Archive for March, 2007

Gig Posters: The Decemberists Exhibition at The Richard Goodall Gallery, Manchester

The Decemberists by EmekRegular readers of this blog, if there are any, will know that we are big, big fans of The Decemberists but might not know that we are also avid collectors of gig posters and have been since we stumbled across the brilliant Gig Posters website about three years ago having spent a good year trying to find some original and appropriate artwork to adorn the walls of the conjugal home. As luck would have it one of Europe’s only gig poster art galleries, The Richard Goodall Gallery, was on our doorstep and soon works by the likes of Patent Pending, Tara McPherson, Print Mafia, David Witt, Jay Ryan and Emek were filling up those empty spaces on our walls while simultaneously creating even bigger empty spaces in our bank account.

The Decemberists by EmekThe current exhibition at The Richard Goodall Gallery, on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, is of posters from The Decemberists’ recent European Tour. The posters were commissioned by Richard Goodall himself and the artists include Jay Ryan, Emek (pictured, above), Guy Burwell, Justin Hampton, Small Stakes, Diana Sudyka, Leia Bell and Drew Millward. When JustHipper saw the exhibition she couldn’t help herself and, after a good few minutes of umming and aahing over the Jay Ryan and the Mike King (pictured, right) she plumped for the latter as it was for the Manchester gig we’d recently attended. I would urge you, if you haven’t already and if you live in the vicinity or are passing through, to visit the gallery and see the posters in the flesh as the pictures shown don’t do them justice at all. Then spend an hour or so rummaging around the thousands of other posters in the gallery basement and see if you can get out of there without being parted with a reasonably sized chunk of your hard-earned.

The exhibition runs until April 2007.

The Decemberists – Shanty For Arethusa

The Decemberists – Apology Song

Posted by The Ledge on 20th March 2007 at 6:35 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Posters,mp3.

Gig Review: James at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, March 16, 2007

James Setlist, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, March 16, 2007On Halloween in 1992, at the tender age of 19, I saw the most remarkable thing I had witnessed up to that point. It was James’ first U.S. tour and they were performing at the re-opening of a club called The Channel with the Tom Tom Club and the Soupdragons. I can’t remember much about what the other bands did that night but that James performance possibly changed my life. Seriously. In 1997, when James returned after a 3 year hiatus with their Whiplash album, I let a friend in England talk me into flying over for a couple of shows. So I talked another American friend into coming with me. On that tour I fell in love with Manchester, decided to apply to graduate school at the University of Manchester, came over to study, met The Ledge and never looked back (or went back, for that matter), all this because of my youthful obsession with James.

James simply are one of the foundations of my musical experience and even though they were never quite the same after Larry Gott departed to study design at Manchester Met in 1997, watching them play always gave me a thrill. So much so that I’ve probably done that around 70 times at this point. Along the way, with the help of a mate, I founded a James website, made some amazing friends, and travelled the length and breadth of Britain with a group of like-minded people. At every James show between 1997-2001, wherever we turned up, there was always a group of people we knew offering us a bed for the night, up for a friendly drink and ready to enjoy the show. When Tim left in 2001, we made our final tour of the country after them, cried our eyes out at Wembley Arena and started taking bets on when the comeback tour would happen.

Tim Booth of James at Hoxton GigSo, when the announcement arrived that the band were reforming with the 1994 lineup to release a new Best Of, a new album and, play a tour, intercontinental arrangements were hastily made, gig tickets bought and the anticipation has been rife. Bearing this in mind, imagine my excitement and my surprise when Dave over at One of the Three sent me a text at about 11am on Thursday morning telling me that James were playing a secret gig in London the following night and there was a link to buy tickets on his website. A hasty conversation with Su from the Change of Scenery fanzine and some minor pleading with my boss later, I had a bus ticket, a gig ticket and plans to make my way down south the following morning. The Ledge, on the other hand, told me I was mental and said that they only way he’d go all that way for one gig was if there was a chance they were going to play his favourite James track, ‘If Things Were Perfect.’ But, he said, we both knew that would never happen again.

