Archive for July, 2008

Gig Review: Daniel Johnston and Friends @ New Century Hall, Manchester, 24th July 2008

Daniel Johnston and Friends, New Century Hall, ManchesterI’ve never seen what all the fuss is about Daniel Johnston. Granted, I haven’t really made an effort to listen to the guy, apart from seeing the film “The Devil And Daniel Johnston” in which his music takes a backseat to his sad decline into serious mental illness. It was his “friends” on this outing that gave us the excuse to check him out; friends like Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse fame, Scout Niblett and Yo La Tengo’s James McNew.

There were short support sets from four of the friends, though sadly James McNew didn’t get a solo outing, instead he seemed happy to provide bass playing services throughout the evening. Jad Fair was first up and was highly entertaining, almost comedic, bashing away at a tiny electric guitar with no discernable skill while McNew and Blake provided backing for his lo-fi slacker rock. Scout Niblett was far more serious, her opener coming on like the sort of sparse that Jason Molina is so good at while she accompanied herself on drums for the cheery “We’re All Gonna Die”. Norman Blake was a bit of a letdown, unfortunately. I personally don’t think that TFC rockers like “I Don’t Want Control Of You” translate particularly well to an acoustic setting, although “He’d Be A Diamond” and the Scottish folk tune he played fared a little better. He ended with a new song that is no doubt destined for the next Fanclub release and sounded exactly like you’d expect. Mark Linkous seemed a bit cheerier on this occasion that I’m used to seeing him – he actively encouraged the crowd to sing along to “Homecoming Queen” – but we had to make do with just three short songs, acoustic again, which didn’t feel like nearly enough, though a rare outing for “The Most Beautiful Widow in Town” was most welcome.

After being slightly underwhelmed with the support I feared I might be more underwhelmed with the main event when the portly, trembling Daniel Johnston took to the stage alone and began to play. It seemed a real struggle for him, hunched over his music stand – presumably reading the lyrics – while clumsily fumbling the chord changes as if he’d only picked up a guitar for the first time the day before. There was a strange childlike innocence to the performance but there was no denying the quality of the songs, and, indeed, the gravity of the lyrics. I might have struggled to enjoy an entire performance of this so was slightly relieved when he left the stage after two songs and returned five minutes later with friends in tow. From this point on the gig was a delight. Johnston stuck to vocals while the rest provided a sturdy backing with Linkous, Niblett and Blake on guitar for the most part while Jad Fair spent the entire gig sitting on the stage banging a drum. Two songs I recognised – “Speedy Motorcycle” and “Hey, Joe” – were played early on and sounded better than I remember them being, particularly the latter which takes on The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and wins hands down. The cover of the same band’s “Rain” was almost as successful while a couple of energetic rockers – “Rock This Town” and “Rock and Roll” (I think) – caught the attention with some excellent shouty backing vocals from Niblett.

Johnston seemed to grow in confidence as the gig progressed and was much more lucid when recounting stories behind some of the songs than when he first came on the stage and stumbled over the band introductions, which he seemed to be reading off a sheet. After a sweet reading of “True Love Will Find You In The End” with Linkous for the encore he ended the set unaccompanied with the harrowing “Devil Town” and I must say that he did win me over in the end as the brilliance of his songwriting shone through on almost everything he and his friends played on the night. The non-stop involuntary shaking of his left arm was a constant reminder that he is not remotely in the best of health but it’s a blessing that he has the strength and courage, and the help of some good friends, to be able to continue doing what he was clearly put on Earth to do.

Daniel Johnston – True Love Will Find You In The End

Sparklehorse – Hey, Joe

Posted by The Ledge on 30th July 2008 at 8:43 pm | comments (3)
File under daniel johnston,Gig Reviews,mp3,Reviews.

The Indie Cred Manchester Music Guide: 28th July – 3rd August 2008

As usually happens when the school holidays hit, the gigs dry up a little. With the Academy closing its doors for a couple of weeks there are few what you might call “name” bands coming to town in the immediate future, although Billy Idol plays the MEN Arena on Wednesday and friend of the blog Bricking Chick may well be going along and hopefully reporting on the experience. Also on Wednesday, Brooklyn electro duo Ratatat play the Roadhouse with support from local post-rockers Laymar. At the Roadhouse on Thursday there is an excellent line-up of local talent with Magic Arm and This Is My Lawnmower playing support to the hotly-tipped Delphic, who boast two former members of defunct and slightly dull indie hobbits Snowfight In The City Centre among their ranks but promise a whole lot more. Not only this but behind the decks for the evening is fellow blogger DJ Grammar of Black Country Grammar fame, a busy man these days given that he has collaborated with James from Yer Mam! to bring you Dig For Victory!, a new club night at the Bay Horse pub on Thomas Street which kicks off tonight (Sunday 27th) and will take place on the last Sunday of every month.

