Sunday 30 March 2014

Vigo Thieves at the ABC Glasgow

Last night Vigo Thieves, an unsigned band, played the O2ABC in Glasgow. They packed it out, they smashed it, they didn't just tear up the rule book; they didn't even pick it up, they just wrote their own.

For a band with 2 self-released EP's and a single to their name to sell almost 1,000 tickets for a 1,200 capacity venue is incredible. The reaction they received was even better.

Belief, drive, anthems and interaction with fans have generated a word of mouth buzz that led to last nights show. Two years ago they released the 'Heart & Soul Pt I' EP with lead single 'Heartbeats' and they sold out Nice'n'Sleazys down the road from the ABC. One year ago they became the first unsigned band to sell out 2-nights at the legendary King Tut's Wah Wah Hut and they followed that up by selling out the Arches.

Vigo Thieves are building an increasingly passionate following; the terrace style chants of 'Viiiigggooooo' that greeted their arrival on stage last night was proof.

The band came on stage to 'Wide Awake' from their debut EP, bursting into action with 'Steal Your Heart', the stirring circular guitar riff flowed superbly and singer Stevie Jukes was backed by the crowd as he sang the hooks and the chorus.

Stay young in your heart
And young in your mind

'Blood Red' followed at a furious pace with Stevie striding to the front of the stage at the end to urge the crowd on.

'Believe' sounded huge. Vigo Thieves write songs for occasions like last night - great venue, good sound system and a crowd demanding to be entertained. Arms were aloft, some went on their mates shoulders and the band turned in a performance that left no-one in any doubt that they believed.

The band - Gordon Phipps on bass with a smile as wide as the Clyde, his hair bouncing around as he jumped along with the fans, Barry Cowan generating beautiful guitar riffs that sounded epic, Chris Gorman on keys, synths and stunning back vocals that add so much to their cannon of epic anthems, Alan Jukes on drums - pounding his drums like he wanted to destroy them, Stevie Jukes on rhythm guitar and vocals - leading and conducting the songs and crowd.

Stevie and Chris did a short piano version of 'Heartbeats' that got the crowd singing - band and fans as one. A special moment.

'Won't You Be Mine' one of the bands very first songs received a rare outing to the delight of some of the fans who have been there from the beginning, before 'Steal Your Heart Pt II' brought a tear to my eye - sounding bigger, better and bolder than ever before.

You're looking for the love to heal the pain from all the scars
So live for the moment and you'll shine like the stars

'She's On Fire' was a cross between Simple Minds and U2 before the band embarked on a closing segment that just blew people away.

'Forever' is probably my favourite Vigo Thieves song when they play live. It tugs on my heart-strings and it is so cleverly constructed that when the second chorus kicks in the song just soars.

Let's live forever, together we can stay young

'This Love' was utterly amazing. Chiming piano, pounding drums and a flowing melody before the chorus is literally rammed down your throat - backed up by pyrotechnics that just added to the ever increasing evidence that Vigo Thieves are an arena band.

How many bands do you go and see and you can't remember a chorus the next day? No chance of that with Vigo Thieves! The sing-a-long hooks, choruses and chants will be in your head after one trip to see them.

The band departed only for Chris Gorman on keys and the guest sax player to come on to start a slowed down version of 'Ghosts' before the rest of the Vigo's returned to blast into the full version. Beach balls dropped from the roof and everyone quite literally had a ball.

'Heartbeats' was always going to end the set and it did so in a glorious euphoric manner. Stevie Jukes sang like his life depended on it, arms were raised, confetti rained down on everyone and everyone was smiling, dancing and singing a-long.

Stevie jumped in the crowd and was carried almost to the back of the venue and then returned to the stage just in time to thank everyone.

Thanks to Vigo Thieves - writing songs with heart and soul to be sung by the masses. Quite why a record company haven't snapped this band up is beyond me.

Love is the fire that's burning

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Seasons (Waiting On You) by Future Islands

Every so often I stumble across a song or performance that reminds you why I love music so much.

The Guardian are currently streaming Singles, the forthcoming album by Future Islands. They are also (rightly) raving about this incredible performance of Seasons (Waiting On You) from Letterman.

Wow! If you get 4-minutes of Prime Time TV in America then you have to make the most of it and these lads certainly did.

A flowing bass underpins a constant beat, emotional synths float over the top and the vocals are just outstanding, as is the performance from singer Samuel T Herring. Pleading and soulful vocals and a performance that comes across part Springsteen, part northern soul and all 'can't believe we're on Letterman I am gonna smash it.'

Two verses, two choruses and smash it they do. Hope they come to Glasgow.

