Monday, December 24, 2007


9. MAVIS STAPLES We'll Never Turn Back [BUY]
7. OKERVILL RIVER The Stage Names [BUY]
6. ARCADE FIRE Neon Bible [BUY]
5. ART BRUT It's A Bit Complicated [BUY]
4. BEIRUT The Flying Club Cup [BUY]
1. BISHOP ALLEN The Broken String [BUY]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This just in from the Reverence email list:


Electrelane have announced that they are to go on hiatus after releasing new single 'Berlin' on November 26, possibly making this their last ever gig in Manchester.

Writing on their official website they explained: "We have decided that the upcoming gigs will be our last for the foreseeable future. After ten years of much fun and hard work, we have realised that we all need a break and time to do other things. This was a tough decision for us to make, but ultimately a positive one.

"A big thank you to everyone who has come to our shows, put on our shows and bought our records over the years. It means a lot to us. We're really grateful to have had the opportunity to play gigs all over the world and to meet so many lovely people.

"This last year has been especially enjoyable and we feel happy about moving on with all these good memories to look back on. At the moment we haven't made any band plans for the future, but we're going to have a break and see what happens."

Plus Anni Rossi & Lonelady
Wednesday 28th November
Manchester Academy 3
Doors 7.30pm. Tickets £12 adv. From Ticketline 0161 832 1111 Ticketline 0161 832 1111 [BUY]

Rock It To The Moon [BUY]

The Power Out [BUY]

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Ah the Yorkshire Dales. God's Own Country. Or a very bleak, windswept landscape with no signs of life for miles around. Except the Tan Hill Inn, Britain's highest pub (1372 feet above sea level) and the inspired setting for one stop on British Sea Power's current tour.

This was the only date I could get to this tour so expectations were high. Arriving at Tan Hill on Friday night in the dark with rain threatening and a side wind so strong you had to lean into it even just to walk, I started to wonder if it was such a good idea. But just stepping over the threshold into the warmth and welcome of the Tan Hill Inn dispelled the concerns. They were further dispelled by the Black Sheep bitter which slipped down with velvety smoothness. Tan Hill Inn has three rooms with one main bar and then a 'barn' has been built at the back which you can walk straight into from the pub. The barn was a square room, built of white-washed breeze block with a small stage at one end. The word 'functional' comes to mind.

Wild Things were support. The first song was a curious mix of folky chorus, falsetto vocals and guitar played like a banjo. The second song was the same. The third was different - with hints of A Certain Ratio or Postcard records jangle. A very curious experience, still not sure what to make of it.

The barn and the stage were so small, BSP didn't make an entrance so much as appear and tore straight into Remember Me. The next three songs were equally fast and furious and the reaction from the crowd was great. I reckon there was about 175 people in the barn and the atmosphere and the intimate setting were great without ever feeling packed in.

I felt the pace dropped a bit after the first four songs as the set mixed songs from the new album (coming out 14 January) and older mid-tempo songs like Blackout. They were also accompanied by Phil on cornet, air raid siren and (I think) some keyboards and Abby on Viola on certain songs. Here's the set list.

Towards the end of the set there was plenty of crowd-surfing and a couple of people somehow managed to get on to a high wooden beam that went across the breadth of the barn. It was odd without the usual closing madness around Lately/Rock in A. Instead BSP have adoped a surprisingly traditional approach of playing encores. So after a short break they came back on and played How Will I Ever Find My Home, Carrion and Spirit of St Louis. This was sublime: the energy of band and crowd were terrific and St Louis ended in predictable chaos with Noble playing on the shoulders on an audience member and then crowd surfing (see this great set of photos).

I think the set finished about 11.30am but the evening wasn't over because Tan Hill Inn is open until "whenever we feel like it" and most people weren't going anywhere. So the pub filled with a really chilled bonhomie as band and fans mixed and drank even more. There was a charity auction of a signed single (went for £50 - good effort whoever bid that) and then following a further whip-round for charity there was "sing-along-a-BSP" around the piano.

This started with Noble playing snatches of Bohemian Rhapsody and other 'standards' before he, Hamilton and Yan did A Wooden Horse. There was also Out of My Mind on Dope and Speed played by Noble plus fans. Alas none of the band knew any Neil Diamond. My photos are never the sharpest at the best of times but after all that Black Sheep these were distinctly dodgy.

