• The Shins at Bush Hall

    27 Feb 2007, 10:32

    Mon 26 Feb – The Shins

    Despite looking more like he's ready for a day's work at Dunder Mifflin, James Mercer is ready to rock, or at least indiepop.

    And so are the crowd, after support act Findlay Brown's brand of Nick Drake-esque folkery. According to The Guardian, he's the "interesting James Blunt, but at least he was nice about the venue.

    The Shins open with the first three tracks of their latest album Wincing the Night Away, before moving on to some older stuff including New Slang, Kissing the Lipless and Girl Inform Me. I was particularly pleased to hear Know Your Onion in the encore, particularly as it wasn't on the set list!

    They played for about an hour and a quarter, and I was dancing the whole way through. They're definitely one of the best bands I've seen live, although I am totally biased because they played my favourite venue!
  • bush hall gig roundup

    12 Mar 2006, 11:36

    i've been a bit slack about posting, but that doesn't mean i haven't been to quite a few gigs - i'm lumping these three together because they were all at the same venue, and i saw them all with stu and louise.

    Isobel Campbell - 21-02-06 (***)

    since the last time i saw isobel, playing with Belle and Sebastian, she's grown her hair, and i guess grown up a bit. but to tell the truth, i've ever been mad keen on her voice, which hasn't changed a bit. i'm just not convinced she can hold her own in a song, when most of the time she sounds like she's about to run out of breath. but, she was singing tonight with a chap called eugenie (i think), and together they sounded pretty good. the music was excellent, she is a terrific musician. but she doesn't have a huge stage presence - the vast gulf between her and stuart murdoch couldn't have been more obvious, as she barely said two words o the audience, but seemed to be sharing in-jokes with her band, where he, when i saw him a week earlier, was constantly getting involved with his fans. on the whole, it wasn't one of the best gigs i've been to at the venue.

    The Boy Least Likely To 28-02-06 (*****)

    by contrast was one of the best. the album is called best party ever, and that really is what the gig felt like. where the record is quite twee and soft, the live show was pretty rock really. and great fun! tbllt's songs tend to be short and saccherine sweet, hey they even have a song called Warm Panda Cola! and the crowd really enjoyed it. i'd have liked to see them play for longer though, as they were on for less than an hour (they don't seem to have any more songs than are on the album).

    Euros Childs 11-03-06 (*****)

    i really really loved Gorky's Zygotic Mynci as a teenager. and seeing euros (it's pronounced eros - like the statue - i think) last night really brought it back to me. his solo stuff doesn't sound that different from gorky's trademark weirdness, it might be a bit more poppy, and he still rocked out over his keyboard, which was always my favourite thing about seeing gorky's live. his voice is amazing, just great to listen to, and even when you have no idea what the lyrics are about (apparently their just as incomprehensible in welsh as in english), the music still feels like it's meaningful. he ended tonight with a song by Bridget St. John ( If You've Got Money, which was lovely. course when she played here, she did a Nick Drake cover...
  • belle and sebastian live ***** (again)

    11 Feb 2006, 0:30

    let's get this straight. i really, really, really love Belle and Sebastian. for a long time, i thought every time i saw them, 'well, that'll be the last time', but i never think that anymore. now whenever i see them, i'm thinking 'when can i see them again', because they just get better and better live.

    tonight's gig at the hammersmith apollo was amazing.

    i'm not going to post a full setlist, because i wasn't taking notes, and i'm sure someone else will manage it. but my highlights included:

    * they opened with The State I Am In, as far as i can remember.

    * a mass whistle-along to The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner (after the song finished, struan conducted the crowd through whistling it by themselves, the sound was very, very strange)

    * the audience singing the first verse of Judy and the Dream of Horses by ourselves, that was lovely.

    * Electronic Renaissance, She's Losing It and My Wandering Days Are Over... actually loads of tracks i really, really love (not all of them from Tigermilk.

    * stevie saying something along the lines of "we're going to follow that with something off my favourite album... tigermilk", and stuart saying "wow, i really thought you were going to say Revolver, then, it surprised me". and then stevie claimed he hadn't really been in the band back then

    * and stevie also referenced the fact that David Bowie killed off ziggy stardust at hammersmith apollo (hammersmith odeon, as it then was), which was pretty cool.

    oh, also, i really thinkTo Be Myself Completely (which they played - though the set was fairly light on tlp), sounds like it should be sung by Nico. it's that "down" at the end of the chorus.
  • malcolm middleton live ***

    16 Dic 2005, 18:08

    i saw Malcolm Middleton last night at bush hall. he's best known as being a member of Arab Strap, and as Lauren Laverne's ex (he apparently inspired the lyrics to Don't Falter).

    i confess i hadn't really heard any of his stuff before, but when one of the support acts said "welcome to a mini-festival of self-deprecation", i knew i was in good company (except for the bit where the support acts were pretty pants).

    it was a very low-key show, malcolm took the stage alone except for his acoustic guitar, and was lit only by a white light. the venue, and the small crowd meant it was an intimate gig, which seemed appropriate for the intense, self-revealing lyrics.

