Archive | October, 2016

TV Smith and Friends – Foremans Bar, Nottingham (October 16, 2016)

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TV Smith and Friends – Foremans Bar, Nottingham (October 16, 2016)

Posted on 20 October 2016 by Joe

Nostalgia is no bad thing and, despite what some folk think, it’s nice to drop into the past now and again and wallow in bygone memories. We are the sum of those memories after all, they are the shiny red Lego bricks of our souls.

Not long after the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago The Sex Pistols tried to do the same thing and wipe out the dinosaurs of rock, sadly it wasn’t a complete success but they did thankfully cause major extinction events and the likes of Mike Oldfield and his concept album compatriots were forced into a rearguard action.

TV Smith

TV Smith

 

The Pistols did not work alone, in that first heady punk rush of 76/77 they had many inspired and inspiring allies notably The Clash, The Damned, The Buzzcocks and The Adverts, seismic occurrences in the music scene ensued and things were never quite the same again (thankfully).

Like The Clash, The Adverts were overtly political, due in no small part to frontman TV Smith, whose acutely well observed lyrical spleen was expertly vented on those early albums. This was especially on their the debut, Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts, a cornerstone of the scene that still retains firepower to this day.

So here’s the man himself, playing perhaps the smallest but certainly punkiest bar in Nottingham.

Foremans has been here for two decades, trapped inside a concrete jungle of chicken outlets, pizza restaurants, a casino, a cinema and various other signs of the last days of humankind.

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The bar is an architectural middle finger to the corporate inner city infrastructure. With a capacity of less than sixty it is always rammed, no more so than tonight when we get the opportunity to see a founding father of a movement that still resonates today. Incidentally he has a compilation out called Useless: The Very Best of TV Smith. How can you not love this man?

Looking lean and mean but with a mischievous grin on his punky face, he kicks up a human tornado of anger. A solitary battered guitar and a bag of fantastic lyrics, he’s a one man socialist stormtrooper.

A nice mix of new and (very!) old tunes including: I Delete, Expensive Being Poor, Runaway Train driver, Bored Teenagers, No Time To Be 21, The Lion And The Lamb, The Great British Mistake, One Chord Wonders and Gary Gilmore’s Eyes.

All have two things in common, absolute passion for the subject matter and a healthy portion of sing-a-long. We smashed the system but tunefully.

Support tonight was from Static Kill, a local three-piece comprising bass and two acoustic guitars. There’s was a short set of frenetic, angry songs of suburban despair and disillusion.

Louise Distras

Louise Distras

As for Louise Distras, well, this Wakefield singer should be a star.

She has a voice that could sink enemy ships (but in a good way!). You cannot help but be impressed by her confidence and commitment. A solo exercise in how to engage and win over a restless crowd with some extremely well played guitar, some mighty tunes and all sung with such conviction and vigour that by the end she had us all eating out of her hands.

With a set list mainly drawn from her heartily recommended 2015 album Dreams from the Factory Floor, she combines spoken word and angry polemic to great effect. Loved her.

Shock horror, punk still relevant.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

For more information about TV Smith visit here.

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Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

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Bevis Frond Reissues – It Just Is, Sprawl and Superseeder

Posted on 17 October 2016 by John Haylock

Apologies in advance if Neonfiller looks to be turning into the fan page for all things Bevis Frond. Don’t blame us, its the fault of the band’s founder Nick Saloman for being so bloody prolific.

Already over the last year or so we’ve reviewed five reissues from Saloman and co and next up is three more, moving us into the mid 1990s.

Given the rate he released records in that decade it begs the questions: did he ever get the urge to nip out for a beer or a packet of chocolate digestives? Or was he permanently plugged in to some antiquated amps in his bedroom, forever channeling his guitar heroes on a diet of Red Bull and fried egg sandwiches?

