gig reviews - sep 06
All photos by Hannah Clarke (www.gracebandpics.co.uk).
Click on thumbnail to view full size image (1024 x 768 pixels)
I was a big fan of The Victorian English
Gentlemens Club album I heard a couple of months ago so it was with
wee twinkle in the eye and a spring in the step that I made my way for a
cheeky midweek sortie to The Cockpit. Sadly another case of gig suicide
meant that with at least another 10 shows going on in Leeds tonight, the
start of the set was witnessed by about a dozen people. In retrospect this
may have been a good thing as Adam's guitar was horribly out of tune, Emma's
drums seemed to veer off on a course of their own at times, probably due to
the fact that Louise's bass was almost inaudible. But after a quick re-tune
the quirky trio finally began to bang out the tracks that make them so
It was someway into the second bar of the gut rumbling 'Stupid as Wood'
that it dawned on me and my vibrating feet that as a live band, the VEGC
rely heavily on the pounding basslines. Obviously the tricky three way vocal
harmonies are still a complete bizarre delight but it's so much harder to do
all those scalded-cat yelpy shouts live than in the studio. Other great
successes are the very pixieish 'Impossible Sightings over Shelton' and the
slightly gentler 'Dead Anyway' where the benefit of a tuned guitar are clear
With such a great collection of potential and varied singles in their
locker, it's great that even during this short show the VEGC can squeeze
most of their debut album out in around 30 minutes. It's just a shame that
there weren't more people there to enjoy it.
I don't know much about headliners You Say Party! We Say Die! but they
seemed like a thoroughly pleasant bunch of Canadians who made dancy jerky
indie pop via some parpy keyboard sounds and lashings of funky riffs. In
Becky Nincovic they also possess a singer who is so energetic on stage (and
in the crowd) that she actually has to do proper stretching before the start
of the gig. How professional. Great though they were, if I was made to
choose I would rather see the raw creativity of The Victorian English
Gentlemens Club than the slightly more polished professionalism of the
You Say Party! We Say Die!
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
Song that Dies Too Much' by Chapter 24
I found myself liking Chapter 24 despite myself. They
play the skittish, angular, spiky, post punk pop thing and they do it well.
I may well be alone in thinking that all the bands who make this music
should be amalgamated into a 45,000 piece travelling musical collective to
save me the trouble of having to see them all the time as support bands.
People who are well old like me may remember a similar phenomenon during the
late nineties, when oafish dimwits would don camouflage fatigues and wave a
tambourine about in a slack jawed fashion and pretend to be Oasis. But
Chapter 24 are young and fresh faced and energetic and coy and sweet enough
for me to start rooting for the plucky little blighters. They bring to mind
the Long Blondes as the female singer sways awkwardly and bare foot around
the stage, stopping only to pick songs at random from a (lovely) teapot
located front stage and politely announce them to us. Star of the show is
undoubtedly the whizzy guitar player who is brilliant. He twangs and buzzes
and slides and whirrs away in an entirely melodic but elegantly laconic
fashion. When I'm feeling curmudgeonly and belligerent, which is always, I
tell people musical competency is the enemy. It turns out I was wrong. Arse.
This is only Pocketbooks fourth ever gig apparently,
but it doesn't show in the least. I've been waving my arms about in my
bedroom a fair bit recently to their song 'the first world record' and
beefed up with live drums it works a treat. Pocketbooks are jangly indie,
undeniably fey and all glockenspiels, hand claps and boy/girl harmonies.
Belle and Sebastian spring inevitably to mind as do Sarah records, hair
slides, and general brilliant ye olde indiepop you don't hear enough of
nowadays. I love all this shit, please hurry up and put a record out. ta.
