February 4th, 2010

She Keeps Someone’s Bees More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, February 4th, 2010

She Keeps Bees at Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds

A curious thing She Keeps Bees and one which takes some getting used to as they scream clearly and singularly of references to PJ Harvey.

Which is not to criticise Jessica Larrabee's vocals - far from it - or Andy LaPlant's backing but rather to have a scratch of the head as to what direction the band will go in having completed a set of songs which could sit on Rid of Me. They are entertaining for sure but for all the throbbed electric guitar, stripped down percussion and raw vocal the effect is strangely cold.

Like a faked Mona Lisa one is impressed by the technique to achieve it but some how not by the thing itself. All of which risks dismissing She Keeps Bees as if they were a tribute act - they are not - but for this reviewer they trod a path frequently taken before, and I was done with that.

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, February 4th, 2010

This post is about

January 2nd, 2010

Another year in Dalliance More

2009 Review Your Attention

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Another year, another set of records, gigs and downloady things to enjoy. Predictably were lurve the Blue Roses album and give it the title Dalliance Album of 2009 while the combination of Everything But The Marine Girl Tracey Thorne and the brilliance of Jens Lekman on a The Magnetic Fields track proved irresistible for our track of 2009.

There is no gig of the year though. Maxïmo Park stood out in Leeds as did Morrissey but the year of gigging was too often one of disappointment going to "big gigs" and ending the night feeling like cattle.

So gig of the year - such as it is goes to Goldheart Assembly in Blackburn's Live Lounge and to Swimwear Juniors, The Crookes and The Lazy Darlings in Leeds and to Theoretical Girl in Bradford's 1 in 12 club where small groups or people went to see small groups and it did not cost the Earth and the bands did their stuff with pride.

More power to that collective elbow, more of those gigs in 2010.

Enjoy and thank you, kindly thank you, for reading.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

November 30th, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs. No, No Experience More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, November 30th, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs at O2 Academy, Leeds

In front concentric circles Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs - looking like a Queen Jawa in a hooded robe - spins and bends her vocal to screams of appreciation but I am not amused.

A large eye looks down over the three New Yorkers (and one extra) and the assembled in front of them but I am far from entertained.

The band could be brilliant - certainly they seem to be entertaining from the screen of one of the many cameras held up which provides a snatched view of the stage - but there is something between me and them. Some barrier to my enjoyment.

It is two cussing huge men standing annoyingly ahead of me. I'm pushing six foot three and two cussing tall people are ahead of me.

I try shuffle left or right to get a better view but my feet are welded to the floor. I hear over the sound of Maps my own foot pulling away from a sticky floor as I move trying to get a view. A plastic glass arcs from the upper tier of the venue, the fourth I have counted as I begin to fume. I get an enthused text from a mate at the front and look it with a jealousness. Why didn't I get in early, I might not be this annoyed.

Bit by bit this situation plays through my mind. A third tall person pushes past - there is a constant stream of people pushing past trying to get a better view only to stop in front of me having found a solid fullness in front - and he stops. For a moment my hands tense up, I realise I'm not going to enjoy this evening.

It plays through my mind and I recall a "disagreement" with a League Two football club (who I am not allowed to mention for legal reasons) about paying £20 to be crammed into a stand by stewards who were more about forcing people into areas than about looking after safety, or experience. That night some of my mates were told that they could not sit down and had to stand in the walkways. £20 to stand in a walkway to watch League Two football. Tonight was £20.

There is no sloped floor though inside this bare, hollow "music processing facility" as there is in the Manchester Apollo and so it is inevitable that some people will get substandard views when events sell out. There is no attempt to manage the flow of the audience around the venue so people try push to the front and stop leading to the constant battle just to stand an see the stage. This is a Leeds thing though, a city where people's level of entitlement ramps to unprecedented levels, and there is no camaraderie.

Neither is there any serious attempt to stop plastic glasses flying around or at least if there is it failed miserably and has done on each of the five times I've been to this venue this year. Is this something that I should just go with as part of the fun of gigging? Some people don't think so.

On the way in one of the doormen/stewards/men in yellow jackets address another calling those coming in to the venue "Puters". Comedians, bookmakers and prostitutes call their customers "puters". Are we a joke, getting ripped off or just being fucked? Perhaps all three.

I can more afford £20 a gig now than I ever have done in my life I'm less inclined to pay it. Yes, I'm getting old although looking around "the kids" are in a minority - perhaps they spend their money more wisely or maybe they just can't afford it - but wanting to be able to have a decent chance of seeing, not getting hit by a flying glass, getting covered in beer, getting push constantly through the night. These are not unreasonable requests. Certainly they are possible at The Apollo, at The Brudenell Social Club, at St George's Hall in Bradford, at Brewery Arts in Kendal, at Town Hall in New York, at Holmfirth Picture House and at none of those places am I asked for so much money for so little service.

I'm not recalling some halcyon days of gigging though - I'm not suggesting that things were better watching The Wedding Present in '88, Happy Mondays in '92, Pulp in '96, The White Stripes in 2000 or The Radio Dept. in '04 or Laura Groves in '08 - nor am I saying that gigs should be staid, lifeless affairs where no contact is made between audience members. This is not about that.

