Archive for the 'Festival Reviews' Category

Festival Review: ATP 2007 – The Dirty Three Weekend, Day 1: Friday 27th April 2007

The Skyline Pavilion, Butlins, MineheadIt has to be said that the new venue for All Tomorrow’s Parties at Butlins in Minehead, Somerset is a massive improvement on the Pontins in Camber Sands where the event had taken place since its inception in 2000. Ok, so it’s still a crappy holiday camp but the rooms are better, there are more places to eat and drink, there’s an extra stage and the size of the stages has increased to accommodate the extra capacity, which has doubled to 6,000. Plus, it’s much easier to get to (for us at least), my run down to Taunton to pick up JustHipper, after her week of following James from Birmingham to Brixton, flying by in a haze of Nick Cave and Mary Margaret O’Hara CDs.

The main stage is in the Skyline Pavilion which is the resort’s centrepiece. It’s a huge indoor climate controlled space and the size of the stage alone makes it feel like you’re at a festival. The Only Ones were the first band on on Friday and were playing their first gig in 26 years. They were forty minutes late for the performance because, apparently, no one woke Pete Perrett up. Perrett looks like someone who needs waking up for a gig, like a younger but no less cadaverous Keith Richards. Considering how long they’d been away they put in a remarkably tight performance. I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with their work aside from the obvious but I was impressed with what I heard: above average post-punk with sharp edges, clever lyrics and Perrett’s highly individual vocal style. All very much like “Another Girl, Another Planet”, then, which I stuck around for (it was a definite hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck experience) before heading off to the Centre Stage to see Magnolia Electric Co. who were even better, their warm country blues and superb guitar interplay charming the sizeable crowd. I hadn’t planned to stick around for too long as The Dirty Three were on the main stage and MEC were playing again on the Saturday but I couldn’t drag myself away. After the beautiful closing “Shiloh” I made my way back to the main stage to catch most of The Dirty Three’s set.

The Dirty Three @ ATP 2007The sound that these three musicians make is incredible and easily filled the huge space in front of them. Jim White’s ingenius drumming and Mick Turner’s unflappable curtain of guitar are a sumptuous backdrops to Warren Ellis’ wailing violin. Ellis with his manic, electric stage presence was the undoubted star of the weekend and the sight of him throwing his long, lank hair back, mid-song, while launching a huge glob of saliva towards the heavens was perhaps, for me, the defining image of ATP 2007. His long, often hilarious, song introductions certainly lightened the mood between the bouts of intense, soaring post-rock.

There was pause for breath after the curators’ set so we finally grabbed some fish & chips before heading off to the third stage, Reds, to catch The Art Of Fighting, who didn’t seem to be as hard as their name suggests, playing a quiet, lush pop with an occasional epic sweep. I recognised the excellent “Heart Translation” from Sweeping The Nation‘s Songs To Learn And Sing feature of last year but overall the performance didn’t really grab me, instead it merely suggested that I might like to investigate further at some point in the future, if I feel like it.

Back at the Centre Stage Devastations‘ brooding bluesy Aussie rock spiked with the odd blazing torrent of guitar abuse was hampered by some clunky lyrics but ultimately went down quite well with both of us though by now we were dead on our feet after a long day and chose bed over the frightening prospect of Josh T Pearson at two in the morning.

Magnolia Electric Co. – Leave The City

The Art Of Fighting – Heart Translation

Posted by The Ledge on 8th May 2007 at 10:23 pm | comments (27)
File under Festival Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day Three, 13th August 2006

Redcarsgofaster at Summer Sundae 2006The torrential downpour of Saturday night/Sunday morning relented in time for us to pack up the tent, put everything in the car and make our way back to the festival site. It was still quite early and the rain was on and off so upstairs in De Montfort Hall we found a small corner where a screen had been set up and Ice Age was playing, presumably for the benefit of the many young children attending the festival, though the only people watching were adults, the kids probably hungover after a wild night of freedom having been abandoned by their parents in favour of The Proclaimers and The Blockheads the previous evening.

Local bands were opening the hall and the Main Stage on the Sunday, the first of these were Firebrand, an all-girl rock trio who stood out from the current glut of dull all-girl rock bands by virtue of the fact that they had some decent tunes and they eschewed power chords in favour of lithe, melodic guitar lines courtesy of their stringbean of a lead singer. On the Main Stage Redcarsgofaster were very energetic and boasted some terrific guitar work and a demented bass player but didn’t really bring anything new to the discordant indie-rock table.

The Long Blondes were a bit indie-by-numbers and didn’t make much of an impression while M. Craft in the hall was/were so dull that both JustHipper and I fell asleep in our seats. We went our separate ways after that, JustHipper foolishly choosing Morning Runner over Camera Obscura in the Jim Beam Risiing tent. Camera Obscura had had problems at Copenhagen airport and most of their equipment was still in Denmark which means they had to borrow all of their equipment from other bands or from the Sheehans Music stall next door to the tent. I got there early so had a great spot at the front and watched the increasingly frustrating efforts of Kenny McKeeve to get his (probably borrowed) effects board to work. He eventually gave up the ghost and plugged straight into his amp. They got started about 10 minutes late as a result of the chaos and Traceyanne was her usual self-deprecating self, apologising in advance for what was going to be a dreadful gig. She was wrong of course and the band put in a superb, if truncated, set the highlight of which was single of 2006 “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” where the signature organ intro was turned to mud by the default organ sound on Carey’s borrowed synth, much to the amusement of band and audience alike.

MC Lord Magrao of Guillemots at Summer Sundae 2006I headed back to the Main Stage and managed to catch most of José González‘s set, arriving just in time for the wonderful “Heartbeats”. I thought it might be a quiet set but I’ve never heard an acoustic guitar turned up so loud: it filled the field. I’m not too familiar with José’s own material but it sounded pretty good to me though not as good as his covers, three of which ended the set, the last of these, Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, bringing me out in goosebumps.

I met back up with JustHipper down the front for Guillemots who didn’t seem to work as well in the festival setting. The two times we’ve seen them before they played quite long and mesmeric sets which gave them time to explore and improvise. Here they had barely an hour, punctuated by some technical gremlins early on that gave rise to one of Fyfe’s improvisations about said gremlins. They sounded great when they got going and “Trains To Brazil” and “Made Up Love Song #43” got great responses from the crowd while the customary closer “Sao Paulo” sounded suitably epic in the outdoors.