So there I was about 30 hours later standing inside the Hoxton Bar and Grill with a group of familiar faces waiting to get into the room where the gig would take place listening to James soundcheck ‘Seven’ and ‘Stripmining.’ We knew it was going to be special, and not just in a watching-an-arena-band-play-their-first-gig-in-six-years-to-250-people sort of way.

Sure enough, we were in for a special night. Upon taking the stage, Tim Booth, wearing a sling on his right arm for a shoulder injury, told us that we were in for an unusual set as they were going to play a range of songs from their whole career, including a couple of new songs and a couple they had never played live. True to his promise they launched into ‘Seven,’ a track we’re pretty sure they haven’t played on stage since 1992. It sounded odd, a bit lacking in punch, but the band looked a bit nervous to be back on stage and the crowd did not quite know how to react, holding unusually way back for a James gig as there was none of the usual elbows to the head and chanting. ‘Destiny Calling’ saw the band pick up a bit of pace and some confidence, as Larry Gott in particular was finding it hard to disguise his enjoyment and Tim struggled to keep from dancing and doing himself further injury. By the time they reached the first new song in the set, ‘Who Are You,’ they were ready to reveal their future to the crowd. It opened with a serious rock riff, driven by Larry Gott, and sounded quite a departure from the muddy MOR pop-rock of the final two James albums.

The first real treat of the night, however, arrived with ‘Play Dead,’ possibly my favourite track off Whiplash, and one I do not ever remember having seen them perform before. They followed it up with a rowdy version of ‘Fine’ off Pleased to Meet You, also receiving its first ever live outing. The crowd still seemed subdued but Tim gave us all a big smile as he announced an old song before launching into ‘Stripmining.’ And oh wow! Not only did I never expect to hear anything that old live ever again, but in such a manner, standing three feet from them as Saul twisted back and forth madly on his violin and Larry looked intense. They followed it up with ‘Really Hard’ off Stutter, just Tim, Jim and Larry, the rest of the band standing back and watching their founding fathers. ‘5-0’ was an absolute corker, despite being so serious and quiet, both Tim and Larry couldn’t contain giant grins as they sang.

Larry Gott of James at Hoxton GigIt was, surprisingly, ‘Getting Away With It’ that finally got the crowd dancing and singing along. Now, I don’t know if the crowd were unfamiliar with the earlier songs, I’d be surprised if they were, but I never expected the biggest reception of the night to be for one of the later, poorer singles. It absolutely sparkled on the night as we all sang and danced in unison. The band used the momentum to throw in a second new song, called ‘Chameleon’ and tipped to be the next single released in conjunction with the new Singles package in April. It was another guitar-driven rock stomper with a catchy chorus and I’m looking forward to hearing it without loads of accidental feedback.

As the band brought themselves into the home stretch it was going to be hits all the way as they cracked on with ‘Say Something’ and ‘Sometimes’ before deciding to forego leaving the stage before the encore as they’d have had to walk through the crowd to do so. So they went straight into, yes, ‘If Things Were Perfect,’ thereby making The Ledge eternally jealous and me incredibly gleeful. The electric version of ‘Protect Me’ followed, a song I’d only seen done acoustically during the Laid tour in 1994. They finished off with resoundingly joyful renditions of ‘Ring the Bells’ and ‘Laid,’ despite the set list indicating ‘Come Home’ instead.

Saul Davies of James at Hoxton GigThis was such a surreal night in general that I don’t know if I’m more surprised by the shocked and subdued crowd and band or the riskiness of such an unexpected setlist but even though it was one of the least wild James gigs I’ve seen, it will probably be one of the most memorable. On the basis of last night’s performance, I am more excited about their upcoming gigs than I ever thought I would be because it looks like they’ve rekindled their love of just playing together. If they really make it about being on stage playing the songs they want to play rather than churning out the hits and trying to write top 40 smash singles then maybe we will see James make a return to form. On the evidence of the two new tracks, they’re certainly trying something a little different and maybe the new material will show a bit of that old spark and see a real welcome return to form.