Sheffield’s Bromheads Jacket play the Ruby Lounge on Friday with Orphan Boy in support but the main event of the week, as far as we’re concerned, is the A Day At The Races festival which takes place on Saturday at the Night & Day and MoHo Live, having originally been scheduled to take place on two stages at New Century Hall. Proceedings begin with Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening at Moho Live at 4:30pm with other bands at MoHo including Elf Power, Jeffrey Lewis and Los Campesinos! while the likes of Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Bearsuit and Múm play the Night & Day. I hope the weather cools a little next Saturday because a packed Night & Day is like a sauna on even the chilliest of nights.

Posted by The Ledge on 27th July 2008 at 10:04 pm | comments (1)
File under gig guide,manchester gigs.

Indie Cred Answers Your Questions about Indie Music

Most people don’t realise but when you come to our blog from a search engine we can tell what you were searching for. We get a lot of unusual search queries bringing people to us, and often we can tell what information they’re looking for which they probably aren’t finding. Now, we aim to provide good service to our readers so this is the first in what I will try to make an ongoing feature where we try to provide the information that music fans are trying to found out there on the great World Wide Web. Here goes.

andy diagram james woman – Umm, as far as I am aware, he is a bloke. I’ve met him and he was pretty manly. He was also very friendly. He does have a penchant for wearing dresses on stage if that’s what you wanted to know.

best indie music of 2008 so far – That’s a tough one, there’s so much I’m enjoying right now. My favourite albums this year so far are probably Dig! Lazarus, Dig!! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Stay Positive by the Hold Steady, Invitation Songs by the Cave Singers, The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit, Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket (well, the second half), Visiter by Dodos and the Jaguar Love album whose name currently escapes me. I’m sure there’s a few others I’m forgetting in my heat coma. In case you’re interested, I’m also still obsessed with Boxer by The National, Cease to Begin by Band of Horses and The Stage Names by Okkervil River.

beth ditto weight problems – Why yes, she has them. Enough about it already though.

blogs on leeds festival – We’re not specifically a blog on Leeds Festival, but we’ve been a bunch of times. It used to be a great festival. Last year it was pretty fucking terrible. Read what we’ve written about: Leeds Festival 2007, Leeds Festival 2005

bob mould the hold steady – I’m guessing somebody’s seen a review comparing the new Hold Steady album to Bob Mould and Husker Du. There is a definite influence, which The Ledge mentioned in his review of Stay Positive by the Hold Steady.

does brandon flowers ever feel nervous with fans – Now I’m guessing this depends on the fans. I mean if you’re a lovely young lady gushing over how gorgeous he is, that may make him a little uncomfortable. If you’re a 40-year-old man asking him questions about being a Mormon in the music industry, possibly less so.

drunk woman can’t stand video – Are you looking for a specific person here? I don’t mind video myself, even when I am a bit drunk. In fact, I’d had a few drinks last night before The Ledge put on an old VHS recording of REM on MTV Unplugged and I rather enjoyed watching it! You might try YouTube for video.

female indie singers – We like female indie singers around here. If it’s recommendations you’re after, I’m particularly appreciative of the work of PJ Harvey, Kim Deal, Tanya Donelly, Kristin Hersh, Neko Case, Joanna Newsom and Kim Gordon.

indie comb-over – Ahh, this is a particular hairstyle that indie boys who are starting to thin at the front seem to like. Grow your hair a bit long and make sure you have that messed-up, just got out of bed look so when your hair is combed forward onto your forehead a bit, it looks like it’s fashionable rather than disguising a receding hairline. The guy who opened for Devastations a while back had one. He was pretty good. You can read about the gig by following this link.

why tolerate pit moshing – The simple answer is because you’ve been silly enough to stand front and centre at a gig with moshing and if you move you won’t be able to see. The better answer is because people mosh and this is because sometimes moshing is fun – like at Art Brut gigs and Wedding Present gigs. The reason there is a section of a gig called a “pit” is cause that’s where you go to mosh. Either stand to one side, stand behind it or join in. Don’t stand in the middle of it and moan cause it’s happening.

we met on train after springsteen concert 2008 – No, I’m pretty sure we did not. I’ve never been to a Springsteen gig, sadly.

run naked through the grass – Really? Honestly, I don’t think you’d find watching it that enjoyable. Sorry to disappoint but I’m far too shy to attempt public nudity. Feel free to try it yourself though.

