Sunday, 29 July 2012

Morrissey Manchester Arena Gig Review

Morrissey Gig Review Manchester Arena
Gig 34 of 2012: 28 July 2012

Leaping straight into the main event for Morrissey yesterday, I have to come clean, I feel a bit of a fraud. Morrissey was Mrs P's idol not mine, and I used to give my house mate at Uni dogs abuse for liking the Smiths despite my music choices at that time being very questionable.

However I have seen the light in later years, driven by seeing him live and also the return to form album 'You are the Quarry' which dominated the ipod a few years back. So with Morrissey not being my reason for living, and having seen a lot of gigs this year, what did I think - well he's first class, he draws opinions, and he is unique.

At half eight the lights went out and from the black came a 5 minute lady scouse voiced list of things that are not particularly pleasant.....'poll tax, apartheid, John Lennon's murder, death of the rain forest, red necks........' and on came Moz, to the centre of the stage with Band in their trade mark now 'We hate William and Kate' T shirts for a bow. Being up in the gods, it was amazing to see the surge of the crowd running right the way front to back on his appearance and he was away.

Kicking off with burst of You Have Killed Me, Everyday Is Like Sunday, You're The One For Me, Fatty (a particular favourite of me and Mrs P) and the phenomenal How Soon Is Now? there was no way that the faithful were not going to be over the moon, twitter was proclaiming it the best live experience people had ever had although for me the sound quality of sheds this size is lacking somewhat.

Morrissey was also quick to get the quips out on his pet subjects, such as 

'You'll notice I wasn't invited to the opening ceremony of the Olympics as my smile was judged to be too sincere'

'Well done on surviving that moronic jubilee, when will we be rid of that family'

'I was in Tel Aviv recently where I was given the key to the city, Manchester Council have given me nothing'

This wasn't to everyone's delight with the chap across the aisle from me standing up shouting shut up and just sing and waving certain hand gestures at various points, and whilst I don't agree with everything that comes from his mouth, he is consistent and has an opinion which is very rare in the music world these days. 

Songs continued to come thick and fast, some I knew, some I didn't, regular shirt changes, one launched into the mosh pit causing a frenzy, the mic lent to the crowd to provide thoughts, which didn't last long, arms reaching out to the devoted, introducing the band. An engaging performance.

Meat is Murder - backed by a film inviting us to 'meet our meat' will no doubt have converted a few more people to vegetarianism and per twitter brought tears from sections of the crowd.

The exception in the band to wearing the 'Will & Kate' T's was the extremely bouncy guitarist, who from a long way back I thought was a young lady but turns out to be Boz Boorer in drag, made me smile anyway when I realised.

After a couple of hours we were treated to an encore of Smith song Still Ill and he was gone, with a bow. Overall a really enjoyable gig, not life changing, not the best Moz gig I've seen, but all round great entertainment.

A bit bizarre though was the support act, regularly I'll come out of a gig having bought the supports album/single but Kristeen Young is definitely an acquired taste. Appearing from the darkness in the corner of the stage behind a madly used piano she sounded like a really loud and spikey Kate Bush to me, and not that easy to get into at all, other songs were sung to a backing tape with visuals, but no, not for me.

The other standout from Moz is the merchandise, well thought through and this was the best T I'd seen for ages:

Set list from here

  1. (The Smiths song)
  2. (The Smiths song)
  3. (The Smiths song)
  4. (Frankie Valli cover)
  5. (The Smiths song)
  6. (The Smiths song)
  7. Encore:
  8. (The Smiths song)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

School of Seven Bells - Live Gig Review Wolvehampton

Schools of Seven Bells: Wolverhampton Slade Rooms: 
Gig 33 Friday 20 July 2012:

After a week of stress and crap at work I woke knackered on Friday, a long day at work and not in the right frame of mind really for a gig, but luckily caffeine'd up I made the way to Wolverhampton. Made slightly more challenging by the police closing the only road I knew into the town centre I pottered through housing estates, hoping to see the metropolis ahead, which finally appeared.
Delayed I got into the venue at a trot to a jolly big doorman who stamped my hand to tell me I had missed most of the first band, luckily I had 3 songs left to enjoy of local band Silhouettes whose 3 songs were a bit of a mixed bag, but really impressive was the falsetto on the penultimate song by the guitarist / singer, which worked great with 2 sets of keyboards either side. Baldy keyboarder on the right was very much into the gig, bouncing rave stylee whilst playing and interjecting inbetween tracks to fill with a very deep voice explaining why he wasn't allowed usually to chat. Other lasting impression was the random haircut of the singer, shaved at the sides, clump of hair on top and straggly fringe. I hope the start of the set had more falsetto singing in it, as Puressence style that really stuck out.

