Archive for May, 2006

Gig Review: All Tomorrow’s Parties, Camber Sands, 19th-21st May 2006

Broken Social Scene at All Tomorrow's PartiesOur first ever visit to the indiest of indie festivals came about thanks to the new “Share A Chalet” scheme which pairs couple with couple (we don’t have enough friends to even fill out a 4-berth chalet) and leaves you hanging around your freezing, run down little box on a wet Friday afternoon waiting to see who you’ve got. I could have gone either way: like-minded, friendly folk up for a laugh but in bed at a reasonble hour after ATP festivities have concluded for the evening, or obnoxious speed-freaks hell bent on staying up til daybreak. In the event it went the third way: they didn’t show up and we got the place to ourselves for the weekend. Woo hoo. And we still haven’t got any friends.

After watching J Mascis playing Air Hockey in the arcade, sampling some of the dreadful takeaway burgers and failing to get in to see Lightning Bolt, we got our first taste of live music for the weekend with long time Peel faves Herman Dune, a band I’d never taken much notice of before but whose indie-folk stylings went down very well with the two of us, and with just about everyone else in the room. We then ventured upstairs to catch the tail end of the disappointing Lilys before watching the positively ancient The Bevis Frond who mixed dull proggy rock with gleaming pop and were very entertaining thanks to the self-depricating charm of lead singer Nick Saloman. They played a song that had been covered by Teenage Fanclub and it sounded exactly like Teenage Fanclub, which was nice.

We stayed put for the rest of the night for the mouthwatering triumvirate of Broken Social Scene, Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr. Broken Social Scene were outstanding once again. A beautiful (unreleased?) opener gave way to a riveting set which drew from their previous two albums and featured Amy Millan on fine form, especially for “Shoreline 7/4” and “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl”. J Mascis joined them for “Almost Crime” and, after spending a couple of minutes tuning up, took part in an impromptu guitar duel with Apostle Of Hustle, Jason Collett, all gleefully orchestrated by chief-Scenester Kevin Drew. Teenage Fanclub‘s set was pretty much what I’d hoped for: greatest hits and old classics, though starting off with a lengthy instrumental from their A Catholic Education debut was a bit of a surprise. They quickly got into gear and, as usual, it was Gerry Love’s songs that stood out more than any with classics like “Ain’t That Enough”, “Star Sign”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Sparky’s Dream” showing just why he’s the nation’s most underrated songwriter. Norman Blake was also on fine form with sparkling versions of “It’s All In My Mind” and “God Knows It’s True” while Ray McGinley made up the numbers with the inevitable “About You” and “Verisimilitude”, songs that he has bettered on the last two TFC albums.

Dinosaur Jr stole the day with a powerhouse of a performance that was so much better than their Leeds Festival appearance last year. Clearly their heavy touring schedule has paid off and they sound much tighter than they did back then. They also seemed to be enjoying themselves much more with Lou Barlow’s poppier moments an excellent complement to J’s molten guitar heroics on the likes of “The Lung” and “Sludgefeast”. The omission of “Tarpit” was my only disappointment but the inclusion of an incendiary “The Wagon” more than made up for it.

The Radar Brothers at All Tomorrow's PartiesDay two started late for us when we decided to miss out on The Boredoms in favour of a few beers in the pub and it was nearly 6 when we saw The Radar Brothers put in an engaging performance of their alt.country slowcore, drawing heavily on their last album The Fallen Leaf Pages and including the occasional classic oldies such as “Shovelling Sons” and “Stay” to keep most of the crowd happy. I ventured upstairs to catch The Black Heart Procession leaving JustHipper to enjoy the 1990s and The Gossip, which she did. The Black Heart Procession were pretty great. I’d never really heard much of their stuff and always thought they were from a similar slowcore mould to The Radar Brothers, but they had a much more expansive, soulful sound and a quite brilliant singer. Must track down their latest album The Spell and investigate further. Next up were The Fiery Furnaces who we saw a couple of weeks before at the Night & Day and were superb that night in their electrified, keyboard-free incarnation. Seeing virtually the same set for the second time was much less pleasing and the hour tended to drag with the grating revamped versions of “My Dog Was Lost” and “Teach Me Sweetheart” not being too welcome to these ears, though “Black Hearted Boy”, “Benton Harbor Blues” and “Leaky Tunnel” and the Rehearsing My Choir material were all once again excellent. I just hope they bring the keyboards next time around.

