19 April 2010: The Primitives – The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham, England, UK

Another day, another reformation. These usually fill me with dread as, with the odd exception (The Jesus And Mary Chain), the happy memories of some wonderful tunes are stealthily stolen away and replaced by a reissue and another hole in your pocket.

But hang on, this one might just be worth it…

Arriving fairly early I was concerned to see that Lucky Soul were due on at 21:00, The Primitives at 21:50 and curfew was at 22:00. Ten minutes of The Primitives is not what I was expecting.

The support, Lucky Soul, are a six-piece pop band from London, who managed to entertain the crowd with what seemed to be a mixture of Maria Mckee, Lone Justice era vocals combined with a pop/guitar/synth style. I particularly liked the keyboard line in Lips Are Unhappy which was very high in the mix and complimented the vocals a treat.

The set passed quickly and the band left the stage to a very positive reaction from the crowd and a large queue at the merchandise stall.

Tonight’s crowd was made up of mainly older faces who were obviously there partly for the memories, but it was nice to see a younger contingent present as well.

21:50 came and passed, but as the clock slipped past 22:00 The Primitives took to the stage to a huge roar from the expectant audience, and raced straight into I’ll Stick With You. The crowd went mad.

Tracy didn’t seem to look any different to the last time I’d seen the band nearly twenty years ago and, aside from slightly less hair, nor did Paul.

The hits streamed past to mounting hysteria from the crowd; Thru The Flowers, Way Behind Me and Stop Killing Me all caused absolute uproar and by the time Sick Of It was over, the venue was ready to explode.

And it did, as next up was Crash, everyone’s favourite pop song.

Tracy dedicated the next song to Steve Dullaghan, the bands original bassist who sadly passed away last year. I absolutely love (We’ve) Found A Way (To The Sun), and it was worth the effort of turning up just to hear this.

The band encored with Nothing Left and Really Stupid, before leaving the stage for a final time.

Another day, another reformation. And this one really was worth it.

Who next, The Darling Buds? See See Rider? Birdland!? We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It..?

Oh dear…

11 April 2010: Airbourne + Black Spiders + Taking Dawn – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

What better way to spend a Sunday night than going to a gig where you’re only interested in a support band?

The opening act of the evening were Taking Dawn from the good ol’ US of A. For me they were an unknown quantity with an amusing Wikipedia entry which was either penned by the band themselves or some marketing exec trying to build up the hype and shift a few units. First impressions were of being trapped in a time warp from the late 80s or early 90s. Taking Dawn looked and sounded very much in the same vein as Skid Row, Guns ‘n Roses, and so on and so on…… which is not necessarily a bad thing: some modern bands can do the retro thing very well but then again others can’t. On this showing Taking Dawn edged more towards the latter, mainly due to the songs lacking something. They showed flashes of promise with a good riff or two before sadly falling back into genre-conforming mediocrity.

On the plus side, a rock ’n roll round of applause has to go to the drummer who played for the first few minutes wearing ray bans before chucking them high over his shoulder. Also, the front man did a good job of warming up the crowd with his raucous whooping and cheerleading between songs (if that sort of thing warms you up).

If I had to be critical I would’ve preferred to see a more quickfire delivery without the breaks between songs to ask if the crowd are ready to rock. In future please take it as read that the gentlemen and the ladies on all sides of the room are indeed ready to rock.

All in all, highly recommended and looking forward to the debut album coming out soon.

Finally, Airbourne = AC/DC

@Jimbob247247

16 January 2010: Pressgang – Elm Tree, Cambridge, England, UK

I had a few problems getting to (and finding!) the venue, so the band had already started by the time I got there. Shame really, because they were on top form.

The stage was tiny and the venue was one of those narrow pubs that mean that wherever you try to stand you feel in the way – probably great if you just want a pub, but not much good for gigs. Especially bands like Pressgang where people do get that strange urge to dance around a lot…

There were a few new songs in the set, but it seemed to be mostly the old favourites they’ve had in their set for a while. Their unique version of “Hard times” is always great to watch, as is their version of “The Cutty Wren”.

“Merrily Merrily” gets more fantastic every time I see it played live. The first version of this I heard was actually by German band “Lack of Limits” – their version is good, but it lacks the theatrical element that you really only get when you see Pressgang live.

