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  • Intimate, energetic performances and almost perfect.

    18. Jun. 2011, 23:19

    Thu 19 May – Allo Darlin', 14 Iced Bears, My Sad Captains, Joyous

    It took us a little while to find the pub in question, probably because we were looking for more of a 'venue' but no, it was just any ordinary pub and it was thrilling to be able to wander so close to the stage. The support acts were of varying quality, the only one which stands out was 'My Sad Captains', I still need to follow them up because they were truly awesome. Slow, borderline psychedelic at times guitar sounds rang out and the entire pub seemed captivated, they had a large audience who had clearly come just to see them so plenty of their fans were in singing along.

    The band after them I seem to remember being pretty bad but I'm digressing now. So Allo Darlin' finally came on stage around 20 past 10 and their set was spectacular, The Polaroid Song was particularly memorable but by far the best performance of the night was My Heart is a Drummer. Elizabeth Morris thrashed her ukulele joyfully throughout the performances and although the audience was a little bit dead the atmosphere was still great, plenty of people knew the words. We were also treated to a new song entitled 'Europe' that upon further research is the title track of their next album. The band was short and sweet, I personally felt that Dreaming was sorely missed but that's just because it happens to be my favourite song of theirs'.

    After the show ended I chatted to Elizabeth, grabbed a copy of their album, and their setlist and got them both signed. I can't do her justice with words really, she is a charming and friendly woman, very down to earth and a pleasure to talk to. The audience wasn't particularly energetic, they didn't play my favourite song and their set was a little short... But the show they played was beautiful and like previously stated: almost perfect. Great show, can't wait to see them again once they're back in the UK with a new album.
  • Speak up, son.

    23. Mai. 2011, 22:16

    Wed 18 May – Peter Doherty, Lipstick Melodies

    The first thing I'd like to note is the impressiveness of the Manchester Academy, never been there before and it's a quite a bit nicer than the new Birmingham one.
    Anyways the support bands were all pleasingly passable and the bloke with the guitar sang some quality tunes but by the time Peter came on people were getting impatient...

    The atmosphere was not exactly strained but seemed a bit tense, the chap who had been playing before was getting an occasional boo and once Pete himself had come out people were basically just celebrating his eventual arrival, and what better way to celebrate than a performance of Don't Look Back into the Sun?

    Now this gig was by no stretch of the imagination a bad concert or a bad experience, I did enjoy myself after all, but there were quite a few issues I had with it. Firstly the reaction of the crowd, lets just think about this for a second. On stage we had one guy and an acoustic guitar... And so everybody starts rampantly moshing and pushing? Dancing would've been fine and some falling is inevitable but are PD fans so nobby they're simply not happy unless they're jumping all over the place and bashing as many people as possible? I am of course used to behaviour like this and enjoy it sometimes, I have seen Metallica, Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine twice and as you can imagine the moshing and falling and pushing was off the chain... But Peter Doherty solo acoustic set? Really? Meh.
    Another simple but large issue was volume, he's a mumbly bloke; we all know this. So turn his vocals the fuck up and his guitar down, essentially I think it boils down to this: he suffers without a backing band. Still though, when he sang raucously he did it well, Can't Stand Me Now he gave an especially good go, Music When the Lights Go Out and Last Of The English Roses were also sang beautifully, with 99% of the people there knowing 99% of the words.

    The last rendition of the night was Albion and the performance was slightly strange, he kept sort of breaking it down and starting it back up, which he'd done a few times before but meh, whatever. Upon exiting the stage he launched his guitar right into the middle of us causing immediate insanity and as myself and a couple of other lads broke up a pretty hefty fight I was wondering if anybody had got hurt and if chucking his guitar had been worth it for him. Although at the end of the day that's rock 'n roll for you and if you can't handle it well then... stand at the back I guess.

    It sounds like I had a shit time to call it the worst gig of the year so far, but that's not the case, I just happen to have seen some excellent shows recently. Worth the trip, I just don't think that with the volume of the singalongs it's worth doing a show with just him and one guitar. There She Goes sounded incredibly flat without the cracking bassline and several others needed the punctuating drums or the clarity of a rhythm guitar... So yeah, not as biblically good as Carl Barat, nor as breath-taking as he was in 2009 at V Festival but still well worth a watch.
  • Best gig of the year so far

    28. Apr. 2011, 14:46

    Fri 1 Apr – Carl Barât

    It's taken almost a month for me to review this event because quite simply... I was still coming down off it.

    So I couldn't find anybody to go with me, and attended this one solo. I got into the HMV institute and spent some time thinking "this doesn't look like the right demographic." After some support band had knocked a few tunes out I realised I was quite clearly in the wrong place. So I wandered downstairs and asked a bloke wearing an official badge thing. He pointed me into the right room which I embarrassedly scuttled into. And there he was, right in front of me. I had walked straight into "Run With The Boys". Now I love that song but at this point I was panicking as to how much I had missed, after making an enquiry I was relieved to hear it was only his second song, although annoyed that his first has been 'The Magus'. Still. Could have been worse.