Seasons change, and I tried hard just to soften you
The seasons change, but I've come tired of chasin' you
Because I've been waiting on you, I've been waiting on you
Because I've been waiting on you, I've been waiting on you

As it breaks, the summer awaits
But the winter washed whats left of the taste
As it breaks, the summer awaits
But the winter craved whats gone, crave whats gone

People change, though some people never do
You know when people change, they came to peace but they lose one to
Because I’ve been hanging on you, I’ve been waiting on you
Because I've been waiting on you, I've been hanging on you

As it breaks, the summer awaits
But the winter washed whats left of the taste
As it breaks, the summer awaits
But the winter craved whats gone, crave whats gone

Tuesday 11 March 2014

30 Odd Years by Vic Goddard

It's been almost a month since I bought 30 Odd Years; a 2-disc, 44-song compilation of Vic Godard songs from throughout his career.

With so much material on offer for an artists I was previously largely unfamiliar with, it has taken me quite a bit of time to digest what is on offer. The same could be said about his career - from punk to postman! Find out more HERE 

There are some real stand outs amongst a rather eclectic mix. Punk, pop, northern soul, garage, to the downright off the wall. Vic Godard isn't afraid to change style to suit his taste or muse. That said, there is something immediately identifiable on all these songs that stamps Godard's mark and talent on them - a sense of freedom and fun, a rawness, a feel and most definitely energy.

So…what are the stand outs for me?

Disc 1
Different Story
Quite Belle & Sebastian-y. Loose, melodic and clever.

Empty Shell
Scratchy electric guitars are then underpinned by acoustic before Vic comes in.

You used to be see in important places

Make Me Sad
I again I thought of Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson and Belle and Sebastian on hearing this. Probably one of the most accomplished songs on the compilation in terms of songwriting, production and structure. Lovely.

Same Mistakes
So simple, so clever. Strong melody, nice harmonies, flows superbly with a great motown beat,

The same mistakes again will be the end of me

Won't Turn Back
Orange Juice are one of many bands that have been touched by the influence of Vic Godard. This could easily be an Edwyn Collins number. Total pop soul. Brilliant.

Incidentally - just found out that Edwyn produced this and played guitar on it!

Disc 2
We'll Keep Our Chains 
Buzzsaw guitars over an infectious synth riff and brilliant pop punk melody.

Common Thief
A falsetto vocal backed with gospel singers, a tinge of harmonica and more than a dash of northern soul.

I Wish
This immediately reminded me of J Spaceman in terms of vocal, melody and lyrics. One of my faves.

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if i found I could fly
I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
Then I'd think I would know how it feels to be free

Best Album
A mod style riff and beat keep a groove going throughout and let Goddard do what he does best over the top; just let loose and go with the flow.

(Oh Alright) Go On Then
Fuzzy, choppy punk chords kick things off. Goddard's unmistakable voice leads us to a beautiful guitar solo before things break down in a pretty unique style, before it all just kicks back in.

Regular readers of this blog won't be surprised that I've chosen the popper, catchier numbers on offer through this compilation. Godard's most well known song is arguably Ambition, yet the version here is a throwaway live version that sounds like a pisstake. There is a real eclectic mix in style, also in production (well hey, this is over 30 odd years), yet there is a lot to delve into. This is an artist who is fiercely independent, doing things his way, making friends and influencing people.

For the record, here is the original of Ambition in all its glory.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Mogwai with The Pastels and Remember Remember at the Usher Hall

The usher Hall in Edinburgh is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2014 with some special shows. In terms of Scottish independent music, you can't get much more special than last nights triple bill of Mogwai, The Pastels and Remember Remember.

With the rugby on at Murrayfield, Dave kindly offered to drive so we could avoid the last train back with a load of drunken rugby fans. This ensured we were through in time for doors opening and in plenty of time for Remember Remember.

The Usher Hall looked exceptional, a fitting setting for the evening.

Remember Remember were a 6-piece for the evening, lined up across the stage with an impressive array of instruments and effects. Graeme Ronald introduced the band and thanked Mogwai for having them, before announcing they would play some songs from their forthcoming album due for release later this year, on Mogwai's Rock Action Records.

The opening song was beautiful. Bubbling lysergic synths, delicate melodies played out on xylophone and keys before synths, bass and percussion took took the audience on a musical journey into Graeme Ronald's mind.

Ronald's ear for melody and his ability to create beautiful layers and sonic adventures is pretty staggering on record. Watching him almost conduct his band in a live setting with knowing nods and glances is a pleasure to watch. The smile on his face as he let the closing song fall to him playing keys before letting rip on his guitar was fantastic, you could tell he was enjoying being let loose on the Usher Hall sound system.

The venue was pretty full by the time Remember Remember had finished their set, so my wish for a quick visit to the bar before The Pastels came on wasn't quite fulfilled as it was mobbed.

The Pastels were in full flow with the title track of their latest album 'Slow Summits' as we made our way to the front. A 6 minute 30 second guitar surf/psych instrumental, it sounded superb via the Usher Hall sound system, the guitars were sharp and piercing.

