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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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, LennonĀ  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.

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)