Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mirror! Mirror! / Ok Tokyo / The Vehicles / Your Biggest Fanclub @ The Rainbow Friday 28th March 2008

If music be the food of love tonight was a smorgasbord, four tasty nibbles guaranteed to make you dribble a bit, although that might just be my age. Up first Your Biggest Fanclub...who actually seemed to have a fairly healthy fanclub judging by the gaggle of young folk getting down at the front. They're a beguiling (yes, I've been reading the dictionary again) blend of indie riffs (witness the Bloc Party feel at the start of Lights Out and the Los Campesinos 'You Me Dancing' bit at the beginning of Paper Bags...although the band made it clear they wrote it there) and metaltastic slabs of brain mashing guitar all played with enough energy to power a small town. They have a song called David Dickinson's Lover too...which sounds like Led Zep having a house party with the Arctic Monkey's. Consider me another fan for the club.

Next Hearing Aid faves and almost 444 Club regulars now (third time I think) The Vehicles, on the first night of their world tour! Rainbow and Cannock. Don't knock it, it's more than Guns N'Roses can manage these days. They played another great set tonight including brilliant versions of Trouble In Paradise, Bright Young Things and The Best Things Come to Those Who Wait. If they keep playing like that maybe the world tour ain't too far off after all...

Perhaps this tour might take them to (wait for it...can you see the link coming up...yep there it is...) Tokyo, which leads us neatly onto...Mirror! Mirror! No, I jest its Ok Tokyo, who were rather better than ok. I'd not heard any of their stuff before but it's a glorious mash up of electropop, funk rock, disco and rap...sort of reminded me of Sparks having sex with Outcast at an Eagles of Death Metal house party. If you love Men Women and Children (who doesn't?) then you'll lap up Ok Tokyo like a porn star in a bukkake movie...whatever one of them is.

Last up, and equally as jizz worthy, Mirror! Mirror! Channeling the spirits of Gang of Four, with lashings of The Rapture, a touch of Selfish Cunt and a fine dusting of Foals, its all mixed up into a unique blend of new wave disco rock that's guaranteed to move even the dead. The whole band gave it 110% (not mathematically possible I know, but then I failed maths 'O' level...twice...ha! That's what I call sticking it to 'the man') and, after just a few songs most of them were topless...phwoar! Lady Baron (who is reaching that difficult age in a women's life) certainly thought so. They put on a seriously impressive show and I've not seen so much audience boogieing in The Rainbow for many a moon...some brave soul even managed to go crowd surfing (no easy trick in the 'bow). Happily the band seem to be on some kind of gig orgy over the next few weeks and I'm confident that they'll return to Brum considerably more famousererer than they are now. Go get 'em boys!
PS: Kudos to the DJ's again tonight (Plastic Noise I think) who kept us in da mood between sets...extra kudos for playing Sparks' This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us and Concrete Schoolyard by J5.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dodgy / Mark Morriss / Misty's Big Adventure / James Rea @ Birmingham Academy 2 Tuesday 25th March 2008

Coming hot on the heels of the recent CUD farewell, tonight saw a big hello to fellow 90's popsters Dodgy. But first, hot new thang James Rea (who I'm pretty sure played with Nigel Clark's band a few months back). It's impossible not to love our James. Brimming with enthusiasm, he's a bit like a modern day Ray Davis. In other words, a writer of well observed slices of English life that perfectly reflect his age, generation and experiences. He's being produced by Nigel, so the recorded stuff has a classy pop polish, but it's live that he shows his real promise. This boy can really rock out when he wants (good grief I've gone all 70's DJ again haven't I?). Anyway, go see. Fall in love. Buy his single. Give him a hug.

After a really new talent, a slightly older one, Misty's Big Adventure. I'm going to make a bold statement here. Misty's are one of my top 3 bands. In the world. Ever (don't ask what the other two are...that's far too hard, picking Misty's as one of them is easy). I love 'em as much now as I did some 10 years or so ago when I first saw them. In the years since I must've witnessed the full on Misty's experience 20 times...maybe more. Strangely tonight they seemed better than ever. Ye gods Britain, wake up. This is one of best bands we've ever had. People should be writing dissertations on Erotic Volvo, publishing great papers on the lyrics to 'I Can't Bring the Time Back'. Melvin Bragg should make a 7 part South Bank Show on them. Martin Scorsese should ditch the Stones and make movie about a Misty's gig. You get the picture right? The first track they played...the one about life being like a conveyor belt...genius. People start religions with less insight than this. I'm gushing now aren't I? I want to release a double album of Misty's greastest hits so the rest of the globe can catch up. How about it eh? Not sure how much that would cost...who cares...some things are more important than money!?!