Now, one last thing for the James faithful. It looks like Change of Scenery are going to produce a new paper-and-ink edition of their fanzine. This can’t happen without actual contributions from fans. If you’re interested in submitting something to the fanzine, an old review of a song, gig or album, or just an editorial about something you like or some personal James history, contact me on justhipper [at] indiecredential dot com and I will pass your details onto the appropriate party. If they get enough submissions to produce a full issue, you’ll be able to buy it outside the gigs in April and possibly via post as well. Personally, I miss the old paper fanzine and so it would be nice to see enough submissions come into bring this one back, at least.

All the photos from the gig are courtesy of Su Gardner at the Change of Scenery Fanzine. Thanks Su!

James – If Things Were Perfect

James – Play Dead

Posted by JustHipper on 17th March 2007 at 7:21 pm | comments (16)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

Great Band, Shit Album #1: REM – New Adventures In Hi-Fi

New Adventures In Hi-Fi coverThis slight variation in our occasional Great Band, Shit Song feature has been inspired by this post on the excellent Song, by Toad blog, which, in turn, was inspired by a comment I made on this post on the same blog. It’s pretty much a given that REM’s two most recent albums, Reveal and Around The Sun, are their worst, but New Adventures In Hi-Fi, seems to have split the critical vote with well-respected bloggers like Toad’s Matthew and James from Yer Mam! coming down heavily in its favour, while I have some serious issues with it.

New Adventures In Hi-Fi was recorded on the final American leg of REM’s appropriately named Monster world tour of 1995, and is a mix of studio and live recordings, some recorded during soundchecks, one in the dressing room. The four studio tracks are, by and large, fine: the opening atmospherics of “How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us” sees the band brimming with new ideas and, for a moment at least, can justify the album’s title, as can “E-bow The Letter”, one of the best of their 90s output. “New Test Leper” is bright and melodic, which is not something you could say about much of the rest of the album. “Be Mine” I’ll deal with later.

A couple of songs aside, the rest of the album grinds me down, puts a cartoon black cloud over my head and makes me ever so slightly depressed. I can rarely get through it from start to finish. The rot usually sets in during the leaden “Undertow” and though alleviated a little by “E-bow”, returns for the lengthy, sprawling “Leave”. Now “Leave” isn’t a bad song at all, on its own it’s very good indeed, but when keeping close company with the likes of “Undertow” and the dire “Departure” its 7 minutes becomes a chore. The main problem with all these songs is in the way they sound and the absolute lack of variation in that sound, particularly Peter Buck’s ubiquitous overdriven guitar which, after a few songs, begins to seriously grate and by the time we reach the abysmal chorus of the “Bittersweet Me”, when Buck manages to find the knob on his effects pedal that makes suddenly makes the sound fives times more offensive, I’m usually reaching for the skip button.

There are occasional moments of brilliance that rise above the dark fog that envelops the the majority of the album. “The Wake-Up Bomb” has a cracking chorus but it is let down by Michael Stipe’s annoying vocal mannerisms in the verses (yes, I know he’s probably meant to sound like that given that he’s playing a braggart rock star but it’s still annoying). “Be Mine” is a great song but should have been saved for “Up” where, with a bit of drum machine and a dab of electronica, it would have shone. “Binky The Doormat” also has a decent chorus but Jesus, there’s that godawful guitar sound again grating against the phoned-in melody of the verses, and that title has to be worst that Stipe has ever come up with; that anyone has ever come up with. “Zither” is a typically redundant REM instrumental but it comes as blessed light relief after the turgid mess that has come before. “So Fast, So Numb” is another great chorus let down by a poor verse while the grungey “Low Desert” is so utterly forgettable that I’ve no idea what it goes like despite having listened to it many times, the last one being just a few minutes ago.

