Archive for the 'roadhouse' Category

The Indie Cred November Gig Run-Down

Right, I know we’ve gone quiet here over the last month. You’ll have to excuse us a bit. Our relatives over the pond have had some rather distressing things going on so we’ve been away for a bit and focused on other stuff since we returned. We have, however, been to a few really great gigs recently which have proved far more than a welcome distraction from things.

We enjoyed Fleet Foxes at the Academy 2 on November 9th, although we were rather jetlagged so we stood right at the back and heard more than we saw. The harmonies sounded fabulous as always. We were back down at Club Academy on the 18th to see Low play their Christmas gig. The first half of the set was mesmerising and the second half – all Christmas carols – was surprisingly good. They were accompanied by the opening band (who were pretty good too) and it was quite a celebration – especially for a Low gig.

For a complete change of pace we went to see Fucked Up at the Roadhouse and their ear-splitting hardcore and jovial attitude was intense and highly enjoyable. They’re so much more than just a noisy hardore band. Their opening act was great as well, although I didn’t catch their name – they sounded like all the best bits of Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and the Pixies.

Tuesday the 24th of November was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds night down at the Apollo. Nick Cave is many things but boring is never one of them. The band were on fine form and delivered an angry, noisy set with, well, many of my favourites. I enjoy “God is in the House” more every time I see it live and “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee” were spectacular as well. “I Call Upon the Author” was a welcome new addition, even if he did truncate it a bit. Opener Joe Gideon and the Shark were quite a revelation. Forget the fact that they had some great Fall-inspired tunes, the Shark was great to watch on stage.

We followed up Nick Cave with Frightened Rabbit at Moho Live. The less said about this one the better. I was exhausted and falling asleep on my feet as they didn’t go on stage til midnight and the sound was awful. Pity because they’re a great band and I’m pretty sure that The Midnight Organ Fight will be in The Ledge’s top 10 albums of 2008, I haven’t worked mine out yet – it could make that list too.

Sunday, November 30th saw us down at the Manchester Evening News Arena for Leonard Cohen. While it wasn’t as good a gig as the one we saw at The Opera House over the summer, it was still fabulous and he’s finally stopped introducing the band every 3 minutes. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long Marianne” and “Tower of Song” were divine and listening to him perform “Hallelujah” with so much heart makes me wonder how Simon Cowell dare defile it by forcing his new pop muppet to cover it in time for Christmas.

On 4th December we were back at the Roadhouse for A Place to Bury Strangers, Ten Kens and Lowline. We were only really familiar with Ten Kens. Lowline were worse than expected sounding at times like Oasis covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at other times like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covering Oasis. Mostly they were non-descript and extremely boring. Ten Kens have put out a great album recently and I was really looking forward to them so I was bitterly disappointed to find that the muddy, murky sound in the Roadhouse really ruined any chance we had of enjoying their performance. They were trying hard in front of a crowd that were disinterested (except for one guy punching the air in the front row – you know who you are and you know we know who you are, even if you didn’t notice us on the night and we were being anti-social). They have what can only be described as a very full sound, there’s few gaps, and the distortion caused by the volume being too high and the mix being all wrong meant it just sounded a mess and it was hard to tell which song was which. We were exhausted and grumpy and left, not bothering to watch A Place to Bury Strangers.

Saturday 6th December was the welcome return of The Wedding Present who always deliver a good show. I quite like their newest album, although The Ledge is underwhelmed by it, but we both had fun jumping about to some classics and to some new tracks. Plus they finally did a Cinerama song off their first album – which is my favourite Cinerama album. The opening band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were charming enough that we bought their album. On the night they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to The Wedding Present’s jangly guitars. On record they’re more like Belle & Sebastian gone C86. Either way is not a bad way to be.

This week, on 10th December we’ve been over to the Academy 1 to see The Hold Steady, who were on fine form yet again with a brilliant set – far better than the gig they did at the Academy 2 earlier in the year, in fact. Pity the ever-growing crowd is also growing ever less agreeable – 2 days later and I still have bruised ribs from the couple who trampled and physically removed a 7 stone girl from beside me and tried to do the same to me. However, the band were faultless and new tracks such as “One for the Cutters” and “Magazines” slot in well next to old classics like “Positive Jam” and “Charlemagne in Sweatpants.”