Called it a night about 2am. Some hardy folk were camping(!), we opted for kipping in the car in the sleeping bags. Truly memorable, despite all the Black Sheep. This should become an annual event. The only downside was the indisposition of Mr P and then the seven hour journey home the next day due to "massive signal failure". With a bad head.

British Sea Power
Krankenhaus? EP [BUY]

Julian Cope
Skellington [SEEK]

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Look at all the gigs in Manchester this week starting with tonight....
The National supported by St Vincent at Academy 2 [SOLD OUT]

Jackie-O-Motherfucker at Ruby Lounge [BUY TICKETS]

Beirut at Club Academy [SOLD OUT]
The Young Knives at Night and Day [SOLD OUT]

The Shins supported by Vampire Weekend at Academy 1 [BUY TICKETS]
Andrew Bird supported by Loney Dear at Academy 3 [BUY TICKETS]
Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern supported by The Wave Pictures at Dry Bar [BUY TICKETS]

Fiery Furnaces at Night and Day [BUY TICKETS]
Kurt Wagner at Academy 2 [BUY TICKETS]

But due to a whole raft of commitments/excuses I'm missing it all. Instead on Friday I'm off the North Yorks Moors for my only gig of the week: British Sea Power playing Tan Hill Inn, England's highest pub. Can't wait. Just hope the weather stays mild as camping there after the gig. Well at £2 per person per night it's good value. Even for November.

The National
Boxer [BUY]

Loney Dear
Loney Noir [BUY]

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I've been listening to Miracle Fortress' Five Roses album and am left a bit disappointed. It had all the hallmarks of a great indie listen:
- a one-man (Graham Van Pelt) bedroom-production effort
- from Montreal (the 'new' New York/wherever)
- talked about all over the blogosphere
- the band name had the word 'Miracle' in it (see Miracle Legion, The Miracle Workers etc).

Good review/background from Stylus Magazine here but strangely does nothing for me. Maybe Lately is the one song that stands out - but for the wrong reason (now which 60s band does this sound like?!)

Miracle Legion
Five Roses [BUY]

Thursday, October 18, 2007


"You didn't ask about The Broken Family Band" "Get Out Of The Bedroom!!" An impromptu additional crowd response to the opening of You're Like A Woman from tonight's gig.

Things got off to a shaky start with a croaking Steven Adams announcing he had lost his voice. The band had been discussing whether it was only 'proper' bands who cancelled gigs. Anyway they went ahead despite this and with singer fuelled by Raspberry, Echinacea and Lemon tea laced with rum it was an excellent night.
BFB give this appearance of just turning up, looking as though they don't quite care what they are doing or where they are - but they then turn in a fantastically committed performance. OK the voice wasn't all there and this took away from songs like John Belushi but in others like It's All Over it gave extra bite. And as well as the music it's the banter and good-humoured vibe from the band that make the evening - some excellent digs at The Thrills who were playing "in the basement" whilst BFB were in the "lofty heights" of Academy 3.
Don't know how much the set was tweaked to work around the voice but a real mix of older songs plus stuff from the last two albums. Even a "super new song" Please Yourself that "won't get recorded for ages". Would have fitted in well on either of last two songs - seemed to be about late night (post-gig?) encounter with someone in a hotel bar with the refrain in the chorus of "why don't you go back to your hotel room/and please yourself".

For the final song of the set the band were joined by tour manager Justin to sing the chorus to Love Your Man, Love Your Woman. However they somehow turned the lack of their singer's voice to their advantage, making the whole thing feel like a celebration. There's not many bands that can do that. They got a great reception from a really mixed (and I mean really mixed) audience and seem genuinely appreciative of it all. They claim not to be touring "for ages". Shame.

Approximate set-list
In The City (with intro from another new song?)
At The Back Of The Chapel
Give And Take
Hey Captain
Twelve Eyes of Evil
Happy Days Are Here Again
Seven Sisters
The Booze And The Drugs
Please Yourself (may have been played a few songs later)
Living in Sin
Honest Man's Blues
John Belushi
Devil In The Details
You're Like A Woman
Dancing On The Fourth Floor
Love Your Man Love Your Woman
- encore -
It's All Over
Missed first support band but caught The Clientele. At first was a bit underwhelmed. Three piece playing mellow 60s-infused country-rock-pop with Dylanesque vocals. But after a few songs it started to make sense. Their latest album is getting good reviews - see here. They finished with a cover of Television's The Fire. Don't have anything by The Clientele to offer but do have here's the closing song of the BFB set.

