July 27th, 2008

The Wedding Present Enjoying Blackpool More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 27th, 2008

The Wedding Present at The Tower Lounge, Blackpool

David Gedge is in a good mood - so much so that I have the second conversation in 15 years with the notoriously grumpy Wedding Present singer and make him laugh - and takes is out on his audience.

In the middle of the one hour twenty set - always good value the Weddoes - the band blast through ten minutes pre-George Best material that leaves a mosh that is getting older breathlessly tired from exertions.

This night in Blackpool's tower lounge - "Bottom of the Tower, story of my life" Gedge comments - is rearranged following cancellation and the reward for persistence is a set that mines the older material in the band's lengthy career.

Gedge tells us that his parents live eight miles away but will not be coming to the gig because the seasid resort is a bit rough - it is - and this is typical of the wry comments and sly witticisms that dot tonight's performance.

I'm Not Usually This Stupid gets a run out but there is no Soup for anyone and this is greeted well by the mosh but undersells the quality of the output of the last - say - decade and a bit and highlights of tonight were Cinerama track Wow and latest album song The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend where bassist Terry De Castro shares vocal duties.

Blue Eyes is purred to perfection and Loveslave growled with the former an example of why it is this band of all those who emerged in the indie scene of the eighties were retailed with heartfelt, honest lyrics and powerful, strong guitar. The latter never impressed and shows the band and the man's tendency to meander haphazardly through the back catalogue.

Someone shouts for He Looks Daft - "Not one of mine that" - and is corrected at one point by the singer then asked with reply if he didn't hear that when the full George Best album was played on the last tour. He couldn't make it - "No my fault that is it?" smile Gedge back.

Nevertheless most bands who would be The Wedding Present's peers would never leave out songs like Kennedy, My Favourite Dress, Shatner, California, I'm From Further North Than You out of their set for the sake of playing the odd B-side from the early 1990s. Such a song - Gone - get a great reception live.

Nevertheless with quality in depth it is no wonder Gedge keeps performing and performing the back catalogue that in a very real sense is judged as classic material. Brassneck is brilliant - always has been, always will be - and the growled, enthused closing pair of Dalliance and Dare end with Gedge dropping guitar on floor having said an honest sounding thank you to those who did brave Blackpool.

I think he enjoyed himself.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 27th, 2008

This post is about

July 27th, 2008

The Most Miserable Man In Music Smiles More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 27th, 2008

As mentioned previously I - Dalliance man Michael Wood - have spoken to David Gedge of The Wedding Present once before but now that exchange has been added to:

Michael: So, do you miss the Duchess of York in Leeds?
David: No
Michael: Really? Are you sure that is not why you left?

David laughs as Dalliance's Ria Wilkinson clicks...
Michael Wood and David Gedge

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 27th, 2008

This post is about

July 13th, 2008

The Last Granadaland More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 13th, 2008

The Mirandolas, Le Tournoi, Laura Groves and The Tempus Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

Granadaland exits stage left after three, four years when it has become the definitive night in Bradford guitar music. Promoter Mark Husak will be moving on to another venue but this - coupled with Adam Simons stepping back from his night - suggests that the times for music in Bradford are a-changing.

For years the most interesting bands in the area have played under some interesting more well known acts but the night has become bigger than the bands and the final spot is dead weight with the increasingly popular Wave Machines playing to a half dozen not long ago while the outer room buzzed with talk and people. It had become the way.

The Mirandolas are the type of band that have been doing well at Granadaland all these years. They are locals and they play indie pop on guitar pretty fast. They are fresh faced in that way that sends your brain trying to work out what their Dad's were listening to and how it might have influenced the tunes.

Perhaps they borrow the bass from eighties tunes the heard growing up and spliced it together with some Libertines putting a dash of freshness in. The Mirandolas are a tried and tested combination and they bounce along throwing out the odd interesting hook. They are worth a second look and are well received by the appreciative ranks. Le Tournoi's William Sanderson is impressed. He calls them tight, well practiced.

Le Tournoi went through a shift about two months ago with extra guitarist Kez joining the family Sanderson and now they are the talk of Bradford - or at least the train from Bradford to Leeds on this morning - with the buzz that was generated when they burst from the bedroom returning with vigour.

They take to the stage and within seconds front man Will has shirt off - there is a shirt off theme that surrounds the band - and Kez joins him. The tunes thrust with the same unity. Christmas Eve has emerged from the early CD-Rs as a fine work and is infectious tonight.

Infectious too is the enthusiasm that emanates from the stage and for a moment I think about the first time I saw the band and how they seemed like ill fitting pieces. Today they are smooth, at ease. James on drums wears shades and a beatnik hooped shirt. Emilie oozes sexy cool and offers harmonies that add a depth to the sound, Robert's bass is stable, Kez lively standing on a chair to play guitar, Will is eccentric and during It's Only A Power Station edges into David Byrne territory of entertaining intelligence.

