Laura Moody

I can’t count the number of obscure and fantastic bands I have discovered while attempting to stay dry, and Laura Moody was no exception. It was the last day of the Bestival on the Isle of Wight, and I just wanted somewhere dry and warm to eat my burrito. I wandered into a rather empty tent with a soggy floor, and by the time I’d finished my lunch the stage had been set up and Laura Moody was making her way to center stage.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, though I thought it might be a chilled-out classical acoustic set – I was wrong. The set did start in a way that could have lead the audience to believe they were going to enjoy 45 minutes of beautiful classical cello work, however, we were soon disabused of this notion. Her set was enthralling and elegant and weird and completely out of this world.

Moody has a beautiful, haunting voice, with an operatic quality. The first part of the set included a lot of songs from her debut album ‘Acrobats‘. This album puts more emphasis on the cello work than the voice, and the two work together and compliment each other beautifully.

During the last part of her set Moody moved on to songs that were from her new E.P, which do include some wonderful cello work, however there is a lot more experimental work going on here. Moody uses her impressive vocal range to contrast with the cello, rather than compliment it. These pieces are striking and enjoyable, though probably wouldn’t be considered ‘easy listening’. Moody not only uses her voice, but ‘plays’ her throat with the cello bow, creating these weird and wonderful sounds. She also played a Nick Drake cover, which was very out of the blue, but I did enjoy it. One of the last songs she played really struck a chord with me. It was a mash-up of Marianne Faithfull’s ‘Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ and Moody’s original song ‘Creeping Alopecia‘ (that’s what I’m assuming it’s called, on the E.P it’s just ‘track 01). This was a really interesting mash-up and worked incredibly well.

All in all, I am so glad I stayed for the entirety of the set, and would recommend you go out and listen to her, and if you can, see her live. She’s a wonderful ethereal performer, and an extremely talented and impressive cello player.

 

 

Kate Tempest

So if everyone could ignore this huge gap in the posts on my blog, that’d be great. The condensed version is that last semester at uni I had a lethal mix of laziness, too many gigs and the stress of trying to write a number of essays and papers. Well, it wasn’t so much the stress of writing them, more the stress of trying to find things to do (and countries to go to) instead of doing them. Procrastinating is hard work guys.

Ok, so the next lot of reviews are going to be horrifically out of date, however, I’ll write about how the gig was, and the artist in general. Though I’m sure you don’t mind reading these things well out of date. I’m not sure what the half-life is on these kind of blogs.

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Now all that admin is done, on to Kate Tempest. So I’ve known about Tempest for a couple of years now, after I became a fan of Scroobius Pip. I first knew her as a spoken word poet, however she is a prolific playwright as well, and is about to release her third book.

Kate Tempest is really something when it comes to lyrics and performance. She has been influenced by ancient mythology, this is evident in one of her songs Icarus and in her first book, ‘Brand New Ancients’. Tempest has also written and performed a poem called  Tiresias, about the myth of Tiresias (surprisingly). [WARNING: LINGUISTIC DIVERSION UP AHEAD] For any linguistic nerds out there, it is also interesting to note that Icarus was written in dactycal hexameters. The ‘dactyl’ part refers to the pattern ‘TUM-te-ty’ essentially, the syllables for the pattern ‘stressed-unstressed-unstressed’. The hexameter part refers the amount of syllables per line (in this case…six). This was a common in epic classical poetry written in Latin and Greek. I just think that it’s really cool that she has written a poem in dactycal hexameters, which aren’t used much at all in poetry and spoken word nowadays.  Ok, people who hate linguistics  can tune back in now.

Tempest has played at Bestival for a number of years, and every time I see her (whether it’s at Bestival or any other of her gigs) I get chills when she speaks. She has this passion and power in her voice that is hard to come by. She makes you want to get up and do something with your life, to experience life in the fullest way possible. Tempest blends flawlessly elements of spoken word, rap, poetry and theater to create beautiful pieces that create characters so solid you can almost touch them. This, combined with her strong East London accent makes for stunning pieces that are so different from anything anyone else is doing. All this is helped of course by the fact her work is littered with amazing lines riddled deep in meaning, such as:

‘And the days are all dust
and the only thing worse
than losing the trust
of a lover is finding the rust
in their kiss.’