At the end of all this the band finally get it right with “Electrolite”, Mike Mills’ twinkling piano and Stipe’s effortless vocal melody, not to mention the beautiful violin break midway through, making up one of the finest moments of the band’s career. It was recorded at a soundcheck but it sounds like the band really put the effort into the sound and the arrangement. The other live tracks pale in comparison, they’re thick and bloated and lack any kind of variation or nuance, sounding as big and as empty as the stadiums they were recorded in. Had the band taken them into the studio and worked on them properly then they may have made a half decent album instead of the poorly conceived, poorly sequenced, overlong mess that is New Adventures In Hi-Fi.


REM – Bittersweet Me


REM – Electrolite

Posted by The Ledge on 16th March 2007 at 6:57 pm | comments (6)
File under CD Reviews,Reviews.

Gig Review: The Killers, Birmingham NEC, February 18, 2007

What a difference a night makes!. After the show in Manchester, I felt there was something missing. Don’t get me wrong, visually it was good and the sound was electric, but I expected more. Leaving for the long drive down to Birmingham just before 3pm, I still was not sure of what to expect and after several pit stops we arrived at The Maze, aka the NEC car park. It was here the evening began, when we collected our tickets we then went and found something to eat in the NEC canteen. We exchanged our tickets for wristbands on the promise that if we purchased some of the overpriced, mediocre food we would be let in to the arena first. True to their word, we were first in at the strike of 6pm, and using knowledge gleaned from last night’s show, I knew exactly where to stand to the nearest millimetre in front row.

First up was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club whose performance had vastly improved from the last time JustHipper had seen them, yet they still did not impress. In fact, the whole highlight of these guys was the heckling we were doing and the fact we managed to muster up a smirk from Peter Hayes as Just Hipper shouted out “Bohemian Like You!” The long wait then became unbearable as the surprisingly orderly crowd waited and watched the roadies set the stage and string the white cloth across the front.

At 9:15pm, in true Las Vegas style, the ‘show’ began with a film of pictures from the Sam’s Town album leading the crowd to explode in anticipation before the sheet dropped to unveil The Killers in the flesh with their opening number ‘Sam’s Town’ before seamlessly segueing into ‘Interlude’ and ‘When You Were Young.’ Next up was their recent single ‘Bones’ where I got to sing my own version, prompted by JustHipper’s filthy interpretation, as Brandon Flowers stood approximately 1 meter in front of me. Like in Manchester, they were on form and the sound was excellent. The energy carried on through ‘Somebody Told Me,’ the first of three off the Hot Fuss album which included ‘Jenny’ and ‘Smile,’ during which Brandon came over and pointed his mic stand at me, bringing all these uncontrollable teenage pangs I once felt over ten years ago. OK, I lie, I just never have grown up!

I was recently ask why I thought the Killers had become so big and although I could not think of a bona fide reason at that time. However, the next song, ‘Read My Mind’ explained it all, as you could really see how humble this band remain, despite their ascent into stardom. The sheer depth of shyness the band possess could only been seen at close proximity, but it certainly is and was endearing, although at heart they are showmen and the show went on with ‘River Is Wild,’ ‘Bling’ and ‘Why Do I Keep Counting’ which is the only song on the new album that I feel is semi-autobiographical.

I can remember the first time I sat up and noticed the next song: it was 5th Ave, 27th August 2005 and it was the moment I became The Killers number one fan through ‘Mr Brightside.’ This was the moment for which I had waited 18 months and gone through such disappointment with no tickets at their Blackpool show and no tickets for the November 2006 tour, but it all became worth it.

After a short break, they returned on top form with ‘My List. Then the cover version of ‘Shadow Play,’ which, while I still believe it suited Brandon’s vocal range, I was still disappointed thinking they would play something different and perhaps this was just saved for Manchester. This song appears to be a permanent part of the set as Brandon commented on three girls who had been front row the previous two nights as they would know the song. It’s a good job they backed this track up with my new favourite from the Sam’s Town album, ‘For Reasons Unknown,’ where they could do no wrong and ‘All These Things I Have Don’e which for reasons only I and one other know now reminds me of T in the Park 2006. It was then the boys said their goodbyes with a dimly lit stage to sing ‘Exitlude.’

