Wednesday 19 November 2008

Oasis @ SECC 5th November 2008

5th November 2008 - Oasis at Glasgow SECC

I was a massive Oasis fan back in the day. They arrived at the perfect time for me. I first caught them back in April 1994, when I was 18, at Glasgow Tramway when they were supporting Boo Radleys. I was immediately hooked, buying a tshirt and poster after the gig. 1994 was an amazing year to be into Oasis. My next gig was in June at the old Cathouse. The band came on stage late and by that point the crowd had reached fever pitch. Oasis had them in the palm of their hand and boy did they know it. Noel talked to the crowd asking 'd'ye think we're any good?', all the time knowing that his band were on the verge of greatness, on the crest of a wave. We knew it by then. 'Supersonic' and 'Shaker Maker' had been released as singles and the band had cleverly allowed demos of 'Fade Away' and 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' to be released on free casettes given away with the NME.


After the Cathouse came one of the greatest gigs I have ever been to, Oasis playing the old NME tent at the first ever T in the Park, back when it ws held in Strathclyde Park. The tent was bulging at the seams as they came on. The atmosphere was electric and the band played an outstanding set of their debut album and traditional set close, a cover of The Beatles 'I Am The Walrus'. Someone in the crowd threw a football on the pitch and Noel and Liam took it in turns at doing keepie-uppie and volleying the ball back into the crowd, only to request back up on stage. The ball was always returned whenever they requested it.


In December of that year the band played the Barrowlands. The first gig ended in tears as Liam stormed off after three songs due to his voice going. Noel took over and played an acoustic set before the rest of the band joined him to close the gig. But he promised that if we kept our ticket stubs that the band would return with Liam in full voice. Noel was true to his promise and the band returned after Christmas to play an amazing gig, the sweat was dripping off the roof of the Barrowlands.


I'll save memories of Sheffield Arena in 95 and Knebworth in 96 for another time, lets cut to 2008.


Oasis are a strange band in 2008. I get the impression that Liam is really the only guy that wants to be in Oasis, the only person that believes in Oasis. Andy Bell and Gem are happy to count the money, delighted to have a pension to look forward to after Hurricane No 1 and Heavy Stereo. Noel would be better off going solo and who knows who the drummer is these days.


But Oasis still arouse the passion in me that I got when I was 18 at T in the Park or the Barrowlands. I know how good they can be, what they are capable of. But that run of singles, albums and gigs from 1994 to Knebworth in 1996 will never be repeated. Noel became a multi-millionaire and lets be honest, his songs have never been as good since. He lost the desire in my opinion, he's happy to refer to sales figures and the money in his band and good on him. He deserves it. But Oasis are in the position where everything they do will be compared t the glory days. if they had quit after Morning Glory, or even after Be Here Now they would be remembered fondly. Of course, they still are, it's just that it's the past that most people talk about, not the present or the future.


So the gig past by in a blur (pardon the pun). Highlights for me were 'Slide Away' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'. Lowlights were the non-appearance of 'Live Forever' and the decision to close the set with a cover of The Beatles 'I Am The Walrus'. The aformentioned cover was a clever choice back in the days when Oasis were breaking but this is 2008 and Noel should have realised that the Oasis version is poor in comparison to The Beatles lysergic tinged original.


Out of the new tunes played, single 'The Shock of the Lightning' was the highlight. A menacing riff, catchy refrain and dare I say it, a bit of a groove. But to play songs like 'Meaning Of Soul'  off the last album instead of tunes like 'Acquiesce' or 'Live Forever' is just unexcusable.


But I am digressing. Let's get back to the set. 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' is still a perfect opener, it still soars where others can only dream of reaching, 'Lyla' delights the younger fans in the audience and despite being a bit of a plodder, it is still a half-decent song. The aformentioned 'Shock of the Lightning' is played a breakneck speed, it is obvious that the band enjoy playing it. As if to show off, the band then toss in 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' but then ruin it immediately by following it up with the poor 'Meaning of Soul'.


'To Be Where There's Life' and 'Waiting For The Rapture' represent an excuse for me to nip to the bar just before it closes to get two pints to see me through the rest of the gig. Things then pick up dramatically with a quartet of songs that many bands would die for 'Masterplan', 'Songbird', 'Slide Away' and 'Morning Glory'. Liam casually dedicates 'Songbird' to 'the wife'. Noel's voice sounds better than ever on 'Masterplan'. 'Slide Away' is an absolute masterpiece, Liam sings like his life depends on it and 'Morning Glory' cuts like a knife.