This is about a venue that takes as much as it can from your pocket and offers as little as possible back in return. It is about a venue that once you have had your ticket ripped on the way in could not give a flying cuss about the experience you have.

£20 a person. Is it too much to ask that someone runs a mop over the floor?

Written By Michael Wood Monday, November 30th, 2009

This post is about

October 31st, 2009

When you think you have seen it all, Morrissey More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Morrissey at O2 Academy, Leeds

On playing Ganglord Steven Morrissey muses to his audience which ages with him and muses "I smell the lowest chart position of my career, unless..."

Hand clenched put pointed upwards his eyes rise and his band of checked shirted boys strike up Cemetery Gates.

He refers to Swindon and the first night of this tour which ended within minutes of the opening refrains of This Charming Man - Morrissey has started The Smiths revival without Johnny Marr and is right to do so arrowing the phrase "Punctured bicycle on a hillside, desolate" across the room he reminds all that while Marr and his union was beautiful no one liked or loathed the definitive band of the eighties because of the noodlings from Marr's guitar.

Morrissey spent an evening in a Wiltshire hospital with breathing difficulties and tonight - four days later - his skin as a waxy, ill look about it in comparison to the gleaming, tanned Steven who returned to his homeland in 2004 with album You Are The Quarry and a set of gigs that saw the man tanned, robust, powerful and epitomised by the snarl of Irish Blood, English Heart which crisply played tonight.

He commands though This Charming Man and races into his newer work setting a tone for the evening in which he enjoys his current album unsettling all with the odd gem of his past. From The Smiths canon emerge unexpectedly Is It Really So Strange?, How Soon Is Now? and - in a seething awe - Nowhere Fast the live performance tonight of does justice to its status as one of the best tracks on the best album by one of the best bands to have made a noise.

Nowhere Fast sits well along Morrissey and his men's blues tinged slap bass current efforts the performance ends with Morrissey at the rear of the dark stage picked out by spotlight in a swirl of haze and bassist Soloman Walker thumping out the end of I'm OK By Myself taking the last bow of the evening, the solid figure of the iconic front man silhouetted behind him before the raucous return and end with First of the Gang to Die.

There is awe, even in the reasonably minded there is awe, but that is not what the evening will be recalled for. Thirty minutes in and the now fifty year old man bombastically treads the stage teasing his devotees with the chance to speak into his microphone. "Do you want to say something?" he asks down to the front row and - as he has many times - bends down to offer and withdraw.

Frozen in time though someone speaks clearly to the singer - to his idol - to this icon and softly he says tells the singer that he is looking well, and that he is sounding good, and that he should - please - look after himself.

The singer moves backwards and his face is near indescribable. His eyes bleed forward tenderly and he might mouth or say "Thank you" because at fifty after a lifetime of leading this near army of devotees and followers though his teasing and tantrums and his affection and rejection Morrissey - for a second - is subject to his supporters.

His eyes show a powerlessness, for a second only, and a dedication as if he could form the words he would thank the world for allowing him his part of it. For a second only and after what would seem to be the scare of his life it seems that Morrissey is the young man again plucked by his bedroom and put on stage simultaneously seeking attention and painfully shy. The boy again, but for a second.

That, as he would sing, is how people grow up.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, October 31st, 2009

This post is about

October 20th, 2009

Answer The Machine More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The Answering Machine at The Cockpit 3, Leeds

Some bands are hardly seen as they flash by you.

They pick guitars in garages and start to string a few chords together and then what seems like months later they have gone from nowhere to a level of success and subsequent fame that leaves them out of the stratosphere they by passed so quickly, responsive only - perhaps - to the odd recorded message.

At least that is how it seems to be to the casual observer. In truth the level of effort put into the first push of a band is massive and generated on nights like this as Manchester's melodic grunge four piece The Answering Machine play to a healthy crowd in the confined space of Cockpit 3.

Three skinny lads and a lass who looks like Thelma, or was it Velma?, from Scooby Doo they are an unremarkable collective to look at. Strike up the first chords of Lightblubs and they impress immediately.

The pasty singer Martin Colclough ensues the nasal delivery of his home town preceding a cleaner, more measured timbre as he yanks tune after tune out if his well loved guitar.

Songs that plough a furrow of rasping pop played on fuzzed up guitars lacking the twee of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart or Those Dancing Days but not the energy.

Cliffer and Oh Christina arrive early in the set and set an impressively high bar. You Should've Called shows a depth to their canon while the cover of The Wannadies You + Me Song shows interesting influences.

Before near end song Oklahoma a chance to muse on the band who seem to have had enough about them to impress someone into putting Its Over, Its Over, Its Over onto the soundtrack for Fifa10 and may be about to zoom past playing venues like this small loft in Leeds in double quick time moving up to a place where their rapport with the crowd alone suggests they might go. I do hope so, music needs the more interesting bands in any genre to be the more celebrated.

On top of that The Answering Machine play tunes that burrow into your brain. That, plus the hard work they show, suggest that levels of recognition will not be far away.

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This post is about

Number 8 of 24 pagesFirst...67891011...20...Last