Archive for September, 2005

Gig Review: Okkervil River, Manchester Night & Day, 26th September 2005

okkervil river picokkervil river picokkervil river picokkervil river pic

Having half-listened a couple of times to an (illegally) downloaded copy of Black Sheep Boy I didn’t really know what to expect of Okkervil River; beards, perhaps, and check shirts. And these I got, and much more, on a late late Monday night.

First things first. I missed the first of three support acts but arrived to see most of Flim School‘s set and was very impressed by their mix of shoegazey guitar washes and driving bass and drums which, more often than not, brought to mind The Cure, which can never be a bad thing. They’re playing here again next month in support of The National so I might pop down to get a second opinion.

Next up was Superkings, a seven-piece from Lancashire, whose piano-led folksy bluster was quite frankly awful, like a low rent Hothouse Flowers. The nasal-voiced singer/pianist/Van Morrison wannabe came across as particularly smug and the occasions where he and the backing singer turned to sing to each other were seriously cringeworthy.

Okkervil River were simply magnificent. Ok, only two beards out of five but that’s pretty good going these days. Singer Will Sheff may look, and sing, a little like Julian Casablancas but I won’t hold that against him because on stage he was the life and the soul, a magnetic presence in a set which lasted a good hour and a half and ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning. A few tracks I recognised from Black Sheep Boy, the standouts being “In A Radio Song”, “The Latest Toughs” and “So Come Back, I Am Waiting”, but the wealth of other material suggested that their other albums will be well worth checking out.

While Sheff remained attached to his acoustic guitar throughout his fellow band members took on keyboards, accordian, pedal steel (yay!) , bass and trumpet. The use of the trumpet was especially good and brought back memories of seeing the great Neutral Milk Hotel back in ’98. Neutral Milk Hotel are a pretty good reference point when describing the Okkervil River sound but there’s much more to them with echos also of Bright Eyes, The Strokes, Eels, The Decemberists and even a bit of Buffalo Tom.

A broken guitar string brought the main set to a premature end but, string fixed, they returned for a long encore which included a brilliant, sprawling “Kansas City” and ended with “Okkervil River Song” (Ok, I looked up these titles online afterwards). Sheff is an impassioned, animated front man and by the end he seemed physically and emotionally exhausted. Which is how it should be. On the way out I shelled out a tenner for Black Sheep Boy which, along with the six quid I spent on the ticket, just goes to show exactly how much downloading is killing music.

Posted by The Ledge on 28th September 2005 at 12:11 am | comments (7)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: King Biscuit Time, Manchester Night & Day, Sunday, September 19, 2005

I always used to love watching the Beta Band play live. Moreso than I ever enjoyed listening to them on CD. Their shows always had this wonderful element of spontenaity and disorganization which I loved, not to mention they had damned catchy songs. Ledge had bought a King Biscuit Time EP (Steve Mason from the Beta Band, for those who aren’t with me yet) ages ago and it was damned good. So, what could be bad about Steve Mason playing as King Biscuit Time at our favourite gig venue? Not a single thing.

For all intents and purposes, watching King Biscuit Time was like watching a very stripped down version of the Beta Band. Mason is touring with a bassist and a percussionist/keyboard player. He himself plays guitar and various percussion as well. The songs range from tunes like the new single “C I Am 15” which is nearly a cross between alt country, laid back dance and hip hop, to more laid back, mesmerising, percussion-driven acoustic numbers.

It was a very relaxed affair compared to a Beta Band gig. Gone were the elaborate films running in the background. Mason pretty much sang, played guitar, and moved in time to the music like a Scottish Ian Brown, running in place and shaking his head. He was fairly chatty to the audience, saying he was glad to finally be playing at the Night & Day rather than just drinking there. And he even treated us to a comedy cover version of “Anarchy in the UK” done in an elevator musak-dub style.

We were very hungover and nearly skipped the show, but I am very glad now that we struggled through the pain. It was an upbeat and hypnotic experience and I am now looking forward to the CD.