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There’s a classic 1961 Tony Hancock film called The Rebel in which he plays a frustrated artist, living in a small apartment surrounded by his artistic creations, including a huge half finished marble sculpture. His long suffering landlady is the wonderful Irene Handl, who is forever knocking on his door or banging on the ceiling telling him to be quiet. Whenever I think of Bevis Frond’s Nick I envisage his mum in the Irene Handl role, banging on the ceiling with a broom handle shouting ‘turn that bloody row down’.

Here then are the next tranche of reissues from Fire Records, with spunking guitars to the fore, bleeding fingers, rock ‘n’ roll introspection and dour doom a go-go. There are no radical departures from previous releases, no sudden synth pop, no choral interludes. This is steady as she goes, left hand down a bit, homegrown Nutsville solos with the occasional light acoustic break amongst the all consuming rifferama.

It Just Is (1993) is a good solid rock album but a little claustrophobic. Eighteen tracks and no particularly lengthy workouts on this one, with most songs averaging four minutes.

Financial constraints necessitated Saloman plays almost all instruments and sadly at least for this listener it is bereft of a certain unhinged quality that we’ve come to expect from Bevis Frond. It lacks the variety of other releases and just batters you repeatedly with a guitar palette that lacks bright colours. Yet it does have its redeeming factors, including the fabulous slow burning blues of Idiot Dance, and an angry and sardonic rocker called Desperate.

For what is basically a one man operation It Just Is is pretty nifty in a kind of Metallica meets Billy Corgan up a dark alley kind of way, but compared to Bevis Frond’s other numerous releases it’s a bit of a let down.

sprawl

Sprawl (1994 ) does exactly what it says on the tin. A massive double Bevis Frond album of sprawling rock tunes and budget constrained invention, now fleshed out with contributions from Andy Ward on drums, Tony Aldridge on violin, Jimmy Hastings on flute and David Tibet on vocals.

Central to the album is Right On (Hippie Dream) a mammoth exercise in sonic landscaping and around which all the other tracks orbit. It is one of Saloman’s finest audio concoctions.

This sonic mantra emerges as a  slowly unfurling freakout, clocking in at over 20 minutes and featuring backward guitars, flutes, spoken interludes; everything but the kitchen sink basically. Although, I’m sure there’s probably a mix out there with the kitchen sink still on it.

There’s also Innerwheel, a lovely slice of eastern tinged exotica, with flutes and bongos and meandering keyboards in the mix. There’s also 41 Years, a mellow-yellow, wry reflection on the ageing process.

I bought My Love A Lap Dog is a cracking stop start rocker from the top drawer.

Other memorable work outs include Love You More, Boa Constrictor and the fabulously dour The Puller. With no less than eight extra tracks on cd 2 this makes Sprawl another must buy.

superseeder

Finally, there is Superseeder (1995), which is housed in a distinctive sleeve made by Nick from an assortment of seeds from his local pet store. This album is a giant in the back catalogue, supplemented by long-time colleagues Ade Shaw on bass and Andy Ward on drums, with the obligatory in store guest appearance from Bari Watts on two tracks.

It starts as it means to go on with the ten-minute plus rocker Superseded, a track with an Eastern feel and bulldozing momentum. Then there’s Dolly Bug, which rattles along in a most pleasing punkish way, Stoned Train Driver on the other hand takes the tempo down a bit with a bluesy feel and some great locomotive based wordage.

I absolutely love the domestic fear and self loathing of the lyrics on Animal Tracks – think of Lou Reed but born in Walthamstow.

I Can’t Cry features some astonishing lead guitar work from the aforementioned Mr Watts and is a tremendous slice of rock action.

Loveland and Golden Walks of London maintain the quality work, although there’s a 16-minute studio jam called House of Mountains, which is around 14 minutes too long.  But this is a minor complaint as Superseeder contains a most wistful closing song called Could You Fly Higher, featuring an achingly beautifully concise guitar coda.

