Archive for the 'manchester academy 2' 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: Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2, 15th September 2008

Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2

I think I can safely say that last night’s sold out Bon Iver gig at the Academy 2 exceeded my expectations, and probably the expectations of almost everyone there. Having seen his appearance on Jools Holland back in May where he played alone armed with just an acoustic guitar, and given the quiet, desolate nature of the brilliant For Emma, Forever Ago album, I was expecting much quietness and gentle nodding and stroking of beards. But no! Bon Iver rock! Like bastards! Well they did for the first two songs: a blistering “Blindsided” and a version of “Creature Fear” in which the guitars completely swamped the chorus to the song’s detriment. I was beginning to wish that I’d taken my new earplugs.

The band is now a four-piece with main man Justin Vernon on guitar and keyboard duties augmented by a drummer, bassist and guitarist, all of whom know their way around a four-part harmony. Vernon’s voice is a thing of wonder but backed by his three cohorts the likes of “Skinny Love” and “Flume” reached new heights that the album versions can only hint at. The contributions of guitarist Mikey Noyce, a guy who looks like he’s barely passed puberty, were especially welcome. He took lead vocals on an excellent cover of Graham Nash’s “Simple Man” and his atmospheric use of slide and E-bow on the likes of “Flume” and “For Emma” added an extra dimension to the sound.

There was some great audience participation with the extremely affable Vernon getting everyone to join in the “what might have been lost” refrain on “Wolves (Acts I and II)”. As the song built up from its subdued beginnings the band shifted gear as the audience came in and eventually drowned us all in another huge racket of guitars.

The band were equally as compelling when they quietened down a bit. “Skinny Love” had Vernon on acoustic and the other three on drums and those delicious harmonies while “Re: Stacks”, probably my favourite track on the album, was the most faithful to the album version with Vernon left to his own devices to send shivers down spines, bring tears to the corners of eyes. After the gorgeous “Flume” the volume rose again with new song “Blood Bank”, a superb organ-led country rocker that reminded us that they’ve only really got 9 songs and could do with getting a few more like this under their belts before they come back, something which Vernon then promised to do, sooner rather than later. This was a truly outstanding gig, one of the best I’ve seen this year. When they do come back, make sure you go and see them.

The setlist, if I’m not mistaken, went like this:

Creature Fear
Wolves (Act I and II)
Skinny Love
Simple Man (Graham Nash cover)
Re: Stacks
Blood Bank

Lump Sum
For Emma

Bon Iver – Re: Stacks

Bon Iver – Blindsided

Posted by The Ledge on 16th September 2008 at 7:49 pm | comments (15)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 2,mp3,Reviews,setlist.

Gig Review Catchup: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, The Twilight Sad, Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers

We’ve been to a lot of gigs this summer. We just haven’t had time to write about them. They’ve been corkers though. I’m going to try and summarize some of it here.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan at Manchester Academy 2On 12th June we headed over to the Manchester Academy 2 to see Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan performing in support of their marvellous second album, Sunday at Devil Dirt. While trying to find out the name of the opening band I did something I never do – I read three reviews from their London gig a few days earlier. They were not praiseworthy, suggesting that the pair had no chemistry and the gig was like watching statues performing. Needless to say, I was mildly concerned – until about the second song. Although they barely moved, much less looked at each other, both Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were in fine voice and both appeared to be far more wrapped up in what they were singing than in each other. This could be down to the fact that they’ve hardly performed together and are still getting used to the idea. Or perhaps they’re both shy – a possibility since neither uttered a word on stage. Still, it didn’t matter at all as the songs themselves were intense and sultry and really brought out the bluesy elements of both albums, especially “Back Burner” and “Come On Over (Turn Me On)”.

The Twilight Sad at the Manchester Night & DayAfter a couple of days off for birthdays and anniversaries, we headed over to the Night & Day on Monday 16th June to catch The Twilight Sad suppored by Broken Records. Having played the same venue roughly two months earlier and with little promotion in the interim, the tables were out for a very sparse audience at the Night & Day. More’s the pity because they blew their previous performance out of the water, sounding tighter than ever. Final song “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” was simply stunning. Openers Broken Records impressed enough with their manic Scottish folk coming across like a combination of the Arcade Fire and Sons & Daughters with a bit of twang to it.