And that wraps up this week’s public service posting. If we get some more “questions” via search queries we’ll try and answer those too.
Posted by JustHipper on 27th July 2008 at 4:31 pm | comments (10)
File under Indie Music Answers.

CD Review: Brett Anderson, Wilderness (2008)

I wasn’t going to do this, but we’ve actually been getting some traffic from people looking for it so….

A friend sent me a link to a leaked copy of the second solo album from Brett Anderson about a month ago. I played it once. Yesterday I decided that was unfair so I put it on my iPod and started to play it a second time on the way to the bus for work. I made it through about a minute and a half of the first song before revulsion overtook me and I had to turn it off.

The best way to describe Brett Anderson’s newest offering is that if I didn’t know who he was and I had never been a Suede fan and somebody played this for me, I probably wouldn’t remember what it sounded like 5 minutes later. Musically it’s one long dirgeful whinge. He’s record-label-less and probably can’t afford to hire a studio band so instead he’s decided to pretend that he’s going for gravitas and so it’s piano and cello. Except there’s no texture to anything because he was never the musical one in Suede so it just drones. Not only that but the album is nine songs long and at least 2 of them have been released before, although in slightly different form. Of those two, “Back to You” has been out twice before, both different versions. The first two were pretty good, it’s the best thing he’s done post-Tears. The version on Wilderness, with horrendous female vocals courtesy of, I’m told, Roman Polanski’s wife, ruins the song so badly that I may never be able to listen to it again. Cheers Brett.

The same friend who sent me the link for the album reckons that lyrically it’s Brett Anderson’s best work in years. It may well be, but any credibility he had left went out the door when he was singing about how wanting stuff was shallow but was turning up at every product launch going and then he tried to justify it as “I have to make a living.” Well, if you have to whore yourself about for money don’t tell other people they’re wrong to do the same thing. So really, lyrically, I’m not feeling what he’s singing anymore because I don’t believe he’s sincere about a single syllable that comes out of his mouth.

I could possibly live with the idea that he was feeling guilty about the whole thing which is why he was writing songs about how you shouldn’t buy stuff until he started giving off recently about how he’s very happy and things are the best they’ve ever been and then produces a miserable album where he sings about being depressed and lonely (and I’m sure some uber-fan will correct me and give me a run down of every theme on the album now, bring it on…). I get it, he probably is very depressed and lonely, wondering what happened to his career, but then if that’s the case, don’t tell your fans and journalists you’re thrilled where you are – tell them you’re pissed off, get angry, get philosophical and stop waffling. He says one thing, he does another, I don’t buy a word of it anymore. Either he’s full of shit in the press (most likely) or he’s trying to write the songs people expect him to write. Or both.

If he’s happy, then why is he singing miserable songs? Write some upbeat pop tunes, churn out an anthem or two, at least try and get some people dancing! If he’s not happy then don’t mope – get angry about it and show some fire! The acoustic stuff was okay briefly when it made me think for a second he might be showing a bit of emotion rather than playing up to the audience. Now he’s just milking that angle to try and make the songs sound emotionally deeper than they probably are.

Ultimately I suspect this album is an exercise in futility aimed at getting a bit of cash off the 100 people who are still willing to pay money for his output merely because he’s Brett Anderson, he has a nice fringe and he used to be in Suede. As far as I can tell, however, he’s biding his time at this point for that Suede reunion where him, Mat Osman and Neil Whatshisname tour as Suede with a session guitarist and drummer so they’ll have money for their retirement. It’ll be a relief when he finally gives up any pretense at still having credibility and just gets on with it.

*Update 13/09/08- We’ve had a sudden surge of visitors from a couple of German MP3 sites looking for these tracks and we’re afraid that as a result we’re out of bandwidth. Try again in a couple of weeks or, erm, take The Guardian up on their special offer and buy the album.