This is not just folk music, this is music that’s decided not to bother with traditional genres and has picked up a storytelling element along the way for good measure.

There were plenty of their livelier numbers in the set this time – “Donkey” always gets people moving as does “Head, heart and hand”. Even acappella numbers like “John Knox” keep the momentum of the set going while showing off what this lot are capable of.

@theasigma

19 September 2009: The Wildhearts + Black Spiders + No Americana – Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

First support was provided by No Americana; 4 young fellas, sounded alright, not really my bag though. The second support act was Black Spiders; loved this lot, whiffs of Sacred Reich, Motorhead and AC/DC which is meant as a compliment, rocked hard and heavy without resorting to the just-need-to-be-fast-to-be-heavy angle – highly recommended. They’re supporting The Answer (a.k.a. poor man’s Black Crowes) soon and I might go along just to catch the Black Spiders.

Rock City had filled up by this stage and I’d guess wasn’t far short, if at all, of being a sellout. It’s great to see people coming out for The Wildhearts once again after a brief lull in their apparent popularity (or marketing).

The Wildhearts came onstage just after 8pm and played the new Chutzpah! album from start to finish as the first half of their set. Even though it’s relatively new, the crowd seemed well into it and helped out with choruses where required. Personal favourites were The Jackson Whites, The Only One and Mazel Tov Cocktail. As on the album, vocal duties were shared by usual singer Ginger, Scott Sorry on bass and CJ on guitar.

The whole band really seemed to be enjoying themselves and appreciating the response of the crowd. Ginger in particular was in a great mood with a huge grin barely leaving his face. Later on, he was so happy that he even necked the best part of a pint of red wine with a little encouragement from Scott.

If I had to be slightly critical I would say the live performance of the songs didn’t really add much to the album versions; sometimes a track can seem to get a life of it’s own when played live. Don’t get me wrong, they were all played superbly – very tidy musicianship, great singing and thoroughly enjoyable. Perhaps it’s because their album performances are so polished these days that it’s not easy to improve on them live.

A special quick mention must go to Ritch Battersby on drums. I’ve been a lifelong fan and he didn’t disappoint tonight. Hard and heavy but always controlled, quick-fire but always tidy, a perfect drummer in other words.

After a short break, the band appeared back on stage to begin a more typical best-of set. Yes, it was the same old songs we’ve heard hundreds of times before but I, and the rest of the crowd, loved every single minute of it. How to pick a highlight? With great difficulty. These are all Brit rock classics which perfectly show off what The Wildhearts have always done best; effortlessly catchy riffs, great harmonies, sing-a-long choruses and destined to get any crowd going. New additions to the set were verses of Living On A Prayer (thankfully only brief) and Peppa Pig (don’t worry, if you don’t have kids you probably won’t have heard this).

Shame they had to be finished by 10pm as it was a club night at Rock City. Even so, The Wildhearts packed enough into the previous 2 hours to satisfy everyone.

Loved The Wildhearts, loved Black Spiders, loved the gig.

Set list; The Jackson Whites/Plastic Jebus/The Only One/John Of ViolenceYou are proof that not all women are insane/Tim Smith/Low Energy Vortex/You took the sunshine from New York/Mazel Tov Cocktail Chutzpah/Break/Nothing Ever Changes/I Wanna Go Where the People Go/Nita Nitro /Sick of Drugs/Caffeine Bomb/Suckerpunch/Headf**k/29 x The Pain

@Jimbob247247

19 June 2009: Southside Festival 2009 – Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany

Thursday 18th June

Arrived in Zweibrucken to beautiful sunshine and a beautiful smiley face of my friend Iris who was picking me up and driving me to Saarbrucken where I was to spend the rest of the day in her garden eating cherries straight from the tree and annoying her cat with a long/thin stick. Later the same day we had a lovely dinner at a rather picturesque local old brewery come restaurant where I was introduced to the delights of krautbeer.

9 am Friday 19th June

Iris, Nichole and me finally finished packing the big van which was to be our home for the next 3 days with everything we could possibly think of minus the kitchen sink. We said our good-byes to the cats, set not 1 but 2 sat-navs and off we went, festival bound.

