Archive | October, 2018

TC&I – Swindon Arts Centre (October 29, 2018)

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TC&I – Swindon Arts Centre (October 29, 2018)

Posted on 31 October 2018 by Joe

Spoiler: If you are going to one of the forthcoming TC&I shows please do not read on. Enjoy the surprises. If you’ve been or are not attending, read on.

On Monday October 29 in Swindon musical history was made.

Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers, the rhythm section of XTC, performed together on stage for the first time in 36 years as TC&I.

That will mean nothing to most people.

Colin wrote many of the bands early 1970s/80s hits, such as Making Plans for Nigel. That may garner a grunt of acknowledgement from some.

But to the 200 passionate XTC fans, who made the opening night of a sold out week long set of gigs at the Swindon Arts Centre, their appearance meant everything. Their whole world.

Almost every fan of the Wiltshire band, who finally split in 2000 after 18 years as a critical acclaimed studio band, has prayed to the gods of pop for them to reform and perform again.

With other songwriter Andy Partridge never to perform live again after suffering stage fright in 1982, Terry moving to Australia shortly afterwards, Colin largely shunning the music business for a number of years and guitarist Dave Gregory plying his trade in other acts, that has seemed an impossible dream.

But with Terry returning to the band’s home town recently and Colin dipping his toes more frequently into musical projects they left fans gobsmacked last year when they joined forces as TC&I with a four song EP of Colin songs. And best of all, this summer they announced they would give playing live a go once again.

Colin Moulding (l) and Terry Chambers (r)

Colin Moulding (l) and Terry Chambers (r)

All dates are sold out. They could have played non-stop for the rest of 2018 given the interest, but the Arts Centre panto takes precedence going into December.

Given the very long wait to see their idols, the atmosphere in the packed arts centre was understandably reverential, especially as some had travelled from around the world to attend.

The smiles when Colin and Terry arrived on stage was a moment of beauty.

Colin in the middle aged man’s uniform of cargo trousers and sensible walking shoes, looked more like he was about to nip down to Marks and Spencers to buy some new socks. His scarf and slight mullet the only hint that he has in fact played on Top of the Pops.

Chambers in white t-shirt, looked shy but itching to get behind his drum kit. They were joined by Steve Tilling on guitar, Colin’s son Lee on backing vocals and Gary Bamford on keyboards and guitars for a mammoth 24-song set,  full of the hits, new songs but also some surprises along the way.

Below is the full set list but here we will rattle through some of our particular high points.

Wonderland

What a revelation from 1983’s often overlooked album Mummer, which was sandwiched between two of their most ambitious collections  – English Settlement (1982) and the Todd Rundgren produced epic Skylarking (1986). Here the soft production of Mummer was cast aside and on stage with full band its melody had room to shine. This was the surprise high point for many I spoke to on the night.

Sacrificial Bonfire

Skylarking was well represented, as it should be with Rundgren upping the Moulding song count. Meeting Place, Big Day and Grass were great, but Sacrifical Bonfire was by far the best. Lovely to see Terry take a softer tone with this on a track that was new to him. Mind you, he made up for it by beating the beejesus out of Big Day later on.

Bungalow

Colin’ voice is beautifully preserved, as if kept in honey in his shed for decades, untainted by the rigours of relentless touring. He sounded great all night but Bungalow, which was largely just him and keyboards, was where audible gasps were heard around the enthralled room at the quality of his vocals.

Drums and Wires guitar interplay

The Drums and Wires album track segment early on of Day In, Day Out, That is the Way and Ten Feet Tall gave Steve and Gary a chance to recreate the classic guitar interplay of Andy and Dave. It was perfectly executed.

The hits

Colin also  knows how to write a hit. Making Plans for Nigel, Generals and Majors, Ball and Chain and Life Begins at the Hop were all performed and with his preserved voice it was as if the last 36 years had never happened. We were transported back to their chart bothering prime with only Colin and Terry’s white hair a give away that it was no longer 1982.

Scatter Me

Three of TC&I’s own tracks graced the set list but it was Scatter Me that may well stand the test of time and grace the next live shows in another 36 years. Colin embraces his mortality in perfect fashion as his ashes are spread around his favourite haunts.

Statue of Liberty

The talk before the gig was that Colin would be covering one of Andy’s XTC songs. Which would it be? Surprisingly it wasn’t Senses Working Overtime but Statue of Liberty, a pop gem from their debut album White Music with boop-boops galore . They sailed beneath this song’s skirt with gusto.

