Archive for the ‘Psychedelic Pop’ Category

I have just heard the saddening news that one of my all time favourites of American music has died following possible complication after a liver transplant. I’m in total shock. I have no doubt that when historians comes to write the history of late 20th music, Lou Reed will stand as a colossus of that time, not just for his outstanding contribution but also for the influence he had many names in music – big and small. He was one of the most influential musicians of his generation whose music keenly observed and captured the atmosphere and spirit of early-mid 1970’s New York. My abiding fond memory of him will be the encore at his Hammersmith Apollo concert on Tuesday 17th August 2004 in London where he performed 3 most iconic tracks back to back, Satellite of Love with the whole ground floor audience stood up and sang along, Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild, the latter of which saw the chords and melodies change around but was still very recognisable by the rhythm. In tribute, here is the full set list from that concert.

1.Turn to Me, 2.Modern Dance 3.Guardian Angel 4.Magic and Loss 5.Why Do You Talk? 6.Venus in Furs (The Velvet Underground song). 7.Dreamin’ 8.Jesus (The Velvet Underground song)
9. Ecstasy 10.A Wild Being From Birth 11.The Valley of Unrest 12.The Day John Kennedy Died 13.Vanishing Act 14.Power and Glory 15.The Blue Mask

Encore:
16. Satellite of Love
(The Velvet Underground song)

17. Perfect Day
18. Walk on the Wild

R.I.P Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)

Advertisements

Pumped Up Kids -Live review of Foster the People, O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2012

Foster the People perform an exciting set at London's O2 Brixton Academy, Saturday 28th April 2012

Foster the People perform an exciting set at London’s O2 Brixton Academy, Saturday 28th April 2012

A lively excited and young crowd greeted the arrival of American hipsters Foster the People. This is a group whose reputation and growing acclaim has been spread by word of mouth from their live performances so expectations were high and so were the Brixton chat levels.

Prior to FTP, though, the performance from support act Mini-Mansions had that relaxed west coast vibe going on mixed –up with elements of melodic psychedelia and strong prog rock overtures. Their rendition of “Heart of Glass” was quite the most original version I have ever heard. It was played at slow tempo sounding like a bit like a funerary chant.

Foster the People commenced with the gloriously snappy rhythm of “Houdini” that recalled elements of 80’s Talking Heads offshoot The Tom Tom Club . There was no need to work up the young crowd. They were already way ahead of the band in the enthusiasm stakes. The balcony was on its feet from the first bar being played. The band continued the tradition of having individual drums on stage for the non-drumming members to bash. Crude, but effective especially for numbers “Miss You” and “Life on the Nickel” with high tempo beats. It does add power to the gig and that feeling is conveyed to the audience.

Party Atmosphere at Foster the People gig, O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2012

Party Atmosphere at Foster the People gig, O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2012

 

The song “Love” with its prominent echoing vocals seemed to owe much to the Mamas and the Papas style of sunshine pop and I felt the presence of Beach Boys influence in “I Would Do Anything for You”.  The songs on the setlist were interlinked by mini prog rock instrumentals.

Other impressive moments were the Mark Foster’s dramatic vocal of the interpretation of the lyrics of “Broken Jaw” coupled with the electro indie disco vibe, the latinesque piano rhythms on “Call it What You Want” and the pumping psychedelic danceable pop of “Colour On The Walls”.  There was some really wild dancing by the crowd through the gig with arms flaying wildly yet rhythmically. The party was full on and reached its dance climax with “Helena Beat”, whose intro curiously resembled Spandau Ballet’s “The Freeze”. Predictably, “Pump Up Kicks” – a song with a catchy hook but creepy lyrics was left to the end and extended into an adapted techno section.

Party time with Foster The People at O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2009

Party time with Foster The People at O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2009

 

The sell-out gig could not be faulted for youthful enthusiasm and atmosphere but at times the sound production threatened to overwhelm the vocals. This effect has often been noticed at Brixton. Promising up and coming bands take an acoustic note. A special mention must also be made of the lighting. The lighting designer for the set should congratulated for producing perfectly balanced pin sharp primary colours that according with the set and the mood of each song which, in my view, made the show. There was even a glittery confetti shower at the end.  If the band produces more exciting shows like this, they will definitely foster a growing fan base.

 

Sharp lighting at the Foster the People gig, O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2012

Sharp lighting at the Foster the People gig, O2 Brixton Academy, London, Saturday 28th April 2012

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, live at Scala, London, UK, April 10th 2012

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour land in London, Live at Scala, April 10th 2012

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour land in London, Live at Scala, April 10th 2012

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is a group hailing from Denmark and based in Copenhagen. It is principally  a collaboration between song writer and producer Lars Iversen and singer Mette Lindberg. On tour the band bring in other musicians to round out their psychedelic and slightly funky based sound. They formed in 2007 and released their first single in September of 2008.

The group have a good claim to one of the most unusual and original names around for any band. Along with other bands with memorable names like Death Cab for Cutie, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and The Ozric Tentacles to name but a few , this group’s title does stick in the head but does the music?

Mette Lindberg of The Asteroids Galaxy Tour exudes a air of cool European chic, Live at Scala, London, April 10th 2012

Mette Lindberg of The Asteroids Galaxy Tour exudes a air of cool European chic, Live at Scala, London, April 10th 2012

Judging from the very intimate live show I attended at Scala, it does. The stunning looking Mette Lindberg made her way on stage in a shimmering gold jacket backed by a guitar, bass, drummer and a three man horn section, lightly stomping her way through the set, moving occasionally from one side to the other on the small stage.  The band started with the opening three tracks of their 2nd album- “Gold Rush part 1 -Dollar in the Nights –  Gold Rush part 2” rolled into one and played many of the tracks from the new album  “Out of Frequency” including the title. Second track of the night “Heart Attack” was definitely a stomping song. Third one “The Sun Ain’t Shining no more”, a song about a short term fling had the ambience of early 1970’s Steely Dan jazz rock about it.

Mette Linberg didn’t say that much to the audience between numbers. She didn’t really have to. Many in the audience knew the songs and were just happy to swing along to the rhythms. Mette appeared controlled in her delivery and at times a little detached at the start but this may just have been her stage persona.  She noticeably relaxed and became more engaged with the audience as the gig went on.   The band – particularly the brass section – seemed to be  having great time throughout. Even the guy sound in the caged covered sound desk was constantly moving through the gig.

From a musician’s perspective, the 6 minute long “Theme from 45 Eugenia” mid-way through the set was probably the most interesting combining as it did a 60’s style psychedelic melody and lyrics with a slow Kravitz style funk beat.

Lindberg did speak to the crowd saying it was great to be back in London and at one point tried to make a joke about the size of the horn section but somehow it got lost in translation. What really got the crowd going though was “Around the Bend” with its infectious horn packed rhythmic hook. The main set wound up with the flourishing psychedelic fanfare and sliding downscale minor chords of “Push the Envelope”.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour live at Scala, London, UK, April 10th 2012

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour live at Scala, London, UK, April 10th 2012

The encore saw the group play “Golden Age”, essentially a party piece as homage to the Brat Pack era. This is the song that has brought them to the attention of a wider public via a TV commercial and naturally the crowd responded enthusiastically. The set was rounded off with another great funky horn section hook in “Major”, a song whose lyrics raise the pitfalls of rising stardom, ambition and a fast lifestyle.

Undoubtedly, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour has still a way to go to make themselves more widely known in the UK but on this performance they certainly deserve to increase their following and start playing bigger venues in the future.