Archive for December, 2008

The Ledge’s top 10 gigs of 2008

  1. Leonard Cohen @ Opera House, Manchester, 18th June
  2. Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2, 15th September
  3. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Apollo, 24th November
  4. R.E.M. @ T In The Park / Lancashire County Cricket Ground, 13th July / 24th August
  5. The National @ ATP, Minehead, 17th May
  6. Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December
  7. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, 27th February
  8. The B-52s @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July
  9. Silver Jews @ Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, 27th May
  10. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, 27th June
Posted by The Ledge on 23rd December 2008 at 5:49 pm | comments (3)
File under atp,bon iver,eels,Leonard Cohen,Lists,manchester gigs,my morning jacket,R.E.M.,stereolab,the b-52's,the national.

Gig Review: Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December 2008

It has been an age since I last blogged and I apologise, but since returning from a two week holiday in the States in early November I became, overnight, what I can only describe as a Grumpy Old Man. All enthusiasm for just about anything had waned, and this included music and especially blogging about music. At a time when I should have been taking stock of 2008 and preparing year end lists of albums and gigs I was instead listening to little that didn’t involve Will Oldham or Tom Waits and not remotely looking forward to any of the gigs we had planned between then and Christmas. Things were so bad that I was quite relieved when the record company’s tickets for TV On The Radio didn’t come through on time and I got to spend the evening taking out my frustrations on the football pitch.

Stereolab @ Manchester Club AcademyWith the clouds lifting I was quite looking forward to seeing Stereolab at the Club Academy last Wednesday, but nowhere near as much as I should have been. I had been a few years since they were last in Manchester yet they are second behind The Wedding Present in the list of bands that I have seen the most: this was probably around the 20th time. Still, somewhere along the line I had forgotten exactly how wonderful Stereolab are live and it didn’t take long to be reminded as they began proceedings with the perky rhythms of “Percolator”. With Laetitia Sadier on fine form, having lost none of her considerable charm and Gallic cool in the intervening years, the band played plenty of familiar tunes from days of yore as well as a few choice cuts from the new Chemical Chords record, an album that I have yet to fully get to grips with, it being packed rather too tightly with dense four-minute pop tunes for my liking. Live, and given room to breathe, the Chemical Chords songs really come to life and the likes of “Neon Beanbag” and “Summer Sands” sounded like ‘Lab classics in waiting with Sadier emphasising the point asking us not to be disappointed that they were playing new songs because “in a few years, they will be old songs”.

Of course they played their best known pop gems “French Disko” and “Ping Pong” and they sounded as good as ever while “Cybelle’s Reverie”, played in the encore, was nothing short of incredible. The band are at their best when they lock into a solid hypnotic groove, which they do often, playing with a rare intensity, shooting glances to each other to signal small but perceptible changes in the formula and creating an irresistible sound that you’ll find impossible not to move at least one part of your body to. The lengthy coda to the otherwise serene “Lo Boob Oscillator” was particularly invigorating as was the classic “Stomach Worm” from their debut LP, Peng!, from way back in 1992. “John Cage Bubblegum”‘s combination of a repetitive, insidious groove with a great pop melody was the night’s finest moment as far as I’m concerned and the vociferous adulation of the packed crowd at the end suggested I wasn’t the only one.

With the band sounding tighter than ever this was easily the best I’ve seen from Stereolab since the tragic death of band member Mary Hansen in 2002. They seem to have rediscovered the elements that made them such a compelling live act in the 90s and it was only on the closing “Metronomic Underground” that Mary’s absence was really felt. For me, it was great to rediscover one of my favourite bands and, thanks to Stereolab, the rediscovery of my blogging mojo might not be too far behind.

Stereolab – Self Portrait with “Electric Brain”

Stereolab – Cybelle’s Reverie

Stereolab – Stomach Worm

Posted by The Ledge on 21st December 2008 at 12:17 am | comments (3)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester club academy,manchester gigs,mp3,Reviews,stereolab.

Justhipper’s Top 13 Gigs of 2008

Well, here’s my list of my favourite gigs of 2008. Why 13 you ask? Cause I couldn’t pare it down to just 10, especially once I got past the first 8. In any year where I hadn’t seen Leonard Cohen for the first time ever, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig we saw recently would probably have been at #1, but this was a special year for music because not only did Leonard Cohen return to playing live, but the gigs he was playing were absolutely magical. Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. Leonard Cohen @ the Opera House, Manchester, June 18, 2008
  2. Leonard Cohen – “Tower of Song”

  3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds @ the Apollo, Manchester, November 25, 2008
  4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “We Call Upon the Author”

  5. Rage Against the Machine @ T in the Park – I’ve only just realised we never reviewed T in the Park 2008, which is a shame because we saw some great sets there! RATM were unexpectedly brilliant. Here’s my review of their Leeds Festival performance.
  6. Rage Against the Machine – “Take the Power Back”

  7. The National @ All Tomorrow’s Parties, May 17, 2008
  8. The National – “Start a War”

  9. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, February 27, 2008
  10. Eels – “Railroad Man”

  11. James @ Liverpool University, April 12, 2008
  12. James – “Waterfall”

  13. REM @ T in the Park – Again, we didn’t review this, but we did review the REM gig at LCCG on August 24.
  14. R.E.M. – “These Days”

  15. The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 1, December 10, 2008
  16. The Hold Steady – “Killer Parties”

  17. Robert Forster @ the Royal Northern College of Music, September 21, 2008
  18. Robert Forster – “If It Rains”

  19. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, June 27, 2008
  20. My Morning Jacket – “Aluminum Park”

  21. Band of Horses / The Cave Singers @ Manchester Academy 2, February 24, 2008
  22. The Cave Singers – “Seeds of Night”

  23. Daniel Johnston and Friends @ New Century House, Manchester, July 24, 2008
  24. Daniel Johnston – “Rock This Town”

  25. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ Charlies, Manchester, March 13th 2008
  26. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – “Don’t They Have Payphones Where You Were Last Night”

Posted by JustHipper on 14th December 2008 at 6:53 pm | comments (6)
File under gigs,Lists.

