Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Month of Fundays - Get Cape, AWOLNation, Burn The Fleet, Banquet's Big Day Out, Arcane Roots, Hundred Reasons and more reviewed

Right, a bit of a departure this post. Due to being stupidly busy recently, I've bundled together a whole month's worth of words and warbles about some of the gigs I've hauled my arse to during that time. There's loads here, so enjoy. Or don't. You all know the drill. Deep breaths, and away we go... 

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly ****1/2*
Ramspocket Radio*****
The Garage
May 16th 2012

How you’ve grown up. Oh my. Just look at you. Not Sam necessarily; but the crowd. Yup, the assembled throng for Mr Duckworth and co’s headline show has certainly shifted its demographic over the years.

Erstwhile hordes of baying teenies squeaking along to War of The Worlds or firing back retorts about being a face in the crowd during I-Spy have been replaced by an assortment of middle aged hipsters, couples, people in what can only be described as slacks and bald accountants and data developers. They were all out tonight. Even someone in a Metallica shirt.

Ramspocket Radio*****
First up was The Ben Fold’s One. A bloke. An Irish bloke. Called Pete. Who used to be in Mojo Fury. Sitting at a keyboard. Alongside a drum kit.

After a cheery hello, he launched into a bouncy, tuneful set of pleasant enough tuneage. Alternating between the keys and the skins. All accompanied by electronic backing padding and stringy stuff. Not at all bad. There were moments of pure Billy Joel, traces of Paul Brady, top notes of Walter Schreifels with even a sugary, proggy hint of a young Phil Collins detectable to the more warped palate. In truth it lost a bit of edge for me as the Foldsy-like delivery and strident rhythms sadly merged into one on more than one occasion. Will definitely give a record a listen though.

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly ****1/2*
So, Mr D. What you got for us? By now a full house of slack wearers had filled up Phil Mitchell’s deluxe Highbury Arches workshop and needed entertaining. And entertainment we certainly got. Lynyrd Skynyrd took to the stage. Guitarists. Hundreds of them. Well, three. Including Sam. But it was a far cry from him and a laptop. And the horns of yore have gone.

All together now...Lord Knows I won't change
So, did the new expanded GCWCF work? Did it ever. The show was pacey, lively, rocky and thoroughly enjoyable throughout. Oldies were aired. And expanded. Even some real oldies. Whitewash is Brainwash even got an airing. New ones like the über-infectious Real McCoy and salutary Call Of Duty fitted in seamlessly (but definitely not anonymously) into the buffet. The crowd lapped it up and demanded seconds.

As an inter-course palate cleanser, the band disappeared to allow our wee hero to seduce our ear spaces with a couple of acoustic favourites complete with sing-a-longs (just not as pre-pubescent as they used to be). Once the band returned, the fare was fleshed out again and full rock and roll service was resumed.

Sam looked as though he was thoroughly enjoying himself. And judging by the boisterous and fervent response from the slack-wearers, so was everyone in the room.

This must be about the twentieth time I’ve been lucky enough to see GCWC. From solo shows at Air Studios, laptop powered evenings in grotty Southend former bordellos, a midnight assignation in a Soho strip bar, headline stints at the sadly defunct Astoria, festivals, low-key surprise shows for BSM, recent commuter entertainment at St Pancras (complete with bing bongs and announcements) and even mosh-pit heavy sell-out at Shepherds Bush. And I’ve loved just about every single one of them.

He is a truly original, thought-provoking, caring and wonderfully self-effacing, socially conscious troubadour. But tonight’s performance, while undoubtedly brilliant has raised a slight worry. Only a slight one; but a worry all the same.

Sam’s often gauche, vulnerable (but always original) delivery whether on his tod or with various experimental line ups has been his trademark. His very definition. By expanding the band into a more standard line up, with, consequently a much more standard sound, the question has to be asked; has he thrown one of the vital ingredients to his enduring originality out of the kitchen window?

I really hope not. I can only pray and assume that this is a latest artistic reinvention. Transient. Fleeting. Inquisitive. Like all great artists who go through different periods and phases trying to push things, fiddle, experiment, fine-tune. But keep the core safe. Sacred. Genetically unmodified.

Not that it’s bad. In any way at all. Tonight’s show is a wonder to behold. It’s just there are so many bands of a more standard line up treading the Jager-soaked sticky floors of darkened rooms up and down the land. Do we need another one?