Brett Anderson – A Different Place

Brett Anderson – Back to You (album version)

Posted by JustHipper on 24th July 2008 at 11:34 pm | comments (37)
File under brett anderson,cd review.

Gig Review: The B-52’s @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July 2008

There are not too many bands that I’ve seen and The Ledge hasn’t, but the B-52’s are one of those (or they were). It would have been impossible for me to avoid them, growing up just south of Athens, GA, in Atlanta where as teenagers we mostly claimed those Athens bands for our own. I was looking forward to this gig for very different reasons from The Ledge, I suspect.

The B-52's @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July 2008We got down to the venue ridiculously early – The Ledge thought doors were at 7pm, turns out they were at 7:30pm, but it meant we had a prime spot at the front in between where Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson would later stand. It also meant we had 90 minute wait for music as the “opening band” was a DJ playing records we could have listened to at home were we so inclined. It gave us a chance to chat to the crowd around us, and it was a friendly bunch, some had driven up from Reading for the gig and were very excited.

When the band came on, however, opening with “Pump” from their new album, Funplex, perhaps the aging crowd couldn’t really dance so much anymore, but it wasn’t quite the mayhem I expected. Perhaps they were too busy being shocked at how damned good Kate Pierson looks for a woman who recently turned 60 – if I look that good at 40 I’ll be thrilled.

The B-52's @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July 2008Personally, I spent a large part of the gig feeling incredibly homesick. I don’t miss Georgia, or the States in general, all that often, not after nearly 11 years in the UK, but every so often I have a moment. I had one watching REM at T in the Park the other week, and I had one tonight. It’s partly the southern accents which are home – I hear them and they sound so familiar I forget where I am for a moment, and it’s partly the incredibly strong associations I have between the band and my teenage years. The moment they start singing I’m in 10th grade algebra where Casey McKittrick is telling us all that if you play Cosmic Thing backwards you get weird messages about drugs and sex. Some of the boys in the class ask him how he managed to play it backwards and he can’t really answer, but everyone’s still wondering if it’s true. Or I’m in the car driving up to Rock Eagle for a school trip with my best friend and the driver is also one of the chaperones for the weekend who happens to be my brother’s best friend who’s now a student at the University of Georgia in Athens and he’s treating us to all the stuff he’s hearing at college – The B-52’s, Lifes Rich Pageant, They Might Be Giants and the Violent Femmes. Needless to say, I was in a weird place for most of the gig.

The B-52's @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July 2008You certainly couldn’t fault the band for one second as their enthusiasm never waned through a set which mixed up tracks from the new album (which, admittedly, I’ve only heard once and then I dozed through much of it on a long car journey) and classics. “Mesopotamia” came second and they even brought out a couple of tracks that I hadn’t heard in so long I’d forgotten they existed in the form of “Strobe Light” and “Party Gone Out of Bounds.” It was just before the latter, during a particularly brilliant rendition of “Private Idaho” that some guy tried to squeeze in between me and the guy next to me because he thought Cindy Wilson might want to shag him. He was about 22. She’s old enough to be his gran. He got angry when I wouldn’t move for him, but I’m not letting a guy a head and a half taller than me get between me and my view – especially when he was all arms and elbows. He spent the next 30 minutes banging into me and humping  my leg in a crowd where nobody was pushing against anyone because the venue was only half full.

Between the idiot behind me and a couple of newer tracks I didn’t recognize, my enthusiasm waned a bit when Fred Schneider wandered off stage and the two women did a new track and “Roam” back to back, the latter wasn’t great. But when Fred re-emerged so did the tunes and we got a riproaring finish, right down to the crowd singalong for the requisite “Love Shack.”

The B-52's @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July 2008In the interval my “friend” tried to push in again and when I told him to piss off I got an ear-bashing because he was a Bigger Fan because he’d flown to Paris to see them and I wasn’t singing – apparently if you’re going to stand at the front you have to sing along, silly me for not knowing. I tried to explain that his experience and mine were different. I was actually trying to explain I was from Georgia and they were making me homesick  but all I got in response was “I’m from Dublin and that doesn’t mean I know Bono!” Whatever, dude.

Luckily the band re-emerged with a couple of songs, rounding off the night absolutely perfectly with the party classic that is “Rock Lobster” and the excellent “Planet Claire.”

While I can’t say there were not a few they missed out I’d have rather heard instead of newer tracks, the gig was everything I expected and more than I’d hoped for. After going on 30 years the songs don’t sound remotely dated and the band seem as vibrant and enthusiastic as ever. If they can keep this up for the next 30 years I’ll be a happy girl.

