this point. I hadn’t actually seen an artist that I liked yet and I was finding the magnitude of the stages and crowd hard to adjust to. I decided enough was enough and abandoned my friends and the prospect of seeing Florence & The Machine in favour of checking out one of the festival’s smaller tents: The Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage. What I found there was my surprise act of the weekend: Delphic. I’ve listened to their debut album, Acolyte, before and found it a bit mediocre but live they’re a completely different story. Their stage set alone was more impressive than anything else I’d seen that day: the strobe-lit silver parasols gave the dark tent a bit of a club vibe and set the scene for the music to come. Their genre-fusing set had the entire modestly sized crowd dancing wildly, fully appreciating Rick Boardman’s flawless falsetto vocals. Single, “Counterpoint” became an early contender for anthem of the weekend with it’s chorus of “nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong today” and I can’t help but think Delphic will surely graduate from the Futures stage should they return to T In the Park next year.
With my enthusiasm, and faith in T In The Park, fully restored, I eagerly awaited the next act this awesome tent had to offer: Kele Okereke, front man of highly esteemed band Bloc Party. The first thing which struck me about him was just how lovely and humble he came across, even stopping to humour the crowd by sporting a santa jacket thrown at him. Music-wise I was happy to see the electronic mood continued as Kele (and his talented band) thundered through a set exuding passion and energy. As well as playing tracks off his debut album, The Boxer, Kele treated us to a medley of Bloc Party songs before finally ending with “Flux” which saw maniacal dancing flood the tent for the final time that night. I’m not normally a fan of “dance music” but Delphic and Kele successfully combined to put me on a high as the night drew to a close.

There was just one act left to see: my chosen headliners for the night and, if I’m being honest, my most anticipated band of the weekend: Liverpool legends, Echo & The Bunnymen, who were also, nonsensically, playing the Futures tent. Having managed to secure my spot at the barrier I observed the rest of the crowd whilst things were being set up on stage. Unsurprisingly I was probably the youngest in the tent by quite a bit, I did spot a few members of Editors though which was pretty exciting in a stalkerish way! I can’t even describe how I felt when the Bunnymen took to the stage. Despite being old enough to be my grandfather, Ian McCulloch just oozes cool. You can say what you like about this band, “past it”, “irrelevant” etc. but the fact is, they can still bloody play. They completely overwhelmed me, at times I felt I was close to tears (wow, any credibility I ever had = lost), I’d been waiting to see them for a long time and they comprehensively blew me away. “Seven Seas” was wondrous, “Villiers Terrace” was thrilling: every song was played with the panache and pace normally reserved for the odd new tune. Despite reports of it’s deteriorating quality, McCulloch’s voice had the same emotional intensity that first got EATB recognised long before I was even thought about. My personal highlight was “All That Jazz”, it’s always been one of my favourites but live it just goes up another notch. It’s so strong and powerful that I just felt completely engulfed by it’s sound: one of those rare perfect gig moments. Unfortunately, due to Kele being late on stage, Echo and The Bunnymen didn’t have time to play Nothing Lasts Forever but, even though it’s probably my all time favourite song, I didn’t feel I had the right to be disappointed. I couldn’t really have asked for much more. Also, apparently Will Sergeant had noticed my overly impassioned, word perfect, singing along and tried (twice) to give me his plectrum at the end of the gig but my lack of coordination meant it was lost in a sea of darkness. Ah well, I appreciated the gesture all the same.

Upon arriving back to the campsite I listened in silence as my friends rambled on about the brilliance of Muse or the “epicness” of Black Eyed Peas and realised I was probably born 30 or so years too late!

(Congratulations to anyone who bothered to read that...part 2 coming up as soon as I write it, probably another 3 weeks then! Oh and click through for photo credits, I will put my own camera to use one day)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Yves Klein Blue - Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed cover)

Pretty much one of the best covers I've ever heard, Michael's voice never fails to impress.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Quick Update

Seems like I’ve been neglecting this again. In all honesty, not much has been going on to write about. What with exams coming up and very few decent bands touring, my gig-ing has been somewhat restricted this year.

I’ve had the mandatory Twin Atlantic gigs of course. I can’t describe the pride I felt watching them headline the ABC (1500 capacity), the same venue where I watched them support both The Subways and Taking Back Sunday. The next night, at the much smaller King Tuts, proved to be even more special and was probably my favourite Twin gig to date. Support both nights came from Hampshire band Canterbury. These guys may look like a pop punk One Night Only, with their boyish good looks, but their music is actually seriously impressive. They put on an admirable performance both nights and are definitely worth a listen. You can download their debut album for free (!) here. Each night also had a local band playing. LightGuides completely blew me away at ABC. Describing themselves as “alternative Scot Punk with a twist of flamenco”, they could very well be the next big thing out of Scotland. They were a, slightly obvious, but brilliant choice of support for Twin. King Tuts gave us something a little more…out there to say the least. The LaFontaines combine elements of rap, rock and pop and certainly stand out from the crowd. I was fully expecting to hate them but it was quite the opposite! They were a real fun band to watch and, if his music career doesn’t take off, singer Kerr Okan could almost definitely find a job in comedy! They definitely won't appeal to everyone but they're gaining quite a few fans in and around Glasgow so they must be doing something right.