Adventure [BUY]

The Broken Family Band
Balls [BUY]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This weekend in Manchester there is music biz shindig In The City with associated live showcases plus a whole raft of other gigs going on in every possible venue. Plus James Yorkston and Magic Arm at Contact on Saturday (tickets here); LCD Soundsystem at the Academy on Sunday (tickets here); and The Boredoms plus Michael Gira also at the University (tickets here).

Shame I'm in Amsterdam all weekend then.

And what live music does Amsterdam have to offer? As far as I can see Amy Winehouse, Just Jack and Suzanne Vega. Hmmmmmm. Sure I'll find something else to do.

And is it just me or do certain LCD Soundsystem songs sound a bit like Heaven 17 circa 1984? Time for a revival?

LCD Soundsystem
Sound of Silver [BUY]

Heaven 17
How Men Are [BUY]

Friday, October 12, 2007


Yesterday's post on the Krankenhaus? EP made me dig out this old single by Consolidated. Industrial-dance-music combining hip hop beats and political sloganeering isn't normally my cup of tea but there was a point in the early 90s where I played this to death. Quick scan of the interweb and it seems Consolidated are still a going concern and putting on albums for free - see here. Still good with a slogan too: "Free Music! Stop America!". Indeed....

CRACKHOUSE (More Radio Mix)
Play More Music [BUY]

Thursday, October 11, 2007


If you are not on the British Sea Power email list (and if not why not? Go here) you might have missed the opportunity to download Atom, the lead song from the Krankenhaus? EP, for free. The five song EP is available digitally this week in advance of the new album with 3 songs exclusive to the EP. A tour-only CD will be available later this month (upcoming gigs here).

British Sea Power
Krankenhaus? EP [buy]

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The inestimable Track and Field label has a quite UNBELIEVABLE offer on currently: a lucky dip bag of six albums from their back catalogue for only £12. Including postage.

My lucky dip included Kicker, Tompaulin, Mahogany, The Singing Adams, Homescience and The Essex Green. Buy yours here.

The Singing Adams
Problems [BUY] or [BUY]

Connectivity! [BUY] or [BUY]

Monday, September 24, 2007


Port O'Brien
The Wind and The Swell [BUY]

A slow and grey start to Sunday in all sorts of ways. But what ever the weather or state of my head I was determined to enjoy the third and final day of End of the Road - and without becoming maudlin at it all ending. Port O'Brien (who had played the Bimble Inn in the small hours of last night) were first up on the Garden Stage. Can't work out how to describe their music - sort of ramshackle Americana that moves easily from poignant to shouty. The final song, the faster version of I Woke Up Today, encouraged lots of crowd hollering. Just what was needed to clear the head and the skies.

Next over to the Big Top Tent to see Pete and the Pirates. Hearing the single Come Out Feet led me to expect great things. And they did not disappoint - possibly best new band of the Festival? Great mix of new wave and power pop guitar tunes with some outstanding drumming. Any remaining cobwebs truly blown away now.

Pete and the Pirates
Come On Feet 7" [BUY]

Back to the Garden Stage for Euros Childs and three piece band. They had a hesitant start to the set it felt (more bad heads?) but loosened up three songs in. Set included the 15-minute The Miracle Inn with Euros giving clear instructions not to clap right until the end.

Euros Childs
The Miracle Inn [BUY]

Caught the end of Jeffrey Lewis in the Big Top before back to the Garden Stage for yet another band I had never seen live next on The Garden Stage: Herman Dune. I expected ramshackle and sloppy (why?) but the playing was really tight and accomplished, the songs were sweet and harmonious and the vibe was of a band really enjoying themselves. Didn't play Little Wounds sadly but you can't have everything. Missed an opportunity to buy Mas Cambios (hole in the collection there) and get it signed by David in rush to get to next stage.

Herman Dune
Giant [BUY]

Missed the beginning of Malcolm Middleton's set in the Big Top which was a shame because the rest was excellent. Simple set up - Malcolm on acoustic guitar, violinist and bassist - really brings out the best in his songs. Set covered everything from the first album (Loneliest Night of My Night Came Calling) to the latest (Fuck It I Love You, A Brighter Beat) and included a new song (Blue Plastic Bags I think) which was excellent. An acoustic album is due later this year....