Now things would not be normal if I told you that was it. As the crowd dispersed, we noticde another crowd racing for the front as it was here that the roadies were giving out the live flowers on stage to the remaining girls at the front, so I stole my chance to get Brandon Flowers’ Flower. Just Hipper was off returning a favour, as she – the legend that she is – scored the full set list of the evening from a security guard, making my already perfect evening even more perfect.

The Killers – “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself”

Posted by Bricking Chick on 14th March 2007 at 8:44 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: Arcade Fire, Manchester Apollo, 9th March 2007

As good as the Arcade Fire were on their first night at the Apollo they were certainly below their best, putting in a relatively subdued performance by their standards and failing to really ignite until right at the end when they played some old favourites from Funeral. They only really scratched the surface of the Arcade Fire live experience but tonight, thankfully, they were back on blistering form while we were back upstairs, seated again almost directly in front of where we were sat last night.

Last night it was a scintillating version of “No Cars Go” that, roughly seven songs in, finally saw the band, and the audience, come to life; tonight they opened with it and never looked back. “Black Mirror” followed and was taut and menacing while “Keep The Car Running” was greeted like an old favourite but sounded fresh and vital with Régine Chassagne providing some excellent drones on the hurdy gurdy. The two Neon Bible tracks that they missed out last night got an airing; the quiet title track was all but drowned out by the audience foolishly clapping along but “Windowsill” was sublime, its understated yet powerful chorus sending shivers down the spine.

Perhaps the song that confirmed their return to form tonight was “Haiti” which was very good last night but overwhelmingly brilliant tonight with the whole band rising up in unison to deliver an incredible final verse while Will Butler, situated high above the rest of the band in front of the organ pipes, went crazy with a tambourine. The crowd went mad; young girls may well have fainted, though I didn’t see any. “Crown Of Love” also seemed to tug at the heartstings just a little more than it did the previous night but “Ocean Of Noise”, a curiously downbeat set closer last night, lost its way a little until the very end when the band brought their instruments to a magnificent crescendo to usher in the familiar opening to “Rebellion (Lies)”, which, like last night, was the cue for everyone upstairs to get off their arses and dance. The atmosphere upstairs was certainly a lot better tonight and there was a veritable party going on for the closing stretch of “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)” and “Intervention”, which disappointed as a rather flat opener last night but closed the main set tonight with the band doing full justice to probably the best song off the new album.

They returned for an energetic reading of the none-more-Springsteen rush of “(Antichrist Television Blues)” and left the stage again leaving me worried that that was it. However, they returned again moments later to put the icing on the cake. If you haven’t witnessed the Arcade Fire playing “Wake Up” then you haven’t lived. (Picture me here making an ‘L’ shape with my index finger and thumb and raising it to my forehead, before realising that it’s not 2001 anymore and slinking off, slightly embarrased). It is truly an incredible thing and when they opened with it at the Leeds Festival a couple of years ago it was one of the most memorable moments of my very long gig-going career. Tonight, once again, it was stunning, awesome, insurpassable; the band and audience coming together as one to deliver its brilliant, joyous, anthemic refrain; Win Butler sounding bruised and fragile in the verses but rallying for an almighty conclusion. The best live band in the world are back and, sadly, on this evidence it’ll probably be arenas next time round.

Arcade Fire – Intervention

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

Posted by The Ledge on 10th March 2007 at 1:19 am | comments (4)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: Arcade Fire, Manchester Apollo, 8th March 2007

An Open Letter to the Arcade Fire:

Dear Arcade Fire,

On behalf of those of us in the seating area of the Manchester Apollo on your current tour I beseech you to stop playing venues which are even partially seated. For starters, when you start your performance a bit flat I find it more noticeable because I don’t have the crowd to pull me along. Even when you’re beginning a show with the three best tracks off your new album, “Intervention,” Black Mirror” and “Keep the Car Running,” I realise it can take time to build up steam – if half the audience were not sitting down trying to decide if and when it was appropriate to stand, you would have felt a lot more love from the crowd for the new songs. You must have felt it, you held yourselves back for a long while last night.