The B-52’s – Planet Claire

The B-52’s – Hot Corner

Posted by JustHipper on 23rd July 2008 at 12:18 am | comments (7)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 1,manchester gigs,mp3,the b-52's.

The Indie Cred Manchester Gig Guide: 21st – 27th July 2008

The B-52'sJust a couple of particularly noteworthy gigs this week, both of which we shall be attending and reporting on in due course. First up is The B-52’s who play the Academy on Tuesday. In the admittedly small list of bands I haven’t seen live but really want to, The B-52’s are riding high near the top so I’m very excited about this. Their classic eponymous debut was one of the first albums my brother and I ever bought way back in 1979 and it still sounds as good today as it did back then. Their latest, Funplex, didn’t really grab me on my one and only listen but I’m sure they’ll bring out “Rock Lobster” and “Planet Claire” and hopefully find some room for “Quiche Lorraine” and “Wig”. There are still tickets available, although £30 is probably a bit steep for the casual observer.

On Thursday Daniel Johnston and Friends play New Century Hall. Now, we’ve never really got all the fuss about Daniel Johnston but that’s maybe because we’ve never really gone out of our way to listen to him. What really attracted us to this gig the list of “friends” that are accompanying, and also supporting, him for the evening, which includes Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Scout Niblett, James McNew of Yo La Tengo and Jad Fair. That we’ll be able to see all of these hopefully play some of their own stuff, as well as getting a chance to give Daniel Johnston a proper listen, should make this an interesting, and highly rewarding, evening.

On Friday Peterloo Massacre play Centro in the Northern Quarter. On a recent visit to Piccadilly Records I was accosted by a member of Peterloo Massacre who had set up a CD player with headphones at the front of the shop and was inviting unsuspecting punters to give the band’s new EP a couple of minutes of their time. It sounded pretty good, if I recall, “a bit like Portishead,” I informed him. “We get a lot of that,” he replied. I forgot about the whole encounter until now but I remember telling him that I’ll check them out should they play any local gigs in the future. I’m not sure if I’ll keep my word, but I’ll see how I feel on the night.

Posted by The Ledge on 21st July 2008 at 12:20 am | comments (7)
File under daniel johnston,gig guide,manchester gigs,the b-52's.

Gig Review: Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Apollo, 16th July 2008

Unless Death Cab For Cutie amaze us with some future album, tonight’s gig was the last time I will ever pay money to see them play live. Never mind that the new album has all the depth of a wading pool, is bland, full of soppy love songs lacking the quirky lyricism of albums past and all blends together, DCFC crowds have simply become unbearable.

Gigs at the Apollo, 90% of the time anyway, are bad enough, but tonight it was be there to be seen, not be there to hear a band. The four people stood in front of us really took the biscuit, however. To be fair, I was not in the mood to be in a crowd of people. T in the Park was amazing last weekend but it wore me out and I could do with a week of being by myself (except maybe for The Ledge). Neither The Ledge nor I was looking forward to this so we got down there late and stayed in the bar until the band were coming on stage when we made our way into the edge of the crowd where we could see but not get jostled. The first five songs were really good too. Then the talking started.

I won’t make out that it was just the people in front of us because it wasn’t. There was talking. And there was more talking. And even more talking. Where the last time we saw Death Cab I was bemused and disturbed that the average age of the crowd was around 16 yet they knew all the words to everything, this time the crowd knew a few tracks off Plans and not much else. The talking just went on and on. Not that The Ledge and I were silent, but we did keep it to between songs – I’d hate to spoil somebody else’s enjoyment of a gig just because I was not enjoying it myself.

When they started to play “Soul Meets Body,” however, the young blonde thing in front of us suddenly started squealing like a Westlife fan – “I know this one!” she screamed as loudly as she could, squealed a few more times and then talked through the rest of it. “Nice,” we though, “This is a good song.” Then they played “I Will Follow You Into the Dark. “OMG!” she screamed. “I’m so going to cry over this!” Then she hugged her boyfriend and talked through the rest. She wasn’t the only one. Half the crowd sang along, half talked along.

For the rest of the gig we had four people in front of us moving about constantly so I kept having to move to see and loads of yapping, squealing and jumping – none of which was remotely in response to the band. Why they didn’t decamp to the bar is beyond me as all four of them were pretty much behaving as if they were in a pub, not at a show for which the people around them had all paid around £20 a ticket.

