February 9th, 2008

Lack of Originality More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Elle S'appelle, Heads We Dance, fourteencorners, Pierpoint Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

Elle S'appelle are a well beaten track and that is not to say that they are not travelling that path well but rather that for all the new band buzz around them one gets the feeling that you could add their catalogue to your record collection and nod along with it for the rest of your days without ever catching the whiff oforiginality.More later for this is Granadaland and there is an order to things and as Mark Husak expands his night to include out of the area bands he is applauded for retaining a loyalty to the local scene he has sponsored for the past two years.

Pierpoint - named after Albert, the famed hangman of Bradford - are a tight collective of would be post-punk/new wave guitar heroes. They have a decent following already and the dedication they obviously have used to file jagged metal edges into sharp songs is impressive but they are let down by a lead singer who snarls a little too derivatively and ends up coming over like a parody of a pop star. Like an actor playing a would be Libertine. Like the sort of character who could crop up in Emmerdale when a band's tour bus broke down outside the Woolpack.

For tonight would seem to be about originality - or the lack of it - and Pierpoint need to stop hiding behind the cliche of a band and be more honest. When they do I believe they could be really rather interesting.

Honest is the watchword of Fourteencorners who once again pour heart and soul into the six song set they play effortlessly excellently tonight. It is familiar stuff on the whole although Marco and Jim - drum and bass - seem to have filled out the sound of We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! and the whole set seems beefed up for sure but half way through it strikes one that the problem with Fourteencorners is that as sure as an eleven months pregnant girl - they are ready.
They are ready to go above third place on a bill. They are ready to put out something on a shiny silver disc, They are ready to get reviewed by the NME and the Observer Music Monthly. If they could move between songs live quicker - or get some banter to fill the air - then they would be ready to play much bigger venues with interesting accessible vocals from Josh and guitar work from Luke that still amazes me with it's precise speed. They are ready and if they do not get moving soon they will end up stale and that will be a crime for a band this good. Perhaps they lack the confidence to move on but they certainly lack nothing else.

Confidence can be seen in abundance in Heads We Dance who sport Bryan Ferry raincoats buttoned up to the top and loudly project around the filling Love Apple venue. They mix Eno-esque ambitions with an early Human League sensibility and show no fear of producing - albeit avant-garde - pop tunes. Love Version 15 buzzes along impressively as does Love In The Digital Age and both titles point one towards theirinfluences . One day they will release an album and it will have the words "lipstick" and "neon" in the title no doubt and I will buy it because as a band while their influences are apparent they are not scared to veer wildly away from them and as a result they create some genuinely interesting tunes.

Which leads back to Elle S'appelle who - on another night - one may laud for their tight, modern take on eighties pop mixed with a shot of The Darling Buds but tonight it all seems a little derivative and one is left hoping that they do something more edged, more spiky, with the popularity which is being pushed their way.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, February 9th, 2008

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February 2nd, 2008

The Magnetism of Morrissey More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Morrissey at The Empire, Sunderland

"I'm sorry for being unoriginal." Steven says looking playfully at the aging but rapt audience in the music hall classic surroundings of the Sunderland Empire.Not to his second song - the ebullient First Of The Gang To Die - does he refer but to opener Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before.

A song now imitated but not by the man, not by Morrissey, who does not dwell on self referential imitation or parody. The twistiest verbalist in music plays this straight.

Honesty has something to do with the magnetism on stage when Morrissey performs but as he mixes new songs - That's How People Grow Up and Something Is Squeezing My Skull have a similar urgency to the highlights of his extensive back catalogue - in with records written a quarter of a decade ago then one guesses that there is a element of reclamation showmanship at work.

Showmanship that looks on a collection of imitators of The Smiths that grew into a genre. He takes back all that was once his as in flickering black and white strobe guitarist Boz Boorer grinds out the chords of How Soon Is Now and Morrissey is caught not just in light nor in time but in legend. He is Ozymandius.

Four times he departs the stage changing from tuxedo to throw away shirt and each time he plays on the notion that he may not return. He tells the audience he is staying in Newcastle to jeers - "Was is something I said?" he smiles.

The heart of Morrissey's magnetism - and until seen it is impossible to understand just how impressive the man on stage is - is this easy charisma that begs to be loved and that toys with the relationship between audience and act. Is he there to entertain us or - with his simple chides and scattered comments - are we wheeled in to amuse him on a cold night in the North East of England?

Regardless there is little that pop can offer to match Morrissey in this form and for a dozen and a half tunes he delivers. English Blood, Irish Heart is his modern classic, The Death of a Disco Dancer effortlessly peerless. Tomorrow - the sole track from the forgotten classic Your Arsenal - sounds picked out of time from some glorious age of heartfelt song. Morrissey at his best is without irony.