Right...I've calmed down now. Just in time to catch Mark Morriss. Yes. That Mark Morriss (no, not Mark 'Return My Mac' Morrison...Mr Bluetones...that Mark Morriss). Flashback time. Edwards No8, 1994 (I think), one of the first Supergrass tours...The Bluetones supported and I fell in love with Slight Return. Ignore the fools (pity da fools in fact) who sneer at the days of Brit Pop. Sure there were some chancers, but it was a great time for British music and The Bluetones were right up there. Tonight Mark played alone with his geetar and, whilst there was no Slight Return, we did get a brilliant Marblehead Johnson plus a smattering of tracks from his upcoming solo album (and a special guest appearance as a Caretaker in had to be there). The voice, as lovely as ever, seems stronger these be expected I suppose after playing for the past 15 years or so. I'm glad to report that The Bluetones are still going strong too (you can catch them back in Brum in May).

Finally, Dodgy. Flashback again. The Hibernian in Stirchley. 1993 (I think). Dodgy and The Sordid Details. A truly awesome gig. I was lucky enough to catch one of the 90's finest a load more times over the following years, then Nigel jacked it in for some solo and personal stuff. I've been to see him since and, whilst he's put on some cracking shows, every time you couldn't help thinking that the band belonged 'tegetha'. Happily all concerned saw sense last year and, slightly delayed due to Andy's broken arm, tonight saw the results. Some songs in life really mean stuff to people. 'Making The Most Of' is one of them for me. In just a few notes I was a young...oh alright then...youngish chap again...on his way to Glasto with a homemade mix tape playing on a dodgy (literally) car stereo.

Drummer Mathew Priest is a chuffing powerhorse. For my money he was always the glue that held it all together and last night that was just as true. Nigel still has that voice and Andy still looks cool. Of course you've got the songs too. Pop (never a dirty word in my world) doesn't get any better. They played (almost) all the hits (wot no Lovebirds?) and, for a band who hadn't played together for a decade or so, they were surprisingly tight. What next? Who knows. A new album would be nice. Older, wiser, but with the same knack for a tune and great harmonies, it could be a classic. Bostin!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cut Off Your Hands / Sunset Cinema Club / William / Mayday @ The Yardbird Wednesday March 19th 2008

Finally got round to seeing a gig at The Yardbird (for Birminghamites it's the place next to 'Paradise' Forum...for anyone else...well, it's the place next to 'Paradise' Forum...what...did you expect it to move or something?). Anyway, it was a night put on by local promoters This Is Tomorrow, who put on one of THE gigs of 2007, The Foals at The Sunflower Lounge. Good work chaps. Early arrivers (we got there at 7.45pm ish) get a free shot of Sambuca. Huzzah! Late arrivers get a kick in the crotch and are forced to drink wee (no, that's a joke).

First up, Mayday, who I've had the pleasure of seeing a few times before. They've got a clutch of really strong tracks, the utter highlight of which is Somewhere They'll Meet (not the best version on their My Space page but a worthy single if anybody gave a toss about such things anymore). I like the tight new wavey guitar bits and 'spect due to the keyboards. Let's hear it for keyboards...yeah..

Next, William (the band). I'd love to report that they were crap 'cos then I could just write William, It Was Really Nothing...but they were really rather good. Bugger. Five Minute Wonder in particular was a stonker. Talking Heads meets early Supergrass meets Televison in CBGB's c. 1979. The fact that it was released in 2006 and tonight was the first time I'd heard it just goes to reinforce what a shocking state the 'music industry' is in. How many more hidden gems are there out there. Frickin' thousands no doubt and yet 99.9% of the population still listen to .01% of the total recorded output of the world (NB: these figures may not be statistically 99.9864% accurate). Rant over. Punky americana heart and soul music for people with above average ears.

