The Woollen Wig Out Festival More

Live Review The Woollen Wig Out Festival

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 8th, 2007

fourteencorners, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi, That Fucking Tank, David Broad, Serious Sam Barrett, Harmacy The Woollen Wig Out Festival at The New Beehive, Bradford

Hope is a wonderful emotion and not easily spoiled. Hope had sprung eternal minutes before the doors opened for the Woollen Wig Out Festival and in the corner bottom corner of Bradford near Lumb Lane and opposite the real best restaurant in the City soaking up the early sun it seemed that hope was in the air for all.

The Woollen Wig Out Festival had a wonderful organised shambles quality to it which probably proved its undoing later in the day but listening to Monty Casino kicking off half an hour late it and seeing the fresh faced kids picking up guitars and hammering out something loud and spiky on them it seemed entirely appropriate and in keeping with the mood in the air.

Mood is never more lifted than when listening to the incomparable fourteencorners. On early to allow the band to make a rapid exit for bassist James's mum's birthday tea kept up their own stupidly high quality. Everything is balanced on the right line of precision and roughness and this late afternoon New Limbs For Old Flame in its speeded up live version is superb and blends pauselessly into The Drive Home so we don't have to applaud at the end of the first one we are told. "You don't have to applaud at the end of the second one if you don't want" singer Josh adds in what is increasingly false modesty. Everyone who sees them stands impressed. Everyone who sees them has high hopes for their future.

Le Tournoi I didn't get last time I saw them but today in these surroundings everything clicked into place and I was won over. They are, in their own rough edged way, the bravest and most innovative band around West Yorkshire at the moment with innovation not measured on a scale of strange beeps but on short, spiked pop pieces.

They are Magnetic Fields signed to Sarah Records band with all the wonderfully haphazard elements that suggestions. William has the kind of intelligentsia hip that justifies the excellent I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all which buzzes around the cellar bar so utterly pleasantly while Emilie oozes cool and makes things sound melodic. I still struggle to hear the sounds of - or be won over by the usefulness of a - saxophone player but like the violins on old Blueboy records if it works why knock it and something about Le Tournoi works really well.

Also working well is David Broad who's fedora and suit age him twenty years as he rips through a foot tapping bluegrass set almost all of which is entirely new to me but feels well worn and wonderfully comfortable. St James Infirmary wins me over for good and I'm not alone in making mental notes to take more interest in him, and probably in bluegrass, beyond the White Stripes.

It would be hard to take more interest in Laura Groves who seems to be on the bill at every other gig I see but tonight I end up saying Hello to her Mum - she is nervous and can't watch - and standing behind to her sister - she is short and I get a great view. If hope is in the air then Laura Groves conducts it. Her voice-as-instrument melodies and picked out guitar sounds are never far from familiar but sound unlike anything else. "Suzanne Vega" someone says, miles wide of the mark, "Joanna Newsome" someone else comments but Joanna Newsome never sung about Filey as the always wonderful Coast is and perhaps that is what is so enchanting about the Shipley born singer/songwriter. Her uniqueness comes from growing up near the Shipley Glen Tramway not the Palm Springs Aerial. Perhaps she is as much a product of the area as riots or superb Chicken Pathia or Rugby League. She is fabric.

The need for superb Chicken Pathia takes over and The Hipshakers could be the greatest band ever but I've gone to eat. Next time I hope.

Kill Manticore are noisy boys and trash at guitars as if they have done something wrong. They stomp well and effectively and show the breadth of acceptance of the music scene in West Yorkshire at the moment.

Later in the night Serious Sam Barrett and David Broad will be sitting on two beer barrels deep in conversation and when Barrett takes to stage it is not hard to see why. Both are cut from the same cloth and both are are equally enjoyable pitching perfectly for place and people. Barrett's mic fails and in an hours time technical problems are going to boil over but he Serious Sam plays on and is applauded for it.

That Fucking Tank suffer the same technical problems but create a hell of a racket. By the time Harmacy come on the mics are failing and vocals sound as if they are sung from deep underground. Steve Albini would have loved the sound of Harmacy ala Seamonsters but after one song someone takes exception and a scuffle breaks out. Everything gets very strange and the end is no reflection of the day nor is it a reward for the work that went into it. It is sour but does nothing to dampen the mood. I head for the door but I hope - I hope - that we get to do this again sometime.

The Next Album More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The Wedding Present at The Picturedrome, Holmfirth

I have a theory on The Wedding Present which goes something along the lines of that they are the most unlikeable band on the planet which - in turn - makes them the most loveable.I'll expand.

How does one explain The Wedding Present to an outsider? They are a miserable band for sure and yeah I guess all the songs do sound the same and if you don't get it then Seamonsters does sound like one long low noise but if for whatever reason you do, if you are one of the converted, then you love them. Perhaps someone will add to this with a set of reasons about life conditioning and a love of loud guitar but for the moment I'm prepared to leave that theory hanging with the tantalising idea that being better than "good" is not the same as being "great".

Tonight was for the converted. A cinema in a backwater next to a backwater in Yorkshire plays host to The Wedding Present as they prepare for the twentieth year since the not at all ground breaking but entirely excellent George Best album was released and while hairlines in the ruckus at the front have receded to the point of baldness for some the energy has not. Ninety minutes after going on stage that ruckus will be hands on thighs at the side of the stage feeling their age but for now the years are peeled back as David Gedge slams into My Favourite Dress as if twenty years had not passed. California follows then Gone gets rare outing after and Gedge comments "Three-nil up in the first ten minutes I think"

He is right of course but he knows that he will eat into that lead straying away from the much loved back catalogue and giving outings to first play and next album tracks. The soon to be retitled The Thing I Like Most About You is Your Girlfriend stands out and is lauded in the hubbub as an instant classic but the middle section of the set is curiously received. Gedge could make a pile of money taking a few years dragging Brassneck around the country but the signature song is missing tonight despite - or perhaps because of - the calls for it and similar. This Boy Can Wait someone calls, "Is that a request or are you just a patient man" comes the reply.