Obviously Sam can’t stick with the acoustic and the laptop forever. And thankfully, we haven’t been through a Page and Plant North African period yet. Or a Beatles Maharishi muddled mind fuck. (give him time). But I just worry.

Anyway, as the final chords and la-da-da-da-das of Chronicles of a Bohemian teenager swirled ethereally into the vaults of the sweat-heavy Garage, my worries evaporated and there was so much love in the room. And long may it continue. A brilliant show from a truly blessed, talented and culturally important young man. Here’s to the future. To more experiments. More soul-searching. And more importantly than anything else more bloody brilliant music. Just no Maharishi stuff. Please.

Burn The Fleet*****
Apollo’s Arrows***1/2**
The Dead Wretched
Bad Sign
The Black Heart Camden
25th May 2012

Apollo’s Arrows***1/2**
Arrived at the ugly twin sister venue to The Barfly just too late for the first two bands, so a bit miffed, needed Apollo’s Arrows to knock my soft organs out of whack.

And they didn’t disappoint. Never seen or heard of these boys before, but on the evidence of tonight’s emotional and consummately performed noise fest, I really have missed out.

Not dissimilar to the majestic This Town Needs Guns, with flavours of ATDI, Rush and Zeppelin. Strong and piercing melodic vocals cut through intricate rhythms, syncopation, taps, sweeps, drags and all manner of guitar wizardry. Heavy drops and breakdowns punctuated dreamy sequences and percussive interludes. Overall, really refreshing to see young guys delivering such sophistication but without too much shoe-gazing or over-earnest prog wank.

The only negative is that, apparently, they’re splitting up. Which is a real shame based on tonight’s efforts.

Burn The Fleet*****
So, to the main event. To celebrate the launch of their brilliant album The Modern Shape, Southampton’s crow-adopting bad boys Burn The Fleet are here to kick some metropolitan arse flesh.

And my word they do. Like Johnny Wilkinson. Skilful, accurate, relentless and brutal.  Landing every kick on the sphincter. But with added humour and bucket loads of personality.

Burn The Fleet - Jacomofos
Pretty much the whole album is given an airing and the assembled sweaty throng gleefully gulp the sea dogs’ rum rock and roll, joining in dutifully with the shanty-like refrains. Burn The Fleet are nigh on impossible to pigeon hole. They are undoubtedly heavy in parts. Technically top notch. Melodic. Choral even. But with a genuine folksy (in a good way) genome. The sea and maritime themes abound as recurring motifs but they’re not a bizarre pirate metal band (thank the lordy!) and there’s an overwhelming homeliness and Britishness. A real and emotional honesty. Front man Andrew Convey’s garrulous and big-boned, beardy bear-like presence makes them immediately likeable. Approachable. Loveable.

But in no way does it water down the ferocity, the bombast, the wholeheartedness of their stunning rock and roll. You can’t help but smile while willingly being sodomised senseless by big bass lines, heavy artillery-like drums and intricate, ballsy guitar work. They finish tonight’s joyful voyage with the wonderful and stirring sing-a-long Handfuls of Sand and I don’t think I’m alone in failing to hold back a bit of a moist eye. Emotional and brilliant stuff. Made even more creditable given that the right hand channel of the PA was half blown.

Arcane Roots*****
The Garage, Highbury and Islington
28th May 2012

Bit weird this one. Tonight is the rescheduled HMV Next Big Thing Showcase after AWOLNation had to drop out of the last one at the last minute, allowing a storming Arcane Roots brilliant impromptu headline set tear everyone’s faces off. So there was a genuine déjà-vu as Invaders kicked things off. I was probably a little harsh on them last time, but tonight they didn’t force me to reappraise things too much.

To be honest, it was all a bit middling. Mid range sound dynamic. Middlingly okayish songs. Without much construction. Not bad, by any means. Just a bit meh. Karnivool-infused moments were crossed with A Teardrop Explodes pop sensibilities, but, to be honest, their lack of variation and structure within their songs let them down. There were genuinely good bits, but they were joined together by the synth equivalent of burger helper or quorn. Neither satisfying nor exciting. Kind of brown. They ended with their ‘big one’ about satellites and one of my mateys commented wistfully,  ‘why don’t they do more songs like this one?’ Not an earth shattering observation, but true enough.

Arcane Roots*****
So, after Arcane Roots manfully stepped up to the plate last time, would they be able to get themselves up for it all again, albeit in the support slot?