I supppose the audience might have needed a chance to rest their vocal chords after that quartet of tunes and it was provided by the bland 'Ain't Got Nothing' that was over almost as soon as it started, before Noel launched into 'The Importance of Being Idle'. The song brought one of the loudest cheers (and there were many) of the night from the crowd.


Liam returned to sing his new song 'I'm Outta Time', one of the few decent tracks of the new album and it may have a lengthy future in the Oasis set-list as it already had the crowd singing along. Liam then fought to outsing the crowd on the Oasis anthem 'Wonderwall' which brought a rapturous reception and thenthe band launched into debut single 'Supersonic'. The song still burns brightly, 14 years after it's release.


Noel kicks off the encore with a glorious, melodic, semi-acoustic version of 'Don't Look Back In Anger', before another new tune 'Falling Down'. It has a flowing melody and I would anticipate remaining in the set-list for a while. 'Champagne Supernova' sparks the predictable mass sing-a-long and rightly so. The aformentioned 'I Am The Walrus' ends proceedings.


My reaction - I had a good night out, but the SECC is a terrible venue for a concert. The sound quality is poor. Some great songs, the chance to relive my youth, a good night out with my brother and friends, but overall, possibly the last time I will go to see Oasis.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Vampire Weekend at Glasgow Barrowlands, 29/10/08

29th October 2008 - Vampire Weekend at Glasgow Barrowlands

There is always something special about a gig at the Barrowlands. My first gig there was way back in 1993 when Teenage Fanclub headlined a gig with support from The Posies and the delicious Juliana Hatfield 3.

15 years down the line and I felt like the oldest guy in the crowd at a gig by NME favourites Vampire Weekend. The crowd, mainly consisting of very excited teenagers, were well up for it and so were the band. They ripped through their album and played a couple of new tunes and b-sides to pad out the set.

Their were some excellent moments - notably the pop punk of the single 'A Punk', 'Oxford Comma' and 'Walcott'. The bands sound is incredibly basic and pure with minimal, if any, effects. They rely heavily on melodies and the inventiveness of singer Ezra Koenig's voice. Some songs are very rythmic, with the bass and drums carrying the song along.

Despite being incredibly simplistic, the songs are incredibly clever. There is a hint of Paul Simon/Simon and Garfunkel about some of the songs and an almost Carribean feel to others. Some songs clock in at barely 3 minutes and it was to the bands credit that they didn't play extended versions.

All in all, a very enjoyable gig and a band not afraid to be a bit different.

M83 at King Tuts, 26/10/08

26th October 2008 - M83 at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut

It's not very often that I find myself 'gigged out', but after two gigs and my brothers 30th within a week I found myself driving my friend Ian and I to King Tuts for the synth/guitar noisemasters called M83. I was quite pleased that I was driving as it was chucking it down in Glasgow. We parked right outside Tuts and hopped in and up the stairs in plenty of time for M83 starting, although we did miss the support bands.

 I have to confess that I only own one M83 album. The rather excellent 'Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts'. There was a bank of synthesisers and keyboards centre stage and Anthony Gonzales (formerly known as Nicolas Fromageau) was soon twiddling, teasing and tweaking knobs (no jokes please) and was joined by a female who soon started doing the same. They were joined by a drummer who based himself behind a perspex screen and it soon became difficult to know what was being played live and what was being played from a computer.

 Regardless of that the sound quality was fantastic. Gonzales occasionally picked up a guitar and overloaded with effects he blasted the crowd with soaring melodies. There was very little between song banter but the crowd cheered heartfully between songs. It's difficult to describe M83's sound. An easy way out would be to compare it to My Bloody Valentine and teher are certainly similarities. But it's landscapes and layers of sound, the search for something fresh and new, something that no-one before has discovered. I guess that search for a new sound is why 300 people braved a cold, wet and windy night to come out to King Tuts to see and hear the band live.

