Tracks Monkeys With Lasers

Gigs of the Year 2009

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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

Original review

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.

Podcast #16 – Live And Unplugged

A belated 16th podcast featuring;

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Rush Apart
Frank Turner – Heartless Bastard Mother Fucker (live)
Graham Coxon – Sorrow’s Army (live)
Tim Fite – A Better Fence
Antlers – Bear
65daysofstatic – Retreat! Retreat! (live)
Maybeshewill – Co-Conspirators (live)
Justin Vernon – Ring Out
Klaxons – Golden Skans (Acoustic)
Metric – Help I’m Alive (Acoustic)
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Come Saturday (live)
Dave House – Born Steady
Bruce Peninsula – Crabapples
Slow Club – Our Most Brilliant Friends
And So I Watch You From Afar – The Voiceless (live)

Download from this link

Graham Coxon @ The Lexington – 13/05
May 14, 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: , , ,

Last night saw my first visit to the fairly new venue of The Lexington on Pentonville Road to see Graham Coxon play one of only a handful of shows before he’s off touring with some band he used to be in called Blur.

Anyhoo, I met up for a drink with a friend beforehand so didn’t catch the first support band, Micachu and the Shapes, as we didn’t realise that they’d finished by the time we got upstairs to the venue itself.

The actual venue was a fair bit bigger than I had imagined with a small upper floor with a bar and then on a lower level was the main floor and the stage. As we got there, there were very few people still in the venue so easily made it to the front in time for the second support act, Pete and the Pirates.

Pete And The Pirates at the Lexington

Now these were one of those bands that I seem to have heard of many times in many different places but had never actually heard any of their music so went into it now knowing what to expect. And what I did hear was rather good actually as they played an almost annoyingly catchy array of indie pop that had just enough of an edge to it every now and again to stop you from feeling nauseous from the sugariness of their songs. The two guitarists/two singers format worked well for them and the tight guitars from them was backed up nicely by some lovely little riffs by their other guitarist and some solid drumming and basslines from the remainder of the band. Well worth a listen.

After they had finished their set and the stage was prepped, Graham Coxon and his band (a drummer and bassist) made there understated entrance to a now packed out Lexington audience.

Graham Coxon at the Lexington

Now, I knew what to expect from this gig as I’d already heard that it would be him, and the band, playing his new album ‘The Spinning Top’ so I managed to ‘acquire’ this album beforehand and give it a few listens before seeing him. As such, this review is of the album as much as it is of the gig itself. Now the thing with this album is that it is a very different sound to his previous albums as it draws it sound from a very folky, finger picking style (the latter, a style I really like and as a guitarist myself, one I like to play) rather than the lo-fi and pop punk sounds of his other works. For me, it’s a great album (after a few listens) and I really appreciate the technicality of playing such songs.

Live, however, it was simply mesmerising for me to see it being played in front of me (and here it was quite literally in front of me!). After his brief, understated welcome he started from the top of the album with the rather fabulous ‘Look Into The Light’ and from there, proceeded to play the rest of the album in it’s entirety, including the 8 minute long ‘In The Morning’, the brilliantly distorted ‘Dead Bees’ and the fantastic, frantic single ‘Sorrow’s Army’.

The acoustic tracks he played sat on a chair at the front of the stage (as finger picking can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when stood up) which added to the intimate feeling of the gig, while the heavier tracks like ‘Dead Bees’ saw him get to his feet with his electric guitar, bent over and playing with his effects pedals to brilliant.. well, effect.

After playing the album the whole way through, he finished with a cover of a cover of an old blues/folk track called ‘Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie’, originally written by Elizabeth Cotten which was a nice finish. All in all, I found it an entralling gig thanks to his astounding guitar skill and the album sounded so much better live than on recording. He may not have played any of his ‘classics’ but to be honest, they’d have felt out of place. It was just a shame that not everyone seemed to have expected the gig to have been like it was but then again, I don’t care; I loved it!

Graham Coxon – Sorrow’s Army (live)

Podcast #15
April 30, 2009, 8:51 pm
Filed under: music, podcasts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

As promised, here be the second of the two promised podcasts featuring;

Cymbals Eat Guitars – And The Hazy Sea
The Music – Fire
The Jude – End Of The Road
Tubelord – Night Of The Pencils
The Whitest Boy Alive – Island
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – I Second That Emotion
The Temptations – Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
Yeti – Northern Line
Four Tet – As Serious As Your Life
Errors – Terror Tricks
Curses! -The Deep End (Holy Ghost! Day School Dub Mix)
Engineers – Clean Coloured Wire
South Ambulance – Kinky Love
Graham Coxon – Gimme Some Love

Download by following this link.

Hope you enjoy it! As always, feedback welcome and appreciated.. who knows how long it’ll be til the next one!

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