Monday, 12 May 2014

London Live - a month's shows in one huge word burp

Deaf Havana***** The Maine*1/2**** The People The Poet ***** Yearbook****1/2Jamie Lenman ***** Nordic Giants*****
Sam Duckworth ***1/2** Shane McGowan ***1/2** 
Get Cape Wear Cape Fly *****
The Lafontaines ***** Bad Rabbits****1/2*

Live in London during April and May 2014

Here goes then, a high speed, break neck word burp about a whole heap of great shows over the last month or so with no full stops, breaths, distractions or interruptions, so let's start at The Clapham Grand; last gig in this alcopop, J-Lo perfume and ketamine soused dance hall was Oasis apparently so tonight's show hasn't got too much to live up to following a few years after the middle of the road whinging, whining  Manc Beatles wannabees anyway first up are the melodic and sweetly soulful South Walian blue collar, blue veined, blue bollocked The People The Poet***** who, despite being given no ambience, lightshow or audio visual help produce a banging short set full from its head to its rectum with huge melodies, sing-a-longs, woo oohs and chest thumping grandeur, a truly great band in the making and with world beating tunes like the anthemic Heart of A Lion, it's not going to be long before total world domination, talking of the world, from the land of countless donuts, merciless drive by killings, styleless checked trousers and mindless gun laws, come
The Maine*1/2****, the less said the better really, depthless, heartless, witless, passionless, pointless wetness, no matter, next up are the always far from pointless Deaf Havana***** fully supported and surrounded by singers, string strokers and Hollywood flashing light bulbs burning the fenland fuckers' moniker into the adoring eyes of the assembled masses in the sold out sarf London dance hall who are treated to a fantastic,

slick and sublime sashay through old ones, new ones, fast ones, slow ones, poignant ones, moving ones, catchy ones and even really old ones about fags and booze - brilliant stuff from one of the UKs genuinely top talents...talking of talent, and a young talent who should really have been on show with James Veck-Gilodi and the team tonight in a mad rush and sacrificing seeing the always amazing HawkEyes supporting Jamie Lenman, a quick catch up with the fabulous mucksters

Yearbook****1/2* in the sticky Soho love dungeon that is The Borderline - Ok, it's a support slot to Acoda and some old American EMO band that no one seems to give a shit about, but a decent crowd has assembled early doors to witness one of the country's most original and fresh talents and they take the place apart, tearing  into a selection of wry, awry and wonky wizardry culling tunes from their fantastic EP Old Bones and slotting them into a beautifully curated short, sharp flavour fest suffused with chilli-hot fire of older bangers which certainly get the enthusiastic crowd wet of knicker and dizzy of head; splendid, quirky brilliance that merits a wider audience and soon, right into a cab and a mad dash to the grandeur and vaguely Politbureauesque surroundings of the Islington Assembly Rooms packed full of a million beards for the fabulous

Mr Jamie Lenman***** who has some real work to do to even get close to the brilliance of his last tour which was one of the absolute jewels in the live crown of last year, but I tell you what, the genius only bally well goes and tops the fabulous excellence by being even more, well,  fabulous and excellent, he rustles up a wonderful heady fucked-up but mind-altering brew of complexity, aggression, Reuben-infused nostalgia, fire, passion, quirk, cool, hard bop, jazz, face-melting metal, joy, vitriol, humour and passion that pretty much puts him so far ahead of the competition, that there is no competition just an empty horizon to look back on as he gallops into the distance so far away from the non-existent tired and straw-clutching, head-scratching chasing pack: genius, sheer bloomin, genius; right, no time to dwell on Mr Lenman, onto mysterious, anonymous off beat, befeathered and bizarre Brighton-based noodlers Nordic Giants ***** playing to a packed and sweaty Shoreditch hipster hideaway backed by the most astonishing visual experiences imaginable - and non imaginable- the towering, soaring soundscapes often topped by wonderful guest vocal performances (and pre-recorded, pre-filmed performances)

fill the Blade Runner set of a room and bewitch the achingly beard-stroking internet of things understanding, organic Peruvian commune collective beer supping quaalude necking, well, mainly assholes to be honest; seldom has such challenging and beautiful music soared above the heads of such a collection of oh-so-cool fuckwits -  challenging music obviously needs to challenge, but the crowd needs to be capable of being challenged, there's a hideous air of emperor's new clothes in London's coolest borough tonight, not that the music or visuals are at fault, no, far from it, it's the blind and tacit acceptance of the assembled goons that this is 'just so cool': so, at one point, challenged by a marvellous and thought-provoking film depicting dark and sinister child abuse, instead of marking the gauntlet being laid down at their sockless brogue clad feet with acceptable contemplation or reflective, appreciative quiet, an almost One Direction crowd  fervour breaks out with whooping and whistling - was any one actually watching? one sensible if slightly misunderstood plaintive voice hits the fatigued old nail on its bent head by screaming out 'why are you clapping?' - at least one of the crowd is not a goon then; that all said, the performance is bewildering and brilliant  with the multi instrumentalists secreting themselves to the sides of the stage playing second string (and guitar and flugelhorn and god knows what else) to the eye popping and mind altering filmic splendour; a true marriage of sound and vision, such a shame it was mainly wasted on the wankers - roll on Arc Tan Gent in the summer far from the madding hipsters and sans the Shoreditch pseudo-cool cretins;
as a complete contrast, next up over in a sticky carpeted student vomitarium is the redoubtable and loveable troubadour Mr Sam Duckworth playing, unbelievably his last ever show under the epithet Get Cape Wear Cape Fly (fittingly at a much loved New Slang event) , but before eyes get teary and throats get lumpy, our pocket sized mop haired hero treats the sparse student crowd to a wonderful collection of new tunes as Sam Duckworth ***1/2** cranked out on a lone SG with no laptop, loops or horns, this is as pared down and raw as it gets and it's great stuff and apparently a lot of it is about wrestling, well, who'd a thunk it,