Your performances are so full of chaos and verve that it is very difficult to watch you without jumping up, singing along and joining in. Sitting down takes a great deal away from this, especially when everybody around you is also sitting politely and quietly. Your new songs are so immediate, I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who was entirely frustrated by the mid-way point when you played a masterful version of “No Cars Go.” I could see the odd person stand, only to be asked to sit back down by security. By this point though, you were up to full force, I could feel your sincerity from way at the back and I wanted to see the expressions on your faces. Even the people sat across the front of the stage had to stand up, move to the side. Even the normally quiet “Haiti” was beautifully done, Regine sounded lovelier than ever and her emphatic delivery and the manic rushing around on stage made me tap my feet. I thought “My Body Is a Cage” was breathtaking, it really delivered its point in the live setting and as it swelled to a close I could feel the divide between the people getting the full force and those of us sat in the rafters, watching the gig unfold.

It was not until the closing stages of the show, after you’d played nearly the whole of your amazing new record, that finally, finally those of us in the cheap seats felt a part of the proceedings. I could hear singing when you began “Crown of Love,” and a few people stood up during “Power Out” and I felt I could join in. By “Rebellion,” when Win dove into the crowd and dragged a group of people onto the stage to dance with him, the atmosphere finally reached that normal frenzied point where everybody was on their feet singing. This made the night feel like a proper Arcade Fire gig as the dancers mimed into light bars and dove into the crowd. Although the encore of “Tunnels” and “Ocean of Noise” was a bit more subdued, it melted into a real gig, like we were there instead of watching from afar, and in the end I walked away with a smile on my face in anticipation of tonight’s second round.

Oh Arcade Fire, you are one of, if not the best live band on the planet and the joy of your shows is being able to share in the hope and happiness you bring to the room. Sitting down makes the crowd feel one-step removed from the experience, especially when we are so far away and you look no bigger than figures on a television screen. Please consider this plea, next time you come through town, don’t make us sit. Find somewhere for us all to stand and celebrate your songs along with you.

Many thanks,

Arcade Fire – My Body Is A Cage

Arcade Fire – Crown Of Love

Posted by JustHipper on 9th March 2007 at 4:43 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: Polytechnic & Cherry Ghost, Manchester Academy 3, February 24, 2007

This should have been up days ago, but I’ve been suffering from a nasty ear infection and have not been in the mood for reviewing, so apologies. It also means it probably will not be the most coherent review ever. Coming from me that may be trouble, but I’ll do my best.

We really like Polytechnic around Indie Cred HQ and were intrigued by Cherry Ghost’s performance on Jools Holland a few months ago, so needless to say we were pleased to see these two upcoming local acts co-headlining a show together. After our rather crazy two weeks of gigs, however, we did not have the energy to get there early enough for the first band. When we did get down to the Uni, the gig was sold out and I ended up queuing at the bar through the first two songs. That’s fifteen minutes in the queue to get two drinks. It would have been faster but for the notoriously slow and useless Student Union barstaff and the rudest group of punters ever. Now normally, blokes let me in front of them at the bar if they can tell I’ve been waiting ages. This time, I had a bloke twice my size elbow me out of his way, apologise and then order, delaying my getting served by a good five minutes because he was ordering drinks for about 30 people by the looks of it. I had another rubbing up against me from behind. It was not so crowded that he needed to do that, especially after he had space to move to the bar next to me and he stayed put. Then a nice girl in a very ridiculous anorak first put her elbow into Ledge’s pint, nearly spilling it across me. When I said “Careful!” to alert her to stop backing up into the pint and me, she called me a rude name and told me to chill out. Needless to say, by the time I got back to The Ledge with his pint I was rather irritated. People really should be more aware of other people, especially in a crowd.

As for Cherry Ghost, I think The Ledge was more impressed than I, although I did not dislike them. The first couple of songs were quite catchy, folky pop. At times they reminded me a great deal of the better moments of Starsailor. At times they just sounded very MOR and uninspired. It’s early days for them though so hopefully a good producer will help them bring out the more interesting ideas in their songs. More I couldn’t tell you because it’s been over a week and I was not familiar with their canon at all. It did not help that all I could see were the backs of the blokes in front of me in the crowd.

