Tracks Monkeys With Lasers


Crocodiles @ Pure Groove – 23/10
October 31, 2009, 3:24 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , ,

A very short review for a very short set!

The Crocodiles’ album is one I’ve quite enjoyed this year so when I heard they’d rescheduled their instore show at Pure Groove, I was more than keen to get along; especially as it was during the lunch break of one of my few days of lectures.

After a quick bus ride I got to Pure Groove to find it fairly empty again. The first thing that surpised me about the band themselves though was that there were four of them as they are always described as the “New York two piece”. The shop did begin to fill out with people as the start drew closer with all the suited businessman coming in for a quick liquid lunch.

Eventually, the band got underway after what seemed to be the most faffing around I’ve ever seen before a gig. And when they did, I was decidedly underwhelmed with the first two tracks being ones I didn’t recognise at all. After that, they launched into the album closer “Young Drugs” which worked really well. Next up came “Soft Skull (In My Room)” which is one of the stronger songs off the album and sounded great live. After that came.. nothing; four songs was all they’d be playing.

This was a huge disappointment for me as I’d seen near enough full sets from bands I’d previously seen play in-store shows here so to only see four songs, two of which I didn’t know, was pretty weak. It almost felt as if playing their was beneath them and that was a shame as the songs off the album they played were really enjoyable and I would loved to have heard “I Wanna Kill” and “Refuse Angel”.

Let down.

“Young Drugs” (live)

“Soft Skull (In My Room)” (live)



Updates!
October 17, 2009, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So now I’m back in London I will no longer be neglecting the blog like I have the last few weeks.

I’ve also managed to find a new file storage site for the recordings so I’ll be puting a lot of these back up over the next week or two including previously unheard live tracks from the Tallest Man On Earth show!

Don’t say I never do anything for you..



Lexapalooza Lite @ The Flowerpot – 10/10

Following the Lexapalooza all-dayer I had attended earlier in the year at The Gaff, I was a wee bit excited to hear about the prospect of a second one in the same year; the first time this had happened. On top of this, it was to be a ‘Lexapalooza Lite’ purely for acoustic artists (on the whole at least). Add to this the fact that it was at what is fast becoming one of my favourite London hang-outs, let alone venues, in the Flowerpot in Camden and you had what could be nothing other than a great time. And, as always, it was all for the breast cancer research as well giving me an even better excuse to go along and spend money.

The probability of it being a great day was only further enhanced by the fact that it would be running from midday to almost midnight which is, quite frankly, a lot of drinking time. Especially when you arrive with a stomach lining of just Weetabix or whatever the Tesco generic cheap version is anyway.

The poor soul lumbered with the task of opening the shindig was B-Sydes. I arrived just after his set had started but didn’t catch a lot of it as I said my hellos to some familiar faces. What I did hear wasn’t too bad but it did show that this was, supposedly, one of the first shows he had done. The music wasn’t anything particularly unique but was pretty solid.

After that set and a quick foray into the beer garden, I made my way back inside to catch the set by Mark McCabe and he was one of the surprise acts of the day/night for me. A slightly sombre fellow from deepest, darkest Aberdeen, he played a rather political set but it was backed up by some great vocals and some sound guitar playing with a little bit of poetry thrown in for good measure. The politics never overpowered his songs too much, as can be the case, and he had a good dose of humour in his tunes to counter this too; a surprisingly good artist for only the second act.

The next act was the only all girl act of the event, fronted by Emily Barker. They had a nice genteel sound with the acoustic guitar backed by the harmonica, cello, violin and accordion as well as some lovely harmonies from the four of them. The music was a bit of a drop in tempo from the first two acts but it still fitted in with the day and was a nice chillout backing for everyone to enjoy a drink on a Saturday morning.

Going back to the solo acoustic artists, Elliot Morris was the next to take to the Lex stage and was another of the surprise packages for me. I probably the use the term “technically very good” a lot when I’m describing artists but that phrase doesn’t do this guy justice really as he used the guitar as a percussion instrument as much as he did for it’s normal use and on top of this, he showed off some very impressive finger tapping (and as sod law dictates, the one song I recorded probably demonstrated these skill the least). His also vocals stood up to his guitar skills and made very a really good set which included his own songs and a few covers, including a Reuben one and even a Basshunter one; the former, unsurprisingly, going down rather well.