Andy chose to leave town during these gigs, especially as he lives nearby. It was probably a smart move. This is Terry and Colin’s week, but he is genuinely keen for the shows to be a success, passing on kind words via Twitter to the band. The XTC brand is at risk if they cock it up, so he has a stake in its success. Andy can be rest assured that the XTC brand is in safe hands.

TC&I set list

Say it

Day in, day out

That is the way

Ten Feet Tall

Greatness

Scatter Me

Wonderland

Where Did the Ordinary People Go?

Grass

Meeting Place

Sacrificial Bonfire

War Dance

Big Day

Bungalow

The Smartest Monkey

Cynical Days

Kenny

Ball and Chain

King for a Day

Standing in for Joe

Generals and Majors

Making Plans for Nigel

Encore – Statue of Liberty, Life Begins at the Hop.

Words by Joe Lepper

See Also: Ten bands that changed our lives – XTC

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Brighton Concorde 2 (October 23, 2018)

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Brighton Concorde 2 (October 23, 2018)

Posted on 30 October 2018 by Dorian

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (Rolling Blackouts C.F. for shortish) have been around for half a decade now but only started releasing music in 2016. That debut EP (talk Tight) and 2017’s French Press were very well received but they didn’t really break out until they released their debut long player, Hope Downs, this year. So it is curious how much their live show seems like a greatest hits set by an artist with dozens of releases to draw from.

Rolling Blackouts CF

It might be partly their set-up of three singer-songwriters that contributes to this as it adds a freshness and variance of style through their set. Crucially though it is the quality of the songs that carries them through; the standard hardly drops all evening and even though they don’t play my personal choice (‘Julie’s Place’) I’m still greeted with a barrage of favourites through the evening.

The performance is great, with the three singers switching the lead, and knocking out some great guitar lines throughout. Even though they each have a distinctive voice and songwriting style there is enough consistency of sound to demonstrate an undeniable Rolling Blackouts C.F. sound.

The rhythm section is consistently brilliant, a real driving engine behind the sound that really boosts the songs with energy and urgency. It is perhaps this frenetic driving quality that makes them sound quite different to The Go-Betweens, an act they are often compared to.

They’ve finished their UK tour, although I’m sure they’ll be back again next year, so if you aren’t familiar with the band give Hope Downs a listen. In my view the best debut album released this year.

By Dorian Rogers

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The Lovely Eggs – Leeds Brudenell Club (October 19, 2018)

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The Lovely Eggs – Leeds Brudenell Club (October 19, 2018)

Posted on 24 October 2018 by John Haylock

The Lovely Eggs are husband and wife duo David Blackwell (drums, vocals, home made box of wires with a bright light screwed onto it) and Holly Ross (guitars, vocals and orange tights).

The redtops would probably describe them as quirky. They play ramshackle, coming apart at the seams punk-rock that goes blam blam blam…Blam!

The Lovely Eggs

Tonight’s mayhem happens inside a sold-out Brudenell, one of our favourite venues. I mean how can you not love a club in which you hear Can, Neu ! The Sleaford Mods and The Velvet Underground while you’re waiting to get served?

Holly takes to the stage clad in the aforementioned orange tights, probably the same ones she wore at the Greenman Festival in August (I do hope she’s changed them ).

Gobby, excitable and bonkers

 

She’s gobby and excitable, with a guitar style best described as bonkers. They’re playing on their own turf tonight and the crowd love it.

The Lovely Eggs are very much a one trick pony, albeit it a muscular, slightly demented Lancashire pit pony. And the trick is second rate Paul Daniels. No matter though, as they are adored by the faithful, who sing along vociferously to some great song titles such as I Like Birds But I Like Other Animals Too, Fuck It and the sublime People Are Twats.

We even get some cooking tips for onion rings. There’s also a minor crowd altercation with an over excited bouncer and a some drunk lads. This is swiftly tackled with humour and some Northern common sense.

Not a bad night. A bit one dimensional but that might have been the (very) pale ale.

Special shout out to Rob Auton who hails from York who’s doing some daft stand up on the forthcoming The Lovely Eggs dates. Now he is quirky, but in a good way.

Wiggy Giggy was great.

Words by John Haylock

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Villagers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (October 17, 2018)

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Villagers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (October 17, 2018)

Posted on 21 October 2018 by John Haylock

When you do a  search on Google for Villagers more often than not those hunky chunky purveyors of ultra camp seventies disco The Village People come back at you singing YMCA. As much as I love disco classics I think I’ll stick with our Irish friends for the time being, thank you.

