Monday 31 May 2010

Pooch and Spectrum, Saturday 29th May 2010

After a great night out watching Admiral Fallow on Friday night I was off out again on Saturday night with Lynn to watch Pooch in action at the pre-club band night run by Spectrum at McChuills.

McChuills was already pretty busy when we arrived around 8.30pm and the night got off to a nice started when Steph (one of the 3 brothers that run Spectrum) got on stage to introduce an Aussie he had met in London who is travelling with the ambition to play an acoustic set in every city he visits. As someone who has been travelling, this is something I appreciate and the guy was delighted to be playing to a good sized crowd.

The DJ played a load of great tunes that I have in my own collection; 'I Believe When I Fall In Love (With You It Will Be Forever)' by Stevie Wonder, 'Sweet Harmony' by The Beloved and 'Drunk Girls' by LCD Soundsystem.

Very sadly, Vendor Defender had to pull out of the gig after the singer received some terrible news. My thoughts go out to Zak who is a lovely guy.

So on to Pooch. I last caught Pooch in Maggie's Glasgow when they played a brilliant stripped back set. Tonight was full on electro for a crowd itching to get to Blackfriars to start dancing.

Pooch didn't disappoint. Lead singer Laura Boyd was dressed to kill in a vintage dress, stillettos and with Bowie-esque face paint. They ripped through a 30-minute set full of energy and style. The beats provided by the equally glamorous drummer Kirstin kept the pace up as Boyd played to the crowd, edging ever closer to the front of the stage until she was almost part of the audience.

I'm not fully aware of the titles of the Pooch songs and as the night was young, I don't think I would have remembered them anyway! However 'Masquerade' and 'Lights' are tunes that I know and they went down well with the crowd.

This was a match made in heaven, a party band for a party crowd and Pooch didn't disappoint. Boyd was clearly the star of the show, posing and pouting her way through the set, demanding the attention and affection of the crowd. Judging by the cheers for more at the end, she got it. But full marks to Pooch for finishing with no encore and leaving the crowd wanting more. Something more bands should do.

This was my first time catching Pooch in full on electro mode in quite some time and I will certainly be going to catch them again. I wouldn't be surprised if the Spectrum crowd have them back in the future.

The club itself had a real party atmosphere with the highlight being when the DJ teased in 'Song 2' by Blur for a quite euphoric reaction. A good night all in all. Just about recovered!

Admiral Fallow @ The Buff Club, Glasgow, 28th May 2010

On Friday night I headed along to The Buff Club in Glasgow for an event titled Dusk Til Dawn in aid of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres. The night was organised by Ken Love and his brother under the banner Together Beat Cancer. Ken's family have been touched by cancer and this is the third musical event they have organised to raise funds for cancer charities. With real enthusiasm and passion, they are doing a great job.

I entered The Buff Club around 5.30pm and this was the first time I had ever been in sober! It seemed a lot bigger, it is usually rammed to the extent that there is no room to dance.

Radio Magnetic dj's played downstairs to greet people coming in, while the bands were playing upstairs. The venue looked fantastic set up for bands and I hope that they do it more often, I notice that the Detour podcast team have booked it out for June.

I didn't catch much of the first band so I'll skip quickly on to Scottish hip-hop artist Loki. Loki took to the stage (floor space) with his b-boy to back him up. I was trying hard not to laugh when he started, my first impression was that he was a total ned (and I might not be wrong). He had brought along some friends (his posse) who all looked like they dressed straight from the hip hop shop under the bridge at Central Station.

Despite my initial reaction I warmed to Loki. It took him a song or two to warm up but once he did he stopped the beats, sent his b-boy packing and told a tale about a night out in Edinburgh acapella. It was funny, entertaining and observant. It drew a great response from the crowd and Loki took great encouragement from it. A different b-boy took to the stage to join him (not as good as the first guy) but the remaining few songs saw the crowd getting into it and Loki introducing a song 'A West End State Of Mind' about drinking Bucki and getting high in the West End of Glasgow.

The line-up for the night was eclectic and next up was Louise McVey & The Cracks In The Concrete. Louise looked stunning in a vintage dress. The band play a leftfield mix of music that immediately had me thinking about the likes of Jefferson Airplance. Her backing band are tight and she can certainly sing. 'Ode' from her current EP was a highlight, although I didn't catch all of the set as I went downstairs to give Ken's brother a break from merchandise duty as he wanted to catch a bit of their set.

On to the headliner, Admiral Fallow (formerly Brother Louise Collective). I have to admit I am quite sceptical about bands that change names but keep the same songs. However it does appear to have given Admiral Fallow a new lease of life and lets be honest, it is a better name!