After Guillemots we rushed back inside where The Boy Least Likely To has just started. There was a party atmoshere in the hall as the band played the most upbeat and joyous set of the weekend thus far. They’re still hawking their Best Party Ever long player and we only got one new song but they were on fine form with the usual cake throwing antics of the keyboard player, Jof’s self-deprecating humour causing much mirth between songs and a fine cover of George Michael’s “Faith” going down a storm.

Belle And Sebastian at Summer Sundae 2006We missed Stephen Fretwell on the Main Stage and The Buzzcocks in the hall, the latter apparently packed to the rafters with the one in/one out system back in operation. Instead we filled up on food and coffee in anticipation of the trip back to Manchester after headliners Belle And Sebastian. The last couple of times we’ve seen Belle And Sebastian they’ve been a bit disappointing thanks to the low volume of the PA and the high volume of chatterers. No worries this time as the sound was perfect and the crowd was captivated by a stunning performance from the Scottish indie-popsters. Stuart Murdoch’s transformation from unwilling frontman to consummate showman is complete as he strutted about the stage, clearly enjoying being the centre of attention, pulling a girl out of the crowd to dance with during “Jonathan David” and getting mascara applied by another audience member at the start of an excellent “Lord Anthony”. The stage was positively swimming with musicians, including a string section, as the band played as upbeat and summery a set as you could have wished for and included “Expectations” and “Electronic Renaissance” from Tigermilk as well as glorious versions of “If She Wants Me”, “Dirty Dream Number Two” and “White Collar Boy” which closed the main set. The best was saved for the encores with “Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie” (a personal fave of mine) giving way to a joyous “Boy With The Arab Strap” and a sumptuous “Sleep The Clock Around” rounding off a great festival weekend.

And that was it for Summer Sundae 2006, certainly the most civilised and well-organised festival we’ve been to and with a cracking line-up to boot. It’s odds on that we’ll be back next year.

You can see all our photos from Summer Sundae 2006 on our Flickr page.

Posted by The Ledge on 28th August 2006 at 1:58 pm | comments (1)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Festival Review: V, Day One, Saturday August 19, 2006

On Friday morning I wasn’t going to V. You see, in 2004 we’d been for the day to see The Strokes and the Pixies. We bought the tickets when those had been the only 2 acts announced for the day. Subsequently they didn’t add anything else worth seeing. So we spent a fortune to see what turned out to be 45 minutes of decent music. 45 minutes you ask? Well, the Strokes sucked harder than a band has ever sucked to that many people. And we swore off V forever. For the sheer blandness of it. But there I was on Friday morning with the offer of a ticket from Bricking Chick and if I said no, then she was on her own all weekend. It would have been mean not to go, right?

So, despite predictions of vile weather, and despite V being generally the shite cousin of every other large music festival, I dutifully packed up my stuff and we headed off, rather later than we should have, on Saturday morning. This was mistake number one. See, being the last one into a festival to camp is bad at the best of times cause you have to troll around looking for a spot for your tent. It’s doubly bad when they’ve oversold the camping and the stewards are actually turning people with camping tickets away. It did not help that you had to drag all your gear from the carparks to the arena to get a wristband before you could backtrack to the campsite to get in. Luckily, Bricking Chick and I look honest and harmless, we managed to get into a campsite without wristbands. And we managed to find a spot amongst a group of men with about 5 tents between them. They turned out to be dead friendly, but we were worried for a while there when they chose to make friends with us by showing us their genitals.

Then came getting into the site. Some people were having water and food taken off them. I got through without a bag search. I think they just thought I was a hunchback because in the heavy rain I had my rucksack under my rain poncho. Once inside the search began for beer tokens and a programme. We couldn’t find anyone selling programs. The queues for the beer tokens were outrageous, 100 or 200 people in each line. It took an hour to find a merchandise stand to get a programme where I was charged £10. This is gripe number 2 really. It was £120 for a ticket + camping including the service charges. Then they charged an additional £7 to park the car. Then if we actually wanted to know who was on where and when we had to pay another £10. Nice eh?

We worked out that Richard Hawley was about to begin in the JJB Arena so we decided to wait until the queues for beer tokens had subsided a bit and headed over there. Now, I adore Richard Hawley, but we noticed at Summer Sundae that he was starting to repeat stories. By V, I could have repeated them for him. He sounded ok, but ran through the all-too-familiar set including “Cole’s Corner,” “The Ocean,” “Born Under a Bad Sign,” and “Something Is…” using the same jokes in between, including the one about being “pulled off.” It was nice, but it would have been nicer if it were newer.

After Richard Hawley, we decided to brave the queues for beer. I got some food, Bricking Chick bought a bunch of tokens and then we queued a second time for alcohol. As the heavens had opened up onto us, we decided to head back over to the JJB and see what Imogen Heap sounded like, as we had no idea and there was nothing else on we wanted to see. Boy was that a mistake because she was a bland combination of Dido and dancy trip-hop garbage. Ugh it sucked. I tuned it out very quickly and we sat near the back and chatted instead and planned out the rest of our day. Typically, it worked out that everything I wanted to see clashed. So I could either watch all of Morrissey and all of Rufus Wainwright or watch The Dears and part of Moz. As Rufus was the selling point for me that day really, I had to forego the wonderful live show The Dears surely put on. It was less obvious for Bricking Chick who didn’t like any of those bands. I suggested she watch The Cooper Temple Clause while I was seeing Moz, and she said she’d wait and see how she felt.

Next we headed over to watch James Dean Bradfield on the Channel 4 stage. He didn’t disappoint. I mean that in the sense that he sounded like he was singing Manic Street Preachers songs. He even threw in a couple, although, sadly, not the good ones. His solo stuff was okay, if a bit reminiscent of the last 2 Manics albums, and he is always good on stage. He even gave us his rendition of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” in honour of the downpour which had stopped but then started up again. The crowd around me spent much of the set going “When is he going to play some Manics stuff? Maybe ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’!” Ahh well.

Next up was chatting to drunk men, queuing for the toilets (minimum wait time for a portaloo on Saturday: 30 minutes. Sort it out Virgin!) and getting food. Food which, I might add, required a bank loan to afford. It was outrageously expensive. £2.50 for chips. £4.50 for a potato. Some stands were charging more. People were reporting having to pay £7 for a burger and chips off a burger van. Outrageous. They really need to make these things affordable. Most of the people who go would also like to have a proper holiday rather than having to make 2 days in a muddy field in the rain their only real time away in a year.