“L Plates” (live) – Elliot Morris


Next on stage was a TMWL favourite Oxygen Thief who I had seen for the first time at the previous Lex event. He’s an artist I like for being a bit different to your standard acoustic singer/songwriter by almost playing like he’s in a metal band rather than on his own with an acoustic and has some good tunes to back this up with. For this set, he bought the mic so he was practically in amongst the crowd which is a touch I always like. The set had a good mix of his stuff and even had a couple of songs I didn’t know. The ones I did know were all played really well with Too Many Trees and its clappy section going down well. The cover of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” went down well, as always, with plenty of the crowd singing when they were supposed to. Compared to some of the other artists his set felt a little short though which was the only disappointment for me but otherwise it was a good, fun set like before.

“Gold” (live) – Oxygen Thief (originally by Spandau Ballet)

Anna Madeleine was one of the only artists I didn’t see a lot of as I was more than ready for a breather and a sit down after three and a bit hours. I only caught the start of her first song but found it a little bit odd to be honest and just got the giggles when she started some slightly weird spoken vocals as it only reminded me of an episode of the Mighty Boosh my housemate had been watching the previous night (the only thing she was missing was a shiny silver jumpsuit). Other people have said that her set was actually quite good but the sit down was long overdue for me.

After regaining my composure, it was back inside for Sanjuro who had a sound comprising French folk and indie ska with a singer, drummer, guitarist and fiddle and accordion players making up the band. Their sound reminded me of the band Klezma Villanova who had played at the Flowerpot after Frank Turner’s videoshoot for The Road a few months beforehand. Sanjuro themselves though were a really good fun band and provided the only opportunity for a dance so myself, Ravi, Phil and Mr Dancing shoes himself, Ben Marwood all had a bit of a skank down the front (just like we had for The Popes Of Chillitown at the previous Lex). With the songs bouncing along really nicely, we all had a great time and they looked like they were having one up onstage too and they were the perfect antithesis to the previous artist.

The next artist was a familiar face to regular visitors to the Flowerpot as Beans On Toast took to the stage. I’d never actually seen him live before so had been quite looking forward to his set and quite enjoyed it in the end. His acoustic songs aren’t the most complex you’ll ever hear but are always good fun and lyrically good fun. For a couple of songs he was also joined on stage by his girlfriend and her vocals provided a nice contrast to his. But as well as his acoustic songs, he also performed a couple of his newer rap tracks. Sadly, these didn’t work out too well thanks to an accordion player who was MIA, the backing beats cocking up once or twice and a couple of forgotten lyrics but if they came out right, they could potentially be better than his guitar tunes.

“The Price Of Rice” (live) – Beans On Toast

After that set, it was time for myself and my friends to run and grab our only sustenance of the night as we were all starving and wanted to make sure we could get back into the venue. As such, we missed a fair bit of Dave McPherson but got back to catch some of the second half of his set. From what I heard, I thought he was really solid with some excellent vocals and guitar playing but didn’t see enough to say too much more sadly. The final song of the set was a reworking of the Fresh Prince’s classic “Boom Shake The Room” which was a great ending.

By now, the venue had pretty much filled out just in time for The Leano to start their set. I’d heard a bit about these guys beforehand but hadn’t heard any of their stuff and I was intrigued to say the least. Their music is possibly best described as hippy-hop (that term ©TMWL, Oct 2009) with the “rapped” vocals backed up by guitars and, for some songs, bongos. This sounds like quite an unusual mix and, to be honest, it was but it somehow worked. The first track off theirs was all about smiling and why you should smile and it was actually hard to do anything but that throughout their set. The highlight had to be the improvised number where they asked the crowd for three things to work into the song and anyone who can rap about pandas, helicopters and cake deserves some level of respect. A really enjoyable band and ones that are worth trying to catch live as I can’t imagine their recorded stuff can capture the fun factor that they had on stage.