Fleet Foxes at Manchester RoadhouseWe were also down at the Roadhouse for Beach House and Fleet Foxes’ joint headline gig. We bought the tickets because we’d enjoyed Beach House’s laid back, fluid and relaxing summery tunes while sat on the fake grass at the covered main stage at ATP. By the time the gig rolled around, however, the buzz was all about Fleet Foxes. Beach House proved to be enjoyable and very personable, however their lightness did not translate all that well in the dark, dingy Roadhouse. Although I hadn’t heard more than a couple of tracks before the show, I thought Fleet Foxes, were superb with their harmonious folk tunes. The melodies are so catchy that it’s hard not to be taken in by them and the band were rather charming, asking how the crowd were doing, gushing at their reception and cracking jokes about comedian Tim Allen. If it weren’t for some of the usual idiots in the crowd trying to get in front of the barrier (and blocking my view) and then blaming me rather loudly for about three songs after security moved them on it would have been a perfect show. The encore in which singer Robin Pecknold delivered a solo, nearly a capella song – I think it was “Oliver James” but as I hadn’t heard the album, I’m not sure now about 6 weeks on – was haunting and note-perfect. As they reminded me at times of both My Morning Jacket and The Shins – two bands we love around here – I went looking for their debut album pretty much straight away afterwards.

On July 1st we opted to skip seeing The National in Leeds as we were going to catch them at T in the Park a couple of weeks later and instead we went down to the Night & Day to see The Cave Singers perform a full set. Their debut album Invitation Songs is one of my favourites of the year and hasn’t been far from the CD player since around February. They had impressed us with their live show opening for Band of Horses so much that I expected a packed out venue. Instead, the tables were out across the front of the stage and were barely full for the band’s arrival. Nonetheless, fresh from Glastonbury, they delivered a captivating, if subdued, performance which included a couple of new tracks. The new songs didn’t sound much different but were enjoyable and the album tracks made me want to sing along – which would have been a bit silly given the setting. As always “Helen” and “Dancing on Our Graves” were spectacular. It will be very disappointing if they don’t acquire a bigger following because their sparse, rhythmic country folk is quite unique and incredibly gratifying.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Salvation
The Twilight Sad – Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
The Cave Singers – Dancing on Our Graves

Posted by JustHipper on 2nd August 2008 at 1:08 pm | comments (3)
File under female singers,Gig Reviews,Isobel Campbell,manchester academy 2,Mark Lanegan,mp3,the cave singers.

Gig Review: My Morning Jacket, Manchester Academy 2, 27th June 2008

My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, 27th June 2008The hoo-har over the new My Morning Jacket album, Evil Urges, seems to have had a negative effect on the band’s concert audiences, if this gig is anything to go by. When the band played this same venue a couple of years ago in support of their Z album, it was pretty much full. Last Friday night there were noticeable gaps in the crowd, with some people no doubt put off by the new album’s dalliance with disco, funk and boyband soul. Well, it’s their loss, because My Morning Jacket are still one of the greatest live bands around at the moment, a fact that they effortlessly proved last Friday night.

Admittedly, I was pretty unimpressed with Evil Urges when I first heard it but I stuck it out and by about the fifth listen I was hooked. I remember the same thing happening with Z and that is now one of my favourite albums of this century so far. The new material certainly adds variety to the MMJ live set; for the most part the songs are shorter than the average without much in the way of guitar solos. Shorn of their studio sheen, they’re a little ragged around the edges, which is exactly what they need. The title track opened proceedings with Jim James belting out his Prince-ly falsetto, which he did to better effect later on in “Highly Suspicious”, though Carl Broemel’s hilariously deadpan backing vocals at the other end of the range stole the show. Even better were the studied James Taylorisms of “Sec Walkin”, though “Thank You Too!” still managed to sound like the schmaltzy boy band anthem that it is on record – if Westlife get their hands on it it will be massive. As you would expect, the more straightforward rockers from the album, “I’m Amazed” and “Remnants”, shone and I’m sure they’ll be staples of the band’s live set in the years to come.

As good as the new stuff sounded it was definitely out-muscled by the older material as the band revisited past glories to show anyone who hadn’t been paying attention what a rich back catalogue they now have. JustHipper’s personal fave “Lowdown” got a welcome outing early on, as did a few choice cuts from Z, while the white boy reggae of “Phone Went West”, from At Dawn, reminded us that they could switch styles with relative ease long before the beats and bleeps of Z paved the way for their latest style-hopping effort. It was Evil Urges‘s finest moment that swept away all that had come before it. “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream pt. 2” is already an MMJ classic and live was an all-enveloping disco stomper that had everyone’s head bobbing as if nodding in agreement with James’ sentiment in the chorus: “This feeling is wonderful / Don’t you ever turn it off”

For the encore the band upped the ante even further, bringing out the big guns like “Dondante”, “Mahgeetah” and perennial crowd favourite “One Big Holiday”, which closed the show. The crowd, which had become more and more animated as the gig wore on, were positively ecstatic by the end. Not only are My Morning Jacket a great live band but they have a canny knack of bettering their previous performances each time we see them. Roll on T In The Park.

