Archive for the 'Gig Reviews' Category

Trespassers William @ Sacred Trinity Church, Salford, 07-10-09

I’ve been wanting to see Trespassers William live for three years now, at least – since The Ledge first downloaded “Lie in the Sound” from their stunning Different Stars album. This gig at Sacred Trinity was the first opportunity and what a great venue for it too! With the high celings, ornate decor and stunning acoustics, the atmosphere would certainly be the perfect way to experience their soft, mournful, shoegazer folk.

First on was Operations – basically Kip from Napoleon Dynamite with a guitar and an effects pedal. He played a chord and then used his effects pedal to string it out forever, changing volume and adding weird, well, effects. They weren’t songs. They were chords and a guy monkeying around. The Ledge commented that it was the sort of thing he used to do in his bedroom when he got his first guitar to see what sounds the effects pedal would make. To call it boring doesn’t do it justice. The “songs” were so monotonous and uninteresting that they could make the dead rise from the grave to find somewhere else to entomb themselves.

Glissando came next and were far more agreeable, playing incredibly slow folky tunes which I enjoyed at first, but lost my interest after while. I’d probably have enjoyed them more if I weren’t anticipating the main act.

Trespassers William were everything I hoped they’d be – quiet, pensive, beautiful – and they left far too soon. With a 30 minute set which consisted of around 7 songs, they managed to sneak in my two favourites – “Different Stars” and “Lie in the Sound” as well as a breathtaking cover of “Videotape” by Radiohead with Glissando providing additional instrumentation and backing vocals and a couple of new songs which were lovely, but failed to surprise (not that this was a bad thing). Singer, Anna-Lynne explained that the band was soldiering on despite both her and guitarist Matt being rather unwell, which may explain the short set.

Overall, although I wish they’d played longer, I can’t complain too much as the gig was exactly what we wanted when we bought the tickets. Trespassers William came to Manchester and played their lovely music for us in a church.

Trespassers William – Different Stars

Video: Trespassers William, “Lie in the Sound” at Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

Video: Trespassers William, “Videotape” at Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

Posted by JustHipper on 11th October 2009 at 3:48 pm | comments (320)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,sacred trinity church,video.

Gig Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Chorlton Irish Club, 22nd May 2009

We weren’t in the best of moods when we arrived at Chorlton Irish Club last night thanks to a wrong postcode on Ticketline and vague directions from a local which meant that we spent about half an hour driving through the unfamiliar streets of the South Manchester suburb trying to find the place. It also didn’t help that, from the front, the Irish Club looks small and unassuming. Go round the back, however, and the place is huge with a large car park overlooked by usual hordes of smokers and a long line of punters queuing to get in.

After a long wait at a crowded and understaffed bar (which left me pondering why the hell no one in this country even attempts to achieve the incredible speed and standard of service available in just about every bar in Dublin) we settled down, still slightly disgruntled, to watch Dutch Uncles who, under the circumstances, were like a breath of fresh air, their precision math-rock guitar parts tempered by some wonderfully efficient pop tunes and slightly odd dance moves from the lead singer.

San Francisco’s Love Like Fire were up next and, though they had some nice pop tunes under all that fuzzy guitar, they were slightly disappointing. There’s so much of this type of shoegazey dreampop out there at the moment and Love Like Fire didn’t have anything to set them apart from the crowd.

We first saw The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart supporting The Wedding Present at the Academy 2 late last year and were impressed enough to buy a copy of their excellent debut album there and then. They’ve gained a guitarist since then to thicken their sound (it worked a treat) and to make them appear less geeky (did not work so well) and it was a given that their brand of C86-era fuzzy indie pop would go down well in Manchester but, on the 50th birthday of the man whose band kick-started that era, no one could have predicted what happened next.

The opening song saw one punter barge his way to the front and start dancing like a lunatic while those of us around him stood just far enough out of reach of his flailing limbs. The band sounded immaculate and when “This Love Is Fucking Right” followed the place just went nuts and it seemed like everyone else in the packed venue had followed that one guy’s lead. The next forty minutes or so were a total frenzy of sweat, beer, crowdsurfing and small girls, Justhipper included, spilling over the monitors at the front of the stage as the crowd surged in all directions. It helped that the band front-loaded their set with the choicest, poppiest cuts from their album with the brilliant single “Young Adult Friction” following on from “Fucking Right” and then being followed by “Come Saturday”. The band were genuinely taken aback by the reaction of the crowd, that they weren’t just wrecking havoc for the sake of it: they knew the songs and were singing along.  Singer Kip frequently commented that this was the “best night ever”, and it would be hard for anyone there to disagree with them. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a moshpit of that ferocity and I’d forgotten how much fun it could be as the shoe of a crowdsurfer came down on the back of my head and another pint of beer drenched the back of my t-shirt. I’d mostly forgotten the great sense of communal joy that can rise up from these events.