Posted by JustHipper on 25th September 2005 at 10:35 pm | comments (4)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Pixies, Manchester Apollo, 30th August 2005

This was a gig that we really shouldn’t have gone to. It fell on the same night as The Arcade Fire played Liverpool, a gig we had tickets for but chose to sell after the Pixies date was announced. After seeing The Arcade Fire’s incredible set at the Leeds Festival it was clear that we’d made a mistake. Not such a big mistake, though. This may have been the fourth time I’d seen the Pixies since they reformed last year, and the ninth in all, but they have never disappointed before.

Support was from The Futureheads who we’d already seen twice this year and so we knew what to expect. They opened with new song “Areas” which sounded much better that it has on those previous two occasions and proceeded to run through a familiar set with great aplomb. “The City Is Here For You To Use” was particularly excellent and by the time they reached the closing “Hounds Of Love” they had much of the crowd on their side.

It was a slow start for the Pixies as they opened with “Head On”, not a favourite of mine with it being a Jesus And Mary Chain song, and followed that up with “Is She Weird” and “Mr Grieves”. Good but not great. But they soon slipped into top gear with sublime versions of “Caribou”, “Bone Machine” and “Monkey Gone To Heaven” and pretty much stayed there for the duration. “Hey” was aborted at the start after technical problems, and “La La Love You”, despite being my least favourite Pixies song, was an entertaining aside, the band turning to watch David Lovering as he struggled tunelessly through his vocal duties. The real highlights came near the end, first with a brilliant reworked version of “Nimrod’s Son” which slowed right down into an stomp for the second verse and chorus, and then with “Vamos” with Joey Santiago’s increasingly hilarious guitar workout culminating in him unplugging the guitar and playing the jack lead while Black Francis and Kim Deal sat watching from the drum riser.

After “Where Is My Mind” they said a prolonged thanks to the audience from the front of the stage before playing “Gigantic” and departing, only to return for a brilliant second encore of the previously aborted “Hey”. Yet another great Pixies gig, The Arcade Fire can wait for now.

Posted by The Ledge on 21st September 2005 at 3:22 pm | comments (3)
File under Gig 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.

Gig Review: Leeds Festival, Saturday 27th August 2005

wedding present picElbow picThe Killers picPixies pic

After Friday’s tent hopping it was a relief to be able to spend the whole of Saturday at the Main Stage. We got there in time to see the last 20 minutes or so of Goldie Lookin Chain of whom the kindest thing I can find to say is that they were mildly amusing on occasion.

Next up was one of the bands I really wanted to see this weekend, The Wedding Present. Having seen them over 20 times before in small clubs or university unions it was a bit strange to see them playing outdoors at a festival in front of thousands of, mostly indifferent, punters. Gedge and co., as ever, were wonderful, running through a shortened version of the set we saw them play in Leeds in March. “Interstate 5” was just the right song to get things started, early on a warm Saturday afternoon with the breeze blowing through our hair. An energised “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss” was the [Read On…] »

Posted by The Ledge on 9th September 2005 at 4:39 pm | comments (1)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Leeds Festival, Friday , August 26, take 2

Having overindulged a wee bit on Friday night with some lovely folks camped near us, I woke up VERY worse for the wear on Friday but still really looking forward to a fantastic day of bands, and I was certainly not disappointed. [Read On…] »

Posted by JustHipper on 7th September 2005 at 8:42 pm | comments (5)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Leeds Festival, Friday 26th August 2005

Battle picAmusement Parks On Fire picAdam Green picEcho And The Bunnymen pic

The first day and I succumb to the English disease: I see a queue and I have to join it. Never mind that if we walk past this queue we might find a much shorter, faster moving queue that my joining would not technically be deemed, if it came up in court, as pushing in. But no, we wait for forty minutes in the big, slow moving queue until JustHipper decides to cut out and investigate the situation further ahead. She’s American, she can do shit like that and feel little or no shame afterwards. Ten minutes later and she’s texting me that she’s in the NME Tent awaiting the arrival of Art Brut. And ten minutes later still I’m there with her, just in time to see Eddie Argos [Read On…] »

Posted by The Ledge on 4th September 2005 at 12:42 am | comments (2)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.