Such calls seem to miss the point of the band who despite temptation aim to be as contemporary as possible and this gig is as much about the next album as any previous.

Nevertheless when the previous include Crawl, Dalliance and Dare - all of which get an outing - it would be cruel not to dip into the back catalogue. A momentum is build up which climbs to a crescendo with a hypnotic version of Interstate 5 and is concluded with a joyously received Kennedy.

The band move onto Sheffield tomorrow night and then in six months (are rumoured) to be touring in support of a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the release of George Best but perhaps the best way to celebrate will be a new album taking the same swaggering stab at brilliance as the one baring the name of the bearded Manchester United man did.

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The Views Are Still Astounding More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, March 30th, 2007

fourteencorners, White Light Parade, Le Tournoi, Kubera Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

"The views are still astounding though, even without the smoke."

This is the second time in five days that I've seen harder than most rockers Kubera and they are growing on me in a conspiratorial way. They are louder than the Love Apple and it is not hard to see why they get mentioned in The Gasworks but they are amusing and kick this night of four off with energy. The lead singer wears a dressing gown and swears less than last week but my mate who also saw both and thinks that music is music when the amp is turned up bops along and that is good enough for me.

She was not bopping away to the altogether more melodic Le Tournoi who swim between the tweeness of a Sarah Band and something more Steve Albini produced. The view down one of many futures Le Tournoi are a young version of Cinerama circa Torino putting out intelligent pop with a warm tinge, down another they are Heavenly, Blueboy or The Field Mice making smart music for a small band of devotees.

Taaryn's sax is lost in the mixing desk which is a shame but not as bad as the band's unending need to suppressing William and Emilie's intelligent vocals. Le Tournoi are still a work in progress and there is a chance that that work is going to be blistering and blinding and brilliant.

Already dubbed blistering and blinding and brilliant are White Light Parade who - in common with a lot of bands around the City at the moment - are destined for bigger. Tonight they are second on the bill to fourteencorners cause Danny Yates wants to get plastered after they finish and strut the stage with the swagger of an fantastically arrogant band. They aim for The Clash and come over as The Libertines but that is no bad thing. Wait For The Weekend is anthemic, When The Lights Go Down memorable. Bigger things, more record sales, downloads, bigger venues. All that stuff await and White Light Parade will stand alongside The View and probably be lots and lots of people's second favourite band.

Which sounds like a criticism and is not supposed to - the kids lap them up after all - but for all the energy of White Light Parade they are treading a familiar path. They tread it well but the smoke and mirrors of media interest might just mask a bunch of talent lads being put on a three month release cycle with the likes of those scamps from Dundee.

There is no familiar path for fourteencorners who open with a stripped down Small Northern Town and go through five perfectly formed numbers with confidence. Tsotumi sounds better than it ever has done and bursts the stage after Josh's picking through SNT. The increasingly absurdly tall Luke takes flight on We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! scraping guitar strings and backing with a power call - "So, Come On" never sounded so good.

Nor have fourteencorners - or so is the consensus in an increasingly growing crowd who all seem to know the Larry David samples missing from the live set - who reminisce in sound on The Wedding Present, on Billy Bragg, on Grant Lee Buffalo while having a set of songs that demand attention. They close with New Limbs For Old Flames which would seem to make sense further up the order but while notes fall out of place the impression is that fourteencorners are a band to love not like and that there is no smoke and mirrors and that the view really is astounding.

Laura Groves Impressive In The Small Northern Town More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, March 26th, 2007

Harmacy, Laura Groves, Kubera at Fagins Bar, Halifax

These is something impressively beatnik about Fagin's bar in Halifax - scene of the would be double header of Bradford's slack rockers - and would be Pixies - Harmacy and the pixified Laura Groves. It is a bar where lager is drunk from tall stem glasses without staying into real ale territory. It is a place without irony and enjoys that fact.Opening band Kubera lack irony but not quality. They wear rough coarseness as a badge and wear it well going through a six or seven strong set with a heaviness a darker territory. Every song is tagged as sleazy, every song is gravel voiced.

Never one to stay too far down the path to darkness is Laura Groves whose melancholic twang of guitar always is a constant delight. Tonight she is done no favours by the venue which cries out for brick shaking but still commands the room in a way that is rare on a Sunday night in this small Northern town. Imaginary Flights is wistful and dreams away. Six songs pass too quickly.

Local residents and worries about noise cut the night before Harmacy can play and wandering back to the taxi rank two officers of the law pass us and one looks at how the only resident within earshot is a gaudy lit MacDonalds.

Some way to go.

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Scene one More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Laboratory Noise at The Delius, Bradford

Laboratory Noise - Live Review

Laboratory Noise at The Delius in Bradford is hardly the stuff of huge comment or massive missives but after watching another of the collection of bands that are making up a currently nameless scene in Bradford and West Yorkshire I get heartened by the idea that there is - to steal a phrase - something going around here.

Sounding like Kevin Shields produced Grunge meets Mode Laboratory Noise are worth a listen and the projected film means they are worth a watch too. They sit as further proof of the depth of quality around the nameless scene at the moment. This was Thursday night with a few beers in a pub and the band were good.

fourteencorners were playing at the Love Apple two hundred yards away and the talk was of going to see Harmacy and Laura Groves in Halifax next months and it certainly seems like something.

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