Oh yes.

Unapologetically, I’ve warbled on endlessly about these lads, and if there’s any justice in the world, they’ll scale mighty heights and eventually take over this little blue world. And tonight, they once again did little to disabuse me of my optimism and almost fanboyish enthusiasm. In short, they were brilliant. Precise. Exhilarating. Dynamic. Fierce. And captivating throughout. There was a technical issue when Adam Burton’s bass packed up between tunes, but Andrew Groves and  Daryl Atkins jammed manfully on through an improvised Every Time I Die cover until the bass came back in to kick off an incendiary version of the latest single Habibty which tore every rectum in the house.

A classy performance by a ridiculously classy and presently peerless band. Can’t wait for the new album.

So, onto tonight’s headliners. I’ve never seen AWOLNation before and was intrigued to how they’d bring their recorded quirky, often camp electronica-imbued crossover ramblings to life in a meaningful and convincing way. Well, judging by the line up, guitars were going to be their weapon of choice. They were here to rock. Well, kind of.

A full house of begs, wanabees, acolytes and inquisitive folk here to see if they had any other songs apart from Sail enthusiastically welcomed Aaron Bruno and his synthy-oompah band onto the stage. Encouraging signs.

But, after that it all felt a bit, well, plastic. Yes they rocked their whole sound up considerably from the midi noodlings and samples on their records. But it just felt pretend. Like a sound library collection of’ ‘rock style’ beds. Or the sort of background music that accompanies Neighbours when things are getting raunchy, rebellious or heated. Hair metal. Without the hair. Or the metal. Yes there was energy, a bit of moshing and crowd surfing. Bruno got involved. And the crowd lapped it up. But it all felt a bit lame. Calculated. Forced. A bit like pressing the demo button on a Casio synth.

They ended with the mighty Sail, which, predictably  enough, brought the house down. But I left feeling as though I’d just watched Glee, the musical or a Styx reunion. Neither of which I’d really want to do ever again.

Hundred Reasons*****
The Fighting Cocks, Kingston
3rd June 2012

I get excited. I get excited a lot. I love music. I love gigs. But once in a while, something so ridiculously exciting shows up, the excitement just goes off the measurable scale. Well, that’s how I felt when I heard that Hundred Reasons were going to be playing Banquet’s Big Day Out Festival. So imagine how fucking excited I was when, at the last minute, they announced a secret warm up show at Kingston’s legendary Fighting Cocks the night before.  So, almost shaking with teenage-like expectation I descended the well-trodden, sticky stairs into the stygian gloom of Kingston’s most notable basement.

Having seen the Marmozets support Four Year Strong a few months back, I was immediately captivated. So, when I found out the mathy Yorkshire terriers were tonight’s support, the perfect evening got a further dusting of magic.

To an already packed sweat box, The Macintyres and Bottomleys (3 of the former, two, the latter) took to the tiny stage with their maths book to school the assembled bums and ne’erdowells.

And educate they certainly did. The underground math movement is certainly gathering momentum and along with bands like Middlesborough’s fine Rosa Valle and Sheffield’s comparative veterans Rollo Tomassi, Marmozets are leading the revolution. 

Heavily influenced by the mighty math masters The Dillinger Escape Plan, they deconstruct stuff for fun. And with great skill. The polyrythms are infectious, the Uzi-like guitar patterns and jaw-droppingly complex percussion provide a head-spinning and trance-inducing backdrop you fiery young Becca MacIntyre’s screams, yelps, quacks, chants and vocal gymnastics. The older Hundred Reasons crowd were duly impressed, acceptant and joyously enthusiastic. A potentially tough room for such challenging evolutionary music was majestically won over. A stars all round.

Hundred Reasons*****
So, could they be still as good as we all remember? We were going to be treated to the complete and seminal album Ideas Above Our Station.: would it still be as brilliant, as relevant, as bone-shatteringly fantastic as it had been ten years ago?

In short, yes. But yes is too short a word. After Colin and the boys shambled on stage, what followed was nothing short of miraculous. The album (supplemented with three or four later numbers including the playful Harmony and  the brilliant Kill Your Own) was performed with such energy. Such love. Such skill. And such passion. God only knows how hard it must be to keep performing the same songs with the same enthusiasm and verve for so long (even though it’s quite a while since the guys have gigged), but tonight, these magicians took it to ridiculous levels. It was performed as though it was for the very first time. As if their lives and careers depended upon it. Such seminal songs. Such influence. Such import. Classics all. Falter. Silver. If I could.  I’ll Find You. All as fresh as the first time they changed UK music a decade ago.

