Archive for November, 2012

Seeing a well known band from yesteryear with only one of its original members, can bring a sense of trepidation. However those attending the 10cc concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Friday need not have worried. After an inauspicious start where the lights came down but no group appeared on stage for a few minutes the gig sparked into life with a low key rendering of “Wall Street Shuffle” but then tempo shifted upwards and f the audience was treated to a cascade of 10cc’s classic 70’s, including the “The Things We do for Love”, the surreal “I’m Mandy Fly Me”, and the wordbending “Life is a Minestrone”. Particularly memorable for the great interplay between Grahame Gouldman’s bass and Rick Fenn’s guitar was “Art for Art’s” sake.  A pleasant surprise was the cameo appearance of Kevin Godley, singing the poetic, if somewhat long “Beautiful.com”. Fitting a 60’s section into the mid-point of the show  with such hits “No Milk Today” (Heman’s Hermits) , “For your Love” (The Yardbyrds) and “Bus Stop” (The Hollies) made you realise and appreciate the longevity and breadth of Gouldman’s career. There was even time to fit in Wax’s 1987 “Building a Bridge to your Heart” before relauching into 10cc biggest hits. The harmonies in “I’m not in love were”. The show moved towards a climatic end in “Dredlock Holiday”, Gouldman declaring “I don’t like London ….. I love it”.  “Rubber Bullets” at the encore caused more than a few ripple of  girating movement amoung the attentive and mature audience and as well as proving a showcase for the considerable vocal talents of new  peripheral member Mick Wilson. The band looked relaxed and came across as genuinely enjoying playing the music. This was a polished performance and the group were ably supported by Kiki Dee.The names may have changed over the years but with the current the line-up the spirit of  the orginal 10cc is very much alive and well.

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Gotye’s Mix of Ambient Electro Indie with a Masterful  Cinematic Backdrop proves they’re no one trick pony.

Gotye and Band perform with Dancing Skeletons on the Cinematic Backdrop, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

Gotye and Band perform with Dancing Skeletons on the Cinematic Backdrop, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

Most will associate Gotye with the massive international hit of the year “Someone that I used to know”.  This tune that is as catchy as it is quirky has been reigning supreme at the top many country’s charts making it one of the biggest sellers in the world in 2012.

If truth be told, it is probably the main reason why many people have been going to the see this charismatic singer from Melbourne and his band in concert and I’m sure many just expected to hear a couple of decent tunes, a bit of padding, a lot of speech and the big climax with the one big hit. But then, that’s not taking into account that Gotye’s 3rd and most commercially successful to date has also broken into the Top 10 in most major music markets.  What the audience were treated to was actually breathtakingly good.  The ambient indie electro beat as well as Gotye’s  ( aka Wouter De Backer) vocals blended seamlessly with the amazing cinematic backdrop. It really was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its two parts.

The band eased into the performance with the very short but relaxed sound of “Making Mirrors” the title and opening track of the album followed by a far more up-tempo but mournful eastern tinged song called “The Only Way” – about the last moments of death against a kaleidoscope of smoke filled shapes.

The sombre atmosphere continued on the somewhat gloomy sounding “What do you want” in amongst which from the cinematic backdrop were the animated form of a sinister looking pin striped suited man looking  down on the audience and lip synching some of the words as well as dancing monochromatic  animated skeletons.

The atmosphere lightened considerably for “The Easy Way Out” with its meaty baseline, drums, and symphonic dashes of synth, reminiscent of early solo Peter Gabriel. This was accompanied by another animation of running figures; characters that looked like they just dropped out of the latest Akira film.

Gotye and band performs "The Easy Way Out" with Japanese Style Animation, Hammersmith Apollo, London, UK, November 12th 2012

Gotye and band performs “The Easy Way Out” with Japanese Style Animation, Hammersmith Apollo, London, UK, November 12th 2012

“Eyes Wide Open”, with an A-ha style rhythm gave us  a series of beautiful desolate cinematic landscapes  whereas “Smoke and Mirrors” saw a series of sketched figures and heads bursting out of one another like a Russian doll as well as Gotye demonstrating his prowess as a drummer at the end of the song.

