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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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)