Something happened in Chorlton last night; something special. Band and audience came together to produce something much greater than the sum of its parts, to create a rare event that came out of the blue and that no one who witnessed will forget for a very long time.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – This Love Is Fucking Right!

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Everything With You

Posted by The Ledge on 23rd May 2009 at 8:24 pm | comments (6)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester gigs,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: The Veils @ The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 21/04/09

Prior to last Saturday, The Ledge hadn’t listened to The Veils at all, but something prompted him to put on Nux Vomica – which I’d told him he would like when I first played it – and he liked it enough to refer to them as his “new favourite band” when I got home on Monday after a weekend away.

As luck would have it, his sudden obsession with The Veils neatly corresponded to a visit by them to Manchester and he wanted to go see them play, despite the fact I had spent the 90 minutes prior to leaving for the gig in a kickboxing class (getting into the house with barely enough time to have a (very) quick wash and to change clothes). Obviously, I went with him, as Finn Andrews has an amazing voice and I can hardly refuse to watch a band clearly influenced by Nick Cave and whose second album (we’ve not heard the new one, Sun Gangs, yet) has moments that also sound like The Drones, another Antipodean band that fascinates me.

We missed both opening bands, had time for a brief chat with a co-worker of The Ledge’s, and then the band were on – to a tiny crowd. I am actually surprised at how few people turned out between the great reviews I’ve read, their cult potential and the obvious Nick Cave influence. It’s a shame really because they deserve to be playing to larger crowds – although the mournful, dark ballads suit a venue like The Ruby Lounge.

Although The Veils are a band, the show was all about Finn Andrews, and this is the band’s second incarnation – as he sacked the musicians who played with him on the first album. Owing to this, calls for “Lavinia”  and “The Leavers Dance,” off The Runaway Found, were refused. He not only swapped guitars between practically every song, he also treated us to some quieter moments on the piano. His soaring voice was done no favours by the sound system in the venue, but as we were close enough to see the sweat on his brow, I can’t doubt the sincerity and earnestness of the performance. What I was surprised about was him chatting between songs – I pictured a dark, introverted, difficult performer, yet he smiled, he kept thanking us and he looked like he was having fun. It is also surprising to find a singer so slight with such a powerful voice.

I’m not going to pretend I recognised even half the songs – even though I should as we’ve got the first 2 albums – but “Advice for Young Mothers to Be” stood out, as did “Not Yet,” introduced as a song about moving out of your parent’s house – surprisingly as I thought it was about coming out.  “Jesus for the Jugular” was as manic and intense as on the album, prompting a lot of guitar chicanery and rock star posing, and “Under the Folding Branches” was touching and beautiful.

The new tracks were not entirely distinguishable from older material, but as we’re still getting to know the older albums here, this was neither unwelcome or disappointing. I quite liked the final song of the night, “Scarecrow,” before which Andrews implored the crowd to be quiet for three minutes through the quiet number. I hadn’t noticed talking behind me – other than a very enthusiastic (and very tall) man to my left trying to tell his friends what he liked best about the band – but perhaps the band had.

I would very much like to get to know Nux Vomica better and to hear Sun Gangs and then see The Veils live again, because I think it would very much enhance the experience because on the evidence I think there’s quite a lot about these songs worth getting to know.

The Veils – Advice for Young Mothers To Be
The Veils – Lavinia

Posted by JustHipper on 23rd April 2009 at 7:00 pm | comments (12)
File under Gig Reviews.

Gig Review: Howling Bells @ Club Academy, Manchester, 15th March 2009

Howling Bells @ Club Academy,  ManchesterHowling Bells promised much when we first saw them play at Summer Sundae in 2006 and they put out a decent debut of consistently good, if inoffensive, indie rock songs made all the more palatable by some delicious gothic country undertones. Then I forgot all about them and moved on to other things, so much so that I even forgot that we owned a copy of said album until last week. Now they’re back with a new album called Radio Wars on which they forgo the aforementioned country tinges to explore a more straightforward radio-friendly sound, much, let it be said, to their detriment. Not only does it boast a cover that Razorlight must be kicking themselves for not thinking up first, but also it’s called Radio Wars for fuck’s sake, a phrase that gets me thinking of exciting things like listener figures and Steve Wright in the Afternoon. Now if they’d put an image of George Lamb being kicked senseless in a dark alley in the rain by Gideon Coe and Marc Riley on the cover then I might have approached it with a little more respect.