Since Villagers launched ten years ago, they have very quietly, very gently, rocked our world. Leader Conor O’Brien’s  melodic introspections and observations have healed and shone light into our collective hearts.

Whilst all around is going to Brexit in a handcart they are a little oasis of sparkling tunes and old fashioned musicianship. So with a new album to promote (The Fine art of Pretending to Swim),  their fifth if my calculations are correct, a tour is in order.

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The new Villagers album is an absolute joy that is chock full of many  slyly insidious tunes. I’m assured the young kids on the street today describe this as ear worms. A vulgar unpleasant phrase. I prefer to use the phrase angel cake whispers instead.

So eyes down for an evening of angel cake whispering.

Conor is given a hero’s welcome as he buoyantly takes to the stage accompanied by his superbly talented band (tonight’s Haylock award for outstanding individual achievement goes to the drummer James Byrne, a brilliant display).

Diving head first into an evening of classics and playing many of the tracks from the new opus we embark upon on an emotional rollercoaster of aural joy, the new stuff sounds absolutely brilliant, there’s some seriously catchy Villagers songs on display, especially Again, Sweet Saviour and Fool. One of the highlights was a fantastic new composition called Love Came With All That It Brings. A song from the top drawer if ever there was one.

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This was the first night of the current Villagers tour and you might have expected hesitancy or at least some  nervousness but it was flawless. Conor has such a winning way with the between song banter. He won us over easily. Both funny and modest , his demeanour is the polar opposite of most frontmen. His audience loves him for it.

Occupy Your Mind was given a new suit and tie, a wash and a shave and turned into a whizzing speeding thing of beauty. Another new song Long Time Waiting seemed so gorgeously familiar. An effortless reflection on modern living with added trumpets.

Old favourites blend with the new

The final furlong saw the welcome return of two old but genius nevertheless faves, the irrisistable sing along Hot Scary Summer and of course Courage.

These were preceded by one of the most adventurous new songs from the album, Ada,  a song Conor told us was about Ada Lovelace the mother of modern computing  (Charles Babbage being the father, see Analytical Engine for further details) . Unknown to Conor, until someone in the crowd pointed it out to him, there was a Nottingham connection here. Ada was the only legitimate daughter of local lad, romantic poet and total shag monster Lord Byron. Synchronicity or what? That blew him away.

I urge you all to check out the support artist on this tour. She calls herself Billie Martin. Originating from Ripon, she has a stunningly beautiful voice, and plays guitar with a featherlight touch, and with the aid of a solitary drummer. They created a little sensation among the crowd tonight. Very rarely does an audience just shut the fuck up and listen to a support act as intently as I witnessed tonight.

A lovely gesture was witnessed as she had left a hand written note on the merch table. It read simply,  “sorry no merchandise but I’ve baked a cake (lemon drizzle, my favourite) please help yourself”.

Yum and indeed yum.

 

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Brian Jonestown Massacre – Birmingham O2 Academy (October 16, 2018)

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Birmingham O2 Academy (October 16, 2018)

Posted on 18 October 2018 by John Haylock

Two months ago we caught Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Greenman Festival and were overwhelmed (drunk). We had to see them again.

If you’re not familiar with the Brian Jonestown Massacre just think of an old Hollywood western.

Picture the scene, the locals are in the saloon having a drink, laughing and carousing. In the ramshackle street outside ladies with bonnets stumble across the rudimentary High Street, which is little more than a  muddy track, as they make their way to the store for supplies and sundries.

Then in the distance you hear the sound of hooves and some boisterous hollering and swearing as the local gang of bearded unkempt rustlers, outlaws and general ne’r do wells ride into town on their sturdy steeds. The local sheriff ( played by Bradley Walsh) is sent for, he and his deputy (an unshaven belligerent Tom Hardy) walk toward the gang with hands on their holsters, it’s all going to kick off.  Brian Jonestown Massacre have come to town.

Photo Credit: Bradley Garner

Photo Credit: Bradley Garner

And kick off it does down in wild west Birmingham, as 600 rabid hipsters await the arrival of the most bad ass guitar toting scruffs on the planet. Led by  general all round modern day iconoclast and  psychedelic guru Anton Newcombe.

It’s a guitar orgy

The stage is full of guitars, It’s a guitar orgy. A sonic spectacle, which starts of slowly and falteringly with We Never Had a Chance and What Happened to Them.