Which can be found in Hold Your Own, Tempest’s first book released back in 2014 – and can be found relatively cheaply from wordery.com. She is about to release another book called The Bricks That Built The Houses which you should definitely buy, like everything she does it’s going to amazing.

Kate Tempest is actually about to go on tour for her upcoming book, starting in London in April, and stopping off around the UK until she flies stateside to tour in America, so for any Americans reading, this would be a chance to see one of the UKs most prolific and talented writers, an opportunity that should not be passed up. The dates and tickets for the tour can be found here.

It’s hard to use words as eloquently and as effortlessly as Tempest does to do her any justice, my recommendation is to pick up one of her books, see her live, and blab on about how amazing this woman is to anyone who will listen. Much like I’m doing.

Anywho, her are some photos of Kate Tempest at Bestival in September last year.

 

 

 

 

 

Party in the Park

Second gig in this fair old land that is Aus. Again, I hurriedly bought tickets for this before leaving the UK after hearing that the Cat Empire were playing. Which, in retrospect, was a brilliant idea. When I got the tickets the only billed acts were the Cat Empire and the Jezebels, who I hadn’t heard of before. But that didn’t really matter, because if they were playing with the Cat Empire they were going to be good. A couple of days before the gig I got an email from the organisers giving details.

So, with a few days before the gig I made an effort to look up the other bands online, even if it was only to listen to one or two songs. I also thought it was delightful that all the bands playing at Party in the Park hailed from Australia. The event turned out to be more like a mini-festival, with a bar, a couple of food stands, and a large shaded area with lots of bean bags, which was fun. It was held in a cricket ground which mean just by being there you felt somewhat middle-class. It was a lovely crowd, everyone was very well dressed, even though there was range of people from 18 to 80. It was nice to spend the last part of the afternoon in the sun, watching all the shiny happy people enjoy the good weather and good music.

The first band that played were Sons of the East, a trio local to Sydney. They are an indie/folk band, with definite hints of Mumford and Sons. Though, we’re all inclined to say that as soon as a band appears with a banjo and harmonica now, which is a shame. But they played a good mix of songs, great music to listen to in the sun. They seem to have parts of Sydney flowing out of their instruments. All of this made for an enjoyable start to an evening of good music.

The second band that played were an almost all girl group band Little May. It was refreshing to see an all girl band come up on stage and play their own instruments. I know there are girl bands out there that do play their own instruments, I just don’t feel they get as much exposure as they should. Anyway, I’m going slightly off topic. Little May had a mix of raw guitar and bass with electro-y piano and soft vocals. They managed to blend them together in such a way that they didn’t grate, but complemented each other. They managed to get the crowd off the ground where they had been watching to actually come up and dance, which was excellent.

The third – and final band before the two headliners – was a band called Husky. Husky are another indie/folky band. They set started off fairly slow and low-key, though as they played through their songs they upped the tempo and got more and more people dancing. The highlight of their set however, was their final song, ‘I’m not coming back‘. It was a very memorable song both lyrically and musically, and left the crowd begging for more.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the Jezabels, I’d only listened to one song before I saw them, so I wasn’t fully prepared for what they were going to do. They were vocally similar to Little May, in my opinion, without being samey. Hayley Mary on lead vocals did give Little May a shout out, and commented on the guys that had shouted ‘take your top off’ during Little May’s set that they were ‘bearing their fucking souls, which is way more intimate’ than a naked body. This obviously got a massive cheer from the crowd, and it was nice that she had been listening to their set and had the balls to call out the perpetrators. I felt the set was comparable to a La Roux gig, but that might just have been because the lighting was very similar (purples, pinks and blues – which, incidentally, mean that my photos aren’t great). The Jezabels are definitely a band I would make an effort to see live again, would recommend to anyone looking for a dancey band that stands apart from the rest.