This being a free gig, there's a bunch of people out
for a drink not really bothered with the bands. Some of them were dancing
badly to the soundman's Queen CD earlier. As the Bobby McGees wander on
stage with ukuleles, banjos, a double bass, and dressed in sailor outfits
with clown/mime artist make up, these casuals sway on over and heckle
unamusingly. At one point this causes the double bass player to walk to the
front of the stage and wave the spike of his instrument in front of one
particularly annoying man's face for a bit . But it's par for the course at
Carpe Diem and usually makes for an enjoyable spectacle. Jimmy the male side
of singing duties takes it all in his stride anyway and gives as good as he
gets in his thick Glaswegian accent.
Undoubtedly a love or hate proposition the band sound
like a wonky art folk Prolapse huffing a kitten. Jimmy and El make sickly
twee noises at each other whilst singing about maiming the other if they
split up, yelling “please don't dump me! please don't dump me! please don't
dump me!” into each others faces. Song subjects also include having no
friends, twee-er pin up Audrey Tautou and summarising one's place in a
relationship as being qualitatively Jar Jar Binks like. It's all brilliant
theatre and contains enough swearing to make Gordon Ramsey's tourettes
afflicted navvy brother blush. Ace.
I like gigs where the lights are on. I think you get a better atmosphere,
there's less separation of audience and band, and less sense of any
unnecessary theatricals. Oddly, the lights being on makes things seem less
normal, and maybe a bit more special. Maybe that partially explains the warm
and jolly atmosphere in the Rose, although the presence of another two
highly promising newborn Nottingham bands in the line-up is enough alone to
cheer the locals.
Yonoquiero are up of two former members of Hirameka Hi-fi (guitars/vox), one
Fabulous Fox (drums), and a Chemistry Experimenter (keys). They do what you
might loosely call US-influenced indie rock. The two guitar/vocalists share
lead vocal duties. They were pretty good, especially for their first public
outing as a band, and finishing their 5 song set with 2 corkers will have
whetted the appetite of all present for more.
This was, as Tom Orchards pointed out, their 2.4th gig. Although really it
was their 2.6th (their second gig saw the quintet play as a trio). It might
be the venue, but for me this one blew the other two out of the water. They
looked much more practiced, the sound was more coherent and they rocked more
than you'd reasonably expect a bunch of twees to do. Some slightly different
and fuller arrangements (if I'm not mistaken) didn't do any harm either. The
Orchards continue to blossom and fruit, in the midsts of the first cold snap
The Curtains are the main project of ex-Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen, and
whilst you can see what Cohen brought to Deerhoof in his Curtains output
they're fresh and different enough to be judged apart. If you don't get on
with Deerhoof due to Satomi's vocals, or you dislike the noisier end of
their output, but you like the sense of melody, and you like abstract
whimsical pop, then The Curtains will be right up your alley. They play as a
trio tonight, starting up with what sounds like a mixture of post-rock and
easy-listening, before kicking into a familiar loose groove. The drumming is
loose, the guitars gently off-kilter. Always melodic, always playful, always
interesting. They play half new, half old stuff, including the awesome
'Fletcher's Favorite', and are clearly delighted to be politely shouted into
doing another encore at the end. A fine set of warm and wonky avant
post-pop, if such a thing even exists.
It’s pissing it down in Birmingham and I’ve had a long day, but as soon
as I walk into the Glee Club things seem better. Is it the low (and terribly
polite) hum of anticipation in the room or just the fact that I am finally
warm, dry and seated? Who knows. But when Tobias Froberg saunters onto the
stage in his dapper suit and shiny shoes, things get even better. This
previously unknown to me Swede has recently released his first UK album,
Somewhere In The City, and is eager for us all to buy it. His delightful,
humour filled folk-pop set convinces almost half of us to do just that. With
Jose Gonzalez-esque guitar mastery, delicate whimsical lyrics and a strong
warm voice, Froberg might not change your life, but his music will almost
certainly improve your evening!