Other than that, and the two gigs I’ve already reviewed, I saw Reverend and The Makers live for the fourth time in Dunfermline. Now, that was an experience. I don’t think I’ll be venturing to Dunfermline again in a hurry! That said, the gig itself was exceptional. The addition of Andy Nicholson on bass/second guitar seems to have added a new layer to their sound. A lot of the songs just seemed a lot louder and more powerful live. Performance wise, it was the best I’ve ever seen R&TM.

There you have it, the last four months summed up in a few short paragraphs! I’ve nothing much planned for the next little while either. In fact, next up is T In The Park…in July!

Joe Carnall & The Book Club @ Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, 21/04/2010

As I think I mentioned in a previous post; Milburn were always, and probably always will be, my favourite band. Unfortunately, due to being pretty young and having Take That fans as best friends, I never got the chance to see them live. Luckily for me, two, arguably just as good, bands have formed from their ashes. Having already seen Tom and Greeny perform with The Backhanded Compliments, it was time to see how Joe’s new project, The Book Club, matched up.

Normally, I’m quite a fan of the Captain’s Rest as a venue; the sound’s always spot on and the decorative fairy lights and lack of a proper stage make for a lovely, cosy atmosphere. Though, as is always the risk with such a small venue, things can get awkward if there isn’t a large enough crowd. Sadly, this is exactly what happened at this gig. There was literally, and this is no exaggeration, round about twenty or so people in attendance. Bizarrely, the support bands (local acts Black Velveteens and The Cairos) seemed to attract a bigger crowd than The Book Club.

Joe took it all in his stride though and greeted the crowd with a jocular “Hello Murrayfield” before commencing with “Justice For The 96”, a song written about the Hillsborough disaster. With it’s haunting lyrics and passionate vocals this proved to be an immediate highlight. It’s honestly hard to believe that The Book Club, in their current form, have been together for scarcely a few months. They performed with such professionalism and tightness that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d been around for years.

It was great to see that the size of the crowd didn’t seem to hamper the band’s performance and they put their all into each song, continuing to joke along with the crowd throughout the gig. With so many bands playing the full “cool” card at the moment, it’s refreshing to see a band that are happy to be themselves and let their music do the talking.

It could be argued that they sound a little bit too Milburn-ish but, in my opinion, that would just be a lazy comparison. Of course Joe’s voice is still the same (and, lets be honest, it's THAT good no one would want it to change) but, lyrics wise especially, there’s a clear change of direction. Gone are the youthful observations and in their place we have stories of recession, references to The Weimar Republic and Karl Marx (nice to see Joe’s incorporating some of his History course into his music!) and subtle digs at student lifestyles.

As well as Justice For The 96, highlights included the fantastic EP track “What Was Said On The Landing” and “Somewhere Near Oxford” which includes perhaps my favourite Book Club lyrics; “and a Smiths’ t-shirt doesn’t make you a poet like a book don’t mean your wise”. But, undoubtedly, the real “wow” moment of the set came with final song and single “Wheelbarrows For Wallets”. It seems to have everything; a brilliant intro which has Joe singing the opening line with no backing instruments, intelligent lyrics and, most impressively, frequent changes in speed and rhythm which keep the song sounding fresh and original.

Overall, the band were faultless. It seems, after much chopping and changing, they have the perfect lineup, with Joe being the charismatic, engaging front man we all know and love and Tom, Pat and Ant backing him up and clearly enjoying every minute of what they’re doing. Part of me (the selfish part clearly) is quite chuffed at getting to see them in such intimate surroundings but it would be an injustice if, next time they come to Scotland, they aren’t at least playing a medium sized venue.

As well as trying to establish themselves as a live act, Joe Carnall and The Book Club have also released an EP which you can find on itunes. Not only this you can get an insight into their life on the road by checking out their (rather hilarious) tour diaries. Finally, check out their video for "Wheelbarrows For Wallets"

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Courteeners @ Glasgow O2 Academy, 24/3/2010

No matter how many gigs I’ve attended In the past (and that must be about 70+ by now) The Courteeners will always be one of the very few bands that can bring out my inner fan girl; the over enthusiastic 14 year old that often spent weeks on end building up excitement for a gig and weeks after riding on a high from it. So, on that note, I’d like to apologise in advance for this inevitably turning into an obsessed rant packed full of (deserved) adulation and admiration for the band.

To prove how much of a dedicated fan I am, I turned up at the O2 Academy an hour early, just to guarantee a barrier spot. I’m aware this may not seem too radical to most people but I’m normally a “turn up 10 minutes after doors” kind of person, so for me it was a pretty big deal! In all honesty I was quite disappointed with the choice in venue; with it’s too high and too far away stage, The Academy often feels a little impersonal and arena-like. But hey, The Courteeners were in town, I wasn’t complaining.

