Tuesday, 18 October 2011

From InMe to You Me, via Finky Folk. Loads of reviews.

Some Godawful Scandinavian Ogress and a pretend Djent band*****

The Watershed, Wimbledon. 27th September 2011

Absolutely sick. Not in a hipster or surf dude stylee. But sick. Really sick. I missed Midgar. Got to the impressive Watershed in Wimbledon just before 8:00 only to see the boys clearing the stage. And doors were only at 7:00. Totally gutted. Had been looking forward to catching Andy and the lads since their sensational show at The Barfly. And to make matters worse, unannounced, an 8 foot blonde punk Valkyrie wandered on stage with a rent-a-metal band of nothing special no-hopers: my sickness was compounded.

Time please Djentlemen. Aaaarrrgghh!
They weren’t even supposed to be here. Were they? I can’t even remember what they were called. It started with a Dje. Anyway, not just because of my foul mood, they were awful. A screaming giant bird with a tired sounding derivative drop D sludgeband. Shite. Just Shite.

Still shaking with disappointment and misery I took refuge in some hard booze and waited to be revitalized, refreshed and rogered by Mr McPherson and his band of very merry men.

And lift my mood it certainly did. InMe had slipped off my radar for years after a really encouraging and potential-laden first album. Intelligent, technical, melodic and original tuneage of the top order surely signaled massive things ahead. But then they were gone. 
Or at least hibernating.

I was privileged to catch Dave’s after hours solo set at Knebworth in the summer and he blew me away. Like Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gorn, but his mesmerising voice and great playing still remains and, coupled with a jaunty, cheeky and witty persona, mark him out as someone very special. The next day, in a massive blue tent, joined by his band, they blew the bloody doors off. This reawoke my interest in the Essex-based larrikins and so I stocked up on their whole back catalogue and now I was ready for the next chapter of the good book of InMe.

McPherson, I haven't had a c*nt all day drinksatble.

And man they didn’t disappoint. A sold out Watershed bayed and hollered as a Dubstep wobfest thumped and wobbled the congregation’s nether regions. Then it was straight into Ferocity in Desire. The lads were really enjoying themselves and the packed crowd shared the joy and smiles. A bristling set followed. Heavy as hell in parts. Drenched in melody and melancholy in others.  Faster The Chase, and  Myths and Photographs  provided a solid backbone to the bone shuddering set. Two new songs were given an airing (Pantheon and Legacy) and, like a wonderful amuse-bouche, set appetites and drool running wild in anticipation of the forthcoming new release (Pride). All Terrain Vehicle was an absolute highlight offering light and shade in the Dantean sulphur pit of writhing acolytes.

A rare and fantastic outing of  Her Mask rounded the main set off, before the pantomime routine of the encores.

Raindrops on Stones was followed, unsurprisingly by the crowd-pleaser Single of The Weak and the whole feast was topped off by the one that kicked it all off all those years ago, the anthemic Underdose.

Apart from the gaping hole left by missing Midgar, this was truly on of the best gigs of the year. Delivered with skill, joy, charm and balls the size of Tigers’ heads, InMe are back (if they ever went away, that is). And everyone should make a date for their tour next year.  Totally fucking splendid.

Charlene  Soraia*****

The Union Chapel, Islington, 5th October 2011

Having discovered Fink by complete accident in a Japanese toy shop about 7 years ago (the sublime cover of Alison Moyet’s All Cried Out as it happens), he/they have regularly been one of my relaxation aids, But until tonight, I’d never seen them live. So was greatly looking forward to a relaxed, radox bath with my secret discovery. But, on arrival at a sold out Union Chapel, I was horror struck. Juding by the crowd, they’ve/he’s, dare I say it, become, er, cool. And trendy. And everything.

It was like walking down Curtain Road in the small hours of a Saturday trying to find a vegan bagel or wheat grass dietary supplement drink. Half mast trousers, novelty facial hair, comedy ‘hench’ glasses, retro footwear and lots of affected hand gestures and stupid fucking hats. Loads of them. Fuck, Shoreditch and Dalston must’ve been empty of twats. They were all here.

Anyway, after running the gauntlet of London’s coolest c*nts, I found a perch pretty near the front of the beautiful venue and plopped myself onto a pew.