    I can't find a setlist for this gig anywhere, but I'm fairly sure it was the fourth song Carl ripped into Time For Heroes and the place went fucking nuts. As to his performance, his songs sound essentially like they do on record but that's not a bad thing at all. Plenty of chatter and back fourth made him an easy guy to warm to on stage. The setlist consisted of a good chunk of his (excellent) solo record. As I remember now he played all of the following from it:

    The Magus (missed)
    She's Something
    Run With The Boys
    The Fall
    So Long, My Lover
    What Have I Done

    But there was plenty of classics in there too, Time For Heroes / Up The Bracket / Death On The Stairs.

    The band were all spot on and the female vocalist sounded excellent too, as far as actual performance went they were all seriously on it. I'm not sure if I had expected the show to be a little subdued but I was surprised (in a good way) at the ferocity of the crowd during the appropriate moments mixed with the swaying, quietly appreciative mood when appropriate too. I would also like to say just for the props that I shook his hand when he reached in to shake the first few hands that thrust themselves into his. His hand was not particularly memorable though, so I shall no dwell on that particular moment. One of the greatest moments in the set was his performance of 'Bang Bang, You're Dead' which was always a favourite of mine. Singalongs, jumping and good natured shoving all the way. However the most intense moment of the entire show came somewhere before this (I think, I wish I could find the fucking setlist) when after finally caving in to the bellows of the crowd Carl mumbled "This one is called What a Fucking Waster..." and the only word I can use is pandemonium. Seriously thrilling to hear his rendition of their classic Libertines first single. The last time I heard the word 'cunt' so joyously bellowed was when I saw Peter perform the very same song (V Festival 2009).
    Obviously everything has to come to an end and he gave the sensationally good show the best send off he could've done. 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun' was his last song and it was simply indescribable. It was surprising on reflection that his voice was still audible because I don't think there was a single person there that didn't know at least 90% of the words, but he powered through it along with us and by the time the lights had come on my voice was completely gone, my boots covered in beer and everything else covered in sweat.

    There was no one thing that made the concert so incredible... The beautifully mixed setlist, being so close to the man himself (I got myself right to the front regardless of being so late), the way everybody knew nearly all the words, the way he talked to us like we were friends, the quality of his performance... There is seriously no one thing that did it, just all these elements combined made it pretty much the perfect show. I went along wondering if he would really be that good, because lets not be cute about it; at the end of the day he is to the wider world "The libertine that's not Pete". But no, he stood his ground and he smashed the shit out of it. Beyond top quality.
  • A special night.

    16. Mär. 2011, 1:13

    Sun 13 Mar – Caitlin Rose, Treetop Flyers

    The Glee Club is a strange venue... While the room and setup allow for an excellent, intimate show the staff and general atmosphere about the place is slightly snooty and slightly surreal.
    The first band on were called Treetop Flyers and at first I didn't think too much of them, probably simply because I really didn't like their first song, which set me against them for a little while longer. I appreciated their musicianship but found the song felt a bit contrived or somehow engineered too much... But they definitely got better, and I had just about started to really enjoy them by the time they played their last song, which is a shame.

    However any slight doubts brought on by the venue or the support band were blown away once Caitlin Rose and her two friends came on stage. Sporting the face and carefree attitude of a teenager, but the integrity and humour of an adult I warmed to her the second she started speaking... But it was nothing to how I felt once she began her first song, the first song off her album - Learning To Ride. Now don't get me wrong, the rest of her show was fantastic too in terms of her attitude and seeming determination to get some life out of the quietly awed audience, and her amazing renditions... But she really did peak right at the beginning. Her vocal performance on her first song was just unbeatable and it sounded genuinely better than it does on her record. Phenomenal.

    Her determination to make her audience chuckle and her beautiful voice coupled with the somehow weird closeness she had to us made the entire concert feel slightly like it was a dream. Her cover of Jackson Browne's Rosie was the most revealing of her stage presence I think, it was extremely well executed and also very funny in a childish sort of way. Her two accompanying musicians were also highly proficient, and the entire affair managed to bring off that rare balance of (seemingly) true spontaneity and being extremely professional.
    Definitely hoping to catch her again at some point, seeing her so close and perform with such integrity and sense of fun was something you rarely see in live music, and it was a real treat.
  • The King Is Dead.

    16. Mär. 2011, 0:59

    Mon 7 Mar – The Decemberists, Blind Pilot

    Having arrived slightly later than I meant to, I only saw the last song by Blind Pilot, but from what I could see they seemed pretty decent... But yeah, the gig was way more packed than I had imagined, or possibly just smaller than I remembered, but for whatever reason I thought I'd be able to get a lot closer initially than I realised I would once I got inside.