I always use too many words. A lifelong failing. I blather and bleat, whinge and opine about anything and everything. See? But tonight I am as close to being lost for words as I’ve ever been. Simply unbelievable.

Banquet’s Big Day Out*****
Imber Court, Surrey
4th June 2012

Right, rather than painstakingly review all the bands I managed to get in front of, I’d rather give a review of the day as a whole. Obviously running the rule over the acts, but going a bit broader.

Firstly, finding the festival was not as easy as I’d hoped - struggling with monster hangover and still buzzing after the Hundred Reasons’ intimate glory fest the night before.  No matter, once I’d actually found where the entrance was, nestled between Margot and Gerry suburban semis in leafy Surrey, a good sized queue had already formed a good hour before things were meant to be kicking off.

A good smattering of scene kids, older heads and every form of life in between were in cheery spirits, helped by the lack of the torrential rain that’d saturated the previous couple of days. Slight gripe was that it took an eternity to clear the entrance procedure. Needs sorting for next year. How hard can it be, exchanging a ticket for a wristband? Anyway, thankfully, that was the last mini-whinge about what was to become a legendary day.

Finally in, I had a good wander around the really neatly appointed arena. Great food outlets. Excellent bars. Two decent sized stages in tents. A tiny acoustic stage. A mini fairground. And the main stage, complete with mini bleachers. It all felt really chilled and there was a definite warm and smiley vibe hanging over the place like a layer of NO2.

So, first pint of scrumpy in hand to compensate for missing Tall Ships (thanks to the laborious entry that I’m obviously not allowed to whinge about.) I slunk over to the main stage where Scholars***** were doing their alt thang in front of a small but enthusiastic 6th form crowd.

And pretty good they were too. Fairly generic, but big tunes, snappy guitar work and an energetic bounce gave them enough difference to put some room between themselves and the myriad of guitar-based young bands around. One weird thing though – they seemed to have a proper fight during their last number. Now, I might be being a bit of a nob, but it looked real enough. The others with me swore it was all part of the act – I wasn’t sure. Whatever, it was all a tad rum. But they finished the song and hadn’t killed each other.

Next up were Johnny Foreigner***** in a fairly packed Etnies New Slang tent.  Didn’t hit the spot for me. Indie noise pop blandness spiked with Cure-like guitar slides and wahs. Interesting but nowt too new or challenging. Far from joyless, but even bassist Kelly Southern’s vox failed to deliver enough of a point of difference. Crowd seemed to like them though. Well, they weren’t booing.

The boys and girls at Banquet have genuinely curated a brilliant and disparate collection to suit many tastes. And like everything else they do, have done it with aplomb. Not everyone was going to like every band. Or even want to see them. But that makes for a far more interesting festival than a strict genre-specific parade.

So, choosing what and where next is a bit like being at the pick and mix in Woolies. I plumped for a quarter of MC Lars***** on the main stage next. But I’d chosen a rhubarb and custard sherbet. Never keen. Clever? Yup. Entertaining? Definitely. But, apart from his paean to Poe’s The Raven, Rappin’ at My Chamber door, the crowd failed to ignite and it all felt a bit awkward.

Ok, so one definition of insanity is attempting the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Well, the sanity must be waning. I thought I’d go and see The Computers ***** again back in The New Slang big top. Quite why was beyond me. After seeing them with the magnificent ASIWYFA not long ago, I was far from complementary about their muddy scream punk and really didn’t care for them. Since then, they appear to have gained a lot of praise within the biz and garnered interest; so I thought I must be missing something.

I wasn’t. I lasted just two songs. The emperor’s new aaaaaarrrgggghhhh! Yes, their singer/guitarist is a genuinely charismatic natural, entertaining front man. Yes they still dress like greaser cricketers. And yes, they’re still an anachronistic garagey hark back to when it was important not to be able to play instruments properly to be punks. Punk has moved on. This lot haven’t. The pick and mix equivalent to soggy flying saucers. Dipped in gravy. Not my cup of Darjeeling.