Back downstairs I secured a good spot close to the front for Joanna Newsom while JustHipper had heroically guarded her front row centre placement since teatime. You needed to be close to the front because she’s so damned quiet. It transpires that this is not her fault, nor the fault of the soundman but instead it was a Catch-22 situation brought on by the presence of the brigade of chatterers who lined the perifory of the venue and seemed intent on spoiling the occasion for everyone else. If the soundman upped the volume of the harp mics in order to drown out the chatterers then the chatter would come through the PA and start feeding back. So the louder the chatter, the quieter the gig. [Sigh]. Anyhow, Joanna was on awesome form despite a nervy opening where the din from behind was too much of a distraction. Eventually she had the attention of me and the few hundred others who could actually hear as she played old favourites like “The Book Of Right On” and “Sadie” and treated us to some new songs that she’s currently recording for her second album, on which she will be accompanied by a full orchestra. These songs were very, very long and positively overrun with vivid imagery and woodland creatures. But they never dragged; if you lost focus at any point something startling would happen in the next verse to bring you back round, whether it be a flourish of harp or a fight between bears. The four new songs took up about 50 minutes of the set, the last of them clocking in at an estimated 20 minutes. Phew. A crushingly beautiful “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie” brought us back into familiar waters and she ended a stunning set with the gorgeous “This Side Of The Blue”. A triumph over adversity. Tired legs meant that we only saw 10 minutes of headliners Sleater-Kinney before making our way back to our freezing chalet for a nightcap and bed.

Crazy caped guy goes nuts with plastic sword thingy on a pub bench at All Tomorrow's PartiesDay three began with some ATP TV and the must-see madness of R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet, followed by the two recent controversial episodes of South Park where Scientology gets a battering, Tom Cruise gets Trapped In The Closet and Chef gets killed off after being brainwashed into paedophilia. Essential viewing all round. Then to the pub where hopes of catching the Leeds v. Watford play-off final were dashed by the ATP pub quiz which continued while outside a man in a cape, who we’d seen acting strange all weekend, finally flipped and lost it on the pub bench (see pic.), fighting imaginary assailants with a plastic sword before smashing his weapon on the pavement and stomping off. Conveniently this was all under the watchful cinematic gaze of film director Jonathan Caouette, who was making a film of the event. We eventually repaired upstairs to catch the very excellent Destroyer whose latest album Destroyer’s Rubies is my current fave of 2006 so far. Despite the news filtering through that my beloved Leeds United were in the process of getting thrashed in Cardiff, Dan Bejar and his band played a blinder to take my mind off those events. The sound was very close to their recorded sound and while “Rubies” was cruelly cut short, robbed of it’s raw, emotional coda, “Painter In Your Pocket” and the closing “Looter’s Follies” were close to perfection.

Band Of Horses had sadly cancelled at the last minute so I decided to miss their replacements The Drones, who JustHipper quite enjoyed, and make my way downstairs to see Elf Power, from Athens, GA, home of many a great band. Despite a truly appalling sound mix, Elf Power went down very well with their upbeat indie pop. JustHipper had warned me that their songs are all about castles and kings and princesses and hobgoblins but I couldn’t hear a word the singer was singing anyway, all I know is that I enjoyed it very much. Back upstairs the stage had been unfortunately decked out in Watford flags by one of The Decemberists road crew though the band admitted knowing nothing about football. They made up for this by playing a truly wonderful set, the best of the weekend thus far, which included a glorious “Engine Driver”, a very welcome “Apology Song” and culminated in an epic “The Chimbly Sweep” during which Colin Meloy indulged in some crowdsurfing and, just before the song’s climax, persuaded the packed crowd to sit down. Needless to say the reception at the end was louder than any I’d heard through the whole weekend.

