• Controlled explosions in the lab

    6. Sep. 2009, 9:32

    Fri 4 Sep – Blackbody Vol II EP launch

    Before I get into The Lava Experiments, I'd like to say 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' to DeTrop, the support act. They're really rather good. Or were. At the end of their set they announced it was to be their last gig. Sad but I hope there's some other project round the corner. If you want to know what they sound like, think The Flowers Of Hell meets God Is An Astronaut. Post-rock for the connoisseurs. Mesmerising stage performance - the way the 3 of them play their guitars is an unforgettable experience - and some cracking tunes to boot! You can find more at http://www.myspace.com/detrop

    If you didn't realise that The Lava Experiments were playing Nice 'n' Sleazy on Friday night in Glasgow, you'd be forgiven. Whoever was promoting the event listed them as just 'Lava Experiment'. Not the whole explosive, volcanic, chemistry-lab stuff that The Lava Experiments' music is, but just one solitary Experiment. Ironic then really that, with a live drummer, their sound was probably bigger, more explosive and certainly safety-goggle-inducing than ever before. The Lava Experiments are now a threesome. Fraser leads Allan on drums and Rory on bass. Lava with drummer and Lava without are two very different bands. The sound is of course fuller, bolder, brasher - that's what drums are all about - but Allan's playing brought a cohesion and focus to the music that was hiding before.

    Since this was an EP launch, the tracks from the EP were played! Yay! But what a difference live than on the CD. The songs pick you up by the ankles and whip you on to your back, winding you as you hit the floor. Piecing Memories Together really comes alive, instantly showing itself to be the massive track it is (a bit like sticking your head in front of the safety screen in a controlled-explosion), something that isn't altogether obvious at first listen to the EP. River Shape flowed as the molten track it is. Stand out track and (My god!) hairs-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment? Sun Flies. What a corker!

    Well worth the £6 to get in, and well worth the £4 I spent on the EP afterwards.
  • Time-warp!

    7. Jun. 2009, 12:20

    Sat 6 Jun – White Rose Movement

    Last night I time-warped from the early 80s through to the early 90s to the present day.

    Romance's lead singer looks like Ian Astbury from his Southern Death Cult days, complete with dangly ear pieces and neck adornments.

    The lean singer from Ulterior clearly is a big fan of The Cult's Electric, and all hip-shakin' rock 'n' roll from the same period. Some absolute corkers for tunes, some big thumping basslines, driving beats. Excellent! Did you know they've been around since 2006? Check out their Death of Everything video on YouTube for a stand out track. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GDudf3RT18

    White Rose Movement did their job well. They've grown up, cleaned up their sound, and have written some cracking new tracks, without removing the edgy guitars and lucid vocals. They played the old crowd-pleasers to though, and even debuted new member Poppy on vocals for a thumping, Death in Vegas style tune. I must admit, I'm glad Poppy has taken up position behind the keyboards - she actually looks like she's enjoying herself which is more than her predecessor ever did.

    It was a great return for WRM, and not before time. Welcome back!
  • Tuned in but barely turned on

    23. Apr. 2009, 7:06

    Thu 9 Apr – The Sisters of Mercy

    It's not often that you get to see the Sisters of Mercy perform, largely because the man's so damned elusive, arrogant and hates the UK. But when the Sisters do deign to grace our shores, you can't help but get excited.

    I've now come to the conclusion that the Kentish Town Forum, the Sisters and I are a bad combination. The first time I saw them at this venue on 5th September 2000 (my birthday!), I forgot my glasses and had a cold. So I saw nothing and what I heard I was muffled due to congestion (mine, not the Forum's you understand).

    This time round, very pleased with myself for remembering my glasses, I was sat upstairs on the balcony. Again, I saw very little (dry ice to blame) and what I heard was muffled. I couldn't believe it; 9 years on and I was still re-living the nightmare of my birthday in 2000. Waaah!

