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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Billy Idol

Yup. That’s right. Billy Idol.

One of the many reasons I like going to watch older bands/musicians is precisely because of their age. If they’ve been touring for 20 odd years, chances are, they’re gunna be good. I know there are a lot of new bands on the scene that have fantastic live shows, some even make their names with their live shows rather than releasing a mountain of singles and a couple of albums. Such as the correspondents. Anyway, we seem to be getting a bit off topic.

I was good for this gig, I arrived at 4, and doors didn’t open ’til 7. I had time to eat some food, and got a hot drink to keep myself warm while waiting in the queue. I meet a lovely couple while waiting, who had traveled up from Cornwall to see Billy. The guy was a Billy Idol look-alike. He had the hair, the spikes, the random pieces of metal sticking out of his face. They were lovely, and kept topping up my chai tea with brandy, which made the waiting a lot less painful. We also made friends with another girl waiting in the queue, and when we got into the gig all four of us were constantly looking out for each other. It was nice. It felt like a little family. A weird family, but a family none the less.

It was at the Apollo, in Hammersmith. I’ve seen a number of shows there, from Queen (and Adam Lambert – who are playing again in January) to Russell Brand (my opinions on whom are complicated) and Tim Minchin. It’s a great venue, and have utilised the trick of ‘the sloping floor’ so that everyone has a chance at seeing, even if they’re right at the back.

The support act were…interesting. A band called ‘the Dough Rollers‘ hailing from the Big Apple. They had a very punky vibe about them, but the lead singer seemed to be very into ‘the music’ and paid little heed to the audience. Many of the older members of the audience weren’t impressed, but I thought they were a genuine punk band, and worked well as an opener.

Billy himself was…amazing. The whole show was grand. He had about 5 costume changes throughout his two hour set, and came very close to the crowd, constantly making eye-contact with people in the front (including me) which helped keep the gig personal. (Even if it was staged). I know he’s be doing this a long time, and you can tell (not just because of the wrinkles). He had signed set-lists he personally gave out to the front row (which I sadly did not get) and Stevie Stephens (the lead guitarist) had a seemingly endless supply of picks, which he kept throwing out to the audience (I did not get one of these either). Stevie is a brilliant guitarist. He entertained the crowd with heart-stoppingly good solos while Billy was changing into yet ANOTHER outfit.

All in all, great gig. I’m using it as my warm up for Die Toten Hosen, who I am going to see in December. I feel the crowd will be a bit more violent with them.

I’m pretty proud of these photos. I seem to have come out with a number of good shots. (Well, I did take 577 photos, so one or two good ones is to be expected, even if it is just luck)

The (Kast Off) Kinks!

Ok, so yeah, I saw the Kinks.

It was FANTASTIC! The venue was the Half-Moon in Putney, a lovely, unassuming pub just down the road from Putney bridge. I say unassuming. It’s only unassuming if you’re under 60. Back in it’s hay-day it was a hotspot for rock (and occasionally punk) bands. And when I say hotspot, I MEAN hotspot. A list of people who’ve played? Hmm, I dunno, how about The Who, The Stones (Ya’know, the ones that roll as well as rock) and everyone’s favorite album droppers, U2. So, this is where the big boys played, before they died/had a bigger fanbase or, in Bono’s case, reached a point where every show has to be played in a stadium so he can fit his ego in.

The Kast Off Kinks are an amalgamation of Kinks members throughout the ages. Think of it as seeing the Sugarbabes now. Or, actually, any point in the last 10 years. But with people who can actually play instruments. They still have their original drummer -Mick Avory, and an assortment of ‘kinks through the ages’ members – Jim Rodford on Bass, Ian Gibbons on Keys, and John Clarke on Lead vocals and Guitar.

So after mingling with the rest of the audience, I gauged that this was not a young people gig. I did get interrogated by a number of people, all accusing me of being an official photographer or a friend of the band. Each as unlikely as the other. The crowd where all lovely, all had their hearing-aids on full, and waving their walking sticks in the air. Yeah, that kind of crowd.