Next up are one of the UK’s very, very best. Arcane Roots***** The local(ish) trio take to the main stage in front of a drizzled-upon and vaguely disappointing crowd; but rip into a compact, tight as a tick, high energy and brilliant performance. But, to be honest, their sophistication and musical chicanery is far too high brow and demanding for a mildly pissed and pop-hungry crowd. The sound system is also slightly out of its depth as Andrew Groves’ searing vocals don’t get the clarity they deserve from a long-throw bass bin dominated PA. No matter, the boys are playing a headline show at The Barfly tomorrow, so any slight wrongs will definitely be put right. And I loved it anyway.

The festival is now in full swing. Speciality ciders being quaffed, sweaty mid-afternoon dubstep sessions in tents getting all and sundry into a right tizz, all manner of meaty goodness being consumed and the good time vibe growing accordingly.

So, what better time than to haul out Wheatus *****? The sun broke out. Smiles broke out. Fun broke out. Front man Brendan Brown really enters into the spirit of the day with wonderful, self-effacing, entertaining and funny banter gluing a mish mash set together. Obviously no one really knows any of their schtick apart from Teenage Dirtbag (ok, and maybe the Erasure cover thing), but no matter, the large crowd is in fine form gyrating merrily to the good time vibes. Yup, we got Dirtbag (with MC Lars mooching around on stage as support for Brown) And, yup, everyone joined in dutifully and went suitably nuts. All great fun.
I don’t really get Futures***** Neither fish nor fowl. They manfully attempt to straddle the gaps between rock and pop. Between jangly indie and a slicker, heavier side. I suppose they sit somewhere between Spycatcher and You Me At Six via Canterbury. Nevertheless, they are in fine form this afternoon. Strutting their stuff to an enthusiastic crowd and ending their accomplished if not overly ball-breaking set with their famous one about wolves. Definitely enjoyable all round.

So, after the previous night’s intimate orgasmic sweat fest at The Fighting Cocks, could Hundred Reasons***** get jiggy with it to the same level and seduce a far bigger crowd with the same passion, energy and performance? They certainly drew the largest crowd of the day to the main stage, so the scene was well set for some serious intercourse. One hour later: cut to post coital trembles. Smiles. Dizziness. Total satisfaction. It was magnificent.. Raw, relevant, joyous, uplifting, beautiful and brilliant. 

After teasing us all with the foreplay of three or four of their later works, Larry informs us all that 10 years ago, they recorded this…..goose bumps, lumps in throats and away we went. The whole of Ideas Above Our Station.  The crowd went nuts singing along with just about every word. Even joining in with the riff in Silver. The main event to what was rapidly becoming one of the very best festivals. I was left ragged. Spent. Sated. In a mess. Amazing.

To be honest the rest of the afternoon becomes a bit of a blur from now on in. Not just due to cider and Jagermeister, but my frenzied attempts to catch as many of the acts as possible,

To reflect the breathlessness, here goes a rapid fire appraisal: The Skints***** a packed tent merrily skank away to the indie ska noiseniks. Not really my bag, but I can appreciate what all the recent hype’s been about. Original and infectious.

Judging by the size of the queue at the signing tent, Deaf Havana***** are certainly one of the main attractions of the day. A packed main arena welcomes the East Anglian tyros with knickers fizzing and hearts a fluttering.

Watery late afternoon sunshine casts a golden glow on the golden boys of the teen scene. It’s been fascinating watch these lads mutate from shouty, angry, raw rockers into a much more middle of the road and likeable rocky boy band. The jagged edges have certainly been French polished, the sound softened but not neutered. And the addition of charming and charismatic front man James Veck Gilodi’s younger bro as a third guitarist has fleshed out the live sound.

They’re what the naughty side of One Direction yearn to be. While moving further and further from their heavier roots (interesting to see how they go down at Hevy Fest later this summer!), they still pack a punch and Veck Gilodi’s brilliant and heartfelt lyrics and powerful vocal delivery set them apart from so many of the post hardcore, pop punk and scene bands traipsing up and down the country in sweaty vans from toilet venue to toilet venue. The fangirls certainly agree and provide a mini RockChoir accompaniment to every song. Word for word. Great stuff. If not a little toothless. The set. Not the fangirls.

Next up, Neville Staple***1/2** and even more enthusiastic crowd of skankers, steppers and stoners rammed into the New Slang Tent to join in with a two-tone tinged party. I’m sure most of the assembled smiling loons were equally as ignorant of much of big Nev’s work outside The Specials, but A Message To You Rudy was unsurprisingly the number that blew the roof off.