What I wasn’t aware of was that the tiny airfield in Neuhausen ob Eck where the festival was held was in the middle of the Black Forrest, almost 4hrs drive away from our departing point. Glad to say we took a shortcut (?) through France and shaved some 100km off the journey.

Several beers ater, I mean hours later, we arrived. Thank f***! We drove around a bit, found a spot near the loos (but not too near so we wouldn’t run the risk of suffocating with the notorious vile fumes which would no doubt come from it), unpacked some gear, dressed down to match the already mashed & unwashed revelers in the caravan next to us and off we went to watch a few bands.

We managed to see the last couple of tunes by Less Than Jake. They were up on the Green Stage. I thought they were a good “warm up” band. WIN. Little did I know they were far better than the following act…

Lily Allen was a let down. I didn’t quite get why the fuck she was there in the first place. But I stood there for as long as I possibly could before I walked away from a cold, distant, un-passionate, mechanical set where Lily hardly managed to smile at the crowd and the bored looking musicians. Ok, she is competent and hits her notes but she totally lacked the festival spirit. FAIL

Fleet Foxes were on next at the Blue Stage. If you are not familiar, let me try to describe them: they look like hairy Yetis but sing like angels. Anyway, as they started their set it started to rain quite heavily. Wet and cold we stood there in total awe because they were simply divine! Their mellow tunes delivered to perfection. It was quite an experience and I highly recommend you go watch them. Big WIN

I was soaked to the bone and cold so I duly went to get mashed at a Brazilian kiosk selling caipirinhas. Damn! They were good! So good in fact that I lost track of time, missed Fettes Brot and most of Die Arzte. But I must say that from what I saw of Die Arzte they were really good and a real crowd pleaser. I didn’t stay until the end because their set overlapped with Nick Cave.

I arranged a meeting point with the girls and off I went. Needless to say we never managed to find each other but that’s another story.

Mashed, wet, cold and alone I went to the Blue Stage to watch Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. This one is easy to write about: it was f***ing awesome, mind blowing, brilliant performance! And what a sexy mutha f*ka! Even when the PA died on him, he carried on until the end of the song before leaving the stage for a few short minutes. He returned, apologized to the punters, had a dig at the sound engineers and went on to deliver what was to become the highlight of the festival IMHO. Uber mega bitchin WIN

© AndreaUrbanFox

Originally posted at http://andreaurbanfox.wordpress.com/

11 June 2009: Eastfield + Garden Gang + Paul Carter + Chris Butler – Victoria Inn, Derby, England, UK

It was much later than I had anticipated when I arrived at Derby’s Victoria Inn and I was dreading missing the first artist but, a bit of good fortune for me, it was much later than anticipated when Chris Butler appeared on the stage at about 20:30 and consequently I managed to catch all of his set.

Less fortunately, Chris’s set had to be cut short to fit all of the acts onto the bill. This meant that we only got four tracks. But, oh, what tracks they were.

Chris is a folk-punk-protest singer and his songs are story-telling gems of modern life. With songs ranging in topic from The Underdogs versus the Overpaid, through For Fox Sake and I Never Much Liked James Bond Films Anyway to The World According To Bono and Tony Says Good Luck, Chris keeps your attention with three chords and his acoustic guitar.

Tonight was no exception, and the crowd were held spell-bound as he took us through An Evening With Michael Portillo, A very topical and relevant Don’t Vote BNP, Lucky Escapes and Celebrity Bus Crash.

We wanted more but there was no time as Garden Gang had to set their kit up.

I was still buying my beer refill when, minutes later, Garden Gang took to the stage.

Hailing from Munich, Germany, the band are a five piece who have been touring the UK with Eastfield for the last few weeks. Judging by the performance that they put on tonight they will have been thrilling audiences wherever they went as the show was full of energy and unthusiasm and the crowd were full of positives after the set.

Funniest point of the show was when PamP, the lead singer, said that the next number was for everyone from Derby. There was no response, as PamP discovered that the venue was full of people who weren’t from Derby.

In my opinion, this was the people of Derby’s loss, as they missed a superb punk/glam, proto-Cramps racket, which would have gone down well anywhere. Particularly, Ann Dee, on very-excitable backing vocals, Alex on lead guitar and PamP, were very energetic.

Catch them soon, if you dare.