Superseeder would make a good entry point for the Bevis novice. Watch out for the next reissues, which is set to include Son of Walter. If you think I’m an over zealous fawning idiot fan, just wait until you hear what I have to say about that masterpiece.

For more information about Bevis Frond click here.

By John Haylock

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Southern Tenant Folk Union – Join Forces

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Southern Tenant Folk Union – Join Forces

Posted on 11 October 2016 by Joe

Southern Tenant Folk Union have gone back to basics for their latest album, eschewing the genre busting invention of their last two releases and instead opting for a straight down the line folk album.

Gone is the Tangerine Dream style banjo playing that typified both Hello Cold, Goodbye Sun (2013) and Chuck Norris Project (2015). A farewell has also been bid to the Scottish based band’s high concepts, such as Hello Cold’s environmental armeggeddon and Chuck Norris’ use of the actor’s own film titles to protest against his right wing politics.

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There’s still plenty of politics here. It would be hard not to in a year where Scotland voted overwhelming to reject the Brexit that the whole UK has become embroiled in.

But the overall sound is very different, more traditional, taking in bluegrass and traditional celtic influences. It also sounds more like they do live, gathered around a single mic on stage.

If there is a theme it could be that the band are a bunch of political minstrels playing outside the Houses of Parliament and London’s media centres to express the frustration many feel with modern politics and journalistic bias.

Were You Faking When You Kissed Her? about the insincerity of campaign trail politicians would be particularly satisfying to see sung to the political elite as they trickle into Parliament, as would What Would You Give For a Leader With Soul?

Then there’s What Kind of Worker Do You Want To Be, which mocks the BBC for its failure to scrutinise the government. This would be great to see played outside the broadcaster’s London news base. There are similar themes on The Media Attack, about how low the fourth estate has sunk in its political reporting.

STFU's Rory Butler and Pat McGarvey (l-r)

STFU’s Rory Butler and Pat McGarvey (l-r)

But while these tracks, written by chief songwriter and banjo player Pat McGarvey, often go straight for the jugular there is also subtlety here, courtesy of singer and guitarist Rory Butler.

Carefully Does It, one of his two penned tracks, emerges as one of the highlights, just as his painfully sad song about US school massacres, Slaughter in San Francisco, did on Chuck Norris Project.

This blending of McGarvey’s head and Butler’s heart is one of a number of traits that elevates Southern Tenant Folk Union above many others in the folk scene. That’s even without the contemporary invention of recent releases that has already cemented their place as one of the UK’s most unique acts.

For more information on Southern Tenant Folk Union and to buy Join Forces click here.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Bob Mould – SWX, Bristol (October 8, 2016)

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Bob Mould – SWX, Bristol (October 8, 2016)

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Joe

“This is from the new album,” is usually a phrase met with a depressed sigh when uttered at gigs by an artist who has been releasing records for four decades.

Not so for Bob Mould, who is currently creating some of the best music of his long career and live is arguably more energetic than he was in the early 1980s, when as a plump young man with a flying V guitar helped create the whole, quiet/loud rock blueprint for grunge with his band Husker Du.

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His current band, of Superchunk and The Mountain Goats drummer John Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, have been together for three albums, Silver Age, Beauty and Rain and Patch the Sky, creating a raft of new anthems to deservedly sit alongside his Husker Du favourites and 1990s indie pop classics with Sugar.

Across this lively 23 song set he moved seamlessly across his career, with new tracks such as Hey Mr Grey from Beauty of Rain, The Descent from Silver Age and Patch the Sky’s joyous ode to annihilation The End of Things greeted with just as much excitement as Sugar classics like Changes, A Good Idea and If I Can’t Change Your Mind as well as the Husker Du tracks that featured heavily at the beginning and encore.

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Mould and band started as they meant to go on with a frenzied, cobweb-clearing Husker Du hat-trick of Flip Your Wig, Hate Paper Doll and I Apologise.