    This morning, never one to hold a grudge for long, I'm still thinking about that gig and several things still annoy me:

    - why were the support band so much louder and clearer?
    - how do we know that Mr Eldritch didn't arrange this on purpose? As a big 'fuck you' to all of us?
    - why didn't the sound technicians sort it out? They have the instruments to tell them what's going on (or not!)
    - is it fair that you can pay so much money for such poor quality goods? Would you accept quality like that in a restaurant without saying something?
    - once the ticket companies have taken your money you're pretty much stuffed - shouldn't there be an official way that we can complain?

    Oh dear, I'm clearly turning into Disgruntled from Hackney in my old age, but you do wonder about these things don't you?
  • A triumphant if somewhat quiet return!

    2. Nov. 2008, 16:13

    Wed 29 Oct – Club AC30

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I turned up to see Cranes. The last time I saw them was when they supported The Cure at the Route of Kings gig in Hyde Park in 2002. And they played a storming set back then, but that was before they started to explore their electronic side.

    So now in a smaller, more intimate Hoxton Bar and Grill, and with a new eponymous album out, Cranes, on their Dadaphonic label, and with a brilliant support from Epic45, Alison and Jim Shaw took to the stage looking as bewildered as I was to see them up so close. Fortune hadn't been smiling on them that day - they'd been stuck in traffic for 3 hours on the way to London and there seemed to be technical difficulties.

    Jim, now seated stage right, was controlling the sound as well as taking instrument duties and didn't seem too happy about something. Alison, following heckles from the crowd, acknowledged that they were having trouble, probably brought on by their traffic delay, although the event organiser Club AC30 said that they had had a full sound check. It was quiet! Very quiet and this didn't go down too well with a crowd who seemed more at home with the tempestuous sounds of Forever-era Adrift.

    The set was a mix of new stuff and old crowd pleasers but mixed together so expertly that, in my opinion, each flowed into the next effortlessly.

    But Alison's still one of the most enigmatic performers you'll ever see and hear on stage, and despite their troubles, Cranes pulled it off. Immensely. Cleanly. Beautifully.

    Their most recent album won't please the noise crowd but it's still Cranes - the unmistakable and unique vocals, Jim's melodies that wrap around your neck and lift you out of the crowd, and the thumping rhythm sections.

    It was quiet, but it was a beautiful, tight, and gloriously welcomed return.
  • The Lava Experiments review

    25. Sep. 2008, 22:40

    Mon 8 Sep – Immanu El, The Lava Experiments

    I should start by declaring my conflict of interest: Fraser (man behind The Lava Experiments) is a very, very good friend of mine. There, now that's out of the way, I shall continue.

    Oh and also, I won't review Immanu El. I liked them a lot. But I want to focus on The Lave Experiments.

    So, I was excited to see bands play at the legendary King Tut's. That name has been cropping up throughout my life thus far on web sites, in the Melody Maker, the NME.

    The Lava Experiments seemed to be pretty chuffed to be up there playing. I was looking forward to seeing Roddy on bass, having never caught the renowned Cobra Grande, his previous project. Fraser was genuinely appreciative of the growing crowd who received each track enthusiastically.

    First up was Sun Flies and a stonking opener it was too. Having never seen TLEx play live before but having heard all of the tunes, I was eager to see how the songs metamorphosed into live tracks. Sun Flies was so something so much more played live. I've often thought that some of TLEx's material can sound a bit thin. Played live this track was transformed into a mammoth sound that quickly got the crowd's attention.

    Fraser and Roddy were playing perfectly together even though they barely acknowledged each other's presence.

    The rest of the tracks were Piecing Memories Together, Ring To The Dark Place (now, now children!), Organise the Box, Electric Garden and Day Glow Dreams.

    Day Glow Dreams was a thumping closer, with a driving bass line that drove headlong into the crowd. As it ended TLEx looked pretty smug. As well they might - they grabbed the audience by the ears, took us on a ride and then carelessly tossed us out on the verge wanting more.
  • Something strange

    12. Sep. 2008, 10:59

    Thu 11 Sep – SPC ECO, Insect Guide, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun

    I like 93MillionMilesFromTheSun - they make me very happy! Sadly I only caught the second half of their set but it blew me away. Vocals could have been stronger but the sounds they produced were astounding.