The good time vibe of the whole day has been maintained throughout and the boys and girls at Banquet must be delighted. The rain has pretty much stayed away. The crowds (while not massive) seemed to be in the finest of spirits even managing to conjour up a mass game of pissed rugby. Which seemed like a good idea at the time. Ow.

To bring what has been a brilliant day to a close, I hobble back to the main stage for the baby Lost Prophets, sorry, Kids in Glass Houses***1/2** Benefiting from the fading light, the pyro and light show add to the closing spectacle and they steam through a lively, loud and catchy set. Which like a chocolate mousse at the end of a groaning 22 course meal is greedily shoveled down the gullets of the writhing, partying crowd. A bit sickly sweet and frothy for my tastes, but kind of tasty nonetheless.

I really hope this festival becomes a regular event. Everything about it oozed passion, class, care and commitment. Which is no more than you’d expect from the good folk at Banquet. The vibe throughout the day was amazing. The curation beautifully balanced with something for everybody. A genuine pleasure and a privilege to have been there. Can’t wait for next year.

Arcane Roots*****
Hawkeyes *****
A Plastic Rose *****
The Barfly, Camden
5th June 2012

As part of the Kerrang! Awards celebrations, some of Britain’s very best talent is being showcased across London this week. The mighty Skindred and  amazing Architects among others. But the choice was made easy for me, any of you who’ve read any of my burblings will know how much I rate Arcane Roots. So much so, I’ve almost become some sort of simpering stalker. So I’ll try and keep a lid on my bias.

A Plastic Rose *****
The Barfly is definitely my favourite London venue and it’s pretty much packed to the brim this evening. First on the tasting menu, Ulster’s very own A Plastic Rose. A ramshackle band with far from a ramshackle sound. A tad cruelly maybe,  but I can’t stop thinking of them as a steroidal Snow Patrol.  Good tunes. Neat harmonies. A big sound. Like. Rather a lot.

Hawk Eyes*****
To follow…Hawk Eyes. I wasn’t expecting what came out of this lot. Jeez. A huge noise. Big arsed riffs. Hints of old school. Really old school.  A definite underlying hint of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal from the early eighties. Think Vardis, Angelwitch, Fist but with very much a contemporary lick of paint complete with dropped tunings, combinations of more screamy, growly and genuine raw vocal power served on a bed of blast beats. 

There were huge atonal rhythmic reveries stitched to delicious discordant sections and some truly interesting harmonic and melodic experimentation and even Adam And The Ants drummingI Poncey stuff aside, it was loud, gutsy, ballsy and, despite obvious nostalgic influences (there was even what looked like a Gibson Explorer being spanked), fresh and exciting. 
I loved it.

Arcane Roots*****
I said I’d keep my awkward fanboy bias to a minimum. But tonight, this lot truly tested my ability to be dispassionate. A blitzkrieg set of mind-frying, spine-tingling, heart-melting intensity served up with delicious light and shade completely blows the, what sports commentators would call a ‘knowledgeable’ crowd away. Three or four brilliant new songs dovetail seamlessly into the already astonishing collection of original, sophisticated, funky, technical, heavy, and brain-exploding bombast. Andrew Groves’ amazing vocal range, as always, cuts through the complexity and rhythmically mind-blowing assault. There are genuine moments of fragile beauty sandwiched in between the fierceness and ferocity. Beautiful contrasts. Brilliant constructions. All-in-all, tonight is yet another triumph on their inevitable passage to the very top.

Polar *****
Palmreader ***1/2**
Real Adventures *****
Deadlights ***1/2**
The Boiler Room Guildford
18th June 2012

Popping my Boiler Room cherry tonight. A pleasure to be at such a legendary venue. Made even more pleasurable by the great bill. All locally grown, tonight’s show is a homecoming celebration of Polar’s jaw-dropping debut long player, Iron Lungs and they’ve brought a load of buddies with them to celebrate.

Deadlights ***1/2**
First on are relative newcomers Deadlights. The local four piece serve up a predominantly instrumental post-rock appetizer spiced up with occasional Mastodonesque growls and proggy flavourings. Very much in the vein of the magical Maybeshewill, they captivate a fairly hardcore crowd with genuinely hypnotic and head-nodding pleasantness. Tasty stuff.

