Category Archives: GIGS

Record Store Day 2013 – Rise Music Shop Bristol

Well another record store day has passed and what a day it was.  More releases than ever before and the most well attended by music fans and those who wish to support independent record stores.

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This year I chose Rise Music store in Bristol for the 3rd year running and it was an even better experience than usual due to the excellent staff and organisation of the large queues that inevitably are formed so early in the morning.

Rise has recently had to branch out and diversify its product range in order to keep the integrity of it’s core activity, namely being an independent record store.  They now have a partnership on the ground floor of the premises with Friska, bringing a high quality independent Cafe and a stage for in store gigs.  This works remarkably well and in someways adds to the record store ambiance rather than taking away from it.

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So for record store day rather than waiting in the freezing cold for hours we were able to spend some of it in the warmth of the cafe while waiting for the fun to begin.

This year I ended up getting to the shop for 4:15am, yes – 4:15!!!! unbelievably I was still 20th in the line!

It was a 2 hour wait before the cafe opened at 6am and slowly allowed the queue of people to enter.  The lucky first 20 in the queue get their items picked for them and a goody bag with some freebies for making the effort.  This is an excellent way of doing it and avoids the scrum for the very rare items that people are after.

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Lawrence (owner of the store) sporting his red fez for the day was constantly looking after people making sure they got the help they needed to find what they wanted.

It’s an exciting time to get your hands on the limited edition items, however, it is easy to forget what the day is really about.  To bring people into the independent record stores all over the country that have been going out of business at an alarming rate.

The record stores still around are excellent and have had to up their game by diversifying and essentially giving people a much better experience.  Rough Trade, Sister Ray and soul jazz records to name a few I have been to recently are all excellent.  One of the great pleasures is talking to the staff who are enthusiasts for new music and are extremely knowledgeable.  Rise Music is excellent at this, and many are in bands themselves such as Olo Worms in Bristol, adding to the live music vibe of the store.

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The much hullabaloo about HMV recently brings into focus how good independent record stores are.  People cry that HMV is the last music store on the high street.  My beef with this is that I don’t think that it has truly been a music store for 20 years.  It lost it’s soul a long time ago and became a bland entertainment store, charging too much on the whole, with little support for local bands hiding vinyl in a corner somewhere if you were lucky.

Whoever has the pleasure of re-organising the HMV business model would do well to look at the independent record stores for inspiration.

So what were my picks of the RSD 2013.  I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on all 3 of the Caribou albums – of which rise only had 3 copies of each in store.  Tame Impala, Paul Weller, David Bowie and Nick Cave were all highlights for me.

Apparently the day became the best in Rise music’s history so far.  The interest generated by the event and the entertainment provided by Rise was superb.  The bands that played all day were excellent and I met many like minded music lovers from as far away as Swindon who will be back next year.  More importantly, they will be back between now and the next RSD supporting their independent record shops.

As if to stress the point – I was back at Rise the next day for an in store free gig by Mathew E White.  A lunch time beer and a free gig is not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  Mathew E White was amazing.  The band played for about half an hour, the ground floor was packed and the music was superb.  Their rhythm section blew the house down.

I couldn’t recommend Rise music highly enough.  Remember to support our local record stores!

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Live Review with support from Fools Gold – LG Arena Birmingham 2011

The last few years have been quite a learning curve for the Chili Peppers.  With the loss of John Frusciante as their guitar player, to some it would have been felt like the loss of a limb.

All their classic albums have been made with John Frusciante who has been a prolific guitarist and creative force inside the band.  Last year he was voted greatest guitar player of the past 20 years by 6 Music listeners.

However, the new album “I’m With You”, showed that this was simply not the case.  The “new” guitarist Mr Josh Klinghoffer, long time friend of John Frusciante and former touring partner, backing up Frusciante on the last Chili Pepper’s tour, has brought a more subtle sound to the proceedings, but no less engaging.

With a less than enthusiastic response to their latest album, a 3 star (out of 5) rating being the most common, the consensus is that it is a good album but not their best.  However, as time has gone on, the album sinks into the veins of the listener proving that longevity may be the album’s key ingredient.  A return to their roots, of 70’s funk, is the theme of the album.