Aha, now we get to the main event of the evening. The Cat Empire. So, if you’ve got this far without knowing who Cat Empire are, let’s take a minute to change that. Cat Empire are described as ‘Jazz/Ska’ but in reality they’ve got elements of salsa, blues and pop in their music, as well as jazz and ska. The band consists of a bajillion people. Well, there’s six of them. But still. That’s a fair amount of people on a stage at anyone time. The gig was everything I wanted it to be and more. They opened up with ‘Brighter than gold‘, which, as far as I’m aware is their latest single. Their set list had a good variety of songs, from ‘Chariot‘ to ‘Like a drum‘. The energy in the crowd was uncontainable, without being (too) violent. The fusion of instruments on stage is an exhilarating mix. As well as the core band members playing percussion, keys, trumpet, double bass and decks, they were joined on stage by The Empire Horns, a brass duo with Ross Irwin on the trumpet and Kieran Conrau on the trombone.

Each band surpassed expectation, as did the weather. The atmosphere went from chilled to dancey to there-so-much-energy-here-all-my-hairs-are-standing-on-end. All in all, the night could not have gone better.

Tim Minchin – Sydney Opera House

The more astute of you will have noticed that I have already written about Tim Minchin, and I’m not one for repetition. However, I think this gig deserves to be mentioned for a number of reasons.

  1. It’s was my first gig in the Southern Hemisphere, that counts for something, right?
  2. It was at (well, outside) the Sydney Opera House
  3. To quote Loki, ‘I do what I want’

Now that’s sorted, onto the actual gig. As I said, it was my first gig in the southern hemisphere, and, more accurately, Australia. I bought the tickets to Tim Minchin on the steps before it was confirmed that I was going to Aus, but who cares? I’m here now, and I got to see an excellent gig. As mentioned in the previous Minchin post I’ve never actually been to a straight-up comedy gig of his, which is weird but also not. So, since about 2005ish, his debut at the Melbourne and Edinburgh fringe, Minchin has been described as a musical comedian. Which, I do agree, he was. But that wasn’t his first calling. Before making it big he wrote a couple of songs for a number of plays, did a bit of acting, just dabbling in the area we know as ‘performing arts’.

Since his success from ’09 onwards he’s been increasingly (in my opinion) typecast as ‘that funny guy that makes fun of religions and plays the piano’, which is all well and good. It does seem to me that Minchin has been trying to break out of that mold though. For example, he wrote the music for Matilda – which went on to win about 30 different awards, including a couple of Tonys and Laurence Olivier – has played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and now he’s writing another musical (Stage adaption of Groundhog Day).

What has convinced me of his apparent effort to move away from his comedic alter-ego, and into the realms of his clever, articulate and deep self have been his recent gigs, especially this most recent one. Yes, he did play his classics, like Prejudice and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd, and of course, the very serious Cheese. But he also played a lot of his songs that aren’t comedic, which is so nice because he is a fantastic songwriter, and he should be appreciated for his more serious songs as well as his comedy. He played a range of songs, including Drowned – a personal favorite of mine. And Seeing You, which is a song from the Groundhog Day musical he’s providing the music for. Both of these are excellent examples of his deep writing.

The highlight for me was not the main body of the show, but the encore. Before Minchin left the stage for the first time he introduced his last song (Darkside) as ‘the last song we’ll play before we go and the come back on again, because of the French you will shout’, which is my preferred way to introduce the encore, rather than pretending it’s spontaneous, as many people do, both comedians and musicians. (I’m looking at you Bill Bailey. THREE ENCORES?! Hmm)

ANYWAY, Minchin came back on stage – as promised – as the audience were shouting ‘French’ at the top of their lungs. He began by talking about his family, mentioning that music plagues his family like a disease, and rattled off a list of names of brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins and aunts that were all musically persuaded.

He then started introducing a song which I had heard of before, so naturally, I was excited. It was called Harbor Lights, and he explained that it was written by his uncle, Jim Fisher. He started singing, and as he got halfway through the first verse he was joined, on stage, by a Mr.Jim Fisher, and they sung it as a duet. It was really beautiful, and very different to Minchin’s style. Fisher is a bluegrass singer, and the combination of his battered old guitar and the piano was really something else. If that wasn’t enough, he was then joined by his cousin, Tom, on electric guitar, his brother Dan, on acoustic guitar, who then sung another verse together. THEN, two violinists enter stage left, Tim’s cousins Lucy and Susie, and two singers, his sisters Kate and Mel. And the whole family starts singing this beautiful song together. It was such an amazing moment, and a wonderful thing to watch.