Then last night , 11th December, I drove over the Pennines to see James at the Leeds Academy (formerly the Town & Country) deliver a rather unusual but highly enjoyable set. It was great to hear “Stutter” dragged out from the depths of the back catalogue and I’m still surprised by how much I love their new material.

So, that’s us mostly caught up. We will be producing some top 10 lists before the end of the month and hopefully back to business as usual sometime in January. The Ledge might even force himself to review the Stereolab gig he’s going to see next week. Maybe.

Gig Review: Shearwater @ The Roadhouse, Manchester, 16th September 2008

I’ve been trying to get into Shearwater of late but it’s been a bit of a struggle. While I find their last couple of albums, Palo Santo and Rook, to be eminently listenable and quite enjoyable affairs, there just seems to be something missing, something that’s stopping me from declaring myself a fully-fledged fan. The main problem I have is that the songs don’t seem to stay with me too long after I’ve listened to them; there’s only a faint glimmer of recognition when I next put on an album. As for the songs’ titles: forget it.

I was hoping that the Roadhouse gig last Tuesday would fill in the missing pieces, that something would click and I’d finally be able to fully embrace the Shearwater enigma. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. Watching the gig was very similar to listening to the albums: it was largely enjoyable, I recognised almost everything they played, but a day later I couldn’t tell you what they’d played – even listening back to those albums. There were a couple of exceptions to this: “Rooks” is a gorgeous track, their best as far as I’m concerned, and the band certainly did it justice on the night while “Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five” is not one of my favourites but is one of the few Shearwater tracks that wears its title on its sleeve.

The band can certainly cut it live, though it’s a shame that so few people turned up to witness it. There were a huge number of different instruments on the stage – more, perhaps, than people in the crowd – and the band members swapped roles with great ease. Drummer Thor Harris – a guy who looks exactly like his name might suggest – certainly deserves much praise in this respect, although his drumming and snare sound were a little overbearing at times and I certainly hadn’t forgotten his performance the last time I saw him drumming for Bill Callahan. As well as drums he handled clarinet, glockenspiel and dulcimer with great aplomb and has certainly risen in my estimation. If only his bandmates had just an iota of his personality. There was barely any attempt to communicate with the audience and singer Jonathan Meiburg has the aura of a grown-up choirboy, which, I believe, he actually is. Compared to Okkervil River – lead by former Shearwater member, the charismatic, swaggering Will Sheff – they are shrinking violets. Maybe it’s this lack of personality and the inherent lack of character in many of the songs that has stopped them from becoming a band that I love rather than one that I merely like.

Shearwater – Rooks

Shearwater – White Waves

Posted by The Ledge on 23rd September 2008 at 7:48 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews,roadhouse.

Gig Review: Those Dancing Days @ Manchester Roadhouse, 8th August 2008

So, I know this is a bit late. The problem was not so much lack of motivation or even lack of time as it was not quite knowing what to say. Even The Ledge firmly thinks I’m out of my mind about this gig.

The Bangs LiveIn any case, it all started off promisingly enough. We arrived early so we would be certain to catch The Bangs, who we very much enjoyed at Sacred Trinity Church back in February. They pretty much tick every one of our music-loving boxes being a female-fronted indie band whose influences are clearly PJ Harvey, The Breeders, Elastica, Sonic Youth, Helium, etc. They sound like they sprung fully formed from 1991 rather than walking the “indie” standard line of trying to sound like The Libertines or Oasis. They sound fabulous and they look the part too. If they’re not on stage at ATP in a couple of years time performing in front of a drooling cult following of hundreds of pale-faced indie boys in Yo La Tengo T-shirts and gushing music journalists I’ll be very disappointed. They played a blinder, the two female leads swapping bass and guitar back and forth, looking intent and not bothering us with loads of forced, between-song banter. But hey, if you’ve got the songs, you don’t need to ply the crowd with chatter, trying to get them on-side.

The Answering Machine LiveThe crowd had swelled considerably by the time The Answering Machine took the stage. It has been a while since we’ve seen them play – I can’t work it out even looking through our archives – although we do keep seeing them, most notably eating in Barburrito a few months back and queuing for beer at a Death Cab for Cutie gig a few weeks ago. We had not seen them perform since they added a drummer and we were looking forward to it. The drummer has certainly added a lot to their sound and their stage presence. The songs sound fuller and louder even if they haven’t moved on musically very much in the last couple of years. They still sound like a chirpy, British version of The Strokes’ first album. This is not to say that they were not as enjoyable as ever – they were – I just fear that perhaps they’ve missed their window. Too many bands with similar influences have come and gone at this point and it may be a case of evolve or die. I am surprised they haven’t had a hit single by now, but I suspect that if they haven’t they may not. I seriously hope I’m wrong because I think they’re fab.