anyhow, Sam careers through the set before ceding the stage to Southampton's own yoof beat poet Shane McGowan ***1/2** who stirs the crowd up with a clever, thought provoking and original collection of essentially street poetry set to jangly acoustic reveries, not the voice of an angel, but the words of a genuine artist and the heart the size of a watermelon, engaging, interesting stuff, which sets the appetite on edge for Get Cape Wear Cape Fly *****; it's been a strange old time for Sam and GCWCF, from a decade or so ago being the new darling of the all new-nu-nu folk scene with a huge debut record on a major label without a slack track on the album then through some more indifferent but never less than interesting long players,
the recent schizophrenic diving between identities of Sam Duckworth as an artist and Get Cape, pledge records, serious life-threatening illness, an apparent falling out of love with the industry and making music, disillusionment and disappearance of identity playing with rent-a-bands and hangers on, but given all the shit and sadness, the boy's still got it and tonight is a genuine moving and, I'll be honest bloody sad, reminder of just how much talent this small package has stuffed inside its's callow frame, it has a feeling of back to the beginning as much as of an end, long time sidesman Mikey Glenister and his haunting and spine-tingling cornet, a laptop, an always superbly played acoustic guitar and Sam's sharp and at times painfully personal lyrics delivered in his best Westcliff 'awight you slag? Essex glottal stop infused lad speak adds up to a set of nigh on perfection, with slightly tweaked and re-jigged versions of all the big sing-a-longs (why don't you sing along?) that beguiled and thrilled stages at Glastonbury, The Astoria and Shepherd's Bush as well as every toilet and broom cupboard throughout the land, it's perhaps understandable that Sam is regrettably retiring the GCWCF sobriquet for reasons he tries to pint out this evening - relevance of lyrics written when still in his teens - but after having seen this pocket genius well over 30 times over the last decade, tonight feels a bit like a faithful dog wandering off to quietly die in a down-at-heel beer-sticky corner without his owner, in this case his wider and hopefully still faithful accolytes knowing that he'll never be seen again; so sad, but a hell of a last show and a genuine privilege to have been there to scream along to every bloody word, relevant or not- need to shake the sadness, so, it's back to Soho for some funk - you 'eard; Bad Rabbits at The Borderline should do the trick - ok, I'll keep it brief as I'm running out of breath, I also don't have any pictures from tonight's show as I accidentally got too drunk and couldn't get my shit together to get the camera out in the pit, anyway, opening are The Lafontaines ***** a fucked up Glaswegian indie/lad rock/alt-spiced/white rap melodic bucket of weirdness, but quite a good fucked up Glaswegian indie/lad rock/alt-spiced/white rap melodic bucket of weirdness - big tunes, interesting harmonies, a charisma imbued front man and a tight joyous and lively band, but (cue grumpy old bastard rant) why oh why does a really nice and genuinely engaging Scot want to sound like Eminem when he raps? I dont get it, at all, Biffy, The Xcerts,  the recently anodised Twin Atlantic and even the fucking Proclaimers prove that you can sing convincingly in a Scottish accent without having to sound like an affected twat - u get me blood? Minor rant really as they're really half reasonable, but it still pisses me off, unlike the mighty Bad Rabbits ****1/2* who deliver a set of which I have never seen or partaken - a funk fest with a hardcore edge? no, seriously, moshing to schmoove and sexy riffs and stage diving to mesmerising mellowness - it really defies belief, but the house is brought down - Brother Dua, all Isaac Hayes and Gil Scott Heron with the most incredible and controlled vocal range leads his fabulous fucking funksters to squeeze every nut sack in the room and seduce Soho's grizzled coolites with soul, integrity, sass and balls; the crossover between rock and dance, metal and mellow magic and hardcore with harmony is only on show in attitude alone as the music never veers towards the loud, the scream, the deconstructed (although there is an hilarious Dillinger cover - all three seconds of it), this lot are true magicians, nope, hypnotists and while there's a breath in your body, you NEED to see them live; talking of breath, that's me done, the longest sentence ever written about live music? I doubt it, and who actually cares, what I do care about though is the amazing variety, depth and strength of live music in this vibrant city and count myself eternally grateful to be able to haul my hoary old arse out to be so royally entertained - apart from The Maine, obviously, they were shit, done.

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