A pint of 'wife beater' and I was feeling pretty excited about the next band, Sylver Tongue, the venue had filled up a little more, so roughly a third full to see the new incarnation of former Ash, Nightnurse, KT Tunstell band and solo performer Charlotte Hatherley take to the stage. To be fair when I read about this support to School of Seven Bells it was a no brainer to book up.

First impressions were that this was a really well put together band, they had a concept, central to this was Charlotte, hair highlighted and slicked back, red guitar slung over her back and what looked like a short fake fur cape / shawl round the shoulders, reminded me of the sorts of thing Sigue Sigue Sputnik wore (but luckily no fright mask).

She looked futuristic and launched into the first song Creatures, which my first impression was of  an electronic Kate Bush, high praise indeed. The songs were rattled through, lots of asking for 'more drums, not backing!' from the band. After two or three tunes I noticed the styling on the two ladies flanking Charlotte on keyboards and bass which was a bit Blue Peter, normal attire which was enhanced with 2 clip on fringes fixed to the shoulders, not quite as rock star as Charlotte but kind of fitted in. Probably the best support band I have seen in a long time and hopefully an album will come out soon. It's the first time that I've seen a stylised band in a long long time, probably since the hives, and in this world of infinite choice it was great to see, having picked up Bowie's Ziggy Stardust LP this week, you can see that a choice in image can really last the test of time, although I'm not expecting to be holding my commemoration of this band in 40 years, but who knows..... Really brave move from Charlotte but one well worth it. Last song of the set was a real highlight. Not sure of the title but it was superb, a building up with catchy chorus intense Charlotte of keyboards and guitar. Tried looking through the Youtube vids and still none the wiser.

Onto the main event, the School of Seven Bells or SVIIB to give them their handy moniker, another band from New York turning up in the back end of nowhere looking a little shell shocked. Central members being the incredibly beautifully haired chap Benjamin Curtis (see pic above for proof) and the Egyptian Bob and ear ring sporting Alejandra Deheza. They came on to a whooping crowd, who looking round looked a proper muso audience, I felt at home, and I imagine most of those present will have come across SVIIB (I think more bands should have abbreviations like this) on 6 Music. 

Songs cracked along, Alejandra combining her voice with harmonies from the keyboard player and songs building and building, when she was on guitar the blur of bangles on her right hand worked. For the hour they were on, I was pretty transfixed, songs (I think) were spread from the 3 albums to date and the set hung together well, support band Sylver Tongue had tweeted they were playing with the 'Lush' SVIIB and that's a good way to describe things, the vocals really are lush. A highlight for me was the opener for the new album Ghostory, The Night which is a cracking tune and has me bopping around on a regular basis. It was pretty difficult not to get caught up and bop in the gig and from looking around the audience, there looked to be quite a few whose default mode was not bop, myself included being caught up in the moment.

Another highlight was the Eighties feeling Scavenger, starting with a great bass drum booming, with dreamy lyrics circling with the Chorus of 
to make you feel loved
to make you feel wanted
to make you feel fire
to make you feel like

This was followed by ILU from the second album, which takes a while to get going then, when its really embedded in your head it starts reinforcing the 'I want you to know that I loved you' over and over hypnotically. SVIIB are definitely a band you want on the side of good in the world, filling my mind with hypnotically evil messages would not be the way forward, as by the end of the gig I would probably have done anything Alejandra had told me.

Wrapping up the band played the again brilliant 6 minutes of Low times, another 'tune' as you may say, listening to it now again, you just can't stop moving to this band....

After what felt like no time for the encore they were off with a brief 'Thank you guys so much, sorry we haven't been here ever, this is the last one' and disappeared..........another favourite new band........BOOM!

Many thanks to whoever put this on youtube from Friday - as you can see - hypnotic, beautiful voice and far too good hair from Benjamin!


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Paul Heaton's The 8th @ Lyric Theatre Salford

Paul Heaton & Friends: The Lyric Theatre
Gig 32, 6 July 2012

Surrounded by torrential rain until 6 pm I took a half day and headed to Manchester (half day facilitated by starting work at 6am). Trying to decide what to do with my time I looked up record shops in Manchester and found a great site which reviewed the 10 to 15 record shops still existing in Manchester, which really puts Brum to shame. With this incentive and knowing the lyric theatre was right by the Piazza de Stan Ogden (as named by Radcliffe and Maconi) I was raring to go. Sadly the rain put a dampener on the M6 traffic but I eventually parked in the M&S car park, emerged out into Manchester and realised I knew where I was! Minutes away from the old site of Piccadilly Records, which was now Fopp. Wandering in I spent a good half an hour settling into an old routine, shuffling through he CD racks, trying to remember what I already had, and needed!