I could listen all night, everyone here would if given a chance.

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want comes with a yoked in significance over twenty years since it was written and it rings clear and true tonight. It breaks hearts, it brings tears. It genuinely brings tears.

A single song as encore - Last Of The Famous International Playboys - and Morrissey and his five strong band of lads are gone to return at his whim in a place as random as this old cinema in Sunderland should the mood take him.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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January 28th, 2008

The Embers Of An Acoustic Sunday Evening More

Blank Generation Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, January 28th, 2008

My First Tooth, Two Madre and The Rosie Taylor Project Blank Generation at The Love Apple, Bradford

As the acoustic offerings of other gigs in Bradford are lost in a hub-bub of conversation and chatter The Love Apple's oft forgotten other night of mellowed out tunes offers a proposition that could not be further from those busy Friday nights of Granadaland.The Rosie Taylor Project open Sunday night's Blank Generation and as with the other bands on they play mostly to an audience of each other and a selected few who have turned up making a Spartan yet friendly crowd.

Veterans of Jens Lekman support The Rosie Taylor Project are a throwback to the simple pop of The Field Mice with a loving hint of the Modern Folk or Badly Drawn Boy et al. They struggle to balance the sound with a newly signed drummer on stage thickening the sound but eventually manage to project and start to impress with Black And White Films sounding crisp and a growing and warm appreciation towards the five piece.

Jonny looks like the kid in Almost Famous and makes the most of his limited chord set while cloud heeled Sophie switches between trumpet and French horn mid-song and while the latter is lost in the drifting sound the effort is appreciated. Nick the chain trousered bassist has a sit down between songs and sometimes they seem a little too twee for their own good but The Rosie Taylor Project works well and they are sent from the stage with smiles.

Two Madre are small on smiles and this is their last gig for a while. They are dubbed "Bradford's Experimental Superheroes" and while they are amiable they revolutionise nothing and seem to struggle to get comfortable in this their finale.

Guitar and vocal Bill seems to enjoy himself more than the sullen faced Ruth who prods keyboards and plays Sax and the sound drifts around the room transiently.

More enthusiastic is Sophie of My First Tooth who steals tonight's show as something of an all tricks assistant to senior guitar and vocalist Ross's performance. Obviously talented My First Tooth's acoustic pushed melodies are whimsical and border on the wonderful when combined with the odd trumpet - another brass blower - and a bizarre mouth keyboard thing that the youthful Sophie masters with amusingly powerful effect.

The two make an interesting combination on stage and the willingness of the one combines with the wistful detachment of the other. Sleet & Snow is dreamy and tasty and a good percentage of the small audience queue for a copy of the band's demos after the applauded set comes to a close as does the Blank Generation night which deserves more support if only for being the ideal way to spend the drying embers of a Sunday evening as Winter pushes into Spring.

More please.

Written By Michael Wood Monday, January 28th, 2008

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January 27th, 2008

And So The Question Is – Do You Like Rock Music? More

BD1 LiVE Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, January 27th, 2008

British Sea Power, Hot Puppies and fourteencorners BD1 Live at St George's Hall and Brewery Arts Centre, Bradford and Kendal

British Sea Power - Live Review BD1 Live, St George's Hall Bradford with Hot Puppies & fourteencorners in September 2007 and Brewery Arts Centre Kendal in February 2008

British Sea Power are playing a fifteen minute guitar solo and I doubt I have ever been more bored in my entire band watching life.

The sort-of Brighton but not really four piece are running out the end of an uninspired set at Bradford's St George's Hall that has seen a magnificent support from Fourteencorners and some excellent work from Hot Puppies but Sea Power - despite the promises - are dull.

Those promises came from guys. Guy who had travelled. Guys had travelled from far and wide to see this band perform in this not on tour stop for BD1's November outing and specifically the promise came from a guy who had travelled from Ipswich just for the night.

"These," he tells me, "Are the only British band who can rival the Canadians." He goes into a wonderful dewy eye reminisce about seeing Arcade Fire live and prepares for the UK's answer to smart rock. Well he should do because British Sea Power while taking themselves rather seriously - The Brakes without the laughs - are a superb band on album but tonight they are simply dull.

They open with a few recognisable tunes but quickly bring confusion to even the most ardent listener with a range of hitherto unheard tracks and lengthy middle sections which are unwelcome. They play a few recognisable tunes and in doing so at least provide a frame of reference as we swim in a lost water of indigence, adrift in the chasms of space in Bradford's prestige venue.

"We only have two more..."