After missing Sunset Cinema Club for years, here I am seeing them for the second time in a month or so. Jolly glad I am too. Twitchy pop rock with some genius call/response vocal stuff between each band member and a darn funky undercurrent that really sets them apart. Check out Sunday Best (I still love the cheeky Girls on Film reference). See? It's all funky, then a bit rocky, then all funky/rocky/indie-ish. It's eneough to make me stain my Sunday best...there was no need for that really was there? They've got a song called 7-eleven too. I used to work in a 7-eleven in Brighton, serving prostitutes family sized boxes of Durex at 2am. Happy days.

Last up Cut Off Your Hands, who played in the barfly a few weeks back to a shamefully small crowd. Shame on you...and me...for not going. Oh the shame. They came all the way from New Zealand too. Hang thy heads. Anyway, did you miss anything? Yes. 'Fraid so. Powerpop gold, that even got my old knees twitching, screaming guitars and emotionally charged vocals, they're well worth catching live. Still Fond is a particular highlight, with that kind of Summer time feel (check out the Beach Boy style harmonies) that makes you want to drive down a country lane in an open topped Morris Minor...but that's probably just me again.

Note on the venue, as it was my first time...quite impressed really. Getting a good view ain't the easiest thing in the world. Good choice of ciders (not cheap, as you'd expect for a central Brum venue, but far better than the watery muck the Academy serve), speedy service, the loos didn't stink of piss and, given the strange layout (an L-shaped affair) the sound weren't too bad either (although I believe they're planning to beef that up soon as well). It seems that this is a hot bed of Jazz/Hip Hop loveliness so I'll have to get back here soon for a different style of gig. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings beckons in April. Hurrah! What, you don't have a ticket? It's sold out...sorry...I did warn you...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Indigos / My Device / The Joe Fox Band / Strangetime The Rainbow Friday 14th March 2008

Welcome once more to Kamikaze's! club 444...surely the only thing in the world that isn't going up in price? Budget schmudget. We're all going to hell in a handcart. Ha! Happily Strangetime or StRANGEtIME to do it all proper like, would make a rather good soundtrack to our journey bowelwards. Lead StRANGE Kate Finch posses the greatest yelp since Lene Lovich informed us that her lucky number was one...or was it two...? Ahhh t'was all so long ago. There's a hint of Hazel O'Connor in there and, for younger readers, a bit of Be Your Own Pet and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs too. I really enjoyed their set, in particular a short spikey little ditty that may have been called 'Why Do You Bother'...which I'm thinking of adopting as my theme tune. I loved the fact that, when they were told they only had time for one more track, they cunningly melted one into another so they could squeeze two in. That shows a band that wants to get places. Bravo.

Next up The Joe Fox Band, fronted by Joe Fox, brother of page 3 stunna Sam. No, I'm making shit up now. He isn't. Well I don't think he is. She wasn't there. Maybe they'd had a row? Anyway, the music, driving foot to the floor rock with a heavy dose of -abilly (that's rockabilly then), Mr Fox has a belter of a voice that, in places, recalls the lungtastic Mr Noddy of Slade. It all works best on the belters like Cold Sweats and Shake Your Death Rattle too...I kept wanting them all to have giant quiffs though (have a listen and see what I mean). We want quiffs. There aren't enough quiffs in music...apart from Quiff Richard obviously (see what I did there...?). And Jimmy Quiff. (I'll stop now).

Signed to the ultra cool Shifty Disco label, My Device (pictured) sound like two slightly drunk blokes having an arguement about The Ramones and a cupboard. Which is a good thing, obviously. I'm particularly liking Fountain Of Youth and Rusty Trombone. Listening again there's a bit of Captain Beefheart/Zappa-ish nuttyness in there too. They're the perfect Artrocker band, clever (without being pretentious), a bit off the wall and all in all really rather darned fine. All together now, who's your favourite Mexican...'Super Tonio!'

Last up, grunge rocksters The Indigos. Melding Nirvana and QOTSA riffs with post punk social commentry (and a dash of psych for good measure) the put on a impressively energetic closing set. The New Wave-y 'In The Red' (with that really catchy guitar bit) and the Mark E. Smith meets Kurt Cobain track 'Play' in particular stood out. They're playing London's Met Bar (oooh swanky) on the 20th March and it seems they did a mini tour of the Czech Republic last year. You don't get many bands touring the Czech Republic do you? Come to think of it I've never heard of a band from the Czech Republic either...apart from Chubby Czech-er (see you thought the Quiff stuff was a fluke eh?).