They then played a cover of the Rolling Stone’s Shine a Light, with Dan taking the lead. I’ve taken some VERY amateur clips of both of the above songs, the footage doesn’t do them justice, but they’re here and here if you want to see them.

To be able to hoist the majority of your family onstage for an audience of 700ish people, and play two beautiful, poignant songs, and to pull them off harmoniously is no mean feat. To see the whole thing in action was indescribable.

Now, have some pictures. (I was far away, and being primarily a pianist, Minchin doesn’t move around a lot, those are my excuses this week) I’ve also re-edited a couple of older pics, so you can have those for good behavior. Oh, and I did some art of Tim Minchin’s face. I’m not really sure why.

QUEEN + Adam Lambert

When I was told we were going to see Queen, I was pretty excited. As I imagine most people would be. When I was told that it was at the O2, I was a little bit hesitant. I may be in the minority, but often I feel that big arenas ruin music. I know they almost always ruin comedy (except this guy, he thrives in big arenas). Big outdoor arenas are different. Being at a festival is nothing like being in the O2, the vibe is completely different, often people have had at least a day of live music already and are brimming with sex drugs and rock and roll. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Ok, so enough negativity. Let’s get on with an actual review of the show. We arrived early, and our three hours of queuing paid off, as we got a nice position at the end of the catwalk (which, for some reason was a weird bendy shape). Queen had no support act, which was actually a nice change. I mean, I like the idea of support acts, and often it gives you a chance to see some talented people – like these guys who toured with Paolo Nutini for a bit. But now and again, it is just nice to turn up and see the band you’ve paid to see.

It’s at this point I’ll mention that I’ve actually seen these guys before (unfortunately, still without Freddie – and though he died before I was born, so for me to see them with him would mean some serious wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff). I saw Queen with Adam Lambert at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2011, which was, if I’m not mistaken, their first tour together. Hence the smaller arena. the Hammersmith holds around 5000 max, contrasting with the 20,000 that can be squeezed into the O2.

The band ‘Queen + Adam Lambert’ consists of Brian May and Roger Taylor, the original guitarist and drummer respectively. Taylor’s son Rufus on drums, Spike Edney on keys, and Neil Fairclough on bass. Edney has been referred to as the ‘fifth member of Queen’ due to his extensive work with the band, which is pretty cool, because it means the only members the band are really missing are John Deacon and the one and only, Freddie Mercury.

It’s no secret that Adam Lambert has big boots to fill, being the new front man of Queen. I said this the first time I saw them, and my feelings where solidified on seeing them again, he’s not a replacement for Freddie. Yes, he’s doing Freddie’s job, yes, he’s doing it well, but in no way does it feel like he’s replacing him.

While on stage, all members are given a moment in the spotlight. During the show Lambert left for a couple of songs, which gave the rest of the band to move their equipment to the end of the catwalk, and do a couple of songs together, which almost had an acoustic feel to it, which gave a new dimension to the evening. Roger and Rufus had a drum battle, and then there was a bass battle, which, instead of being torturous and boring as drum solos often are, was actually good to listen to. The whole band left the stage at the start of Bohemian Rhapsody and let a recording of Freddie sing it on one of the big screens, which I thought was very touching. They also played some of Freddie’s vocals behind Brian May as he was singing Love of My Life.

Side note, I’d never really realised how much other band members are effected when a member dies. I mean, thankfully, all the modern bands I like have never lost a member, and all the older bands lost their members before I was even born, so it had always been the status quo that Freddie, Strummer, Lennon  and Kobain were dead. But when I saw Brian May do a solo acoustic set in the middle of the Queen + Lambert gig in 2011, it hit me how much it would effect the rest of a band. You live with them while you’re on the road, you socialise with them, you open yourself up to them artistically, they get to see you at your worst and your best. Losing someone like that has got to hit you hard. He played The Show Must Go On, it was surprisingly emotional.