The real test for many Chili fans is of course the live performance.  Can Klinghoffer live up to the antics of Frusciante?

The venue was the LG Arena, Birmingham, 19th November 2011. 

Now I am not a fan of arenas at the best of times, and the last time I came to the Birmingham NEC was some 15 or so years ago.  It was always a soulless place.

On this visit I was pleasantly surprised.  Much has been done to take away the feeling of entering a large shed, and extra thought has now gone in to preventing the overcrowding and toilet queues of previous years.

Fools Gold support act

Fools Gold I must confess are a band that has largely passed me by.  However, the evening started well with us getting inside the venue in time to catch their set.

Their music is most entertaining, with much audience participation. Their sound very much reminding me of a northern African feel to it. Upbeat and and happy sounds was the theme of the day.  The woven melodies throughout the African themed percussion and Rhythms was great to hear.

It was a fitting support band that got the crowd going and was very much appreciated by the Brummie gathering. As was the impromptu collaboration with Josh Klinghoffer halfway through the set.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers

They appeared on stage just before 9pm with a packed out crowd.

The last time I saw them play was their very last performance with John Frusciante at the Leeds Festival in 2007 and he was on superb form that night.

They opened to the opening track on the album Monarchy of Roses.  A superb opening, with a brand new track along with their new guitarist. The crowd went mad and the band seemed really up for it.

No sooner had we been treated to a new track than they went into a crowd favourite – Dani California.  It was clear even this early on that this there would be a lot of crowd singing this evening!

The set continued with new material being interspersed with the old favourites, and the new songs never appeared out of place.

The band were clearly enjoying the night and were very tight.

The evening went incredibly quickly.

My personal favourites being Can’t Stop, Under the Bridge, By the Way, Give it Away, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie and Higher Ground.

After over an hour they went off stage and then came back with an extended encore.  The crowd loved it and even my friend thought they were amazing, and she has seen them a dozen or so times.

Klinghoffer was outstanding all evening. The jamming was as good as ever and he stamped his authority on the set.  The new songs were all received well, and although the old material, and the solo guitar work had a different slant, with Klinghoffer’s personality in his guitar playing, it was still amazing to watch.

What this gig showed, was that of all the bands around at the moment, as a live force, the Chili Peppers are still a must see.  They left the stage after an hour and 40 mins with the crowd still wanting more.

Simply superb.

Track listing for gig.

Monarchy of Roses
Dani California
Scar Tissue
Can’t Stop
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Parallel Universe
Hard to Concentrate
Look Around
I Like Dirt
Universally Speaking
Goodbye Hooray
Under the Bridge
Higher Ground
Californication
By The Way

Encore

Chad Mauro Jam
Around The World
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Give it Away

This live set can be downloaded from the Red Hot Chili Peppers Web Site here 

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PETER AND THE HARMONICS – Live Review, Louisiana Bristol, and Album Review

Speculative gigs to see new bands play are always a hit and miss affair, but on this occasion there was nothing to lose as it was a part of the Bristol harbour festival.  A wonderful annual event that brings the heart of Bristol to life.

A wonderful arts and music festival throughout the weekend was to begin on the Friday night.  So I headed down to one of the fringe venues at the brilliant Louisiana.  I was attending on the recommendation of a friend who knew a member of the band.

Whenever you get an invitation to see a band because they are a friend it is a bit of a double edged sword.  What if they are awful?

Luckily on this occasion, there were no such fears.

Peter and the Harmonics, a local Bristol band comprising of

Pete Stilwell (The Francos)
Lead Vocals and GuitarEd Falconer (The Francos)
Guitar, Violin and Backing VocalsJimmy Curry (45’s and Snatch22)
Bass Guitar and Backing VocalsTom Chillcott (Nova Saints)
Drums and Backing Vocals

arrived on the ground floor stage at about 7pm and from the off had a little more than the average band to offer.

Their Facebook page lists their influences as Neil Young, The Band, The Coral, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.