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Duffy Glee Club Birmingham Tuesday March 11th 2008

Bit of a strange one this. I bought the tickets in January on the basis that Duffy was being heralded as the new Dusty (who I love)...Duffy...Dusty...Dusty...Duffy...we get it. Being a contrary bastard I'd decided not to listen to any tracks before the gig and not pay much attention to the whole Duffy thing so I could just judge the performance without any of da hype. Then the Glee Club...or the Duffy management (not sure who was to blame)...go and get on my tits a bit and put me in a duff mood. Why open a live music venue at 7.30pm but not put any form of live music on until 9.40-ish? Is there a shortage of really good local talent who would've loved the chance to play on this bill? Nope. Messrs Glee and Club had also (given the huge demand no doubt) decided to make this a standing gig. The stage ain't really set up for this. If you're at the front and in the middle it's great. If you're at the back you can at least see something, anywhere else it's a wee bit poor. As a sit down venue, as it is normally, it makes more sense. The whole Duffy show is probably better suited to a sit down environment too. Which, after a long 'old man' rant, brings us to the music. The girl can sing. That's for sure. The whole performance was pretty much note perfect. She's certainly got that 60's Motown vibe too. As for the new Dusty Dusty always sounded a little bit edgy, like she'd just knocked back a shot or two and smoked a couple of Camels (don't be silly now), Duffy has more of a sweetness. No bad thing. Tracks like Mercy reminded me more of Carmel, there's a bit of Randy Crawford in there too. I'd love to see her in some dark and dingy jazz club somewhere, really letting her hair down, but I guess those days are long gone. Given that she's got a number 1 single and album, the future looks pretty good. I just hope the media, public and record company give her the room and support to develop long after the hype has died down (cue long rant about how the music biz is eating up artists and spitting them out after one album rather than letting them make dodgy prog rock concept albums before regaining their muse once more).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

She's A Kamikaze Machine Barfly Birmingham Sunday 9th March 2008 early in the a.m.

Births are a messy affair. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Screaming. Pain. Tonight we witnessed the birth (or re-birth) of She's A Kamikaze Machine. And we had most of the above. I've a vested interest here as I know one of the band quite well. They'd played their first gig just a few hours before, so this is really early days but I liked what I heard...punk, spunk and a little bit drunk (well, I was anyway) they made an impressive, over too soon debut. And you can't say that about many births...

PS: Apologies for the dreadful picture quality...not sure what happened might have been the Blackthorn...

Cud / Big Ice Gem Barfly Birmingham Saturday March 8th 2008

At the end of a gig-tastic week what better combination than the classic indie rock of local newbies Big Ice Gem classic indie rock of old hands CUD. First up the aforementioned Big Ice Gem, who seem to be attracting a nice die hard local fanbase with a suite (yes...a suite) of foot tapping toons that blend 60's, 70's and 80's influences into a corking noughties hoedown ('re asking a lot of questions today aren't you?).

CUD are one of the few bands that I can remember where I was when I heard them for the first time - Brighton HMV...1991. The track was Through The Roof, a nutty flamenco tinged pop masterpiece with Carl's lush baritone-ish voice and typically odd CUD lyrics (who can forget their classic Prawn In Whitby?). Tonight was rumoured to be one of their last ever dates (after reforming in 2006 to promote a Greatest Hits) and, like the past two times I've seen them, it was a corker. It's a sin that this band never really got the fame and fortune they deserve. Carl has the kind of voice (and look nowadays) that belongs in Vegas (via Blackpool). They've got a rather brilliant 'new' guitarist too, who drives the whole thing along rather brilliantly. No Through The Roof tonight, but we did get a brilliant Rich and Strange (with that slightly slower start) and stonking cover of Tull's Living In The Past. Which, for a good hour or so, I was (The Baron sighs wistfully as he remembers his youth...then, being almost senile, he forgets what he was shuddering about and turns up the heating).

At the end of the night I saw Carl at the bar and couldn't resist a manly handshake, as well as posing THAT question, 'Is it the end for CUD?'

I'm afraid to report...exclusively to The Hearing and direct from the horses is. Shame. Deep shame. Altogether now 'You FAB bastard! You FAB bastard! You FAB bastard....'