With the Clinic gig downstairs packed to the rafters we watched Swedish psychadelic rockers Dungen who managed to be vaguely dull and vaguely interesting at the same time, but not vaguely good. Then it was downstairs for The New Pornographers, for me at least as JustHipper had decided to preserve her place at the front again for The Shins. It was her loss as The New Pornographers put in the set of the weekend. It didn’t start too well with their guitarist breaking a string in the first song and realising they’d left the spare guitar in the van, but with the genius pop hooks of “Use It”, “The Laws Have Changed” and best song of the weekend bar none, “The Bleeding Heart Show”, and the thrilling vocal contributions of Kathryn Calder, and the frequent appearances of non-touring member Dan Bejar, of Destroyer fame, to give them that extra dimension, not to mention the excellent wall of pop sound mix, this was a set that had the audience beaming from ear to ear well after the last note of the effervescent “Sing Me Spanish Techno” had died.

The Shins put the lid on a fantastic weekend that was better than we’d dared to hope. They played a perfect set, showcasing some cracking new songs which bode well for the new album and playing almost everything you’d want them to play from their two previous albums. They are the consumate pop band, James Mercer’s melodies sounding effortless and yet meticulously structured while his lyrics have a rare complexity. “Know Your Onion” kicked things off in style, “Saint Simon” and “New Slang” had the crowd singing along while the encore of “Kissing The Lipless” and “So Says I” had us baying for more. The perfect end to a perfect weekend of indieness. See you next year, Camber Sands.

Posted by The Ledge on 29th May 2006 at 8:00 pm | comments (11)
File under Festival Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Richard Hawley, Salford Lowry Theatre, May 28, 2006

About five minutes before leaving the house we suddenly decided to see who was opening for Richard Hawley. I discovered the website of Monkey Swallows the Universe with two MP3 tracks. I got halfway through one of them – it sounded like the luscious Trespassers William – before telling The Ledge it was definitely worth getting there early. It was 7:20pm at this point and our tickets said 8:00pm, so we grabbed our jackets and headed for the car.

Micah P. Hinson at the LowryStrangely enough, when we got to the venue we were told the first band was already on – at 7:55pm. So, we managed to catch all of 15 minutes of melancholic, acoustic pop beauty from Monkey Swallows the Universe. At least one track, “Sheffield Shanty,” paid homage to their hometown. They did, indeed, sound remarkably like Trespassers William, with a golden-voiced female backed up by acoustic musicians with sparse, folky arrangements with a touch of Mazzy Star about them. When they finally burst into a fast-paced number for their closer and it sounded like Belle & Sebastian I nearly had to laugh. They might wear their influences on their sleeves, but they use them well and when I went past the merchandise stand after the show it seems they’d sold out of CDs.

Next up was Micah P. Hinson, a name I’d heard of but I had no idea what he sounded like. He turned out to be a very good-natured Texan with an acoustic guitar, a couple of sparsely used backing-musicians and a big smile. He played country music with an impressive twang, some emotional shouted vocals that caused the folks next to us to flee to the bar, some lovely singing and sparse arrangements which emphasized the quiet moments in the songs, the space and made the moments of sound all the more effective and noticeable. You could hear every note from voice, guitar, harmonica, etc. It was lovely and reminded The Ledge of Smog. Either way, I certainly want to find his album now as he certainly charmed me.

Richard Hawley at the LowryFinally we got what we’d came for: the lovely Richard Hawley and his bittersweet rockabilly loungecore stylings. Richard Hawley’s songs are like watching an old black & white romance film shot in soft focus. It is possible to lose yourself in his old-fashioned world of romance, beauty and mystery. Not only that, but in between his odes of enchantment, he tells great jokes and banters with the audience. This gig, in a small theatre in the Lowry, was the perfect setting for this old-style entertainment and listening to him run through modern crooner classics such as “The Nights are Cold,” “Cole’s Corner,” “The Ocean,” written for his wife, and “Just Like the Rain” was perfect for a lazy Sunday evening. Since November, when we saw him perform a gig at the Academy 3, Hawley’s last album has been heavily plugged in television ads and I even heard it played in Topshop while shopping for shoes. It seems he’s already a massive hit with Radio 2 listeners as the gig was sold out to a crowd in which I felt that I was amongst my parent’s friends. It is now only a matter of time before the rest of the world cottons on to how lovely his songs are and he is catapulted into mainstream fame.

