Filed under: gigs | Tags: adam killip, ben marwood, chris t-t, Emily Barker, frank turner, union chapel
Now, this is why you shouldn’t do ‘best gig of the year’ type blog posts before you’ve attended all your gigs for the year..
The day didn’t get off to the best start with news that Frank was stranded in France with Calais and the Tunnel both closed and all flights out of the country pretty much fully booked. So with uncertainty as to whether the headline act would turn up, it was time to leave for church.
The Union Chapel was (yet another) venue I had never graced and was surprised to find out that it is still used as a fully functioning church as well as a music venue. After a quick drink with fellow fans over the road and a quick queue, it was time to find the best pew and view I could.
It was a bizarre experience to enter the venue as, on the one hand, it was such a grand place with the stained glass windows, pews and enormously high ceilings but at the same time the main seating area didn’t seem that big. Luckily the place hadn’t filled out too much and we got a seat near to the front and just off centre. The atmosphere was made more odd by the fact that alcohol was only permitted in the bar so people were sat around with cups of tea; not your normal scene at a gig!
It wasn’t long before the first act of the night took to the stage and this was the only artist on the night that I hadn’t seen before in Adam Killip (of the band The Tailors) who played a set with a very ‘music to watch the rain by’ sound in the fact it was very chilled out and quite down tempo but with the acoustics of the venue it sounded rather haunting and was a good start to the evening.
The full band version of ‘Crocodiles’, which he played on the night, can be heard on the band’s facebook page.
With almost no time between sets, it was time for Ben Marwood to take his place on stage. I’ve ‘reviewed’ Ben a few times from the previous Lexapalooza shows and have always enjoyed the big singalong shows that he puts on. However, the Union Chapel atmosphere created a very different show with just the sound of Ben’s voice and guitar filling the venue and I really enjoyed this difference. His set consisted almost entirely of his ‘hits’ with ‘Question Marks’, ‘Friendly Fires’ and the normally irrepresible ‘Oh My Days’ all sounding fantastic in the surroundings of the venue.
At times it seemed even he found the surroundings slightly eerie and that he looked a little lost for words, although this still didn’t stop his normal chat between songs! The penultimate song of his short set was the cover of the Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’ which also sounded fantastic, before he completed his time on stage with an a capella song which filled the hall amazingly. Overall, another top performance and one that was an interesting contrast to his normal shows.
Third on stage on the night was Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halos, who I had seen at Lexapalooza Lite a few months previously. Back then, I didn’t write a lot about their performance as I didn’t listen to it too closely as, I felt, it didn’t suit the day. However, the quartet on guitar, harmonica, fiddle, accordian, flute and cello (at various times obviously) sounded so much better in this setting and their vocal harmonies carried through the hall to really send shivers down your spine every now and again.
The slower tempo, folky sound was quite mesmerising on the night and really blew me away and, like Ben’s set, the contrast between this set and the last time I saw them was amazing.
The next act was yet another I had seen at the Lex shows in Chris T-T. The first time I saw him, he played a full band set with The Hoodrats, while last time he played a solo acoustic set. This time was to be different yet again with him playing a solo piano set. I’d been unable to make his tour dates for his solo piano set so was lucky and pleased to catch him play like this.
He kicked off with a beautiful instrumental song which seemed to have the crowd hooked. From there in, he played a few old songs, such as the amazing rendition of ‘Ankles’, and some of his newer material with ‘Nintendo’ being a highlight for me. In amongst the set he even found time for a quick blowjob joke and his own a capella song in ‘M1 Song’ which went down really well with the crowd.
After a bit of a wait, and with a bit of nervous tension from the crowd and his fellow band members, Frank Turner came bounding on to the stage having just turned up after flying in from France. Bottle of wine in hand, he apologised for his tardiness but promised to make for it which he most certainly did.
Launching into the normal opener of ‘Prufrock’, the crowd were suddenly up for it but as with the previous artists, the singalong element of a normal FT gig was absent. Frank and the band knew that the setting they were in wouldn’t predispose to such a gig though and treated us to a fabulous evening of songs rarely played live and reworkings of some of the more famous songs.
For me, this was perfect as it meant I saw a number of songs I’d never seen before such as ‘Isabel’, ‘A Decent Cup of Tea’ and one of my favourite tracks in ‘Hold Your Tongue’. Some tracks that I had seen before sounded as good as ever with some of the other artists from the night joining Frank and the band on stage; Emily Barker joining in on vocals on ‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ and Chris T-T playing piano on a reworked version of ‘Fathers Day’ which saw Frank take up vocal duties only. The latter tracks was also one ofonly a few songs on the night where singing along was encouraged.
One of my highlights, however, was one of the new tracks in ‘Journey of the Magi’ which really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up; maybe it was the draft from outside or maybe it was the religious connotations of the song mixed with the setting, I don’t know.
The ‘encore’ (not a true one as they skipped the stage leaving part) consisted of the rocked up version of ‘Long Live The Queen’ before all the artists from the night joined the band on stage for a cover of the Wham classic ‘Last Christmas’. After that, the stage was cleared apart from Frank who played ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ with the entire crowd on their feet, clapping and singing and damning themselves by proclaiming “..and we’re definitely going to hell!”