Easfield rolled into Derby for the third time in eight months and Jessi, after telling us that “a funny thing happened on the way to the Vic”, launched the band straight into Tingalpa.

The funny thing turned out to be the not so funny Derby Transport Police who accosted Jessi rather unfairly on Derby train station on the way to the gig, apparently for trying to use the wrong toilet. After rummaging through his bag of dirty laundry and issuing him with a nasty piece of paper describing him as “Build: Slim”, which he was quite pleased about, we were rewarded for the efforts with a version of Port Talbot Transport Police named after them; “Derby Transport Police”.

Every Eastfield gig is different and one of the things I particularly like is that you can play spot the classic punk song as they roll through the gig. I spotted two tonight, after a superb Rugeley Crimestoppers we rumbled into Aspartame – which ended with a snip of I fought the Law – and the marvellous Beast of Bratislava contained a brief excert of The Clash’s Janie Jones. If you’re lucky you might also catch a Dead Kennedys track and I’m sure there are others.

Burt Reynolds Rides Again got all the young punks at the front moshing their socks off, before The Black Hole and a stunning Drive On Henry shunted us into Cancer of the Universe. Then, with Bambi getting some help with his vocals from an enthusiastic crowd member, they finished with the masterpiece that is Another Boring Eastfield Song.

No Sharks Against Surfers. Bah!

40 minutes of enthusiasm, excitement and commitment. Marvellous.

Next up was the legend that is Derby’s Paul Carter. Unfortunately, due to the distinct lack of any service from the British train companies, most of the crowd had rushed off to catch the last train and so Paul ended up playing to a sparse crowd of about 20 people. He didn’t seem that bothered and sang his heart out.

I only managed to catch four tracks before I had to run for my train as well, two of which were Bert The Ladyboy and a lively Sham 69 cover, but I didn’t leave before Paul told me off for clapping while holding a half full plastic glass in my mouth.

I’m sure he’d have played ‘Cause I Had Speed before the evening was out.

Paul Carter

06 May 2009: Ginger + Laika Dog + Dear Superstar – Seven, Nottingham, England, UK

When Junktion 7 closed down at the end of last year I feared for the future of live music in Nottingham. Thankfully, somebody saw sense and rebooted the venue and here I am back at, the renamed, Seven for another Ginger gig.

Other than the name, nothing much else has changed, and the venue remains probably the best small venue in the city.

For once, due to unprecedented levels of organisation, a little luck and deliberately ignoring the fact that the Champions League semi-final second leg was on the Telly, I found myself in the venue before the first band had started.

Dear Superstar were enthusiastic, slick and up for a good time. And unfortunately not my brew. Five guys playing a thunderous power rock, complete with unnecessary screams and Dave Lee Roth T-shirts, I left for the peace of the downstairs bar where, later on, I was to find Dear Superstar having a wonderfull sing-along to a piano in the corner, which sounded much better.

I’d squeezed passed Tony Wright having what seemed like a light hearted argument with the man on the door earlier, so I knew the man was in the building and I timed it just right to venture back up to the gig room to catch the first song from Laika Dog

I knew nothing about Laika Dog before this gig (and a similar amount about Terrorvision) but was pleasantly suprised by the band. Tony is a good frontman and kept us all amused with some witty banter – the most memorable being “If you’d come from Keighley, you’d sound like this” – between songs and got the crowd involved, encouraging us to roar the band along at the start and end of most of the numbers, and prasing us for being “Shit Hot” on more than one occassion.

The band had a sort of sub Stone Roses/Charlatans/Madchester sound, but better.

Tony told us that if we didn’t know how to spell Laika Dog then it was shown clearly on the T-shirts for sale at the merch stall. The band is named after the Russian space dog Laika and I think you should be able to spot the pun.

Unfortunately, I enjoyed the set so much that the only track name I can remember was Piano Song, and I only remember that because Tony introduced it as being the song that has the Piano in it that has become known as Piano Song.

As it was Tony’s birthday (41), Ginger appeared with a cake with some candles for him to blow out. Bless.

Top band. Top front man. Like he said, shit hot.