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Einstellung / Kyte / Dead Fish / IO / Windscale The Rainbow Digbeth Friday 7th March 2008

Tonight Kamikaze's! 444 club took a turn for the more experimental, kicking off with Windscale. Not so much a band, more of an atmosphere. There didn't appear to be anyone on stage...but there was music...drone rock sound patchworks that made you feel a bit off your box. I do like feeling a bit off my box. As the music faded it was time to say hello to IO (nice link eh?). It says on their My Space page that you can use a number of words to describe, metal, math and rock. So I will. IO are a post metal math rock time bomb. Just as you're settling down to some ambient guitar noodling they whack 7 shades of shit out of their instruments. It's like a war up there. Flailing limbs, mortar fire, Jeremy Bowen in a flack jacket, that women with the eye were invented for this kind of stuff. I think I'm going all metal in my old age...

After tending to the dead and dying, rather appropriately, Dead Fish took to the stage. Of all the bands on the bill Dead Fish were more my normal fare. Some nice funky basslines, blissed out drumming and that psychy kind of guitar playing. Halfway through their impressive set it struck me. They are the Post Rock Stone Roses. One of the men what records bands in the cupboard(hello Ashley)...the bands aren't in the cupboard, he is...agreed with me. So there we go. There are touches of classic Talk Talk in there too and, on standout track, Snobs, a healthy dash of the mighty Foals. All in all, my kind of Dead Fish...

Flying in, stage left, Kyte were on next. Musically I'm drawn towards Sigur Ros, delicate, textured music that sounds like it's made in another world. Kyte have a dreamlike quality, it makes you drift off a little, which is no bad thing in this live fast, pay later, 86 flavours of bagal culture that we seem to have made for ourselves. I keep wanting to resist saying the word ethereal, but it's a pretty unbeatable way to sum them up and, after a full on week, they and their music did me the power of good.

If Kyte took me to far away places, Einstellung brought me back down to earth with a crash. Several crashes. And a bang. A thump. A ruddy great clout. I think we can safely say that they're loud...but with the sheer force of volume comes melody, quite complex in places. It's like being spun around in a food processor whilst the ghosts of Hawkwind and various Krautrock superstars do their best to burst your eardrums and melt your brain into miso soup with a variety of musical weaponary. Again, as with IO, the band sucks you into false senses of security before spitting you out in a flob of noise. Despite being a mincing indie electro boy at heart, bands like Einstellung and the awesome Beestung Lips are dragging me over to the dark side. And, you know what, I quite like it.

An eclectic, quiet/loud, metal, drone rock, Krautrock, ethereal night of plenty then. Now, where did I leave my brain?

Yeasayer / Everett Bar Academy Birmingham Wednesday March 5th 2008

After the trauma of getting into the MGMT gig, this was a doddle. As mentioned in my previous dissertation, Yeasayer are one of a holy triumvirate (is that the right word...damned if I know?) that also features MGMT and Vampire Weekend. So the fact that I was able to see two of these in just three days is something of a miracle. Praise be to the god of the Bar Academy...hallowed be thy drinks prices (£3.05 for a glass or red wine...yes, I know, I'm a ponce). Right, first up, local boys Everett, drafted in at the 11th hour to replace Ipso Facto. They seem like a really nice bunch and there's no certainly doubting the muscianship, great keyboards, soaring guitars and meaty drumming. I'm detecting hints of Keane and Coldplay, not my personal tastes, but if you're a fan of either band I'd say you'd love Everett 110%. On the last track they played they went a bit more Ben Folds Five and really kicked in, which I much preferred. Well worth catching live if you're a fan of the anthemic.

On to Yeasayer. For a while I wavered on whether I liked them. Generally when I do that I form a longer term affection for a band and this could well be the case here. Whereas MGMT have a fairly accessible sound, Yeasayer are a lot more...heyyyyayyyahhhhaheyyyyyyayayayayhhayy. You dig? There's a touch of Yothu Yindi in there somewhere. Performance wise, and vocally in places, I was getting a bit of the old Jethro Tulls. There's that fusion thing again. 2080 is a glorious track, especially when the chorus kicks in, it's like summoning up the spirits. Maybe there's a touch of native American in there too? Sunrise is a pure hippy anthem. I'm getting Midnight Oil now. Glorious. I want to strip naked and writhe around in the mud (no change there then). Then there's a vague Scissor Sistery-ness (something that MGMT shares), a disco-y, funky kind of undercurrent. Through all of this lead Yeasayer twists about on the stage like a thing possessed, channelling all these different half expect his head to start rotating at some points. So, do I love the band now? The man from the Hearing Aid he say Yea...sayer.