Then, oh yay oh yay oh yay, it was time for the marvel that is Rufus Wainwright! Now, I’d wanted to see him back in Novemeber when he was in Manchester but didn’t have the money for the ticket so I was very very excited about this. I managed to get myself to the barrier, I could sort of see, but it was in front of a speaker. The view was limited. But who cares because he sounded perfect! It was him, a guitar, a piano, and for a couple of songs, his sister Lucy. He didn’t play everything I wanted, but “The Art Teacher” and “Vibrate” and “Gay Messiah” all sounded magnificent. Plus, his rendition of “Hallelujah” was phenomenal and everyone I spoke to later that evening either said it was a festival highlight or kicked themselves for missing it. I was, however, highly amused when, after Rufus said he fancied the singer Jack Johnson, two guys stood behind me exclaimed, “Is Rufus Wainwright gay!?” Like, umm….oh never mind. In any case, he was charming and dapper and his voice was gorgeous. I cannot wait for a new album and hopefully being able to see him in a proper venue with a full band. At some point Bricking Chick had enough and left me for the beer tent, saying she’d meet me before Morrissey. I felt bad, I knew it wouldn’t be her thing. It’s a shame there wasn’t anything else she’d have preferred.

When I emerged from the JJB Arena looking for my friend it was dark but thankfully not raining. Not seeing her, I sent a text saying Moz was on in 2 minutes and I was heading for the Main Stage, assuming she’d head over to see Razorlight or the Cooper Temple Clause and that she wouldn’t let my drink go to waste. I got to the Main Stage just as Morrissey’s intro music of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” began to play and a cheer erupted. I made my way deep into the crowd, where I could see the screens as, much to my delight, Morrissey and band appeared and launched into a rousing version of “Panic.” Yay, they changed the setlist! It was still heavily geared towards Ringleaders of the Tormentors, but “We’ll Let You Know” returned, and he did “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and “Girlfriend in a Coma.” He sounded marvellous. And he was selling downloads of his new single, recorded live on the spot for “In the Future When All’s Well.” The crowd was celebratory, dancing and singing and I had a boogie with a friendly bloke who kept balancing a water bottle on his shaven head. I tracked down Bricking Chick as well, near the sound desk, watching Morrissey and hating every second of it. She apparently couldn’t remember who was on where so thought she’d give the Mozfather a chance, so at least she could say she tried. She gets points for that. And for still having the drink she’d got me, untouched. So, after Morrissey finished the evening with “How Soon Is Now” and lots of screams from the crowd, we trekked back to our tents for an hour or so’s chat and fun with our neighbours until the pouring rain drove everyone inside and to sleep.

Posted by JustHipper on 28th August 2006 at 1:37 pm | comments (1)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day Two, 12th August 2006

Arriving on site early on Saturday we were disappointed to find that Oxfam’s offer of free tea and coffee to campers did not mean that we would be sitting in comfy leather armchairs at sturdy wooden tables sipping lattés and Earl Grey while reading The Guardian but rather it involved standing outside the tent in the chilly wind sipping a small plastic cup of Nescafé Fair Trade instant coffee with no milk because they had run out. A couple of hours and beers later and we repaired to the main stage to watch local band Don’s Mobile Barbers‘ amiable chugging indie rock. They were likened to Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev in the programme but with just two members, one on drums, the other guitar/vox, and the occasional cameo from a friend with a synth, they had no chance of matching the sonic ambition of those two bands. There was a definite American indie influence in their songs and their set made for a good, relaxed start to the day. Oh, if only the sun would shine.

Next we caught the last two songs of dutch band Gem in the Jim Beam Rising Tent. They were fairly conventional Britrock in the vein of Libertines and Razorlight but it was good to see such energetic performers stirring up the crowd early in the day. Then we headed for the first time into De Montfort Hall to see Howling Bells play their bluesy indie rock to an enthusiastic crowd. Our own enthusiasm was overcome by a requirement to eat about five songs in so we headed outside where we watched the first two songs of Tuung‘s tunefully oddball folk, which sounded quite intriguing and we would have stayed longer but we wanted to get a good place in the hall for Brakes. Brakes cannot fail in these circumstances. How can the casual observer not be won over by the likes of “All Night Disco Party”, “Ring A Ding Ding Ding” and the magnificent “Porcupine Or Pineapple?”? One of the joys of this performance was the reaction to the likes of “Hi, How Are You” or “Cheney”, which got played twice in a row, the second time a “Leicester Remix”, from the many watching who had never heard the band before. Brakes should really have played the Main Stage, which is where we headed after they’d finished to dig a little Young Knives. Only a couple of songs, mind, and they didn’t sound as good as they had the week before during their excellent D:Percussion set. So back inside it was for Isobel Campbell, only upstairs this time for comfy seats to rest our weary legs. With the legendary Eugene Kelly, of Vaselines, Captain America and Eugenious fame, deputising for Mark Lanegan it meant that much of the material would be culled from the Mercury nominatedBallad Of The Broken Seas long player, and it didn’t sound too bad with the title track and “Deus Ibi Est” particularly good though Kelly’s vocals certainly lacked the edge of Lanegan’s. Again we departed mid-set, but with good reason…

¡Forward, Russia! at Summer Sundae 2006I didn’t think that ¡Forward, Russia! could be as breathlessly exciting playing to a large festival crowd as they are in small, sweaty clubs, but they were. It was a stunning performance by the Leeds quartet that had me so engrossed that the 45 minutes seemed to pass in no time and at the end I barely had any idea what they had played (admittedly I still have problems matching the number to the tune) . They started it all with “Thirteen”, that I know, and they definitely played “Twelve”, “Nine” and an amazing “Sixteen” but it all seemed to by in a blur as if I’d been hypnotised by Tom Woodhead’s manic dancing. I totally missed Steve Lamacq’s crowd surfing, though JustHipper was on the ball on that one. At the end Tom leapt from the stage and dived into the audience, still singing, and emerged with blood pouring from his nose. The crowd was in raptures. It feels like ¡Forward, Russia! have arrived.

After the excitement of ¡F, R! we settled back to watch Nouvelle Vague do their cool french thang over familiar songs, many of which I grew up with in the 1980s. Opening with a sultry “The Killing Moon” they made their way through a languid “Blue Monday”, a hilarious “Too Drunk To Fuck”, a gloomy “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and a quite superb “A Forest” only to end with “Love Will Tear Us Apart, which, let’s face it, no one should ever attempt to cover, though everyone does.

Calexico at Summer Sundae 2006Staying at the Main Stage, a pared down Calexico were on fine form as usual. With “All Systems Red” and “Letter To Bowie Knife” – the best two tracks off the excellent Garden Ruin – dispensed with early on, Burns, Convertino and co. treated us to smooth as silk versions of favourites like “Stray” and “Sunken Waltz” as well as “Alone Again Or”, dedicated to Arthur Lee and John Peel, and the superb latino groove of “Güero Canelo”. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen from them – I prefer them with a bigger band and a bit more mariachi – but it was still highly entertaining.