My Morning Jacket – Lowdown

My Morning Jacket – Remnants

Posted by The Ledge on 5th July 2008 at 5:55 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 2,mp3,my morning jacket,Reviews.

Gig Review: Bob Mould @ Manchester Academy 2, 24th May 2008

Bob MouldThis really should have been done about 2 weeks ago, but we seem to hit blogger-burnout around this time every year, no matter how good our intentions. We are trying though.

In any case, we went down to see Bob Mould at what we thought would be a small gig in the Academy 3 and turned out to be a half-full gig in the Academy 2. Nevertheless, it was an enthusiastic crowd that greeted the ex-Hüsker Dü legend when he emerged onto the stage. About 30 seconds prior to his appearance, The Ledge had leaned over and told me that he would do some Hüsker Dü tracks but I shouldn’t expect anything from his days in Sugar. The Ledge is aware that my first experience of Bob Mould was when Sugar released Copper Blue and that I’m far more familiar with that album than with any of his other output. In any case, The Ledge was mistaken because Bob opened with “The Act We Act” off Copper Blue, following it up with no less than four other Sugar songs, including “Hoover Dam” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” over the course of the set.

He also played one of the few older solo songs I know, “I See a Little Light” which is on an old cassette compilation someone gave me when I was at university. It’s acoustic on my cassette, but this was a storming rock number. Most of the songs were storming rock numbers. The 2 or 3 ballads actually lagged quite badly although overall the set was what The Ledge called “relentless” as the band tore through song after song with almost no between-song banter.

It was exhausting to watch but enjoyable as Bob Mould did not stop grinning through the set and the older crowd, obviously fans from his Hüsker Dü days, were ecstatic, if not particularly energetic. The set made me wonder if Bob Mould isn’t the American equivalent of David Gedge – innovative but over time unsurprising, at the early forefront of his indie scene but playing to smaller and smaller crowds of balding men while still producing the same catchy, melodic, jangly rock and intriguing lyrics as ever. Plus there’s something I find extremely appealing about his voice. Bob Mould certainly writes some charming love songs and delivers them with all the emotion of a 20 year old with everything to prove.

When the Hüsker Dü material finally appeared, even to my pathetically untrained ears it was obvious, especially as the crowd finally started moving, rather than just waving their arms and mouthing the words. It was quite a moment, being in the presence of a man who’s been such an influence on a lot of bands I love, watching him play the songs that made him so influential. I’m really glad we were there.

Bob Mould – The Silence Between Us

Sugar – Hoover Dam

Posted by JustHipper on 10th June 2008 at 10:19 pm | comments (11)
File under bob mould,Gig Reviews,gigs,husker du,manchester academy 2,mp3,Reviews,sugar.

Gig Review: The Breeders @ Manchester Academy 2, 14th April 2008

The Breeders @ Manchester Academy 2, 14th April 2008The new Breeders album, Mountain Battles, is a bit of a grower, by all accounts. I hope it’s true as I was pretty underwhelmed after a couple of listens and haven’t been back since, mainly due to there being not enough hours in the day. The Breeders’ gig at the Academy 2 last week was also a bit of a grower, starting off in subdued fashion with a slowed down version of The Amps’ “Tipp City”. If there was little enthusiasm on stage, save for the ever grinning Kim Deal, there was even less in the crowd as many of the gathered 30 and 40-somethings barely seem to have noticed that the gig had started. “Huffer” got a few heads nodding and while I was lapping up their excellent cover of Guided By Voices’ “Shocker In Gloomtown” others seemed to be getting restless, already starting with the pointless requests for “Cannonball”. It wasn’t until “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”, the first of three selections from their brilliant debut, Pod, that both band and audience suddenly came to life and set the tone for the rest of the evening. From then on there was banter aplenty between sisters Kim and Kelley and the crowd, as well as a bit of good-natured heckling. And there were plenty of great songs; “Pacer”, another Amps track, was a bundle of brisk country harmonies while the eerie “We’re Gonna Rise” was a great advert for the new album, as were “Overglazed” and “German Studies”, which were saved for the encore. They rolled back the years with crackling versions of those other Pod tracks, “Iris” and “Fortunately Gone” while the inevitable “Cannonball” was as scruffy as Kim Deal herself (she might have been wearing her office best on the Pixies reunion tour a couple of years back but with The Breeders it’s definitely dress-down Friday every night) and pretty much summed up the whole gig: a stuttering start but then electrifying, ramshackle and great fun.

The Breeders – We’re Gonna Rise

The Amps – Pacer

Posted by The Ledge on 23rd April 2008 at 7:03 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 2,mp3,Reviews,the breeders.

