My final gig of the year on Saturday night - White Lies in the shed at Wembley Arena. First shock was that I drove there and it only took 1hr 10 minutes from the depths of Essex, I was prepared to be parked on the North Circular in Christmas traffic!
First up on stage was The Chevin: I loved them, very similar to Boxer Rebellion’s first album. Upbeat and with a good on stage presence, definitely a good live band, their opening song lasted about 10 minutes and I never tired of it. Their debut EP is here.
Duke Spirit: loud and in your face with a dynamic lead singer. this band have been around far longer then White Lies, I guess will less hit songs, I wonder if that plays on a band’s mind?
Its been a long summer...and Fall and now winter is approaching so when a promoter friend invited me to join him and some friends at his last big show of the year, the timing was perfect.
Having been a fan of the Wye Oak cd "Civilian" for some time, and having missed the band the last two times they appeared in Toronto, I knew I had to get to this show early enough to see how they would do. The venue, our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs arena, the Air Canada Center, would not be your first choice to witness this two piece but it turns out that with the strength of Jenn Wasner's voice and the power of this indie/folk/noise pop band, you need not be concerned. The songs i loved so much from the new cd sound even better live, even here! As their set progressed....I could see Wye Oak's "Civilian" moving higher in my top tens. My only regret is that I had not seen them the last two times they were here...but will be planning to see them again soon!
Neko Case is nice enough to visit us in Toronto often. She bounces onto the stage with her full band, including Calexico's John Covertino on drums, as comfortable and alluring as she has ever been. Her powerful voice, brilliant band, and wit displayed in conversations between her and her muse, Kelly...filled the arena setting with a perfect set. Hre set consisted of plenty of classics to keep everyone happy but also reminded everyone that she had not produced a solo album since 2009. Those concerns drifted away with the addition on two new songs that sounded incredible as well as a gorgeous cover of The Awkward Stage's "We Dreamt of Houses" all of which I hope make the new cut for the new cd as all the new "songs are splendid!.
Tom Ravenscroft’s Christmas Party – Corsica Studios, London
A trip to the wilds of south London brings us to Corsica Studios. Built under the railway arches and decorated (I use the term loosely) in best shabby chic fashion, the venue holds about 450 people, with 2 rooms for performances and one reasonably-priced bar.
Walking inside I’m immediately transported back to SXSW earlier this year – the place has exactly the same feel as some of the smaller venues you get in Austin, with a buzzy atmosphere and people moving from stage to stage to see the acts. Even the smoking terrace outside (i.e. the backyard) was like something you’d find on Red River or 6th Street.
The line-up was put together by Tom Ravenscroft to feature some of his favourite artists from his BBC 6music show (essential listening for me – if you’ve missed it so far catch it on Friday nights 9-12pm). The smaller of the two rooms hosted the electronic / dance acts, starting off with a great set by NaÃ¯ve Machine. This duo played some tracks of their ‘Robot Ramification’ EP, and some stuff I didn’t know, through possibly the loudest, most vibrating bass speakers I’ve ever stood in front of. Young and talented, they’ll be one to watch in 2012. Next in room 2 was Kutmah (an interesting character, read his bio here: I don’t know if he was playing his own stuff, other people’s, or a mixture of both, but whatever it was, it was really good.
We missed Paul White as we were in the other room, but we did catch some of Slugabed’s set, which inspired the most dancing of the evening – and not just from us!
First up in the main room were Maria & the Mirrors – a trio featuring 2 women, and a bloke banging away at the drums in what appeared to be a Captain Caveman outfit. Even to my eclectic ears they were a bit of racket, but things improved when Sea Pinks arrived. Another trio, with the frontman sporting a fetching Where’s Wally jumper (was it actually fancy dress and nobody told us?) they played spiky, jangly indie guitar music.
Next up were Peter and Kerry, the highlight of the evening. Their mixture of interesting melodies and caustic lyrics really work well, especially when the pair are singing together. My favourite track of theirs, ‘Knees’, sounded even better live than on record, but overall the whole set was full of highs and no lows. They’re currently working on an album which will be a must-have when it’s released next year. Sadly we had to leave before the end of Two Wounded Birds, but we really enjoyed what we heard of their set – a bit like ‘50s surf city songs mixed with The Vaccines.
Apparently Tom is planning more of these nights next year – if they’re as good as this (and as good value – a fiver for 8 acts) then I recommend you try one out.
A chilly damp Tuesdaynight at the end ofNovember does not usually see us jumping for joy at the prospect of heading out into the night but, The Lovely Eggs are err, just lovely and it’s another excellent night from the local promoters, Crushing Death and Grief.A bit more…poppy perhaps than their most recent shows, but still experimental and high quality.
Violet Woods started, just their second show – mind, their first was a support in front of hundreds of people. Made up of members of ace local bands Fuzzy Lights, Puncture Repair Kit and Bouvier, with Xavier from Fuzzy Lights fronting and playing superb psychedelic guitar over some powerful songs.
Anguish Sandwich are from Northampton, with shrill jangling simple tales of mice and the Bermuda Triangle. Good putdowns of the noisy heckler who questioned the reality of the singer’s hair (the drummer said he gets that all the time).
The Lovely Eggs have a short 45 minute headline spot but, put their all into it. Hailing from Lancaster in Lancashire, they have a great sense of humour a a real desire to perform. An armoury of power quirky pop songs delivered with vocals, guitar and drums are gratefully received by the smiling crowd.
I can safely say that The lovely Eggs (who I first discovered via a U.S. NPR SXSW podcast) are a unique band with a bright future ahead, hopefully.
Not sure if it is me but, are headlining bands coming on later at London shows at the moment?
Lanterns On The Lake, were on stage at 9.50pm last night following, a set from The Pattern Theory. The latter being a 3 piece, all in bright shiny gold jackets, playing a mix of post rock, prog rock and jazz for forty five minutes.
Lanterns On The Lake are a sexet from Newcastle, led by Megan Hickeyon vocals and guitar. and they all just about managed to fit on the tiny Lexington stage. The band have a fine album and a couple of eps to their recorded credit so far and the Lexington crowd on this Tuesday night, get over the hours’ worth of those records.
Lanterns on The Lake who, although looking a bit tried, delivered an uplifting set. Louder and rawer than on record the show was short but superb and had me thinking, Twelve months down the road, headlining, say, The Koko or Shepherds Bush Empire, with lights and cinematic backdrops, they will be a sight and sound to behold. Just catch them now whilst you still can in the smaller venues!