After a brief interlude and a quick chat with Tobias, Kathryn Williams
appears alone on the stage looking nervous. Despite having spent the
previous day on a morphine drip due to gall stones, her voice is as clear as
ever and her natural grace and humour shine through. After two solo numbers
in typical hushed, tender tones, she is joined by Laura Reid on cello and
piano, and Jonny Bridgwood on bass and guitar. There is an intimacy about
this set, enhancing Kathryn’s wide eyed honesty and angelic voice, John’s
melodic bass and Laura’s haunting cello. Sad sweet songs reminiscent of Nick
Drake and Joni Mitchell, reflections on love and life so delicately mused
that the room is speechless in wonderment. And to see us off, a magnificent,
spine tingling rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah. Folk, though Williams
herself doesn’t like to think of it as that, simply doesn’t get any better
Giant inflatable penises, thigh high silver boots, obscene lyrics and on
stage operating tables... it can only be: Peaches.
Originally from Canada, but now living in Berlin, Peaches is currently
touring with her band Hermes, and her third album, Impeach my Bush (don’t
take this political reference at face value - the new songs have little to
do with the George Dubya kind of bush other than a nod to a certain
political stance). Ready to receive their favourite fruity performer, was an
intimate crowd who were hell-bent on jumping up and down to every beat in
the evening’s show.
It’s hard to put this sex-mad-diva in a particular musical genre; the
songs are generally bass heavy in an electronic/dance style with her
feminine, yet powerful voice boisterously competing with the thrashy guitar
riffs clanging along.
Peaches, whose songs have titles like ‘I Don't Give a Fuck’ and ‘Stuff me
up’ , is not known for her reticence and she proved this with one
high-powered and vigorous performance. Her energy on the stage is
incomparable as she bops up and down and runs around all the members
of her band, in a style so erratic it’s not dissimilar to if she’d been
being chased around stage by a wasp. She comes on stage with serious
attitude, initially in a white, Gary Glitter-esque get up (and might I add a
little dubiously, a not too dissimilar hair do) but it doesn’t take her long
before she’s stripping off to her underwear: a red and black sequinned bra
and black pants which she wears with thigh high silver platform boots and
KISS style face paint. And there’s something - for a post feminist chick
like myself - pretty damn admirable about the way she looks with her pale
skin and wobbly tummy: she really doesn’t ‘give a fuck’.
She precariously leaps onto the drum kit to adopt a spread-eagled stance,
wrapped in a black cape adorned with ‘XXX’ in gold to belt out her hits.
She’s so energetic on the stage that when she suddenly collapses, you’d be
forgiven for thinking she’s burst a blood vessel in her head or something,
but no, two of the stage crew pick her up onto a stretcher and carried back
on stage to sing ‘Operate’ from the second album, ‘Fatherfucker’.
It’s the kind of gig that it’s impossible to stand still in; it gives you
weird urges to start dancing like a crazed sex fiend, and flashing at random
strangers, especially when she’s demanding all the guys ‘shake your dicks’
or all the ladies to ‘shake your tits’. Of course, the closing number is
‘Fuck the Pain Away’. As soon as the instantly recognisable bass line kicks
in, the crowd reels as if they’ve just noticed they’ve been overpaid this
month. Peaches bashes at the cymbals, the crowd, all inhibitions completely
lost by this stage, sing the lyrics back at her and your left with the
satisfied, and slightly mischievous feeling you get when you’ve just had an
outrageously wild one night stand.
A quiet night by Fiddler standards, on the door at least. Being the
after schools went back kept the sweaty metal kidz at home, and even the
presence of Metal Hammer's favourite Californians Eighteen Visions
couldn't get the crowd above half. Half full rather than half empty,
as those that made it were determined to party, and treated to a well
matched line up of metalcore talent.
Young Americans Take The Crown had the warm up slot, on (I believe)
their first trip to albion, though in these myspace times the 'luv' was
already waiting. Their stripped back rock, martial drums far further to
the fore of the mix than on their recordings, drew appreciation, and
though vocalist Beau Bokan seemed a little awkward up there, he kept it
attitude free, sharing friendly banter with the crowd, pimping the 'merch'
etc. A solid onslaught from a band that still seem to be finding their
niche, and a great pacesetter.