Then slowly the pace increases and by the time the ecstatic Hold That Thought materialises it’s all systems go.

They have this fantastic primordial soup of a rhythm section, reminiscent of Primal Scream, Ride and absolutely definitely The Rolling Stones, circa Sticky Fingers. It’s a pervasive irresistible beast, that Anton tops off with some tasteful lead work.

By the time we get to perhaps their biggest hit, Anemone, all cylinders are firing. The lighting guy has woken up and were tripping the light fantastic.

Joel Gion on tambourine and flamboyant hand gestures is a focal point. He is the Hendrix of tambourine playing.

The numbers stretch out and enter lengthy jam territory with some great wig outs that you just don’t want to end. I start hearing influences ranging from The Velvet Underground to The Byrds via Spacemen Three. So many influences, so little time.

As we propel towards nearly two hours of this madness, The devil May Care (Mom and Dad Don’t), Drained and What Can I Say assail the senses. When they finish they do it in their trademark manner. No encores, just a version of A Word that segues into a monstrous, almost tortuous ten minute-plus hurricane of feedback and squall.

I shot the sheriff but I did not shoot the deputy.

Review by John Haylock

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Bert Jansch – Just A Simple Soul

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Bert Jansch – Just A Simple Soul

Posted on 10 October 2018 by Joe

There are plenty of Bert Jansch compilations that take in his 1960s and early 1970s heyday. But this behemoth of a collection from BMG offers something far more career spanning.

By also dipping into the highlights from his mid-1970s through to a renaissance in the early 21st century this may well be the definitive Bert Jansch collection.

Jansch.jpg

The first CD contains exactly what Jansch admirers would expect. Strolling Down the Highway, Needle of Death and his take on the classic Angie are essential inclusions. As is Black Water Side, It Don’t Bother Me and a sprinkling of tracks from his 1971 classic Rosemary Lane, including the traditional Reynardine and title track.

This first half is a 14 track set of remarkable consistency, with his evocative laid back vocals and stunning guitar work, showcased to perfection.

Intriguing later career

 

But it’s the second half that is perhaps more interesting, as his career stop-started due to ill health.

Among the many high points from this period is what turned out to be his final album, 2006’s Black Swan, which sees Jansch joined by among others Beth Orton, and Devendra Banhart. The best partnership here though is on the title track, in which Helena Espvall’s haunting cello proved the perfect foil for Jansch’s voice and intricate guitar play.

Its also great to hear Kittiwake, a track from 1979’s ornithological concept album Avocet. This saw Jansch reunite with Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson and also joined by multi-instrumentalist Martin Jenkins.

Bert Jansch (centre) performing with Pentangle at Glastonbury 2011

Bert Jansch (centre) performing with Pentangle at Glastonbury 2011

There’s also the welcome addition of Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning and Chambertin, from the Mike Nesmith produced LA Turnaround (1974). His cover of Jackson C. Frank’s Carnival, from 1998’s Toy Balloon is another essential part of this collection.

What’s particularly refreshing about this compilation is that it acts as both a definitive collection, as well as a taster to encourage further investigation of his back catalogue.

Jansch sadly passed away in 2011, at the age of 67, leaving an incredible back catalogue that helped influence artists as diverse as Jimmy Page and Nick Drake to Johnny Marr and the Fleet Foxes. It is welcome to see his five decade spanning career at last captured in one place.

9/10

By Joe Lepper

Bert Jansch – Just A Simple Soul is released on October 26. More details here.

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Video Premier: Oly Ralfe – A Forest In The City

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Joe

Ralfe Band’s Oly Ralfe has shared a new video for ‘A Forest In The City’, which appears on his debut solo album Notes From Another Sea – a collection of piano instrumentals.

The video has been filmed in his studio in Oxfordshire as well as on location in nearby Wychwood Forest.

The video release coincides with a show taking place at St. Pancras Church, London, on October 10 (tickets) when Ralfe will be performing songs from the album, along with a six-piece classical ensemble. The show is a collaboration with orchestrator Luke Lewis.

“I think of this album as a pathway through mysterious places; I hope it can unlock the beauty and strangeness of what’s around you,” said Ralfe.

“I see emotions as pictures and pictures as music, and each of these tracks is a conjuring of an indistinct yet intense place, and my music is the soundtrack to that. When I am inspired I find myself gravitating towards the piano, and through it I’ve opened myself up more than I have before.”

Notes From Another Sea is available on vinyl limited to 500 hand-numbered copies worldwide, CD and digital.

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