Archive for the ‘Post Punk’ Category

Paramore triumph at Wembley, Sept 27th 2013

Paramore triumph at Wembley, Sept 27th 2013

I am always astonished when I go to a gig expecting a certain of crowd or a specific genre and then get an expected vibe. In this respect Paramore are a group that continue to surprise and delight. True, half the audience could be in a teen advert for Converse trainers, especially the type where a sudden flash dance mob appears or in a vibrant hair colour commercial but as a whole the audience remained mixed saying much about the group’s cross-over appeal. Reading recently about the slightly acrimonious departure of 2 band mates and spiteful accusation of the band being “manufactured” did nothing to dampen my spirits and judging from the performance I witnessed I saw nothing contrived about them. The effervescent Hayley Williams jumped around the stage like an enthusiastic Jack-in-a-box and band mates Jeremy Davis and Taylor York hardly covered any less ground of Wembley’s wide stage. Plenty of material from the new self-titled album was covered including open song “Grow-Up”, the epically defiant “Now” and “Daydreaming” that gave a nod in tempo and rhythm to Blondie’s “Dreaming”. “Ignorance” provided the opportunity for a bit of fist punching and there were quirky moments on “I’m Not Angry any more” with a banjo. However, I’m a sucker for a whole group of people waiving mobile phones and/or lighters to an atmospheric slow and that’s exactly what happened when “The Only Exception” was played. There was something magnificently moving about seeing thousands of lights swaying at Wembley and the whole of the arena singing the chorus.
It was also a nice touch to send a tribute out to Fleetwood Mac on the weekend that that group were playing in London. Having myself seen Fleetwood Mac only 3 days before, Williams voice was uncannily similar to that of the great Stevie Nicks as Paramore played a snippet of “Landslide”. Another great moment was to see Hayley pull fan called Amber up onto the stage to sing along side her at the on “Misery Business”. All 3 of the band received a hug from the somewhat feisty fan who looked a little horrified when asked by Hayley if she knew the words.

The biggest surprise of the night was how many people put their hands when asked it this was their first Paramore show. The first-timers were then very fortunate to witness something special.
With few exceptions this gig was a high-tempo affair fusing elements of indie, metal and pop with the very appealing emotional quality of Williams voice. All in all, a very entertaining and atmospheric evening.

Siouxsie leaves us Spellbound in her Happy House.

Siouxsie commands the stage at Yoko Ono's Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall, London, June 17th 2013

Siouxsie commands the stage at Yoko Ono’s Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall, London, June 17th 2013

Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the late 70s and early 80s post punk scene, it’s been 5 years since Siouxsie Sioux graced these shores with a performance. But after the thrilling treat that was put on for the audience on Monday night, the organiser’s behind the year’s Meltdown festival as well as the curator herself Yoko Ono must be very glad at having sent the invitation.
And there was no messing about; the scene was set with a stage backdrop of giant venetian blinds and a lighting display that flashed through the colour spectrum giving a alternate felling dinginess and a faint air of seediness. Siouxsie was simply stunning in her white latex outfit as she prowled about the central stage, totally in command of her craft and kicking off with a barmstorming rendition of “Happy House”. But this was no ordinary show . I did not twig until she came and said “Is everyone ready to get kaleidoscopic”. Much to my surprise she and her backing band played the whole of the Banshees 1980 3rd album “Kaleidoscope” in full and in order. It was dark, wondrous and atmospheric but also slightly surreal being staged in a grand orchestral setting of the Royal Hall festival. Futhermore, the exotic goth/punk element that I had expected never arrived (with a handful of exceptions), having giving way to the sensibly attired crowd of a certain age. Still, that not stop sections of the crowd,especially towards the front, from over-exhuberance. Siouxsie flashed her anger at someone in the audience, looked fearsome and used the f-off expression.
No matter, it played to the image rock and punk image and it passed as quickly it arrived. After 10 minute interlude, the pace and exuberance stepped up again as we were treated to Banshees greatest hits in succession “Israel”, “Arabian Knights”, “Cities in Dust” and biggest hit “Dear Prudence written, of course, by John Lennon. There was much air punching and singing-along by swathes of the crowd, quite at odds with the formal surroundings but close your eyes, you could imagine yourself back in the early 80s when Siouxsie and the Banshees reigned supreme in the indie charts.
Fine material from Siouxsie’s debut 2008 solo album – Mantaray was also dusted off for a re-hearing. “Loveless” played out like an electro-gothic tragedy tinged folk elements. “Into a swan was delivered forcefully” and “Here comes that day” would have fitted in nicely to an Adele or Shirley Bassy back catalogue.
This magical musical evening from the undisputed queen of post-punk was rounded off in an unequivocal style by a pummelling rendition of “Spellbound”. This surely has to be a contender for gig of the year.