Malcolm Middleton
A Brighter Beat [BUY]

Some more hopping about now. Squeezed into the Local to catch 3 songs of The Young Republic's covers set - It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Paperback Writer and ("a song written by a murderer...well not convicted yet") Be My Baby. Then ducked back to the Big Top for Misty's Big Adventure.

I've seen Misty's several times now and they never disappoint. Wherever they are playing they play as though it deserves all their energy and they never look as though they are having anything less than a brilliant time. Is there a happier band in the UK currently? Even selling copies of the new album at the end (not out until 5 November but "because it's our own label we can sell it when we want") but the finger puppets had sold out by the time I got there.

Misty's Big Adventure
Funny Times [PRE-ORDER]
Well after the exuberance of Misty's what were The Broken Family Band going to be like? Perfect was the answer - and this was not just because I was on my second hot and spicy cider from the Somerset Cider Bus. Decking the set with flowers, handing out long stems to the audience and then launching in to a powerful, punchy set that mixed the old (At The Back Of The Chapel) with songs from the new album Hello Love that already sound like classics: Leaps, Dancing on the Fourth Floor, Love Your Man Love Your Woman and Hey Captain (dedicated to Seasick Steve).

It was Jason's birthday so his on stage present (lucky boy) was an elephant mask.

The Broken Family Band
Leaps [BUY]

Left the Big Top feeling deliriously happy. Not maudlin at all. And even the early closure of the Pieminister shop could not dent the mood. From here after a food stop to a packed Bimble Inn for James Yorkston.

Here was another act suffering from a hangover but it didn't show. Well it did in a couple of false starts but when the playing is this good who cares? James on guitar accompanied by Reuben on accordian and Sarah (or Emma?!) on clarinet played a long set but utterly entrancing and moving. Admittedly by now the refreshment of choice had become 12 year old single malt whiskey (from a plastic bottle - no glass allowed on site) but this only added to the mellowness of the experience. Even James taking his shirt off to reveal a Adam and the Ants T-shirt (hey?) couldn't detract from the beauty of it all.

James Yorkston
Roaring The Gospel [BUY]
A few changes to the schedules meant that I then got to see Jens Lekman which was not of the plan. Always dismissed the little of his music I had heard as overly-sentimental and overly-synthesised. But live with a nine piece band this was a revelation. All the songs had the audience bouncing along and a great performance. Fantastic bonus to a great day.

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala [BUY]
All that remained was to top up with some stir fry noodles and then dance the last few hours away in the Big Top tent. Apparently it was Everett True and friends DJ'ing. Whether it was or not got a great mix of 60s Motown, Jonathan Richman, The Undertones and The Sex Pistols to finish the Festival.
Saw close to forty bands over three days. And still DID NOT see Lambchop, Howe Gelb, Seasick Steve, Midlake, Scout Niblett, Viking Moses, Super Furry Animals, Danielson or Charlie Parr.
And final Festival tip from The Archivist: get a shower at 2am. No queues and plenty of hot water.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


"Let's Ballad!" was the opening shout last night from Richard Hawley. I have to admit to not 'getting' Richard's music until now. I'd half-listened to one of his early albums and never gone back to it. I only listened to Coles Corner for the second time on the bus home from work on the day of the gig. But on that second listen I started to understand the fuss. And then a cracking live performance - especially of songs I wasn't really familiar with - plus some foul-mouthed Sheffield Working Man's Club banter made for a great evening.

Richard was accompanied by a four piece (bass/stand-up bass, guitar, drums and keyboard) and the largest array of guitars I have seen this side of Spinal Tap. I think the set was mainly from Coles Corner and Ladysbridge ("not a euphemism") but I could be wrong. I recognised the title track from Coles Corner (biggest cheer of the night?), Just The Rain, Born Under A Bad Sign and Darlin' Wait for me. Finished with three encores: a hear-a-pin-drop gorgeous ballad, a cover of Hank Williams I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (with harmonica from Clive Mann) and The Ocean.

I remain an unbeliever no more. Band performed in front of a beautiful ruched backdrop and mirror ball - photo doesn't do justice to this though.