With an album under their belts confidence is clearly high within the band and that transferred on to the stage at the Buff Club and the audience was treated to an outstanding performance. I had caught Admiral Fallow in their previous guise at Tuts back in December and although it was clear they had talent, the sound on the night didn't do them any favours.

The sound engineer on Friday night did a great job. With a flutist and clarinet player (when he isn't playing keyboards) in their line-up, the band created some wonderful soundscapes. Lead singer/songwriter Louis' lyrics are pretty autobographical and they are certainly very descriptive.

Opener 'Dead Against Smoking' (I think this is what they opened with, but excuse me if I have the order wrong) was quite apt for a cancer benefit gig. 'You smoke when you're hurt, or when you're bored, or other things but I don't mind. Who cares if the big C comes when we're having some lovely times?'

The song flows beautifully and the chorus 'You're like a gasoline, you're like a willow tree, you're like a split screen, you're the green in me' lifts the song at the right times.

'Subbuteo' brought the tone down but maintained the interest of the crowd before 'These Barren Years' took things higher with flowing melodies from the gorgeous Sarah on the flute and Kevin on the clarinet.

The set was one of the best I have seen/heard in Glasgow for a long time and was full of highlights. 'Squealing Pigs' started off quietly before a good old Celtic beat kicked in and stopped the talking at the bar, Louis' singing was complimented by the gentle tones of Sarah Hayes.

The album 'Boots Met My Face' is available now on itunes and check the bands myspace.

A special mention must also go to Jim Gellatly for hosting the night. Well done to Ken for all his hard work.

Saturday 15 May 2010

The Charlatans at Glasgow Barrowlands 14th May 2010

Last night The Charlatans celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album Some Friendly with a gig at Glasgow Barrowlands, a venue that they hold close to their hearts.

The night started in one of my favourite bars in Glasgow - McChuills in High Street, where I met my brother and friend Craig. A few weeks previously I had sent Tim Burgess a message asking if he would make a playlist for McChuills, knowing that a lot of Charlatans fans would be going there beforehand.

A cd arrived courtesy of Tim's friend Nick who is also friends with Craig and Dale also showed up, The cd contained tracks from 20-years ago, Loaded by Primal Scream, Groove Is In The Heart by Deelite, Ride On Time by Blackbox and many more besides. A few pints were enjoyed in good company before we headed off to the Barrowlands, meeting Lynn outside, to catch The Ray Summers as support, who Craig just happens to manage.

The band were on at 8pm sharp and played a punchy 25-minute set, high on energy and enthusiasm. The crowd began to fill up after a couple of songs with many taking the time to come down the front to check The Summers out. The third song in was The Valley that immediately caught my attention and must surely feature on a forthcoming release at some point soon. 

It says a lot for The Ray Summers growing confidence that they looked at home on stage at the Barrowlands. They are extremely tight and their ability to twist and turn songs completely around halfway through is pretty unique.

It was then on to the build up to The Charlatans, with the same cd being played that was played in McChuills earlier. The band were in no mood to hang around and took to the stage shortly after 9pm, just after my sister arrived to ensure an Easton family outing!

It may be 20-years since the release of Some Friendly, but Tim Burgess really hasn't aged much at all. He was wearing a 1990-esque style baggy t-shirt and his hairstyle may have changed numerous times over the years, but his cheeky grin and warm enthusiasm remain the same.

You're Not Very Well opened proceedings, a sold out Barrowlands getting into the mood easily and quickly. Next up was a special moment for me as the band went into the pop groove of White Shirt, one of my favourite Charlatans songs, yet one I had never seen them play live before in my 16-years of attending their gigs - 26 by my reckoning!

It's a brilliant song and Tony's hammond riff blasted out effortlessly, Time shimmied like it was 1990 and the band locked into a groove, it was all over too soon.

I was expecting the band to play Some Friendly in order, go off and come back on and do some hits, but The Charlatans are always a band full of surprises. As if to highlight how prolific and consistent they have been through the years and certainly around the period of Some Friendly the band raced through non-album singles, b-sides and EP's alongside album tracks. Playing for a full 90-minutes before going off and returning for an encore.

The highlights were many, with the band looking like they were really enjoying revisiting some songs that they can't have actually played for 20-years or so. Me In Time, Over Rising and Happen To Die stood out, yet it wasn't surprising to see the venue going crazy for Then and The Only One I Know.

In between bouncing about like a loony during the latter I turned around to see the hall lit up and the bouncing and dancing was taking place from front to back. It's a true classic and the chorus 'everyones been burned before, everybody knows the pain' was sung heartily and the band enjoyed a tremendous ovation afterwards.