The rest of the evening was spent in the hall on another ’80s nostalgia trip (for me, at least). Thanks to various relatives of mine from an older generation I was very familiar with work by The Proclaimers and Ian Dury And The Blockheads while growing up. Though I had little affinity for the former, I learnt most of the swear words I know from the latter’s New Boots And Panties long player. It was one in/one out for The Proclaimers but we managed to get seats upstairs after a short wait. It was an incredible atmosphere as most of the oldies at the festival (and there were many, me included) had left their kids behind and packed into the heaving venue. We only saw the last 20 minutes but I recognised “Sunshine On Leith” and of course “500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be)” which had about 2000 people singing along and made you wonder why the hell they weren’t playing the Main Stage.

The crowd thinned out a little for The Blockheads who were replacing X-Press 2 on the bill after they had pulled out through illness. The late Ian Dury was replaced on vocals by comedian, DJ, TV guy Phill Jupitus and he did a pretty good job. It was a good set which began with “Wake Up And Make Love To Me” and took in Dury classics like “Clevor Trever”, “Billericay Dickie”, “What A Waste”, “Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll” and, of course, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”. Unfortunately the band took it upon themselves to play a couple of recently penned numbers which saw Jupitus relegated to showing off his dubious percussion skills as Derek The Draw took over the vocals and the drummer got to play some solos. One drum solo in a gig is one too many; two is unforgivable. Norman Watt-Roy’s incredible bass playing must get a mention, however. There, I mentioned it. Anyway, an entertaining evening was rounded off with an excellent “Reasons To Be Cheerful Pt. 3” and we were further delighted to find that we had avoided much of the torrential rain that fell during Gomez’s set on the Main Stage.

Posted by The Ledge on 23rd August 2006 at 4:37 pm | comments (5)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day One, 11th August 2006

Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family at Summer Sundae 2006This was our first time at Summer Sundae, having been attracted by the cheap price of a ticket, the excellent line up and the even better word of mouth. Let it be said that we weren’t disappointed. In fact, Summer Sundae 2006 surpassed all expectations and there’s every chance that the event will become a regular occurence on the Indie Credential calendar.

We arrived on Thursday night, set up tent in the friendly Regent’s College campsite, ate at a local Thai restaurant and repaired to camp for a beer and chocolate digestive nightcap. A typical festival evening then. The weather on Friday was in its default festival setting: cloudy, cold winds, the sun occasionally gracing us with its presence. After food and some beer we found ourselves in the Jim Beam tent watching Now who, if the programme notes were to be believed, should really have sounded a bit like Stereolab. They didn’t and after two songs we left for a walk round the very entertaining Polly’s Garden and then visited the Real Ale tent where young men with beards poured beer into the silver tankards of middle aged men with beards. Eventually we saw our first full set of the weekend, Liam Frost And The Slowdown Family on the Main Stage. Although I’d never heard any of their stuff before they certainly lived up to expectations after JustHipper had raved about them at D:Percussion the previous weekend. Frost’s brand of energetic modern folk was a cut above most of the singer/songwriter fare on offer these days and his excellent rapport with the crowd and with his own mandolin player, who joked how one day Liam might be able to afford to buy him a bigger guitar, made for a thoroughly entertaining half hour.

Next up on the Main Stage was Richard Hawley. We love Richard Hawley round our way and knew he would deliver but were worried that he might tone down his between song banter to an audience that included many many young kids. Fortunately he didn’t but having seen him a couple of times in the past year the banter sounded a little too familiar, like sitting through the same stand up routine for the third time. The songs were familiar but majestic as always, the sweeping melancholy of “Something Is…” giving way to a beguiling version of “The Ocean” with Hawley’s impassioned guitar work making it one of the highlights of the weekend.

Guy Garvey of Elbow at Summer Sundae 2006We skipped Delays, save for one song that JustHipper insisted that we hear, which was dull and it had started to rain so we drank and ate more and waited for Elbow, who were headlining a festival for the first time. And they were well up for it from the opening “Station Approach”, with its glorious mantra about the lure of the hometown, through to the wired version of “Newborn” that closed the set they played with more passion and more confidence than I’d ever seen in them before . Genial frontman Guy Garvey was on fine form, both vocally and in engaging the crowd between songs, joking before “Leaders Of The Free World” that there are some terrible things going on in the world at the moment “and I don’t mean Cud reforming”. Well, I laughed, while JustHipper asked who the hell Cud were. Though there was no “Powder Blue” or “Scattered Black And Whites” there were plenty of spine-tingling moments on offer. “McGreggor”, with Garvey pounding away on a kettle drum, was chilling, the equal of anything off Leaders, “Forget Myself” brought an anthemic close to the main set while “The Stops”, played in the encores, was a revelation taken out of the context of the album. If this performance was anything to go by it won’t be long before Elbow are headlining bigger festivals than this.

All our pics from Summer Sundae 2006 can be found on our Flickr page.

Posted by The Ledge on 17th August 2006 at 5:51 pm | comments (5)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: D:Percussion Festival, Manchester, August 5, 2006

Polytechnic at D:PercussionAnother gig, another late review. We really need to make a point of reviewing one “festival” before heading off to a second but oh well. D:Percussion. It nearly didn’t happen, apparently, but the press that resulted from this near-failure seemed to have brought everyone in Manchester out on a gloomy day to stand about in Castlefield and watch bands. There were more stages this year than in the past, and more bands that looked interesting too. But, as a result of The Ledge (and, literally, everyone else I know) being out of town, I didn’t end up heading over until 4:30pm as I didn’t fancy 10 hours of solitude. I managed to get myself to the main stage in time for Polytechnic. For the second time in a week they put on a blinder, charming the crowd with their excitable blend of ecclectic, keyboard tinged American-sounding indie guitar melodies.

Having never actually heard him play before, I decided to watch Liam Frost & the Slowdown Family as I’d heard nothing but good about him. I was expecting some nice acoustic singer-songwriter tunes. What I got was a full band playing lovely, sweet catchy melodies and a troubadour of a singer. He was immediately infectious and I really enjoyed his set – enough that we made a point of watching him at Summer Sundae as well. I’m sorry I didn’t get down to the Night & Day when he played his residency last spring as it may have been the last chance to see him in such intimate surroundings if Saturday’s performance was anything to go by.