    So we hung around as you do, waiting for a band to take the stage and I was hoping the sound would be as good as it was last time when I went to see Stornoway there. Anyway, they came on and played an excellent rendition of Leslie Anne Levine which is a song I hadn't expected, which was a nice surprise opener. The crowd were quiet and although it might have seemed a little strange to Colin Meloy, I'm pretty sure it was mostly just out of excitement and anticipation... Regardless, it was a few songs in before the proper audience / frontman banter started. A comment on the audience though, there are some gigs you can talk to people all the way through because it's loud or whatever... And there are some you can't. Behind me were stood an extremely annoying couple who just talked all the fucking way through the entire set, although I finally got away nearer the end, I'm just guessing they talked through the last few as they did all the first ones. But yeah, such comments as "It sounds very nice!" and "I don't know this one!" were being constantly shouted at each other throughout which was most off-putting... But yeah, back to a review, the sound was indeed beautiful, the clarity of the band was breath-taking, appallingly designed to get in and out of though it may be, the HMV institute has lovely acoustics.

    By the end of the set we'd been treated to 8/10 of the songs from The King Is Dead which was awesome, although my two favourite songs by Decemberists areJanuary Hymn and We Both Go Down Together, neither of which was played... But you can't have it all I guess. A definite highlight was the event that they made The Mariner's Revenge Song into, made it very easy to sing along, stopped the song to allow audience participation etc... Just very well done, and of course it's an excellent song anyway. And June Hymn was a beautiful closer.

    So yeah, setlist left me slightly wanting and the audience seemed a bit gloomy, apart from the twats having a bellowed conversation behind me... but it was an excellent show still, and I would definitely go to see them again any day.
  • SKIN-NER! SKIN-NER!

    1. Mär. 2011, 15:16

    Fri 25 Feb – The Streets, Brother


    I went into this concert a little nervously. The first thing making me worrying me was the fact that I am not much of a fan of Computers & Blues - Mike Skinner's AKA 'The Streets fifth album, and final as The Streets. I have enjoyed all four previous albums to varying degrees, the first two being masterpieces in their own rights, the third being a decent listen and Everything Is Borrowed being a massively under-rated, breathtaking experience. So my first concern was how much of the set-list would I enjoy. Secondly I was unsure of what to expect performance-wise, having never seen a garage act live before.

    By the time myself and my friends had secured a decent, closeish place to the stage my setlist worries had been forgotten and I thought however he performed it would be to a high standard, and just couldn't wait for the man of the hour to take to the stage. So the lights came down, and he strolled on with a backing band and his backing singer to rapturous applause and cheers, without much preamble he began his first track, the opener to C&B - Outside Inside andTrust Me were performed back to back, and although I'm not massive fans of either songs his performances were fine. However the event truly kicked off as Skinner ripped into Don't Mug Yourself. It's a testament to his fan's loyalty that although it was difficult to hear his actual performances of all the verses, most people (me included) were able to recite it all themselves.

    As the show went on it became evident that Skinner was determined to play a fair amount of C&B but threw in plenty of his biggest tracks, and a few surprises too. Never Went to Church and Dry Your Eyes were both biblical performances, another instance of everybody in the arena knowing all the lyrics even if they were difficult to make out at times. The encore was also spectacular, Turn the Page being a popular choice, the inevitable Fit But You Know It sparking complete madness for the last time, and one of the best tracks of C&B - Going Through Hell to finish off the entire affair was an excellent closer.

    The chat was fun, and Skinner's speech about his love for Birmingham was nice, his holding up a Wembley shirt induced plenty of cheering and booing in equal measures, and the vocal performances were perhaps a tad quiet, but as previously stated, the strength of the fan's dedication rendered that mostly a non issue, especially for the choruses. A blinding gig, made ever more memorable as it's likely to be the last time 'The Streets' perform in Mike's hometown.


    The Streets played:

    Outside Inside (Intro)
    Trust Me
    Don't Mug Yourself
    Let's Push Things Forward
    Puzzled By People
    ABC
    The Escapist
    OMG
    Everything Is Borrowed
    Weak Become Heroes
    It's Too Late
    We Can Never Be Friends
    Soldiers
    Blinded By The Lights
    Never Went To Church
    Heaven For The Weather
    Dry Your Eyes

    Encore:

    Turn The Page
    Fit But You Know It
    Going Through Hell
  • The sound of Birmingham Ska

    11. Jan. 2011, 19:27

    On Saturday the 8th I decided to finally get my shit together and go see a band I've been interested in for quite some time now. Birmingham based ska group 'Lobster', at 'The Adam & Eve'. The band sent me their punchy EP last May, and my review can be seen at: http://www.last.fm/user/yosh2008/journal/2010/05/04/3m2zvt_%22the_grip's_getting_tighter%22_ep_review.

