The admission price for the sold out Bill Ryder-Jones show at the Scala in Lonodn was worth it purely for the in-between song banter between band and crowd. However, the highlight of the evening was the confirmation of Jones’ raw talent that has seen his popularity grow and grow since the release of his latest album ‘West Kirby County Primary’ at the tail end of 2015.
A near hour and half set was full of newer, semi-classic and even one brand new track that were more warmly received than the last by the crowd of cult like tendencies. Jones even obliged when he has heckled with requests, a nice touch for a man who was obviously slightly taken aback by the large crowd. Personally, having seen him last summer at Green Man 2015 on the Mountain Stage (That’s the main one if you weren’t sure), I was a tad skeptical. Although I was a big fan of the record, at Green Man I got the overwhelming impression that it all got a bit lost in the hoards of rugs, buggies, crying children and aging hipster that you’ll find on a sunny mid-afternoon at the Welsh festival. Maybe if he’d been moved into one of the smaller tents he would have been more warmly received. So to finally see him in London’s 1,100 capacity venue was a nice treat worth the wait and one that no one will forget in a hurry.
The first support came from Trudy, who only played to a handful of people so who am I to judge, and the excellent Beach Baby who are well worth 5 minutes of your time.
The criminally under-used Unity Works in Wakefield was the quite frankly, surprising venue to host Kentucky noise-niks Cage The Elephant. With probably the best sound system of all the venues in West Yorkshire, the mainly youth filled venue (including my teenage daughter) was anticipating a lively, hot and sweaty Friday night out. And they weren’t to be disappointed.
Following the impressive half an hour support slot of Chrome Pony, on strolled the 5 piece, lead by vocalist Matthew Shultz to almost rapturous applause. Without ceremony, they launched into Cry Baby, opening track from new album Tell Me I’m Pretty. This sounded more urgent and vibrant than it does on record, almost certainly helped by the crystal clear acoustics, and suddenly Shultz is in and amongst the crowd.
If 2015 was all about Samuel T Herring from Future Islands and his manic dancing style, 2016 should be about Shultz - part Jagger, part Jack Black in School of Rock, his style is mesmeric, bonkers and fun. These guys know how to put on a show.
They were clearly enjoying the night as much as we were - guitars were hurled at roadies between songs, between song chatter was limited, and both Shultz and guitarist Nick Bockrath spend a fair proportion of the night in the crowd.
5 further tracks from the latest album made up the central portion of the 20 song set, but where this may have resulted in a mid set lull, this did not affect the atmosphere or tempo of the night for one minute. After Shultz admitted this was the first time the band had played Wakefield (or even heard of it I would guess), the audience launched into an impromptu chorus of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire”.....the band even appreciated that by stopping and grinning back. Clearly a lot of love between band and fans.
By the time the time the band finished the main set, most of the sold out crowd were dripping with sweat (and beer which had been flying through the air). Cigarette Daydreams, Shake Me Down & Sabretooth Tiger ended the gig in furious manner, pretty much as per the rest of the night, and it was the end of an adrenaline fuelled night.
Cage The Elephant clearly have a large, loyal following based on the back of 4 albums going back to 2008, but I suspect their reputation is as an explosive live band, and I have to admit, if I see a band with a performance this good in 2016, I’ll be a happy man.
In 2015 Chorusgirl released their self-titled debut album of power pop tunes in a Lush, The Breeders, The New Pornographers style with crunchy, distorted guitars. This rapidly became a favourite only missing out my Top Ten lists due to its end of year release date.
The band are a four piece with songwriter Silvi Wersing on lead vocals who after being the bass playing, backing vocalist for other bands decided that this chorus girl could pick up a guitar and form her own band. She did so with Udo Westhoff on bass, Michael Boyle on drums and Diogo Oliveira on lead guitar.
Tonight's stage uniforms are plain white T's for the band. Silvi starts a 'Girls of 1926' solo before the rest of the band crunch into the chorus 'We were girls of 1926 all buttoned up, mischief, high kicks'. The bouncy pop of 'No Moon', 'Shivers' and 'Dream On, Baby Blue' ricochets around the venue, with Diogo's twangy, sliding guitars and with Silvi pogo-hopping around the stage.
The excellent single 'Oh, To Be A Defector' causes an outbreak of individual style dancing down in front of the band. The short but very sweet set finishes with 'This Town Kills'.