The Pipettes at D:PercussionNext up were The Pipettes who I had yet to hear, despite their having captured the hearts of indie boys across the nation. I was expecting a 60’s style super-cool vocal group. What I got was 3 women who looked more like girls in matching Topshop polka-dot dresses doing bad choreography. I can’t even comment on their talents because I couldn’t hear the vocals, which I thought was odd seeing as how the sound was perfect for every other band I saw. It was only them. I know sometimes this happens when a singer does not trust their ability to sing live, they drown the vocals out deliberately. I suspect this is the case with the Pipettes, who frankly, from the backing melodies, sounded pretty much like any other girl group on the block, were hardly that charismatic and really seemed only to be separated from the likes of Girls Aloud and Sugababes by their attempt at retro style.

The Longcut at D:PercussionThe Ledge finally joined me about the time that The Young Knives took the stage, all skinny ties and energy, playing their angular guitar pop with a great deal of emphatic desperation, like they were worried it was going out of fashion. At times they sound like The Futureheads and at others like Clor, but they write solid songs, have a lot of charisma on stage and are genuinely interesting and likeable. Sadly, though, unlike the last time, there was no break dancing. But we enjoyed them nonetheless and are looking forward to the release of their album later this month.

Castlefield Arena during D:PercussionFinally, we watched The Longcut who The Ledge insists we saw at D:Percussion back in 2004, but who I appear to have gotten confused with the unbelievably boring Longview and who I did not remember at all. I should have remembered them because they were great. They played a blend of indie dance which reminded me a little of The Beta Band and a little of Primal Scream but had none of the oddness of the former and not quite as much stage presense as the latter but which was very satisfying as the sun came out and went down on a Saturday evening. The crowd loved it and they threw a lot of enthusiasm into their songs. I think I should remember them now, and I wouldn’t mind hearing them on record because I very much liked what I heard.

After The Longcut finished, we decided to call it an evening and headed down to The Ox for a nightcap. This year’s D:percussion appeared to be a blinding success, and I probably should have got myself down there earlier to see Snowfight in the City Centre amongst a few others. But hopefully, with the £2 entry fee clearly making up for the cash shortfall this year, and with the massive turnout, next year’s festival will be back again bigger and better.

For more D:Percussion Photos follow the link to Flickr.

Posted by JustHipper on 14th August 2006 at 4:27 pm | comments (3)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Sunday, July 9, 2006

Sunday morning was not much better than Saturday night, weatherwise. We hid in the tent for quite a while waiting for a break in the rain and then rushed around to cook breakfast, brush our teeth and pack everything into the car. The result was us missing The Spinto Band and My Latest Novel, both of whom I had wanted to see – the former because of all the blog buzz from last year and my being unconvinced by it, and the latter because they were an absolute delight when they opened for Low. On the upside it did give me the opportunity for a chuckle at all the festival virgins who didn’t have dry clothes for day 2. Always bring a change of clothes, even if you don’t need it. There is not much that feels worse than wet denim, especially on a chilly morning.

Animal Collective at T in the Park 2006After the trek into the festival site provided a downpour and loads of mud, I made my way first to the beer tent and then over to the Pet Sounds Arena to watch Animal Collective whose recent album I had heard once and found intriguing. They proved to be the oddest thing I saw all weekend and all the better for it, sounding like the mutant lovechild of Mogwai, The Beta Band and Primal Scream. The singer/guitarist played with an animal mask on his head, which he wore briefly while dancing about, while centre stage was the nob-twiddler, producing weird electronic sounds and beats while the drummer stood upright pounding on his kit and occasionally fiddling with a keyboard while the nob-twiddler banged the drums. It was completely captivating. Sadly, as we were already engaged that night, I didn’t manage to see a proper set the following week when they played Manchester. I missed the tail end of the set as well as I wanted to see Brakes and needed a stop along the way.

The Futures Stage was filled in comparison to the previous day when we’d watched the On/Offs. I somehow managed to go right up to the front though and get a great view of the perky and frenetic set delivered by Brakes. They were fresh from recording their new record in Nashville and treated us to a few new songs, which sound very promising, as well as running through old favourites such as “Comma Comma Comma Full Stop,” “NY Pie,” “Heard About Your Band,” “Cheney,” and “All Night Disco Party.” They sounded vibrant as ever with their weird country punk vibe and guitarist Tom White got so carried away at one point that he did a full-on rock and roll leap over the monitors and into the photo pit to shake hands with members of the audience while holding his guitar. It was a great performace and was well-received by everyone in the crowd except my rock-chick friend, who was less than impressed with all but two songs. Can’t win ’em all I suppose.

After Brakes finished I headed back to the Pet Sounds Arena and caught the last song and a half of Jose Gonzales’ rather heart-warming set. He was playing to a massively packed tent, yet I managed to squeeze down front and some very nice tall people let me in front of them, gushing about how T was the best festival in the world and how cool it was I’d come all the way from England to be there. Some other nice people on the other side of them held their spot even closer to the middle of the front row until I could slip in, since it was clear I was there for the next band, the utterly marvelous eels.

Eels at T in the Park 2006An hour later I was still waiting, with E and his merry band of weirdness being very very late for their start time. I was starting to doubt their turning up and starting to curse not having gone to watch Dirty Pretty Things with my friend as I could have seen it all and made it back in time. Hindsight eh? It was worth the wait though when they came out. First on the stage was an intimidating giant of a man dressed in a “Security” t-shirt. Then came the rest of the band, dressed in khaki, with E wearing a flight suit and goggles and looking, well, less odd than when he was dressing as the Unabomber c. Souljacker. He flew through a rock set, the polar opposite of his “With Strings” style offerings of the last year or so, and it sounded immense and maniacal. I particularly liked “Saturday Morning” and “I Like Birds” the latter being one of the highlights of the festival. The weird security man went through a weird series of routines involving push ups, karate kicks, playing the maracas and the keyboard, singing backing vocals and eating from a can of aerosol whipped cream before sharing with the crowd. It was odd and not unentertaining. Yay the eels. Few bands could get away with this level of oddity but when E does it, I find it charming.