As we entered the home straight, it was all solo singer/songwriters from here on in. The first of this quartet was Ben Marwood who was another I first encountered at the earlier Lex show and had been highly impressed with him then. He has a real knack for writing songs that you just can’t help but like and, quite often, sing along to and the crowd always seem to like him. His songs aren’t complicated or over technical but good, honest songs that you can normally relate to and it’s from this that he gets his popularity.

The set he played this time round had a nice mix of songs I’d heard him play before and had heard on some of his records, such as “Claire” and “Friendly Fire”, but also some ones I hadn’t heard but could still (sort of) sing along to, including the one I recorded (but accidentally cut out too early as I was clapping). I was just a bit disturbed by the random girl stood next to me at the front who kept trying to get pictures of random people with Ben and kept asking me whether I wanted a photo with him at the end. Weird. A great finish though with the cover of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” which rounded off the set brilliantly.

“Oh My Days” (live) – Ben Marwood

Ben was followed by another familiar face to Lexapalooza events in Chris T-T who was on at a more appropriate time of the night than the last event where he opened due to other commitments that day. For some reason, I don’t own any of his records but liked him when he performed live before and whenever I’ve heard any of his songs. This set was further proof of how good he is with some really strong songs, including his most famous track “When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” which got everyone singing along.

The majority of his set I wasn’t overly familiar with but still enjoyed, including a really well worked piece based on the A.A. Milne poem “Market Square”. He also threw in a new track which was well written but lacked enough pace to stand out. The final song of the set was “Giraffe #1” which prompted Frank to jump up on stage and sing along with him. Chris will be back at the Flowerpot later in the month for a piano set.. but he doesn’t want you to go.

“When The Huntsman Comes A Marching” (live) – Chris T-T

Next up was the penultimate act, Sam Duckworth better known as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. When I heard that he was playing on the night, I was rather excited as I had got his debut album on the day of release back in 2006(?) and had played it to death and even learnt to play a few songs of it on guitar myself. For some reason, I’d never got his second album though. No matter, I enjoyed his set immensely as this was the first time I had ever seen him in the flesh. He played a couple of my favourite songs from his first album, like “Call Me Ishmael” (see below), and they all sounded really good live.

I’ve always been a fan of the finger picking style of guitar playing and Sam uses the style really well; maybe not as well as someone like Graham Coxon when I saw him but he still does it really well, especially when mixing it in with strumming and his quite distinct vocals. Some of the songs I didn’t know passed me by a little bit but the set finished with what is easily one of my favourite song in “The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager (Part 1)” which was yet another one for the crowd to join in with.

“Call Me Ishmael” (live) – Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.)

And so, after almost ten hours, the headline act and one of the main figures of Lexapalooza, Frank Turner, had his time in the proverbial spotlight on stage kicking off with the standard set opener of “Prufrock”. Anyone who follows this blog (is there anyone?) will know I’ve seen him a few times recently so there plenty of songs I’d heard before but Frank had opened his set up to requests in exchange for a small charitable donation. This meant that there were a few songs I’d not heard before and this went down with variable degrees of success depending on whether he could remember them, such as “Ladies Of London Town” off his first album.

A couple of other unusual songs, including one in French, as did one of my favourite live tracks “Worse Things Happen At Sea” and the universally loved “To Take You Home” also got an airing and made the set a bit different to others of his I’d heard. The crowd down the front were all singing along loudly but supposedly were a bit flaccid elsewhere. They can be forgiven for lagging a bit by this point of the evening but it’s still a bit of a disappointment to hear that.

After the requests were over, the end of the set consisted of the ever popular “Photosynthesis” and a quite poignant rendition of “Long Live The Queen” before ending with the traditional set closer of “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” which culminated with a stage invasion led by myself and Oxygen Thief for the final section of the song (not the first time I’ve been involved in one of these at this venue bizarrely) which was a very fitting end to the night.

“Try This At Home” (live) – Frank Turner

After the night was all done and the drunken shenanigans that went on in the artists area afterwards, myself, Oxygen Thief and Ben Marwood eventually managed to get back to mine and crash (drunk housemates and random girls not withstanding) and all definitely felt the effects of twelve hours of music and mayhem (especially Oxygen Thief) but I don’t think anyone would deny that they had a terrific time. The lineup was really strong and nicely varied and I couldn’t believe how quickly the event went. I really hope that it managed to hit the target it had for money for charity and I really look forward to the next one, whenever it is. Massive congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in organising and running the event; you know who you are!