They are there - Le Tournoi - and if the end of Granadaland pushes them into new territory they have the power to storm it. Storm it.

If Granadaland has given us Le Tournoi as a son then it's daughter is the brilliant Laura Groves who - as she records her debut album - has a confidence grown in the over talkative atmosphere of this night. Tonight she projects forcefully taking control of her audience as she starts off with Bridges which is picked sharply and rings around the Love Apple. She laments wistfully "This is the last Granadaland. We've had some good times. We've had some bad times..."

This is one of the good times. The buzz of voices is overcome as much as it ever can be in a pub venue and this is her apprenticeship. Groves has been adding to her set over the years since her first Granadaland and augmenting her standing material. Imaginary Flights benefits from her move into album style production and has a deeper, richer sound. For a moment the song softly drifts us back to St George's Hall and her finest triumph that night.

She finishes her set with I Wish I and both song and set are perfectly formed. She is the best thing to come out from this night and - apologies to The Tempus - she closes off for event for me.

Husak will be back in September. The bands that Granadaland pushed forward are a fitting legacy for his efforts.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, July 13th, 2008

This post is about , ,

May 20th, 2008

The Raconteurs Level In Liverpool More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

The Raconteurs

They stand accused - The Raconteurs - of being too middle of the road and the place they choose to answer these criticisms is - marked and appropriate - Liverpool.

Jack White is a torrent of sometimes bizarre guitar noises and aural oddness - he dips massively into 1970s influences for the Consolers of the Lonely album just as he does in The White Stripes. Brendan Benson is in search of pop perfection as he approaches - in this writers humble opinion - on his solo albums.

They come together in a band and it is said drag each other to the mainstream. The City of McCartney and Lennon - who could have been accused of the same - cares not and reveals in the return of a band who made a first appearance on the stage they put ninety minutes into tonight.

The Raconteurs are Benson's band in truth - the dynamic seems to be that his cynical arrogance matches White's childlike exuberance - and the shift on Consolers is as much to do with the supposed junior partner's move away from Peter Buck style twanging towards a more bluesy sound that is fused with White's raffling through the decade of guitar excess. If The Raconteurs had released their second album in the 1970s as has been suggested it would have been an oddity.

Odd but they are proud of it and start the show with half an hour and five tunes from the newest record smashing each with passion and verve. Consolers of the Lonely opens and The Switch And The Spur - Gram Parsons fronting Wings - rings clear and stands out. Six songs in and they meld Intimate Secretary and Store Bought Bones into an assault on their first album. They will run through Steady, As She Goes and Together before the night is out to an appreciative support.

However it is in their newer work where the band seem most comfortable and Rich Kid Blues is wonderfully realised. White goes on guitar safari during Blue Veins ending the set, losing a string and staking a claim as the only modern hero of the ax in the process. The effect is strangely entrancing.

Encore of four and Carolina Drama finishes off the night with White turned storyteller - turned raconteur - and an hour and a half of sweat later they depart having pulled off a classic rock n' roll show probably familiar to anyone over fifty but fresh and new to most.

The Raconteurs are a curious act to categorise. Without White they may be no more notable than the support band - The See-Sees - who drift out of memory as soon as they are seen but to assume the more famous partner is liable to be removed is to assume that the relationship between the pair is not level.

Time, and a third release which could very well lurch into the same type of unpredicted alleys as this, will tell.

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

This post is about ,

May 16th, 2008

Tonight, Mr Jens Lekman. Tomorrow, Mr Jens Lekman More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, May 16th, 2008

Jens Lekman and Jayman at The Cluny/TJ's Woodhouse Grove Liberal Club, Newcastle/Leeds

"If you have videoed tonight - which is fine with me," says Jens Lekman after an enthralling night at The Cluny in Newcastle "then do not put it on the Internet or on YouTube because I want this night to be between you and me."

Jens Lekman is an honest man in what is a dishonest industry.

Every night on stages across the world artists pour souls into the same unique displays that they give the night before and will give tomorrow. This suits some performers and but not others and Lekman - following his path of attempting to not play the same venue in the same town every time he visits - is uncomfortable with the four month touring fatigue he and his five musicians are trying to avoid. "If there is a button to press, a rope to pull, then do it" he tells his band.

He wants every night to be special, unique, individual and for two nights in Newcastle and Leeds - fulfilling a long time curious interest of mine - I will be watching both gigs.