Kate Nash - All hail the new Indie Queen, Live at the Sugarmill, Stoke-on Trent, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

Kate Nash – All hail the new Indie Queen, Live at the Sugarmill, Stoke-on Trent, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

Kate rocks Stoke as the cool new queen of Indie. Wednesday 24th April 2013

 

I witnessed two remarkable things this past week. Happening to be in the industrial midlands town of Stoke-on-Trent on other business I certainly was not looking to do anything other than pass an remarkable night tucked up in bed early-ish. But … I thought I would check local entertainments (there is a rather fine looking theatre, called The Regent, for example) on the off-chance.

Then, I struck musical gold. Discovering that there was a music club within 5 minutes’ walk from my hotel, it got better when I discovered one of my favourite singers – Kate Nash was performing that very night. However, nothing was to prepare me for the evening that lay ahead.

The Sugarmill , Stoke-on-Trent, which has to be the Midlands coolest music venue.

The Sugarmill , Stoke-on-Trent, which has to be the Midlands coolest music venue.

The tiny 400 capacity venue called The Sugarmill based in a backstreet of the cultural area of Hanley proved to one of the coolest music venues I have ever been to. It proved the perfect setting to witness the equally cool Kate Nash and her all female band complete a transformation from clever pop songtress to indie/post punk queen.

Kate emerged in 2007 with the polished Made of Bricks that subsequently went to No.1 and a major endorsement from Lily Allen as an artist to watch. Her music was much more piano based with the occasional acoustic number thrown in . Well, gone from this tour and reflecting her new album is the piano, and in is a new edgy bass and guitar sound that blends indie rhythms with west coast harmonies. Even Nash’s biggest hit “Foundations” was played piano less and given the guitar treatment.

Kate Nash and her all female band at The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

Kate Nash and her all female band at The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

There was a cinematic backdrop showing a montage with snippets of a younger Nash to start with before the band came on the pocket sized stage. Then, as if to announce her colours, three tracks from new album “Girl Talk”, and as in the album these were anything but girly. “Sister” starting off with Kate Nash almost angelic voice soon descended into a gritty manic outpouring while “Death Proof’s” unsettling but strangely pleasing lyrics and minor key melodies got methinking about a ride on a fairground ghost train with the 90s teenage animation character Daria. The up-tempo “All Talk” drilled the chorus “Action, Action, Words are only in my mouth” into my head to the extent that I am thinking of going on feminist marches in support of Miss Nash.

Still it was totally absorbing to see how Kate spat out some of the lyrics like a petulant teen almost as if exorcising some emotional past angst.

Seeing Red about female empowerment - Kate Nash at The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, UK, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

Seeing Red about female empowerment – Kate Nash at The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, UK, Wednesday 24th April, 2013

There were some lighter moments as well, especially when Kate bounced up and down and went off the stage and singing the “Do-Waa-Doo” song in amongst the audience. There had to be a pause afterwards as the microphone wire was unravelled from the crowd.

There were also long pauses as Kate relayed info on songwriting and music workshops with which she is involved for teenage girls; songwriting in keys of the C, G and F; standing on someone’s “fanny” to make the video for OMG and finally about being dropped from her record label last year. More fool the record label I say, as Kate has now set up her own one – Have 10p records – and has produced this fine 3rd album.

The concert was eventful: she even had to graciously silence a teenage heckler who said he’d only come along because his friend was in the support act.

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Killing Joke, were absolutely at the top of their game for their 34th/35th anniversary concert at The Forum, Kentish Town, March 16th 2013.