Flower from the album was another real highlight, slowing the pace down 'don't bring me flower to my bed, she got what she deserved'. Tim was in great form, playing to the crowd, the rhythm section of Martin and Jon were as tight as brothers, Tony was revelling in the hammond orientated material and Mark on guitar was creating soundscapes with his effects.

Can't Even Be Bothered was the only non Some Friendly era track played the entire night, I imagine it must have been written around then. It's slow groove kept everyone dancing, in fact groove is a word you could apply to the vast majority of Charlatans tracks from this (or indeed any other) era. It was a time when people lost their inhibitions and danced.

Sproston Green rounded things off in true style, with the famous sprung dancefloor in the Barrowlands taking a hammering.

Walking towards the train home  my brother and I talked about the consistency of The Charlatans material. To play for so long from one period, with so many good tracks takes some doing. In truth, the band could do this with pretty much any period from their career. A band with a special place in my heart.

Monday 10 May 2010

RBRBR, Tokyo Knife Attack and Miaoux Miaoux at Captain's Rest

Heavylight Darkbright at Captain's Rest, Glasgow

Featuring - RBRBR, Tokyo Knife Attack and Miaoux Miaoux 

On Saturday night I ventured to Captain's Rest on Great Western Road for the Heavylight Darkbright night. On the bill for a fiver were RBRBR, Tokyo Knife Attack and Miaoux Miaoux.

After being best man at my mate Elliott's wedding on the Friday I opted to drive to the gig, allowing Lynn to have a few pints. It is maybe a sign of age, but I don't mind driving to gigs so much these days. I'm quite happy to get lost in the music.

Heavylight Darkbright is a regular night run by the same guys that put on the excellent Pinup Nights at the Flying Duck. HLDB is a little more low key, left of centre, allowing them to pick the best local acts and also stick on upcoming bands and artists from around the UK. Mercury Prize nominated The Invisible are among the recent guests.

Captain's Rest has established itself as an excellent addition to the live music circuit in Glasgow over the last few years. The upstairs bar provides good music, food, beer and big screens for sport, while downstairs in the basement, the soundsystem and engineers work wonders in such a small space.

First on was Miaoux Miaoux who I had the pleasure of watching for the first time in mid-March. As he began his first tune there was only a handful of people in the room, but the waves of electronica sent people scurrying down the steps, so that there was soon a crowd of 30-40. Miaoux Miaoux (AKA Julian Corrie) transfixed the crowds with his ability to layer melodies, beats and harmonies with his guitar, sampler, synth and some other electro toy.

Halfway through he introduced a new song that he had finished writing the lyrics for that very afternoon and he had to read a couple of the verses off of a sheet of paper. The song was one of many highlights, its beat, feeling and melody seemed more suited to watching the sunset in Ibiza than a basement in Glasgow. All three tracks off the 'Blooms' EP went down well. The shift in music in 'Pixellated' enhanced by Julian's backing vocals was a real standout alongside 'Snow'. I would recommend checking Miaoux Miaoux out.

Next up was another one man band/act going by the name of Tokyo Knife Attack. He surrounded himself with a bank of electrical equipment and proceeded to play a 30-minute set of 80's influenced electro pop. The music was actually pretty good, although I would say that Tokyo Knife Attack is more Chris Lowe than Neil Tenant. He seemed very shy, barely speaking to the crowd, although his confidence did lift the longer the gig went on. He obviously has an ear for a tune, my personal suggestion would be to get a voclaist(s) in to help lift the songs.

Headlining tonight were RBRBR. I have seen them a couple of times before and I had previously been more impressed with one of their dancers who wore a jumpsuit and fighter pilot helmet and shades. He was back tonight, complete with a drummer in a horses head and their dancing ninja, as well as the two frontmen. For me, their two best songs were book ends for the set. 'Maff' - with a repetive hook of 'do the math, do the math, do the math' and 'Masicks Blues' at the end which threatened to veer off into a euphoric electro/techno track at times but didn't quite get there.

The two dancers generated a lot of energy on the stage, but it didn't quite transform to the crowd and for me it didn't hide the fact that a lot of their songs sound incredibly similar. The guy in the jumpsuit looked cool and danced his heart out, but he didn't really do anything else. He had an Apple Mac in front of him, but I don't know what purpose that served. The ninja certainly lost the dancing contest and is definitely no Bez. 

The two frontmen were pretty charming, smiling throughout and obviously enjoying the set. Some more inventive basslines, further use of guitar and synths might transform the band. Despite my criticism I bought their EP at the end of the night, keen to hear what they sound like on record. If I'm honest, they sound better live.

So it was a rather mixed bag of a night but well worth it.