When I emerged from inside the tent the sun had come out and The Strokes were on stage. As I have not heard their most recent album, mainly due to my appalling disappointment with their V performance in 2004, I thought I’d go watch a couple of songs, just to see if they’d upped their game a bit from the drunken, meandering nonsense of two years ago. They were playing “New York City Cops” and “Last Nite” both of which sounded okay. Meeting up with rock chick, however, we wandered back down to the Pet Sounds Arena to see Death Cab for Cutie. Now, as that stage had been running so late earlier I figured we had easily 15-20 minutes to get there for the start. When we walked in, however, 2 minutes before they were actually due on stage they were already performing “A Movie Script Ending.” A guy stood nearby informed me they’d been on when he arrived, 15 minutes earlier. Ben Gibbard explained that Zero 7 had not been able to play, according to him because they’d been arrested for embezzlement. I never found out the real reason. But it meant that Death Cab played a full 90 minutes, of which I missed the first 30. I did get to see lovely versions of “Sound of Settling” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” at the very least. They were lovely, as usual, even though I couldn’t see anything. And rock chick said she enjoyed them.

People climbing the rafters during Primal Scream at T in the Park 2006After DCFC finished, we headed for King Tut’s to see Primal Scream. I have mixed feelings about the Scream. I like some of their songs very much, mainly the rockier ones. I find some of their songs very annoying. I’m not sure about the new material, it’s a little too Rolling Stones for my liking but it’s preferable to a lot of what’s on the radio right now. In any case, we planned to watch half of the Primals and then go see a bit of The Who, mainly because they’re so legendary, even though neither of us like them much, we thought we should see them anyway. But first, Bobby Gillespie, Mani, et. al. They came on stage to a packed tent with a brilliant rendition of “Movin’ On Up.” I’m afraid the rest of what we heard is a blur as I was far too focused on the people climbing up the tent supports into the rafters so they could see the stage. At one point there were 2 or 3 people up each of about 6 or 8 giant poles. The band were finally forced by the police to stop playing until they all came down. It was at this point that we thought we’d seen the highlight of the performance and made for the main stage.

We did not actually get too far. We stopped way at the back, where we had a vague view of the screens but room for dancing and where talking would not bother anyone. The Who were playing “Teenage Wasteland” and that was about as good as they got. There is something very wrong about men in their sixties singing about how they hope they die before they get old. That really should come out of the setlist now. The crowd, as they were the night before, were the real entertainment. We made one chap’s night by providing him with the score from the World Cup Final as delivered by The Ledge to my phone. We surprised two young boys who thought they were older than us (they were 19) who then expressed their disbelief by picking me up and shaking me upside down. We danced a jig with a girl drunk on vodka and Irn Bru who was still singing “Monster” by The Automatic. She really must have been drunk. She seemed to think it was a good song. We had a laugh, we watched the closing fireworks and then we headed for the car for a long overnight drive home with the sunrise at our back.

Posted by JustHipper on 31st July 2006 at 7:40 pm | comments (1)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: T in the Park, Balado, Scotland, Saturday July 8, 2006

A week before T in the Park I was not even going, but a couple of almost face-value tickets later (yeah, I know, don’t buy from touts, but I don’t think this was a tout and it was still cheaper than either V or Leeds) and my rock chick friend and I were on our way to Scotland in the dark on a Friday night with a tent, lots of Pot Noodle and and a ridiculous amount of coffee. Six hours later we had a makeshift home in a field 4 miles from the actual festival and loads of plans about how to avoid bad band time clashes the next day.

The Guillemots at T in the Park 2006Saturday morning began with sunshine, a lift into Milnethorp, a 2 mile walk and the Guillemots playing in King Tut’s Tent. The Guillemots are currently one of my favourite live bands and they were the perfect start to the day with their gleeful, orchestral pop. They played a short but energetic set consisting primarily of the singles: “Trains to Brazil,” “Made Up Love Song #43,” and “Who Left the Lights Off Baby” as well as a manic “Go Away” before finishing with the intense, meandering “Sao Paulo.” Supplemented by 3 backing singers and some horns, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands, screaming madly for Fyfe, besuited all in red and with his usual smile.

What a way to start our festival then, as we wandered over to the Radio 1/NME Stage to watch The Cribs, a band I’d seen a few years ago opening for Death Cab for Cutie and who had not impressed me. But, more recently I liked the “Hey Scenesters!” single and I had picked up their album on the cheap and it’s surprisingly good. So we planted ourselves on the grass, not even able to see the screens in the crowd, and listened to them deliver a reasonable set of Strokes-inspired rock tunes with some good riffs and a lot of enthusiasm in the crowd. They sounded okay, nothing amazing, but it’s always a different vibe when you’re sat near the back than when you’re down in the trenches.

The On/Offs at T in the Park 2006From there we wandered over to catch the On/Offs at the Futures Stage. I’d been reasonably impressed with them when The Ledge and I saw them open for Battle a few months ago. Since then, they’ve progressed slightly, sounding less like The Jam and more like The Futureheads, or perhaps a combination of the two. They were enthusiastic, despite being in a tiny tent to a very sparse crowd, and delivered their spiky rock tunes with such gusto that my rock chick friend has been pestering me to inform her the next time they play in Manchester, so taken by them she was. If that’s not a result, I don’t know what is.

That was the last of my leisurely stroll through bands I thought I might find interesting and the point at which things started to clash. I found myself agreeing to watch ten minutes of the Kooks, mainly because my friend wanted to try to grasp the appeal of a singer who she reckons sounds like he’s plagued with a Tourette’s style vocal tick when he sings. There was no appeal and we very speedily fought our way through a massive crowd over to the main stage to see Placebo, always a festival favourite for me. Sadly they were not on their usual form. Maybe it was because they’re promoting a new album which I have yet to hear and maybe I just was not drunk enough, starting to fade a bit from lack of sleep and fretting about whether to watch Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the tail end of Franz Ferdinand, or Clap and then all of iForward Russia!. Either way, it was not the most dynamic Placebo performance ever, they seem to plod on doing the same thing forever, per usual. I did enjoy hearing “Nancy Boy” though. And Brian Molko, from what I could see of him, looked snazzy in a suit.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at T in the Park 2006After some food, I made the difficult decision to watch Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and then run over to the main stage and watch the end of Franz Ferdinand, foregoing iForward Russia! who I am sure delivered a blistering performance, but who I’ve seen recently. I haven’t seen Franz since they released their second album. In any case, it was down to the front of the Pet Sounds Arena for CYHSY in amidst a friendly crowd who were as intrigued as I when the roadies started putting up a curtain at the front of the stage, which I have since learned was actually for Sigur Ros. While the opening song was a bit nonchalant, they soon picked up the pace, with Alex Ounsworth delivering some bizarre happy dancing, and the band inspiring gleeful singalongs to “My Yellow Country Teeth” and “Clap Your Hands” the last verse of which was sung, rather than chanted. A new song sounded fabulous, despite slightly dodgy sound, and I was pleased to hear my personal favourites “Over and Over (Lost and Found)” and “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.” I could have spent another hour in that tent watching them quite happily so cheerful and inspiring were they, much like the previous two occasions when I’d seen them, only this time it was to a much bigger audience.