But surely the highlight of the show had to be “State of the Art” whose lyrics and cinematic concept had an average animated family taken over by a keyboard entertainment centre that gets ever bigger and more powerful and takes control of the  house. The house eventually takes off into outer space, passes a bemused astronaut and when its lands the family members are eventually integrated into the system as organ pipes.  The animation is perfectly in synch, especially when the animated organ pipes mouths the words of Mr De Baker vocals. It’s an amazing piece of concept art with amazing attention to detail but then this applies to the whole concert.

The Entertainment Centre takes over. Gotye performing State of the Art at Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

The Entertainment Centre takes over. Gotye performing State of the Art at Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

The BIG HIT was, of course not neglected but neither did Gotye fall into the cliché of leaving it until the end. Cleverly, during the verse that Kimbra should sing, he fell silent and the audience picked it up very well.

The encore proved equally brilliant for the animation on the instrumental  “Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver” with a  nervous naive purple elephant strolling tentatively through a town full of various malevolent looking animals , this obviously being an allegory of a country boy in the big bad city.

The fun continued with the band going full throttle on the soul tinged 60’s rhythmed  “I Feel Better”  and “Learnalilgivinanlovin” and many up on their feet dancing in the balcony. This was an uplifting end to the show and finishing with a drumming extravaganza by Gotye and his drummer, it brought the house down.

Gotye shows off his drumming skills, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

Gotye shows off his drumming skills, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

I can only say that Gotye is no one trick pony.  This music and cinema in this show combined to produce a masterpiece of iconic live artistic performance that will live long in the memory.

Sandi Thom – Bush Hall, Monday 30th June 2008

Forget fantasizing about punk rockers, a radiant looking Sandi Thom took to the small stage at Bush Hall to showcase tracks from recently released album “The Pink and the Lily and old favourites from her album. Gone was the kind of cute girl next door meets struggling look  from the previous tour to be replaced by the sophisticated Country Music girl dressed in a fetching little black dress with plunging neck line and a black cowboy hat. She also looked extremely fit as if she had spent the last year in America with a personal trainer.  The new look was matched by her quality vocals that rarely put a note wrong. The 200 strong crowd hardly had time to catch their breath before Thom, backed by her 4 piece all male band, launched into old favourites like “What if I’m right” and “The Human Jukebox” with head spinning speed. Three songs in, she finally greeted the crowd with a brief “hi, how you all doing out there”, then it was off again on another jolly ride with more perfectly honed tracks from “Smile, it confuses people”. The 2006 No.1 “I wish I was a Punk Rocker (with flowers in my hair)” got everyone happy clappy. Songs from the new album were dropped gradually into the set (the first being the optimistic “I’m a human being”) and these were generally bouncy and upbeat. Although some stories and anecdotes were shared with the audience largely as intros to the songs, chit-chat was kept to a minimum as Sandi adopted a slightly detached air. Quieter ballads were at a premium but the acoustic “My ungrateful heart” very briefly slowed the show’s pace and “ Mirrors” (in the encore) written, as Sandy explained, about changes in life that people face, was captivating.  Her voice, during this track was sublime, extending through a full high octave range and won her an ovation for her efforts. The set went very up-tempo in the latter third of the show as people clapped their hands to the infectiously catchy rhythms of tunes like “Saturday Night”, “Horse Power” and “The Devils Beat”, heavily encouraged by the bassist and Thom herself. The applause and cheers became louder after each song and because of this, she seemed to relax and returned to the warm girl next door persona. . She closed the show aptly with title track from the album The Pink and the Lily, in a well thought out performance that left me wondering why this talented performer has never played big venues.