It was with some dedication that I made it to the gig tonight from my part of the Capital in East London to this oft difficultly accessible enclave of North London. After having to plan my route around part of the tube stopped for engineering works and 2 major traffic jams, including one leading right up to the venue, time was against me. I eventually gave up, got off the bus and walked at a pace the last half mile through the drizzly streets. But there was no I was going to miss this event; Killing Joke is one of the grandees of industrial rock and were playing their 35th or as lead singer Jaz Coleman claimed, their 34th anniversary concert (there is still some debate about this) and this was going to be the anthology night.
I arrived at the intimate 2000 seat art deco venue very late, resigned to getting a less than ideal view. In the end I was surprised to find a good place in the balcony seating area just in front of the standing area, so it was possible to both sit and stand without impeding anyone else’s view. Believe me, the energy that was to be released at this concert perfect proved it necessary to have both options; standing because there were songs you just wanted to freak out on and seating because you drained so much energy, a breather was needed from time to time, especially at my age. Jaz Coleman was his typically outspoken self, though a fellow fan remarked that he had mellowed considerably; the 3 surviving original band members Geordie Walker, Martin Glover and Paul Ferguson and their additional tour members were rock solidly tight . The band played sometimes as if their lives depended on it. This was a loud powerful in your face concert, that demanded engagement and to that end was reminiscent in terms of its raw energy of the sex pistols 2007 reunion concert at Brixton. On that occasion, I was in the main part of the crowd towards the front in the middle of the mother of all mosh pits. The Killing Joke concert had a manic mosh and particularly went wild during some of the most iconic tracks such as “Love Like Blood”, and “Eighties”. I was grateful to be out of this but I still put in my fair share of fist pump and chanting. “Eighties” song also recalled some of the controversial figures and moments of that decade on two big screen on either side of the auditorium.
Coleman made several controversial (depending upon your point of view) references including; berating the use of mobile phones, i-pod and and i-pad before launching into “The Beautiful Dead Play; telling the audience that he that money never had been and never would be his governor – that proceeded the song “Money is Not our God”; fierily raising the issue of children living under the poverty line and then playing “Corporate Elect”. The pre-encore section culminated with a tub-thumping rendition of “Pandemonium” that had every one cheering and the whole place wanting much more. The band duly obliged with 4 more songs.
Now, in previous reviews I sometimes go into a description of individual songs. On this occasion, there is no point. The lyrics like the music are often highly charged and carry many carry a amti-establishment message. So I will confine myself to listing the songs in order. What this concert was about was raw energy that from the point of view of the senses picked you up, slapped you about and threw you down. It was about letting loose and about celebrating the 35 years or so of a cult band that has had influence on the likes of such rock luminaries as The Foo Fighters, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Faith No More, to name but a few.
This was gig demanding but utterly engaging and sensational. I am still buzzing several days later.
Set List
1.Requiem; 2 Turn to Red; 3) Wardance; 4)European Super State; 5)Love Like Blood; 6)The Beautiful Dead; 7) This World Hell; 8) Empire Song; 9) Chop-Chop; 10) Sun Goes Down; 11)Eighties; 12)Money is Not our God; 13) Whiteout; 14) Asteroid; 15) The Wait; 16)Corporate Elect; 17) Pandemonium; Encore : 18) Follow the Leaders; 19) Tension;
20) Change; 21) Psyche;

Adam  Ant proves that Ridicule and Critics are nothing to be scared of as he turn in  a quality performance.

Adam Ant – Live at The Troxy, London, UK, Sunday 20th November 2011 – Concert Review

As I approached the rather incongruous art deco theatre /former cinema in an unfashionable (some would say rough corner) of London with my gig companion of the night, I could not help wonder what sort of show we were in for. Entry to the venue was a convoluted process having to go through security that did not recognise an e-ticket as a ticket. This was not an auspicious start. In addition, having seen a number of number eighties revival acts, it is difficult to know what you’re going to get in terms of quality.  As Adam and the Ants and in particular the album” Kings of the Wild Frontier” are one of my iconic musical teenage experiences, there was a lot riding on this gig.

Nor did we have hardly any time to get drinks from the rather gaudy neon bar and down a couple of sips before Mr Ant and his band latest band came on stage.  The opening paid homage to Adam’s punk roots with “Plastic Surgery” and this was followed by Adam and the Ants first hit 1980 hit “Dog eat Dog” but in truth Adam and the Band took a little time to ease into the gig. When the set reached new wave pre “Kings….” hits – “Car Trouble” and “Deutsche Girls”, some parts of the crowd had just started to sing. That was when Adam, in a pirate costume and three-cornered that reminded me of Captain Sensible, addressed the audience for the first time. From thereon, the pace and quality of the gig soared beyond my expectations. The first mass sing-along occurred not unsurprisingly with the playing of “Stand and Deliver” – a massive hit UK hit back in ’81 and this continued along with some weird bopping during “Puss in Boots” and “Kings of the Wild” frontier. The backing band “The Lovely Posse capably replaced the “Ants” . The double drumming in “Kings….” was especially impressive.   It was quite a testament to Ant’s back catalogue that he dusted off so many hits but there was variety in the gig as well with a new song about the 50s and 60’s star rock star Vince Taylor and old Ant stalwarts like “Desperate But Not Serious” and “Vive le rock”.  “Antmusic”, to which Adam warned the crowd not to request in a Chinese restaurant (reference to the unique drumstick intro), is probably the most loved track from Adam and the Ants.  It is fair to say that Adam faithful rendition of this new wave classic had everyone in raptures and was like being injected with a big nostalgia high. “Goody Two Shoes” that followed it was also immensely fun.

Then it was in the encore section that Adam and the band tackled probably his most well known and iconic hit “Prince Charming” like a man who was now ready to embrace  his heritage for a song that received a mixed critical reception back in the day, probably due in some part to its flamboyant video.  Yes, it even had The Good , The Bad and The Lovely posse’s two backing singers doing the arm crossing dance which many in the crowd duly imitated.  The other notable moment in the encore was a slightly punky rendition of T-Rex’s “Get It On”.

At  1 hour 50 minutes this show was a lot longer than I had expected but goes to prove great performers never really fade away and that mental health issues are not necessarily a bar to achievement. Well done Adam Ant. My fond teenage memories are still intact and in fact have been enhanced by what was an excellent concert.