Gig Review Catchup: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, The Twilight Sad, Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers

We’ve been to a lot of gigs this summer. We just haven’t had time to write about them. They’ve been corkers though. I’m going to try and summarize some of it here.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan at Manchester Academy 2On 12th June we headed over to the Manchester Academy 2 to see Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan performing in support of their marvellous second album, Sunday at Devil Dirt. While trying to find out the name of the opening band I did something I never do – I read three reviews from their London gig a few days earlier. They were not praiseworthy, suggesting that the pair had no chemistry and the gig was like watching statues performing. Needless to say, I was mildly concerned – until about the second song. Although they barely moved, much less looked at each other, both Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were in fine voice and both appeared to be far more wrapped up in what they were singing than in each other. This could be down to the fact that they’ve hardly performed together and are still getting used to the idea. Or perhaps they’re both shy – a possibility since neither uttered a word on stage. Still, it didn’t matter at all as the songs themselves were intense and sultry and really brought out the bluesy elements of both albums, especially “Back Burner” and “Come On Over (Turn Me On)”.

The Twilight Sad at the Manchester Night & DayAfter a couple of days off for birthdays and anniversaries, we headed over to the Night & Day on Monday 16th June to catch The Twilight Sad suppored by Broken Records. Having played the same venue roughly two months earlier and with little promotion in the interim, the tables were out for a very sparse audience at the Night & Day. More’s the pity because they blew their previous performance out of the water, sounding tighter than ever. Final song “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” was simply stunning. Openers Broken Records impressed enough with their manic Scottish folk coming across like a combination of the Arcade Fire and Sons & Daughters with a bit of twang to it.

Fleet Foxes at Manchester RoadhouseWe were also down at the Roadhouse for Beach House and Fleet Foxes’ joint headline gig. We bought the tickets because we’d enjoyed Beach House’s laid back, fluid and relaxing summery tunes while sat on the fake grass at the covered main stage at ATP. By the time the gig rolled around, however, the buzz was all about Fleet Foxes. Beach House proved to be enjoyable and very personable, however their lightness did not translate all that well in the dark, dingy Roadhouse. Although I hadn’t heard more than a couple of tracks before the show, I thought Fleet Foxes, were superb with their harmonious folk tunes. The melodies are so catchy that it’s hard not to be taken in by them and the band were rather charming, asking how the crowd were doing, gushing at their reception and cracking jokes about comedian Tim Allen. If it weren’t for some of the usual idiots in the crowd trying to get in front of the barrier (and blocking my view) and then blaming me rather loudly for about three songs after security moved them on it would have been a perfect show. The encore in which singer Robin Pecknold delivered a solo, nearly a capella song – I think it was “Oliver James” but as I hadn’t heard the album, I’m not sure now about 6 weeks on – was haunting and note-perfect. As they reminded me at times of both My Morning Jacket and The Shins – two bands we love around here – I went looking for their debut album pretty much straight away afterwards.

On July 1st we opted to skip seeing The National in Leeds as we were going to catch them at T in the Park a couple of weeks later and instead we went down to the Night & Day to see The Cave Singers perform a full set. Their debut album Invitation Songs is one of my favourites of the year and hasn’t been far from the CD player since around February. They had impressed us with their live show opening for Band of Horses so much that I expected a packed out venue. Instead, the tables were out across the front of the stage and were barely full for the band’s arrival. Nonetheless, fresh from Glastonbury, they delivered a captivating, if subdued, performance which included a couple of new tracks. The new songs didn’t sound much different but were enjoyable and the album tracks made me want to sing along – which would have been a bit silly given the setting. As always “Helen” and “Dancing on Our Graves” were spectacular. It will be very disappointing if they don’t acquire a bigger following because their sparse, rhythmic country folk is quite unique and incredibly gratifying.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Salvation
The Twilight Sad – Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
The Cave Singers – Dancing on Our Graves

3 Responses to “Gig Review Catchup: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, The Twilight Sad, Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers”

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » CD Reviews: Simon Connor, Ten Kens, Broken Records, Rose Kemp Says:

    […] time we saw the Twilight Sad, I bought a copy of Broken Records Gig EP. It gives a teaser of things to come on their debut record and sums up what we took away […]

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