April 3rd, 2009

Near to the dance, into a bracket, out of the corner More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Brackets, Fourteen Corners and Far from The Dance at 1-22 Bar, Huddersfield

Local young things Brackets start with Theme from Peter Gunn and sound interesting until singer Jamie Goodwin starts with a placeless accent that lacks any ring of authenticity. Not that the young lad is a poor singer just that he is looks do not match his voices and the band - playing a rapid rock - never seen to be able to decide what sort of song they want to play.

All of which tempts one to say they avoid falling into any bracket but it would be more truthful to say that as a band they lack direction. A cover of Vampire Weekend's A-Punk shows them as able imitators until accent safari begins again. After some solid if unremarkable own compositions - She's Afraid of the Dark is worth mentioning - that include a pulsing bass line that nod towards Peter Hook a King's of Leon cover sets teeth on edge and presents a band who badly need to find their own sound and play that rather than swimming around the tunes they listen to.

By contrast if there are a band in West Yorkshire with more of a firm grasp of what they want to sound like and how they want to put that sound over than Fourteen Corners then I have yet to see it. The corners are shaking off rust from six months on the sidelines but still fuzz along with an electric authenticity. Tsotsumi is back in the set and Small Northern Town is out with "the new rocker" thrown in to impressive effect adding to what is in this humble opinion the finest song book of any unsigned band in this area.

The future for T' The Corners is always the subject of speculation. What justice does the world have that these people are playing pubs and The Pigeon Detectives play Millennium Square in Leeds? Once again singer Josh Taylor pulls out from his heart for New Limbs For Old Flames and once more Luke Silcock's fingers dart around the fret board of his guitar mesmerisingly. Both join with bass man Mike Wilson to turn to face drummer Marco Pasquariello building up to May Your Days Be Aimless and as a band vibing off each other they seem as ready as any I have seen. At the start of May they play support to Blue Roses at Live in Leeds and one can only hope those who have justifiably taken that slice of the almost dead Bradford music scene to heart will pick up a torch for Fourteen Corners.

Having returned from that London Far From The Dance are Huddersfield's next musical output and the studied, precise set suggests they have not been broken by their experiences in the capital. They have a sound that swims between Manic Street Preachers and British Sea Power while draped over the kind of post-rock soundscapes that are alluring - if not popularist - on a Friday evening in West Yorkshire. Not popularist but popular and they are well loved by a home crowd. The stage craft needs some work - the length of time spent watching bands tune up seems inversely proportional to how successful they will ultimately be - but the song book is vibrant and their aim is true.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, April 3rd, 2009

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March 24th, 2009

Neither Angel Nor Demon Peter Doherty Is Haunted By Ghosts More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Pete Doherty at O2 Academy, Leeds

On stage with an acoustic guitar and a hat duplicated six or seven types by acolytes on the audience witnessing Pete "Peter" Doherty in the flesh is a little like going to a football match and noticing the the opposing number nine is Roy of the Rovers.

So deep into the psyche of the nation is the man - who at thirty looks very much like the boy - that one easily forgets he is more made of bone than he is of tabloid headline. Perhaps it is that that sees him so keen to redress his early work and why when he slides into Music When The Lights Go Out he does so with a diction and annunciation he never managed in The Libertines. It suggests a lack of confidence in the man they tell us is Cocky Pete. I knows you like this one, it seems to say, so I'm going to do it properly.

Doherty's touring band - who took turns doing three song turns as support - include Graham Coxon who adds a clarity to the guitaring behind the main man who at times is joined by a string quartet, four auxiliary guitars and an instrument that resembles a large mouth organ. These trappings are most useful as the singer plays through his newer work which dominates the evening and is enjoyable if only for the exploration it represents.

1939 Returning is a mellow recall for England's green lands and the grit of war time camaraderie while Arcady struggles with the perversions of the message in a mediated age - "See how quickly twisted it becomes/When the cat gut binds my ankles to your bedstead/That ain't love, no that ain't love". He is a man trying to make his Your Arsenal.

Comparisons with that album's author are not dimmed by the draping of a Union Flag over a speaker and while Doherty has the elements of Morrissey - the famed former band, the patriotism, the polarising press - he lacks the edge of charisma which is not to say he is not good to watch and - when rambling through Kilimanjaro and Down In Albion - satisfyingly enjoyable for all but at the moment the honest songster Peter is not bigger than revitalising The Libertines nor than the public antics of Babyshambles and cannot quite shake off his ghosts.

To underline this point he ends the set with Time for Heroes and the encore with Fuck Forever which leave all happy as the boy doffs his hat and exits. The problem with Peter - such as it is a problem - is that he is not the devil of the press nor the angelic faced best songwriter and performer of his generation but something between the two and probably towards the latter.

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

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February 9th, 2009

The directions The Dharma might take More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, February 9th, 2009

Meet Me In Vegas, Sound of Guns and The Dharma at The Cockpit, Leeds

The Dharma are not a bad band but they are a pub band and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

First some Meet Me In Vegas who are initially three lads in smart ties and shirts thudding effectively through an introduction that gives way to a set of songs voiced by their slightly Jazzy sounding lead singer who joins them. Singer Caroline Carfrae provides the glamour to but the real star of the show is Chris Dabass's bass guitar which pounds a line of vintage New Order matched perfectly with Josh Toulmin suitably Morris-esque drums. These Spartan elements - albeit not the technically impressive noodling of Guitarist Seb Santabarbara - promise a direction for this band.