Soraia. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Charlene  Soraia*****

First up was a pretty young gal and a nice sunburst semi-acoustic. She opened up with a cutesy, gauche and beguiling chat. I immediately fell in love with her.

I hoped she’d live up to her loveliness once she’d started playing. Having hung around (and been a little involved in) the acoustic/folk scene for many years, I’ve sat through so many horrible hours of hopeful girls with guitars, so my expectations weren’t high.

I needn’t have worried. Her jazzy, syncopated and thrilling guitar work was a genuine surprise. No aimless strumming here, but neat finger picking and some great chop with harmonics, sweeps, tapping and even two songs delivered to a brilliant baritone guitar backdrop. Her voice was as near perfection as one could hope for. Not a note missed in the whole set. Astonishing. Such clear timbre and a range Minnie Ripperton would have been jealous of ( I would have said she’d die for, but that would have been crass. Oops.)

Her songs were refreshingly original and varied. Saying that, some lacked clear refrains or hooks and rambled a bit. But never mind. She is genuinely a wonderful talent and as her banter continued I fell deeper and deeper in lust/love with her. Swoon.

They Fink it's all over...
Ok, heart back to normal. She’d gone. Time for Mr Cool.
A ‘spine’ of giant desk lamps adorned the intimate stage as the three troubadours sauntered, apologetically onto the platform.

Some noodling, and suddenly we’re into a reworked version of Biscuits for Breakfast. The sparks of recognition flicker among the ‘cats’ in the crowd. 
And we’re off.

Front man Fin Greenall (Fink himself) has a mellifluous and hypnotic delivery and tonight he’s weaving his stress- busting magic with aplomb. Tracks from the new album (Perfect Darkness) meld perfectly with reshaped older material. There are hints of trip hop, trance and electro folk. Whether he knows it or not, he’s virtually absorbed the spirit of the late, great John Martyn. His echoplexy laden layers could have come straight from the great man himself. There’s a whiff of Adem, Terry Callier, fellow Cornishman Dan Arborise and harks back to Drake and Renbourn. A veritable mash up of acoustic greats and gods.

The evening is far from one paced and total chill-out overload though. Thankfully. They even threatened to trip the noise limiter with trippy, rhythmic rocky sections. Despite a near coma in the middle, so lost was I in the layers and swirling syncopation, I totally loved it.

Alright, it did get a bit samey (the latest album aimlessly and repetitively meanders a bit too much even for an old head like me), but all-in-all and Shoreditch wankers notwithstanding, a truly magical evening. And as the final suspended chord of a pared-down version of Pretty Little Thing rang out around the grand old chapel, it did feel like we’d been present at something quasi-religious. Amen.

You Me At Six*****
Deaf Havana*****
Lower Than Atlantis*****

Brixton Academy, 15th October 2011

Now that’s a queue. I have never, ever encountered a queue as massive as the one snaking half way round south London that met us as we neared the grand old Academy. Well, I say near, the queue must have been close to a mile long. Seriously. And, about 80% female. Weird.

Anyway, after queuing for 40 minutes, finally got in to an absolutely rammed Academy for the end of Motorway (of Life). Ok, it didn’t rank as badly as missing Midgar at the InMe gig, but LTA (ok, and Deaf Havana) are the main reason I’m here to be honest, so missing the start was a tad galling.  No matter, what were Monsieur Duce and his gang going to lay on us on this momentous evening?

Lower Than Atlantis*****
Energy, grunt, power, dirt, electricity and great fun, that’s what.
Right, let’s get the negative out the way first; the sound. Brixton is always shit. Fact. I’ve even walked out of gigs in the past because it’s so poor (Death Cab for Cutie, Dave Matthews, Pendulum et al), but as a support, it must be the shittiest end of the stick. The kick drum sounded like a leather sofa being hit by a stick of rhubarb and the vox were too low in the mix. But bollocks to that, LTA are one of the most exciting and fabulous young bands in the land and they ploughed on regardless of the sonic challenge. With aplomb.