Really enjoyed this first little stint, came away with the new Dexys and School of Seven Bells albums, the Yellow submarine DvD, a film about Bruce Campbell star of Bubba Ho Tep and the evil Dead films, a quality B movie it looks like, and then at the till I was caught by a War Child box set of 15 singles with original and cover of lots of famous artists. All music I could have bought possibly cheaper on the net, but the thrill of buying it in Manchester was grand. Wandering around outside and I decided to try and locate the new site of Piccadilly Records, which was by Afflecks palace, miles away when I was a student, today however it was simply round the corner, passed the road closed off by the police due to suicidal jumper, and there was Oldham Street, Piccadilly Records were really welcoming, impressively they had their chart of the year, which was very reasonably priced, and was headed up by First Aid Kit and had Beach House, both were albums I had heard great things about and heard singles on Rad Mac, those purchases came with a free sampler CD too, nice touch, chatty staff, cheapy section and an obligatory tote bag.

Two hundred yards away, Vinyl Exchange beckoned as I was on a roll, and there was a fantastic bargain sight, boxes and boxes of CD album samplers, for £1 and £2. Rattling through those and came away with 9 albums for £13 plus a tote bag, but better than that he thrill of rifling through music, which I haven't had for a long long time due to the Internet and lack of quality record shops.

Armed with these treasures I headed to Megacity / Mediacity home of the BBC and Lyric theatre. The rain having stopped finally I checked out the square and the extra large Pictures of Radcliffe and Maconi, I wonder whether they can really be seen doing there work live between 1 and 4 through the window, but it's a really nice view, I got to get the view from Wagamama next door whilst I ate my Chicken Katsu curry and Edamame with garlic and chilli salt.

Knowing I would be making a swift exit, I checked out the Merchandise, £10 for the cd of the eighth, but they had sold out already of the cd and DVD version, I was amazed though that I could buy it from Amazon with free postage, for £11.26 using my blackberry. 

Anyway the Eighth, Paul Heaton summed it up well by saying that you had to concentrate whilst listening to it, as this wasnt a Take That concert, well he was right it was tricky.

First half was narrated by Reg E Cathey from the Wire. Not a show I have watched but I gather it is very good, but to me he was a mixture between Queeg from Red Dwarf and Isaac Hayes, he was up at the lectern and was incredibly expressive with his moves and narration. I got the stories, each bit of story was interspersed by a song sung by a different singer. Soul, indie, pop, rock, oak tree, gospel. Great tunes, difficult to hear the lyrics and understand how they fit, I will save that for when the CD arrives. Each singer was masked until they came to the centre stage to sing and the place erupted when Jacqui from the Beautiful South started off and double erupted for Paul Heaton. Reading a review, few people moaned about the light show, but really this was a gig about the songs and singers. For me I was more annoyed with the 57 times I had to get up to let the weak bladdered row out, it really was only my row that seemed to suffer with a weak bladder, perhaps it was an outing of the slackbladderers.

Section 2 was again something different, the singers sat round again and all singing one of Paul Heaton's penned hits, with him conducting ceremonies, lots of singing by Jacqui Abbott who has a stunning voice and anecdotes between each song, lots about not liking songs so much when they have been a hit by Paul. Best smile was for news that the weekends festival was cancelled but despite the same amount of rain falling on the Stone Roses they were ok because of the volume of flared trousers and Bez was sent out equipped with sponge shoes to soak up the spots ...... Spose you had to be there.

The new tunes were pretty good, ready for an album next April. Best bit for me though was being reminded about Paul's dancing, little shuffles here and there, back to the audience wiggle bottom, great stuff, more Jarvis than Jarvis had been when I saw him earlier in the year. The other revelation from these tunes was they were a big part of mine and Mrs P's courting. Not my usual but they bring back great memories of being a student together listening to our few CDs endlessly.

We also got invited afterwards to Paul Heatons pub in Salford, wonder how many people went.

Tracklist (maybe) with singers (also maybe)

Blackbird on a wire - Steve Menzies with Jacqui Abbott

Mike Greaves with Jacqui Abbott - Diamonds (Mikes song)

Aaron Wright - Good as gold

Ivonne Shelton - Poems (from the fat chance album)

Paul Heaton's Costa del sombre (a new song resplendent with surf guitar)

Gareth Palsey (Los Campesinos) One last love song

Paul Heaton - Old red eyes is back

Paul Heaton, A New song - Some dancing to do

Simon Aldred (Cherry Ghost) - Sail this ship alone

Wayne Gidden (Soul sensation) - dumb

Simon Aldred (Cherry Ghost) Prettiest eyes 

Build (Housemartins song) Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott

Me and the farmer (Housemartins again) Paul & Jacqui and mates as an encore.....with a nice red guitar

A bit of Jacqui to whet the appetite whilst waiting for the DVD...............