MGMT / Virgin Passages...not Virgin Passes Bar Academy Birmingham Monday March 3rd 2008

I ballsed up a bit here. I'd been meaning to get tickets for this gig a while back...but didn't. Then, all of a sudden, as if by magic, it sold out. Yes, I know gigs do that, but I was hopelessly unaware that MGMT were being played on 'the radio' and thought that they were a little more obscure. First stop, ebay. No joy. They had tickets for the Dublin gig at £30 a pop. Bit of a jaunt that. Next I tried Seatwave. Close, but no cigar. They enticed me with the promise of a ticket by listing the gig as available...then informed that that it had sold out. Thanks for that. There was only one thing for it. The...TOUTS. Yes, those dodgy geezers who hang around outside venues shouting 'buyorzelltckitsanyonegotanyspareticktstickskkkskkkskkskks'. So, I trudged down to the Academy, strode up to Mr Tout and asked for an MGMT ticket. He hadn't got any. He did have loads of Sum 41 tickets. They were very good he said. I won't get in to MGMT he said. It was sold out he said. I KNOW. THAT'S WHY I'M TALKING TO YOU. Anyway, not wanting to get beaten by a sold out gig, I lurked by the entrance of the Bar Academy like a Venus Ticket Trap. I waited. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. People went in. 30 minutes. More people go in. So near and yet so far. Perhaps I could pretend to be one of the band. Naaaah. Haven't really got the look. 40 minutes. Getting...cold now...losing...will 50 minutes. Body shutting down. Can't go...on...I'm going out now...I may be some time. 58 minutes and 12 seconds. Wait. I see two people. They're going up to the entrance. Man goes in his pocket. I see tickets. There's more than two. But there's only two people...agghhhhh...wait. I hurdle the barrier like a nutjob 'Spare tickets?' 'Errr....yes...we've got two' Oh deep joy. 'How much?' (this is where I'm expecting to get stung) 'Just the ticket price...£6'. Oh bless them. I was in.

First band on, Virgin Passes, were a gentle lot. I can't find their My Space page...or any site to do with them. They almost seem not to exist. Was I dreaming? Ahhh. They're called Virgin Passages. Right ho. That explains it then. I blame the cold. I'm not sure if tonight was the best audience for them. The gobby cow standing next to me was less than impressed. I was less than impressed with her, but there we go, live and let live eh? Musically they're like lying in a field of wheat on a summer's day, with the breeze blowing gently on your face, a huge blue sky above you and nothing on your mind but the wonder of nature.

On to the main event. The reason why I was so keen to see MGMT is that they are, right now, one of three classic bands (and I use that word wisely) from the streets of Noo Yawk. We have Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and this lot. Why are they so good? Well, there's that whole (wanky word alert) fusion thing going on. All sorts of different styles. We're living in world with a rich cultural back catalogue and these three bands seem to be mining it particularly well. Of the three, Vampire Weekend are already big. Their Academy 2 gig sold out in about 6 seconds. MGMT are next. Current single Time To Pretend is being played to death. Quite right too. It's awesome. Arcade Fire with more wibbleness. Can they cut it live? Yep. Live it makes even more sense than on record. Their recorded sound is pretty 'fat' in places and, although I think there's only two of them in the official band, on stage there's 5 of 'em, plus loads of FX pedals and other gizmos. On stripped back tracks like Pieces of What they're just as good though (always a good sign). Shades of Bolan and Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud era Bowie. Time To Pretend adds nice little synthy touches, there's echoes of early Pink Floyd, Sparks...all kindsa great shit. Weekend Wars was truly historic on the night. Spine tingling. For most of the night the audience, a mix of thirty something musos and trendy young folk (with the exception of the gobby cow next to me) were still. Entranced perhaps. Set closer, Kids, saw some mild moshing as lead MGMT leant over the barriers like a new musical Christ to bless his followers. For a moment my head was lodged in his armpit. Can experiences get more holy than that? Exactly. Gig of the millenium. At least.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Anomalies / Old School Tie / 360 / Prospect Lane The Hare & Hounds(!), Kings Heath Friday 29th February