Howling Bells @ Club Academy,  ManchesterThis is not to say that it’s a terrible album, it has its moments such as the excellent opener “Treasure Hunt” and the single “Cities Burning Down”, both of which were played at the Club Academy last Sunday and both of which held their own against the material from their eponymous debut. It was an assured performance by the band but one with little real excitement save for the attire (or lack of) of easy-on-the-eye frontwoman Juanita Stein. The new material, shorn of its studio lustre, sounded much improved and I even almost enjoyed the excrable “Golden Web” and the nice but dull “Nightingale” and was thankful that they chose not to play the dreadful “Let’s Be Kids”. The older stuff was uniformly excellent however and the likes of “Low Happening” and “Setting Suns” left me thinking what could have been had they continued on the path mapped out by that debut. They played only one encore but it was, surprisingly, the hidden track off the new record. And it was excellent, probably the best thing on the album but a song they obviously weren’t confident enough in to give a credit.

The Joy Formidable @ Club Academy, ManchesterThe gig was made wholly worthwhile by the appearance of support band The Joy Formidable earlier in the evening. The London-based three-piece made a tremendous racket with their hook-laden pop songs drowned in squalls of feedback and white noise, a kind of shoegazy version of Sky Larkin. It was a relentless, exciting performance and they’d played three songs before they came up for air and allowed the crowd to show their appreciation. They also weren’t afraid to extend their songs with lengthy noise-laden wig-outs, which was quite refreshing. While giving Radio Wars a wide berth you might want to think about getting hold of The Joy Formidable’s A Balloon Called Moaning. Hopefully they won’t squander their early promise in the same manner as their tourmates.

Howling Bells – Setting Sun

Howling Bells – Treasure Hunt

The Joy Formidable – The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade

Posted by The Ledge on 20th March 2009 at 7:42 pm | comments (11)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Franz Ferdinand at Manchester Academy 1, March 6, 2009

Or, the gig where Justhipper posts a rant and Franz Ferdinand actually take the time to respond*

I was really looking forward to seeing Franz Ferdinand live again, especially after we didn’t bother on the last go round because we couldn’t stomach the idea of seeing them at the MEN Arena. Seriously, I was looking forward to this – enough to break out of my blogging lethargy.

I really wanted to go down to the Academy 1 tonight and have a great time and write a glowing review of Franz Ferdinand’s live performance. I can’t, however, because I can’t actually tell you much about what they were like. I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t tell if they sounded any good.

What? You ask – you don’t know how they sounded? Nope. I was there, and I can’t tell you if they played a decent show or not because the sound system was so woefully inadequate that all I could hear for most of the gig was drums and a little bass. They might have played “Matinee” or “Take Me Out.” I don’t know. They might have played “40′” and “Do You Want To.” I don’t know. They might even have played “Darts of Pleasure,” “Shopping for Blood” and “Eleanor Put Your Boots On.” I really can’t tell you because I could make out very little of the gig.

I honestly may as well have stood in a crowd of people in my front room and listened to their albums through the wall on a blown speaker.

At least it barely lasted an hour before I could come home, sit down and be very irritated.

About four songs in to this joke of a gig, Bricking Chick got really hacked off at not being able to distinguish one song from another so she went to complain to the sound guy. He told her to “Fuck off.”  So she went to complain to the venue manager. What did the venue manager say? Well, for starters, Bricking Chick wasn’t the first person to complain about the sound that night. The venue manager said that they never got complaints about the sound yet had 3 before the end of the first song. The venue manager also said that the problem was that bands had to pay a little extra for use of the venue’s sound system – a new sound system that was installed when the renovations took place just over a year ago. This new sound system is really good. Except Franz Ferdinand didn’t have enough respect for their fans or care enough about putting on a good show for people who paid £20 a ticket + booking fee + postage to shell out the extra few pounds for an adequate sound system and instead brought their own rinky dink piece of shite that was not fit for purpose.

Thanks Franz Ferdinand – for the complete lack of respect and for the most disappointing gig I’ve seen in a long time.*

I want my money back.