    By the time I got there it was apparent the night was running pretty late, but having nothing else to do anyway I happily sat and watched the guitar player who was on upon arrival. "Freelance Mourners" had apparently not turned up and simply left their singer and guitarist to do an impromptu solo show, which was interesting enough. By his own admission the songs didn't sound how they were supposed to sound as he was the only one there, so it would be a little unfair to judge the musical content of the show. The energy was good though, and his strolling out of the pub on stools and carrying on his final song was amusing enough.

    Then came a complete enigma of a band, (Major Major set up inside five minutes and before the pub knew what had hit them they were over. Incredible energy, pleasingly loud and lots of fun to watch. The songs were simple but amusing and well written, with easy choruses and amusing verse. The best way to describe them would be Biffy Clyro mixed with the more decent side of Scouting for Girls with just a tiny, pleasing pinch of Green Day. Plenty of audience participation was given and myself and a friend sang the outro into the microphone after the lead singer left it on our table. A blast of fresh air, got two CDs for a fiver and their recorded stuff is excellent too.

    Finally the band I had come for set up, and meandered predictably but pleasingly so through duB. The songs they played sounded just as good as they did on record, and of course they all had the live edge which made it that much better. Having so few songs the slot was fairly brief, but a couple of classic Ska covers padded it out nicely, and several new original songs were interesting to listen to. If memory serves correctly the new songs seemed slightly faster than the first four (Snake in the Grass at least) and having a good mix of slow and fast is something that will only benefit them. The performance can't really be faulted, the stage was perhaps too small and one of the lads having to play the keyboard one minute and then nipping over to the other side of the stage to get back to his brass didn't seem ideal, but I suppose that's just making the best of the space you're being offered. One thing that can make or break a live performance is the general interest of those playing, a band who clearly want to be there always shine through more than those who aren't in the mood, and enjoying themselves seemed to be something Lobster excelled at.

    All in all a great performance from the band I went to see, a decent first act and second band who were almost as good as the main band themselves, great gig and a great night. The venue is also well suited for an intimate performance with a smaller band, even if it's a bit cramped it's a nice space the pub has tucked away in the corner. If you're a fan of any kind of ska influenced music, you'll do yourself a massive favour and go to Grips Getting Tighter EP for four excellent free tracks, watch out for their next EP and all subsequent shows, well worth your time.
  • The Arcade Fire Experience hits Birmingham.

    13. Dez. 2010, 17:38

    Wed 8 Dec – Arcade Fire, Devendra Banhart & The Grogs

    Due to a serious error in transit, this was the first gig I have ever found myself properly late for. As a result I missed the opening performance of Ready to Start which is a major pain in the ass as that's a highlight of The Suburbs for me. But anyway, as I got into the arena they were just finishing off Neighborhood #2 (Laika) which was their second song, so not too much was missed really. Anyway, lateness aside I couldn't settle into the spirit of things for another 15 minutes due to the irritating crowd at the back. Getting to the front was impossible, which was highly frustrating as I wanted in on the dancing nearer the front and everybody around me appeared to be in a sort of comatose state, and kept saying things like "excuse me" as I tried to get around them.

    But still, the performance of the band was almost spot on. The problem with Arcade Fire is that once their songs are lined up one after the other but not from the same album, you notice the similarity of all their songs, but this can be forgiven usually. My main issue was the slightly short set, 18 songs seemed a little less than I had expected really, but I suppose I did miss the first two. This is of course all nitpicking, the renditions were amazing, from the mournful My Body Is a Cage, to the rockin' Month of May all the way to the biblical closer - Wake Up the band were fantastic. Great energy and beautiful musicianship. An amazing experience I can't wait to repeat. And to be on time for.
  • The Beautiful Stornoway!

    13. Dez. 2010, 17:27

    Tue 2 Nov – Stornoway, Foxes!

    This was a gig I had been looking forward to for many weeks, after listening to their album repeatedly. Their performances were as you would expect from listening to their recordings. They have this beautiful way of mixing being tempered and having lots of energy. The highlight was probably their completely acoustic rendition of We Are the Battery Human. A real gamble, but it was truly immense, and really paid off.
    The final track - Zorbing was a predictable ending to the show but that definitely wasn't a bad thing, amazing singalongs ensued and the show couldn't have ended better. A real, real treat.
  • Exactly as expected

    26. Okt. 2010, 17:54

    Mon 25 Oct – Feeder, Black Gold

    Plenty of energy from all three of the band, their new drummer really is something.
    The setlist was comprised of essentially the best songs from their latest record - Renegades and a bunch of singles and fan favourites surrounding them. I was desperately hoping for their cover of Breed at the end, but I guess you can't have everything.
    Quality setlist and a very warm, receptive crowd. Well worth seeing.