This is one of the few influences list that I have seen which does have some bearing on the type and quality of the music they play.

Pete Stilwell has a sweet voice that commands attention right from the off, and you can tell from the hush of the crowd that the band has them where they want them, listening to every word and note.

The set moved along with variety and ease and the band were able to have a rapport with the crowd, always a help on a festival night.  From acoustic numbers, violin interludes, rock and ballads the bands repertoire was excellent.

The band sounded tight, and brought across their music brilliantly.  They were a real delight to watch and listen to.  A definite depth to their songwriting from the catchy Over Me to the Bluesy These Terrors I Know.

Despite the fickleness of the music industry, if these guys keep it together I’m sure they will garner much interest in the future.

I managed to get hold of their home made EP with the tracks Over Me, These Terrors I Know and Gold is the Morning.  I would certainly recommend giving them a listen or trying to see them as they do gigs in the region.

THE DUKE SPIRIT LIVE REVIEW: Bristol Thekla with The Computers in support June 1st 2011

The Duke Spirit have had trouble over the years with their music releases.  If anyone can remember prior to 2005 waiting for their first album to be released, some of us aged quite a bit before we finally got the finished product. So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the release date of their forthcoming album has been delayed.

It is a good job then that when we do finally get the releases from their musical vaults that it is always worth the wait. Duke Spirit are one of those bands that transcends musical trends and what they come up with always sounds fresh.

So with the album delayed until September, this is our first chance to hear the new material.  First up however are the Computers.  A 4 piece  from Exeter, England.  They have been described as Punk, Hardcore, Blues and indie.  Make of them what you will they are very entertaining.

This happens to be the second time I have seen them.  Last time they were an impromptu support over 6 months ago at the same venue.  This time they have a slot on the tour with Duke Spirit.

The real star of the show is the lead singer/guitarist Alex who has a large personality with whom he engages the crowd throughout the set.  They are err, VERY LOUD! A mixture of thrash metal vocals with rock’n’roll riffs and indie sentiment with a significant amount of humour thrown in.

They won’t win awards for the most original sound, but they will definitely entertain.  If they are on your local venue gig list I would recommend making your own mind up.

They finished the set with the lead singer amidst the crowd while giving our local celebrity that is Big Jeff a piggy back and playing guitar.  The crowd unsurprisingly gave the band a good reception.

Within half an hour or so the main event The Duke Spirit came on stage.

Liela Moss shone like a beacon on stage with her glittery silver jacket and the music began with an old familiar in Into the Fold and then followed up with a  string of new songs Procession, Northbound and Cherry Tree.

What was so striking about the set was the confidence with which the new material was delivered and how heavier their sound appeared from the last 2 albums.

The new material went down a storm with the crowd as Leila Moss explained to the crowed how they thought of cancelling the tour when the album’s release was put back to September, but they thought “what the hell”.

There is no doubting the crowd’s thoughts on their decision to continue the tour.  The crowd was extremely lively as the set continued with both old and new numbers.

I have seen Duke Spirit on several occasions in the past, but I think this was the best performance I have seen.  The last time I saw them they looked like an art school band, this time they looked and sounded more grunge like. It would be nice to think that a bit more mainstream success might come their way with this album, but the music industry is notoriously fickle when it comes to talent.

As the set continued Leila Moss exerted her personality and commanded the stage brilliantly, her voice superb and the music sounding great.

The first hour went far too quickly as they left the stage to rapturous applause. Not long before they came back for an encore and led into sweet bitter sweet and then into the old favourites of Red Weather and Love is an Unfamiliar name.

This was a fantastic set, a commanding performance from a band that is hard to believe have been around now for some 8 years.

I can’t wait for their new album.

Set List

Into the Fold
Procession
North Bound
Cherry Tree
Don’t Wait
Everybody’s Under Your Spell
Villain
This Ship Was Built
The Walk and the Step
Surrender
Hello to the Floor
You Really Wake up the Love
Cuts Across the Land

Encore
Sweet Bitter Sweet
Red Weather
Love is an Unfamiliar Name

THE NIGHTINGALES AND TED CHIPPINGTON LIVE REVIEW at the THUNDERBOLT, BRISTOL: John Peel’s influence lives on

A night to remember was on the cards – Friday 20th May 2011, two Legends take to the stage.