Posted by JustHipper on 29th May 2006 at 4:38 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Guillemots, Manchester Academy 3, May 24, 2006

The Guillemots at the Hop & GrapeHaving barely recovered from ATP at the weekend, and with the beginnings of a lovely summer cold, we dragged ourselves out to see the Guillemots. Support came from Joan as a Policewoman and all I can say is that if you have the opportunity, don’t! Awful, pretentious, unfunny, trilling, the folk Christina Aguilera, “I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar then it meant that you were a protest singer” are all things which came to mind. Wretched. Even the appearance of Guillemots’ frontman, Fyfe Dangerfield, and drummer Greig Stewart on a couple of songs didn’t help. She was still utterly and completely appalling. She was so bad that had I been given a choice of listening to her sing or puncturing my own eardrums with a skewer, I’d have gone for the skewer.

But it was over quickly and we soon got the lovely Guillemots. The Guillemots are another in an increasingly large number of indie bands who have chosen to eschew the usual ironic, misery-laden, angsty image that has long gone along with guitar bands. They join the likes of The Decemberists, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Boy Least Likely To, Belle & Sebastian and others in a growing movement of bands who use unusual instruments and instrumentation and for whom music and performance is about celebration. While they may at times be sentimental and bittersweet, they are rarely morose or angry. Their joy at being on stage and doing something they love is infectious and watching them perform is a joy to behold.

On the stage at the Academy 3, I was surprised, but they had less room than at the Leeds Cockpit. So much so they were practically tripping over each other. Fyfe had to squeeze round the drum kit and his keyboard setup to get into his big wooden chair. He was all smiles, tweed and a rather odd hat as he performed the opening song by himself. The rest of the band, carrying percussion, marched through the crowd before taking their places, Aristazabel Hawkes looking particularly glamourous and MC Lord Magrao daunting and a bit mad, particularly when he took to playing his guitar with an electric screwdriver across the strings.

The Guillemots play such melodic, epic and sweeping songs that read more like fairy tales about nature than barstool indie like the band appear that a cynic such as myself should be appalled with lines like “I love you with sparks and shining dragons I do,” but they do it with such innocence and honesty that it is hard not to get swept away by the theatricality of it all and the sincerity. Singles “Who Left the Lights Off Baby” and “Trains To Brazil” were festive, quiet moments were introspective but by far the highlight of the set was Fyfe’s solo performance of “Blue Would Still Be Blue” with only his slight plinking on a hand-held keyboard, performed with no microphone to the glee of much of the crowd. Even one loser shouting “You suck” did not throw him off course or cause his note-perfect rendition to falter. It’s rare that an artist puts themselves in front of the audience completely naked and raw like that and he was spectacular.

After returning for a rousing version of “Sao Paulo” the band decided to overlook the curfew and perform two new songs, one titled simply, “Sunday, May 21st” as that was the day it was written. They seem to fall firmly into the solid catalogue of sweeping Guillemots melody and I’m sure we can look forward to them on record in the near future.

This is a band that must be seen to be fully understood. They are charming and magnetic and put on a fantastic live show.

Posted by JustHipper on 29th May 2006 at 3:09 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews.

Gig Review: Alan Fletcher, The Walkabout, Manchester, May 17, 2006

“Alan Fletcher?” you ask. For those of you who aren’t saddoes or students, Alan Fletcher is Dr. Karl Kennedy on Neighbours, and, yes, I went to see him perform a gig. Why? Well, a work colleague who shares my love of live music said he’s brilliant live. And the idea of getting drunk and watching a 50+ Australian soap star sing cover versions of popular “indie” tunes sounded entertaining. So I agreed to go.

Oh, entertaining it was. For starters, the audience was full of people crowding to the front against the barrier. Proper fans and all. Second, we (well, I) made homemade t-shirts with his picture on them. It was meant to be funny. Several members of the fan club who have their own blog and website dedicated to him asked if I was from the forum. They were serious about how great he is.