*EDIT – I’ve changed the H3 to reflect the fact that Alex Kapranos has had the courtesy to come on here and explain the band’s position. It’s really top of him to take the time out of his day to do this for us. It’s clear that the band did think long and hard about the sound at the gigs – sadly in this instance the crappy acoustics of the Academy 1 let everybody down.

Your time is much appreciated Alex, and we’re looking forward to seeing you play at T in the Park in a couple of months.

Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls

Posted by JustHipper on 7th March 2009 at 12:46 am | comments (58)
File under franz ferdinand,Gig Reviews,manchester academy 1,mp3,Rant.

Gig Review: Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December 2008

It has been an age since I last blogged and I apologise, but since returning from a two week holiday in the States in early November I became, overnight, what I can only describe as a Grumpy Old Man. All enthusiasm for just about anything had waned, and this included music and especially blogging about music. At a time when I should have been taking stock of 2008 and preparing year end lists of albums and gigs I was instead listening to little that didn’t involve Will Oldham or Tom Waits and not remotely looking forward to any of the gigs we had planned between then and Christmas. Things were so bad that I was quite relieved when the record company’s tickets for TV On The Radio didn’t come through on time and I got to spend the evening taking out my frustrations on the football pitch.

Stereolab @ Manchester Club AcademyWith the clouds lifting I was quite looking forward to seeing Stereolab at the Club Academy last Wednesday, but nowhere near as much as I should have been. I had been a few years since they were last in Manchester yet they are second behind The Wedding Present in the list of bands that I have seen the most: this was probably around the 20th time. Still, somewhere along the line I had forgotten exactly how wonderful Stereolab are live and it didn’t take long to be reminded as they began proceedings with the perky rhythms of “Percolator”. With Laetitia Sadier on fine form, having lost none of her considerable charm and Gallic cool in the intervening years, the band played plenty of familiar tunes from days of yore as well as a few choice cuts from the new Chemical Chords record, an album that I have yet to fully get to grips with, it being packed rather too tightly with dense four-minute pop tunes for my liking. Live, and given room to breathe, the Chemical Chords songs really come to life and the likes of “Neon Beanbag” and “Summer Sands” sounded like ‘Lab classics in waiting with Sadier emphasising the point asking us not to be disappointed that they were playing new songs because “in a few years, they will be old songs”.

Of course they played their best known pop gems “French Disko” and “Ping Pong” and they sounded as good as ever while “Cybelle’s Reverie”, played in the encore, was nothing short of incredible. The band are at their best when they lock into a solid hypnotic groove, which they do often, playing with a rare intensity, shooting glances to each other to signal small but perceptible changes in the formula and creating an irresistible sound that you’ll find impossible not to move at least one part of your body to. The lengthy coda to the otherwise serene “Lo Boob Oscillator” was particularly invigorating as was the classic “Stomach Worm” from their debut LP, Peng!, from way back in 1992. “John Cage Bubblegum”‘s combination of a repetitive, insidious groove with a great pop melody was the night’s finest moment as far as I’m concerned and the vociferous adulation of the packed crowd at the end suggested I wasn’t the only one.

With the band sounding tighter than ever this was easily the best I’ve seen from Stereolab since the tragic death of band member Mary Hansen in 2002. They seem to have rediscovered the elements that made them such a compelling live act in the 90s and it was only on the closing “Metronomic Underground” that Mary’s absence was really felt. For me, it was great to rediscover one of my favourite bands and, thanks to Stereolab, the rediscovery of my blogging mojo might not be too far behind.

Stereolab – Self Portrait with “Electric Brain”

Stereolab – Cybelle’s Reverie

Stereolab – Stomach Worm

Posted by The Ledge on 21st December 2008 at 12:17 am | comments (3)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester club academy,manchester gigs,mp3,Reviews,stereolab.

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: Tindersticks @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 4th October 2008

Tindersticks‘ gig at the Bridgewater Hall last Saturday night was something of a renaissance for the band after years of what seemed like a steady decline in their popularity and the quality and quantity of their output. I can barely remember the last time I saw them at the Academy 2 in 2001 and if JustHipper hadn’t reminded me about that gig I would have been telling you that the last time I saw them was Glastonbury 1999.

Hopefully my memory will play similar tricks if I ever attempt to recall seeing support act Sara Lowes at any point in the future. I was initially impressed that a young, relatively unknown singer-songwriter would turn up with a seven-strong backing band in place but soon grew weary of her unremarkable and completely forgettable made-for-Radio 2 fare. We headed back to the bar after four songs and stood next to the great Guy Garvey as we ordered our drinks. He is a big bloke, in real life.