It is only fitting that 2 legendary acts should play at the legendary venue that is the Thunderbolt in Bristol.  It used to be called the Turnpike and has a rich history, being an original 1830’s toll house, it has been lovingly cared for and restored into a superb public house and arts and music venue in the heart of South Bristol.

With a capacity of 150, whoever you get to see here becomes a truly intimate experience.  So to see the likes of the Nightingales here was to be a real treat.

First up was the never to be copied Ted Chippington, a man who’s every bone in his body endorses a real “alternative” humour, unlike the popularised humour of the 1980’s that became mainstream.  Far be it from me to explain the great man’s style instead watch this BBC2 rendition of his talents by Stewart Lee which explains all you need to know about the type of humour.

The evening started well as Ted began his set and went through some of his old favourites like “how far is the train station” and my personal favourite “I was at a festival and a man with long hair asked “do you want some grass”, and I replied, “no thanks I have loads of Crazy Paving”.  .  .  .  .Perhaps you just need to be there.

With some of the crowd stunned into silence and the other half rolling around laughing, the set soon ended with a rollicking round of applause.  To be honest I was in the latter character and my partner in the former. Oh hum!

Next up, the Nightingales.

Now this is a band I have to confess that I had heard of and heard some of their stuff, but was always on the periphery of my musical tastes.  Of course, most of us of a certain generation, have heard of the Fall, and listened to John Peel.  The Nightingales are a legend in their own time having the accolade of having done the most Peel Sessions other than the Fall.  Not a bad one to have.

A Brummy band (from Birmingham) circa 1979 and splitting up in 1986, there is now only one surviving original member, namely Robert Lloyd (vocals).  Having split after 3 well received albums, a few years ago they reformed and have started producing new material, by all accounts some of the best music of their career.  The band now consists of Lloyd, Apperley, Andreas Schmid (from Faust Studio) on bass, ex Violet Violet drummer Fliss Kitson and guitarist Matt Wood, plus on occasion bassoonist Katherine Young &/or guitarist Christine Edwards and Emily Manzo on keyboards (Christy & Emily).

The band came on stage to a rapturous applause and the set began.

I have seen a number of “reformed” bands over the last few years, some excellent, while others badly disappointed. However, this was a case of the former rather than the latter.

Robert Lloyd was both charismatic and humorous as the front man and principle songwriter.  The set lasted for about and hour and 10 minutes and got better and better with each song.

The quality of the musicianship was superb.  The interplay of the guitars were excellent driving along the songs and the drummer – Fliss Kitson was superb.  For a band who’s rough around the edges indie/rock and roll tracks can be fairly simple in construction, the musicianship was excellent.  The raw sound really came across and the songs sounded fresh and the band tight.

Although the crowd was perhaps past it’s “moshing” years on the whole, there were a few dancing at the front staring into Robert lloyds largely closed eyes.  Perhaps this was more to do with the beer and the music though??

As the band left the stage the applause continued and they came back for their encore. “Who would have thought it”, Robert pronounced before leading into their final song.

The crowd, gave them a fantastic send off, willing them for more, but the end was nigh.  An excellent night’s entertainment and a really excellent nights music.

My partner this time was with me in her enjoyment of the band (unlike Ted!), and of course I had to pick up a copy of the exclusive 10″ EP they were selling, which incidentally I also fully recommend.

Superb music, in a superb venue, could you ask for more??

New EP – “The Lost Plot”
The Dishwater Kid
Don’t Harsh my Buzz
Rocket Pool #2

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YUCK LIVE REVIEW: Live at the Thekla Bristol with Let’s Wrestle as support

OTHER GIG REVIEWS HERE

A much looked forward to gig to see these two bands.  I have been thwarted in my attempt to see Lets Wrestle twice in recent times, so to see them on the support bill was a pleasurable surprise.

