Posts Tagged ‘gig review’

Hello, is anyone still out there? Alcest gig review

July 19, 2010

I’ve been away for quite a while, mainly due to having a baby.  As the cliche goes, it doesn’t leave much time for anything else.  I am now thoroughly out of the loop as far as current music is concerned.  I have managed to listen a couple of times to The Field’s second album (sounds marvellous but need to get more familiar with it), but otherwise have a small pile of CD’s that have been purchased then remained untouched.  I don’t think ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ is worthy of its own blog entry, to be frank.   And is Incy Wincy Spider meant to be a comment on the ultimate futility of existence?  

I have been to a gig fairly recently (woah, steady there!).  I went to see Alcest at The Purple Turtle in Camden.  Small venue, full of the sorts of goths and metal heads much beloved in the 1980’s.  I like to see people who wear what they like and listen to what they like despite it being resolutely unfashionable.  And I’ve always had a soft spot for a man in a long black coat.  Anyway, Alcest were splendid.  I was a bit worried about it beforehand, because there is a lot of melody and ethereal singing that has to be heard over death metal drumming and guitars.  No need to fear, Mr Alcest and his band were up to the job.  True, the second album is not quite as good as the first (there is a bit more actual screaming for starters), but it is pretty good with some outstanding tracks.  And my boyfriend purchased a very attractive t-shirt.  I enjoyed the evening – well worth the hassle of arranging for my mum to come and babysit.

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Low @ Koko sometime in November – em, they were crap.

December 16, 2008

I thought this was going to be an evening of rare beauty.  Instead we got a ponderous, pretentious, over-blown set entirely lacking in subtlety or restraint.   Each song seemed to reach about a dozen thrilling crescendos and the pace of various songs was slowed, presumably with a view to giving maximum ‘atmosphere’ – but the beautiful, bleak and haunting harmonies don’t need over-egging and we don’t need more time to appreciate them.  All delicacy was lost, we were being asked to NOTICE THE BREATHTAKING HARMONIES rather than just listen to them.  I thought they fancied themselves quite a lot.  Also, they did some hideous kind of reggae-lite christmassy song – REGGAE-LITE FROM LOW.   We mentioned Culture Club.  They also did that ‘come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum’ christmas carol, whose name escapes me – this is one of my least favourite christmas carols and Low’s version seemed to go on for ever and ever.  Then we had some ‘Santa gone bad’ song accompanied with chords of doom.  This just about finished us off.  And we were not alone.  Suddenly a male, American voice shouted “This is a travesty!  I’ve been coming to see Low for 11 years and this is not the band I know”.   People booed the comment but I thought it was bang on the money.  Allan from Low tried to laugh it off, but the atmosphere had gone sour and early christmassy feelings were not to be found, so myself and boyfriend took ourselves off home early.    Sandinista sounded fantastic though.

Airiel and Ulrich Schnauss at The Social

May 4, 2008

I can never think of clever titles for my posts. 

This was a night run by Sonic Cathedral ‘the night that celebrates itself’ (www.soniccathedral.co.uk), part of the somewhat surprising but welcome (to me anyway) resurgence of shoegaze.  We were promised DJ sets from electronic shoegazers James from Maps and Ulrich Schnauss, and live music by Autumn Chorus and Airiel.  Well, first up, we missed the DJ’ing by James due to drinking too long in the narrow and crowded bar upstairs (worth a visit btw – great jukebox, cheap ‘n’ cheerful menu including crisp sandwiches, interesting variety of booze, always lively).  James was in evidence for the rest of the evening, but I was too shy to go and say hello. 