I won’t be forgetting the Tindersticks’ performance in a hurry. The Bridgewater Hall is a perfect venue for their brooding, melancholy, orchestral pop and the fact that they had a mini-orchestra playing with them was a major plus point. Their new album, The Hungry Saw, is a return to the sort of form they were in in their late nineties heyday and on the night they played the whole album (with the unexplained exception of “Mother Dear”), in order but in two parts with a bunch of oldies in between. They did a similar thing at Glastonbury in 1999 when they played the yet-to-be-released Simple Pleasures in its entirety. The first seven album tracks were played to perfection and it was the three instrumentals that really stood out from the rest. Where they tend to pass by with little more than a passing wave when listening to the album, live, and with the benefit of being able to see the orchestra play their component parts, they unravelled to reveal intricate, beautiful melodies that had previously gone unnoticed.

After the thoroughly entertaining “The Organist Entertains”, the soulful “Dying Slowly”, from 2001’s Can Our Love… ushered in a collection of older songs as well as a Townes Van Zandt cover (sadly not “Kathleen”). There were three songs in a row from their classic eponymous second album including “Travelling Light” which, despite being my favourite Tinders track, was the biggest disappointment of the night. It’s a song that really only works as a duet and with Stuart Staples singing it alone and changing the words so that each line was from his own standpoint it fell a little flat, despite the best efforts of the string section. “Sleepy Song” followed and instantly made up for it with the orchestra again excelling with its swells of strings and brass.

“The Hungry Saw” saw most of the orchestra turning their hands to percussion while “Boobar Come Back To Me”, the highlight of the new album, built from its quiet beginnings to a resounding crescendo. Stuart Staples, with hair cropped and sculpted sideburns, has aged very well and his voice hasn’t changed at all – for me it was always more rich, tender baritone than Vic Reeves club singer. He was on fine form all night, never more so than on “All The Love”, the slow burning, mournful lament that was the high point of the evening as far as I’m concerned.

The encore began with their cover of “If You’re Looking For A Way Out”, a song that at first seemed an unlikely choice of cover but that fitted right in with the downbeat soul of Simple Pleasures and that they have now made their own. The lively Spanish guitar flourishes and Mariachi horns of “Her” brought Calexico to mind and the sparse “The Not Knowing” brought matters to a sombre close. This was a tremendous return for one of my favourite bands of the nineties and Alzheimer’s will have set in by the time I forget this one.

Tindersticks – All The Love

Tindersticks – Travelling Light

Tindersticks – The Not Knowing

Posted by The Ledge on 11th October 2008 at 7:19 pm | comments (7)
File under bridgewater hall,Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews,tindersticks.

Gig Review: Foals @ Manchester Academy, 8th October 2008

When we first saw Foals, just over a year ago, they amazed us with the sheer force of their delivery. The set was energetic and chaotic while still delivering loads of great hooks and dance beats. We expected great things from  the album and were disappointed at how clean and polished it sounded – none of the urgency or energy came across in the first couple of listens. So, I filed it away as a minor disappointment and didn’t think much of it until The Ledge told me he had secured a pair of tickets to see Foals play Manchester Academy 1.

I thought I should get the album back out and listen to it again a bit more closely. Clearly my original opinion had been coloured by the live experience which was intense and unexpected. While the second half of the album does lose focus and meander a bit and while I still think the production could have done with giving it a rougher edge, the first half of the album is actually very good. So by the time we headed down to the gig I was looking forward to it, in a fifth-gig-in-five-nights-dead-on-my-feet sort of way.

Thankfully we discovered we had access to the balcony which turned out to be a mixed blessing. It afforded us a great view of the gig without the usual crowd hassles and it kept us from having to wade into a giant mosh pit – which looked like good fun, but we were far too exhausted from the previous four days of activity. The problem is, our vantage point also meant we captured none of the atmosphere of the crowd, and there seemed to be loads of it as the moshers during opener Holy Fuck certainly seemed to be going for it.

Holy Fuck were quite intriguing for about 15 minutes as I couldn’t tell whether they wanted to be a rock-oriented dance band or whether they were trying to produce catchy math rock similar to Battles. Ultimately, over a 45 minute set they were a little boring. I think you’d probably have to be dancing to really listen to them for very long. I suppose they played that long because Dananananaykroyd, also meant to be on the bill, had cancelled at the last minute.