Real Adventures *****
There’s an air of genuine panic around the rapidly filling Boiler Room as rascals of the Pop Hunk scene get close to kick off. The reason? Their bass player Mitch is breaking Donald Campbell’s land speed record in a Ford Ka on the A3 trying to get to the gig on time. No soundcheck, no pre-show relaxing cocktails here. But there are sighs of relief all round as he arrives with seconds to spare.

Visibly a bit shaken, the 5 piece take to the stage and light the blue touch paper. They go on to deliver a ritual savage buggering to Surrey’s great and good.

Real Adventures defy genres. They like pop punk. But are neither genuinely punky or, thankfully poppy. They deal in complex riffs, spiraling cadenzas and meaty chuggy bits all fused with a joyous energy and bounce. Louis Reynolds gruff and aggressive canine barks unsettle and cajole the audience in equal measure. As usual, he delivers most of his Rottweileresque sermon from among the crowd, throwing himself around like a possessed bantamweight with St Vitus dance.

There’s cleary the odd sound problem on stage and the tightness is a quantizable 1/100 of a beat off in places, but it doesn’t matter a damn. They’re original, feisty, fun and engaging. They air one or two new tunes tonight and from first listening, they’re worthy bed fellows to the infectious Do You Ever Wish You Could Breathe Under Water and the hymn to pop punk hardcore crowds If This Is Living, You’re  Better Off Dead.

My only slight craving is for the odd tempo change now and again. Not in an indulgent prog or showy-offy math way, but a breakdown or beatdown here and there would add a little more variety and dynamic. Just a thought. But all round great stuff. Even when most of them took their shirts off and it bordered on becoming a Chippendales show. #nohomo

Palm Reader*****
Alex Baker over at K! Radio has been banging on about this lot for a wee while now, so I was intrigued to see if they lived up to his normally impeccable recommendations. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The theatrical performance elements certainly moved things up a notch from Real Adventures more traditional heads down, see you at the end approach. They were running intricate patterns all over the tiny stage. Reminiscent of the incomparable Dillinger Escape Plan – a comparison made easier by guitarist Sam Rondeau-Smith’s cut-off sleeve tshirt in the stylee of DEP’s Mr Tuttle.

The set was rowdy, sweaty, full-on and relentless.  The crowd became more animated with crowd surfers and hardcore dancers turning the place into what looked like one of those computer generated animations of the inside of a Philips Whirlpool washing machine. I must confess, I don’t know their stuff intimately, so most of their set was falling on my fat old ears for the first time. But I generally liked what I heard. Not dissimilar to Polar in many ways but with certainly enough difference to create their own space alongside tonight’s headliners. All good.

Polar ****1/2*
So, to the main event. The Boiler Room is by now rammed with 2-300 expectant and well warmed up souls. And, similarly to the change up between Real Adventures and Palm Reader, more notches were turned up as the local noisy bastards strode into their explosive set. The lightshow is turned up. The volume nudged round to 11. The crowd abandoned the garden and squeezed in to every available spot. This is some homecoming.

Adam Woodford’s trademark bulging eyes and manic, focused delivery show how much this show means. From the kick off, he’s on his A game. Surfing the crowd. Walking on the ceiling. Throwing his sweaty torso around with complete abandon. His bandmates ably support and get wholeheartedly involved. There is a controlled mayhem. And there’s the kicker. The control. They produce a right old din alright, but it’s delivered precisely and scientifically. Not clinically or contrived, just tight and surgically accurate.

The album is given a working over with old favourites sprinkled on top.
The energy is infectious. The enjoyment contagious. A noisy, precise, brutal and passionate display which leaves the crowd drained and satiated. Magnificent stuff. Expect bigger and better things from these, the nicest of anti-social noisy bastards.

Don Broco ****1/2*
St Pancras Station 
June 14th 2012

Before I disappear, here's a little snack. Went to see the rising ladcore stars Don Broco doing their acoustic thang among the commuters. Great fun. Great music. Great vibe. All new songs off the much anticipated new album Priorities. Fancy Dress, Yeah Man and Actors all sound as they're going to be major tunes to sit alongside the enormous title track. 

There were even bras chucked at Bobby Damage and he then led the crowd into an impromptu conga around the station. Proof, as if it were needed, that this lot are going to get bigger, bouncier and become guaranteed crowd pleasers whether they're playing acoustically or cranking it up and melting faces. Watch this space. The year of The Broco indeed.

More tunes soon, Bwooooar!

To finish, here are some vids of the above. Mixed quality, but all good.

No comments:

Post a Comment