    The Insect Guide kinda bored me. I think they might be one of those bands that are better on CD than live but I mean that in the nicest way. By all accounts they've had rave reviews for their album debut THE INSECT GUIDE but they lacked the vitality that a small venue like the Buffalo Bar needs. I think I heard the singer complaining that the sound wasn't right for their set so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    There's something not quite right about SPC ECO. The sounds that they produce are fine, just what you'd expect from one half of Curve, in fact some of the tunes are quite simply stunning. The vocals, provided by the mesmerising Rose Berlin are some of the best dreamy, shoegaze pop sounds that you'll find this side of the 2000's but there's just something...

    It's definitely something about the way they play. Guitarist Joey and the drummer are always looking nervously over to Dean Garcia to make sure they're doing it right. It's almost as if he's the school teacher who might throw a tantrum if you make one mistake. Debbie, veteran guitarist of Curve and Echobelly, meanwhile spent the whole gig with her back to Rose and Dean, checking in with Joey. And Dean just kept looking around, checking that everyone was doing things right! Maybe they hadn't rehearsed enough...?

    I know that at the end of the day it's about the music but a live gig is as much about the performance too, no? It all seems a bit too clinical right now.

    All-in-all, a good soundscape in a suitable venue, with songs that have enough clout to get you moving. If the band worked on their stage presence then this would be a show-stopper every time!
  • A rare treat!

    9. Feb. 2008, 18:26

    Tue 5 Feb – SPC ECO, Little Death, orange yellow red

    OK - so I've been a Curve fan for many-a-year and never once did I get to see them play live. I'm sorry to start this review with an obvious and probably irritating reference - this is a new band with new members, one of whom just happens to be one half of the driving force behind Curve - but the SPC ECO gig was a rare treat!

    Not only did I get to see Godlike Bass Player Dean Garcia play but the one and only Debbie Smith was there on guitars. I mean, that's one half of Curve right?? How bloody exciting is that? Well, I was beside myself...

    And SPC ECO were brilliant. The single and it's flip-side rolled out like old favourites. The music flowed, the playing was fantastic, and there's just something, something about the way that Debbie curls over her guitar like she's nurturing a glass of very rare red wine. Dean crouched at the corner of the stage grinning inanely knows he's on to a good thing. Not because SPC ECO sound a little like Curve but because he has masterminded a group of people and they produce a beautiful sound.

    Sadly I don't know the names of all the songs they played but I for one enjoyed every moment. I'm itching for more.
  • Calling all trainspotters

    8. Okt. 2007, 14:32

    Wed 3 Oct – iLiKETRAINS, Sennen

    Quite simply beautiful. Not a great soundsystem but then the Scala has never had that.

    But the band, the music, the songs were, quite simply, beautiful.

    What else is there to say?
  • Return of the Warhols

    3. Okt. 2007, 14:06

    Tue 2 Oct – The Dandy Warhols, Six by Seven

    Sadly, I missed Six By Seven although I was lucky enough to get a copy of Artists Cannibals Poets Thieves

    A true return to form. The band was right up close and personal: crammed into the front half of the stage, waving and chatting to the audience, as well as each other. It was intimate, together and genius.

    You only have to look at the venue's gig history to see that the Dandy's are another in a long line of class acts.

    Some new songs were previewed and the rest of the set was a great mix of singles (Get Off, Bohemian Like You, Boys Better, Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth, We Used to Be Friends) and album tracks. I Love You was fired off with ease but only after Courtney stopped it after a "brain fart".

    It was great to see The Dandy Warhols back on form and on track by the sound of the new stuff. Let's hope they shake the Electric Ballroom to the foundations tonight!
  • Milestone tracks

    3. Jul. 2007, 16:46

    Was She Said by Longpigs. Now I know that 13500 tracks ain't a huuuge amount but since that album is one of my favourites, I couldn't but help send a lil' love out to the random feature on my WMP... once I'd remembered to breath again.

    What was everyone else's milestone tracks, and honestly, did you fudge it?