When we finally made our ways downstairs Autumn Chorus were already playing.  This lot hail from Brighton and produce music of the post-rock variety with vocals.  We all agreed that the singer sounded a bit like Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and maybe Nick Drake.  So really, really upbeat and cheerful then.  They made a goodly noise, quite beautiful and delicate at times, but it all sounded a bit samey with no  memorable melodies or individual songs that really grabbed me.  Perhaps not the most accessible sort of stuff to listen to in a crowded little venue when you’ve never heard any of the material before – I reckon they are worth a second listen.

http://www.myspace.com/autumnchorus

Next we had a little surprise – instead of DJ’ing, we had a proper set from Schnauss.  Good visuals and great ambient shoegaze electronica (and there aren’t many people you could describe that way).  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HOVwJq8b5A

Airiel are a “four man noise unit from Chicago”.   They are loud.  Really loud.  My ears were still ringing slightly the next morning.  They reminded me hugely of Ride (earlier Ride, when they were good), albeit with less impressive songs (i’m harping on about melody again here).  But their material is still pretty good, they played with youthful ferocity, and the general sound they produced made me happy.  Oh, and I haven’t seen such a very fine set of fringes since 1992.  I was less impressed by one of the guitarists standing on a table on stage for the entire set though – the stage is certainly very small (not actually fitting the drummer) and not particularly high, but this struck me as a bit wanky really.  I spent the set slightly hoping that his fringe would get caught in the lighting. 

http://www.myspace.com/airiel

I drank too much beer that night.  Had a bad hangover the next day (luckily had day off work).  Drank banana milk, tea, ribena, diet coke, water.  Started a thread on www.drownedinsound.com asking for recommendations for good hangover music.  Some sadists suggested hardcore techno – bastards!  Others were kinder, and I eventually found Galaxie 500, Slowdive, and Lemon Jelly to work the best.  I also dragged my sorry self out to vote in the London Mayoral election – may as well not have bothered given the stupid tory fucks that i am apparently living alongside.   

 

 

Portishead bloody fantastic at brixton academy

April 18, 2008

This was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.  Awe-inspiring, innovative, spellbinding. 

The air of excitement beforehand was palpable and Portishead came on to a rapturous welcome.  I suspect, like me and my friends, the crowd consisted of a lot of people who thought they might never get a chance to see Portishead live and were now beside themselves with excitement.  They started strong and kept it coming.  The set-list (I totally can’t remember what order or anything, sorry) comprised mainly of tracks from Dummy and new material from the about-to-be-released Third.  Both sounded wonderful.  Personally, I thought the new stuff sounded incredibly strong and exciting – with a more industrial edge to it. 

Beth’s voice sounded fantastic – all creepy, uncanny emotion.  She is a weird, alien, techno-futuristic songstress, and that is a fact.  And the cinematic feel remains, only they now appear to have written a soundtrack for a horror sci-fi.   The visuals were spot-on.  They focussed mainly on Beth, with lots of great effects (sorry, I don’t know the terms for any of them), intercut with close ups of the band members playing their instruments (most effective on Machine Gun where there were loads of closeups of the truly fucking magnificent electronic drum playing).  Beth apologised shyly at the end for ‘singing really badly’.  Ok, so i’m pretty sure that she sang the entire ‘Numb’ a note out (didn’t matter, still sounded great), but I don’t think anyone in the crowd was complaining.  

The band all looked pretty moved by the response they got from the crowd, and a band being moved always makes me feel moved (i’m soft that way).   (Digression: I remember Damon Albarn looking as though he would like to burst into tears at the end of a very well-recieved set by Blur at Glastonbury back in the early 1990’s.  And recently the singer of The National was so moved by the audience response that he climbed on top of his monitor only to wobble horrendously and have to be helped down again, saying afterwards with self-deprecating charm ‘as soon as i got up there i thought ‘what the fuck are you doing?’).

The only bum note of this gig was that people kept talking.  I don’t understand this behaviour.  I don’t mean just the odd comment to your pal, I mean literally talking throughout.  I was standing next to two men who TALKED about music all night instead of LISTENING to the music actually being played right in front of them.  They were like a bad stereotype from High Fidelity – endless intellectualising ‘oh i like what they just did there, it reminds me of ………. in 1987’ – with the view presumably being to impress the other male with the size of your, ahem, musical knowledge.  I have no problem whatsoever with talking about music, BUT NOT WHILE PORTISHEAD ARE FUCKING PLAYING YOU STUPID FUCKING BASTARDS.  

Went in with the drumbeat from Machine Gun in my head.  Came out with it in my head even worse.  I might never get it out.

Boom cha

Ba da Ba da Ba da Ba da

Boom cha

digga digga digga digga