The job of warming up the crowd was given to London five-piece, Goldhawks, who put on a more than creditable performance despite the unusually lethargic Scottish crowd. They managed to blend the dramatic chords and sweeping melodies distinctive to bands like Echo and The Bunnymen with the simplicity of American stadium rock. However, what really caught the eye was the band’s confidence and obvious self belief. Singer Bobby Cook, especially, impressed with both his vocal talent and assertive stage performance (although my friend - it must be noted this was her first ever gig - was rather concerned that his fringe seemed to be getting in his eyes a lot and he’d be better off cutting it). It’s a shame really that most people inside the venue were more interested in grabbing a beer than watching the band but those of us who were paying attention thoroughly enjoyed their set and they’re definitely a band I’d like to see more of in the future.

Ironically, as the usual pre gig tunes kicked in, the crowd soon woke up. I found it quite sad that the majority of the venue could jump about erratically for a recording of a Kasabian song yet they couldn’t muster up a clap for a talented young band standing in front of them. Nonetheless, we were all there for the same thing and as soon as The Courteeners’ customary intro of Rock n Roll Star kicked in (played in it’s entirety of course; the teases!) the venue descended into a frenzy of crowd surfing and chanting. Not bad considering the band hadn’t even took to the stage yet (I’d appreciate it if the “here we fucking go chants” would stop though; they’re getting a bit old).

When The Courteeners did take to the stage, to deafening roars naturally, they kicked things off in the best possible way with fan favourites “Acrylic” and “Cavorting”. But, as the stage backdrop clearly conveyed, the purpose of the night was to unveil new album Falcon to the crowd, which they did so with style thanks to “Will It Be This Way Forever?” and “Good Times Are Calling”. I was surprised at how many people were word perfect on these tracks; turns out I’m not the only sad act then!

One of the big highlights of the night was the illustrious “The Opener” which saw the crowd step up yet another notch when joining in with the growling (my onomatopoeia skills sadly aren’t good enough to sound out said growling). It was evident the band were putting everything into this performance but, it has to be said, the crowd were giving just as much back. The sing longs to “Bide Your Time” and “Please Don’t” were among some of the most passionate I’ve ever heard in three years of gigging.

Then, of course, there was Liam Fray’s obligatory solo set. I’m sure we’ve all heard the Gallagher comparisons, sadly they’re always going to be around, but really, I feel they do Liam injustice. Maybe not talent wise, but with all due respect to Mr Gallagher, I very much doubt he had the charm and charisma that Liam radiates. He was on fire the entire night, cavorting (ooh, pun) about the stage, winking cheekily at members of the crowd (yes, he did wink at me and yes, I did turn straight to my friend and make a strange “eeping noise) and just generally being an all round fantastic front man. Anyway, I digress, the solo set brought us a few acoustic gems, namely “No You Didn’t, No You Don’t”, “How Come” and the beautifully heartfelt “The Rest of The World Has Gone Home”.

But it was when Campbell, Conan and Cuppello returned to the stage that The Courteeners really pulled out all the stops. An encore of “You Overdid It Doll”, “Not Nineteen Forever” and, of course, “What Took You So Long” caused the crowd to fully erupt in to beautiful chaos. In fact, the intensity of WTYSL proved to be too much for a couple of my friends who found themselves being hauled over the barrier. I really should have left at this point, you know, to try and rescue them, but I couldn’t help sticking around for the interlude of “Tomorrow” by James which Liam always incorporates into the track. Being one of my all time favourite songs, this really rounded off a near-perfect night for me. And it’s safe to say, both the crowd and the band felt the same way. Liam thanked the crowd with such sincerity that it was hard not to believe him when he told us we were “as good as Manchester”. Glasgow really has taken The Courteeners to their hearts and I have a feeling next time it could be the SECC they’re headlining.

Again, I apologise for the length and lack in quality of this “review”, won’t happen again I promise!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Cosmo Jarvis (Supporting The Sunshine Underground), 3/2/2010, ABC Glasgow

Cosmo Jarvis isn’t the most obvious choice of support for a band like The Sunshine Underground. That’s probably why there was more people at the bar than at the barrier when he took to the stage at the ABC. However, it only took him a few minutes into opener, “Clean My Room”, to grab the attention of everyone in the room. Initially it was his unconventional lyricism which got people talking, with a prime example being “I’m going to burn my room and kill my girlfriend” from said opener, but soon he had everyone immersed with his unique collection of acoustic folk-y songs.

It was plain from the outset that Cosmo’s an extremely talented musician. But he has something more than that, he has the originality and creativeness that so many singer-songwriters are lacking. His set is littered with a kaleidoscope of styles, ranging from pop to hip hop, and diverse instruments (ukuleles, mandolins…). Quite impressive considering he only played six songs.

The highlight came in the form of final song, “Gay Pirates”, a witty tale of forbidden love. With it’s highly addictive chorus and comical lyrics, it’s a perfect representation of what Cosmo’s all about.

I’m certain Cosmo gained himself a few new fans amongst the charmed crowd that night and, having already supported the likes of Muse and Reverend and The Makers , I’m sure it won’t be long before Cosmo Jarvis gains the recognition he deserves. Like a modern-day Tom Waits, Cosmo is bold, intriguing and compelling. Definitely one for the future.

Cosmo Jarvis - Crazy Screwed Up Lady