Not sure if it is me but, are headlining bands coming on later at London shows at the moment?
Lanterns On The Lake, were on stage at 9.50pm last night following, a set from The Pattern Theory. The latter being a 3 piece, all in bright shiny gold jackets, playing a mix of post rock, prog rock and jazz for forty five minutes.
Lanterns On The Lake are a sexet from Newcastle, led by Megan Hickeyon vocals and guitar. and they all just about managed to fit on the tiny Lexington stage. The band have a fine album and a couple of eps to their recorded credit so far and the Lexington crowd on this Tuesday night, get over the hours’ worth of those records.
Lanterns on The Lake who, although looking a bit tried, delivered an uplifting set. Louder and rawer than on record the show was short but superb and had me thinking, Twelve months down the road, headlining, say, The Koko or Shepherds Bush Empire, with lights and cinematic backdrops, they will be a sight and sound to behold. Just catch them now whilst you still can in the smaller venues!
Jonathan Wilson – Hoxton Square Bar and Restaurant (Monday 21 November 2011)
You may never have heard of Jonathan Wilson. But a lot of the bands you listen to have heard of him. In fact many of them know him very well. His CV, if he had one, would sound like a Who’s Who of American singer-songwriters and folk musicians. He’s performed with and/or produced a huge range of musicians including J Tillman of Fleet Foxes, Roy Harper, Crosby Stills and Nash and Jackson Browne. Most recently he supported Wilco on their European tour, and he is credited with revitalising the LaurelCanyon scene along with many of his musician friends.
Which all in all makes it quite extraordinary to see him play his own album – Gentle Spirit – in a tiny room in Hoxton with barely 100 people. Someone with his credentials, you think, might be used to greater things, but there was no sign of anything but pleasure as he played a ninety minute set to a receptive audience.
Gentle Spirit has been described by Kitty Empire in the Observer as 'like getting a free reflexology treatment and a small dose of diazepam combined'. It is certainly relaxing, with repetitive lyrics, lengthy guitar solos, and a summery haze that forces you to slow down, whatever you might be doing.
Live, however, the music is far from sleepy. With an extra guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboardist joining Jonathan Wilson on the tiny stage, the sound is strong and loud. With the heat of the small room, and the unique sound of a Mellotron accompanying many tracks, I was transported to an imaginary sweaty beachside bar in early 70’s California. I could almost feel the sand between my toes as the band sauntered through tracks like ‘Can We Really Party Today’? and title track ‘Gentle Spirit’.
It was a wonderful night, only slightly tainted by what to me seemed like the stringing out of every song with over-enthusiastic guitar playing. But that was a small price to pay for such an evocative and enjoyable performance.
Jonathan Wilson will return to London on January 31st 2012 when he plays the Scala. If you need warming up in the midst of a cold midwinter, I can think of no better way.
Let me take you to two concerts by the same artist, playing the same album, thirty five years apart.
Peter Frampton: Frampton Comes Alive
Wembley Empire Pool – Saturday 23 October 1976
Cambridge Corn Exchange – Saturday 12 November 2011
Well what can I remember of that night back in 1976. Peter Frampton was at the height of his worldwide fame. Almost every home in the western world that loved rock music and owned a record deck, would have had a copy of ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ in their collection.
Wembley Empire Pool (now Arena) was packed (imagine the scene with the Artic Monkeys playing the same venue today). More long hair in the place in those days, sweet smoke (that’s not dry ice) filled the place. Support was keyboard maestro Garry Wright ex- Spooky Tooth, who had a popular album out at the time called Dream Weaver but Frampton got all the God like treatment. A full on 70’s Rock Show and a band in their prime. Ticket price £2.40 (yes, Two Pounds and Forty Pence).
Fast forward Thirty Five years, No support this time but a three hour show none the less. Peter has bass player Stanley Sheldon in the band who would have been at that Wembley show as well. Peter’s long blonde curls have gone, receding hairline and turning grey like most of the (this time around, seated) audience from that era, he still plays a mean guitar.
The almost two hours Frampton Comes Alive section of the shows flashes by like a time machine, with some great video backdrops from that 70’s peak. The 2011 band gels extremely well, Adam Lester on guitar is a great foil for Mr Frampton and the album is enthusiastically reproduced. A great two hours!