A direction - or rather a direction which promises uniqueness - is harder to see for Liverpool's Sound of Guns who have a great front man in Andy Metcalfe but seem to be too easily defined in music maths - Oasis plus Arctic Monkeys over the Stones to the power of Julian Cope - and the band are charged with doing what they do very well but lacking that individuality which could make them stand out from the crowded crowd they are in.

The Dharma take to the stage amid an attack of strobe lighting and power through the sort of chords Bon Jovi would shamelessly play.  They demand attention and for their honest play - if married to slightly gimmicky presentation - and they receiving it. Paul Holihan milks the crowd effectively and bassist and backing JB Butler provides a good counterpoint.

They play a heady mix of standards and original material and they play it well as a band hardened by an unforgiving circuit of pubs and clubs who have conquered those arenas would and are enjoying the lofty heights of The Cockpit.

Where they, or any of tonight's bands, can go from there and how they would get there is more interesting.

Written By Michael Wood Monday, February 9th, 2009

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February 6th, 2009

What kind of funny are Brakes? More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 6th, 2009

Slow Club and Brakes The Fuzz Club at University Union, Sheffield

"The Killers also have a single out called Spaceman, but" says the silver suit clad short singer of Brakes Eamon Hamilton "erm, I like ours better."

Brakes are a funny band. The question is what sort of funny are they?

Certainly they are not the funny which Slow Club represent. The aspiring Sheffield based duo are a curious mix of Noah and the Whale style pop/folk and a bluesy edge that sounds straight out of a Dad's record collection. They are good too - bordering on very good - and Because We're Dead has a delicious edge to it with boy/girl vocals pushing around the stage playfully.

One is left with the feeling that Slow Club might end up making an album that is all last tracks from White Stripes records - It's True That We Love One Another/I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)/Effect And Cause and wondering if that would be brilliantly amusing or eventually annoying. Or both.

Brakes take to the stage with determination the three instrument men kicking into a new tune before the dominative Hamilton leaps to the middle of the stage rid of the pale, casual jumper he watched the support band wearing and in what can only be described as a shiny silver spacesuit. As he sings he closes his eyes and smiles nervously forward, not embarrassed so much as spiked by the moment and afraid that should he look out to the audience he would gaze on faces who simply did not get the joke.

Eamon Hamilton of Brakes on stage in Sheffield Students Union

Hamilton's songs breakdown in two ways. He has a good line in honest love songs - No Return being his best but is sadly missing from the set tonight - and he has a brand spiky politically aware songs the apotheosis of which is the eight second burst of Cheney which is modified with the happy word "Goodbye" appended. The former is standard fair - highly enjoyable fair, but standard - while the latter is rare in indie music which tonight we are defining as being what is played to the kids at Sheffield University Union.

The opening gives way to familiar ground - this gig is a warm up for the tour to support new album Touchdown but only a handful of 2009's tracks are played - so we are quickly into familiar ground with Margarita and The Most Fun. A lively group of lads begin to mosh during Spring Chicken and get jumpy in Cease And Desist and Porcupine Or Pineapple where Brakes are at their most curious, their funniest.

The set ups - God and the Devil playing cards, a war between spined creatures and fruit - are comical but the points made are more political, more interesting. Hamilton's presentation of his ideals as the comical is the musical equivalent of political cartooning seducing one into attention and to his message with a cheeky smile and an amusing bit of imagery. In that way Brakes live - with the built up sound that enables them to do All Night Disco Party lose something in the telling compared to Hamilton's solo shows that draw his cartoons in more sketched black and white than full colour.

However they make up for that with some fine thrashing on the guitar with On Your Side sounding grand and newbie Eternal Return booming brilliantly. Of the new offerings Crystal Tunings closes the set and is menacingly excellent while Hey Hey has an ebullient joy about it that guitarist Tom White revels in. Spaceman - or Don't Take me to Space (Man) to give a fuller name - saddles the two sides of Brakes better than any other song they have telling a story of alien abduction, seemingly friendly, but rejected cause despite all the corruption of the world Hamilton sees he has found a girl to hold hands with.

The guitarist makes a comment about Lloyds TSB being shaping shifting lizards and that David Icke was right after which Hamilton correction to White's laugher "There are a couple of holes in his arguments..."

Brakes are that kind of funny.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 6th, 2009

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January 27th, 2009

Helme claws back his history More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Micky P. Kerr and Chris Helme at The Faversham, Leeds

There is a charm about Micky P Kerr as he takes to the sizable Faversham stage shunning his guitar and sitting on a high chair starting with poetry but he doesn't get anywhere with people talking and laughing at the back he shuns the serious forgetting the second verse of his Credit Crunch Christmas poem and running through the song I'm in awe of you eager to get onto what he calls his silly songs.

The charming humour of the shambling poet is lost and Kerr - who admits a hostility to the buffonlike hecklers - tries to pass himself off as arrogant with tongue-in-cheek but aim askew. One can imagine that on other nights he goes down a storm but not on this Sunday evening in Leeds.

Leeds's Faversham is - according to Chris Helme so cool you have to wear an overcoat and the former Seahorses front man's new brand of bluesy guitaring is yoked into something altogether more honest.

Helme is an interesting performer in the midst of reclaiming his back catalogue from the monstrous ego of John Squire that haunts his past. He plays through a good chunk of his 1990s offerings musing that Blinded By the Sun was written when he was 23 in Brighton and that he is surprised anyone wants to hear it. He is less pleased to have to play the obviously Squire Love Is the Law but does do to earn the freedom to run through stomp Be My Husband and the Lorali.

It is then that Helme seems most comfortable for sure but he takes requests for Seahorses B-Sides - "Funny, my songs always ended up as B-sides" - and is pleased to play them slowly clawing back as his own each one.

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

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