The Sugar hits then followed and kept popping into a set that saw no let up in Mould’s clear enthusiasm for playing in front of a crowd, especially such an appreciative one as this. The band are loud too, and by loud I mean really loud, with Mould sporting not one but two giant Blackstar stack amps on stage, both going to 11 and beyond.

Aside from the Sugar tracks, the best of all was an extended, set closing version of Patch the Sky’s epic Black Confetti, which live is taken to a whole new level of intensity.

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For the encore Mould went back to his Husker Du days with a lovely version of Hardly Getting Over it, from Candy Apple Grey, the band’s first album from their ill-fated stint with Warner Bros Records. It was the only time the gain on his Fender Stratocaster was turned down all night.

Last track on his return took us back to the start and Husker Du’s breakthrough 1985 album Flip Your Wig, with arguably its best song, the anthemic Makes No Sense At All.

Afterwards Mould returned to the stage to thank the audience,  with his steamed up glasses the only hint that he’d just churned out a four decade career in an hour and 20 minutes.

A full set list can be found here.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

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Together The People, Preston Park Brighton (3rd and 4th September 2016)

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Together The People, Preston Park Brighton (3rd and 4th September 2016)

Posted on 04 October 2016 by Dorian

Together The People has already announced that it will return to Brighton in 2017, so what did we make of the event this year and what do we hope for next time around?

Last year we were impressed by the first Together The People festival and we were delighted to see the two-day event return for a second year. We were even more delighted to see that Brian Wilson was bringing his 50th anniversary Pet Sounds show to Preston Park as the events Saturday evening headliner.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

Saturday

When we arrived at the site it was pleasing to see that some of the issues from the first year had been addressed. The site was bigger and the stages had been rearranged to deal with the sound-bleed issues between the main stages. Additionally there seemed to be more stalls, outlets and attractions around the site to complement the bands.

In many ways the whole of the Saturday was an extended build-up to the Pet Sounds performance. Many people had purchased tickets on the strength of that set alone and the you could feel the excitement of seeing a legend perform a bona fide classic across the site.

However, there were plenty of other musical attractions prior to Brian and friends taking the stage and a few local legends amongst them. First of these that we settled down to enjoy was former Supergrass front-man, and former local resident, Gaz Coombes. His most recent album, Matador, was a big surprise and showed a more downbeat and subtle side to his songwriting. These songs made up the bulk of his solo set on the main-stage, a set that he played without the aid of a backing band.

I have a lot of respect for someone who can stand up and play confidently on a big stage without anyone else to share the audience attention. Coombes played well and the audience responded well, but he did seem lost at times. The newer tracks are quite sparse and needed a bigger sound to carry them in the open air of the park. A couple of Supergrass songs thrown in to the set fared better, possibly due to their wider resonance but it was a competent rather than enthralling set.

The rest of the Saturday afternoon is a bit of a blur as we spend most of the time funding appropriate places to shelter from the downpour that hits the site. This does mean that the main stage is neglected and the young local talent on the BIMM stage get more attention than was previously planned. The bands sound pretty good though and Atlas Wynd certainly make an impression on what is likely to have been their biggest audience to date.

Another band that benefit from the rain is Turin Breaks, an odd choice of headliner for the “new bands” stage. The tent was overflowing, I peered in from the back, and the veteran band played a storming show as we sheltered from the storm. I was surprised by how many of their songs were familiar to me and they played them all brilliantly. As much as I’d enjoyed the BIMM bands there is really no substitute for experience when considering a band’s stagecraft.

Al Jardine

Al Jardine

Years of experience is something that Brian Wilson and his assembled band have in abundance. His backing band have been with him for years  now and fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine stands along-side him as the only other original Beach Boy on stage.

The set started with a series of Beach Boy’s favourites and the crowd was on-side from note one of the first song. These songs are so familiar, and so well-loved that they couldn’t fail to bring some sunshine to a dark and wet Saturday. The highlight of this segment had to be mid-70s collaborator Blondie Chaplin hitting the stage and singing ‘Sail On Sailor’, the 1973 single on which he sang the original lead vocals.

