Archive for the 'manchester academy 3' Category

Gig Review: ¡Forward, Russia! @ Manchester Academy 3, 27th April 2008

After a couple of years out of the limelight it must feel to ¡Forward, Russia! that they’re starting all over again. The last time we saw them it was in front of a healthy crowd in the Academy 2; just over a year later the Academy 3 was barely even half full.

With Johnny Foreigner stuck in Amsterdam it was left to The ABC Club to fill their support slot at short notice, and they did a fine, fine job. Their excellent six song set had me thinking of a collision between The Smiths and The Strokes; not a high-speed collision by any means, more like a fender bender, as the band were almost too laid back and impassive for comfort. However, there were plenty of clever guitar arrangements and dexterous Rourkesque basslines, though the band’s trump card is undoubtedly the striking vocals of Zandra Klievens, whose voice couples the nonchalant drawl of Julian Casablancas with Morrissey’s muted yodelling, in female form. Definitely a band to watch out for.

I’d heard of Grammatics before, but not actually heard them. They were fine – great musicians and the singer has a wonderful voice – but the songs lost their focus as the set wore on and began to elicit more proggy tendencies, leaving us thinking that in a couple of years time, Grammatics may well have fully completed their transformation into Muse.

The relatively small showing for ¡Forward, Russia! did nothing to dim the band’s enthusiasm. The great energy and intensity of their performance remained intact and the crowd responded with a highly animated mosh pit and plenty of crowd surfing and stage diving, some of it the highly dangerous knees first variety that had guitarist Whiskas remonstrating with the offenders. However, the sound mix was appalling: it sounded like the PA’s speaker cones had been stuffed with cotton wool and then submerged in a large tank of sludge. For a band whose music is all sharp edges and thunderous rhythms this had a huge bearing on my enjoyment of the gig.

Also on the downside, I’ve only heard the new album a couple of times and I’m distinctly underwhelmed by it. It certainly doesn’t fire on all cylinders like its predecessor, and it definitely gets a bit too proggy from time to time. I think that if I am going to like it then its going to take a while. With much of the set taken up by foggy renditions of the new material, I spent most of the gig completely impassive to what was going on on stage and in the crowd, “A Prospector Can Dream” the only new song that managed to raise the pulse a little, though the closing “Spanish Triangles” sounded much better than I remember it on record. The oldies they played were great, despite the sound, and included most of my favourites, with “Twelve” and “Nineteen” bringing back memories of previous glorious gigs. This was, however, the least fun I’ve had at a ¡Forward, Russia! gig. Hopefully the album is a bit of a grower and the band will get back to playing bigger venues over the next few months

¡Forward, Russia! – Nineteen

¡Forward, Russia!- A Prospector Can Dream

Posted by The Ledge on 6th May 2008 at 11:00 pm | comments (1)
File under forward russia,Gig Reviews,grammatics,Lists,manchester academy 3,mp3,Random comment,Reviews,the abc club.

Gig Review: American Music Club @ Manchester Academy 3, 6th February 2008

American Music Club @ Manchester Academy 3
My blogging “career” started with a review of American Music Club at the Academy 3 (or Hop And Grape as it was then known) almost three years to the day of their return to the same venue. In the years between, their line-up has changed considerably with just Mark Eitzel and Vudi remaining of the original band and a new drummer and bass player on board. They also have a new album, The Golden Age, which was released a couple of days before the gig. Three years ago, I praised the band for not playing any songs from their godawful San Francisco album; this year, unfortunately, they started out with that album’s “Hello Amsterdam”, perhaps my least favourite AMC song of all time. Surprisingly, it rocked. The sound mix was terrible: the guitars sounded like mud and you could barely hear Eitzel’s vocals, but it was a raucous mess and a far more enjoyable experience that I could have hoped for. Fittingly, they followed this with “Blue And Gray Shirt”, the band’s finest moment, in my book, and it was a beautiful version – with the sound problems fixed, Eitzel’s yearning vocals and sublime guitar work was worth the £17 price of a ticket alone.

Much of the rest of the set was taken up with material from the new album, which I bought at the gig and which I’m a little bit disappointed with after a couple of listens. The versions of the likes of “The Sleeping Beauty”, “All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco” and especially “Windows On The World” carried far more punch than their recorded counterparts. Eitzel’s raw, plaintive vocals and Vudi’s beautifully controlled swells of guitar really brought these songs to life whereas on the album they sound a little leaden. In amongst the new tracks were the occasional dips into the back catalogue which veered from the dull “Revolving Door” to the brilliant “Johnny Mathis’ Feet” but included little from their pre-Mercury heyday.

There was plenty of audience banter and some rambling stories from Eitzel, who was on excellent form. We learned that he had spent Christmas watching figure skating with bass player Sean Hoffman, and that the excellent “Decibels And The Little Pills”, the highlight of the new album, is the re-telling of an eventful night at a heavy metal gig. When the much requested “Western Sky” was played, one unhappy punter asked them to play it again, but a better version. He got his wish in the encore when Eitzel told him he was going to play it “right up his ass” and produced a beautiful solo rendition which did indeed improve on the full band version from earlier. It was a shame that he chose to play one song twice when so many other classic songs were passed over, but overall, despite a couple of bum notes, it was a very enjoyable night.

American Music Club – Blue And Gray Shirt

American Music Club – Decibels And The Little Pills

Posted by The Ledge on 9th February 2008 at 5:25 pm | comments (6)
File under american music club,Gig Reviews,manchester academy 3,mark eitzel,mp3,Reviews.