Lets Wrestle are from London, England and the band consists of Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (vocals and guitar), Sam Pillay (bass), and Darkus Bishop (drums), a 3 piece that makes a lot of noise!

I have heard some of their music on various late night radio programmes and have intrigued me with their loud, rough around the edges sound and sense of humour.

Sadly, due to the early start, we arrived a little late and Lets Wrestle were already on stage.  At first I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed by what I heard.  The first thing that struck me was just how out of tune Wesley’s voice was.  The whole band sounded very ordinary, more like an average pub band than a cutting edge outfit.

However, my impression gradually began to change as the set continued.  The songs were fast and furious on the whole, with a kind of nod to the rawness of new wave music of the late 1970’s, with a slightly updated edition.  What struck me most was the way the guitar playing really gave the music an individualistic feel about it, and contributed most musically to the songs.

The set got better and better with the stand out tracks for me being “Insects” and “Prick stuck in my zipper”.  The latter’s lyrics being being quite amusing.

After a 30 minute set I had warmed to them quite a bit, but my reservations remain.  If you are 16 and have never heard the array of new wave music around then this would be most entertaining.  In truth however, at present, Lets Wrestle have little innovative to offer the discerning music lover.

After a short interlude Yuckarrived on stage.  Yuck are Daniel Blumberg –guitar, vocals;  Max Bloom – guitar, vocals; Mariko Doi – bass; Jonny Rogoff – drums.

Their set began with Holing Out from the new album.  The crowd were immediately into the occasion and Big Jeff was there doing his bit for band relations.

Its funny how the talk of the evening very quickly turns to the fact that the venue is a boat!  Many bands find it quite a novelty to play on a boat and below the water line.  And so it proved with Yuck, who also made their acquaintance with Big Jeff as the local celebrity.

I’m sure the novelty factor has also aided the venue get on the short list of the best small venue in the NME magazine.

Back to the gig and the band were frankly superb.  From the moment they hit the stage the crowd were transfixed by the wonderful vocals that complement the more abrasive music.  His vocals are delicate and softly sung behind the music.  What transfixed me the most was the intricate guitar playing of Max Bloom.  It was an excellent show of intricate interwoven guitar playing combined with Daniel Blumberg’s guitar playing.

Then only possible criticism of this band is that the set seemed too short, it went like a flash finishing under an hour.  But this simply is testament to just how good they were and how much the crowd was enjoying it.

Much of their material comes from their first album released earlier this year, self titled it had a lot of critical praise as our YUCK Album  review shows. Despite their obvious nod to the likes of 80’s indie, the Mary Chain and so on, they don’t just copy the genre but put their stamp to it and evolve the sound.  They do it fantastically well and their live interpretation of the songs is superb.

They played one new song – Milkshake not on the album which went down well.

They also played one other not on the album that was on the b side of Holing Out – Coconut Bible.

In the end though the set had to end, and it ended on a high with Rubber, a previous single and a musical, feedback frenzy at the end to finish the gig.

Surprisingly, they did not come back for an encore, which was a big disappointment for the crowd who wanted more.  But this only makes me admire them all the more!

Set List:

Holing Out
The Wall
Shook Down
Georgia
Suicide Policeman
Milkshake
Get away
Suck
Coconut Bible
Operation
Rubber

There were too many stand out tracks to idly pick one or two, my advice would be to get to see them live and definitely pick up a copy of their album.

MORE GIG REVIEWS

Fight Like Apes Live Review: Bristol 02 Academy 9th May 2011

Off to the cage we went, our affectionate name for the small room above the main 02 Academy where smaller bands play.  The stage is in effect a tiny area at one end of the room hemmed in by a metre high barrier.

Bands play in front of a maximum of apparently of 600 people, but if they were able to get 600 people in that small room I hope I am not there! It is truly a very small venue, and usually baking hot.  When you consider the Thekla only gets 450 on the entire boat I suggest this figure is a little high!

Initially the crowd was quite sparse when we arrived awaiting the support band, “I’ll Fight Fire With Fire”.  I knew nothing about the band prior to the gig and did not know what to expect as a support.  I perhaps expected a band in the indie ilk, but it became quickly evident that this was not the case.