The gig was heading for a late finish when Ginger and the band appeared on stage at about 10ish. Ginger was sporting possibly the worst shirt this side of Hawaii and a camouflage baseball cap, while Jase Edwards on guitar had tried to slip on stage unnoticed, disguised as a Mexican. The rest of the band was made up of Eddie Eyeball on bass (dressed as Uncle Sam), Denzel on drums (WWE wrestling mask) and Dick Decent on piano/keyboards (I couldn’t see him).

Ginger greeted us by asking why we were laughing and hadn’t we seen that it said fancy dress on the ticket.

From what I can remember we spent the rest of the night listening to Casino Bay, Drinking In The Daytime, 10 Flaws Down, Why Can’t You Just Be Normal… and This Is Only A Problem, together with a couple of new ones including “Return of the Northern Cardinal”, which had a very country feel about it.

Ginger’s high standard of banter with the crowd was maintaned, and as he accepted drinks from the crowd, swigging from what looked like a can of Stella, and downing shots of JD’s and Coke, I guess he’s fallen off the wagon again, which probably bodes well for the new Wildhearts album.

All too soon, it was all over, but after a short break the band returned to the stage for a rousing Church Of The Broken Hearted, a bit of banter – during which someone behind said “Get on with it, 29 x The Pain and we can all go home”, despite Ginger saying beforehand that they would not be playing any Wildhearts songs – and a rousing Sonic Shake.

Apparently, you could hang around after the gig and chat with the band, while they signed CD’s and stuff, which would’ve been good, but it was already too late for me and I dashed off home.

My highlight; Girls Are Better Than Boys. Awesome.

Great music, played live, played brilliantly. What more can you ask for?

29 April 2009: The Sizzling Gypsies – The Enterprise, Camden, London, England, UK

Fortunately for the 30-40 foot-tapping music loving audience in the Enterprise last night, 5 males have been drinking gallons of the stuff.

Raucous vocals, drooling riffs and boundless energy were the first impressions I got from The Sizzling Gypsies. Put these traits together with an ability to write and perform huge songs and it seems all the ingredients are in place. Granted, I’ve only known of the band for roughly 48 hours through my friend Kev who has known the members of the band for several years, but having witnessed 30 minutes of material last night it’s easy to get pretty excited.

This short review wasn’t planned so there’s going to be no in depth analysis of any of the songs played, I’ll save that for the next time I see them play, which hopefully will be in June when the band sweep into the capital, instruments and attitude in tow.

I’m not going to draw any comparisons as I believe each band is unique in its own special way, but the spirit of The Doors and all they stood for seems to manifest itself around The Sizzling Gypsies. Which isn’t a bad thing surely?

That brief interlude aside, check out their MySpace site for songs and upcoming gigs and let the musical fusion take over your senses.

© orangepen1981

21 March 2009: Re-Play Music Festival – The Grove Tavern, Wimbledon, London, England, UK

Some days are better than others and last Saturday was one of the better days. I’d go as far as to quote Lou Reed “Just a perfect day, problems all left alone”.

That bright and warm thing in the sky that you kids call the sun was beaming down relentlessly which is most unusual but very welcome after months of simply miserable weather. The only problem with these early sunny days is the pasty white legs and spare tires on show. Although this is a small problem, catching a sight of the offending body parts can be blinding if the sun reflects from them at a particular angle.

So, after deciding not to venture outside preferring the comfort of my friends sofa, I settled down for a 7hrs non stop Rugby. Yes folks, I am one of those people who howl at the TV set.

Sun gone, Rugby over, yours truly well satisfied with the results, it was time to put on some slap and go out. The Idea was to go to this gig at a pub not far from my friend’s gaff, where I spend most of my weekends. I only intended to see one band, Eastroad, however, once I got there and realized it was a mini music festival in aid of a worthwhile cause I decided to stay.

The venue was The Grove Tavern, conveniently located straight across the road from South Wimbledon Tube. For many years it was nothing but a run down pub badly managed which attracted the lower echelons of south London. Glad to say those days are well and truly over. From the large comfy sofas to the semi secluded good size beer garden, from the well dressed hunky door staff to the young, cute and friendly bad staff and with a good size stage with pretty good acoustics, The Grove has had a face lift and reinvented itself.