"We only have two more songs to play in Kendal and Larsen B isn't on of them" Hamilton tells the rapturous collective of men and women who have braved the freezing Lake District air to pack into the 250 or fewer capacity arts centre in BSP's other home town and they have played Remember Me and Fear of Drowning tonight but almost everything else has been from the newly released second best album of the year 2008 - behind The Magnetic Field's Distortion in case you are wondering what my humble opinion is - but familiarity has bred response.

British Sea Power - with added Brakes and Electric Soft Parade drummer Tom White, a violinist girl and some guy in a fantastic hat playing a fog horn - are thriving in the sort of venue that getting a top ten album - Do You Like Rock Music? is at ten in the album parade at time of writing - should preclude but having blasted out Lights Out For Darker Skies on entry to the eight foot highceiling-ed room so they smashed energetically, powerfully, wilfully through a collection which they obviously consider - perhaps with justification - the best songs they have done.

Canvey Island is epic, No Lucifer well received and Waving Flags anthemic and all are played with a confidence that borders on and might slip into arrogance but as the title suggests this is Rock Music and Rock Music should be presented with the confident sneer that Yan, Noble and especially Hamilton exude. Do you like Rock Music? they challenge, because if you so you are not going to hear better than this.

And there is atmosphere aplenty and there is Noble diving into the sea and powered by the arms of the audience walking inverted around the small room without every letting his stern poker face slip and returning the the stage to be fiercely thrown to the floor and standing a veteran of showmanship during the same fifteen minute guitar solo.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, January 27th, 2008

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January 12th, 2008

Taking Turns At Granadaland More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Wild Beasts, Laura Groves, The Debuts, Spondi Pradlo Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

No matter how huge Spondi Pradlo could get - and hearing them one suspects they will not be the next U2 - they will always be known as the band with one of the more ludicrous names to have been considered and passed as acceptable. I'm very sure it has a meaning that that meaning is probably as earnest as Joy Division or Enola Gay and that not knowing it makes me a Philistine of the highest order but even if it does it is still a name that virtually guarantees a struggle for popularity.

Which is a shame because The Pradlo, Spondi, The Spon Boys, Pradders, SP, Whatever, sound rather interesting. They are spirited and manage to fill the stage at the Love Apple with any number of curiously played instruments and the crowd with enough interested acquaintances that they are the best received first band at Granadaland since the insanely good The Swing Movement impressed last year.

This Friday is Granadaland's second birthday. Four baloons hang from the ceiling and real ale is two pounds a pint and these things are done in celebration of the event which stands as a testament to founder Mark Husak. Tonight his event is as full as one has ever seen the Love Apple and the crowd is young and peopled with pretty things who jabber loudly between Spondi Pradlo and the second band The Debuts who open living up to the NME style billing of "Girl fronted Joy Division" but soon spin into sounding rather too much like The Long Blondes to claim genuine originality - something about new year in music seems to have everyone clamouring for all things new and different while in contrast in eleven months time every other song heard will be Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.

Tonight The Debuts are amusing without being enthralling and they struggle to control the increasingly restless assembled masses but that struggle pales compared the the slight frame of Laura Groves who barely visible on the low stage and is disrespectfully ignored by many who chatter loudly throughout the set and for sure one might thing that Groves needs to roughly take the attention of the audience or perhaps someone should give the Northern Working Men's Club motto of "No talking while the turn is on" but the delicate shading of the Shipley teenager's Joni Mitchell-esque vocal tremblings do not lend themselves to such coarseness and those who can't or won't hear miss out.

Groves is better suited to the stage of larger events - she was never better than her slot at St George's Hall on one of the BD1 nights - where her vocals fill rooms uncontested. Tonight everyone is the victim of Granadaland's success but still the lament of single I Am Leaving - "My home was silent/My town was hidden somewhere in the dark/A spark ignited my imagination." - is music to be in love to and hotly tipped many here will no doubt claim to have taken more notice. Groves goes onto a musical sideline in the next month and with eager ears Dalliance awaits.

Dalliance ears were more curious than eager about Kendalites Wild Beasts who headlined but that curiosity was rewarded by a surprising and entertaining mash up of fifties teen Dance Hall and the most modern guitar driven indie. Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants is high pitched and enjoyable and Through Dark Night's Elvis growls seem to sum up the band's ethos of showmanship without the compromise of parody. Perhaps not the finest songsmiths but the win over the previously inattentive and dancing breaks out. The Wild Beasts stagecraft shines through and while one suspects that they may spend many a year as a very good opening act for the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs tonight they deserve the credit for finishing of a night that troubled as Bradford's best music night veered to being more about hair than hearing.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 12th, 2008

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