They are currently unsigned and describe themselves as an alternative/powerpop/Hardcore band on their myspace site.  Could be interesting?  Sadly not.

They arrived with a bang, the music cranked up to what they would probably consider an ear blistering no 11.  It quickly became apparent that this was a run of the mill heavy rock band, big on noise and low on finesse.

They obviously have a lot of confidence and energy in their performance, but in reality the songs were weak and cliched. As a friend of mine said “I don’t mind people doing derivative, as long as they do it well”, sadly not only was this music derivative, but it was not done well either.

Personally, I cannot stand middle of the road heavy rock music, of the type you would hear a myriad of bands coming over from the US playing.  Derivative and frankly boring.  How this band did stand out though, was the way they were able to play derivative bland rock music, the type that has been heard for 20 years or more, and play it badly, in a fairly chaotic fashion with a singer that was excellent at singing flat.  An excellent achievement.

Even Big Jeff, at his customary front row pew, was strangely subdued (for him!) although the crowd were kind in their appreciation.

The highlight of the set was when the bass player broke his strap and ended up sitting on a chair at the front of the stage in a Val Doonican style, most amusing.

Perhaps I am being somewhat harsh, after all they have not been playing live long, and have a new EP out soon, but perhaps more bedroom practise would be in order, and perhaps a widening of their musical influences.

Having, survived fighting fire with fire we awaited Fight Like Apes, who were scheduled to arrive on stage at 9pm, and finally arrived at 9:20pm.

Their first album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Medallion went down well with critics and fans alike in Ireland and mainland Britain, and had much publicity with people like Steve Lamacq singing their praises.

Their new album seems to have slipped under the radar of the main stream media and not had the publicity of previous releases.  It has done fantastically well when released in Ireland last summer, but has had less of an interest over here critically.

Nevertheless, they are undoubtedly one of the most interesting bands around, and one of the most unusual.

They arrived on stage to great support and a much bigger audience than the support band enjoyed.  They began slowly, with “You Are The Hat” and “Do You Karate” and began their rapport with the crowd early on.

Fight Like Apes are an unusual band in many ways.  They have an amazing charismatic singer in MayKay who commands the stage and engages with the crowd while playing keyboards.  She regularly jokes with the crowd through the set and the feeling that the band don’t take themselves too seriously is a welcome relief in a world where the miserablist indie band rules in the critics stable.

Their music is produced with two keyboards, a bass and drums with the enigmatic MayKay on vocals.  They produce some very individualistic music, spread between thoughtful, indie and punk music with some hilarious song titles.

As their set progressed they got better and better as they headed into their well known repertoire with “Lend Me Your Face” and “DigiFucker”.  Although by this time the stage was like an oven, the band had tremendous energy in delivering their set.  Jamie “Pockets” Fox, consistently gets in on the “interactions with the crowd” act, at one point walking into the crowd to bang metal poles with MayKay in a vaguely percussive way!

The set swung from new material from their album “The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner“, to their tried and tested material with the crowd singing along.

Before we knew it, the set was nearly over as they headed off stage before returning for a two song encore with “Waking Up With Robocop” and “Battlestations”.  They finally retired at 10:30pm in time for the curfew to kick in and for the rest of us to be kicked out!

Set List:

You Are A hat
Do You Karate
Poached Eggs
Hoo Ha Henry
Tie Me Up With Jackets
Lend Me Your face
DigiFucker
Push It
Jenny Kelly
Something Global
Thanks God You Weren’t Thirsty (Lightbulb)
Come On, Let’s Talk About Our Feelings
Jake Summers
Ice Cream Apple Fuck
Can Head
Snore Bore Whore

Encore:

Waking Up With Robocop
Battlestations

An excellent set, most enjoyable.  When you see a band like Fight Like Apes who genuinely bring something different to the party, it makes you realise just how despairing it is when listening to the chart or indeed bands like “I’ll Fight Fire With Fire”.

Can’t wait to catch them live again, an excellent gig.