When the (Kast Off) Kinks came on it was clear that though they are perhaps past their best years they still have an adoring fanbase. Their voices aren’t up to usual standard, but, let’s be honest, they’re not the kind of band you listen to for their superior vocals. As Clarke took to the stage he pointed at the audience, asking if we were ready. His hand was shaking. However, this didn’t stop him from playing incredibly well throughout their 2 hour set.

They all took turns at singing the lead for various songs, with Avory coming out behind the drum kit to sing the vocals for ‘Dedicated follower of Fashion‘, wearing a fantastically sequin-y jacket. Gibbons, rather fittingly, sung ‘Apeman‘ as well as ‘Muswell Hillbilly’ and Rodford sung on ‘See my Friends‘.

A very big fan – Bruce MacQueen – had come down from Washington DC (that’s right, DC guys) for his 60th(?) Birthday. (I’m pretty sure it was his 60th). The band had heard about this, and their respective partners had got together and baked him a cake. It was huge, and everyone got a piece. A very good way to make sure a gig is enjoyed more. For Bruce’s birthday, he’d asked them to play ‘Misfits‘, which they’d never played before, but they happily obliged. There’s some fairly decent youtube footage of it, the video was shot by Macqueen himself.

After they finished the band were pretty happy to talk to fans while they packed up their equipment. Which I thought was lovely. Anyway, as always, too much talking. Here are some pretty pictures. (Most of these are black and white because the light/colour was slightly off, however, I think they’ve come out pretty well) Let me know what you think.

Imagine Dragons – Brixton O2

WARNING: Another old gig review.

So Imagine Dragons got pretty big last year, what with this, which, I’ll admit, is a good song. Got all the elements of a good pop hit, which is probably why it did so well.

Anyway, veering off point a little. So. The Brixton O2 Academy. As I’m sure you know O2 have a number of venues under their name – not least the O2 Arena in Greenwich. The Brixton O2 was the first of the smaller O2 venue I’ve been to. The venue itself is quite nice. The drinks are overpriced and staff were helpful but tense, though I guess that comes with the gig. The best feature about the venue is that the floor is sloped towards the stage, which is a brilliant idea, and works wonderfully. Brixton itself is quite easy to get to, and after the show there is no shortage of cheap fast food places.

Imagine Dragons had two supports, which isn’t unusual in a venue that size, specially when the bands are on a major label. Their support acts were Eliza and the Bear, a very typical indie/rock band. They did support AWOLNATION before their Imagine Dragons slot, which only strengthens my theory that the two bands are different versions of each other, but in a good way. Eliza and the Bear are doing pretty well, supporting Chlöe Howl, Bipolar Sunshine, and having their own set at the Isle of Wight festival earlier this year.

The second support act were Grouplove, Fronted by Blue-haired Christian Zucconi (Though when he played his hair looked a little bit green, giving him a Ledger-esque Joker look). They a fairly talented bunch, however, they have a typical indie-kid vibe about them. They’re taking fashion from the hipsters, and giving it the masses (ya’know, like Ubran outfitters). Which is fine, because we’re not worried about their style, but about their music. Unfortunately, it’s the same case. If they had released an album four or five years ago, I’m sure they’d be dominating the whole scene by now. The audience loved it, (they were mainly 14-18yr olds with wayfares and baggy shirts). However, I felt like their music had a stale indie-pop taste to it.

And so onto the main act. Imagine Dragons were technically very good. Their music sounded good, but it was NOT how it sounded on the CD, which is always nice when you’ve paid £20 to go and see them live. They only have one album out, so the setlist was fairly predictable, though they added a few b-sides and covers to mix it up, (including With or Without You – U2 and Song 2 – Blur) which was nice. Despite all this, the show had a very polished feel to it. When I go to a gig I want raw excitement, I want to feel the adrenaline radiating from the stage. To be fair, an Imagine Dragons was not the place to go for this.

All in all, good gig. Good music, nice to dance to. Not something to get very excited about.

(Also, I’m very sorry, these photos aren’t my best. I’m gunna blame the blue light, my lil’ camera can’t handle it)