Those Dancing Days LiveAnd then we came to Those Dancing Days. Now The Ledge had sold me on this gig by telling me they sounded like an old Sarah Records band, playing lo-fi, girlie indie pop. I’d heard about half a song and it sounded pretty good. They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage and the crowd around me seemed to like it, but frankly, I was bored witless. To be fair, I was suffering from that sound problem where if you stand too close to the stage you can’t hear very well, but as a result it sounded like one long perky pop song. And that one long song was not as charmingly lo-fi as I’d expected. I could have done with the pace changing. Now, I can’t fault the band’s energy – they were throwing themselves into things – but I was just ready to leave after about 10 minutes. I’m not even sure that I wouldn’t enjoy them on record, but on stage, with poor sound, there was nothing particularly attention-grabbing, unexpected or exciting about what I was watching. It’s a pity cause The Ledge hasn’t stopped saying how much he enjoyed it (but he is a guy and he was watching a bunch of young, pretty ladies in skirts playing guitars – he likes that sort of thing – if Kim Deal had been on the stage he’d have been in indie-boy heaven) so I feel like I possibly should have liked it more. But I didn’t. Oh well.

Those Dancing Days – Those Dancing Days

Those Dancing Days – Hitten

Posted by JustHipper on 22nd August 2008 at 7:09 pm | comments (11)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester gigs,mp3,roadhouse,the answering machine,the bangs,those dancing days.

Gig Review: iLiKETRAiNS @ The Roadhouse, Manchester, 30th April 2008

iLiKETRAiNS @ The Roadhouse, Manchester, 30th April 2008I’ve tried really hard to get into iLiKETRAiNS’ Elegies To Lessons Learnt album but instead I seem to be getting more and more bored with it to the point where all the songs seem to merge into one long leaden dirge. So, I wasn’t terribly looking forward to seeing them live again, though I remember that the last time we saw them they were rather good.

The night ended early for Laymar, who impressed when supporting The Twilight Sad at the Night & Day a few weeks ago, when a laptop malfunction (and, according to witnesses, a bit of inter-band squabbling) minutes before they were supposed to start meant that they didn’t play a single note. Shame. Kyte managed to play, despite the singer complaining of having a terrible cold, and they were pretty good, mixing effects-laden washes of guitar with electronica and xylophones though not really getting the epic sound that they seemed to be striving for. To their detriment the songs all seemed to run into each other and they came off a bit like a poor man’s Maps.

iLiKETRAiNS @ The Roadhouse, Manchester, 30th April 2008I may have had reservations, but live iLiKETRAiNS are pretty damned great. Despite the mordant tone of the album, and the fact that the band were dressed for a funeral, with added black armbands, they played with an energy that brought the songs to life. At the heart of the band was the drummer, who was the focal point of the action, despite his position at the back of the stage. It was hard to take you eyes off his vigorous drumming especially as black and white films were being projected onto a screen behind him which, with him being quite a big bloke, he took up most of anyway. His relentless energy rubbed off on the other members and helped to imbue the newer songs with a spark that seems to be missing from the album, particularly on the opening “Twenty Five Sins” and the soaring “The Deception”.

The films playing were related to the songs – most of which are effectively essays on infamous chapters of, mostly British, history – and were introduced by the date and location where they took place. It was an effective ploy and meant that the stage was constantly spinning with monochrome imagery; we got chess games for the brilliant “A Rook House For Bobby” and a long list of all the people who died of the plague in a Derbyshire village in the 17th Century for “We All Fall Down”. Best of all were the arctic scenes for undoubted set highlight “Terra Nova”, about Captain Scott’s fateful expedition to the South Pole.

All in all, this was an audio/visual treat and left me wanting to learn more about the songs and especially their dark subject matter. Next time I listen to Elegies For Lessons Learnt it will be from a new perspective.

iLiKETRAiNS – Twenty Five Sins

iLiKETRAiNS – Terra Nova

Posted by The Ledge on 9th May 2008 at 12:00 am | comments (3)
File under Gig Reviews,iLiKETRAiNS,kyte,laymar,mp3,Reviews,roadhouse.