I got there kind of late and there was a small queue to get in. There was also a symbolic 1 Pound charge to enter. That said, the 1 Pound included you in a raffle draw for which the prize was a guitar. All the proceedings of the night went straight to Re-Play Music Festival which is an initiative where people donate their old, broken and/or unwanted musical instruments, they are refurbished and donated to schools, prisons and/or individuals who can’t afford to buy one. I think it’s a great idea and worthy cause. They have my full support and I’d like to think that all of you reading this will also try to help by means of donations, spreading the word or making The Grove your preferred booza.

The first band I saw was Mary Jane Burning. By the time I got there they were mid set so perhaps my review of them should be limited to an “ok performance but nothing special” because I might have missed out on some brilliant song or fireworks display. But from the 3 songs I got to hear nothing but second guitarist sticks to mind. Err…I lie. I vividly remember everything but to go any further would be unkind. Just one question: What was that girl doing onstage?

The following act was Eastroad. Well, what can I say about Eastroad which I haven’t already said in several reviews of their gigs? Not much. Taking away the technical difficulty they had during performing the first song, their act was delivered just fine. I did have a feeling, for the first time, that maybe the bass player should be the front man. He certainly has more of an onstage presence, more rock `n roll. Food for thought.

Time for Action. No need to be alarmed or get up. This is the actual name of the band that proceeded. I must say that I had no great expectations of this band. I have never heard of them, they looked young enough to not be allowed in a pub and I’m no great lover of ska. But the truth must be said: Time for Action rocked my socks! The music was a fusion of several genres: ska, punk, reggae, hard rock…all topped up with a perfect dose of irreverence and rebellion. The kids, I mean, the musicians were well rehearsed and as tight as a rats arse! I loved every minute of it! Meg, the lead singer/guitar/harmonic has a huge onstage presence. His energy was immeasurable and his political speeches took me back to a time where people gave a damn about politics instead of this herd of sheep of today. I wish Time for Action all the very best and urge you to try catch one of their shows.

Now then, from a never heard of band to the winners of last year Indie Awards: The Penny Black Remedy. It is easy to see why they were the winners. They are obviously natural born, professional musicians. Every song played was delivered flawlessly. Not one single note out. It was like listening to a mastered album. Their stage presence was pretty good too. They looked comfortable and seemed to be having fun with each other. Its not easy trying to describe the genre they fit in to. They say its Balkan alternative country rock…err…I suppose I’d buy that….whatever that means. If I was asked to describe their style I would have to say I heard something similar at the last BarMitzva I attended…just a hell of a lot better. They were the only band to get just about everybody dancing, including yours truly which is unheard of. My only fear is that due to the genre they get pigeonholed as world music. They have a new album out now, so don’t take my word for it, just go get the album and make your own mind up.

A heartfelt thanks The Grove staff, new and old customers, all the artists and Bob the organizer for supporting this cracking initiative. Also worth mentioning that Green Futures Festival Radio was broadcasting this event live. Green Futures has a stage at Glastonbury festival so be sure to go check them out!

© ASG @AndreaUrbanFox

14 March 2009: ColouringIN – Club Motherf**ker DEAD!, Barden’s Boudoir, London, England, UK

This was going to be a two act, double review of Rex the Dog -a great and well known DJ- and Colouring In – a breaking act pushing to establish a new sound.

But on arriving at Club Motherf**ker in Stoke Newington for its final monthly party, the black board on the street announced that Rex would not be appearing due to a bout of Dog flu.

Undeterred I still paid my six quid, and one beer later Colouring In front man Henry Bennet was making the final adjustments to his band’s four synthesisers.

A choir boy in his youth , Bennet has hung up the smock, choosing now to perform in a vest – white – and jacket – grey – with the sleeves rolled up, a la The Eighties.

Appropriately the synths are used to create a sound not un-reminiscent of that particular era, but there is enough Naughties edge for it all to sound thoroughly new wave. Add to that Bennet’s rich vocal talent -often sounding like its being pushed hard – and you have a fresh sound that had a trendy crowd nodding in agreement.

Not long in to the set the 80’s jacket had to come off due to the sweaty effort ColouringIN’s front man was putting in at the mic stand. This contrasted with his cool as ice buddies pushing the keys behind him impassively -in one case one handedly.- as if to reassure the crowd they weren’t really that in to it.

Talented enough but cool enough to be trendy, mixing a deliberately retro feel with modern electro; if their headline act drops ill again I wouldn’t worry.

© willrobins