The cluny on the banks of the Tyne on the way to Byker in Newcastle is a superb venue. The horseshoe shape of the bar that turns into split level stage and watching balcony not only affords a great area to watch bands but also has a decent place to eat and drink.

The effect of this is a location that - to the casual observer - does not have to make it's money through what is on stage and can survive as a pub. A look down the list of forthcoming events empathises this with a collection of the esoteric such as Lekman coming to the North East in the next few months.

New York songstress Jaymay is on first and as the bright evening is beginning to fade she takes to the waist high stage that is overlooked from the left and begins to storytell. Her guitar picks and strums a pattern behind her stories of love and loss in New York City.

She sings songs with rich textures, each is distinctive and each pushes back against the folk scene that would want to swallow up singer/songwriter girls who play guitar - she was dubbed "anti-folk" at one point - and it is not hard to see why Lekman is touring with her when she starts each song with an antidote or story about it's conception.

"Jens' audience is so polite" she comments before detailing the genus of Ill-Willed Person - her stand out song and the story of not wanting to be friends with the ex of an ex. "Love everything you always loved" is a charming sentiment and Jaymay has succeeded in charming those watching with an honest connection between song and singer. Between story and stage. It is warmth.

In Leeds the night that follows she has changed her top - I did but spilt coffee on the replacement so am back in a Pantone 292 t-shirt - and changed the set list.

The Leeds audience start in the far off drinking area of a Working Men's Club before approaching the stage slowly in a way that must be reminiscent of the zombies in Dawn of the Dead and while they crowd the stage they are more reserved and emotionally seem more distant.

The same set list Jaymay scribed while waiting near the bar at The Cluny sits next to her chair at the front of the stage but she soon begins to move from it and throws in The Tragedy Song which features a sing-a-long chorus and some audience foot stamping and I wonder if this is because she felt more connected to last night's people and could fore-go the gimmicks or if she felt closer tonight and thus could have more fun. Perhaps the groundhog day nature of touring demands that you change at least one thing a day.

The last time I saw Jens Lekman he was accompanied by a percussionist in a church in Leeds. In Newcastle now he stands on the stage with a laptop user/DJ type person as his small figure in the centre of the stage begins his most sombre song. I Am Leaving Because I Don't Love You sees the Swede push out two heartbreaking verses before he is attacked on stage with an array of chellists, violin players, drummers and bassists who are his band and it becomes clear that tonight will not be a repeat of Leeds 2007.

Curious hardly covers Lekman the performer. He has the same kind of magnetic charisma that a Morrissey or a Jarvis Cocker has which pushes a brittle confidence and a self-depreciation into his gigs. He tells us about Kortedala - the suburb of Stockholm he has lived in - where he was beaten up and mugged "constantly" and he seems pathetic but his eyes shine out as he plays honest and beautiful songs. The ode to his hairdresser from Kortedala Shirin has tears dwelling in eyes.

And there are works of power and majesty. Streamed from a cello and driven by a powerful bass Black Cab once again inspires awe and surpasses the original and new song New Directions shows an continued ebullience. Lekman at these points is as Jarvis is on Common People or the Morrissey of Death of a Disco Dancer as he takes a captious view at life putting himself above all and finding all wanting.

Last time he played the North East Jens Lekman was at The Sage in Gateshead. "Now I am in Newcastle, this is a difference that is important" he intones sweetly as he continues his set that concludes when his band depart the stage and he is left clicking his fingers in accompaniment of Pocketful of Money and the clicking leads to Lekman asking all assembled to whistle the hook which leads to deep voiced Geordies backing the singer in a moment of spontaneous, disarming, wonderful improvisation.

Lekman is moved. He asks us not to share, he goes for a walk by the Tyne. He is on stage in Leeds 22 hours later and things are different. The storming of the stage is gone and the beginning is moved to the centre of the set.

"The last time I was here I played in a church didn't I?" he asks to confirmations. "I thought it was here" he noodles as he continues. The depths of Woodhouse Liberal Club are far from full - a disappointing turn out - and the atmosphere slips away a little but still Lekman is the focus of all around him. Maple Leaves is received with rapture Leeds but I'm Leaving... seems to hang around the room more begging to be plucked from the air.

The repetitious nature of night on night performance is obvious. Postcard To Nina comes with a narrative which he uses to parody the repartition. "Tell that story again Jens. I've Told It So Many Times... Yeah but just once more..." "Tell it again Jens cause last time was in Gateshead and this is Newcastle..."

Perhaps a less honest performer can work this kind of enforced duplicity better but Lekman - as with Jarvis Cocker during his two date stay in Sheffield two years ago - is exposed for all and the soul of the performance comes from each carved, honest, beautiful song.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, May 16th, 2008

This post is about ,

Number 15 of 24 pagesFirst...10...131415161718...Last