Clearly Cherry Ghost have some buzz around them, possibly off the back of that same television appearance we saw, as a large part of the crowd disappeared when the left the stage. It made queuing at the bar a lot easier the second time. It also meant we were able to move down to the front for Polytechnic, where I could actually see. The Ledge pointed out, as he could read the setlist, that “Caring Is Creepy” was the last song. The idea of Polytechnic covering The Shins actually gives me goosebumps. It’s a brilliant prospect. Sadly, it didn’t happen. But, the songs they did play were great, as usual. They’ve certainly plowed their own Mancunian furrow, and the combination of Manchester rhythms and keyboard sounds and those gleeful American indie-style guitars, make me want to sing along and dance every time. They jog through their set like it’s a party and the likes of older single “Pep” and new single “Cold-Hearted Business” do not offer a great deal of variety, but they provide wonderfully catchy, singalong tunes. The album is out in April and hopefully it will make this band a household name across the country.

Polytechnic – Man Overboard

Posted by JustHipper on 6th March 2007 at 7:17 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Gig-goer of the Week,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Review: Tokyo Police Club, Manchester Night & Day, 28th February 2007

I was surprised to find that last night’s Tokyo Police Club gig at the Night & Day was sold out and, having only heard a couple of their tracks and getting tickets to the gig on a whim, wondered how they had got so popular so quickly. JustHipper was poorly so she never got the chance to find out, and the band themselves were perplexed, asking at one point for members of the audience to raise their hand if they knew why the venue was full. No one obliged, but after their 40 minute set the answer was fairly obvious.

The began with the entirely predictable set opener “Cheer It On”, one of those two songs I’d previously heard and the one that mentions “Tokyo Police Club” a lot and sounds like an agreeable collision between The Strokes and The Replacements. They even had three big cards with the words “Tokyo”, “Police” and “Club” on them which they raised at the right moment. It was a good start.

To be honest I was expecting the whole gig to consist of pretty much more of the same: loud, brash statements, angular guitars and little in the way of subtlety. Thankfully I was way off the mark and I became more and more impressed as the gig wore on. The songs were chock full of restless melodies and were never interested in staying in the same place for too long. When a song had said all it had to say it ended there and then rather than repeat choruses ad nauseum or rely on instrumental breaks for the sake of longevity. This was a refreshing approach and meant that songs rarely hit the three minute mark and that they could cram in plenty of them in their short time on the stage. Their arrangements were excellent, too, and they weren’t afraid to occasionally drop instruments out of the mix entirely and have just drums and bass going while the guitarist and keyboard player clapped hands or crashed tambourines. Though the singer/bassist was the obvious focal point of the band the other members put in excellent contributions; the drummer worked his socks off, often appearing to be playing twice as fast as his relatively laconic band members; the guitarist produced waves of effects-laden, almost shoegazey, noise while the keyboard player built on this to give the band quite an expansive sound, at some points sounding much like fellow Canadians Broken Social Scene, which is no mean feat for a four piece. The keyboard player also provided backing vocals but rarely chose to use his microphone, shouting out at the top of his voice yet still managing to be heard over the din of the instruments.

The other song I’d heard previously was “Citizens Of Tomorrow”, which was obviously a crowd favourite, and it was fantastic, sounding like a cross between Sophtware Slump era Grandaddy and Photo Album era Death Cab For Cutie, which, as far as I’m concerned, is high praise indeed. Death Cab For Cutie comparisons cropped up elsewhere and I think that’s something to do with the juxtaposition of the deft melodies and relentless drumming. Whatever, this was an excellent gig and the fact that the better songs on the night tended to be the ones that the singer said were new shows that Tokyo Police Club could have a very bright future and should be selling out bigger places than the Night & Day next time they come to Manchester.

Tokyo Police Club – Citizens Of Tomorrow (Space Ballad Version)

Posted by The Ledge on 1st March 2007 at 11:49 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.