Then there was the opening act: a 30-something Tiffany-alike who looked like a skeleton. Seriously. She should eat more. Hell, she should just eat. She was so bad the only way she got a reaction was by constantly mentioning Dr. Karl. Luckily she only did about 3 songs. Karaoke cover versions, I might add.

Then came the big man himself. Dr. Karl. The famous Dr. K. Luckily, he does not take himself that seriously. He did a set of mostly cover versions, including “Somebody Told Me” by the Killers which sounded better than their live rendition as he hit all the notes, “Wonderwall” by Oasis, “Do You Wanna” by Franz Ferdinand and the closer “We Are the Champions” by Queen, amongst others. He also did a couple of his own tunes. Cause he’s a musician you see. He has an album and everything. One of them was preceded by a lengthy monologue about Dr. Karl and was about his on-screen ex-wife, Susan. He also let each member of his band take the lead vocals on a song while he played guitar. He jumped about, he struck rock star poses, he enjoyed himself. It was fun.

So yeah. Dr. Karl Kennedy, not a bad perfomer. Only because he knew why people were there and he has a sense of humour about what he does. But I enjoyed it. Granted, I was very very very very drunk. But I did enjoy it cause he clearly was having fun and that always helps. Ho hum. And the next morning we drove off to All Tomorrow’s Parties. More on that soon.

Posted by JustHipper on 23rd May 2006 at 8:44 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Final Fantasy at The Circle Club, Manchester, 13th May 2006

At Swim Two Birds at The Circle ClubAny gig where you get a free cake on entry is gonna get the full support of JustHipper and I. This barely publicised outing for Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett, violinist for The Arcade Fire in his spare time) took place at The Circle Club, just off St Anne’s Square in Manchester, a private members club, though I suspect that very few of their members were among the audience last night. The club is not really set up to hold gigs and the stage was set up in the corner of the dance floor. Our cakes neatly polished off, we sat at the side of the stage to watch the first support of the evening, At Swim Two Birds, which was just one guy, Roger Quigley, a backing tape and a video projection. “Maudlin Karaoke” was Quigley’s own perfect description of his set as he did little throughout except sing to his backing tape and occasionally strum his guitar. The music was slow, melancholic, late night fare which reminded me of Tindersticks and Arab Strap and Spain; simplistic melodies played out over a sparse backing of acoustic guitar and drum machine. The projections were black and white stills and on a couple of songs the lyrics flashed up on screen in perfect time. Karaoke indeed, but an occasionally beautiful and moving karaoke, the final song ending with Quigley strumming along as a lone female voice repeated a haunting chorus over and over. It was a great set but with a live band it could be something really special.

Corey Dargel did not put in a great set. Even with two friends to help him there was a huge over reliance on backing tracks. It started promisingly with the curly-haired guy playing a conch and his female cohort strumming a guitar while Dargel sang what could have been a Magnetic Fields outtake, but I quickly tired of Dargel’s faux-operatic vocals and grew irritated by the ubiquitous backing tape which was occasionally augmented by a bit of live guitar, sax and percussion. Dargel himself only sang on a couple of the songs and did little but add the occasional backing vocals to his bandmate’s efforts.

Final Fantasy at The Circle ClubOwen Pallett doesn’t need backing tracks as he can conjure full symphonies from his violin and loop pedal. He is a brilliant violinist and is mesmerising to watch as he layers riff upon riff; sawing, plucking and hammering his strings; shouting into his pickups to produce an extraordinary sound. There was visual entertainment as well as crude animations were projected onto the back of the stage courtesy of a young woman and an overhead projector. “This Is The Dream Of Win And Regine” and “The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead” were early highlights from his Has A Good Home debut but the tracks from the new He Poos Clouds album, for some of which he was joined by a drummer, were particularly impressive. To top it all Pallett decided to play the entire A-side of OMD’s Dazzle Ships album and pulled it off magnificently. I’ve never heard this album all the way through as it was the point at which Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and I went our separate ways in the mid-Eighties, but I recognised “Telegraph” and am now desparate to hear the rest of it. There was no encore but that didn’t matter because Final Fantasy and free cakes made for a very fulfilling evening.