The Indie Cred November Gig Run-Down

Right, I know we’ve gone quiet here over the last month. You’ll have to excuse us a bit. Our relatives over the pond have had some rather distressing things going on so we’ve been away for a bit and focused on other stuff since we returned. We have, however, been to a few really great gigs recently which have proved far more than a welcome distraction from things.

We enjoyed Fleet Foxes at the Academy 2 on November 9th, although we were rather jetlagged so we stood right at the back and heard more than we saw. The harmonies sounded fabulous as always. We were back down at Club Academy on the 18th to see Low play their Christmas gig. The first half of the set was mesmerising and the second half – all Christmas carols – was surprisingly good. They were accompanied by the opening band (who were pretty good too) and it was quite a celebration – especially for a Low gig.

For a complete change of pace we went to see Fucked Up at the Roadhouse and their ear-splitting hardcore and jovial attitude was intense and highly enjoyable. They’re so much more than just a noisy hardore band. Their opening act was great as well, although I didn’t catch their name – they sounded like all the best bits of Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and the Pixies.

Tuesday the 24th of November was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds night down at the Apollo. Nick Cave is many things but boring is never one of them. The band were on fine form and delivered an angry, noisy set with, well, many of my favourites. I enjoy “God is in the House” more every time I see it live and “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee” were spectacular as well. “I Call Upon the Author” was a welcome new addition, even if he did truncate it a bit. Opener Joe Gideon and the Shark were quite a revelation. Forget the fact that they had some great Fall-inspired tunes, the Shark was great to watch on stage.

We followed up Nick Cave with Frightened Rabbit at Moho Live. The less said about this one the better. I was exhausted and falling asleep on my feet as they didn’t go on stage til midnight and the sound was awful. Pity because they’re a great band and I’m pretty sure that The Midnight Organ Fight will be in The Ledge’s top 10 albums of 2008, I haven’t worked mine out yet – it could make that list too.

Sunday, November 30th saw us down at the Manchester Evening News Arena for Leonard Cohen. While it wasn’t as good a gig as the one we saw at The Opera House over the summer, it was still fabulous and he’s finally stopped introducing the band every 3 minutes. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long Marianne” and “Tower of Song” were divine and listening to him perform “Hallelujah” with so much heart makes me wonder how Simon Cowell dare defile it by forcing his new pop muppet to cover it in time for Christmas.

On 4th December we were back at the Roadhouse for A Place to Bury Strangers, Ten Kens and Lowline. We were only really familiar with Ten Kens. Lowline were worse than expected sounding at times like Oasis covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at other times like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covering Oasis. Mostly they were non-descript and extremely boring. Ten Kens have put out a great album recently and I was really looking forward to them so I was bitterly disappointed to find that the muddy, murky sound in the Roadhouse really ruined any chance we had of enjoying their performance. They were trying hard in front of a crowd that were disinterested (except for one guy punching the air in the front row – you know who you are and you know we know who you are, even if you didn’t notice us on the night and we were being anti-social). They have what can only be described as a very full sound, there’s few gaps, and the distortion caused by the volume being too high and the mix being all wrong meant it just sounded a mess and it was hard to tell which song was which. We were exhausted and grumpy and left, not bothering to watch A Place to Bury Strangers.

Saturday 6th December was the welcome return of The Wedding Present who always deliver a good show. I quite like their newest album, although The Ledge is underwhelmed by it, but we both had fun jumping about to some classics and to some new tracks. Plus they finally did a Cinerama song off their first album – which is my favourite Cinerama album. The opening band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were charming enough that we bought their album. On the night they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to The Wedding Present’s jangly guitars. On record they’re more like Belle & Sebastian gone C86. Either way is not a bad way to be.

This week, on 10th December we’ve been over to the Academy 1 to see The Hold Steady, who were on fine form yet again with a brilliant set – far better than the gig they did at the Academy 2 earlier in the year, in fact. Pity the ever-growing crowd is also growing ever less agreeable – 2 days later and I still have bruised ribs from the couple who trampled and physically removed a 7 stone girl from beside me and tried to do the same to me. However, the band were faultless and new tracks such as “One for the Cutters” and “Magazines” slot in well next to old classics like “Positive Jam” and “Charlemagne in Sweatpants.”

Then last night , 11th December, I drove over the Pennines to see James at the Leeds Academy (formerly the Town & Country) deliver a rather unusual but highly enjoyable set. It was great to hear “Stutter” dragged out from the depths of the back catalogue and I’m still surprised by how much I love their new material.

So, that’s us mostly caught up. We will be producing some top 10 lists before the end of the month and hopefully back to business as usual sometime in January. The Ledge might even force himself to review the Stereolab gig he’s going to see next week. Maybe.