The Pastels went one better than Remember Remember and were a 7-piece for the night, sounding superb on a range of songs from throughout their career. 'Check My Heart' was a joyful romp, bright and breezy guitar pop, full of hooks and melodies. 'Summer Rain' was melancholic and beautiful.

Song of the night for me was 'Baby Honey'. If Ronald had visibly displayed his enjoyment of the quality of the sound system on offer then Stephen Pastel did the same; turning his amp up, using a bottle for effects and creating a fantastic sound with duelling guitars. It dates back almost 30-years but just sounds so fresh and vital, raw and packed with urgency.

Mogwai came on to a magnificent reception and didn't waste any time at all in creating widescreen soundscapes in a way that only they can. We moved back from the front to take it in, but also to protect our ears a little. Mogwai are fierce!

'Heard About You Last Night' is the opening song from their fantastic 'Rave Tapes' LP and it opened proceedings here. The band just locked in, all on the same wave length.

The dramatic lighting rigs suspended from the ceiling created a spaceship like feel to the show, Mogwai certainly played like they are from another planet. Braithwaite jerked in time with his playing, another clearly enjoying the sound system

The audience seemed in awe and in adulation. Mogwai inspire a real devotion from fans, displayed in the hall and also through the steady queue at the mercy stall

Mogwai are an incredible live act, quite difficult to describe, you really have to experience it for yourself. The way they take a riff/sound and build on it, they are intense, fierce and inventive.

This was a fantastic 3-band bill in a tremendous setting that bands and fans appreciated.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Looking For You by Garnet Mimms

'Looking For You' by Garnet Mimms is heartfelt northern soul, absolutely stunning, a favourite 'on the scene', it is easy to hear why.

A heart has been broken and the guy just can't get over it. The pleading 'Baby I need you' that ends each verse is just sensational.

Bass, beats, piano, strings and heart tugging soulful vocals backed with gorgeous harmonies, all combine in a glorious manner. The lyrics are so simple yet they say so much. Has a broken heart ever been portrayed with so much soul?

Each verse contains something a little different to highlight the pain and longing;

  • the first verse is all about the touch and feeling, 
  • the second is all about wanting to go back in time to how it used to be, 
  • the third verse takes the beat out, highlighting how hopeless and lonely the singer has become as he wanders the streets, 
  • the fourth verse hammers home the pain;
  • each verse is punctuated by that 'Baby I need you'.

'Looking For You' is delivered in just 2 minutes and 44 seconds and packs a fair punch. Simply stunning.

Looking for you

I miss the touch of your fingertips
The burning fire of your sweet lips
How can I go on like this?
Baby I need you

Looking for you

Since the day you left me
I'm finding lonely memory
Make it how it used to be
Baby I need you

I stop in places we used to go
Ask if they've seen you, well nobody knows
I look for you up and down the street
Baby I need you

That's why I'm
Looking for you

There's a pain inside me
Cause I need you so desperately
I want more than memories
Baby I need you
Oh baby I need you

That's why I'm
Looking for you

Sunday 2 March 2014

This Love by Vigo Thieves

Epic, emotional, soaring and of course; full of heart and soul. Ladies and Gents….'This Love' by Vigo Thieves is available to download from i-tunes tomorrow - Monday 3rd March.

Piano chords chime before a synth riff kicks in, so simple and addictive that you'll be singing along to it before you know it.

Can you feel it? This love? I got nothing else
Like a fever, this drug, in my veins until the death

Stevie Juke vocals have never sounded so good, straining and gasping with the emotion, packed with soul and love. Jukes has an uncanny knack for writing an epic pop/rock song. There have been references to U2 and Simple Minds in the past, the piano chords and overall feel and production make 'This Love' even more cinematic and theatrical; Jim Steinman would be proud of this beauty.

The breakdown for the final verse is brilliant, building up to a suitably huge chorus which is just hammered home for a full minute and 20 seconds.

When all is said and done
And we're fading like the sun

How you gonna feel it if you ain't got this love? (REPEAT loads)
Can you feel it?

There is an urgency, a feeling. 'This Love' is going to open even more doors for Vigo Thieves and they've kicked quite a few down over the last 2-years.

This is an unsigned band that are growing in the best way possible; by word of mouth. Anthems like 'Heartbeats', 'Forever' and 'Believe' are being backed up by incredible live shows that are making them a must see band.

Set to play a huge show at the ABC in Glasgow on Saturday 28th March, it is surely only a matter of time before someone makes a move to sign Vigo Thieves to give them the platform they deserve.

If they don't, then Vigo Thieves are on track to do it themselves anyway.

Tickets for the ABC show are available HERE

Watch the epic video for 'This Love', a homage to the film 'Drive', below;