Richard Hawley
Coles Corner [buy]

Albert King
King of Blues Guitar [buy]

Richard said that Born Under A Bad Sign was about his coming to terms with drinking too much and rather than worrying about it he just accepted it. It has nothing to do with the Albert King song other than sharing the name. But you can't miss the excuse to play this classic.

Support was from Kate Walsh. Female singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar - could easily have been cookie-cutter version of [insert name her] but I could see why she is garnering such praise. Great presence, distinctive and powerful voice and strong songs. Buy her new album here and check her autumn tour dates here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Sunny Day Sets Fire opened the second day on the Garden Stage but I split my time between them and the open mic in The Local which included some great acts all limited to 2 songs. The best was Bearcub ("we don't do singing but we do do shouting") who then proceeded to give away all the remaining CD singles they had with them free of charge. Definitely worth listening out for.

Then it was the "Scandinavian Showcase" on the Garden Stage. First time I'd seen Loney Dear live and it was impressive. Bought a copy of Sologne at the end and Emil signed it too.

Loney Dear
Sologne [buy]
Loney Dear
Loney Noir [buy]

Next up was the perfect Festival band and one of the 'up' moments of the weekend. I'm From Barcelona doing loony, energetic, sing-a-long anthems that left everyone smiling. Started with a solo rendition of Treehouse before the thirteen (or was it fourteen?) piece band joined the stage. Emanuel then crowd-surfed on an inflatable lilo, bags and bags of ticker-tape were thrown and everyone had a good time.

I'm From Barcelona
Let Me Introduce My Friends [buy]

Then The Concretes. Another band I had not seen live. Difficult to follow the energy of I'm From Barcelona but worked really well as a mid-afternoon slot. By now the sun was shining strongly, the beer was slipping down nicely and I became a little too distracted by Lisa playing with her shoes to concentrate on the music too seriously.

The Concretes
In Colour [buy]

Next it was a dash to try and catch two band who clashed. First to catch some of My Sad Captains in the Local. Engagingly twee indie-pop of the highest order. Bought a copy of the Bad Decisions single on vinyl at end for the Archive.

My Sad Captains
Bad Decisions single [buy]

And then a sprint to the Big Top to catch the last four songs in Darren Hayman's set. Two solo songs and two Hefner classics (Hello Kitten and Pull Yourself Together) - both band and crowd really enjoying the occasion. Missed DH on recent tour - will not make the same mistake again.

Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern
self-titled [pre-order]

Boxing Hefner [buy]
More sprinting (well leisurely walking with purpose) to get to the Bimble Inn to see the end of The Young Republic. Packed out so could only stand outside the tipi and couldn't really appreciate the set. But with them playing another two slots in the Festival it didn't feel a loss (at the time).

The Young Republic
Twelve Tales From Winter City [buy]

King Creosote then played on the Garden Stage with backing band that included Fence regulars The Pictish Trail (guitar) and On The Fly (drums) plus a bassist who I didn't know. Solid set but a little too much reliance on the new (unfamiliar to me) album? Nice version of Twin Tub Twin though - starting acapella before the band kicked in.

King Creosote
Bombshell [buy]

Sun was starting to set now. But no let up in the bands. Brakes played a typically tight-and-fast set on the Garden Stage including both Camper Van Beethoven songs from their repetoire and two encores - both Comma Comma Comma Full Stop.
At this point my camera phone needed to be sent away to be charged up so no photographic record of what came next. But listened to Monkey Swallows the Universe from outside the Bimble Inn whilst eating felafel; saw one song by Architecture in Helsinki and realised wanted to be somewhere else; then caught a fantastic set by (unknown to me) John Smith. Bristly moustache, scruffy baseball cap and authentic bluesy drawl convinced me he was from Arkansas. Until he revealed he lives in Devon and comes from Liverpool. Mesmirising folky-acoustic songs and great patter made for a winning performance.

Then on to the headlining act in the Big Top: British Sea Power. Opened brilliantly with Apologies for Insect Life and Carrion - and then just kept going, mixing new songs with live favourites. Joined by Phil from Actress Hands on cornet, the set finished with an epic version of Lately which included two battling robots, an ancient greek boxer and a giant bear on stage too. Perfect end to a perfect day. No photos but did manage to get a copy of the set-list (thanks Phil and stage crew).

British Sea Power
Open Season [buy]