Altogether, it was a simply stunning evening with the venue itself playing as much of a part in this as any of the artists. From all the artists I had seen before, it was great to see such different shows from all of them and to see marterial I hadn’t seen live before; especially from Frank.
Afterwards it was up to the bar to celebrate the end of a great year/decade for music and gigs with some old and new friends.. including Ben Marwood’s mum!
I can’t think of a better way to have ended this year for gigs and can only hope next year is half as good.
Ben Marwood – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (live)
Christ T-T – Ankles (live)
Frank Turner – Hold Your Tongue (live)
Frank Turner w/ Ben Marwood, Chris T-T and Emily Barker – Last Christmas (live)
Filed under: Uncategorized
Righty ho. I may have finally found a way to host my live tracks without them cocking up any more.
I’m going to give ‘SoundCloud’ a go for a bit to see how it fares. It looks a bit clunky but seems like the most reliable way of doing this. I’ve added a live version of The Tallest Man On Earth’s ‘The Gardener’ to the ‘Gigs of the Year’ post so far but will work on uploading some of the back catalogue as well over the holidays.
I give it a month til I need to find another way..
Filed under: music | Tags: 2009 christmas number one, biffy clyro, killing in the name of
Now, I don’t know whether the whole ‘Rage For Number 1’ campaign is a good thing or not. Loads of people are making a big deal over the fact that Sony will be getting the money from the sales of their song as well as from the sales of ‘the other’ track but, in my opinion, that’s not the point.
The point is that when you look back at the Christmas number ones over the last four years, they’ve all been winners of a particular show for no other reason than they’ve been on the telly (anyone remember the 2007 classic “When You Believe” No, me neither) so for me having ANY other song is a good thing. Perhaps “Killing” isn’t the best track for that but it had to be SOMETHING else.
Personally, I blame the Spice Girls for the recent trends of shite Christmas number ones; before them it was all Shaking Stevens, Mr Blobby etc.
Anyhoo, this whole kerfuffle just gave me the chance to post this cover..
NB I should also mention the fact that the campaign is raising money for the ‘Shelter’ charity as well. So far they’ve raised over £50k! You can donate here.
Filed under: gigs | Tags: 2009, 65daysofstatic, and so i watch you from afar, animal collective, frank turner, gig of the year, graham coxon, maybeshewill, metric, The Antlers, tv on the radio, we were promised jetpacks
As we approach the end of the year it’s time, as any blog should, to look back on the year as a whole. With the main purpose of this blog being about live music, it seems apt to kick things off with my top 10 gigs from the year.
First things first, I’ve excluded the all day events I’ve been to this year, in Lexapalooza and Lexapalooza Lite, as they would have run away with the titles due to the overall awesomeness of both events. So in order to give the other shows a chance, they’ve been cut. And so, bring on the list!
10. We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Lexington – 18/06
I’d been listening to this three pieces debut album, These Four Walls, for a few months before I got chance to see them at this great little venue. They had a couple of good support bands playing with them but their own set was short but sweet. ‘Keeping Warm’ was a great set opener with it’s uber long intro and kicked the night of well. Other songs off the album, such as ‘It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning’ and ‘Conductor’ sounded fantastic too but the highlight was most definitely ‘Quiet Little Voices’ which is one of my favourite songs this year (a list I won’t be compiling).
They seemed to have a great time on stage and I definitely had one off it.
9. Animal Collective @ Brixton Academy – 20/08
I went along to this gig a bit indifferent to this band but since then have got more into them thanks to this show. The sound levels and the sound quality may not have been as good as they could have been, the one buzzing monitor being a particular nuisance, but this didn’t stop it from being a damn good show. It was a shame I didn’t know more of their material as a number of the songs I didn’t know at the time sounded great live, especially ‘Fireworks’, and both ‘Guys Eyes’ and ‘Brother Sport’ of the new album sounded fantastic too.
It was a shame the crowd were a bit flat but this gig was an amazing experience as much as anything.
8. TV On The Radio @ Brixton Academy – 13/07
After thoroughly enoying last year’s album ‘Dear Science’, I had really been looking forward to this show. The set they played was heavily weighted in favour of this album and the big tracks off the album, such as ‘Halfway Home’ and ‘Dancing Choose’ coming across brilliantly but it was some of the more understated tracks on the album, particularly ‘Love Dog’ which really blew me away. The older material also sounded fantastic and the double act of the percussion heavy ‘Method’ and the sublime ‘Staring At The Sun’ rounded the night off for the encore.
Very glad I managed to catch such a top band on the only date they played in the UK.
7. The Antlers @ Pure Groove Record Store – 04/09
One of Pure Groove’s in store sessions (that I really should go along to more often) this was on at the slightly bizarre time of 1.30 in the afternoon on a Friday but I am very glad I managed to make the trip across London for their set. With just a handful of people present, they played a large majority of their album ‘Hopsice’ with most songs having a slightly different twist live to on the record. The reworked version of ‘Sylvia’ was especially good but others such as the beautiful ‘Kettering’ and ‘Two’ came across just as well.