Posted by The Ledge on 17th May 2006 at 9:56 pm | comments (8)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: Morrissey, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, May 8, 2006

For the third installment of our Morrissey gig-going I was Ledge-less as the second leg of the Leeds-Preston playoff took precedence. Instead ticket number two went to a friend from Leeds, and as we don’t see each other terribly often, we forsook the two opening acts in favour of a couple of drinks and a girlie chat. When we finally took our seats about 5 minutes before the performance, we were surprised to see so much empty space which, I might add, never filled up. For a gig that sold out almost immediately it was blatantly obvious exactly how bad the touting problem has become as there were at least three empty seats in the first row, and patches of empty seats dotted around the theatre. I have a lot of respect for those fans who, unable to get tickets legitimately, refused to spend ridiculous amounts of money to line the pockets of extortionists.

When Morrissey finally came on stage and launched into the all-too-familiar opening trio of “First of the Gang,” “Still Ill” and “You Have Killed Me” I couldn’t contain myself from jumping up and dancing, but I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed that he had barely altered the setlist from every other night of the tour. Considering this was the last of four nights in Manchester and the Mozfather was clearly aware of the fact that his audience is loyal and many people had seen multiple shows as he asked the crowd how many people had been to all four nights; I don’t understand why he wasn’t changing the setlist around a bit more. Nonetheless, he sounded wonderful as always and put in a heartfelt performance. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the singer, and seemed very half-hearted. Even the attempts to rush the stage were rather feeble with the same four or five blokes with quiffs down front shaking his hand repeatedly and everyone else allowing security to brush them away with a wave of the hand. It was very very low-key for a Morrissey audience.

Highlights of the set were, once again, “Trouble Loves Me,” “I Just Want to See the Boy Happy” and “I Will See You in Far Off Places.” Sadly, another gripe, for a theatre designed to house the Halle Orchestra, the sound was abysmal, being extremely muddy and not even as good as in the Leeds Town Hall, which is a shame because Morrissey’s voice is as good as it’s ever been at the moment and I think we missed a lot of the nuances of his vocal performance as a result of the poor sound.

On the whole, I find it impossible not to enjoy a Morrissey gig, and I thought he was good, but it was certainly the weakest of the three shows and adds to my growing sentiment that the crowd makes the show as much as the performer.

Posted by JustHipper on 13th May 2006 at 12:30 pm | comments (16)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: The Fiery Furnaces, Manchester Night & Day, 4th May 2006

This was The Fiery Furnaces‘ first visit to Manchester since we saw them supporting Franz Ferdinand at the Academy just over two years ago. It seems like a long wait and since that gig they’ve released exactly four albums of dizzying prog pop including one recorded with their grandmother that I’ve yet to get a copy of, put off by reviewers seemingly no longer able to cope with their increasing eccentricity. Or maybe it’s shit, I guess I’ll buy it soon and find out.

Their latest album, Bitter Tea, is stunning, their best yet; an expertly concocted brew of beautiful pop and cunning experimentation. It’s heavily keyboard driven and there’s barely a guitar on it yet for this tour to promote it The Fiery Furnaces have left their keyboards at home and gone for a pared-down guitar, bass, drums, vocals combo. And it works a treat. The opening “Chris Michaels” sets the scene, constantly shifting pace as Eleanor and Matt Friedberger trade lines, Eleanor prowling the stage, looking intense, unhappy (her monitor wasn’t working, we find out later) while Matt plays his guitar like he’s trying to play three different parts at once. Monitor problems are sorted and the band fly through an excellent set consisting mainly of Bitter Tea tracks with the odd choice pick from their back catalogue. As you would expect most of them sound vastly different to their recorded versions, especially the new songs which, I’d like to think, sound like they did when they were written, before Matt took them into the studio and locked the door behind him. “Benton Harbor Blues”, “I’m In No Mood” and a frantic “Police Sweater Blood Vow” work brilliantly but the remodelled “Teach Me Sweetheart” is disappointing, especially as it’s my favourite song on the album, as are revamped versions of “My Dog Was Lost” and “Straight Street” which manage to lose some of the intensity of their recorded counterparts. Best of all is an aching “Black Hearted Boy” while “The Garfield El” from Rehearsing My Choir and the title track of that album are mesmerising with Eleanor’s dizzying wordplay a sight (and sound) to behold. How she memorises all those words and spits them out at such speed, I don’t know. But she does and it’s incredible and makes me regret that I haven’t bought that album yet. The bassist and drummer must also be applauded for some sterling work, providing a backbone upon which Matt could lay down his amazing, multi-faceted guitar parts. “Blueberry Boat” rounded off a great gig where punk battled it out with prog and everybody won.