Great show to start off the second half of my year of gigs...............

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Terri Clark @ Glee in Birmingham UK Gig Review

Terri Clark @ the Glee Club in Brum
Gig 32 - 26 June 2012

An interesting gig to choose here, I'd fancied coming along to see Terri Clark when I was browsing the listings of the Glee Club and saw her photo on her Roots & Wings album, which looked like Temperance Brennan from Bones in a white cowboy hat. This was followed by the slightest of elements of research (looking up a video, getting Dirty Girl and thinking this sounds pretty good and lodging the concert in the mind).

A few weeks later and England had just come through a thrilling match with Sweden, victoriously, I had come through with my mate numerous pints of San Miguel victoriously and we had debated the pluses and minuses of Woy's england team completely. We got onto music, I said that Terri was playing at the Glee club in a weeks time, then that evening the tickets were booked.

Around rolled tuesday, a full on day at work and I hadn't given much thought to the gig, met my mate and we descended to the Chinese quarter. A leisurely tea watching the world go by in the sunshine having a ploughmans. Lovely bar maid from Spain seemed very disappointed to receive the feedback that the Cheese wasn't the greatest (crumbly white) in a Ploughman's lunch, but both of us had to say the Cajun Chips were first class.

Into the Glee club, a venue I have waxed lyrical about in the past, and seated waiting for the gig. It was then, via smart phone that we did our research. We found out the support (Dan Whitehouse) that Terri had been out jogging the canals in Birmingham, had received a number of hit singles in Canada, had had quite a number of albums, and duh duh duh....was older than both of us (just in my mates case, comfortably for me). This would be interesting to reconcile.

At quarter to we had the gravelly voiced announcer running through the rules and reg's, he always brings to mind the jazz bloke from the fast show.....'NICE' and on came Dan Whitehouse. Interesting chap, incredibly softly spoken and played for the first few songs, and then got a bit more into the banter with the crowd, confidence grew he complemented us on being obviously good music followers as we had sought out Terri and warmed us up nicely by getting us to sing along to one of the tunes. A shameless plug or two about the bargain of album plus 3 ep's for £15 (to own his whole back catalogue). He also had cracking lyrics to listen to and had a few heckles from people who had followed him from Manchester. Overall a bit softly softly and breathy for my liking but good tunes and engaging with the audience.

A refill of drinks and we were waiting for the main event, the lights dimmed, then really dimmed, then really really dimmed, spot light on the stage, 2 guitars and a table and on walked Terri Clark. Dressed as above in the black and white photo above, definitely American, incredibly warm and decidedly one of the most pleasing on the eye singers I have seen for a while. First song rattled through, no pause before the next, straight into it and the only notice that it was a new song was the 'thank you' which cued applause from the audience. After the second tune, there was more banter between songs, we heard about the joys of getting around the UK by train (with only a tour manager for support), going for a jog around the Birmingham Canal's (I could see students so I thought I wouldn't get mugged), the ruining it all by having a Blue Cheese Burger (the lady enjoys her food and doesn't want to, or need to be a waif), the challenging issues and emotional types of relationship she has, and the poignant retelling of her Mom losing her life to cancer a couple of years ago inspiring a song or two.

She was clearly a little put off by the all seater audience at the Glee Club, I can imagine that her shows can get pretty raucous with a whooping and a hollering, which is difficult in an all seater comedy venue.

Then half way through and on came the white cowboy hat, sounds like its got a bit of a cult following, but in place looked the part. We also got a life story, the idolising of country music singers making her an outsider at school, in Canada and her Mom taking her to Nashville, the working in bars, the singers she emulated, the singing for tips all brilliant stuff, and mainly in the telling, you had to be there, each tale would have an instrumental backing track keeping it pacing along, lots of self deprecation in there, bursting into Adele's 'There's a fire' and the comment of what an export she is. All of this was done with a big beaming smile, we were all having fun.

We were treated to a great little medley of songs that inspired Terri, from the Grand Ole Opry - (well chuffed to have been there in Nashville myself, took me back), and the impression of Johnny Cash (blokes voice and all).

A nice heckle came in the tale of the song which she said she had written when she was 25 (last week shouts my mate!) and by the end of the gig I had fallen in love with country music again, not sure when I will see some more but I have to say that the show was, in the words of Terri herself 'Brilliant' her new favourite word to replace awesome. A couple of the standouts for me,

This was an amusing tune cracking lyrics that brought a smile to everyones faces and finishing on the following was brilliant, before I hadn't heard of Terri and wasn't a fan, now in my top 5 country artists of all time, who says you can't be swayed by a white cowboy hat.