LTA and the girls' wall of love.
Mike Duce is a mega talented, miserable arsehole. And I love him for it. He’s right up there as one of the kinpin songwriters in this country and his cynical, askant, eloquent (ok apart from the amusing pun fest that is Deadliest Catch!) and often ascerbic lyrics genuinely are a snapshot narrative to modern yoof.

There is great depth to LTA’s offering. It’s neither whiny, frothy pop punk nor nihilistic hand-wringing joyless hardcore, but a refreshing blend of heavy, guitar-based riffage and catchy hooks as a tapestry backdrop to Duce’s teasing and insightful wordsmithing and grizzly, original vocal. I’m not altogether sure whether most of this evening’s assembled scene gals totally ‘got it’, but it appeared to be gulped down greedily in an enthusiastic frenzy by the writhing masses. The lads took to the big crowd like second nature; cajoling, inciting, exciting and entertaining from the first note til the last. Even throwing in a wee bit of Foo Fighters. Can’t wait for their headline tour next year.

Deaf Havana*****

Poor old James and Chris were heavy with cold. Which, for mr Veck-Gilodi is a right bugger, as he has a remarkable voice, especially at the top end and so snot and swollen tonsils were always going to dampen proceedings a wee bit.

However, the show must go on. And it did. Oh yes.

Veck-Gilodi...Deaf to all but Metal

Opening with their mighty party tour-de-force, Friends Like These, the place went into Karaoke meltdown. Ok, it sounded like a Beatles audience, or a woman’s hockey international crowd, but it must’ve served as a double strength Lem-Sip Xtreme to the band. They’re on the verge of something massive with the new album a month away from release and on tonight’s showing, they’re fully equipped to enjoy every single drop of success that’s on its way.

Hands up if anyone's got any Beecham's...
The sound was ramped up a bit compared with LTA and the set gathered pace culminating in the magnificent Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life which was virtually delivered Veck-Gilodi-Free  as the crowd assumed vocal duties. The world is now ready for these boys and they will surely deliver. Watch this space.

You Me At Six*****

Right, let’s get things straight: I’m not a massive fan of YMA6. Not that they’re no good. Far from it. What they do, they’re just about the best out there at it. As I’ve already said, I mainly came to see LTA and Deaf Havana, but I’m drawn to watching Guildford’s finest with a real sense of excitement.

So, what is all the fuss about? Why all the fizzy knickers? The Queue? The palpable anticipation? The hysteria? The hype? The screams?

Josh: He's not the Messiah. Or even a very naughty boy.
They’re pure class. That’s what. It’s a truly remarkable feat that a bunch of genuine, nice boys from Surrey playing honest, tuneful and ballsy rock and roll  are right up there. A no1 album. Yup, a fucking no1 album. A rock album. With guitars. And soul. And heart. And tunes.

And it makes me fiercely proud. And, I have to admit, more than a tad emotional. It is a genuine joy that rock music is cultivating a new audience.  In a world of sugar, ‘product’, samples, autotune, meandering R&B, gangster bollocks, endless, tedious rap and fucking boy bands, it makes the heart race to know that real music is thriving. Moreover, it’s creating a real wave and sucking youngsters in as it grows in strength.

YMA6 owned the stage tonight. Big tunes. Big love. Big guitars. Big noise. Bigger appreciation and an entranced, captivated crowd. And all without the wank of messianic arrogance displayed by 30STM or the pantomime sickness and slickness of MCR. Of course, the crowd tonight probably love stuff like that too (worryingly, there was a mass join-in to sodding soulless Kings of Leon in the break!), but tonight, they only had eyes -and ears- for Josh and his merry band.

So, he’s a babe magnet and the sort of boy every mum would want as a son-in-law, but he has real soul and charm. And a not half bad voice. Although, at times tonight, it was a little shaky. But let’s hope he can continue to be the good bloke from down the pub and avoids the cloak of bollocks that messers Way and Leto have donned on their way to apparent frontman nirvana.

While bands like YMA6, Deaf Havana, LTA, Enter Shikari, The Xcerts, Don Broco, WATO and the rest of the UK scene continue to grow and entertain with the integrity, groundedness and honesty, the rock and roll world is in safe hands. And long may it continue. Hallebloodylulliah!

Enter Shikari next week. Then the magnificent Maybeshewill.

More tunes soon. Bwoooar!

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