Foals received a riotous reception from the crowd on the floor, and while I can’t fault the quality of their performance, I can’t help but feel that they have yet to fully make the transition from a band playing tiny toilet venues to a band capable of filling a large hall full of 2,000 screaming teenagers. My two favourite tracks off the album, “The French Open” and “Cassius” sounded fabulous, and I was certainly humming along to the likes of “Olympic Airways” and “Electric Bloom” but on the whole the performance seemed far more withdrawn and less chaotic than previously and the band seemed not to know what to do with the crowd.

Many of the album tracks didn’t venture far from their polished album versions and much of what really impressed me about the previous gig just wasn’t there or simply didn’t translate well in the larger venue. To be fair, they had opened up a bit by the end and some stage diving occurred, but the intensity and anarchic atmosphere from the Night & Day had been replaced by what seemed to be a band not entirely sure of themselves.

Foals performance shouldn’t have surprised me. I spent much of the gig thinking that actually it felt a bit like watching the awkward performance delivered by Bloc Party the first time they played Manchester Academy 1 back in April 2005 only a few short months after playing a blinder at the Night & Day on Halloween night 2004 (and only a few short months before The Indie Credential came into being). I believe I expressed similar sentiments about Editors at Manchester Academy also back in 2005.

I suppose it is simply the nature of the music industry in 2008 that young bands are finding themselves becoming popular very quickly without time to really find their feet. I would also guess that they will learn to adjust their live shows over time and learn to fill venues the size of the Academy and bigger so perhaps next time we can stand in the balcony and get properly knocked off our feet.

Foals – The French Open

Foals – Electric Bloom

Posted by JustHipper on 9th October 2008 at 5:38 pm | comments (4)
File under foals,Gig Reviews,manchester academy 1,manchester gigs,mp3.

Gig Review: In the City, Manchester, Tuesday 7th October 2008

We were looking forward to an In the City hat-trick and yet again were befuddled by the range of choice so we had always planned on making Tuesday the day where we saw a few acts with whom we’re pretty familiar.

In The City 2008 - Unidentified band @ The AtticWe started off at The Attic where a last minute opener had replaced a cancellation by one of the scheduled acts. I have no idea what these guys were called as they never said, but honestly, if I played in a band that derivative I wouldn’t tell anyone what we were called either. They had long hair, beards, wore baggy shorts and sounded like they liked everything bland and monotonous about Seattle c. 1995. The most memorable thing about them was the rather unpleasant ending to their set where the lead singer braced his guitar against a monitor and simulated sex with it. I’m still trying to erase the image from my brain as it was really rather vile. I guess he thought it made him more “rock n roll.” Mostly it made him look like a bit of a tit.

Second on was The Star Fighter Pilot, a one-man electronic act whose lo-fi, keyboard and computer-driven set falls somewhere in between early OMD and what Nine Inch Nails would sound like if they tried to make lighthearted electro-pop. The live set involves live singing combined programmed elements from a laptop and sound effects and a bit of keyboard. Lyrically the tracks cover somewhat unusual themes (although the prevalence of numbers about stalkers and perverts last night was a bit worrying) and full of humour. The highlight, naturally, was the live debut of “The Invisible Invasion,” which we’re pretty sure made internet history as the first song commissioned via Twitter when I made a cheeky tweet about it back in early September. Needless to say, we very much enjoyed the set.

With proceedings at The Attic running late we knew we’d already missed The Bangs and didn’t want the same thing to occur with Light Syndicate so we rushed across to Retro Bar where the band were just taking the stage as we paid for drinks at the bar. We first saw Light Syndicate back when they were still called Nephew at an In the City showcase way back in 2005. At the time I commented that they reminded me of Toad the Wet Sprocket because there was a folky element to the sound. These days with the band down to 4 musicians they are tighter than ever and louder than ever. Light Syndicate in 2008 have really hit their stride with a sound influenced by late-era Radiohead and post rock but with enough rousing melody and sympathetic lyricism to make the songs sound vast and anthemic while managing to maintain the intimacy of delivering them in a tiny room – plus they still do the whole quiet/loud thing to great effect. They told the crowd last night that their debut album, which they must have completed a year ago, will finally be out next month. It’s great and well worth buying.

By the time Light Syndicate finished we were exhausted from four days in a row of gigs and decided to head home, very impressed with the broad range of new musical talent on offer at ITC in 2008. Hopefully we’ll hear more from (most of) these bands over the coming year.

Posted by JustHipper on 8th October 2008 at 6:44 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,in the city,manchester gigs,youtube.