A wonderful intimate little gig and I even managed to have a chat with the band and get my copy of the album signed.
6. Metric @ The Electric Ballroom – 19/05
For such a big band, I was amazed that this gig was so cheap so booked tickets in a shot when they came out and I’m very glad I did. Fantasies was the only album of theirs I had prior to getting the ticket so was most familair with the material off that. Luckily, for me at least, the set was pretty much dominated by these songs which I much prefer to their older albums. Emily Haines is a fantastic singer and focal point for the band and she was simply brilliant on the night. The lighting and sound were spot on so tracks like ‘Gimme Sympathy’ and ‘Help I’m Alive’ came across as well as they could have. The acoustic rendition of ‘Live It Out’ was a perfect ending to the night.
A fantastic live band and a great show.
5. 65daysofstatic @ Dingwalls – 26/04
A band that I love and had never caught live before. Fantastic support on the night from Tubelord (and some not so fantastic support from Amusement Parks On Fire) as well. These guys’ records just don’t them justice as they are so so much better live than on any album of theirs. Their performance on this night was simply mind blowing and the whole venue went absolutely mental for them. I only wish we’d been down in amongst the madness rather than where we were. And a rather fitting end to the night with a complete power cut during a brand new song cutting their set short.
Absolutely cracking show and can’t wait to see them again.
4. Graham Coxon @ The Lexington – 13/05
A gig I heard about through a friend, I was lucky to grab one of only a few tickets for this fairly intimate gig at The Lexington. The gig was to showcase his new album ‘The Spinning Top’ which he played through in it’s enitrety. I’m not a huge fan of the album but it was absolutely fascinating to watch such an accomplished guitarist playing such technically amazing songs. The change between the pure acoustic songs and the distorted ones were welcome and it was interesting to see a gig that just consisted of one album in order.
A great gig and very fortunate to be so close to such an accomplished musician.
3. Frank Turner @ Shepherds Bush Empire -29/10
He had to make an appearance at some point didn’t he? I may have seen Frank play a handful of gigs this year but this was easily the pick of them. The whole night was great as he had some excellent support from Beans On Toast and Fake Problems and his own set was one of the best I’ve seen at any of his shows. As I’ve said numerous times in reviews of his gigs, it’s a whole different experience seeing him with the band than solo and it was the energy of the performance from this show with the band and the sheer scale of the gig and crowd that made this such a great show. The stalwarts of his live shows, such as ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘Prufrock’ were as good as ever but the inclusion of older material like ‘Nashville Tennessee’ and the fantastic cover of ‘Smiling At Strangers’ were epic.
All this on top of the new material sounding just as good made for a special night.
2. And So I Watch You From Afar/Maybeshewill @ The Good Ship – 20/05
ASIWYFA are only second to Frank Turner in the artist I’ve seen most live and this was their finest moment this year. This was very much helped by the fact that on the same bill was another of my favourite post rock bands in Maybeshewill. The rest of the crowd may not have known them as well as I did, having seen them play the same venue previously, but that didn’t bother me and they were as good as the last time I saw them. But if I thought they were good, ASIWYFA were on another level completely. The setup of the Good Ship set it up for a mind blowing show as the 50 or so of us in the ‘pit’ were pretty much on the stage with the band.
The energy from both the band and the crowd made this one hell of a gig and left me feeling shell shocked afterwards.
1. The Tallest Man On Earth @ Barden’s Boudoir – 09/09
And so the number one spot goes to the marvellous Tallest Man On Earth and his show at the bizarre little venue of Barden’s Boudoir back in September. The venue was an odd little place but in hindsight maybe the perfect sort of stage for Kristian to play on as it allowed the fans to surround the stage and this allowed him to sing to each and every person in the crowd. As I wrote in the original review, he had a slightly unnerving style of playing live as he would pick out people in the crowd and sing almost just to them and when it was you he ‘picked’ on, it seemed like an eternity that he was singing for you. Up until this gig, I’d enjoyed his album but this has nothing on how he was live and it was almost an honour to see him play such amazing songs and sing in his unique style.
The only word I can use to describe this show is mesmerising and I’ve already got my ticket booked for the next time he’s back in London.
The Gardener – live at Barden’s Boudoir
Agree/disagree with what I’ve got down? What was your favourite gig of the year? Leave a comment and let me know!
Coming soon(ish): my top 20 albums of 2009 with accompanying podcasts.
Filed under: music | Tags: daytrotter session, shallow graves, the tallest man on earth
Another favourite act of mine, The Tallest Man On Earth did one of the Daytrotter sessions a few months ago.
I’ve written about this guy in the past as I love his album from last year, ‘Shallow Graves’ and have been lucky enough to see him play at Barden’s Boudoir back in September.
His session consists of the following tracks;
1) This Wind – from the album (reworked)
2) Shallow Grave – from the album (reworked)
3) I Want You – Bob Dylan cover
4) I Won’t Be Found – a beautiful version of the album track on piano
Download it from Rapidshare
Buy tickets for his London show in March from WeGotTickets