When I emerged from the darkness of the tent it was into steady rain, so, pulling on my rain gear as I ran, I made my way over to the main stage in time to hear Franz Ferdinand performing the end of “Fallen.” Realising I would never get close enough to see anything I found a spot where I could at least see the screens and proceeded to enjoy energetic versions of “Darts of Pleasure,” “Matinee,” “40′” and “This Fire,” the last of which ended the set and apparently featured a range of guest drummers, but I couldn’t tell from where I was standing, particularly as I was being besieged by a young lad who insisted he knew me from a pub somewhere in Glasgow. As I’ve only been to Glasgow to see gigs twice, and have only ever been in one pub there once and that about 8 years ago when this boy was probably only about 10 years old, I think he was probably mistaken. Wrapped up in a rain poncho with the hood pulled low, I doubt he could even really tell what I looked like. But it was entertaining. Pity it distrated me from Franz who sounded like they were onto a brilliant performance, and the crowd was certainly excited by it.

After they finished, I took myself off to find my friend and the beer tent. She’d had quite an adventure herself, down closer to the front of Franz than I, bumping into old acquaintances she had not seen in over ten years. Welcome to T in the Park. Beer acquired, we wandered back into the main stage crowd to watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band neither of us love, but also a band so legendary and so famed for their live shows that we both figured we should watch them at least once in our lives. We sort of managed. Walking through the crowd in our rain gear, people stopping to offer us cash for our ponchos, bum a light off my companion, offer us drugs, drinks, hugs, flags and idle chatter. It was the friendliest crowd at a gig I’ve ever experienced. Everyone wanted to know how far we’d driven, everyone wanted to tell us how much fun they were having and everyone wanted to share their fun with us. We got to wave a flag, we got to dance, we met people from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and eventually, for about 15 minutes near the end of the evening, we did, finally watch the Chilis perform their final few songs, dancing about like mad fools to “By the Way” and “Give It Away” merely because we could. It did inspire some silly dancing around us though.

All in all it was a fantastic day, despite getting soaked to the bone walking four miles home in the dark. We crawled into our tent by midnight, there was nothing else for it in the rain, and dropped off dreaming of the possibilities for day 2 of T in the Park.

Posted by JustHipper on 13th July 2006 at 9:59 pm | comments (2)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: All Tomorrow’s Parties, Camber Sands, 19th-21st May 2006

Broken Social Scene at All Tomorrow's PartiesOur first ever visit to the indiest of indie festivals came about thanks to the new “Share A Chalet” scheme which pairs couple with couple (we don’t have enough friends to even fill out a 4-berth chalet) and leaves you hanging around your freezing, run down little box on a wet Friday afternoon waiting to see who you’ve got. I could have gone either way: like-minded, friendly folk up for a laugh but in bed at a reasonble hour after ATP festivities have concluded for the evening, or obnoxious speed-freaks hell bent on staying up til daybreak. In the event it went the third way: they didn’t show up and we got the place to ourselves for the weekend. Woo hoo. And we still haven’t got any friends.

After watching J Mascis playing Air Hockey in the arcade, sampling some of the dreadful takeaway burgers and failing to get in to see Lightning Bolt, we got our first taste of live music for the weekend with long time Peel faves Herman Dune, a band I’d never taken much notice of before but whose indie-folk stylings went down very well with the two of us, and with just about everyone else in the room. We then ventured upstairs to catch the tail end of the disappointing Lilys before watching the positively ancient The Bevis Frond who mixed dull proggy rock with gleaming pop and were very entertaining thanks to the self-depricating charm of lead singer Nick Saloman. They played a song that had been covered by Teenage Fanclub and it sounded exactly like Teenage Fanclub, which was nice.

We stayed put for the rest of the night for the mouthwatering triumvirate of Broken Social Scene, Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr. Broken Social Scene were outstanding once again. A beautiful (unreleased?) opener gave way to a riveting set which drew from their previous two albums and featured Amy Millan on fine form, especially for “Shoreline 7/4” and “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl”. J Mascis joined them for “Almost Crime” and, after spending a couple of minutes tuning up, took part in an impromptu guitar duel with Apostle Of Hustle, Jason Collett, all gleefully orchestrated by chief-Scenester Kevin Drew. Teenage Fanclub‘s set was pretty much what I’d hoped for: greatest hits and old classics, though starting off with a lengthy instrumental from their A Catholic Education debut was a bit of a surprise. They quickly got into gear and, as usual, it was Gerry Love’s songs that stood out more than any with classics like “Ain’t That Enough”, “Star Sign”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Sparky’s Dream” showing just why he’s the nation’s most underrated songwriter. Norman Blake was also on fine form with sparkling versions of “It’s All In My Mind” and “God Knows It’s True” while Ray McGinley made up the numbers with the inevitable “About You” and “Verisimilitude”, songs that he has bettered on the last two TFC albums.

Dinosaur Jr stole the day with a powerhouse of a performance that was so much better than their Leeds Festival appearance last year. Clearly their heavy touring schedule has paid off and they sound much tighter than they did back then. They also seemed to be enjoying themselves much more with Lou Barlow’s poppier moments an excellent complement to J’s molten guitar heroics on the likes of “The Lung” and “Sludgefeast”. The omission of “Tarpit” was my only disappointment but the inclusion of an incendiary “The Wagon” more than made up for it.

The Radar Brothers at All Tomorrow's PartiesDay two started late for us when we decided to miss out on The Boredoms in favour of a few beers in the pub and it was nearly 6 when we saw The Radar Brothers put in an engaging performance of their slowcore, drawing heavily on their last album The Fallen Leaf Pages and including the occasional classic oldies such as “Shovelling Sons” and “Stay” to keep most of the crowd happy. I ventured upstairs to catch The Black Heart Procession leaving JustHipper to enjoy the 1990s and The Gossip, which she did. The Black Heart Procession were pretty great. I’d never really heard much of their stuff and always thought they were from a similar slowcore mould to The Radar Brothers, but they had a much more expansive, soulful sound and a quite brilliant singer. Must track down their latest album The Spell and investigate further. Next up were The Fiery Furnaces who we saw a couple of weeks before at the Night & Day and were superb that night in their electrified, keyboard-free incarnation. Seeing virtually the same set for the second time was much less pleasing and the hour tended to drag with the grating revamped versions of “My Dog Was Lost” and “Teach Me Sweetheart” not being too welcome to these ears, though “Black Hearted Boy”, “Benton Harbor Blues” and “Leaky Tunnel” and the Rehearsing My Choir material were all once again excellent. I just hope they bring the keyboards next time around.