Chorusgirl have just finished a short tour with Tigercats and their self-titled debut album is recommended .
Overlooking the Market Square in Nottingham, the Chameleon Arts Cafe is almost too cool for a music venue. It contains cafe-style distressed furniture, beers(craft, of course) served in bottles and cans only, aged wide-board wood flooring and a large amount of facial hair!
Tonight at the Chameleon it's a three band show headlined by Telegram. First up is Blonde Bunny who describe themselves as 'Melodramatic pop/ Future-prog'. They have a trippy dub rhythm section and a singer with an amazing Billy Mackenzie (The Associates) style vocal range . 'How do you cope, hope ?' has a great Stone Roses style backing with soaring, squealing, sliding guitars over the top. Tracks 'Loreta' and 'A Rate' are also available on their Soundcloud page.
Jesuits are a four piece from Bristol with a Sonic Youth/ early Smashing Pumpkins sound topped with a dressing of psych rock. There's a rock solid rhythm section which allows the guitars to crash and squeal over the top. One track finishes with both guitarists kneeling in front of their amps and guitars squealing away. Single 'Dinner Jazz' is a standout track and they are currently recording their debut album.
Telegram released their excellent single ' Follow' in November 2013. The album 'Operator' (which was a recent 6 music album of the week) contains the single and was finally released a few weeks ago. Their sound consists of tunes at the trashy, thrashy end of glam, with a touch of Television. They combine this with a look which would be the resultant musician smoothie if you were to throw The Strokes and The Ramones into a juicer. It makes an attractive and contemporary musical package.
The minimal ceiling lighting (courtesy of B&Q) combine with a couple of white light strobes, which flicker constantly throughout the show and serve to highlight the band and their black skinny jeans. There were some great tunes. The aforementioned 'Follow' with Oli Paget-Moon's punchy bass. ‘Regatta’ where Matt Saunders’s Welsh origins are apparent in his vocals. 'All of this rat tat ta-tatting' and the new single 'Taffy Come Home'. There's a cover of Bowie's 'Heroes' and they finish the set with the last track on the album, 'Folly', which ends in a mass band thrash as Jordan Cook's drums crash around the twin guitars.
I expect people will be talking a lot about Telegram in 2016.
Support tonight comes from local band Keto who despite a nervous start provide an half hour of lo-fi atmospheric tunes with Chan Marshall (Cat Power) style vocals from Leah Sinead.
Bob Mould arrives at a sold out Rescue Rooms for the first night of a UK tour in support of new album 'Patch The Sky' which will be released in March.
As the initial roaring feedback fades, Bob accompanied by his regular rhythm section of Jason Narducy (bass) and Jon Wurster (drums) blast into 'Good Idea' followed by ' Changes' which immediately gets the audience on his side, both tracks are taken from 'Copper Blue' the debut Sugar album which was NME album of the year for 1992. Skip forward 20 years for 'The Descent' and 'I Don't Know You Anymore' from the excellent recent albums 'Silver Age' and 'Beauty & Ruin' which have seen Bob back at the height of powers, fusing the heavy power-pop tunes and melodies and smothering it all with a generous dollop of distorted guitars. New single ' Voices In My Head' and the other new tracks played tonight happily appear to follow this trend.
Bob congratulates Nottingham of being a UNESCO City of Literature “ I'm a word guy myself, which you can hear when I'm not being loud on the guitar”, and I can confirm that tonight's show is the most chest-thumping, ear-splitting LOUD one I've been at in years. There's little respite between tracks either as Bob says”Gotta get this done before the disco starts” referring to the 10 o'clock curfew for the club night.
'Hoover Dam' which is another treat from 'Copper Blue' and 'The War' get more audience shout- alongs. There's a new slower track, a strummy, dreamy number which might be called 'Losing Sleep'.
For the encore the musical clock winds back to the mid 1980's and Bob's time in Husker Du. The middle-aged moshpit kicks in at the start of 'Flip Your Wig', and keeps going through 'Hate Paper Doll' , 'Something I Learned Today' and finally ' Makes No Sense At All'.
Just like the cover of 'Beauty & Ruin' as the young man from Husker Du ages disgracefully into the writer of tunes of driven guitars and killer melodies, tonight a grinning Bob Mould appears to be thoroughly enjoying his own silver age.