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gig reviews - sep 06


 

All photos by Hannah Clarke (www.gracebandpics.co.uk).
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You Say Party! We Say Die! + The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
8.11.06 - The Cockpit, Leeds

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 interesting.

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 to hear.

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 headliners.
www.thevictorianenglishgentlemensclub.co.uk
www.yousayparytwesaydie.ca

SB

 

You Say Party! We Say Die!

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club

 

Watch 'The Song that Dies Too Much' by Chapter 24

Watch The Bobby McGees

The Bobby McGees + Pocketbooks + Chapter 24
4.11.06 - Carpe Diem, Leeds 

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.

Jamie Collings

 
 

The Curtains + Orchards + Yonoquiero
@ Rose Of England, Nottingham

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 of autumn.

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.

Craig Wood

 
 

Kathryn Williams & Tobias Froberg
The Glee Club, Birmingham

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 than this.

Hannah Webster

 
 

Peaches and Hermes
11.10.06 - ABC, Glasgow

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.

Melanie Bestel

 
 

Take The Crown + The Blackout + Eighteen Visions
11.09.06 - Mean Fiddler, London

A quiet night by Fiddler standards, on the door at least. Being the monday
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

 
 

This is Seb Clarke + Vatican Jet + Damn Skippy + support
15.9.06 - The Mixing Tin, Leeds

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.

So it 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.
www.vaticanjet.co.uk
www.damn-skippy.co.uk
www.this-is-seb-clarke.co.uk

SB