Back downstairs I secured a good spot close to the front for Joanna Newsom while JustHipper had heroically guarded her front row centre placement since teatime. You needed to be close to the front because she’s so damned quiet. It transpires that this is not her fault, nor the fault of the soundman but instead it was a Catch-22 situation brought on by the presence of the brigade of chatterers who lined the perifory of the venue and seemed intent on spoiling the occasion for everyone else. If the soundman upped the volume of the harp mics in order to drown out the chatterers then the chatter would come through the PA and start feeding back. So the louder the chatter, the quieter the gig. [Sigh]. Anyhow, Joanna was on awesome form despite a nervy opening where the din from behind was too much of a distraction. Eventually she had the attention of me and the few hundred others who could actually hear as she played old favourites like “The Book Of Right On” and “Sadie” and treated us to some new songs that she’s currently recording for her second album, on which she will be accompanied by a full orchestra. These songs were very, very long and positively overrun with vivid imagery and woodland creatures. But they never dragged; if you lost focus at any point something startling would happen in the next verse to bring you back round, whether it be a flourish of harp or a fight between bears. The four new songs took up about 50 minutes of the set, the last of them clocking in at an estimated 20 minutes. Phew. A crushingly beautiful “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie” brought us back into familiar waters and she ended a stunning set with the gorgeous “This Side Of The Blue”. A triumph over adversity. Tired legs meant that we only saw 10 minutes of headliners Sleater-Kinney before making our way back to our freezing chalet for a nightcap and bed.

Crazy caped guy goes nuts with plastic sword thingy on a pub bench at All Tomorrow's PartiesDay three began with some ATP TV and the must-see madness of R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet, followed by the two recent controversial episodes of South Park where Scientology gets a battering, Tom Cruise gets Trapped In The Closet and Chef gets killed off after being brainwashed into paedophilia. Essential viewing all round. Then to the pub where hopes of catching the Leeds v. Watford play-off final were dashed by the ATP pub quiz which continued while outside a man in a cape, who we’d seen acting strange all weekend, finally flipped and lost it on the pub bench (see pic.), fighting imaginary assailants with a plastic sword before smashing his weapon on the pavement and stomping off. Conveniently this was all under the watchful cinematic gaze of film director Jonathan Caouette, who was making a film of the event. We eventually repaired upstairs to catch the very excellent Destroyer whose latest album Destroyer’s Rubies is my current fave of 2006 so far. Despite the news filtering through that my beloved Leeds United were in the process of getting thrashed in Cardiff, Dan Bejar and his band played a blinder to take my mind off those events. The sound was very close to their recorded sound and while “Rubies” was cruelly cut short, robbed of it’s raw, emotional coda, “Painter In Your Pocket” and the closing “Looter’s Follies” were close to perfection.

Band Of Horses had sadly cancelled at the last minute so I decided to miss their replacements The Drones, who JustHipper quite enjoyed, and make my way downstairs to see Elf Power, from Athens, GA, home of many a great band. Despite a truly appalling sound mix, Elf Power went down very well with their upbeat indie pop. JustHipper had warned me that their songs are all about castles and kings and princesses and hobgoblins but I couldn’t hear a word the singer was singing anyway, all I know is that I enjoyed it very much. Back upstairs the stage had been unfortunately decked out in Watford flags by one of The Decemberists road crew though the band admitted knowing nothing about football. They made up for this by playing a truly wonderful set, the best of the weekend thus far, which included a glorious “Engine Driver”, a very welcome “Apology Song” and culminated in an epic “The Chimbly Sweep” during which Colin Meloy indulged in some crowdsurfing and, just before the song’s climax, persuaded the packed crowd to sit down. Needless to say the reception at the end was louder than any I’d heard through the whole weekend.

With the Clinic gig downstairs packed to the rafters we watched Swedish psychadelic rockers Dungen who managed to be vaguely dull and vaguely interesting at the same time, but not vaguely good. Then it was downstairs for The New Pornographers, for me at least as JustHipper had decided to preserve her place at the front again for The Shins. It was her loss as The New Pornographers put in the set of the weekend. It didn’t start too well with their guitarist breaking a string in the first song and realising they’d left the spare guitar in the van, but with the genius pop hooks of “Use It”, “The Laws Have Changed” and best song of the weekend bar none, “The Bleeding Heart Show”, and the thrilling vocal contributions of Kathryn Calder, and the frequent appearances of non-touring member Dan Bejar, of Destroyer fame, to give them that extra dimension, not to mention the excellent wall of pop sound mix, this was a set that had the audience beaming from ear to ear well after the last note of the effervescent “Sing Me Spanish Techno” had died.

The Shins put the lid on a fantastic weekend that was better than we’d dared to hope. They played a perfect set, showcasing some cracking new songs which bode well for the new album and playing almost everything you’d want them to play from their two previous albums. They are the consumate pop band, James Mercer’s melodies sounding effortless and yet meticulously structured while his lyrics have a rare complexity. “Know Your Onion” kicked things off in style, “Saint Simon” and “New Slang” had the crowd singing along while the encore of “Kissing The Lipless” and “So Says I” had us baying for more. The perfect end to a perfect weekend of indieness. See you next year, Camber Sands.

Posted by The Ledge on 29th May 2006 at 8:00 pm | comments (11)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Leeds Festival, Sunday 28th August 2005

editors picdinosaur jr picThe Kills picarcade fire pic

The previous day’s drinking had extended into the early hours back at camp so we did well to make it down to the NME Tent on the Sunday morning in time to see the first band of the day take the stage at 11:30am. Louie were brash, shouty and ultimately obnoxious and fully deserved their place at the bottom of the bill. Editors, who followed them, will probably be headlining this tent next year, and were on fine form, their dark, moody pop winning much appreciation from an impressive midday crowd. An intense “Bullets” was a highlight along with the epic “Camera” and “Fingers In The Factories”, two of the stand out tracks from their excellent debut album The Back Room. Editors have come a long, long way since we saw them at the Night & Day in January in front of about 30 people.

Another band we saw at the Night & Day earlier this year were Clor and they were on next over at the Carling Tent. This was Clor at their most linear and accessible, which is what you want for a festival crowd. The sound mix was excellent as they ran through a selection of the [Read On…] »

Posted by The Ledge on 20th September 2005 at 5:54 pm | comments (3)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.