    Break My Heart, was one of the few songs i did recognise and it was excellent. his accent adds more than a touch of pathos to his already, er, rather negative lyrics ("you're gonna break my heart I know it/but if you don't/you're gonna break my run of unhappiness and destroy my career/i'd rather feel full than sing these shit songs/i'll sell my guitar and never look back")

    definitely not shit. definitely worth more attention.
  • rufus wainwright live ***

    29 Nov 2005, 23:56

    having seen Rufus Wainwright earlier this year, i had some idea of what to expect. he's a proper, old-fashioned showman, who doesn't seem to care about ocassionally seeming cheesy. last time i saw him, his costume changes included a thong and a pair of ruby slippers. so this time i was armed with my camera!

    he played a good, classic set; predominantly songs from Want One and Want Two, but with a few surprises thrown in. these included a new song, Between My Legs, his christmas single, Spotlight on Christmas, and two Leonard Cohen covers: Chelsea Hotel No. 2 and Hallelujah.

    the biggest surprise was the appearance of French and Saunders, who sang backing vocals on spotlight on christmas.

    during Old Whore's Diet, rufus and his band had performed a rather lovely choreographed dance, while dressed in costumes that looked like they'd been pinched from The Polyphonic Spree! then some roman centurions appeared on stage to 'crucify' rufus at the beginning of Gay Messiah.

    three stars, because i disapprove of all-seater gigs - i don't think you get anything like the same atmosphere, and also because the woman next to me kept shouting "bravo" at the end of songs. i wanted to tell her that it's not the sort of thing that anyone does at gigs, but i figured she probably wouldn't care! a great gig nonetheless.
  • mountain goats live ****

    23 Nov 2005, 23:50

    john darnielle's Mountain Goats is a band that never fails to make me happy, so a gig by them is a definite treat. even better when it's at a venue that's just minutes from my house!

    this was their last gig of 2005, so there was jubilation and silliness all round, so when it was requested, they actually played The Monkey Song, and - hail satan - when it came to it, they finished with The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton, which made me very happy.

    after the third song, john darnielle had broken a string, so while he borrowed a guitar from the support act (emma pollock, formerly of The Delgadoes), he sung a Billie Holiday song: Without Your Love i think. later he attempted Wonderwall, purely because it's so easy!

    there's something about darnielle's intensity when on stage that appeals enormously to me. and his lyrics are invariably brilliant. the andalusian coral snake springs to mind!

    this was a very enjoyable gig - the supports, emma pollock and Jont were both really good (i particularly enjoyed jont talking about the song he'd written for Wedding Crashers) and the mountain goats were superb.
  • belle and sebastian live *****

    26 Sep 2005, 19:06

    i went to see my all-time favourite band Belle and Sebastian last night, performing as part of the don't look back festival (, they performed If You're Feeling Sinister in its entirety. plus a few other surprises, including Electronic Renaissance and The Boy With the Arab Strap.

    the band seemed to be enjoying themselves, although stevie didn't seem to be able to hear everything and stuart forgot the words to a couple of songs (particularly the opener Slow Grafitti).

    it was a bit strange to see them at the barbican, where i'd only been to christmas carol concerts before, as it's an all-seater venue, and we were in the circle. by the end we were all standing up, but i should have preferred to have been in the stalls (that'll teach me for leaving it too long to book tickets).

    also strange was hearing the whole of a record played in order, which is a concept similar to the Blur singles tour (which i also saw) - it's weird because you know exactly what's coming next.

    the bonus was that (of course) the music didn't sound exactly like it does on record - at one point, stuart commented that there was more time between tracks than there was on the album.

    it was nice to hear more songs than the ten on the album, and even by the time they finished with If You Find Yourself Caught in Love, i could have watched them play for hours longer. can't wait for the new album and the next tour!
  • kimya dawson live ***

    25 Sep 2005, 16:44

    went to see the very fabulous Kimya Dawson (from the Moldy Peaches playing a special breakfast gig this morning. there were four support acts, of which one (Grip Right Swing Right) i had seen before, and i thought they were pretty good. (one of) Strand of Oaks also played, and he was great, although he did play a Smashing Pumpkins song!

    kimya herself was fantastic, even though she had a cold, she sounded ace with just her guitar.

    the gig loses two stars because i had to get up stupidly early to get to elephant and castle for 9 (when the doors opened). it was funny to see the crowd who were enjoying it, but who obviously all had hangovers.

    it was a lovely intimate gig, and it was very different from pretty much every other gig i've ever been to - in that it was during the day!
  • arthur and martha live *****

    16 Sep 2005, 16:33

    went to see alice's new band arthur and martha at the water rats last night. alice used to be in The Seven Inches before she moved down to the big smoke. i think that "arthur" was also in another band, but i'm not sure which one. edit - it turns out to have been Saloon

    the band was really good, quite , with some Kraftwerk moments - including some hard-core vocoder and even some stylophone (move over Rolf Harris!). i was disappointed that they didn't play for longer.

    didn't see any of the other bands, including the headliners ( but as alice had kindly stuck me on the guestlist, and her band was excellent the gig comfortably gets 5 stars.
  • scissor sisters live ****

    14 Ago 2005, 23:49

    i just got back from the Scissor Sisters show at bush hall ( it was their v-festival warm-up so they played a good hits-heavy set, with a couple of new songs.

    the band was incredibly together, and even managed to make the really well-known songs sound different to the recorded versions. Take Your Mama in particular was really good.

    somehow they managed to fit eight people onto the tiny stage there, and jake and ana still managed to do a lot of moving around. he was wearing a pair of silver trousers and took his top off fairly early on in the proceedings - well it was very hot! his voice is almost disturbingly high though. it was ana's birthday and the audience sang happy birthday to her, she even got a birthday cake.

    after the show, they stuck around to sign autographs - when i left, about an hour after they finished, there were still people queuing by the tourbus for autographs and photos.

    Kelly Osbourne was there she ordered a cider and black, but as i didn't have any blackcurrant, she decided she'd have it with cranberry juice. very strange. George Michael and Bryan Ferry were both on the guestlist, but neither showed up unfortunately!

    the setlist included:

    definitely a four star gig, one star deducted because i was working!