It's Friday, so it must be Kami...oh...hang on...where's my scratching post...what's going on Toto...yes dear readers...tonight I am in Oz. Well, no, not really, the Hare & Hounds, which, for a Bearwoodian like me, is a long way from home (28 minutes on the number 11 bus to be precise). The reason for the departure from my regular haunt was the tempting prospect of Platform Promotions' Anomalies gig (more on them later), kicked off in fine style once more by Hearing Aid favourites, Prospect Lane. I've written about the Lane quite a bit before and tonight's set was packed full of all their best songs, plus a couple of newer tracks, Superman and Memory (I could've been What I love About You...not sure...blame my memory...which is what it could've been...I'll get on now...right). Fickle was delivered with real bite (with lead Lane Michael leaping off the stage for an impromptu mosh), Ghosts had that great vocoder bit and, for me, the real surprise of the night was THAT Alice Deejay cover actually seemed to work. Okay, I give in, I was wrong (you've beefed up the guitar though haven't you...go on...admit it...). The band are recording a new track at the mo and have album plans for the Summer. It's a delightful prospect (see, different venue but the quality of these reviews remains the same eh?).

Next up, 360, a band I've seen just the once at last year's Moseley Festival. It's brilliant to see a really class ska / reggae band live and 360 are a simply perfect party band. They're all great musicians (special mention must go out to Delroy's trumpet playing...some awesome solo's there...) and just seem to be having as much of a good time as the audience (who nearly skanked the place to pieces). Check out This Time and Crazy Lady from their My Space, wind it up nice and loud, do that running on the spot thing and I guarantee you'll feel better...go on then...see! In the words of our Norman (Jay...not Wisdom)...Good Times.

After a right old skank, Old School Tie were the perfect follow up. A melting pot of dubby, Afro tinged rhythms that break out into giant walls of sound before shattering into a million pieces. That's what I say and I'm sticking with it. In places they sort of reminded me a little of a more organic, less vocal SOAD. The way they do that quiet/loud thing, you just settle into the groove then they smack you round the head with ruddy great slab of noise. And I do love a ruddy great slab of noise. There's a fair bit of sonic soundscape noodling's a potent mix and I'd love to see them in some field in the middle of nowhere just as the sun sets with a nice glass of red and some 'erb (oh...and a motherhumpingly huge PA too).

Talk of motherhumping brings us nicely onto The Anomalies. When I first heard the band earlier this year I was smitten. People I've played them to have been just as smitten. That sets the bar pretty high when it comes to the live show and I wasn't sure how it would all work. Well, it does. Motherhumpingly well. I try to limit the use of the word 'awesome' but they were. Kicking off with some stunning beatboxing from Crowe (outkilling Killa Kella) The Anomalies join those rare list of bands that pull off something really surprising, really well. I've seen a few over the years, all in quite small venues, all of whom went on to enjoy mucho success (Freak Power, The Go Team, Scissor Sisters) and whilst The Anomalies are operating in the much harsher world of Hip Hop I can't see how they can fail. There's so much to love I could bang on for hours, but the female vocals added by Lo are a touch of genius (check out Employee Of The Month), the interplay between Murf and Goldseal is the best I've seen and Mayhem's scratching is right on the nail. Oh...the freestyling too. Shit. That was impressive. Seriously impressive. I've seen a lot of rappers ask the audience for a subject to rap about....that's a rappers favourite trick. I've never seen rappers ask the audience to throw stuff on stage, then rap about it before it hits the floor. How the hell? Are these guys packing some kind of Pentium brains, capable of processing stuff in a millisecond? Who knows. One thing's for sure...and I've rarely been quite so sure...The Anomalies are destined for great things. Tonight was the last night of their tour, but it can't be long before they're back out on the road. Whatever you do, don't miss 'em.

PS: At the end of the gig we wanted to buy a CD and found one of the band who said he'd go and get them after he'd helped pack away the equipment...would we mind waiting? No probs we said. It took a few minutes then he came over with two CD's, apologised for making us wait and gave them to us for free to make up for it. Stuff like that that means a lot to me. An awesome band AND bloody nice people too. It don't get any better...