What everyone had come for though, the main event of the day, was the band playing through the whole of Pet Sounds. This isn’t just the best Beach Boys album, but one of the best albums of all time and the crowd were enthralled from start to finish. Rumours have circulated that this may be one of the last times that Brian Wilson will tour, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see him sing the songs I’ve known as long as I can remember.

Sunday

The Horrors

The Horrors

Sunday may not have had quite such a legendary headline act, but the overall line-up was looking good and the weather was certainly kinder. As a result of the more clement weather we settled in front of the main stage for the bulk of the day.

First up was M Ward, and his Dylanesque set was a very enjoyable way to start the afternoon’s proceedings. He definitely rocked harder than I expected and got beyond my lack of familiarity with his songs.

Songhoy Blues were next and they did their best to get the slightly sedentary crowd moving with an uptempo guitar driven set.  they proved to be pretty successful and lived up to their reputation as one of the festival acts to watch out for.

Peter Hook & The Light are a slightly odd proposition. The band play the hits of Joy Division and New Order with the elephant in the room being the other members of New Order existing quite happily, and very successfully without Hook’s involvement. With that in mind, and with Hook’s rather cabaret delivery style, it is a bit like being at a tribute how with a very good look-a-like on the bass. That said, the versions of most of the songs are pretty good and the crowd response is as positive as for any band of the weekend.

In the smallest tent, the Sopabox Stage, a small crowd is treated to one of the sets of the weekend, a low-key solo set by local troubadour Chris T-T. He opens with an unaccompanied song from his AA Milne interpretations before playing a number of songs from his catalogue, with a focus on tunes from his 9 Green Songs album. His set is thoughtful, political and delivered well-played, perhaps the most engaging set of the weekend.

Less engaging, but a lot more polished, are The Horrors. They look good, the lighting is great and the crowd is big but I can;t get beyond their lacklustre songs. They sound like the Psychedelic Furs and I have nothing more to say about them. A drink, some food and a ride on the ferris wheel is a much better way to spend the time that they are on stage.

Suede

Suede

Full disclosure time, I have never been much of a fan of Suede, they irritated me intensely first time around and I wasn’t delighted to see them on the bill in comeback mode. I’ve never owned a Suede record and this was the first time that I’ve ever seen the band live. With this in mind it was to my surprise just how much I enjoyed the set, probably more than any other set of the weekend.

the whole band, and Brett in particular, know how to play a show, that is without a doubt based on this performance. Plenty of rock star posturing, note perfect playing and a set that focused on keeping the hits flowing.  Even though the band recently released an album we don’t get loads of new songs, the bulk of the set coming from their debut and the hit-filled Coming Up album. They know what the punters want and that is what they give us.

It was also of real note just what a good guitarist Richard Oakes is. He has been in the shadow of Bernard Butler, but given this showing (and my one experience of seeing Butler play) I think that he is the easily the match of the revered original guitarist.

Perhaps Brett threw one too many Jesus poses into the mix, and didn’t need to enter the crowd quite so often but these are minor quibbles of a pretty excellent live performance.

Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson

What next?

The great news is that Together the People has already been confirmed for 2017, and has already sold out of their first tier of Early Bird tickets, so the future of the festival looks bright. I’m already looking forward to what they do next year and hope to be there to see it.

There are still some improvements that would make the festival that bit better, the second stages could be a bit bigger and the quality higher throughout the bill. Hopefully having two successful weekends under their belts will make the organisers a bit bolder with some of the line-up choices, and give a bigger budget for acts.

With tickets (at the time of writing) available for just £65 for the weekend it is a risk worth taking. If it is anything like as enjoyable as this year then it would be worth it at twice the price.

Go to www.togetherthepeople.co.uk to see details and buy tickets.

Words: Dorian Rogers | Pictures: Nic Newman

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