The second set is a bit patchy, but there is a Humble Pie highlight, a decent cover of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun and some great musicianship throughout and, a few years on, its £27.50 for the ticket.
Cate le Bon kicks off proceeding tonight. a lovely lady, great voice, great songs and a second album surely just around the corner??? Purely on eclectic guitar with an attentive audience, this was a very nice opening set.
St.Vincent, with band (and added Cate le Bon) were visually spectacular and engagingly original from the off, (being part of part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band, certainly has had an influence) with Annie able to draw your attention like a magnet.
A well drilled and extremely tight musical unit delivers a seventeen song set drawn across Annie’s three albums to date. Electric energy abounds on stage. You get the impression that Annie certainly seeks perfection from those around her (even the sound guy!) but sadly the energy is not replicated by an almost reverential seated audience, who I guess at the end of the day, are just awe struck.
Mark Stewart popped up to sing along to the Pop Group’s ‘ She Is Beyond Good and Evil’ which left Annie seemingly awe struck herself and tempted to veer left and play the rest of the Y album!
This was a tremendous show and demonstrated yet again what a unique talent Annie Clark is.
3.Save Me From What I Want
4.Actor Out of Work
5.Chloe in the Afternoon
8.Just The Same But Brand New
12.She Is Beyond Good and Evil ( Mark Stewart Pop Group)
A set lasting two hours and 15 minutes, not bad for a band who have been around in various guises, for over 40 years.Yes provided good coverage of what the crowd wanted to hear, Yours is No Disgrace, And You And I , Roundabout, Wondrous Stories, Starship Trooper were all there, as was the nucleus of the band.
Central focus a wiry Steve Howe, as technical and spectacular on guitar as ever .Chris Squire seems to morph more into Gene Simmons each time I see him. A giant of a man, he stomps and commands the stage with various bass guitars (one upright) churning out a menacing vibe. That’s an idea let’s swap Chris and Gene around ! Alan White, solid if a little stilted is a powerhouse. Time marches on for all of us though I guess.
This was the third night of celebrations for the 15th birthday celebrations of the Fortuna pop record label. Boss of said label ‘Sean’ was the subject of much adulation all night long.
The Ladybug Transistor formed in the mid1990s in Brooklyn. I only discovered the band this year on the launch of their latest album, Clutching Stems. A quite remarkable band, this year’s LP was their sixth! Not a million miles away from the National in sound, but more with a Neil Hannon vocal style and a Belle & Sebastian stage presence I guess. A very nice set, even when they get the said ‘Sean’ onstage for the last song, that he is more than reluctant to sing or play guitar too. Just excellent though to see the band live and hopefully, more next year!!!??
Tender Trap are led by Amelia Fletcher. The five strong band are a bouncy happy smiley indie band aith a great pop spiritso you can forgive some of the odd missed notes and vocals sequence as they jump around the stage. Songs come from the first album Dansette, Dansette plus a new song from the record the band are now recording, which should be out in time for them to conquer the UK festival afternoons next summer .
Darren Hayman(ex Hefner) & The Secondary Modern are a full band tonight (including Allo Darlin’s bass player) and are in prime form. Half a dozen songs played with gusto, banter in freefall between songs it’s a great set of songs from the Essex landscape.
On the Merchandise stand there is a 6 track 10" EP from Darren in a hand screen printed sleeve, which, comes with digital download code and Darren's choice of loose leaf lapsang souchong (I could not make up my mind what the package contained when I got home late last night, so had to look it up) and a recipe for Julia's Christmas Cake. Fika Recordings are here where you can find Christmas in Hayworth.
Allo Darlin' are the epitome of a good night out, bright shiny indie things they had the audience’s toes tapping and hips swaying within minutes of the opening song. Like Tender Trap a second album is underway and with Darren Hayman’s violin player tagging along, he makes it a collaborative night.
Australian singer Elizabeth Morris leads the band with her ukulele ,occasionalelectric guitar and fabulous voice and personality. This band will be around for a long while to come.
All this for £11.50 a ticket. just wonderful and happy Birthday Fortuna Pop!