Anyway, back to the gig. Though Lambert left for a couple of songs he in no way was shy of the spot light. For Killer Queen he had a chaise longue brought to the end of the catwalk and sung the song while lying on it, which was a great touch.

At the end of the day, the set the played was fantastic, they honored Mercury, and gave every member a chance to shine – and oh, how they shone. They even manged to hype up the crowd, which isn’t an easy task when there’s 6 of you 20,000 of them, it’s your second night at that arena AND it’s a Sunday. So I’m glad I went, and would whole heartedily reccomend you go and see them before you die (or they do, for that matter).

Here are some photos.

Die Toten Hosen

A very VERY good friend of mine convinced me to take a trip to Germany with her (Bochum, to be precise, near Düsseldorf ) to see this band she is fond of. The band’s called ‘Die Toten Hosen’ which literally translates as ‘the dead trousers’ and is an idiom used in German to mean boring, or nothing going on, it’s often translated as ‘the dead beats’.

I imagine most people reading this blog don’t know much about this band (actually, almost all the people reading this are friends and family, so I’m sure you do). Anyway, here’s some basic background info on these guys: They formed in 1882. Did I say 1882? I meant 1982. Either way, these guys are OLD. The Rt Honorable Scroobius Pip was celebrating his first birthday just as the band new ancients were forming a band. O-L-D. They’re from Düsseldorf, which, as a city is pretty obsessed with them. To see them play in Bochum is like going to see the Arctic Monkeys in Rotherham.

The lead singer is called Campino, after those sweets that people eat. Other current members are Andi, Breiti, Kuddel and Vom. Vom’s the drummer. He’s also English, and undoubtedly the best. (Please note the latter has nothing to do with the former two). Though some people would disagree, and to those people all I say is this.

Anywho, we left on Sunday night, and traveled by coach, that’s right, COACH, to Düsseldorf (which took about 14 hours, but after spending my summer traveling to and from Edinburgh, it wasn’t too bad). Also, we were both quite hyper for a large portion of the journey, which also helped.

We got into Düsseldorf at about 9ish, and from there headed straight to Bochum, and the venue. By the time we got there it was 3, still a good five hours before the gig. DTH being as big as they are, we weren’t the first people there, which was unsurprising.

I feel like I need to establish how big these guys are. They easily sell out stadiums in Germany, we’re talking Wembley stadium size, or the O2 arena (née the Millennium Dome) size, filled with ease. So, when we were let inside, and saw that the venue only had a capacity of 1000 (in comparison Wembley is about 90,000 – which is half the population of the Isle of Wight), we were astounded. It also had a second level, a balcony in an L shape. The balcony ended by the front of the stage, which meant us punters had a brilliant unhindered view of the stage.

The gig itself was enjoyable, though I moved from the front to the balcony after the fifth song, as I was a little mosh-pit-y. They opened with Strom, which was a strong start, and they kept the energy levels up for the whole gig (even if I didn’t). As it was a small gig, and only a warm up, it seemed to be a lot more intimate and friendly than they would have been on a bigger stage. I think it helped that about a quarter of the audience were friends with the band.

Their set contain a mixture of new hits, old classics, and some pieces that are rarely sung. Throughout the set they were bullied into singing songs they hadn’t sung in years, Campino even had to read from his Lyric Book Of All Knowledge for a couple. As well as deviating largely from the set-list to appease the fans, they kept the gig intimate and personal by retelling stories, venting out opinions that may have caused friction with a wider audience, and of course, joking around on stage.

Given their age, they are still a very fit band. Campino crowd surfed a couple of times, and once ended up balancing precariously on an air-conditioning unit that was attached to the balcony. He sung a couple of songs, before jumping into the crowd below, and then got back on stage.

It was a pleasure to watch these guys on stage, they’ve been together for a couple of decades now, and the fact they can still interact so well with their fans, climb all over a venue (whilst singing) and enjoy themselves so much on stage is incredible, and it makes them a joy to watch. I can quite understand why people become considerably obsessed with these guys.

The Photos are mostly from Bochum – but I have snuck one or two in from a big gig in Berlin, which was no where near as fun as this one.