During the encore, one of them rolled two cigarettes and made to light up. I’d had enough by this point and I leaned over and told her not to do it. She responded with “Ooh I was only joking! I know not to! Sorry!.” Yeah, ok, whatever.

So as the band were finishing their final song she walks over and leans in and says to me “I just wanted to apologise for making you think I was going to smoke cause i wasn’t.”

“That’s fine, so long as you didn’t.” I told her. “What you should be apologising for, however, is ruining our ability to hear the gig because you talked through the entire thing which is incredibly rude to be honest.”

A bit brutal, I know, but not deserving of the response I got. Oh yes, this little madam proceeded to tell me that she was not going to apologise for talking LOUDLY through the entire performance because she was – wait for it – bored. She didn’t care, it seems, that other people may not have been bored, and when I pointed out that I’d paid to hear the boring band – not her and her friends – I received a tirade about how I have “issues” and I am a seriously anti-social individual – all for wanting to hear the band.

Now, fair dues, I do have issues. And I do get annoyed easily in crowds. But, that’s still no excuse for someone to assume that just because they don’t want to watch something nobody cares. It’s no excuse for behaving like a total yahoo and yapping and squealing and stopping other people from getting to experience what they paid for – good or bad.

If you think the gig is shite and you want to talk – go to the bar.

I’m simply not standing for this anymore. It happened through all of Radiohead the other week and it happens nearly every time we’re not at the barrier at the Apollo. From now on, if you talk, you will hear about how much you’re pissing me off. It probably won’t do any good, but if it makes one person think about the people around them I will have won a small victory.

Gig-goers – help me out. Stop allowing people to behave like fucktards and stop being too scared to stand up for yourselves. If somebody is doing something you wouldn’t do because you know it’s annoying – TELL THEM! And if they don’t stop, tripping while walking back to your spot holding a full pint is pretty good revenge….

The Indie Cred Manchester Gig Guide: 7th-13th July 2008

Summer In The Park Festival
We’re saving all our gig-going energies for T In The Park next weekend but there’s much going on in Manchester this week with plenty of bands on the T bill doing the rounds.

On Tuesday, Interpol, who were a massive disappointment the last time we saw them at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, hit the Apollo with Ladytron in tow, while on Wednesday, Cardiff indie poppers The School play the Night & Day with an excellent support bill, including local bands Amida and the much-touted Cats In Paris, as well as the excellent Rosie Taylor Project. I’ve never heard of The School before but, from what I can hear on their Myspace page, they sound like they know their way around a Belle And Sebastian record or two. Also on Wednesday, Austin, Texas garage rockers-du-jour White Denim play the Roadhouse.

At the Roadhouse on Thursday are the excellent Jaguar Love, whose Take Me To The Sea album is an absolute joy to behold. Unfortunately we’ll be on our way up to Scotland by then so we’ll also miss the Transgressive Hot Summer Tour at the Night & Day on the same night which features Jeremy Warmsley, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man and Liam Finn, among others. If neither of those tickle your fancy then get yourselves down to the King’s Arms in Salford for Simon Connor‘s EP launch party which features support from The Bangs, who we highly recommend, and only costs £3 to get in to.

On Saturday and Sunday the inaugural Summer In The Park festival takes place at Platt Fields. Manchester needs a new festival to fill the considerable void left by the disappearance of D:Percussion from the schedules and Summer In The Park looks like it might just fit the bill. It’s billed as a food and drink festival so while there’s an excellent music line-up, including I Am Kloot, The Earlies, Magic Arm, Liam Frost, Stephen Fretwell, Lucy And The Caterpillar, The Bottomfeeders and Gideon Conn, some of the city’s finest eating establishments will be setting up shop for the weekend, including Grill On The Alley, MosoMoso, The Northern Quarter Restaurant, Tampopo, Evuna, Chaophraya and Carluccio’s, to name but a few. It’s £9 for a day ticket and £17 for a weekend pass and it almost makes me wish that we weren’t heading up to Scotland this weekend. Let’s just hope the weather holds out for all of us.

Posted by The Ledge on 6th July 2008 at 10:47 pm | comments (3)
File under gig guide,gigs,interpol,manchester gigs,simon connor,summer in the park,the bangs,Uncategorized.

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.