The Blackout hail from the valleys, though this only becomes apparent
between songs, as their screams are distinctly mid-Atlantic. Thrillingly
fast, with vocals bounced between Sean Smith and Gavin Butler, songs such
as 'I'm a riot you're a fuckin riot', 'It's high time baby', and 'Go burn
city hall' - sensitively renamed on the spot 'I fuckin HATE stingrays' -
showed just enough debt to DC and Leppard whilst still sounding timely.
Describing themselves as 'Lost Prophets' baby brother', they sell
themselves short - the duelling vocalists made for a distinctly
interesting spectacle, switching command of both the stage and
the audience with ease, one pausing while the other dove into the
maelstrom the band created. Layered, varied and frenetic, it kept the
crowd on - and off - their toes. On a long tour to push mini album 'The
Blackout The Blackout The Blackout' above all they gave the impression of
a band having a ridiculously good time, during extended closer 'Fashion
conscious suicide' even segueing into the Fresh Prince ('in west
Philadelphia..') before bounding off to cheers. If the previous acts were
all chatroom (jon) bonhomie, main event Eighteen Visions brought the rock
posture, James Hart growling the first couple from behind beanie and
shades, bassist Mick Morris preening out the licks like an office party
Steve Tyler. His coquetry initially seemed absurd after the lo-fi
proceedings, but soon proved justified - whether you bought into it or
not, it heightened the melodrama inherent in their bombast. What had
looked to be a performance two sizes too big for the venue - the crowd
were scarcely ten deep - with persistence - and pretty fine tunes,
particularly 'Social Suicide' and 'Tonightless' - won over the cynics. But
for all the polish and rehearsed amp standing, it was the youngsters' wit
and enthusiasm that stayed beyond the journey home.
Robin Fahy + Tom Martin
Firstly, a quick note about the incomplete bands line
up...well, 5 bands for just 4 of your earth quids is a bargain by anyone's
standards but hell, it's a lot of listening after a hard day at the office.
So apologies to the opening act who were on at the sickeningly punctual time
of about 8.30pm, the set of which I missed completely. As for the band that
came on between Damn Skippy and Vatican, well, it was so forgettable that I
admit to taking no notice whatsoever, saving my powers of concentration for
the three big hitters of the evening.
I'd heard good
things about Damn Skippy in the past but, by their own admission, this show
seemed a bit shambolic. Thank brass that they had a pretty good trumpet/sax
combo going on to drag the otherwise muddled sound out to the audience.
Having said that, Damn Skippy's individual take on ska and brass-infused
reggae beats seemed to have a big crowd following with some alarmingly
energetic dancing in front of us. A bit like the atmosphere towards the end
of a family wedding disco, but with pork pie hats.
was left to Vatican Jet to ramp things up and by George did they deliver.
Having suddenly acquired a monster of a drummer who pounds the skins with
the ferocity of Mike Tyson, the Jets are really firing on all cylinders.
'Plan B' sounds better than ever and Dodge's vocals ring clear through the
potentially muddy sound system and blonde wood interior of the Mixing Tin.
Vatican Jet sound like the Beatles providing the sound track to a Serge
Leone spaghetti western.
Following this display my
colleague and I were instantly sceptical about the chances of out-of-towners
'This is Seb Clarke' retaining an audience, let alone any attention at the
ungodly start time of midnight. A slow change around between the bands and
we were left silently tut tutting to each other and shaking our heads in a
joint verdict of doom. So all power to the Clarkesters when they hit the
ground with all guns blazing. Or in this case, all brass blazing. I spotted
two trumpets, a saxophone and a trombone in addition to the other four band
members. Have you any idea how big and how loud a real trombone is? I swear
that the several members of the audience were taking their lives in their
hands getting so near to the stage as the old trombone swung around.
Surviving on a heady mix of bluesey funk shaken up with bags of attitude,
'This is Seb Clarke' even managed to upstage their young Vatican
counterparts. Rather them than me travelling around 8-deep in a Transit van
but I'm glad they made it up to Leeds for this show.