And So I Watch You From Afar @ Camden Barfly – 21/09
October 4, 2009, 5:48 pm
Filed under: gigs | Tags: , , , ,

A most belated review but here we go..

As with many of the gigs I’ve reviewed on here, the Barfly was a venue I’d never been to before. Having forgotten to buy a ticket beforehand, I was a wee bit worried about not getting in so got there for the doors opening. I needn’t have worried and got in no problem.

It turned out, however, that the doors opened later than I thought they were going to so I caught both support bands and even have a drink! The venue part of the Barfly was a lot smaller than I had been expecting but was a good, simple layout with a good sized room and stage which was a relief after the Tallest Man On Earth gig earlier that month!

After my first pint, Scholars, the first support band, took to the stage, fairy lights and all! The first thing I can say about these guys is that they were bloody loud. But with that, they weren’t just full on noise but melodic with it and were more of an indie-esque band than their decibel level would have led you to believe. They mixed rapid guitar riffs with vocals that flirted on the edge of shouting but just about remaining in the ‘singing’ spectrum (maybe a vague similarity to Tubelord could be used here). This was mixed in with some solid backing on bass and drums and occasionally keyboards too.

I was quite surprised with Scholars as they were pretty solid for an opening act. They interacted well with the crowd (which admittedly wasn’t huge) and it was quite amusing seeing the lead singer jump down off the stage and sing in the face of someone who had no idea who they were. Worth keeping an eye out for.

Scholars at Camden Barfly

Check out some of their stuff on their last.fm page.

The second support slot of the night was filled by the newly reformed Jairus. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t a fan. Every now and again they would have a moment where the song would be building with some well worked guitar riffs and drumming but often it would just kick in to noise with some average shouting vocals over the top of it. A couple of tracks I did enjoy but on the whole I wasn’t overly keen on the band and on a couple of occasions I felt myself drifting off and not really paying attention to what they were playing which is clearly not a good sign.

As I say, a was left feeling a little overwhelmed after their performance and, in my opinion, they should have opened the night. The few songs I did like got a bit samey quite quickly.

If you feel so inclined, here is their last.fm page.

There was no need to feel down though as I knew the insuppressible And So I Watch You From Afar would be up next! I was slightly worried though as at the end of Jairus’ set I turned around to see that I was pretty much stood on my own in the middle of the venue with a few lurkers hanging around the edge. But without 10 or 15 minutes to go, a swell of people appeared and the gig was on!

ASIWYFA finally took to the stage and kicked off with “S Is For Salamander” which was a real surprise. In fact this wasn’t the only ‘new’ (I’ve heard it plenty of times) song they played; the first few tracks of the evening were all new ones. This was a bit of a brave move I thought but they pulled it off well with a couple of the new songs being absolute blinders and it was great not knowing what to expect or when they were going to explode on stage. One of them, that I’m sure I’d heard before, was centred around the drums more than anything and this gave Chris a chance to show just how good a drummer he is.

There is little point reviewing the rest of the gig as I’ve seen them so many times before and they never fail to disappoint. They rattled through all of the big tracks off the album and the EP with “If It Ain’t Broke”, “Start A Band” and all the usual suspects being played. The traditional set opener, “Set Guitars To Kill” was one of the final songs they played but they closed the night off with the fantastic “Eat The City, Eat It Whole”.

The energy of the guys on stage was second to none as always and is why I enjoy seeing them live so much with the usual repertoire of jumps, leaning against amps, runs into the crowd and ‘face offs’ all taking place. The energy of the crowd was good as well which always makes these gigs great as well and it was the first of their shows I’ve seen where the crowd actually managed to get them to play a one song encore.

As always, I was blown away by the show. The new tracks kept the setlist fresh and they easily hold their own against the older tracks so the future releases are definitely ones to look forward to. It may have been a while since the show but I think I’ve only just about regained full hearing in one of my ears; remember to wear protection kids!




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