Conclusion - It was a good gig, not great, but very good at times. It would probably have been better of the crowd wasn't packed in like sardines and had space to dance to some of the more grrove based tunes that M83 delivered and for the purists could certainly argue that not everything was live. But for £10 - a good night out

Tilly and the Wall at King Tuts, 23/10/08

23rd October 2008 - Tilly & The Wall and Moth and the Mirror at King Tuts

After catching Glasgow's Moth and the Mirror on the Your Sound stage at the Connect festival in August I was determined to see them again. Their support slot with the delightful Tilly and the Wall gave me the perfect opportunity. Tuts is still my favourite Glasgow venue for gigs. The intimate size, the history, tradition and atmosphere combine to make the perfect setting. One where new bands can strive to play and established bands enjoy coming back to.

Moth and the Mirror came on shortly after 9pm to a reasonably sized crowd for the first band on a bill of three. Singer Stacey Slevwright plucked gently at her guitar and the rest of the band soon joined in, creating a beautiful melodic sound. It's difficult to desribe the Moth and the Mirror's sound. They remind me of a number of bands, but they are very different in a number of ways - a good thing in my book. They benefit from having a percussion player as well as a drummer, three guitarists, including Stacey, and bass. SO they can be a bit more ambitious and inventive with their sound compared to your normal 3 or 4 piece band.

'Soft Insides' and the brilliantly titled 'Hope Is An Anchor' were excellent but the highlight of their set was a stripped down cover of MGMT's 'Kids'. A band worth watching and checking out.

 Tilly and the Wall came on to a flurry of beats and bleeps. They are definitely a band that can't be pigeon-holed. When I caught them at Glasgow's Indian Summer in 2006 they were almost folky, backed by a girl tap dancing as percussion. The tap dancer is still there, but their new album is more electro-pop. If anything the combination of styles as won them new fans but left their audience confused as to what to expect live. The younger fans in the audience were definitely there for the new material, such as the infectious single 'Beat Control', while older fans lapped up the tunes played in the encore. The sound for the band could have been better and they did appear to be miming for some of the new electro pop songs, but it was an enjoyable gig, if only for the eye candy provided by the two blonde singers!

Elbow at Glasgow Academy, 19/10/08

19th October 2008 - Elbow at Glasgow Academy

Not long after The Charlatans I was at the Academy to see Elbow. I had caught them at the Connect festival in August and I was hugely impressed. They played what must have been a pretty identical set-list at the Academy and although it wasn't really music to dance to or sing-a-long to, it was certainly music to appreciate and get lost in. Elbow clearly take a great deal of pride in their music. They are creative and inventive, playful and thoughtful, in an era where many bands copy the NME's latest fave band and stick with that.

 Elbow are riding on the crest of a wave just now after winning the Mercury Music Prize and that showed in their performance. Guy Garvey was brimming with confidence, a far cry from when I first saw them supporting New Order in Manchester. He was happy to talk to the crowd, raise a glass and toast them and get his band into a huddle to start off the magnificent 'Weather To Fly'.

 The reception that 'One Day Like This' received was predictable, but still emphatic. It lifted the crowd and took them to a place warmer than a cold night in Glasgow. But it was the groove of 'Grounds For Divorce' that got the crowd really going. A very enjoyable gig.

The Charlatans at Paisley Town Hall, 13/10/08

13th October 2008 - The Charlatans at Paisley Town Hall

A Monday night isn't usually the best night of the week for live gigs, but this was a little different, in more ways than one. The Charlatans, one of my all-time favourite bands, were in town. Well OK, not quite in town, but pretty close. Paisley Town Hall to be precise.

My girlfriend Lynn and I drove over, arriving at the venue for the back of 8 o'clock. In plenty of time for me to get a beer and catch most of the support act, the rather good The Ruling Class. With loads of reverb and a sound that is a cross between early Charlatans and Roses, they went down quite well.

Paisley Town Hall is a beautiful old venue with standing downstairs and a balcony around the hall with seats. Tim Burgess was in the seats watching the support act and he got up quite a few times to have a dance to some of their tunes.

 After a couple more beers The Charlatans took to the stage and launched into the title track of their current album 'You Cross My Path'. The sound was fantastic and the band clearly looked like they were enjoying playing new and smaller venues. Their was barely any let up in the set that went straight into 'Weirdo'  and included one run of songs that many bands would die for - 'The Only One I Know', 'Soul-Saver', Oh Vanity!' and 'One To Another'. Add in songs like 'Crashin' In', 'How High' and 'Sproston Green' and you have an excellent set.