Earlier we had quite enjoyed Scissors For Lefty from San Franscisco who sounded very British, being particularly influenced by The Libertines. They had some good songs including an excellent ballad during which the singer left the stage to walk among the sparse audience and briefly serenade JustHipper; it was the sort of track you’d hope The Strokes would be writing by now if they’d grown up and stopped reading the NME. Another song flew perilously close to Bravery territory but was redeemed by the fact that, well, Scissors For Lefty aren’t The Bravery and can do that sort of thing a whole lot better. They’re headlining the Night & Day later in the month and I might just find myself down there again.

Posted by The Ledge on 12th May 2006 at 7:43 pm | comments (5)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.

News: Grant McLennan R.I.P.

It is a very sad day for the world. On Saturday May 6, one of Australia’s premier songwriters and half of The Go-Betweens, Grant McLennan, died in his sleep at the age of 48.

We here at the Indie Credential are sat this afternoon in rather stunned silence at the news. We love the Go-Betweens around here and they are one of the first bands that we bonded over when we met, The Ledge having introduced me to their amazing music within about 2 weeks of our meeting.

Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

We suggest a Go-Betweens day in tribute. We shall be listening this afternoon ourselves.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th May 2006 at 3:08 pm | comments (3)
File under News.

Gig Review: The Boy Least Likely To, Manchester Academy 3, April 30, 2006

The Boy Least Likely ToI had only a vague idea of what to expect from The Boy Least Likely To having missed the previous Manchester gig due to illness and having only heard a couple of songs. I had the idea that they were a rather twee lot and probably very jolly on stage. Certainly The Ledge had been singing the praises of their live show, but had not rushed out after the album either, so I was wondering how they would match up to my expectations, but I was vaguely annoyed that M.C. Campervan, erm, sorry, B.C. Camplight were opening again, as I would have liked to see somebody I had not seen before.

Having said that, I really enjoyed B.C. Camplight when they arrived on stage. Where the sound had been appalling in Liverpool when they played with Calla, this time the sound was perfect and the crowd were very receptive, many seemed to know the songs quite well, and this always helps perk up a gig. They play very sweet songs which melodically remind me vaguely of the Guillemots but without their orchestral and epic tendencies. They also very much want to come over as quirky, what with the “signature bowler hat” which had been stolen, and a rather annoying keyboard player who was acting out the song lyrics with her ludicrous facial expressions. But, despite being slightly irritated by the forced eccentricity, I did enjoy the set, the songs are nice and I should probably explore them a bit further.

By the time The Boy Least Likely To came on stage I was very much ready for some good-natured musical celebration and they very much delivered. With lots of harmonies, acoustic niceness, stripey tops, fun percussion and a keyboard player that throws cakes to the audience, this was about as celebratory and genial a gig (despite the fucktards described elsewhere) as I’ve been to in a very long time. The band seemed to feel like being on stage performing was a celebration and it’s hard to watch people performing with such enjoyment of it and not get caught up in what they’re feeling. The performance was an expression of joy and it was rather contagious.

They play catchy acoustic-tinged pop songs which they deliver with an amazing zest and which have titles which defy their happy delivery such as “Monsters,” “Papercuts,” “Be Gentle With Me” and “My Tiger My Heart.” I really enjoyed watching The Boy Least Likely To because they were clearly enjoying playing music. Why The Ledge didn’t go out immediately and buy their album I don’t know but it is on my list of purchases for the week.

Posted by JustHipper on 1st May 2006 at 10:07 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,Reviews.