Gig Review: The Hold Steady, Manchester Academy 2, 26th February 2008

The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 2, 26th Feb 2008Roughly a year ago the Hold Steady played their first ever Manchester gig at Club Academy. It was full of men in their thirties and forties. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Bricking Chick and I were the only two females in the place, not that I’d have noticed because I was too busy dancing. A week later and The Ledge was with me in Sheffield at a riotous gig that he refers to as “the greatest night of [his] life.”

Oh how things change and yet how they stay the same!

Tuesday night the Hold Steady played an NME gig in the Academy 2. The front row, instead of being packed full of middled-aged men (and me), was full of young lads, some escorted by their parents. The average age of the Hold Steady fan had dropped in the course of a year by about 10 years. Not bad really. Too bad my age won’t do the same. It was disturbing yet thrilling. I worried that the atmosphere would change and that the band’s live show, which works so well in a small venue where there is no distance between them and the audience, would suffer. I didn’t really have to worry (although I fear a leap up to the Academy 1 may be disastrous).

First, however, we had to suffer through The Haze. Now, I can’t work out how they ended up on the bill. I can only imagine that the promoter was walking along a quiet London street when he got hit in the head by, I don’t know, a large piece of debris from a Russian satellite as it crashed to Earth, and was so dazed when he got in to the office that he thought it was 1985 and getting The Cult to play was a good idea. I can’t imagine if he’d been in his right mind he’d have booked a band whose entire set consisted of variations on “She Sells Sanctuary,” a song I can almost tolerate when I’m too drunk to know better.

The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 2, 26th Feb 2008The Hold Steady were on great form from the start, all smiles, with Craig Finn saying that he wanted to top their last Manchester show, back in July, which he reckoned was an amazing night. I wouldn’t know, but it was great to get a different opening song, the snarling “Hornets! Hornets!” which we’d not seen live before and which led into a raucous “Stuck Between Stations.” At this point they were off, running through a set which was about half Boys & Girls in America, which the crowd sang back, and half Separation Sunday. Keyboard player Franz Nicolay, sporting a beard to go along with his handlebar moustache, was on good form, making eye contact and grinning at most of the front row, and Craig Finn kept exhorting the crowd to clap and dance more, although he seems to have stopped repeating every line he’s just sung away from the microphone for emphasis. I missed it.

The Hold Steady Setlist, Manchester, February 26, 2008Two new songs made the set: “Constructive Summer,” ostensibly about being home from university for the summer and trying to find something to do, and “Stay Positive” which is the title track from their upcoming album (and which we sneakily filmed for you viewing pleasure). While The Ledge reckons “Constructive Summer” sounds like Hüsker Dü, I thought that both songs were very much in the vein of Boys & Girls in America, that is to say, pop rock songs with great singalong choruses. I’m looking forward to hearing them when I can actually make out the lyrics.

Despite having seen the Hold Steady about a half dozen times over the last 13 months, I continue to be amazed at their ability to be playing a gig with the crowd rather than for us. A lot of bands (can you hear me, Pete Doherty) play lip service to breaking down the barrier between themselves and the audience, but most of those other bands want to be rock stars more than anything and they want to be around their fans so they can get fawned over and told how great they are. The Hold Steady, on the other hand, are no different from their audience (except of course for the fact that they’re genius songwriters) because they’re in the room for the same reason that we’re in the room – because a great gig is a thing of joy and because great music soundtracks all the important moments of our lives and getting to experience that music which is, ahem, scratched into our souls, in a live setting, with 1000 other people experiencing the same thing, can be the greatest feeling in the world.

The Hold Steady – Hornets! Hornets!

Video: “Stay Positive”

Posted by JustHipper on 28th February 2008 at 10:51 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 2,manchester gigs,mp3,Reviews,stay positive,the hold steady,video,youtube.

Video: The National play “Green Gloves” at Manchester Academy 2, 4th November 2007

This was over a week ago so it’s a bit too late for a full review but here’s a video I shot of The National playing “Green Gloves” at the Academy 2 a week last Sunday, with support act St. Vincent on backing vocals.

The National @ Manchester Academy 2It was a great gig with St. Vincent going down very well and impressing with her brilliant (and quite unique) guitar playing, her excellent use of the looping pedal and her wonderful vocals. The National were on spellbinding form. After opening with “Start A War”, followed by “Mistaken For Strangers” and “Secret Meeting”, I simply lost track of events, so wrapped up was I in the proceedings. The Boxer material sounded especially good, with much of it escaping the confines of the dark and muted atmosphere of the album to blossom into dynamic rock masterpieces while still retaining that dark heart, thanks to Matt Beringer’s unholy croon. The National: great on record, even better live.

St. Vincent – Marry Me

The National – Wasp Nest

Posted by The Ledge on 16th November 2007 at 6:58 pm | comments (3)
File under manchester academy 2,st. vincent,the national,Uncategorized,video,youtube.