The thought of heading across to Portsmouth on a Sunday evening is never an exciting one, but the prospect of seeing one of our favourite bands in a small venue made this a must-see gig.
It was the first night of a 16 night tour so the down n dirty surroundings of 'The Wedge' provided a great launch pad and certainly lead us to keep an open mind on what to expect.
Support was Tanya Auclair, songstress hailing from 'West London via Canada and Rwanda' with loads of cleverly used loops using drumsticks, guitar and vocals. She did a 25 minute set; sadly the chatter level grew as her set progressed.
Guillemots took to the stage to a classical music backdrop and launched into Kriss Kross, opening number from their Red album. This is an edgy number and set the tone for much of the set - ie a very together band, individually highly accomplished, delivering a superb show.
My previous Arctic Monkeys shows at the Astoria, Brixton, La Zonta Rosa and the megazone of Glastonbury really was no preparation for Alex Turner’s persona at the 02 last night. Like the Vaccines intro music, American Rock n Roll radio which they weren’t but, Alex Turner most certainly was.
Leather jacket, quiff, hair combed through a few times during the show (combs available on the merch stand). The new album continues the American odyssey the band seems to be in the midst of.
Matt Helders, is as much a star of the proceedings as front man Alex. A more solid drummer would be hard the find. Thunder behind the kit and two out of three catches after the throwing the stick in the air segments. Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley guitar and bass respectively continue to make this a growing band.
It takes some doing just to get your head around how far and fast this band they go but, there is still the dark humour and the earthy lyrics. A show just scrapping in at 90 minutes could have been much longer after four albums but it’s still a non stop music feast through those records.
Let’s hope next time out it’s not ‘American Express presents The Arctic Monkeys’!
I have decided that the Roundhouse, whilst a spectacular place for a concert, is just not that brilliant for viewing. Half the Wilco set crushed up the front ,half behind the mixing desk meant a disjointed show, viewing wise, as you lose all the atmosphere up at the back. This was however a great set that comfortably covered the band’s history with a massive chunk of the new record.
We went as far back as ‘Shouldn't Be Ashamed’ from AM and all points leading up to The Whole Love. It’ did seem to me a bit low key but that could have been because I was waiting for the current dynamic version of Via Chicago, which didn’t arrive until the next night. My Recent Wilco gigs have also been at festivals and also seemed to be more urgent. As I reflect on set list however I think I’ll be enjoying the ipod playlist over the next couple of months.
Where to start, numerous Ryan shows under my belt already and this is the second London show for me this year, following the Barbican gig in June.I have seen Ryan play over the years in many different forms, with band, solo, playing with other bands. Focussed, unfocussed, sullen, happy, quiet, chatty, but throughout all of that, there are the songs and their delivery which remains for me spine tingling every time out.
At the moment we have the cool, focussed, amiable Ryan. Fine new album just released (Ashes and Fire) and a back catalogue to make even more seasoned veterans weep.
Anyway back to the start. A healthy queue outside the venue early on as, a venue official wanders down the line shouting, no recording no video no pictures,. even on phones etc etc etc. The Union chapel is a jouous church for a concert and being there ‘early doors’, pretty much guarantees a decent pew.
Chris Stills (Stephen’s son) provided a strong set to start and is well worth checking out on record and live. As you would expect (being in the genes) a good guitarist and interesting songs.
The biggest concert of their ten year three album, steadily rising career. The gig was pretty much sold out. Three bands on the bill, we kicked off with Bear’s Den. Created by Former Cherbourg front man Andrew Davie, they had a really nice sound, a mixture of Mumford’s, Admiral Fallow and Fanfarlo. Keep an eye out for them.
Scanners, were a more straight forward rock band. Potential for sure particularly with the lead singer. Sarah Daly.The band have apparentlyhad songs featuredin American TV shows, 'Gossip Girl' , ‘Entourage’, ‘90210’, and ‘One Tree Hill’ A career in the ascendancy but, they never really connected with the Shepherds Bush crowd last night.
Boxer Rebellion were a joyous experience, nice to see a ninety minute set rather than a festival and, very nice to seen them headlining such a prestigious venue. Slight tentativeness at the start, but they soon settled as you would expect, with such strong songs in their armoury.